Monday, December 15, 2008

"Season of Giving" Christmas Show

On Wednesday, December 17, 2008 beginning at 2:30pm Eastern, Animal Talk Naturally will host a two hour "Season of Giving" show through their regular platform on Blog Talk Radio at to raise funds for Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch in order to help rescue horses and kids; Paws and Think which pairs at-risk shelter dogs with at-risk youth; and "Animals In Paradise" which is an upcoming documentary film about the eternal lives of animals.
Animal Talk Naturally will celebrate Christmas by supporting two nonprofit animal charities and an upcoming documentary film on the eternal lives of animals on their second annual Christmas show with twelve of their former and repeat guests! Each of the twelve special guests - who are each giving of their time and talent - will share their own unique message during the show, along with Christmas music provided by Jean Wenzel and Mary Buddemeyer-Porter. Irena Schulz, Snowball mom, will be one of the guests on "Season of Giving."
“We’ve had a lot of support from businesses stepping up to provide giveaways to anyone in our listening audience who donates $50 or more to at least one of the charities or the documentary film during the live two-hour show.” comments Dr. Jeannie Thomason, co-host of Animal Talk Naturally. “Each business that is participating will not only have their name and website mentioned on the show but, they are also receiving an entire year of advertising on
our Season of Giving page on Animal Talk Naturally’s Website which will remain on the site until next year’s show!”
“We have also received tremendous support from two other radio shows - EFA Artists for Animals and also Something About Women -a local NM radio show.” states Dr. Kim Bloomer, co-host of Animal Talk Naturally. “We are hoping that businesses will also donate directly to the charities or the documentary along with the live listening audience during the show. The more the better! The good news is that both charities are 501c3 non-profits so your donations are tax deductible. The documentary film is not a non-profit but whoever donates to "Animals In Paradise" will have their name listed in the credits and possibly your own piece of
video with your pet will be included in the film. Jesus was born into the world to give His life for us. The least we can do is give of our resources to help those less fortunate during this special time and season of giving.”
To find out more and how you can get involved go to
Dr. Jeannie Thomason
Animal Talk Naturally
Phone: 530.347.9211

About Animal Talk Naturally:
Celebrating the art of natural animal health, the truth of animal nature and the love of the human/animal bond from a Christian faith-based focus. Veterinary naturopaths Dr. Kim Bloomer and Dr. Jeannie Thomason, now in their fourth year of online talk radio; bring in a wide variety of industry experts to help share the passion Animal Talk Naturally is known for by their audience. Join them bi-weekly for an often passionate, sometimes serious, sometimes funny, but never boring show! You and your animals can be “ears up” for the podcast at

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dr. Aniruddh Patel Receives ASCAP Award

(Left) On December 9, 2008 Dr. Aniruddh Patel, President of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition, accepted an ASCAP award for his most recent book "Music, Language, and the Brain" in New York City. Dr. Aniruddh Patel heads the cognitive music studies involving Snowball the dancing cockatoo. (Upper right) Dr. Patel with two judges from ASCAP and Oliver Sacks who received an award for "Musicophilia." (Lower right) ASCAP judge, Ani Patel and Joan Bossert, Dr. Patel's editor from Oxford University Press.
We congratulate Dr. Aniruddh Patel on his remarkable research not only with Snowball, but on his use of technology to investigate the correlation between language, music, and the brain.
For more information regarding "Music, Language, and the Brain" please visit:
For more information regarding "Musicophilia" please visit:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Living The Scientific Life

Snowball is on "Living The Scientific Life" which you can view by clicking on the link below.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Snowball's Snowy Christmas DVD

"Snowball's Snowy Christmas" DVD is now available for holiday gift giving. Please go to our main web site to receive a DVD of Snowball dancing to Christmas tunes for a donation of $15 which includes shipping and handling (please add $5 if shipping outside the United States). Snowball dances to some carols that are sung by children on this DVD which can ship within 48 hours. For a sampling of what is on the DVD, please visit our You Tube site by clicking on the link below. Bird Lovers Only Rescue thanks you for your generous support!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Snowball in WIKIPEDIA

Snowball has made it into Wikipedia! Click link below:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Snowball's First Overseas Commercial

