Thursday, July 19, 2012

BirdTalk E-volution

Okay, so many have been mourning the loss of BirdTalk magazine and I have been sorta keeping my mouth shut, perhaps I need to vent and finally give my perspective.
I remember when BT began (Yep! I’m showing my age! But I learned to read at 2... :-) ), it was ground-breaking, I couldn’t wait to read the issues and would race with anticipation to the bookstore, pet store, etc. to get the newest copy, at last a color magazine for the bird-lover! I remember reading the articles and really enjoying them, granted, I didn’t read each and every issue or article, but as with everyone, I chose those articles that I enjoyed and it improved my understanding and broadened my interests. BT was the magazine that affirmed my passion for South American species and macaws in particular, those gorgeous centerfolds filled my mind with birds I wish I could/would one day own. Granted, other publications existed, but none had the quality of photos or contributors that BT had, I anxiously read articles from such notable people as Sally Blanchard, Kashmir Csaky, Irene Pepperberg, and yes, my friend Patricia Sund.
Approximately two years ago I noticed a significant change in the magazine, it had become noticeably smaller and the ads seemed to be getting more prominence, that change was beginning. As a print professional I saw the changes in my field and the Domino-effect had begun, it was obvious that many publications were going to fold and for many, it was only a matter of time based upon their resources and readership. E-volution has taken its toll, and not just for periodicals, but for books, advertising, and all other printed media, many publishers began to fight for their existence, but the inevitable was in the horizon.
E-volution has its pros and cons just like any other facet of life and we have to accept and adapt with it, and professionally, I am still trying to adapt. The major pro in my opinion is that we are conserving resources like trees, water, and the energy required to produce printed materials, the major con is the job loss and the ripple-effect that spreads. I take great pride in trying to become paperless, I encourage those around me to try to do the same, I keep PDFs on things that I need to store, I only print what I think is necessary. I honestly believe in the long run we will all benefit when we conserve natural resources, and I have hope that we will all find new ways to survive in the changing world.
I feel like I was late to adapt to an iPad, my lovely husband Joel had one, most of my friends had them, and I even tried one for 1 day before returning it. I tried one again a couple months later and I now believe it is one of the best devices ever created, Steve Jobs proved his genius with it, I love the iPad, I am writing this on it and I now believe I could live without my iPhone more than this great achievement. To anyone who has been reluctant to try an iPad, I urge you to give it a try! The iPad has made me more of a reader, it has increased my productivity, and it has given me more mobility in this brave new world. Again, in my opinion, we will see the demise of the laptop and desktop in our lifetime, and tablets will evolve to meet more of our needs and play larger roles in our lives.
Back to e-volution and our beloved BirdTalk... How many of us actually read a magazine cover to back? How many of us actually take time to research topics in depth? How many of us take pleasure in having another magazine that will eventually be boxed or put into the recycling bin? Personally, I Google topics and if necessary, I take notes to create a document for reference. BirdTalk was a victim of our new way of viewing and processing our media, it simply could not change, it fell on its knees trying to keep up with the boards, forums, groups, and all, it got bruised and battered and finally realized that it was time to give up. Now, we must give it the respect it deserves and either move on/adapt, or we try to give it a new life in the electronic world and band together in the effort.
Given how we share and retrieve/find information; is a media like BirdTalk really necessary? I don’t think so, we Google for images and content all the time, we no longer have or need an information hierarchy such as a library, heck, we can do research in McDonalds or Starbucks and it can be just as valid as if it were done in an academic environment.
So now what? In my opinion, we need to realize life has changed again, we need to hope that those brilliant minds we enjoyed reading will share their wisdom and gifts with us in an electronic world, blogging or participating in forums and boards. We need to look back and realize we were part of an era and that we can be proud we led the way to what is now online, and we need to look ahead. I believe the best is yet to come... Farewell BirdTalk, thank you for so many wonderful years, you will be fondly remembered...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

'Til We Meet Again...

Late December of 2003 my family grew, Joel came in and he brought in two dogs, one stayed with his mother, the other came with him—her name, Froste. Froste was a lovely girl with eyes as black as coal and a coat that was blinding white, her personality and character filled a room and no one could resist her.

