Archive for Recall

The Imaginarium

Posted in African Grey, Birds, Cage set up, Chloe, Chop, Cleaning, Education, Enrichment, Kacey, Macaw, Moluccan Cockatoo, Nutrition, Patricia Sund, Recall, Rescue & Rehabilitation, Simba, Training, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2010 by angelsofflight

When I set out on this little adventure of building The Imaginarium I knew it was going to be a huge undertaking.  My father is an old man and really doesn’t use the downstairs of his house.  In fact he doesn’t even like to bend or climb stairs so it’s undeniably ridiculous that he built a 2-story house.  However, it benefited me and my flock.  While still in the beginning stages, I have cleaned up the cement slab and all that was “stuck” to it.  Some green slimy stuff and threw all the old decrepit furniture that he was saving (for god knows what) to the curb side for pick-up.  Now I have begun setting the stage for The Imaginarium.

The Imaginarium - After clean up

I chose the name, The Imaginarium, instead of simply saying “My Aviary” for the simple reason that not only do my birds need an Aviary, but I need some peace as well.  Here I will be able to relax, reflect, be alone or with friends, dream, escape and simply imagine.  I’ve added a few little friends to the landscaping.  There is “Diva: The Pink Gecko” for some character and of course the faithful “St. Francis” to watch over the birds and I while we are in The Imaginarium.  I imagined the most beautiful sanctuary complete with music, wind chimes, lush green trees, beautiful colorful flowers, and a small vegetable garden with herbs, strawberries, tomatoes and a few others I have yet to pick out.  It is a work in progress for sure.

St. Francis: To watch over my flock

Diva: The Pink Gecko

So needless to say, my 2 non-flyers are enjoying the scenery for the moment until the fencing is put up.  I’ve already started sitting out there with Chloe and Simba and imagining the day away.  Simba and Chloe have become really good friends.  They dance and sing together to the playlist I made for Angels Of Flight Productions.  It has all the music from all of our videos on it and a few Jimmy Buffet songs as well as Kenny Chesney’s “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” which has quickly adapted as the motto for hanging out at The Imaginarium.  There’s a big wooden sign going up on the wall with that motto on it.

Chloe & Simba: Enjoying the late afternoon

Chloe & Simba: Hanging out after a bath

I am anxiously awaiting the actual fence to go up.  The materials should be here sometime this week.  My contractor assures me that it will be finished by next weekend.  I can’t wait to let Kacey and Zazu out in it.  I love watching them hang upside down on their perches and do all the comical Macaw stuff.  I can only imagine what there going to do with a 20′ x 12′ x 11.5′ Imaginarium.  The possibilities are totally endless.  I’ll be blogging most of the construction and doing some video too.  But for now…relax, pour yourself a “Green Parrot” cocktail, kick off your flip flops and imagine…

Harness That Bird!!!!

Posted in Birds, Education, Enrichment, Recall, Training, Uncategorized, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2010 by angelsofflight

Zazu...Unharnessed at the beach.

When it comes to harness training I have mixed feelings.  Some birds need it and some birds don’t.  If you are going to keep your birds fully flighted and train them for recall and free flight then the proper skills  need to be obtained, therefore removing the need for a harness.  However, there are those people that don’t train for such things but want to give their birds the opportunity to fly and that’s ok too.  Within the confines of a large aviary or in a well planned and thought out home catered towards your birds, training for flight can be very rewarding.  As far as the harness goes, some people use it for extra precaution when going to town or on vacation with their bird even though the bird is highly trained and a motivated flyer…this is acceptable as well.  However, if a harness is not used properly it is detrimental.  It can damage a birds crop, back, wings and possibly have fatal effects on your feathered companion.  For instance, it is heartbreaking and I cringe when I see a flighted bird on a harness, it is allowed to take off at full speed just to be pulled back by the person holding the other end and then hits the ground with an amazing “THUMP”.  Talk about damage!!!  Now you’ve #1…Ruined his self confidence about flying, #2…Choked the hell out of his crop and possibly damaged something and #3…possibly cracked his keel bone!!  Yeah!!  That’s Positive Reinforcement!!  For the seasoned harness users this could make you want to smack the person upside the head and wrap a dog collar around their neck attached to a leash and send them off the Empire State Building…but in a perfect society we can’t do that!

