Wednesday, August 20, 2008

KoKo Love

Meet our Koko Love.

Koko loves her name, she uses it in most of her sentences. Koko want some, Koko is a pretty bird, Koko UP, etc. She also adds the word "Love" to her name about 95% of the time. Koko Love want love, Koko Love want some, Koko love wanna go out...

Koko is a little love sponge and can't seem to get enough attention after being so neglected for so long. She allows me to have her step up and sometimes she deems me privileged enough to be able to give her some head scratches but when my husband walks into the living room, she will go into the baby bird begging posture and flutter her wings, whistle, sing, bark, meow and say UP until he comes over and gets her. He can give her head scratches, back rubs, kisses and little hugs. Koko thinks the sun rises and sets on my husband.

We have only had Koko for about three and half weeks now and she comes up with things that are always surprising us and making us smile. About the third day she was here, she let out this big heavy sigh sound with an Ahhhhhhh at the end of it like she was just totally exhausted or bored to tears! That same evening when I was holding her she began to make loud yawning sounds and then when on my husband's shoulder, she made the yawning noise again and then said "Koko Love Sleepy". So we put her to bed.

My husband is disabled and has been bed-ridden for the most part for the last 4 years. Bringing Koko into our home has forced him to come out and see her at least once a day and usually twice. You see, we also have a gorgeous Grey named Nick that is totally bonded to me and has bitten my husband on more then a few occasions. While my husband wanted very much to be friends with Nick, for the most part Nick will have nothing to with him unless I am gone and he wants to go to his tree (We have a large manzinita tree we built about 18 years ago in our living room.) or back to his cage from the tree. Then he will allow my husband to come get him and let Nick ride on his arm back to where ever it is he wanted to go. That's it! No head scratches! LOL So, when Koko came to live with us my husband was in shock that a parrot wanted his attention and affection. Tracy Conant Owner of Pampered Avian Rescue was so right about us being the perfect home for Koko!

When Tracy emailed me and said that she thought we should talk about how to get Koko to me I about fell off my chair! We had never discussed us getting Koko since they did not normally ship parrots. However, when Tracy and I had started talking about her work in Parrot Service animals and my husband's disabilities she began to pray about whether Koko should come live with us or was there a better home for her yet to come. Tracy told me that when she prayed about it that she had a peace and joy wash over her and she KNEW we Koko's forever home!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Watch Parrots to Help Parrots, in Five Easy Steps

Watching Wild Parrots at YouTube Makes a Difference

Recently, the World Parrot Trust started a channel on YouTube as a way of making some of their video content available to a worldwide audience. It has been well received by the YouTube community - there has been over 30,000 views to date!

The great thing about YouTube is that anyone can have fun watching parrots, and by doing so help raise awareness for our organization. So pay us a visit, and while you're there please also take a minute to make your visit really count. Here's how to do it:

Sign up to YouTube
Just go to YouTube and click on "Sign Up" at the top of the page, it only takes a few seconds. You don't even need to use your real name.

Visit our page at YouTube:Parrotsdotorg
Once you're registered and logged in, then you can start viewing videos at the above URL. Click on any of the 55 videos of parrots of all shapes and colours!

Make Your Viewing Count
While you're logged in watching a video you can rate what you're watching by clicking on the red stars. You can also make comments, ask questions, or click on the "favorite" tab to add that video to your list of favorites. Most importantly, when you take these actions, you help the Trust by making us and our videos more prominent on YouTube and the web in general.

Share Your Favourite Videos
If you get really serious, you can add our videos to your own playlist, and then you can share your enthusiasm for a given video by clicking on MySpace, Facebook, Digg and other buttons, sending it out to the world.

Tell your friends and the WPT what you think
Sending a message to your friends means a lot and will really help drive lots of enthusiasm for our work's that simple. And we'd love to hear from you, your comments on our videos and the channel at YouTube. We hope to put up a lot more new and different parrot related material here, so send us your suggestions. Contact World Parrot Trust

Defying "The Myth Of The Unmanegable Sexually Mature Male Amazon"

Defying "The Myth Of The Unmanegable Sexually Mature Male Amazon" by Shari Beaudoin

Shari Beaudoin has recently (August 2006) taken on the role of President for The Amazona Society. Although she lives and works with many companion birds, Amazons have always had a special place in her heart.