On July 6, 2012, it was time to send our sweet baby home, her body finally had enough and she made it clear that she no longer could survive on Earth, she knew she had people waiting for her in heaven, and she knew we needed an angel to look over us. Froste, you will be missed everyday and the tears we now shed will eventually be smiles remembering your spirit and love, thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Look, Listen, and Learn...

Wings Over the Rainbow—need I say more?!! Aviculture has seen rocks thrown many times but when do we stop and address the whole picture? When do we realize the problem, put the stones down, and help all those that are in need? When do we start trying to heal the issues and not say “Nope! I would never do that!!” and say “Yes, it happened; what are we going to do to fix the whole picture?”

Every aspect of life has its' crazies, but they should never be allowed to become the Pied Piper, they must be recognized and put into perspective. Those that have an illness, such as hoarding, should be given compassion and help, and we need to realize that, excuse the cliché—the road to hell is paved with good intent. Those zealots that are casting stones must look at the whole picture—from beginning to where it is today, and realize, we could all follow those footsteps if we are not careful. I seriously doubt WOTR started their mission with poor intent, but things happen, and sometimes we just can’t find our way out of situations once we’re in too deep.

Am I defending WOTR? No— I am trying to make a point—this is not the first case like this and it will not be the last. I can think of a lot of rescues that could easily head down this path, I hear a lot of people snickering, and I hear a lot of people passing judgment, well, shame on them!!! Think about some of the rescues you know; do you honestly think they’re perfect? Think about those we all respect, and realize they are run by some incredible people, but not all of us are so great or given the support, energy, or resources, some of us are one person trying to do good work and just can’t do it all the time. We are human, and we all make mistakes sometime or another.

Aviculture today is in a state of shambles, we are attacking breeders, rescues, etc., and Facebook is allowing us to spread the word along with other social media, we need to band together and extend a hand, not continue the abuse by shaming our fellow souls. Yes—I want to see the birds that were confiscated placed in better accommodations, yes—I want to see tighter standards for rescues, and yes—I want all birds to have a wonderful quality of life but I will not persecute and promote hatred in a community that has already so much of it going on. Halos are not available at the dollar-store so those that think they have one better take a close look.

Friends, we all know who the truly reputable rescues and sanctuaries are—whether they are large or small, we need to support them and back them but we also need to be realistic with those in trouble and ourselves. Not all of us can be super-parronts, speaking from experience, I learned my limit the hard way and I know that my limit for companion parrots is two, two macaws that have my respect, love, and commitment, and if necessary, I would take a third, but I honestly know that by my standards, that is my limit. There are days when I honestly believe Maggie and I would be better off if she was a single macaw, but I also believe she needs to have another bird in the home to help her through the days I am not available for her.

Please, listen, think, and hopefully learn from this tragedy, lets give purpose to the suffering these animals had and help them see a better future…


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bird Cookbooks? Huh? I just buy Hartz Bird Seed!!!

In our quest to find balanced nutrition we as companion humans for our parrots go through many trials and tribulations and some can be quite extreme, the avian educated strive to find that perfect balance of protein, fats, carbs, fiber, vitamins, etc. and we often feed our parrot better food than we feed ourselves—heck, who does't enjoy an occasional Macdonalds, Wendy's, KFC or White Castle?!! Would we ever think of giving our beloved macaw, grey, ekkie, etc., a slider? Well... maybe just one bite but...

As many of you know, I love, love, love Bountiful Harvest from My Safe Bird Store, Kathie has truly hit a home-run in my opinion with the blend and I think it is very well thought out. I also love and adore the idea of Chop, I think it lends itself to flexiblity and we can formulate what our birds want and need, make a huge quantity, put it in the freezer and thaw as we need it. Granted, both of these foods or their concepts are from good friends of mine, Kathie Hahn and Patricia Sund, but even if they weren't, I would still believe in them and use them.

Okay...back to the main purpose of this entry, folks, we always strive for diversity in our lives and our birds deserve the same, and we as their companions are obligated to bring to the table a cornucopia of flavors, tastes, and textures. The internet can provide us with many, but some of us are still a bit old-fashioned in certain areas and we still like those bulky things called books and some of us when we think of books, we think of cookbooks!!! Ahhhhhh what interesting books they can be and many people collect them and I totally understand why—they're addicting!!! Again, I digress...