Below is a link to view Snowball's first overseas commerical. This is a commerical for Loka bottled water in Sweden.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Animal Talk Naturally Radio Show

Irena Schulz from Bird Lovers Only Rescue discusses Snowball's research and how that may relate to recent studies involving music therapy on Parkinson's Disease patients. She also discusses how the state of the economy has increased calls and emails from bird owners needing to rehome their birds.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bird Addition Building Fund

Bird Lovers Only Rescue is a 501c3 not for profit bird rescue and sanctuary. We have been saving funds to build an addition for these birds. We believe we have found someone to build this at a reasonable cost, but it will be CLOSE! Please donate to our building fund through the GOOGLE Checkout button or by going to our main web site where you may receive Snowball DVDs, shirts, and other items in return for your donations.

Since Bird Lovers Only is a charity, your donations can be claimed on your taxes at the end of the year. Below is the information you will need in order to claim your donations.

EIN # 30-0391827
DLN # 17053028000038
Public Charity Status: 170(b)(1)(A)(vi)

The birds at Bird Lovers Only Rescue Service, Inc. thank you sincerely!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Radio Shows

Irena Schulz from Bird Lovers Only Rescue will be speaking on "The Bird Talks" on Sunday, September 7th at 9pm Eastern Time.

Irena Schulz will also be on "Animal Talk Naturally" on Tuesday, September 9th at 2:30pm Eastern Time.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Please STOP Overbreeding!

I run a rescue/sanctuary and am literally overwhelmed by the calls and emails that I receive from people who wish to relinquish their birds. There are certain birds that are exhaustingly overbred, and then there are birds that really should not be bred for captivity period.
Throughout the years I have met breeders who educate the potential owners on responsible bird ownership and those who do not. Perhaps many do not know the consequences of overbreeding or the breeding of certain species who do not thrive well in captivity.
At this time we are filled to capacity. Being filled to capacity means something different for each rescue and sanctuary. I do not allow more than 30 birds here at any given time because it would mean that the birds are not receiving the care and attention that they need and deserve otherwise. There are many "mom and pop" rescues and sanctuaries opening up because of the increasing numbers of displaced birds. Many of these mom and pop rescues mean well, but are not equipped, funded, or educated enough to properly care for them. But when 501c3 rescues and sanctuaries are filled to capacity and have waiting lists for birds who need to be relinquished, these mom and pop rescues are the only answer for some who cannot wait in line on a waiting list.
Because of the ease of breeding parakeets, cockatiels, quakers, lovebirds, and other small birds such as these, these birds have become grossly overpopulated. Even if I wanted to, at times I wouldn't be able to GIVE these birds away. There are just not enough homes out there. And even fewer homes are available for such high maintenance birds such as cockatoos. In my experiences, I have yet to meet anyone who has kept a cockatoo for longer than ten years. These birds were not meant to be kept in captivity. They are loud and destructive, not only to furniture but to themselves as well.
I plead with EVERY breeder out there. We have a serious problem with displaced birds. Please discontinue the overbreeding of these overpopulated species and those who really do not thrive well in captivity.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Snowball's Chance

Below is a link to the San Diego Union-Tribune article written by Adam Loberstein regarding cognitive music studies with Snowball as the subject of study and led by Dr. Ani Patel of the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California.

Below is the video that accompanies the article.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Proventricular Dilation Disease (PDD)

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have identified a virus behind the mysterious infectious disease that has been killing parrots and exotic birds for more than 30 years. Click on the link to read full story...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thank You!

Snowball the dancing cockatoo, a sanctuary bird here at Bird Lovers Only Rescue, became globally famous toward the end of September of 2007 when the video of him dancing to a Backstreet Boys tune became viral and traveled around the world. I'd received many thousands of emails, calls, and letters since then. I remember one email in particular from a family member of an elderly woman in the hospital. This family member emailed us asking for a DVD of Snowball because it made her elderly mother laugh. The followup email which we received recently is below.

