Archive for the ‘Not Writing Related’ Category

Making Friends With Freddie, Part 4

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

I haven’t posted about Freddie in a while, but not because there isn’t anything to say. Below is a video of him dancing to his favorite song, Good Night Irene. When he’s ready to go to bed, he starts dancing like that and singing.  A little more about that in a bit. As you can see, he’s adorable. And he’s on the counter. We do some target training there, and he hangs out on the counter in the evening while I’m getting my lunch and coffee ready for the morning, doing some kitchen clean up and feeding my sourdough starter.

Target training is going well. When we’re training, he’s 100% on target. Non-training times are about 80% so we need more work and repetitions. For those who don’t know, target training is when you train a bird to touch the end of a chopstick (or any clean dowel or stick). You give a treat as soon as the bird touches the end of the stick. You train the bird to go to the target — that is, wherever you have the end of the chopstick. This teaches the bird to go places you want and need him to go, such as inside a cage, a carrier, or just away from something troublesome.

Right now, Freddie steps up on my forearm, and I need him to step up on my hand because that is a safer and more stable way to carry the bird. I am working on training that. He will now step near my hand, but not yet on it. We have a good time!

Regarding going to bed, yes, he sings and dances to indicate he would like to go to bed, but actually putting him back in his cage is about 70% successful for me. He loves the cat/dog bed under my desk and I realized last night that he seems to want to roost for the night there. This, of course, is a terrible and unsafe idea for him to have. Sometimes when I put him back in his cage for the night, he sidesteps me and grabs the outside of his cage. He then climbs down to the floor and wanders about, and last night was when I realized he wants to roost in my room. It was some time before I could coax him out of my room and for him to decide he was ready to step up. I managed to cleverly block his attempt to not go into his cage. In return for his being in the cage, I sang Good Night Irene to him for some time.

And so our training continues . . . for him and for me.

 

 

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Respect The Beak

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

Now that Freddie the macaw has an indoor perch and has been inside several times and quite excited about it, I had to get some toys for it so he can entertain himself. Here is a video of Freddie making short work of parts of a toy. He was very happy. The big pieces are actually pretty soft, but what you don’t see is the smaller, harder wooden blocks that he chewed up already.

He walked into the living room from the deck and I figured, OK, this will be like the garage where he stepped up on my arm right away. But he didn’t. He made a beeline for the couch and disappeared underneath it, talking to himself the whole time. I put the dogs up in my room and when I came back he was halfway across the living room, and then he happily stepped up. And, he likes being inside and every time I walk past him he lifts up his leg (which is the signal for “I want to be on your arm!”) A couple of times he was unhappy about going back into his cage. So there are some behaviors to work on. This is new territory for us both, of course.

You can read more about Freddie here:
Here and also here.

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Making Friends with Freddie, Part 3

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Since I am wide awake, I will tell you a little more about Freddie the Buffon’s Macaw. Birds are just not a normal pet, as I am learning. He’s my sister’s macaw, by the way. Yes, she does have someone designated to inherit him if he outlives her. Anyway, we have some new perches for his cage that have been very well received, and now the large tree perch has arrived. This is a fancy perch with “branches” at various levels and two food dishes, which I put together and  put in the living room. Today I brought him in the house and put him on his new perch, and he sat there quite excited and happy and had some water and broccoli and a tiny bit of a bagel. He stepped up when he was ready (and not before) and we went back outside. We had this adventure twice! Then he decided for some reason to explore more and walked himself all the way into the garage. But he stepped up and I gave him a snack and put him up for the afternoon, when he gets crabby and needs to be in his cage chilling.

This was pretty exciting for us both. Here is a picture of him sitting on top of an ornamental cage eating a hazelnut.  You can see here he is mostly green but this wings are edged in blue, and his tail has some red, blue, and green feathers.

Freddie the Buffon's Macaw sitting on top of a tall ornamental cage eating a nut I have hidden in paper. You can see his tail feathers in this pic,

Freddie eating a nut.

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Making Friends With Freddie – Part 2

Saturday, January 13th, 2018

My friendship with Freddie the Buffon’s Macaw continues. We have added additional perches in his cage that he is pretty excited about and uses. I bought him a wooden cube that you’re supposed to hide nuts in. It has little holes for him to see that there are nuts inside, and it fastens to the cage for him to spend hours working out how to get to the nuts. My sister put it in his cage, and when she went back a couple hours later it was in shreds on the bottom of the cage. Freddie is an advanced bird. (And, of course, this is why one does not want to be bitten by a macaw.) I think there’s a harder version and I may try buying that for him in case it lasts longer than an hour or two.

He enjoys the foraging toys I make for him, though. I have placed a couple of wrapped up nuts elsewhere in his cage, but he’s not yet used to looking for food other than in his dish. But he will at some point today want to chew on his enormous toy and then, heh heh, I expect him to find those nuts.

The Big News!

I do have big news, and that is that Freddie stepped up on my arm today! He’s not used to stepping up on someone’s hand, but when I offered my arm, he went right up and were we both happy. I walked him over to the top of his cage and he stepped down. This is huge. I have been a little fearful, but it was so obvious that he now trusts me enough to step up that I trusted him back. I will continue to work on this, but I am proud of myself for taking my time, and letting him decide the pace of our friendship.

 

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Making Friends with Freddie

Saturday, January 6th, 2018

Years ago someone gave my sister a macaw named Freddie. She and the bird had bonded, and I think the original owner just wasn’t interested enough to make enough time for being the owner of a bird like him. I will be honest and tell you that Freddie always kind of frightened me because, damn, his beak is BIG, and he is fast, and it was quite easy to tell that he did not have warm feelings toward me the way he does for my sister. I will also confess that I had essentially zero clue about parrots. I just knew I didn’t want to get bitten.

