Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Call for Action

Normally, I like to keep my blog light in tone, but I have been watching things happen and I feel the need to change the tone with this entry and I hope it will give all of you reason to think and hopefully act. I am bringing issues to the forefront that concern me and perhaps concern all of us—not just those in aviculture, and I want to see how many of us will be willing to voice your concerns as well. My friends, we are at a pivotal point in our lives and the history of our hobby and if you reside in the U.S.—our country.

I was on the phone with a friend of mine the other day and we were discussing the future of aviculture and what we thought has to be done, this friend—a very wise woman—mentioned the idea of having a summit. The purpose—to bring breeders, rescues, sanctuaries, and others together and discuss the current state of aviculture and where we need to direct it. In the past year or so, we have seen battles between breeders and rescues and the majority of us who are truly concerned about birds are leaning towards the concerns of the rescues. Five years ago, another friend of mine—another very wise woman, mentioned that one day we would reach critical mass in the U.S. with far too many psitticines and not enough homes for them—that day arrived a year ago and we need to address this issue and figure what is the best future. We have hit critical mass, and human and psitticine are paying dearly for it.

Sanctuaries and rescues are at capacity, and breeders need to stop producing birds when we already have too many. The sad fact is, many of us never really thought about the life-spans of our pets, we never considered what decades meant, many of us were used to mammalian pets and thought of years with a maximum of perhaps 17 years before our pets would pass. Many of us also did not take into consideration that we would be growing older and our pets would still require care at the same time that we would require more. We weren’t bad—we just didn’t look into the future and consider all the variables and many of us never thought the economy would dive the way it has. Yes…I am bringing the economy into this equation, I know many of us have danced around it, but it is a serious factor in what is going on. Our birds may be our passion but they can be a costly passion, although many times worth it!

The U.S. is not in need of anymore baby Blue and Gold macaws, Umbrella Cockatoos, Goffin Cockatoos, Moluccan Cockatoos, and so many more common species, we need to get those in need of homes placed before we even think of producing more. We also need to educate the bird-buying public before they make a purchase and they need to be aware of all the consequences of their purchase. Breeders need to take responsibility—they simply cannot churn out more babies in hopes of them finding homes, they need to cut back awhile and find other means of income while aviculture adjusts. I seriously doubt we will ever see days like those in the 90s or early 2000s again, where breeders could produce chicks and place them while they weren’t weaned, breeders are going to need to start realizing that they over-produced and wade through what the upcoming years will be like. Breeders, also keep in mind, when availability is low and there is a demand—you can ask more for the babies you produce, OPEC has learned this and so should you!

Another problem is money—sanctuaries and rescues depend on donations and presently not too many people have expendable funds, we all have felt the pinch somewhere and when we feel that pinch, charity starts at home unfortunately. We are already seeing sanctuaries turning away birds, we are already seeing waiting lists for placement into rescues and sanctuaries, and we are seeing people who entered aviculture with the best intentions realizing they made mistakes with the size of their flocks, and I am one of those people… My heart truly feels for rescues but I also fear that many are not being run effectively and they also will need to address some not-so-pleasant topics including euthanasia. No one in aviculture wants to address euthanasia, but many dog and cat rescues/shelters have been dealing with it for years, and it’s sad that aviculture will now more-than-likely have to deal with it and make some very tough decisions of who will be allowed to survive and what souls we will put to rest to end the madness that man has created. Do we save those that are easy to place or do we save those that have a larger monetary value? Do we even consider rehabs and try to place these birds in their native habitats? It may be a serious alternative… Ahhhhh… perhaps we should look at this?!

With so many species we consider pets on CITES, perhaps we should consider rehabbing with hopes of returning these birds into the wild. Is that far-fetched? What would such an undertaking require? Who would participate and oversee the movement? If we truly love our companion parrots, we should also aid in their return to wild populations, and we should take measures to ensure their safety for decades to come.