Dear Birdlovers,
I and my family wish to thank you for Snowball. The DVD you sent for our mother to enjoy last fall gave her many months of laughter. She watched Snowball for the last time the evening before she quietly passed in her sleep. She was able to die with dignity in our home. Our mother suffered from many ailments including depression and she was wheelchair bound at the end. But that didn't stop her from tapping and bobbing with Snowball. I have to stress that in the last years of her life there wasn't much that made her laugh. Then Snowball came along and it was as if she had found a happy pill. Please give Snowball a kiss from all of us for putting a little laughter in our mother's heart. May God bless all of you - especially Snowball.

Names have been omitted to ensure the family's privacy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fundraiser at Steak n Shake

We will have a fundraiser at Steak n Shake on Sunday, July 27th from 12 noon until 8pm. Please print out the vouchers below and bring them with you on the day of the event. Steak n Shake will donate 20% of the amount you spend on your meal to us, but you need to bring your vouchers with you. Thank you so very much for participating in our fundraising event!!!

Steak n Shake is located at 312 North US 41 in Schererville, Indiana

Friday, July 11, 2008

"Come To The Edge"

Dr. Kim Bloomer of Animal Talk Naturally on Blog Talk Radio wrote a poignant piece on animal care and responsible ownership. We all too often seek things to fulfill our lives to make us happy without researching what it is that will make the pets happy and healthy. Although I believe that people are well-intentioned in wanting to provide a good home for a bird, they often times purchase a bird on impulse without researching what it takes to make the bird happy and healthy. Birds are extremely intelligent, needy, and demanding. They are excellent at masking their illnesses so there is no way of telling whether the bird is healthy by appearance alone. Birds need to be checked by an avian vet yearly, they need to have plenty of out of cage time, they need a variety of healthy foods to eat, and they need to have plenty of different toys to keep them interested while they are in their cage.

Please go to this link to read Dr. Kim Bloomer's article.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Investigating the human-specificity of synchronization to music

Below is the link to the scientific paper "Investigating the human-specificity of synchronization to music" on Snowball's cognitive music studies lead by Dr. Ani Patel at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Snowball is in ScienceBlogs in the Neurophilosophy section. To read the article, click on the link below.


Snowball has been making news in the scientific world. Please read the latest article in Discover Magazine by clicking on the link below. Snowball is making his scientific debut this month in Canada.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ask The Bird Experts

Irena Schulz was a guest speaker on Ask The Bird Experts on Sunday, June 22nd at 9pm Eastern. You can listen to the web cast at the link below.

Irena and Bird Lovers Only Rescue Service, Inc. would like to thank for inviting us on their show.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Snowball in NATURE NEWS

Snowball has officially entered into the scientific world. Please click on the link below to read the article in "Nature News."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Music and the Mind

In this edition of "Grey Matters," Aniruddh Patel, of the Neurosciences Institute, discusses what music can teach us about the brain, and what brain science, in turn, can reveal about music. Series: "Grey Matters" [4/2006] [Science] [Show ID: 11189]

Please paste the above link into your browser to watch the lecture.

About 35 minutes into the lecture, Aniruddh Patel discusses the biological significance of moving to a musical beat, and why it's interesting to find
out if animals (other than humans) can do it. He even discusses a bird that moves to music (from the film "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill"). Of course, this was all pre-Snowball!

Irena and Charles of Bird Lovers Only Rescue Service, Inc. would like to thank Dr. Aniruddh Patel for his visit on April 3rd, 2008 and for our continued collaboration on this very exciting and interesting project!

A very special thank you to Dane, for none of this would have been possible without you!

Pictured above is Aniruddh Patel, President of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition, with Snowball.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fundraiser at Steak and Shake

Please join us for great food and help raise funds for Bird Lovers Only on Sunday, April 27th at the Steak and Shake on Rt. 41 in Schererville, IN. Steak 'n Shake will donate 20% of what you spend on the Fundraiser Day between 12 noon and 8pm but you need to bring a voucher with you.

Click one of these links to download vouhcers, then print them and bring them with your appetite PDF File or JPG File

Thursday, April 3, 2008

FOX News Chicago w/Mark Saxenmeyer

A very special THANK YOU to FOX News and Mark Saxenmeyer for a wonderful piece on Snowball and Bird Lovers Only Rescue! The episode aired on Wednesday, April 2nd.