Freddie is a Buffon’s Macaw, aka Great Green Macaw, often confused with the smaller Military Macaw, which is what we thought Freddie was. Once I decided (recently) that I needed/wanted to be friends with Freddie, my research revealed that Freddie is, in fact, a Buffon’s Macaw.  In the picture below, you can see the grey ring around his pupil that is one of the things that differentiates the Buffon’s from the Military. We have other pictures where it’s clear that ring is steel gray. His tail feathers also match the Buffon’s Macaw red and green, as well. Not that it matters, other than for making sure we get the correct information about the care of his species. They are native to South America (Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Ecuador.)

The Buffon’s Macaw is now an endangered species, with only 1,000 or fewer birds left in the wild due to habitat destruction and poaching. According to his vet, he has none of the tattoos or bands that one finds on a bird brought into the United States legally. His vet believes Freddie was probably brought to the US some time in the 1970s. We have no information about him prior to my sister encountering Freddie and his previous owner. He is about 40 years old, and has a life span of 60-80 years.

Upper body of Freddie, A Buffon's Macaw showing his very very big beak. He is green, there is a red ruff above his beak, and his cheeks are reddish because he is interested in his photo being taken.

Freddie’s Beak is big

As you can see from the above picture, Freddie’s beak is indeed big. When my niece was 6 or 7 she put her finger into his cage and got bitten. Her finger was small, his beak is big. She had to go to the ER and has a scar to this day, more than ten years later. You can see that Freddie’s cheeks are reddish. That’s because he is very interested in this picture taking business. Normally, they’d be white. He is amusing himself on the side of a mostly decorative cage that on the deck. We put seed in it for wild birds.

In the picture below, you can see most of Freddie’s tail. The majority of it is in shadow, but you can see the red and blue side tail feathers. You can also see that he’s mostly a chartreuse/ bright green. And that he’s pretty big. He’s not the biggest of the macaws, but he’s not small.

He also doesn’t fly (doesn’t, not can’t) and the vet no longer feels his wings should be clipped. They haven’t been for some years.

 

Freddie the Buffon's Macaw on the side of a cage that is not his. You can't see his entire tail, sorry, but you can see the blue and red tail feathers.

Freddie.

Making Friends With Freddie

Anyway, I decided for lots of reasons that Freddie and I needed to be friends. First, because I like him, and he’s pretty, and we have a responsibility toward the animals in our care. But also because more than one person needs to be able to handle him. This is a bird that could, potentially, outlive me and my sister.

So. I began by watching loads of YouTube videos about Macaws. Freddie was aggressive toward me, but from those videos I learned how to make him comfortable around me.

My lightbulb moment came with me learning how to safely offer treats to a macaw. (Once you and the bird are in a comfortable, relaxed mood, you hold the treat just far enough away that the bird must stretch for the treat. That way, they can’t bite you.)

It was like magic. I can now give Freddie treats without asking him to stretch. I am, of course, learning to read his moods, which is also critical.

Parrots are foragers, so they are both entertained and interested in food they must work to get at. Today, for example, I made several DIY “toys” that required him to work to get the nut inside. This was super simple in that I wrapped a nut inside a clean sheet paper that he had to chew to get to the nut. This was also like magic. He was thrilled and engaged.

Then I took half a cardboard paper towel roll and showed him exactly how I was hiding a nut inside. I used paper to block one end, showed him that I was dropping a nut inside, then put paper in the other end, and plugged up that too. He was beside himself. There’s a happy cooing sort of noise that he makes when he’s happy and excited that that’s what he was doing.

I am also now able to give him head rubs. He shows me when he wants his head scratched and voila!

There’s a lot more friend-making we need to do, and I will be working toward learning how to get him to step up on my hand. This requires that I know what I need to do so keep him feeling safe and appropriately rewarded.

I’ll keep you posted!

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Greetings from 2018

Monday, January 1st, 2018

Wishing everyone the happiest of New Years.

 

A Dahlia that is just barely opening.

To The Future

 

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Happy Holidays

Sunday, December 24th, 2017

Happiest of Holidays!

 

Three bright orange persimmons

Orange. Really Orange

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

Here is a picture of a tulip to enjoy. May everyone have a lovely Thursday, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not.

A pink tulip amid green leaves. It's very pretty and delicate. The tulip slightly open.

Pink Tulip

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Potatoes Just Changed My Life

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

I came across this video and thought the recipe sounded delicious and looked pretty easy. We didn’t have chicken stock so I bought some at the store today and then I made Potatoes Fondant. My life just changed. My god.

They were indeed easy to make, and they are delicious. I want to go make them again. D E L I C I O U S. They are a fairly old method of cooking potatoes and it’s apparently historical enough that it also counts as research. I threw in some rosemary because we were a little low on thyme.

I’ll never be the same.

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It’s Been a Tough Couple of Weeks

Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

One Week Ago

Yeah, it’s been a tough couple of week. Below is a picture I took a week ago (October 15, 2017) from the top half of our driveway. You can see the massive, massive, wide and high, smoke from the Northern California Wild Fires some 15-20 miles away.

Picture of Sonoma Mountain with a massive billowing expanse of smoke.

October 15, 2017

One Week Later

I took this picture today (October 22, 2017) from about the same spot. You’d have to squint or zoom in on the picture to see the faint wisps of smoke.

Same view as previous photo only without the massive amount of smoke. If you squint you can still see some.

October 22, 2017

Fortunately, we did not have to evacuate. My friends and family did not lose homes. But I know many people who did. I am so grateful for First Responders. CalFire expects to have the fires fully contained this week.

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