For Parrots: Posters for Parrot Advocates http://www.forparrots.com Posters for parrot advocates Tue, 31 Mar 2015 20:25:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.20 ArgoFilm’s Parrot Confidential /2013/10/23/argofilms-parrot-confidential/ /2013/10/23/argofilms-parrot-confidential/#comments Wed, 23 Oct 2013 14:15:10 +0000 /?p=2411 Parrot Confidential Announcement

It’s almost here! A year in the making, ArgoFilm’s documentary about wild and captive parrots will be making its debut Wednesday, November 13 on PBS.

I am so excited about this! I first heard about the project back in September 2012. It was conceived by Connie English and Allison Argo, and I had the good fortune to interview these two dedicated women when the project was in its conceptual stages. You can read the interview here.

Join the discussion about parrots and Parrot Confidential on the Nature website here. It’s a lively one, illustrating the different views people hold about parrots.

Official Press Release:

Nature Tells Tales When Parrot Confidential Airs

Owners and rescuers of the popular bird talk about the ups and downs of caring for these colorful characters and the impact of “Baretta”

Talk to enough owners of parrots about their experiences raising an African gray or yellow-naped Amazon and, while their stories may differ, there seems to be a consensus that not everyone is cut out for the task. Unlike dogs and cats, parrots have not been domesticated, they are still wild.

This can have consequences, often unforeseen, for the continued care of parrots by their owners. Unpredictable behavior or ear-shattering squawks, for example, can result in frustrated owners trying to find new homes for their highly intelligent birds, turning to already overcrowded shelters and sanctuaries for help, or in some cases, abandoning their pets. From the wilds of Costa Rica to the suburbs of our own country, Nature explores the difficulties of raising parrots, why some breeders and owners become rescuers, and conservation efforts in the wild when Parrot Confidential airs Wednesday, November 13 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). After the broadcast, the episode will be available for online streaming at PBS.org/nature.

Parrots can reach the age of 80 to 90 years old, outliving many of their owners. Their intense need to form what for them is a mate bond with their human caregivers can lead to problems if the parameters of that close relationship change. The extended absence of a family member or the addition of a child to the household can tip the balance. Boston area residents, Liz and Russ Hartman, experienced first-hand how Basil, their yellow-naped Amazon, reacted after Russ returned from a long business trip. Basil had plucked all of the feathers off his chest, something he had never done before. “It was devastating to us because we didn’t know what was going on,” Russ explained. “We later determined he was so angry that he was willing to go through the pain of pulling his own feathers out. I think he was making a point. You have to be there for them. They are social animals.”

Jamie McLeod of the Santa Barbara Bird Sanctuary and a former breeder agrees that a parrot is “not just part of your life: they become your life.” McLeod says the average person keeps a bird two to four years, which creates a lot of unwanted parrots. “People come in,” McLeod continues, “and they’ll say, “I want a bird that talks, that’s quiet and that doesn’t bite,and that species has not yet been discovered.”

Some breeders, like Phoebe and Harry Linden, felt if they bred parrots, then not as many would be taken from the wild. They started the Santa Barbara Bird Farm around the time the TV series Baretta debuted, which featured actor Robert Blake and his medium sulfur-crested cockatoo that seemed like a cool pet. Demand increased overnight, but it wasn’t long before the Lindens heard about the subsequent rescues or surrenders of parrots to sanctuaries. That led to their decision to stop breeding parrots, care for the ones they had, and take back any bird they raised who needs a home.

Although Marc Johnson hadn’t planned to be a bird rescuer, once he purchased a blue and gold macaw to keep in his pottery studio, he kept getting asked if he would take in other people’s parrots. He and his wife Karen Windsor had to transform an abandoned chicken farm in Hope Valley, R.I. into a permanent sanctuary for unwanted parrots after the number of birds in their home grew to 300. They founded Foster Parrots, Ltd. which provides life-long care to over 500 displaced, captive birds with the help of a small staff and a squad of dedicated volunteers.

There are no sanctuaries for parrots in Michigan, so Marie Charon-Crowley takes unwanted birds into her home and cares for them as best she can. They are fed and watered three to four times a day, their cages cleaned; they need to be nurtured, not ignored. But being overlooked and damaged emotionally is what happened to Dolly, a Moluccan cockatoo, until Lavanya Michel adopted her when she was three years old. Lavanya and Dolly are inseparable, but human carers need regular breaks to see friends and run errands. That’s when Dolly happily greets gift shop visitors at the Santa Barbara Bird Sanctuary in the care of Lavanya’s friend Jamie McLeod.

Nature is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET for PBS. For Nature, Fred Kaufman is executive producer. Parrot Confidential is a Production of THIRTEEN Productions, LLC and ArgoFilms in association with WNET.

Nature pioneered a television genre that is now widely emulated in the broadcast industry. Throughout its history, Nature has brought the natural world to millions of viewers. The series has been consistently among the most-watched primetime series on public television.

Nature has won almost 700 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film communities, and environmental organizations including 11 Emmys, and three Peabodys. The series received two of wildlife film industry’s highest honors: the Christopher Parsons Outstanding Achievement Award given by the Wildscreen Festival and the Grand Teton Award given by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. Recently, the International Wildlife Film Festival honored Nature Executive Producer Fred Kaufman with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Media.

PBS.org/nature is the award-winning web companion to Nature featuring streaming episodes, filmmaker interviews, teacher’s guides, and more. Support for this Nature program was made possible in part by the Arnhold Family in memory of Clarisse Arnhold, the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, the Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by the nation’s public television stations.

 

]]> /2013/10/23/argofilms-parrot-confidential/feed/ 1 Parrots As Animal Assisted Therapy /2013/09/07/parrots-as-animal-assisted-therapy/ /2013/09/07/parrots-as-animal-assisted-therapy/#comments Sat, 07 Sep 2013 12:44:04 +0000 /?p=2371 parrots and peopleI received an email from a woman interested in writing a guest post on For Parrots. I asked her what she had in mind and she suggested a few topics, one of which was Animal Assisted Therapy as it relates to parrots. This sounded great, and I agreed because I felt it was a wonderful opportunity to further education about parrots with those who are new to the subject (ie. the woman who emailed me: she would have to research the topic), and also because I thought it was an interesting idea: those who know parrots know how empathetic they are, and we have multiple stories to prove this. She and I had a good time discussing parrot issues back and forth, and in the end we both gained a greater appreciation for the intelligence of parrots. My sincere thanks to Marcela for writing such a compassionate and interesting post!

–Cheryl

Parrots As Animal Assisted Therapy

Guest post by Marcela De Vivo

Furry friends have always been known to improve our moods when we’re feeling down, but a pet-assisted therapy doesn’t only have to be in the form of a cute cat or dog. Parrots are intelligent creatures that can bring joy into one’s home, given that an owner is willing to take the time and effort to care for these empathetic birds.