Thanks, Mark! We love you!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Water Filters

We recommend that birds be given bottled water (please check for quality) or water from a good home-treatment system. Home-treatment systems can be confusing, though. Here is a brief description of several types.
The type of treatment system to acquire depends on what problems your water supply has; therefore, it is best to have your water tested. Alternatively, public water departments should have an analysis on file, and you can request a copy of it.
In general, the types of contaminants to be concerned about include:
  • Bacteria, Giardia/protozoa, cryptosporidium
  • Inorganic chemicals (such as nitrates)
  • Organic chemicals (such as pesticides, industrial chemicals)
  • Chlorine and fluorine
  • Minerals (hard water)
  • Sediment, particulate matter

Reverse Osmosis: Filtration generally removes inorganic contaminants, such as nitrates.

Mechanical Filtration: Removes sediment and microbes, such as Giardia, bacteria and cryptosporidium.

Activated Charcoal: This is best for removing organic materials such as pesticides, herbicides and the trihalomethanes formed by chlorinating water. Some systems combine all of these types of treatment and would be the right choice if your water supply has problems in all three areas.

Water Distillers: These are available as well, but we do not recommend them. They tend to remove healthy minerals and may not remove volatile organic compounds (pesticides) and microbes, such as Giardia cysts.

The last type of water treatment is a water softener. This is good at removing minerals, including lead and iron, but does nothing for bacterial contaminants, Giardia cysts, nitrates, or pesticides. If the only problem you have is hard water, these devices are effective. But the advice would be to check with the public water deparment for a water analysis

To determine the best type of home-treatment system for your specific needs, please ask your public water department for a water analysis or have it professionaly tested yourself.

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

Necessity of Avian Veterinary Care

The AVMA survey indicated both good and bad news for avian practitioners. On the negative side, pet bird owners overall are not likely to seek veterinary care. In 2001, only 11.7% of bird owners in the USA reported at least one veterinary visit. In comparison, 83.6% of dog owners and 65.3% of cat owners reported at least one veterinary visit in 2001. On the positive side, however, a 6 year survey indicated the average number of veterinary visits for pet birds actually increased. An estimated 2 million avian veterinary visits occurred in 2001, compared to 1.6 million in 1996. This represents a solid increase in demand for the services of avian veterinarians. More evidence for this conclusion can be seen in the fact that veterinary expenditures for bird owners increased dramatically from 37 million dollars in 1991 to 135 million dollars in 2001.

It is interesting to note those veterinary services most commonly purchased for pet birds. Examinations are purchased most frequently, followed by laboratory tests, then emergency care. While many bird-owning clients appreciate the value of preventive medicine, far too many others consult the avian veterinarian only in time of medical crisis.

Slightly more than half of surveyed clients selected their regular dog and cat veterinarian to provide care for their avian pets. Encouragingly enough, 24.2% made their selection based on the fact that the veterinarian was a bird specialist. (Note that this survey does not distinguish between veterinarians who are board-certified avian specialists and those claiming a "special interest" in avian medicine.) Discouragingly, just as many clients chose a veterinarian based simply on location.

It is obvious avian practitioners have a great deal of work to do to catch up to our fellow dog and cat practitioners. While bird owners who do seek regular veterinary care are generally seeking a higher quality of care and more frequent visits for their pets, it is obvious the great majority of bird owners either are unaware such services are available or not convinced of their value.

Reference: "Cinical Avian Medicine - Vol I & II" by Harrison and Lightfoot.

Speical Note from Bird Lovers Only Rescue: Birds are expert at masking their illnesses and many bird owners believe them to be healthy because of it....until they wake up one morning to find their bird dead at the bottom of the cage without any previous signs or warnings to indicate that something was wrong. Dogs and cats do not mask their illnesses as birds do because birds behave instinctively to demonstrate health and strength in the wild to avoid appearing vulnerable to other birds and predators. This instinctive behavior does not change in your home. Please take your birds in for yearly exams and tests to a board-certified avian veterinarian. You can find one close to you by going to We thank you!

