Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ways to Establish Trust with a New or Frightened Bird

Ways to Establish Trust with a New or Frightened Bird

  • Use a gentle touch and a soothing voice.
  • Move slowly and steadily when you handle the bird.
  • Avoid startling the bird. Announce yourself by talking quietly as you come into a room or when approaching the bird's cage.
  • Remain mindful of the bird's likely reactions to new objects and situations.
  • Remember that the noise level in your home and sounds you and your family consider normal might startle your new companion. These sounds include appliances, people, and other household pets.
  • Be patient.
  • Open your heart and communicate through love.

Reference: "Holistic Care For Birds" by David McCluggage, DVM & Pamela Leis Higdon

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Foods to Avoid - Sugar

Too much sugar in a bird's diet has been reported to cause severe problems in the digestive system. Like with people, diets that are high in sugar can precede diabetes. This has been reported in many cases when the bird's diet consisted of high-sugar treats and not enough healthy foods.
Because refined sugar has been heavily processed, there is little nutrient value left. Too much refined sugar can not only lead to diabetes, but it can also contribute to yeast infections, heart disorders, high cholesterol, and calcium imbalance. Too much sugar has also been linked to feather plucking, irritability, anxiety, and nervous disorder.
The best kind of sugar comes as natural sugars which are found in fruits and in sweet vegetables like corn.
Reference: "The Healthy Bird Cookbook" by Robin Deutsch

Monday, September 24, 2007

Feathers Bird Clinic

Feathers Bird Clinic is operated out of Natural Pet Animal Hospital in Bourbonnais, Illinois and is run by Karen Becker, DVM, NMD.
Dr. Karen Becker has graciously agreed to allow us to post her informative articles each month. To learn more about Dr. Karen Becker and Feathers Bird Clinic, please visit her web site.

Hypocalcemia and African Greys
For years avian veterinarians have been aware that African Greys are more susceptible to hypocalcemia (low blood calcium levels) than other types of parrots. There are still lots of parrots that are being fed a seed-based (low calcium) diet with the improper ratio of calcium to phosphorus, yet African Greys tend to have more notable problems including seizures, excessive falling and muscle tremors. Recent studies indicate that low calcium levels may result from a dysfunction in parathyroid hormone, most likely as a result of hypoparathyroidism. Parathyroid hormone is released from the parathyroid gland (located in the bird's neck) when serum calcium levels are low. This hormone stimulates the body to remove calcium from the bones when there is not enough being ingested. Like mammals and reptiles, birds that are fed a calcium deficient diet may develop an enlarged parathyroid gland in an attempt to secrete more hormone to get more calcium. Avian researchers speculate that African Greys may not be able to secrete adequate amounts of parathyroid hormone and are therefore more prone to having hypocalcemic episodes. Although the research is still ongoing, these preliminary results provide more proof that African Greys should be raised on a calcium rich pelleted diet and minimal, if any, seeds. It also demonstrates the importance of yearly blood tests to determine the inner health of our feathered friends. Birds that do succumb to hypocalcemia are treated with injectable calcium and vitamin D3, which helps in calcium absorption. We know that inhalent anesthesics alter calcium metabolism and most avian vets will administer injectable calcium to deficient African Greys before any surgical procedure, just to be safe. We also know that steroids can induce hypocalcemia and should be used with caution (I don't use them at all) with African Greys.
Bird Lovers Only Rescue would like to thank Dr. Becker for contributing to this blog and for educating us to be better bird owners and caregivers for many years prior to opening this rescue.

Treat Street

Birdie Quiche

Grease an 8 x 8 pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together 10 medium or 8 large eggs with small amount of milk.

Place the egg shells (good source of calcium), fresh brocolli, and fresh carrots in food processor and grind until well pulverized. Add to egg mixture. Add 4 oz of shredded cheddar cheese (can substitute mozzarella) to mixture. Stir and pour in pan. Bake until golden brown. Allow to cool and serve.

Another variation is to replace the brocolli and carrots with spinach and mushrooms.