In some cases, parrots have been able to help those with mental or physical disorders work with and overcome their conditions. Jim Eggers, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder with psychotic tendencies, would have a habit of becoming “Hulk”-like during his mood swings, disrupting the public peace, damaging property and hurting people.

Since Eggers knew he could be dangerous, he wanted to take steps to improve his personal situation. Having always been an animal lover, Eggers had the opportunity to purchase an African Grey Parrot, named Sadie – this turned out to be a life-altering decision for the better.

Sadie made for a fun, loyal companion – she, like many birds, was very intelligent and could imitate words she would hear from Eggers. She would go everywhere with him too since Eggers had registered her as a service animal (as of 2011, however, only dogs are recognized to be service animals). She bonded quickly with him, to the point of having the ability to placate his dangerous mood swings.

Whenever Eggers would feel an episode was about to happen, he tried to control his mood by saying “calm down” aloud to himself. Eventually, with Sadie being in hearing distance, Sadie began repeating these same words to Eggers, “Calm down.” This would immediately bring Eggers out of his state and bring him back in control.

During one particular bout when Eggers felt an episode brewing, Sadie was the first to speak up. Sadie’s instinct was both shocking and amazing to Eggers, although to Dr. Irene Pepperberg, a noted scientist who studies and works closely with parrots, the bird’s words come to no surprise.

While Eggers’ case where a bird helps a person with bipolar disorder is rare, Dr. Pepperberg says birds look out for one another and their owners. Sadie could sense that her owner was not in his stable state, so she acted upon that knowledge to calm him down and get him comfortable.

To say the least, Sadie has saved Eggers’ life.

While a bird can do so much for an owner such as Eggers, it is important to note that an owner equally needs to do much for the bird, as taking care of parrots is a demanding task that may not be for everyone. A would-be owner needs to ask one’s self if s/he can genuinely put in the time, effort, and heart into taking care of these intelligent and beautiful creatures.

The owners of “On a Wing and a Prayer,” understand the hard work and love that goes into taking care of parrots, and they can vouch for the soothing power of birds.

A pet-assisted therapy program in Oklahoma dedicated to working with birds, owners Maureen Horton and Joyce Legere can see that the birds bring their clients, those in nursing homes and other rehabilitation facilities, back to a softened state – those who wouldn’t talk begin to speak again, and hardened criminals are like children in awe when they see and want to pet a bird.

There are other examples of how the healing benefits can be mutual. In 2007, NPR ran a story of war veterans suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome and they worked in a sanctuary with abused birds. The relationship was symbiotic for the birds and the veterans as they were all coping with what they had experienced, and were on the path to recovery with one another’s help.

Through animal assisted therapy programs or having them as pets, parrots can bring about a world of good and happiness; but as the relationship has to be mutual, an owner has to be willing to bring about a world of love, goodness, and happiness into the parrot’s world as well. If one is able, ready, and willing to care for a parrot knowing the hard work that goes into the task, parrots could make great companions.

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance health writer and proud mother of three in Southern California. As a mother of a special needs child, she has tried several different therapies and encourages other parents of special needs children to do so as well. You can follow her journey by visiting www.PrayForNathan.org

 

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Vida Livre (Live Free) /2013/07/07/vida-livre-live-free/ /2013/07/07/vida-livre-live-free/#comments Sun, 07 Jul 2013 12:20:37 +0000 /?p=2259 bookcover

I feel humans have a stewardship to protect this beautiful planet that gives us so very much – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

-Kitty Harvill

I first crossed virtual paths with Kitty Harvill when I discovered a wonderful new book which has been created to help educate children in Brazil about the endangered Brazilian Red-tailed Amazon (Amazona brasiliensis): Vida Livre (Live Free). I am always looking out to see how countries which actually have wild parrots go about trying to end the parrot trade in their own backyard; often, this means teaching their children so they grow up to be conservationally-aware adults.

Kitty is the illustrator behind this beautiful work of art, and I was thrilled to receive a copy of this wonderful book. I discovered she spends her time in both the US and Brazil, and has been granted the prestigious “Artist For Conservation” award. As stated in her official bio, “much of her work is focused on endangered species and the beauty of the Atlantic Forest. Her use of color, both dramatic and delicate, her instinctual response to the play of light on her subject continue to be defining characteristics of the artist as she strives to present the viewer with the wonder, magic, and ultimately the importance of a severely threatened area of our planet.”

Enchanted by the illustrations – which made the book’s plot clear despite my not being able to understand Portuguese – I asked Kitty if she would tell me more about the book, how it came to be, and what is being done to help the endangered Red-tailed Amazon and the groups working to protect it. She graciously agreed, and what follows is her fascinating story.

Kitty Harvill at her desk with her feathered muses

Kitty Harvill at her desk with her feathered muses

Interview with Kitty Harvill

What does it mean to be an “Artist for Conservation”? You have been recognized as such since 2009. 

artist-for-conservationSignature membership in Artists for Conservation is limited to 500 members and is by invitation only. It is a jury process that considers one’s artistic ability and also one’s participation in conservation efforts. Our membership spans 27 countries and I am the only member painting proudly under the Brazilian flag (I have dual residency in the states and Brazil). I was honored with the award of Conservation Artist of the Month in April of this year.

As a Conservation Artist, I feel it relates to all areas of my life – being mindful of every choice we make and how it affects our planet and those we share it with. For example, I’m committed to eating organic and locally grown food whenever possible, to using skin and hair products that are eco-friendly and most importantly, not tested on animals, everything from toothpaste (flouride-free) to hair color that is cruelty-free and safer for both the environment and my scalp!

Endangered species of Brazil, © Kitty Harvill

Endangered species of Brazil, © Kitty Harvill

 

Have you always been interested in combining your art with helping animals and in particular endangered animals; what was your “light bulb” moment?

Until my first few trips to Brazil, I was the president of a small design firm in Little Rock, AR. I illustrated children’s picture books, magazine articles, and gift items…painted portraits and still-life paintings. Always at the ready to donate to the local humane society or various other charitable organizations, but not primarily wildlife, no.

In 2004, I lost my mother to Alzheimer’s. She was an artist, a watercolorist, we began our art careers at the same time – when I left for college, she went back to college to study art, she was 46 at the time. I was 46 when she died and thought that perhaps I should start a new career, just as she had at that age. I began making more trips to Brazil but to photograph the wild nature, not to paint…in fact, I didn’t paint for 2 years after her death. But, what was happening to me, I see now in retrospect that being in Nature was healing me from the grief of her loss – I’m an only child and she was my best friend.