One night I was on Facebook—that horrible place!!! and I was discussing various parrot cookbooks that I believe in and use, one is actually a must for everyone that has parrots, that is The Healthy Bird Cookbook. It has been revised a couple of times and I consider it a great stepping stone for culinary adventures, I am lucky enough to have it in hardcover and now it is available in paperback and hmmmmmm...maybe if I get an e-reader or an iPad, I will have to have it there...

The second book I mentioned is Gourmet Bird Food Recipes and someone sorta gave me some flack about this book and now, since looking at some of the recipes, I had it coming, but folks, there are some really good ideas in there and if you use common sense, it is a nice addition to you avian library.

The third...well, this a new one for me and a couple of friends turned me onto it and I can't thank them enough for it, it is an outstanding book that supports a great organization that we all need to stand behind, Nourish to Flourish produced by Phoenix Landing. The first night I had it, I read it and I am very happy with it!! Now, I have to say there are two cookbooks every avian library must have, The Healthy Bird Cookbook and Nourish to Flourish, do not deny yourself or deny your companion parrots, these two are very strong books that are well written and jam-packed with great ideas! I cannot emphasize it enough!! You... Yeah you!! Go order these two on Amazon, now!!!!

Of course, we can all browse the internet but we all should have resources at our fingertips that show we still value the quality of a bound book, they are something of substance, a piece of a dying art (God! I hope not!) that will allow us to enrich our companion parrots lives as well as our own. We can benefit ourselves and our friends that are blessed to share lives with companion parrots, we can bring gifts of food to our friends that will hopefully encourage them to break out the cake pans, etc., and join in an art.

Nowadays, I am becoming more and more interested in avian nutrition, I never thought I would see that, but as I have cut down on my flock and have found a very special blue chicken I want to give my girls the best I can and the best variety. At Casa de Blue Feather Butt, we get sprouts on a daily basis, we get all sorts of goodies and the benefits are obvious, we have alert, curious, interactive birds that make life even more enjoyable than I could imagine, we have shiny feathers, bright eyes and healthy attitudes... Yes, diet can and does make a huge difference! Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Balance

Okay, let me first say this—not all bird breeders are evil!!! Second, not all rescues are wonderful, and third—weigh the facts and needs out and make a rational, informed decision.

Folks, I am seeing more and more radicals in the animal rescue/sanctuary gig and it is becoming alarming. I used to believe in many of these people, but as time progresses, I am beginning to think their cause has eroded their gray matter and they have become zealots—overlooking common courtesy and sense just to prove a point. We all know who they are— they’re the ones that are well on their way to joining the happy patients at Shady Acres enjoying the comfort of padded walls,  meals with spoons instead of forks, and receiving 10,000 volts to the temple.

Lets be fair and realistic, bird breeders and sanctuaries/rescues have to learn to coexist, you can think what you want, but enough of this demoralizing public behavior, it’s time for all to grow up! I know of several breeders that I believe in, and I know of a handful of rescues/sanctuaries that I believe in, and the reason I say a handful is because of the behavior they have exhibited in recent months. Do you really want to alienate people so they don’t choose adoption? Many rescues/sanctuaries have utilized social media, i.e., Facebook, for their cause and instead of being fair, they have twisted things and become hateful, posting some of the most offensive images I have ever seen. Where does the line get drawn? If I was a parent and my child saw some of the images these people put up, there would be a major can of whoop-ass coming to their door, and these “people” think it’s funny or necessary to shock and repulse people…Where does the line blur? One individual told me it was their job to inform the world of injustices…hmmmmm…where do I get an application for that job? Can I see the resumé that one needs for that position? Here I thought everyone could be an asshole at times but preferred not to be…What was I thinking?!

Prior to the economic downturn, rescues/sanctuaries were far and few between, and the ones that did flourish and prosper were the ones that deserved to, Best Friends, Gabriel, Phoenix, Bird Lovers Only, etc., they’ve worked hard, earned a reputation, and maintained a level of dignity that I respect. These are the folks that still deserve our recognition and money, along with a few of the smaller up-and-coming groups that have maintained civility and common sense. Support a person based upon ethics and how they represent themselves, don’t let words clutter your judgment, let actions be your stimulus.