Treat Street

"Beaks Fruit Birdie Bread"

  • 1 cup organic corn meal
  • 1 cup organic coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 8 oz organic applesauce
  • 8 oz organic fruit baby food (your choice of fruit flavor)
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1/2 cup organic chamomile tea (liquid)
  • 1/2 cup organic coconut oil (liquid)
  • 1/2 cup organic red palm oil (liquid)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (chopped)

In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients in order listed above except for pine nuts. Mix with hand mixer or standard mixer until all ingredients are incorporated. Spread mixture in greased jelly roll pan, sprinkle pine nuts on top. Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes. You can then let cool for about 15 minutes, use cookie cutters to shape or just cut with knife. Keep in refrigerator or keep frozen. ENJOY!

Reference: Special thanks to Jason Crean for supplying us with some excellent and HEALTHY bird recipes! Jason Crean is the President of TASC (The Avicultural Society of Chicagoland). TASC is hosting a bird fair on April 5th, 2008. Please visit their web site for further details.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Aspergillosis is an infection of the respiratory system that occurs sporadically in a wide range of birds. Birds from cold and dry climates are highly susceptible to infection. Environments that are conducive to the environmental growth of Aspergillus spp. and environments that are poorly ventilated will result in an increased incidence of aspergillosis. Disease can be localized to the upper airways or the syrinx, or it may involve the air sacs and lungs. Respiratory signs are a common feature of this disease, but a bird may not manifest signs until the disease is advanced. Radiographs, endoscopy and biopsy, cytology and hematology are all valuable tools in the diagnosis of this disease. Even with all these assays, the diagnosis of aspergillosis is often a difficult one.

The diagnosis of aspergillosis has been most extensively studied in humans. Ancillary diagnostic assays used in people include PCR to detect Aspergillus DNA from blood, an ELISA to detect Aspergillus antigen and an ELISA to detect anti-Aspergillus antibody. These studies clearly indicate that even a combination of these three assays will not be adequate to detect many cases of aspergillosis. The problem comes from the fact that most people who contract aspergillosis are immunocompromised. This also may be true in birds. If the infected person's immune system is adequate to contain the disease and the organism is localized in a walled-off granuloma, then these individuals are found to produce antibody. People with generalized disease are generally severely immunocompromised and they do not produce antibody. In these people, Aspergillus antigen and DNA are most likely to be found in the blood, but they are not when the lesion is encapsulated. If the pathophysiology of avian aspergillosis resembles that seen in humans, then none of these assays are likely to detect infection in most infected birds. A combination of these assays may be more specific, but false negatives are to be expected.

Reference: "Clinical Avian Medicine - Vol I and II" by Harrison and Lightfoot


Infection with Chlamydophila psittaci is common in pet birds. Clinical signs vary from none to a mild respiratory disease to a severe multisystemic, often fatal, disease. Psittacosis is particularly important in avian medicine because it can spread widely before it is recognized and because it is a zoonotic and reportable disease. Clinical signs and traditional diagnostic assays such as hematology, clinical pathology and radiology, while helpful, are generally insufficient to specifically diagnose this disease.

No test is 100% sensitive. Therefore, if the greatest degree of sensitivity is sought, the PCR and the EBA (Elementary Body Agglutination Assay) and egg inoculation culture or tissue culture could both be performed when screening parrots. PCR can be combined with the CF when screening doves and pigeons.

Chlamydophila psittaci infections can occur in almost any species of caged bird. The author recommends testing for this organism in most birds presented for new bird purchase examinations. The author especially recommends testing cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) as they can carry this bacterium and not demonstrate clinical signs of disease. The few cases of human infections the author has observed have been acquired from an otherwise healthy pet cockatiel. Pigeons and doves are commonly infected with C. psittaci and should be routinely tested.

Chlamydophila psittaci is a zoonotic intracellular bacterial organism that causes the diseases psittacosis in humans and avian chlamydiosis in avian species. Clinical signs often associated witha psittacosis (human) infection include generalized "flu-like" symptoms to more severe pneumonia and complicating health issues. Avian chlamydiosis will present as non-specific clinical signs in a companion bird patient. These non-specific signs can include ocular, nasal or conjunctival irritation and discharge, anorexia, depression, dehydration, bright green urates and diarrhea. Many avian species have been diagnosed with C. psittaci, but it is the companion bird species where this disease is the greatest public health concern.