In 2006, I had the urge to make a pastel painting from a Giant River Otter photo I had taken – and there it was – my new passion: my hand literally flew around the paper, I was in love with making art again, but with new energy and a new purpose. I knew then I wanted to share the amazing creatures I had been photographing through my interpretation of them in watercolor, pastel, oil, etc.

"Ariranha" © Kitty Harvill

“Ariranha” © Kitty Harvill

 

What led you to do the Vida Livre project, and what is its goal?

If you work to raise awareness and save a species, you will, in turn save an ecosystem as well.

I had the opportunity to visit Ilha Pinheiro where the Red-tailed parrots have a large dormitory and every morning and every evening there is a spectacular show as the birds fly out to the mainland to feed during the day, and return to sleep on the island at night. This was in December of 2007.

© SPVS

© SPVS

It wasn’t until December of 2008 that we were invited to accompany the biologist Elenise Sipinski of SPVS (Sociedade de Pesquisa em Vida Selvagem e Educação Ambiental) on her trip to Ilha Rasa (another island in the Guaraqueçaba Bay area) where there is a project running of artificial nests. So, there I went with my camera, photographing every step of that adventure – and at the end of the few days, I turned to my husband and said – this is a book. He encouraged me to make a few sketches and we would present the idea to SPVS. They liked the idea, but…we needed an author. It was several months before we found author Adélia Woellner, a well-known children’s author here in Curitiba.

Fresh off the presses!

Fresh off the presses!

It is unusual for a book to start with the illustrations and not the other way around. But, I provided her with thumbnail sketches of what I envisioned for the story of the project and she did a wonderful job of combining a fantasy story of the birds which we were able to weave together with her words and my pictures.

Next we submitted it through “Lei Rouanet”, a process for projects to be approved by the Brazilian Ministry of Culture…and waited several months for the approval. Once approved, it was time to find a sponsor – a project that is approved by Lei Rouanet allows the company that chooses to sponsor it, a tax deduction, which is not allowed on other donations in Brazil. So, more waiting…meanwhile I began the illustration process, so that by the time we had our sponsor, the illustrations were complete and ready to go to the text designer and then printer.

All in all, it was a long process – what began as a trip with Tise (Elenise) in December 2008 ended with the official launch of the book in June 2012.

The reason and goal for all this effort is education. Of the 3,000 books printed, 1,500 have been distributed free of charge to schools, libraries, and children all along the coast of Brazil where this parrot lives. If you work to raise awareness and save a species, you will, in turn save an ecosystem as well.

Vida Livre book launch

Vida Livre book launch

 

Please give a brief overview of the plot of the story (as the actual book is in Portuguese):

Note: “Vida Livre” means “Live Free” in Portuguese.

The story begins with a fantasy view of the bird as Dona Caroxa (Dona is the Portuguese term for the lady of the house, and Caroxa comes from the name of the parrot in Portuguese – Papagaio-de-cara-roxa – or literally the purple-faced parrot). She shows how the parrots gather in the morning to fly out for food, the types of food they eat, their predators, etc.

From Vida Livre, © Kitty Harvill

From Vida Livre, © Kitty Harvill

When she and Seu Caroxa (her hubby) decide to start a family, she flies out to find a suitable nest, but all the trees that these parrots prefer have been cut down and she is very sad. She finds a strange substitute – an artificial nest created by the team at SPVS and decides to give it a try – actually it seems to offer more protection from predators that might steal and eat the eggs she lays.

From Vida Livre, © Kitty Harvill

From Vida Livre, © Kitty Harvill

Her chicks hatch and she and Seu Caroxa fly out to find food for them, but she worries because there are so many dangers in the world for parrots. She warns her babies about people that steal parrots and take them far away to live in cages, often dying along the way.

Finally she calls a meeting at Avô Caroxão’s tree home (the big grandfather parrot) to warn all the “teenagers” and their parents. This ends the fantasy section which is illustrated in cut-paper collage.

From Vida Livre, © Kitty Harvill

From Vida Livre, © Kitty Harvill

In the next scene – Dona Caroxa continues as a narrator (in cut-paper) but the illustrations change to a more realistic watercolor style as she explains that there are good people that are helping the parrots. The story then continues with the team bringing the babies down from the nest to be measured and weighed and their beaks measured, checking for larva in their eyes, taking a feather from the back of the neck for genetic testing in São Paulo, etc…until the babies are returned to their nests.

From Vida Livre, © Kitty Harvill

From Vida Livre, © Kitty Harvill

The book then reverts back to the cut-paper style as she explains that the numbers of the parrots are increasing, then shows a father and son planting a tree while a mother and daughter gaze into the forest and the phrase – the place of the parrot is in the forest – culminating with – THE PLACE OF THE PARROT IS IN THE FOREST! Following is an informational double-page spread complete with relevant websites.

From Vida Livre, © Kitty Harvill

From Vida Livre, © Kitty Harvill

This video follows the dream of the team that made the story of the Papagaio-de-cara-roxa a reality in the book “VIDA LIVRE”:

 

I love the paper cut illustrations you did for the book (in addition to the paintings). What made you decide to create a paper cut or a painted illustration (it appears that the paintings represent the conservationists??)?

The children’s books I’ve illustrated in the past in cut-paper have been quite successful, so I wanted to use this style in the book. I also have been doing portraits for years, so I wanted to include portraits of the real people of the project. I’m really pleased that I was able to merge these two very different styles and have, what I consider an innovative and successful outcome. We have inquiries to use this same format for books about other endangered species.

From Vida Livre, © Kitty Harvill

From Vida Livre, © Kitty Harvill

 

How long did it take you to create the illustrations/paintings? Was there any special process involved?

This project was a labor of love – I have no idea how many hours I spent, probably all together from initial layouts to the last brushstroke or glued paper piece, about 6 months. Unlike American children’s books which are 32 pages, this book is 48 pages.

The cut paper is an involved process. I use a special hand-made Japanese paper, then paint large areas with acrylic paint using colors that I will need for a specific page. Next, I make pattern pieces from every shape from my drawing. I lay these pattern pieces over the painted acrylic paper to see which areas will work best for that specific shape, then I use an x-acto knife to cut the shapes.

process06

After all the shapes are cut, I do a watercolor underpainting on 300 lb. Arches cold press paper. I make a copy of my original drawing in marker (the original pencil will smear) and tape it to my watercolor paper. Then, I glue and slide the pieces into position on the watercolor paper. I especially like the dimensional effect achieved with this process. Note – some of the pieces are reeeeeaaally small – every beak, eye, etc…

process07

For more photos of the making of Vida Livre, please see Kitty’s album here.

 

How long did you spend with the SPVS conservationists? What is one memory you have of your time there?

We have been involved with SPVS since moving to Curitiba in 2006. My husband was friends with the President Clovis Borges. He (my husband, Christoph Hrdina) has been working in nature for more than 30 years here. Originally from Frankfurt, Germany and an international banker for 10 years before choosing to move to Brazil at age 30.