"Daphne" (Barb Saunders' D2) recalls on a harness

My friend Barb Saunders, author of BarbsBirdsandAviary, uses a harness on her birds when traveling on vacation and talk about a seasoned harness user…the woman knows EVERYTHING about using a harness (she taught me a few tricks when I used to use one with Zazu).  Her birds are trained for recall.  She is very cautious where she recalls her birds eliminating the startle flight as much as possible and just having fun.  In this case a harness is, in my opinion, a grand little accessory.  She is able to set her bird down and recall it in short flights off a railing, a rock, etc.  She doesn’t send her birds flying into the air just to retract them back.  The harness in this case is used properly without any damage to the bird and training has been obtained to make sure both Barb and her birds are safe. “Daphne”, Barbs’ Ducorps Cockatoo was trained at the early age of 3 months old to wear a harness.  This is an important factor.  While Barb has eliminated the use of harnessing, Daphne is a seasoned veteran when it comes to a harness and if need be will wear one without any fuss.  You can’t just slap on a harness and expect your feathered baby to enjoy wearing one!!  It is a patient process and one that needs to be introduced slowly.

Zazu wore a harness in the early stages of her training.

When I was initially training Zazu on her jump flights I admit I used a harness a couple of times.  This was in the early stages of her outdoor training away from her comfort zone and I didn’t want my young (baby) bird to get startled and fly off into a parking lot and get hit by a car…I’m sure you could understand that.  As the months went on, her confidence built as well as mine with different outings and socialization such as the beach, work, and outdoor restaurants.  Therefore I removed the harness after training her to fly down 25 feet out of an oak tree and off the roof of the house…just in case these issues ever came up.  Mind you, those were scary training sessions and SHOULD NOT be done without the help and guidance of a professional.  When going to work she would take off when I called her and fly from the register area to the aquatics department landing safely and securely in the palm of my hand…this is now a properly trained bird at 10 months old.  I have all the confidence in the world with her and I do not use a harness on her at all anymore…it’s my preference.  Her wing feathers are growing out nicely as well and training continues on a daily basis.  As she acquires more wing feathers, she acquires more height and more distance therefore increasing the training for recall.

Zazu...in flight during recall training at the beach.

In one of my seminars I did “Advanced Avian Education” I touched on the recall method and use of a harness.  Obviously there is always that one bad apple in the bushel so trying to convince this man that keeping his Ducorps Cockatoo fully flighted when she was just used as an accessory in his home to make it look more tropical was a bad idea…he found an invitation for an argument…and so my point began.  If you randomly let your bird fly with no recall training, food management, enrichment, positive reinforcement, and so on…you are headed for no where except disaster.  Trying to explain that to this man was a losing battle for me so I finished our argument by giving him my phone number and telling him to give me a call when his bird was up in a 25 foot tree and wouldn’t come down.  Funny thing is, I got a call from his wife 2 weeks later frantically telling me their bird was on the roof of their house and they couldn’t get her down.  They opted for me to teach them about harness training…hummm.

Barb harnesses her birds while on vacation.

So when it comes to wearing a harness…I am all for them providing they are used correctly, maintained in condition, used for the proper purpose, and the bird is trained to wear them (Yes…you need to train your bird to wear them or they think it’s another “scud missile” coming at them from afar!!!).  There are a variety of harnesses to choose from however, Barb and I choose the aviator harness which is available online or through your local pet supply store.  This is a fantastic little tool…use it wisely…PLEASE!!!!

Meet The Girls

Posted in Birds, Education, Rescue & Rehabilitation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2009 by angelsofflight

Kacey

In the Winter of 2007 I had the honor of meeting “Sue”.  A breeder of exotic birds and a woman with a big heart.  Not only did Sue breed exotic birds but she also rescued them from time to time from homes that are not so worthy of owning such birds.  She had mentioned to a mutual friend that she had a 10 year old Blue and Gold Macaw that she needed to find a good home for.  She had known the bird for quite some time and it had been shuffled from one neglection home to another over the course of 7 years.  Some abuse had taken place and it was time to find a reputable home that was going to take care of “Kacey”.

On December 22, 2007 Kacey became part of my family…9 months later she became my best friend…

The first time I met Kacey was at Sue’s aviary.  She was extremely untrustworthy and had issues that stemmed from the neglection and abuse she had received from her previous owners.  She ran across the floor at me and attempted to attack.  Thank goodness for Sue being there.  At the time I didn’t know that much about Macaws, let alone being the possible owner of a rescue.  I took Kacey home that night not knowing where this would all lead for me and the relationship I was going to have with a huge bird that had a huge beak!  One that could easily snap my hand off my wrist!  I didn’t trust Kacey and she didn’t trust me.  Music seemed to soothe her anxiety so I would sing “My Girl” by the Temptations…she would swing back and forth in her cage on her swing.  After a week of this she was stepping up without snapping at me.  That was the beginning of her rehabilitation as well as mine.  She never pushed me and I never pushed her…it was always mutual ground.  When she was ready and willing I would take it to the next level.  9 months later I was taking a nap and had left her out on my bed.  I woke up to a big beak making kissing noises on my nose and snuggling in the sheets with me…we were now inseparable.  2 weeks later she flipped over on her back and started kissing me again.  This was her thank you to me as well as her acceptance of me…we were now the best of friends. 