It is often difficult to confirm a diagnosis of avian chlamydiosis because of the intracellular life cycle of the organism, prophylactic treatment of patients with appropriate antibiotics but using inappropriate doses and treatment periods, and the periodic shedding of elementary bodies (the infectious form of the disease). The difficulty to confirm avian chlamydiosis cases encourages the veterinarian to use multiple testing methodologies. Testing methods that can be used either individually or preferably in combination include pathology, antibody testing (direct complement fixation and elementary-body agglutination) and antigen testing (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, immunofluorescent antibody tests, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification technology on choanal/cloacal swabs and blood). Prior to sample submission, the diagnostic laboratory should be contacted for recommendations on proper sample collection, labeling, packaging, and shipment of the sample material. A breakdown in sample handling or shipment delay can adversely affect the reliability of C. psittaci test results.

There are several treatment options available to treat suspected or confirmed avian chlamydiosis cases. The treatment options are based on doxycycline as the drug of choice and being administered in the most appropriate way for the patient(s) to receive a therapeutically effective dose for the duration of the 45-day treatment regimen. There have been recent advances in using doxycycline hyclate powder from opened capsules a a seed coating for budgerigars or mixing the powder in water for larger birds. Oral doxycycline (monohydrate or calcium) or intramuscular injections of specific formulations can be effective treating the individual bird or group of birds that will tolerate the stress of capture and drug administration on a regular basis.

Chlamydiosis psittaci is a public health concern and can be a deadly, expensive disease within an aviary or to the individual companion bird. Although difficult to diagnose, avian chlamydiosis can be diagnosed and treated if there is an understanding of the available tests, and the proper tests are used to confirm the presence of the disease. Early communication to a client about the ability of this organism to resist improper treatment and the consequences of discontinuing treatment will often lead to owner compliance with antibiotic administration. In hopes of protecting birds and bird owners in the future, research is currently being conducted to improve C. psittaci diagnostic testing and to develop a vaccine to protect birds from infection if exposed to the infectious elementary bodies.

Reference: "Clinical Avian Medicine - Vol I and II" by Harrison and Lightfoot

Could Chemical Pesticides In Use Today Result In Bird Injuries?

Although chlorpyrifos and diazinon are no longer available for use in the USA, neurotoxic chemicals (including cholinesterase inhibitors, pyrethroids as well as newer entities such as fipronil) are registered for indoor use and can contact a pet bird through diffusing from application sites such as rugs, furniture, the skin of a dog or cat, and bait stations, even if the bird is removed during the actual application process. Two newer insecticides, fipronil and imidacloprid, have been associated with adverse reactions in people and pets when used in flea control programs (J.H. Gainer, personal communication, 2003). Both insecticides are registered for additional uses in and around the home.

By persisting indoors for months or years on rugs or furniture, certain chemical pesticides may present the potential for adverse effects. When applied outdoors, these same chemicals, plus others registered for outdoor use only, can drift indoors through open windows, contacting a caged bird kept nearby, or they can gain access from air intake ducts or be carried indoors on shoes. Birds and/or their environments may be treated with cholinesterase inhibitors such as the insecticide carbaryl (recommended for mite control) or outdated remedies such as the toxic substance paradichlorobenzene (found in moth crystals) used around cages. Further, the effects of multiple chemical exposures can be additive or even synergistic, with greater likelihood of adverse reactions occurring as a result.

Due to concern over West Nile virus, chemical pesticides may be broadcast from an aircraft or from a land-based vehicle in an effort to reduce mosquitoes. Pet birds (and other sensitive individuals) can be protected from contact with these sprays by closing windows and air intake ducts when the application occurs. If possible, a pet owner should obtain information from local governments, professional pest control companies, landscapers or neighbors who apply pesticides as to time, place, and nature of the pesticide product being sprayed close to the home. Greater surveillance of marketed products is needed to collect adverse reaction information. This is especially important for products used in the home and applied to pet animals, such as those products with fipronil and imidacloprid as active ingredients.