In 1986 he co-founded Funatura in central Brazil, that’s saved hundreds of thousands of acres and turned them into a national park – his is a fascinating story! The actual excursion we took was only 2-3 days but enough inspiration and material to carry me through the book.

SPVS also supplied additional reference photos for me as far as the foods the birds eat, predators, views of the bay area, etc.

The team at SPVS

The team at SPVS

 

What is the work that SPVS is doing for the birds? How did you become involved with them?

SPVS monitors the numbers of birds using yearly censos counts. They have about 60 artificial nests on Ilha Rasa and the birds seem to like and even prefer them. They monitor and check the nests regularly by having their team visit and by hiring the local people (some of whom actually participated in the illegal parrot trade in the past, but have been educated about the parrots and are now their defenders).

SPVS Papagaio/Parrot Census Count 2012

SPVS Papagaio/Parrot Census Count 2012

 

You have participated in a number of census counts for the parrot. Have you noticed a decline yourself in the parrot population since beginning the counts?

We just participated in a census count a few weeks ago, the numbers have been slowly increasing and this year saw quite an increase, with over 5,000 (the 2nd highest count ever).

SPVS Papagaio/Parrot Census Count 2012

SPVS Papagaio/Parrot Census Count 2012

 

Do many people in Brazil still catch the birds and keep them as pets (or export them), or are people coming to realize how special they are and should stay in the wild (especially as they live in such a small part of Brazil)?

Campaigners in Brazil believe the illegal wildlife trade is so extensive that some species may be driven close to extinction.They say poachers are taking an estimated 38 million birds, animals and reptiles from the wild each year.

Campaigners in Brazil believe the illegal wildlife trade is so extensive that some species may be driven close to extinction.
They say poachers are taking an estimated 38 million birds, animals and reptiles from the wild each year.

Illegal trafficking of this particular parrot still exists, but is very limited, we think largely due to the awareness of the population in the area where he lives.

Illegal trafficking of other parrots is still quite a big problem. (Note: see more about trafficking in Brazil here and here.)

Have you ever lived with a parrot, or had a relationship with a wild parrot? Why do you feel these animals should be saved?

I have had a relationship with a parakeet, so, I know how intelligent and emotional these animals are. They are beautiful creatures, a vital part of the web of life, and in my opinion, every creature has its reason and its right to be.

I feel humans have a stewardship to protect this beautiful planet that gives us so very much – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Remember, after my mother’s death – it seemed Nature felt I should be saved !

© Hudson Garcia

© Hudson Garcia

 

Briefly, what is being done to help return the birds back from being endangered?

I think providing the birds with alternatives for nesting, educating the populations in the areas where the parrot lives and flies to find food are two of the most important actions to bring them out of their endangered status.

What more needs to be done and how can people help?

Supporting organizations who work scientifically to help these species and continued education of the population and creative ways to raise awareness. We have it all in our hands to make changes, but the biggest changes seem to be in the minds and hearts of our fellow human beings.

From Vida Livre, © Kitty Harvill

From Vida Livre, © Kitty Harvill

 

Do you see a direct tie with those in North America (and other continents without indigenous parrots) wanting to keep birds as pets and the poaching and export of parrots from countries that do have them (even though there are strict laws preventing wild caught birds from entering North America)?

spixAs long as there is a market, illegal trafficking will exist. I’m more familiar with this problem through my connection with the Spix’s Macaw. I was commissioned to paint this species for ICMBio’s International Action Plan this past February. I became so interested in this macaw that I ordered “Spix’s Macaw: The Race to Save the World’s Rarest Bird” by Tony Juniper [note from Cheryl: I’ve read it, and it’s well-worth hunting down], and I’ve offered the image to Bird Life International/SAVE Brasil to use in their program to educate the population in the area where they hope to reintroduce the Spix’s Macaw in a few years.

There are about 85 birds in captivity worldwide (they are considered Extinct-in-the-Wild). It seems that humans just want to have whatever happens to be considered rare (and beautiful) and will pay very high amounts (estimates are around $60,000 for the Spix’s Macaw).

If we solve the problem of human greed, and instill respect for all living creatures, we will solve the problem of illegal trafficking – and so, we’re back to education and raising awareness and consciousness.

We have it all in our hands to make changes, but the biggest changes seem to be in the minds and hearts of our fellow human beings.

From Vida Livre, © Kitty Harvill

From Vida Livre, © Kitty Harvill

Further information

 

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82 African Grey Parrots Rescued in Cameroon /2013/06/25/82-african-grey-parrots-rescued-in-cameroon/ /2013/06/25/82-african-grey-parrots-rescued-in-cameroon/#respond Tue, 25 Jun 2013 12:36:57 +0000 /?p=2243 june13-2013-80parrots-poster

JUST IN:

From Ainare Idoiaga, Limbe Wildlife Centre:

On 16 June 2013, with no advanced notice, Limbe Wildlife Centre was brought a total of 82 African Grey Parrots (Psittacus erithacus) that were confiscated by Ministry of Forests and Wildlife (MINFOF) officials from smugglers who issues are detected and addressed, and weight is taken. All parrots are banded, which allows us to keep track of each individual. Those requiring additional medication or specialized care are placed into hospitalization.

Since 2007, Limbe Wildlife Centre has received 3,269 African Grey Parrots as a result of confiscations from the illegal animal trade (the largest number of parrots brought to any African sanctuary). Confiscated parrots often arrive on extremely short notice, the latest group arriving with no notice at all, and being a primate-focused sanctuary, we struggle to provide the highest standards of rehabilitative care to these individuals, with the ultimate goal of releasing all of them into the wild. African Grey rehabilitation and care is a financially and time costly process, and with so many new arrivals, we are struggling to cover veterinary costs, find space to house them for the quarantine period, and must make serious repairs to our flight cage.

Please help your parrot’s wild cousins! Please donate and/or share!

  • Limbe Wildlife Centre: www.limbewildlife.org
  • Limbe Wildlife Centre on Facebook
  • Blog: limbewildlifecentre.wildlifedirect.org
  • To donate to Limbe Wildlife and help the parrots, you can send a Paypal donation to “stichting weesaapjes”. This is a Dutch primate rescue that helps Limbe Wildlife take online donations. Make sure to note that your donation is for Limbe. Stichting Weesaapjes’ website.

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A Prayer for Sneakers /2013/03/21/a-prayer-for-sneakers/ /2013/03/21/a-prayer-for-sneakers/#comments Thu, 21 Mar 2013 23:27:11 +0000 /?p=2215 Rest in peace my love.