There is a cliché, The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions, and this is what I believe with many of the rescues/sanctuaries that are popping up. They start with great intentions but eventually will crumble due to their own arrogance, ignorance, and anger. We cannot save every bird, I am sorry, but this is my opinion, some of them have become so destroyed that we have let them go—humanely. What God created with love, Mankind has blemished, and we need to recognize our mistakes and move forward with hopes of a better tomorrow. Let today serve as an example of what tomorrow should be and we need to work together.

I honestly do believe we need to “Opt to Adopt”, but many people are not ready to do that, and they need to take the steps they feel comfortable with. Who is anyone to tell another how they should spend their money? I encourage adoption as much as possible, I tell people that “what used to be” and “what is now” are very different and that many excellent birds are in need of homes and should not be overlooked based upon old perceptions or beliefs. We need to encourage adoption through kindness, not bullying, the world has enough violence, we need to ease people into the adoption process and welcome them as they do and we need to have breeders who educate the consumer.

Many breeders have gotten out of breeding, and I give them credit—they have recognized the current state of aviculture and have taken steps to fix the situation—kudos to them! Many breeders are still dedicated to producing excellent babies, and we need to support them, we need to be fair and honest and recognize that eventually and even now, there is a need for these folks, we cannot and should not damn every breeder! We need to weed out the bad ones, and support the good ones, just like we need to do with the sanctuaries and rescues, we need to come together in a realistic manner and not scatter because of our politic.

I know many breeders I am proud to know them and they are my friends. I know of many rescues that I am proud of and happy to call my friends, I believe in balance—think about it.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell 2011

Farewell 2011, you were a very confusing year with a lot of highs and a lot of lows, and for the most part, I will not miss you. 2011 was a year that for the most part I would love to put far, far behind me and I think I share that sentiment with many, the world became a more turbulent place and we lost many great minds.

In my family, I almost lost my marriage and it proved that what I thought was solid is not, but Joel and I have decided to keep our committment and work through our problems. We had the birth of a lovely little boy, Charles Robert Casey who has warmed my heart in some cold times and we have continued to delight watching Lily grow, both reminders of how life really is wonderful if you can view it through and with the eyes of a child. We also had the announcement of two more babies on the way, both with lovely parents, Jaxson due in February, and another who we don't know the sex or name of due in August.

Charles Robert Casey

Lily Englehardt

The world lost Steve Jobs and on a personal note, I lost my step-father, Jerry. Many of my friends had parents pass and we all comforted on another knowing that our loved ones were in a better place, but our hearts ached. You all may be gone from our sight, but you will never be forgotten...

I have also found many blessings this year in the form of friendships, some new, some rekindled, and some that have endured years, thank you for your support and love. One friendship that I am proud of has been between Glenn Burch and Joel, Glenn almost passed away in 2011 from a disease that we had almost forgotten about, AIDS, and Joel has been assisting him in his recovery, may Glenn continue to improve...

My wish for 2012? My wish is that J and I continue on the path we have found recently, we seem to be heading in a great direction, may we all find what we truly need in life and may we all have a better year than 2011.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Help Your Neighbors...

I have an idea, an idea that will make us all better if we follow through and make our voices heard. Many of us are “independents”—we are toy makers, writers, designers (hint! hint!), accountants, etc., and we all have a skill, trade, or profession that we offer. Many of us have been earning or trying to earn a living through our wares but some of us have faced layoffs, unforeseen disasters, a reduction in income or other circumstances that have created a need for us to try to make a living through alternative measures. I would like to create a blog page where you can “advertise” your skills and hopefully we can all benefit.

We all need to face the needs of our neighbor, in the avicultural community we are a nation of many faces and skills, we need to band together and help each other—many of us have been forced into reducing or parting with our flocks for a variety of reasons—lets extend our hand and open our wallets to those we share a common thread with. I want to take business away from the “Big Box Stores” and bring it to the small independents that are getting killed in this economic disaster.

What skill do you have? Are you willing to trade services?