Reference: "Clinical Avian Medicine - Vol I and II" by Harrison and Lightfoot


Before it was banned in 2000 for indoor application, the organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos was widely used. Chlorpyrifos treatments for cockroaches in a home-based aviary resulted in the eventual loss of the entire breeding bird population of 15 pairs and their offspring. The toxic nature of the chemical as well as actions by the parties involved contributed to this unfortunate outcome. The applicator called the pesticide "safe" and did not appear to know its potential danger to birds, although the owner specifically questioned him about it. The aviary owner accepted the exterminator's assurances of safety and failed to get a second opinion from those knowledgeable in pesticide toxicity to make certain that the pest control methods used truly afforded the lowest possible risk to birds. In an ironic twist, the owner was able to collect financial compensation for theoretical damage to his own health that the birds' deaths had indicated.

Reference: "Clinical Avian Medicine - Vol I and II" by Harrison and Lightfoot

Herbal Therapy

Approximately 25% of our conventional drugs are derived from plants. Conventional drugs typically contain a single active constituent from the plant, whereas herbs provide a broader and more balanced effect on the body through the synergistic actions of the herbal components. Herbs are best prescribed to treat the entire individual and not only the clinical signs. Herbal blends and formulations combine the benefits of multiple herbs, which typically produce a synergistic action while minimizing the potential toxic effects of a single herb. Herbs provide many unique qualities that are very limited in conventional medicine, such as anticancer, antiviral and immunoregulation properties.

Currently, herbal products are not regulated or controlled. Therefore, practitioners and clients must remain cautious in administering a product without evaluating the company and verifying that the active component of the herb or plant actually is in the formulation. Product labels can bear the name of an herb or plant substance as long as some portion of it is present in the formulation, but it does not always imply that the medicinally active constituent is included. Standardized extracts are available for certain herbs through concentrating the active ingredients, resulting in more of a plant drug than an herbal medicine. Standardizing alters the physical and energetic nature of the herb. This process also eliminates the synergistic effects of the myriad chemical components in the plant. For some herbs such as milk thistle, standardization is advantageous, since the specific active constituent is clearly known and purified in the process. Other factors that affect the potency and medicinally active components of the herb include the method and time of harvest, the parts and preparation of the plant that are included and the handling and processing of the finished product. Only well-known and respected herbal companies should be considered when purchasing herbal products. Whenever possible, fresh herbs or vegetable glycerin-based extracts should be used.

Herbs are effective in the treatment of many conditions in birds. Herbal remedies are much more effective than conventional therapy in treating metabolic conditions such as liver and kidney diseases. Herbs are an excellent alternative to antibiotics in the treatment of infectious diseases, with wider antibacterial effects in addition to various antifungal and antiviral actions. Many of these herbal remedies also support the immune system to assist in the full recovery of the patient. Some herbal formulations serve as detoxification agents, antioxidants and anticancer therapies.

Liver disease is a common diagnosis in pet birds. Hepatic lipidosis is often the result of poor nutrition, typically sunflower seed-based diets. Other chronic conditions leading to hepatic disease in birds include repeated aflatoxin exposure, heavy metal toxicity and Chlamydophila spp. Hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis are potential sequelae to these conditions. However, conventional therapy falls short in treatment of these liver diseases. Certain herbs have been used for centuries in the treatment of liver disease in people, and these can be extrapolated for use in birds and other pets. Some of the herbs that support and protect the liver include milk thistle (Silybum marianum), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Oregon grape (Mahonia spp.), burdock root (Arctium lappa) and licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra).

Reference: "Clinical Avian Medicine Vol I and II" by Harrison and Lightfoot

Bird Talks Radio

Irena Schulz, Founder and President of Bird Lovers Only Rescue Service, Inc., will be on Bird Talks Radio on Sunday, February 10, 2008 at 9pm Eastern Time (8pm Central). This is an hour long phone in or email in talk show featuring different speakers weekly and covering a multitude of bird topics. Please go to the web address below for more information about this program.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Echinacea is also called the purple coneflower and has been used as an immune booster in all animals, including birds, for a very long time. It is not one of the most potent immune stimulants, but it is very safe. It primarily boosts the part of the immune system used to fight viral infections, and it is most effective in the early stages of infections.

It has been widely reported that one should only use Echinacea for fourteen days at a time and then stop to rest the body, but there is no evidence to support this claim. We might use Echinacea in the following situations:

  • Early on in the course of any infectious condition.

  • For chronic rhinitis and sinusitis conditions.