Sneakers

The following tribute touched my heart deeply and I requested permission to share. Once you read it, I know that you will understand why. To all the wild birds who have passed through our homes…

On March 15, 2013, Marie Charon Crowley shared that her Sneakers had passed away. It turned out Sneakers was a wild-caught Conure who lived her final days with Marie at Feathered Friends of Michigan, a parrot rescue in Michigan. Marie wrote:

I’m gonna miss her a lot. I expect to lose many/all of our old wild caught conures over the next few years and then they will all be gone from captivity and released to the great blue skies…

Sneakers had been with me for months and she is my old wild caught girl (conure) who I had to have wings amputated. We don’t see with the stress she was under all her life; how she could have possibly carried it all that time.

I always read [this Navaho] prayer when things are hard. It made me smile to think of her like that. So it was my prayer for Sneakers. To be happy, to be healthy to flying free.

The wild caughts know what they lost. She would sit and stare at the sky for hours and just soak in the sun.

wildconure01

A pair of wild Nanday Conures (Black-hooded Conure) devouring a mango
Refugio Ecologico Caiman, the Pantanal, Brazil

Prayer for Sneakers

Navaho Prayer adapted and dedicated to those who have saved, and been saved, and loved, and lost. I didn’t think the Navaho Gods would mind if I borrowed their prayer. —Marie Charon Crowley

To you who dwell in houses made of man
To you my greatest love in my darkest hour
You have accepted my sacrifice
I have lived your all

My feet restore to me
My wings restore to me
My body restore to me
My mind restore to me
My voice restore to me

I am released into the bright blue skies.
Today you have released me into the bright blue sky.
May we fly together in the bright blue sky.
May we hear our young in the bright blue sky.
May we sing our song in the bright blue sky.

Happily I recover.
Happily my interior becomes cool.
Happily my eyes regain their power.
Happily my head becomes cool.
Happily my limbs regain their power.
Happily I hear again.
Happily for me the spell is taken Off.

Happily I fly

Impervious to pain, I fly
Feeling light within, I fly

In beauty I fly

With beauty before me, I fly
With beauty behind me, I fly
With beauty below me, I fly

I am released again into the bright blue sky.

wildconure02

A flock of wild Nanday Conures (Black-hooded Conure) in flight
Pousada Campo Neta, Necolandia region, the Pantanal, Brazil

Links:

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Shauna’s Mash /2013/02/24/shaunas-mash/ /2013/02/24/shaunas-mash/#respond Sun, 24 Feb 2013 15:29:18 +0000 /?p=1944 Annabelle eating a Mash-filled Cherry Tomato. Photo credit: Shauna Roberts

Annabelle eating a Mash-filled Cherry Tomato. Photo credit: Shauna Roberts

From guest blogger Shauna Roberts:

These are raw unprepared grains & legumes. Photo credit: Shauna Roberts

These are raw unprepared grains & legumes. Photo credit: Shauna Roberts

Mash is a mixture of legumes, grains, vegetables and some fruit and first became known in the ’70s by breeder John Stoodley. Since that time it evolved into a few well known recipes in the early ’90s such as Alicia McWatter’s and today is basically a whole food diet. “Whole food” meaning ingredients such as grains are whole grains like hulled barley, not pearled barley in order to deliver more nutrition.

A mash can be varied to somewhat* meet different species dietary needs, as well as some individuals, if they are suspected of some sort of dietary or other issue. A few species such as Eclectus parrots for example don’t general tolerate pellets well so a mash as part of the diet could be a helpful solution. A mash consists of a grains and legumes base that if mixed properly should supply a complete protein. These should be prepared properly by soaking overnight, rinsed until water is clear and then most often brought to a boil, boiled for 10 minutes, no less, uncovered and then covered and simmered for 20 minutes or until legumes are soft. Shauna’s Mash suggest the use of the less toxic legume types: lentil, dry or split pea, adzuki, mung and chickpea. If using those particular legumes you can also sprout if desired although cooking is still the preferred method. If one does sprout grains are ready as soon as tails appear but legumes need to develop at least 1/2” tails, longer is better in order to improve digestibility.

When adding produce to the grains and legumes it’s highly suggested that it be finely chopped/minced or put into a food processor. This helps to insure a parrot eats all that it put into the recipe and also helps eliminate the problem of picky eaters who tend to fill up on favorite foods first making them more prone to malnutrition. Frozen vegetables can also be used in mash but with some caution since the most common frozen foods added are peas, carrots and corn which tend to again to be eaten first resulting in an unbalanced diet. Frozen peas and corn especially are often best offered separately like a dessert after mash has been eaten.

If offering mash as part of a parrot’s diet we should be aware that mash lacks a few important nutrients. Those are vitamins D3 required for calcium absorption and B12. Also a fresh diet such as mash is most always high in phosphorus making it low in calcium no matter how many calcium rich veggies you may be including, so consider some sort of calcium supplementation in order to balance the calcium:phosphorus ratio. The first mash diet in the 70’s is said to have resulted in beautiful healthy looking birds but x-rays are said to have shown skeletal thinning in those birds years later which is a result of a high phosphorus diet.

Including pellets in the diet can help supply vitamins D3 and B12. If birds’ can go safely outdoors for natural sunlight this can help with D3, be sure to offer shade and water when outside. For some calcium one might offer cuttle bone free choice. There are also nutrition calculators available for anyone measuring out a recipe to check the calcium:phosphorus ratio they are offering such as this one set up with parrots in mind:

Compare Relative Nutrients in Two Diets
*Note: We don’t know what most parrots’ dietary requirements are although have some general knowledge of basic requirements. A lot has been learned over the years but there are also over 320 species to learn about and consider their differences.

A final note from Shauna and a great suggestion: 

I like using fresh produce so have the grains/legume base frozen, I thaw it and add produce from the food processor, mix in EFAs, supplements and all that takes me 15 minutes most mornings to feed 17 birds, plus the leftover mash that is dinner. It does become simple. I just returned from a veterinary conference and for that every time I made mash I fed it in the morning but bagged/froze the other half (evening portion) and before I knew it I had 10 bags of completed mash in the freezer all ready for the birdsitter. All she had to do was thaw and scoop and there was extra so just getting home I’m using up what’s left.

Ways to use Shauna’s Mash:

Mash-filled Cherry Tomatoes. Photo credit: Shauna Roberts

Mash-filled Cherry Tomatoes. Photo credit: Shauna Roberts

Mash Tortilla! Photo credit: Shauna Roberts

Mash Tortilla! Photo credit: Shauna Roberts

Mash Ole'! Mash-filled jalapenos. Photo credit: Shauna Roberts

Mash Ole’! Mash-filled jalapenos. Photo credit: Shauna Roberts

The Making of Shauna’s Mash: Step-by-Step including 5 Recipes by Candace Dryden

Originally posted on the FeedingFeathers facebook page by Candace Dryden.