Yes, the future of aviculture is uncertain and in flux—we need to address issues now—while we can prevent more disasters. We need to create a dialogue between all parties in aviculture and find a solution and some of us need to possibly do some adjustments. Take a look at the snippet below… pretty scary.

According to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the US captive parrot population could swell to 100 million by the year 2020. US breeders now hatch 2-5 million parrots yearly, and an additional 15,000 birds are legally imported. Despite our long-term ban on wild-caught parrots, illegal imports remain a problem.  The US Fish & Wildlife Service estimates that 20,000 parrots illegally enter the USA from Mexico each year, with at least 5,000 smuggled in from elsewhere! “

In closing; where do we start? Can we face the challenges that are already here and the ones approaching? Can we put aside our fuzzy feelings and face the brutal truths? Can we find solutions that are acceptable to all? My friends, we have much to contend with in the upcoming days, months, years, and decades, we have so many variables coming into play that the task may seem daunting, but if we are the stewards of our beloved psitticines, we need to do what is best for them now and in the future. We need to put aside our differences and think about the needs of our feathered loved ones, and we need to do it soon—very soon!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The World Lost a Friend...

Yesterday, October 5th, 2011 the world lost a friend, the light of a genius was extinguished and Heaven has gained another wonderful soul. The man I am talking about is Steve Jobs of Apple Computer, Pixar, etc., and I am still in shock, we all knew it was coming given his condition, but we thought Steve could beat pancreatic cancer—he could do anything! He changed the way we live, and yet God took him, and now there will be iPods, iPhones, iTunes, Macs, and iPads in Heaven and angels will be blessed with his charismatic presentations. We lost a man who dared us to do things differently, we lost a visionary who made the unreal possible, and we lost someone that we all benefited from.

I will never forget the first time I saw Steve Jobs present a keynote—I was amazed at his finesse and I also fell in lust...yeah...I thought he was hot in a very different way. Without doubt, Steve was the ultimate showman, when he strutted across the stage we all watched to see if he was gonna pull something out of his pocket, we hung on his words, and we waited with anticipation for his next stroke of brilliance. If I am not mistaken, the first keynote I watched was for the iPod...and I remember thinking "This thing will never change music and the way we listen to it!!", well, within a year the name iPod became synonomous with a portable music player, and no one else could come close.

My first Apple was an LC that my grandmother bought for me in 1991, later I watched eagerly as new products to be announced and I fell in love with the marketing, the design, and the "American Dream" that Apple forged. I remember the brilliance of the 1984 Macintosh Ad and I remember the candy-inspired iMacs, I remember the first Mac laptops, I remember the iBook and thinking it would last forever... so many computers, I use a MacBook Pro and I could not imagine my life without it...

Joel called me to tell me the news—I simply could not believe it and I lit a candle. I wanted to to toast him, but instead I spent the time remembering his brilliance and the loss we have all suffered.

Steve, you were taken away too soon, but your legacy and name will be with us for generations to come. Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Diet Quest...

As good parronts we strive to find the perfect diets for our companions, we shop, we formulate, we observe, and then we repeat the process in hopes of one day getting it right. We go through countless seed blends, countless pellet brands, and we beat ourselves up when our beloveds don’t eat the fresh or baked foods we offer them, we become the temperamental waiter at the five-star restaurant. Our quest seems to be the impossible until one day we strike that vein of gold and we are rewarded for our efforts—we then put our anger and admiration towards those that say “my birds eat everything I offer!” aside and we become one of those happy people—ideally that “right food” will be the perfect blend of fats, proteins, and vitamins, and we will see the reward in perfect feathering and twinkling eyes, the feather-pluckers become pretty again, and the sun shines.

I have always thought the above was possible and I was actually believing I struck that vein, but then I questioned who was content; me or the birds? At that point, I started my quest again and perhaps I may be jaded or fooling myself, but I actually think I have found some dietary components that will work for me and my flock and will take me forward for years. We all need to find what works for us, but more importantly—we need to find what works for our birds.