  • At the onset of any viral infection within an aviary such as polyoma virus outbreaks.

  • For Candida (yeast) infections of the crop or intestinal system.

  • To aid in the treatment of psittacine beak and feather disease.

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

Exercise A Necessity

Healthy birds are active for most of every day as they go about normal activities. When we choose a bird as a companion, we need to supply plenty of opportunities for stimulating physical and emotional activity that suits the unique needs of the individual bird. Because we control their environment, it's up to us to provide the opportunity for action.

Birds should not remain confined in a cage all day, every day. This results in a condition we refer to as cageosis. Cage-bound birds exhibit neurotic impulses such as feather pulling, screaming, and endless bouncing or banging their bodies on the sides of the cage. Many people mistake this behavior as happy dancing. You can compare the bird's frustration and resulting mental illness to that of a human who has been kept in solitary confinement with nothing to do for endless periods of time.

An exception to this would be small birds such as finches that are kept in flocks in large cages or aviaries. These birds carry on their daily activities much as they would in the wild. To keep them happy and healthy give them enough room to fly and interact, plenty of perching spots away from the flight paths, nutritious food and nests or nesting materials.

With other birds, though, you must provide regular activity time outside the cage as well a rotation of appropriate toys inside the cage. The best way to make sure you give your bird adequate activity time is to create a formal schedule. Every bird should be allowed out of its cage at least twice daily. If your day is busy, let your bird out of its cage for a short time in the morning and then plan the more extensive out-of-cage interaction time in the evening, centered around sharing dinner and evening pastimes.

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

Monday, January 21, 2008

Feathers Bird Clinic

Australia's Nectarivorous Birds

Nectarivorous birds are those birds that rely on the nectar produced by flowering trees and shrubs. Most nectarivores are from Australia, including swift parrots, lorikeets, and honeyeaters. Avian veterinarians are still studying and learning about the nutritional requirements for maintenance, growth and reproduction of these birds and the physical adaptations necessary to digest and process their unique food sources.

Nectar is a sweet, sugar-rich liquid food source that provides lots of calories for lorikeets and other nectar eaters but is very low in amino acids, vitamins and trace minerals. Birds that ingest nectar must also rely on other food sources to meet their nutritional requirements. Pollen (composed of highly digestible proteins and diverse amino acids) as well as manna (the sugary excretions of aphids called honeydew as well as lerp, the waxy material produced by Psyllidae insects. There are several reports stating that Australia's nectarivorous birds rely on insects as the main protein source for their growing chicks. These birds have been recorded eating several species of insects including mayflies, grasshoppers, cicadas, psyllids, robber flies, lacewings, lycid beetles and moths.

Nectarivorous birds have developed a variety of adaptations to accommodate their unique diet. Their plumage tends to be tighter and glossier than other parrots to prevent feather soiling by the nectar. They have extensible brush-tipped tongues that allow for the rapid harvesting of nectar. These birds generally have lower protein requirements, lower metabolic rates and some special digestive and kidney adaptations. Some Lorikeets have a grealy reduced gizzard muscle and centrally located stream-lined openings through their gastrointestinal tracts to facilitate nectar passage. Their G.I. tracts are shorter than other parrots (because of their highly digestible diet) and these birds tend to ingest much more water than other parrots and also produce more urine. This also requires their specially adapted kidneys to resorb more water to prevent dehydration.

As researchers learn more and more about wild nectarivorous diets, veterinarians and aviculturists must apply the knowledge to our domestic nectarivores in the pet world. By fine tuning our nutritional recommendations and protocols for these birds we can improve their overall health and quality of life.

Reference: Karen Shaw Becker, DVM of Feathers Bird Clinic within the Natural Pet Animal Hospital in Bourbonnais, Illinois.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

PBS Nature Series - Parrots In The Land Of Oz

PBS Nature Series will present "Parrots In The Land Of Oz" airing on January 27th featuring an array of parrots from Down Under, including the elusive and breath-taking Palm Cockatoo. Please tune in to witness these magnificent birds in their home land the way that nature had intended.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Bird Lovers Only Rescue Service, Inc. can receive donations from for people coming to view Snowball videos and posting comments. Please click on the links below. Thank you for your support!