Another Gala Payne masterpiece.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Treat Street

Gala Payne is very well liked by the birds here. She knows that the way to a bird's heart is through his crop, so she cooks up her special plates and we watch the birds woof down the food.
Gala has 15 birds at home and NONE of them will voluntarily eat their veggies. So she was forced to think up ways to "hide" the veggies so they will have a balanced diet. In addition to 15 birds, she also has a full time job so these recipes have to be quick and easy. One of the easiest and most quickly eaten is her rendition of "Birdie Bread."

"Birdie Bread"

Grease an 8 x 8 pan and preheat oven to 350.
2 boxes of Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 small can peas and carrots
1 small can lima beans
1 small can whole corn

Mix muffin mix according to box. Drain and add vegetables. Mix well. Pour in pan and bake until golden brown. Allow to cool and serve.

The FIDS love this because it is semi-sweet and they love bread type textures. In order to keep them from getting bored with this , I routinely change the vegetables. There are several frozen vegetable mixes with various seasonings that can be alternated.

Compliments of Gala Payne, Head Chef at Bird Lovers Only Rescue

The Respiratory System

The efficiency of the bird's respiratory system is a wonderful thing, but it can be the downfall of companion birds. If we as their caregivers fail to recognize potential problems, our birds may die. Pesticides, perfume, oven cleaners, spray-on oil, paint fumes, air fresheners and other common airborne contaminants can hang in the air. If we fail to remove our birds from a room of our home before we spray these toxins or if we bring our birds back before the contaminants have settled out of the air, we endanger them. The efficient respiratory system of the bird takes in relatively huge amounts of the airborne contaminant in relation to the bird's size, and this can kill the bird.

Nonstick coatings on cookware are another source of airborne toxins. Although manufacturers are quick to say that if used properly such coatings will not emit toxins, these assurances can lull people into forgetting that levels of toxins in the air that do not cause any noticeable reaction in humans or other mammals can still kill a bird. Of particular danger are items such as nonstick drip pans that fit under stove burners. These routinely reach temperatures far in excess of precautionary guidelines. The best idea is to remove all nonstick items from your household. This will prevent you and any guests from accidentally misusing such items and killing your birds. There are often times nonstick parts in self-cleaning ovens and can omit toxic fumes that can kill your birds within a couple of hours due to the high temperatures needed over a prolonged period of time.

If you live with a bird, do not smoke. It's as simple as that. If you or your guests smoke, your bird takes in a huge volume of second-hand smoke. Enforce this simple rule: NO SMOKING INSIDE YOUR HOUSE.

Reference: "Holistic Care For Birds" by David McCluggage, DVM & Pamela Leis Higdon

Vitamin E

There are 8 forms of vitamin E found in plants. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which is used by the body to prevent chemicals in the body from damaging cells. Vitamin E deficiencies can lead to muscular dystrophy and other disorders.

Symptoms of a Deficiency: Birds with a vitamin E deficiency will lack vigor, develop problems that are associated with the nervous system, and develop blood and vasular disorders, anemia, and muscular disorders.

Symptoms of Toxicity: Vitamin E acts as an antagonist to vitamin A, destroying its antioxidant effects.

Found: Vitamin E is found in whole grains, some cereals, and fresh, green leafy vegetables such as spinach. It can be found in safflower oil, canned peaches, dried prunes, asparagus, broccoli, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, brussel sprouts, and whole-grain breads. Feeding too much cod liver oil (to make up for vitamin D3 deficiencies) will lead to deficiencies because it will oxidize the vitamin E in the bird's system.

Reference: "The Healthy Bird Cookbook" by Robin Deutsch

Treat Street

Treat Street Recipe of the Week

"Bean Deluxe"

1/4 cup pinto beans
1/4 cup navy beans
1/4 cup kidney beans
1/4 cup lentils, cooked
1/4 cup yellow or green split peas
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup cooked white rice
1/4 cup cooked bulgur
1 pkg frozen veggies
1/4 cup banana chips (optional)

Soak the beans overnight. Drain. Add enough water to cover beans and chips. Cook until tender which usually takes about 1 (one) hour. Add the frozen veggies and continue cooking until done. Add the previously cooked rice and bulgur.