I wanted to let everyone know that Shauna’s Mash can be done even if you work 60 hours a week.

I spent 3 hours (not including shopping time) making 5 different recipes for a 2 month’s supply of healthy foods. We always want to make sure we have a variety of whole foods to offer. This way, I can just pull a different recipe, every couple of days, and I am not just making one kitchen sink recipe that would surely be lacking. I cover all my bases, and it saves time for that hurried morning.

1. I went shopping and I purchased about $60. worth of vegetables and fruits.

1. I went shopping and I purchased about $60. worth of vegetables and fruits.

 

2. The pile of veggies are broken down into individual recipes each one measured to make sure we have a balance of Betacarotene, Vitamin K, and other essential vitamins and minerals.

2. The pile of veggies are broken down into individual recipes each one measured to make sure we have a balance of Betacarotene, Vitamin K, and other essential vitamins and minerals.

 

3. I cooked the hard squashes, root vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables.

3. I cooked the hard squashes, root vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables.

 

4. I put everything in the food processor from each recipe.

4. I put everything in the food processor from each recipe.

 

5. Packaging each recipe seperately allows us to have a wider variety of foods offered in rotations, where as, grinding them all up into one giant batch, you are sure to miss some nutrients available. As well as, this also gives the bird a variety of tastes so as not to get bored.

5. Packaging each recipe seperately allows us to have a wider variety of foods offered in rotations, where as, grinding them all up into one giant batch, you are sure to miss some nutrients available. As well as, this also gives the bird a variety of tastes so as not to get bored.

 

6. Very important to remember to add the EFAs, Green supplements and kelp. Balance is key to healthy bird.

6. Very important to remember to add the EFAs, Green supplements and kelp. Balance is key to healthy bird.

 

About Shauna Roberts:

Shauna has had an interest in nutrition since the mid late 1960s. She renewed that interest in 1997 when a cockatoo wasn’t doing well on pellets, and she realized a fresh diet was needed. The bird is now over 17 and doing well, as is the rest of her flock – now 16 – some of which arrived with dietary health issues. She is also a diet consultant for the parrot welfare organization, The Gabriel Foundation. Her research has taken her to various conferences to listen to nutrition experts as far as Japan and EU, as well as attending AAV (Association of Avian Veterinarians) conferences since 2003 in her mission to learn.

After retiring as a veterinary assistant, she discovered the internet and has been learning from and helping bird owners since 1995. In 2003, a parrot food list was founded named FeedingFeathers and now has over 3,700 members.

Further information:

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Limbe Wildlife Centre’s African Grey Parrot Poster /2013/02/15/limbe-wildlife-centres-african-grey-parrot-poster/ /2013/02/15/limbe-wildlife-centres-african-grey-parrot-poster/#comments Fri, 15 Feb 2013 18:25:39 +0000 /?p=2189 limbeparrots

I have received an update from Ainare about the 14 parrots which Limbe Wildlife Centre rescued back in November 2012. The birds were confiscated from a smuggler on his way to Nigeria and are currently being rehabbed at LWC . Ultimately, they will be released back into the wild. You can read the full story on For Parrots and see photos here.

Ainare writes,

I have attached some pictures of the Korup group that now are in the flight cage. They already passed the quarantine and they put some weight and they are refeathering pretty well.

Wild African Grey Parrot recovering at Limbe Wildlife Centre, Cameroon.

Wild African Grey Parrot recovering at Limbe Wildlife Centre, Cameroon.

parrot02 parrot03

Ainare also included a poster LWC created for their education board, and I am including it here. Please feel free to download the high-res version to assist in any of your education events, and help show people what is happening to wild parrots.

Further information:

Download LWC’s poster here

 

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Water: Simply Perfect /2013/02/02/water-simply-perfect/ /2013/02/02/water-simply-perfect/#respond Sat, 02 Feb 2013 22:18:53 +0000 /?p=2001 8x10-300-drinking-water01-sm

Today’s post by guest blogger Shauna Roberts (FeedingFeathers) is all about water. Some things might seem complicated when it comes to nutrition for parrots, but when it come to water, simple and basic is best!

Water makes up a large percentage of body weight and is critical for life. Once in the body water becomes the fluid in which all life processes occur. It carries nutrients and waste products throughout the body. Participates in chemical reactions. Serves as a solvent for minerals, vitamins, amino acids, glucose and more. It also aids in thermoregulation and maintains blood volume. The body maintains water balance by intake and output. Water is necessary to prevent dehydration. Dehydration if left unresolved can lead to several health complications and even death.

Supplying a clean water source is extremely important. Intake of water can vary per bird and will also vary some per diet. If eating a mostly dry diet then water intake will be higher than if eating wet foods such as vegetables. Vegetables can contain up to 90% water, and legumes around 60-70% water.

A vivid memory concerns a single macaw drinking. Parrots find water in different ways, the most common being in bromeliads in rainforest and from streams in open country.

Here these options did not exist. The macaw had walked across the muddy ground, interspersed with clumps of grass, to reach a large dirty puddle. At the end of the dry season this was all that survived of a larger extent of water. The macaw drank its fill, lifting its head time after time to let the water trickle down its throat.

-Rosemary Low, Wild Parrots Up Close

There are many ways to supply clean water:

  • To help ensure clean water a water bottle may be used. If using a water bottle check the valve daily that it isn’t plugged such as a parrot jamming a piece of wood inside the nozzle. Also be sure to wash the bottle and value regularly in a dishwasher, hand washing alone may not clean the value well enough. Also make sure your parrot has learned how to use a water bottle before leaving it as the only source of water.
  • Change water at least once a day. If your bird soils a water bowl with feces or food, change water as many times a day as required to keep water clean. Also make sure there aren’t perches above a water dish, with a bowl ending up being part of the poop zone.
  • Always wash bowls in warm soapy water (rinse well!) or put in a dishwasher daily.

There are several sources of water:

  • Many city tap waters are fine, and if chlorine is added by the town, a water filter could be added to your sink that removes chlorine and other chemicals.
  • Bottled water is another choice, although many bottled waters are no better/worse than town municipal water.
  • Reverse osmosis or distilled water is pure water. There is a myth that this water will leach minerals from the body or another statement that it won’t supply any minerals. If water leaches any minerals from the body it would be extremely minute and not a concern. As far as water supplying minerals, water is not considered a dietary source of minerals, there just aren’t enough of them in water to consider it as dietary source of minerals. Far more minerals are received by eating foods.

Photo credit: Steve Brookes

Some thoughts on adding vitamins, aloe, or other additives to water:

Plain water as nature intended is always best and is what’s recommended for drinking (and also bathing).