Every night before bedtime, Kacey kisses me goodnight.  When I come home from work late at night and it’s dark in the house she says with a whisper, “Shh, mommy’s home”.  She talks to me all day and we seem to understand what each other is saying.  The reward of having Kacey after 9 months of rehabilitation on both our parts is an emotion that can’t be explained.  It has been the biggest, greatest adventure of my life.  Kacey has the ability to outlive me and she will be my best friend and the biggest accomplishment of my life until the day I take my last breath…

  

Chloe

In April of 2008 we had the pleasure of meeting Chloe, a Moluccan Cockatoo that was by far the most comical bird we had ever seen.  After spending many years in a home full of smoke she was covered in nicotine.  Once again, “Sue” our trust worthy aviary owner had rescued this beautiful little girl from an unfit home.  Chloe had issues of not so much plucking her wing feathers, but shredding them.  Her anxiety level was sky high.  Thinking that maybe she should have a mate, Sue’s male Moluccan Cockatoo was looking for a girlfriend.  6 months later, Chloe was part of our family.

We had been talking about adding another bird to our home and it only felt right to bring in another rescue.  We made the phone call to Sue and asked how Chloe was doing in the breeding program.  We were happy to find out that she wasn’t.  Again, trusting our husbandry and the lives of her rescue birds with us, Sue gave us our second rescue girl…Chloe.

Chloe is now the main character in our presentations showing off her many talents like hanging from her beak and flapping her wings from her coop cup on her perch and telling the audiance how pretty she is.  Her feather shredding will always be an issue as she has seperation anxiety.  With alot of cuddle time and kisses, she is a bright, comical, spastic little girl that we have tons of fun with.

  

Sophie

 This Congo African Grey was an unexpected surprise.  Left at a forclosed home, in a cage, on the back porch with no food or water Sophie came into our lives and quickly adapted in a matter of weeks.  She was a baby…not even a year old when we found her.  After being a part of our family she has matured and blossomed into your typical African Grey…boy does she LOVE to eat!  Sophie is the most talkative of our flock and she picks up on words and phrases in a matter of weeks (sometimes days), so we are always watching out for what we say in the house…our motto is…”If you don’t want your parrot repeating it…don’t say it!”

Sophie still has issues with being “hand-fed”.  Now when I say hand fed, I mean taking food (almonds, peanuts, fruit, etc.) from our hand.  This has made it a bit difficult to train her.  She loves food, she just doesn’t like it handed to her.  This leads me to believe that maybe an incident had happened where she was “reprimanded” a bit to harshly while being fed by hand.  It’s OK though…little by little with baby steps and positive reinforcement (R+) training, she’ll get on track.

The African Grey is by far one of the most intelligent companion birds.  Sophie picks up on everything that Kacey and Chloe say.  Her favorite words are, “Peek-a-boo” and “Chloe is a pretty girl”.  We are still learning about Sophie on a daily basis.  She is an amazing little bird and despite her beginning in life…she has become a major part of a good home…she is the ultimate Cinderella story.

 

ZAZU!!

On March 17th, 2009 a little Blue and Gold Macaw was born at Sue’s aviary, The Baby Bird Shoppe. 

 While at a bird show in Orlando with Sue, I was helping her out with the 18 birds she had brought with her.  This particular baby Blue and Gold Macaw was a very special one.  She was one of 6 that Sue had brought with her that day and the only one that had a cosmetic difference (so to speak).  On one foot there were three toes and on the other only two.  All the birds were sold that day except for one…Zazu.

 Sue hadn’t planned on going home with any birds that day, only the ones she was considering on purchasing.  Then came the question, “Do you want her?”  Ok…now, I ask anybody in their RIGHT mind…who wouldn’t take a 14 week old baby Blue and Gold Macaw for free and despite the cosmetic imperfection?  Uh…right!  Well…that settled that!  Zazu was on her way back with me to Naples, Florida!! 

Despite her “handicap” you would never know she had one…in fact, she doesn’t even know she has one!!  She is treated as though she had all of her toes…her balance and coordination is precise.  Being a fledgeling bird, Zazu has now entered into training for flight recall (which is a SLOW process with fantastic results) under the Internet guidance of some of the most celebrated trainers and the support of Angela Herschel and Barb Saunders  in California (those two ladies have put me in touch with some great people in the Avian World that I am forever grateful).  I am so OCD with teaching Zazu the right way…ya know, my first baby and everything.  I thank my lucky stars I have all the right people helping me out and contributing their knowledge and educating me the correct way for the betterment of me and Zazu.  This has also helped with the others (Kacey, Chloe, and Sophie).  They are getting the idea of positive reinforcement and enrichment.  Although the others do not recall in flight mode, they engage in the concept on a daily basis.

These methods prove to work!  There is nothing better then a parrot that WANTS to come to you…instead of a parrot that feels he/she has no choice.