Reference: "The Healthy Bird Cookbook" by Robin Deutsch

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Introducing Mitzi

Mitzi arrived on Saturday, September 8th. She is a Congo African Grey and is between 15 and 17 years of age. She is plucked in front, but her follicles look healthy so she should be able to regrow her feathers. We will be concentrating on feather regrowth.

Mitzi speaks just like her previous owner. She has an adorable southern accent and speaks very lady-like and demurely. She is such a chatterbox...constantly carrying on conversations. She also has a contagious laugh. She is a very nice bird and knows the step up command.

Mitzi had us chuckling at her toddler antics when she would toss a treat on the floor in defiance. She has an incredible personality and talents to match. She's a happy bird that loves to dance and swing through the air. She also will lay on her back while you rub her tummy, but since she prefers men she will only do this with a male. She loves attention and loves to be spoken to in a gentle voice.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Apple Cider Vinegar

Organic apple cider vinegar is a wonderful product for the health of the intestinal system. It has a number of beneficial vitamins and minerals. Perhaps it is most useful as an acidifier of the intestinal tract and the entire body. It can be placed into the water bowl daily when needed. Indications for its use include chronic disbiosis, candida infections, chronic gram negative bacterial infections, chronic diarrhea due to an abnormal bacteria in the intestinal system, foul-smelling stools and proventricular dilatation disease.

Dose: 1 to 2 tablespoons in 8 ounces of water. You can flavor it with a little honey. Use it as the only source of water for one to two weeks at a time.

Reference: "Holistic Care for Birds" by David McCluggage, DVM & Pamela Leis Higdon

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Food Dyes

Many food dyes are synthetic and are not natural. Synthetic food colors are sometimes derived from petroleum or coal tars. In high doses, these food dyes have caused cancer in lab rats. They are also linked to allergies and even behavioral disorders. According to the FDA, different dyes can cause different problems.

Red dye #3 has been linked to thyroid tumors, chromosomal damage, and hyperactivity. Red dye #40 has been linked to lymphatic tumors and hyperactivity. Blue dye #1 has been known to cause chromosomal damage, while blue dye #2 has been linked to brain tumors. Green dye #3 can cause bladder tumors. Yellow dye #5 has been known to cause thyroid and lymphatic tumors, allergic reactions, and hyperactivity, and yellow dye #6 has caused kidney tumors, chromosomal damage, and allergic reactions.

It is highly recommended to use natural dyes in your bird's food (and yours as well).

Treat Street

Treat Street Recipe of the Week

Each week we offer a different recipe that someone has either tried from a recipe book or just decided to wing it (no pun intended) and ended up a hit with their birds.

"Oatmeal Delight"
  • 1/4 fresh banana, mashed
  • 1 tbs of coconut milk (for thinner birds)
  • 1 tsp finely ground nuts
  • 2-3 strawberries, mashed
  • 1 tsp granola or Grape-Nuts
  • Yogurt (optional)
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1-3/4 cup water

Mash fruit together. Cook the oatmeal according to instructions. Add the coconut milk to the oatmeal and stir. Add the mashed fruit. Then add the nuts and stir again. Top with the granola or the Grape-Nuts. Add any flavor of yogurt and stir well. Serve.

May I have this dance?

Snowball is a medium sulphur crested Eleanora cockatoo and he loves to dance and sing. He loves the Back Street Boys. No one taught Snowball to dance...he just heard this song and suddenly felt like dancing. We're all jealous because he can outdance each one of us...nobody likes a show off! When he's really in the mood, he dances and sings. And at the end of the performance he takes a bow or two or twenty!! Enjoy the show.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

George the Severe Macaw

George is approximately ten years old and won our hearts when he said "George? Want a cracker? Want a cookie?" It doesn't take much to win us over. All some birds have to do is give us the 'look' and we're melted butter. The Severe Macaw is the largest of the mini macaws and resembles its larger counterparts in that they have facial feathers.
George loves playing with his toys...especially his bell. He will ring his bell and wrestle with it. Sometimes when the bell swings back at him he thinks it's on the attack and goes at with even greater enthusiasm!
We're presently working with George away from his cage on parrot stands since he is very cage territorial. George does not step up on command so we have work ahead of us.