Adding Vitamins

Vitamins in the water are still commonly found for purchase, but have not been recommended for several years. The possible issues are:

  • A bird that doesn’t drink enough water due to water tasting off to them and becoming dehydrated.
  • If the environment is hot, a bird may drink more than normal and get too much supplementation, which maybe result in toxicity.
  • Sunlight can break down vitamins, so what you think you might be supplementing may not be so.
  • If a bird has kidney or other issues that cause it to drink excess water, they could end up with too much supplementation.
  • What might be added to water is medication under veterinary advice. Although not the best way to medicate for a skittish bird or sometimes very small bird, this may be a first least-intrusive option to try.
  • For very little birds, if not eating pellets or having an iodine source, adding to water following directions and veterinary direction is sometimes done. Occasionally calcium may also be prescribed to add to a bird’s water for a recommended amount of time.

Photo credit: Sergio Ramazzotti

Adding Aloe

For several years the suggestion of adding aloe to water also pops up. Amounts of aloe to add to water vary and may even be as little as 1/8 teaspoon, but usually without any consideration to the size of a water bowl. A budgie’s water bowl is a very different size than a large macaw’s.

Aloe taken orally has some possible side effects that could be serious. Some may think a small amount can’t do any harm, but if there is enough aloe in water to be of any help, then there will also be the potential of eventual harm. As there aren’t any studies at this time involving parrots and aloe, I will mention warnings and side effects for humans:

  • May lower blood sugar levels.
  • Avoid taking aloe orally for prolonged periods as a laxative, due to theoretical risk of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
  • Use caution in patients with kidney disease, heart disease, or electrolyte abnormalities, due to theoretical risk of low blood potassium levels. Extremely low potassium levels could result in death.
  • Use cautiously in patients with impaired liver function due to reports of hepatitis from taking aloe by mouth.
  • “Aloe may cause ammonium acid urate stones; delayed wound healing; dry skin; excessive bleeding (one case); gastrointestinal distress (abdominal cramping and diarrhea); Henoch-Schonlein purpura; hepatitis; increased risk of colon cancer, low potassium, worsened constipation and/or dependency on laxatives (with long-term use); irregular heartbeat; itchiness; muscle weakness; photodermatitis; skin changes (redness, stinging, hardness, soreness, and fissures); or thyroid dysfunction. ” Mayo Clinic

Water is also great for bathing your bird, and again plain water is BEST! Aloe added to water leaves a sticky film causing a birds feathers to become dirty that much faster.

Water moisturizes nares and feathers. Water is not drying to skin or feathers. If using a water bottle to spritz birds, be sure to empty water every time and wash bottle out the best you can and let dry to prevent bacteria forming in the bottle.

Baby the Macaw’s Bonus Poster!

8x10-300-drinking-water02-sm

About Shauna Roberts:

Shauna has had an interest in nutrition since the mid late 1960s. She renewed that interest in 1997 when a cockatoo wasn’t doing well on pellets, and she realized a fresh diet was needed. The bird is now over 17 and doing well, as is the rest of her flock – now 16 – some of which arrived with dietary health issues. She is also a diet consultant for the parrot welfare organization, The Gabriel Foundation. Her research has taken her to various conferences to listen to nutrition experts as far as Japan and EU, as well as attending AAV (Association of Avian Veterinarians) conferences since 2003 in her mission to learn.

After retiring as a veterinary assistant, she discovered the internet and has been learning from and helping bird owners since 1995. In 2003, a parrot food list was founded named FeedingFeathers and now has over 3,700 members.

Further information:

Download the Cockatoo poster here Download the Macaw poster here

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Nuts! /2013/01/26/nuts/ /2013/01/26/nuts/#comments Sat, 26 Jan 2013 15:11:17 +0000 /?p=1692 food05-nuts2-sm

UPDATE January 26, 2013: I have altered the poster (removed the fish reference) after a message from New Life Parrot Rescue: Hemp seed is also another great essential fatty acids. We wouldn’t advocate feeding parrots fish due to pollutants in our waters and the fact that most parrots are essentially vegan and get their EFAs through a plant-based diet, including nuts and important seeds and grains.

Today, our guest blogger from FeedingFeathers, Shauna Roberts, writes about nuts and the reasons to add them to a parrot’s diet — in moderation: 

Nuts are a food that energize.They are oily kernels within a hard-shelled fruit. Technically nuts are a few different things. Almonds and pistachios are fruits, peanuts are a legume and pine nuts and Brazil nuts are seeds. In general, nuts and seeds can be a source of vitamin E, essential fatty acids, protein and some are sources of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium as well as other nutrients.

mix_parrot_nuts_500g__89232.1320939290.1280.1280

Due to high fat content, they are an excellent energy source but should be fed in moderation as not to pack on extra grams. If eaten in excess, fats challenge the liver.

Although nuts are high in fat, they contain some beneficial fats. How much and what type of fats varies per nut type. Walnuts have recently been touted as a source of essential fatty acid omega-3 and although this is true, it’s mostly a source of omega-6. Best sources of omega-3 are flax and chia seed. Hemp seeds provide both omega 6 and omega 3.

For captive parrots that are not nearly as active compared to their wild cousins, nuts should be used sparingly. Take into consideration your parrot’s species and also how active each individual parrot is. A large Macaw that is moderately active could probably have up to 6 nuts a day, where as an inactive Amazon that sits on the perch most all day may only get 1/2-1 almond or cashew.

An odd, nutty vintage postcard

An odd, nutty vintage postcard

Some highlights:

  • Pistachios contain carotenoids, hazelnuts provide a little.
  • Walnuts are a source of omega 3 and all nuts are a source of essential fatty acids.
  • Brazil nuts provide selenium.
  • Hazel nuts and pine nuts for manganese.
  • Pecans for flavanoids.
  • Almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts are sources of proanthocyanidins. Flavanoids and proanthyocyanidins are phytochemicals that may decrease risk of some diseases.

Nuts in their shell can be stored in a cool dry area and should last up to a year. Shelled nuts should be refrigerated or frozen in airtight containers and used up as soon as possible.

A special note about peanuts

peanuts

I’ve sat through 11 years of veterinary conferences and all vets are anti-peanut (with hard corn being an even bigger threat, along with some grains).

Peanuts can contain mycotoxins (mold/fungi) and are not suggested for parrots.

Peanuts are graded for aflatoxins by the FDA. Human grade peanuts cannot contain more than 20 ppb, but pet grade (depending on the source) may possibly be as high as 200-300 ppb.

If a person decides to feed the occasional peanut to a parrot, human grade roasted peanuts are suggested, but still discouraged. Parrots are said to be up to 200 times more sensitive to aflatoxins than humans.