Along our quest, we meet many people, we meet salespeople, hobbyists, newbies, the elders, the wannabes, the dedicated, the ones who make promises they know they can’t fulfill, etc., but we also meet some really wonderful people, the people we hold dear—the people we respect and want to know for the rest of our lives. I have been truly blessed, I have met many of these people—in person and on various internet boards and sites.

As I think I have said before, I don’t promote products or people unless I really believe them and feel that people would benefit from them—that’s the case with My Safe Bird Store who is owned by Kathie Hahn, and Patricia Sund (see Parrot Nation) who turned me onto Chop. The key to our birds happiness is variety—in behavior, foods, and experiences, it is our obligation to meet these needs and these two fine people help make it easier.

My Safe Bird Store is an online business that offers products that are safe and excellent quality. Bountiful Harvest Blend is a great product that MSBS offers, its complete, nutritious, varied, and surpasses anything else I have found in years—I am completely sold on it!! I have used Fiesta, Harrison’s, Zupreem, Pretty Bird, and a multitude of other foods and I feel that this blend can replace all of them for all the right reasons—it is balanced,  healthy, natural and birds seem to go crazy over it. I have been feeding Bountiful Harvest now for about 3 months and I have seen significant improvement in my birds, all of which I will attribute to the above dietary changes. If anything is to be gained by others on this blog, I hope this is one of those things… You owe it to yourself and to your flock to try it and put some time into converting your birds over to it.

My next new favorite food is Chop, Patricia Sund turned me onto this, and it is without a doubt ingenious because it almost guarantees our birds will get a smattering of everything, it really is a great way to get diversity of fresh foods consumed. I been making Chop now for a few months, and again, I have seen significant improvement in my birds health—significant!! The premise is simple, make it small enough that a bird can’t pick through it and they will inevitably get a bit of everything, makes total sense; doesn’t it?! Below is a recipe I made recently, but if you go to Patricia’s website, you will see, you can make variations that will meet the needs of your flock. For those of you who are not familiar with Patricia, make it a point to know her—she is truly a class act and a good soul, her blog is insightful and fun to read.

2-3 bunches of greens (kale, collards, spinach, mustard, etc.), I shred these.
3 bags of 13 bean soup mix (remove the seasoning packet, and the lima beans) soak over night, then simmer 'til tender—but not mushy, chop in food processor
4–6 bags of cooked brown rice (do not cook the time specified on the box, undercook a bit.)
5 cups cooked quinoa (do not cook the time specified on the box, undercook a bit.)
2 boxes of whole grain pasta , chop in food processor (do not cook the time specified on the box, undercook a bit.)
4 red peppers, 4 green peppers (sliced in food processor)
8 carrots (grated)
6 zuchinni (grated)
cooked pumpkin cubes with cinnamon (chopped)
brocolli (chopped)
2 5 lb bags of mixed frozen veggies

Greens and beans! The base

A little red pepper to add nutrition and color
Quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta
Carrots! Starting to look mighty festive eh?!

A bit more green... brocolli!

One of my favorites...zuchinni! 

To capture the Fall season, a bit of pumpkin with cinnamon

Some green peppers and frozen veggies...

This is only part of the clean up!!! Believe me, there was more!!!

Put into freezer bags and take out the night before what you need or take out what you need and defrost it in the microwave and let sit for a couple of minutes, mix to avoid any hot spots.

I always have sprouts around so when I prepare it for the birds, I add sprouts, melon, kiwi, strawberries, peaches, pomegranite, apple, blue berries or some grapes and some oatmeal to make it even more vitamin packed.

Chop is a recipe that is only bound by the imagination, the more healthy foods you add, the better it will be, the more flavorful it is—the more your birds will enjoy it! Make this food a fun food, make it a time to spend with your bird(s) while you’re mixing it, they will see what you’re doing and it will make them inquisitive about it and get their first bites of it—remember praise is a great way of making even the most apprehensive bird curious—at least it is with my gang! Bon app├ętit!