More from The Gabriel Foundation:

For those of you who feed peanuts to your parrots, please be aware:

  • Peanuts are often contaminated with aflatoxin, a fungal toxin. Aflatoxin is carcinogenic and causes liver damage in birds and other animals. It is often in the shell as well as in the peanut itself. Roasting peanuts reduces aflatoxin but does not eliminate it entirely.
  • Peanuts with dark spots on them should be considered suspect; but even those that look clean and perfect could possibly be contaminated.
  • Peanuts in nearly every commercial parrot/seed diet are not human-grade. Even feeding human grade/organic peanuts can be a health hazard to your bird. With better nutrition available to our birds in almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, TGF recommends that you leave peanuts out of your bird’s diet.
  • If you cannot resist giving your parrot a peanut, then feed only out of shell, dry roasted and unsalted peanuts. TGF suggests feeding them in tiny pieces for positive reinforcement when training your bird or when you want to reward your bird’s desired behavior.

Nutty ideas from around the web

Winning foraging toy designs from Creative Bird Toys

Winning foraging toy designs from Creative Bird Toys

 

Some great foraging toys from Creative Bird Toys (thank you, Dena for your email telling me about your wonderful toys!)

 

Nut Cage idea from Foraging for Parrots

Nut Cage idea from Foraging for Parrots

Nut-treat Cage idea, found on Foraging For Parrots

Pleeeeease share your Palmnut with me!

Pleeeeease share your Palm Nut with me!

A cute photo story about one Palm Nut and two parrots, found on Fluffies.org

A Cape Parrot shows off his Foraging Tower prowess. More photos here.

About Shauna Roberts:

Shauna has had an interest in nutrition since the mid late 1960s. She renewed that interest in 1997 when a cockatoo wasn’t doing well on pellets, and she realized a fresh diet was needed. The bird is now over 17 and doing well, as is the rest of her flock – now 16 – some of which arrived with dietary health issues. She is also a diet consultant for the parrot welfare organization, The Gabriel Foundation. Her research has taken her to various conferences to listen to nutrition experts as far as Japan and EU, as well as attending AAV (Association of Avian Veterinarians) conferences since 2003 in her mission to learn.

After retiring as a veterinary assistant, she discovered the internet and has been learning from and helping bird owners since 1995. In 2003, a parrot food list was founded named FeedingFeathers and now has over 3,700 members.

Further information:

Download the poster here

Creative Commons  License

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Calcium is Key /2013/01/19/calcium-is-key/ /2013/01/19/calcium-is-key/#comments Sat, 19 Jan 2013 14:46:59 +0000 /?p=1686

In captive pet birds, disorders of calcium metabolism … are common, ranging from osteodystrophy in young birds (due in part to the greater calcium requirement in young growing birds) to hypocalcemic seizures and egg binding in adults. Although African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) are considered to be especially susceptible to disorders of calcium metabolism, problems have been reported in a variety of captive species.

-From Clinical Avian Medicine, Vol. 1.

Today, our guest blogger, Shauna Roberts, contributes her knowledge about avian nutrition in our post about how to include calcium in a parrot’s diet:

At least 13 minerals are required for optimal health. Some of the macro-minerals required in relatively large amounts are calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Calcium is the most prevalent mineral and required for bone health and egg shell formation. A properly formulated pellet should provide the correct mineral balance. Fresh food diets tend to be much higher in phosphorus than calcium so require some additional calcium for balance. Phytate acid or oxalate found in seeds or plants can also effect digestibility.

Some calcium sources are:

  • hulled sesame seed (shells contain oxalate)
  • greens such as collard, dandelion and kale
  • lightly cooked broccoli
  • unsweetened yogurt

Vitamin D3 is required for calcium absorption and can be acquired through natural sunlight by taking a bird safely outdoors. Sunlight through a window won’t deliver any D3 benefits. Pellets containing D3 may also be supplied. In order to give a parrot enough D3 via pellets, they should be a large percentage of the diet.

Calcium plays two important physiological roles in the avian subject. First, it provides the structural strength of the avian skeleton by the formation of calcium salts.

Second, it plays vital roles in many of the biochemical reactions within the body via its concentration in the extracellular fluid. (Clinical Avian Medicine, Vol. 1)

An adult African grey with osteodystrophy. Photo from Clinical Avian Medicine.

An adult African grey with osteodystrophy (defective bone development) due to disturbances in calcium metabolism. Photo from Clinical Avian Medicine.

Read more about Calcium and why it is an important part of your bird’s diet in the Calcium Metabolism chapter in Clinical Avian Medicine.

Leafy greens full of yummy calcium! Photo by Elle Michelle

Some recipe ideas from The Parrot’s Pantry:

Butternut Squash, Kale and Nopales Salad

Kale, butternut squash, pomegranate, cilantro and nopales (prickly pear cactus pads). Nothing beats fresh organic food to nourish your fids.

Sprouts Salad

Sprouted quinoa, garbanzo beans, wheat berries, buckwheat groats, lentils, brown rice, and mung beans with finely chopped broccoli, cabbage, zucchini, carrots with tops, ginger root, sweet peppers, kale, mustard greens, cilantro and parsley. Topped with chia and sesame seeds.

Leafy greens with petunia petals

Leafy Greens: Kale, Collard, Mustard, Dandelion and Cilantro.

 

YUM! Happy eating his veggies. (Elle Michelle)

About Shauna Roberts:

Shauna has had an interest in nutrition since the mid late 1960s. She renewed that interest in 1997 when a cockatoo wasn’t doing well on pellets, and she realized a fresh diet was needed. The bird is now over 17 and doing well, as is the rest of her flock – now 16 – some of which arrived with dietary health issues. She is also a diet consultant for the parrot welfare organization, The Gabriel Foundation. Her research has taken her to various conferences to listen to nutrition experts as far as Japan and EU, as well as attending AAV (Association of Avian Veterinarians) conferences since 2003 in her mission to learn.

After retiring as a veterinary assistant, she discovered the internet and has been learning from and helping bird owners since 1995. In 2003, a parrot food list was founded named FeedingFeathers and now has over 3,700 members.

About Elle Michelle:

Elle’s Kabuki eating his adzuki bean sprouts.

Elle adores parrots and has shared her home with them for over twenty years. She’s always trying to come up with fun new ways to feed the flock nutritious and enriching meals. She buys most of her “bird food” in health food stores so she knows that the ingredients are all fresh, human-grade and organic. She still feeds a quality pellet mix, sprouts, and lots of fresh leafy greens, vegetables and some fruit and flowers. She makes all different types of meals so that they get a good variety of fresh foods daily.

Elle currently writes a feeding section for the Florida Parrot Rescue newsletter and provides healthy recipe ideas for the Arizona Aviculture Society newsletter. As well, she founded a “healthy parrot feeding ideas” group on facebook, The Parrot’s Pantry, where members can share their healthy meal ideas with one another.

Further information:

Download the poster here

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