Along with her husband Terry and son, Troy, she owns and operates Parrot Island, Inc., a highly respected quality Parrot Specialty Store in the Minneapolis area.

Shari is a Certified Parrot Behavior Consultant with the IAABC /(International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants) /who does both telephone and in home consultations for companion parrots owners.

As an author, Shari is a regular contributor to The Companion Parrot Quarterly and Companion Parrot in Japan. Her numerous articles have also been published in Bird Talk, The Island Times, The Parrot Education Journal, The Amazona Quarterly, and numerous parrot clubs throughout the U.S., Canada, The Netherlands, Spain, and The U.K.

Shari’s flock consists of her beloved Double Yellow-headed Amazon, Lt. Columbo, two Black-capped Caiques, Scooter and Skeeter, a Vasa Parrot, Gadget, and a Hyacinth Macaw, Mateo. She also shares her life with a Standard Poodle named Leon and 12 beautiful Japanese Koi.

Defying The Myth Of The Unmanegable Sexually Mature Male Amazon

Lt. Columbo, my male Double Yellow-headed Amazon, Amazona ochrocephala oratrix, is the perfect myth buster when it comes to discussions regarding unmanageable, sexually mature, male Amazon Parrots, or what I call "THE USMMA's". Many people are of the belief that all or most sexually mature male Amazon parrots will ultimately become unmanageable, aggressive, biting screamers.

As of the date of this article, Lt. Columbo is 10 years of age, and sexually mature, yet he remains gentle, playful, vocal, outgoing, and friendly. He is not a one person bird, in fact he enjoys interaction with numerous people. So why is it that Lt. Columbo has not fallen into the "USMMA" category?

It is my belief that it is a comprehensive combination of many factors that have contributed to Lt. Columbo's indulgent nature. In an attempt to better understand why Lt. Columbo is the way he is - I will discuss a number of what I feel are the most important of these factors.

Veterinary Care

In the case of either a juvenile or an adult Amazon parrot it is important that the bird is in good health and maintaining an optimal weight. Poor health is often the cause of many behavioral problems. All of these problems may not be fatal or disease related, but many may cause enough discomfort to cause a bird to become sedate, unwilling to play, and down right cantankerous. Lt. Columbo receives annual well bird exams by a qualified Avian Veterinarian. During these exams he has regular blood work done and his annual polyoma virus vaccine along with a crop swab and a fecal smear. I have chosen to have periodic x-rays (every two years or so) to establish a good baseline for what is normal for him. I also pay close attention to the bottoms of Lt. Columbo's feet. Amazon parrots are solid, stocky birds and therefore can be prone to foot sores. I prefer to use rope perches or Vet-wrap (a spongy tape that sticks to itself) to wrap around portions of natural wood perches. I am especially careful to make sure that the perch he sleeps on (usually the highest in his cage) is soft. Wooden dowel perches, cement, or any perches that are rough on top or lack any variance in diameter, are very hard on an Amazon's feet. These perches force the bird's feet to remain in one position causing constant wear on one area of the foot. The feet can become almost raw on the bottoms. Often times when I talk to people with parrots in their teens and above (I have seen Amazons that are not even 5 years of age show foot problems), one of the first things I ask about is the condition of the bird's feet. I often wonder if some of these birds feet have become so sore and arthritic that it is painful for them to move around, causing them to become sedate and aggressive when asked to do so.

Determining A Healthy Weight

Amazon parrots are prone to obesity making it very important to determine the individual bird's optimal weight. Once you and your veterinarian have made this determination, your bird's weight should be monitored at home weekly with an accurate precision gram scale (accurate to within 1 gram).

To read the rest of this fantastic article, please click >>> HERE

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Little Miss Koko Love

Introducing Koko...

Koko came into our lives on August 2nd, 2008. She is believed to be about 8 years old and was surrendered to Pampered Parrots Avain Rescue in Airway Heights, Washington.

Koko had been living with owners and co-directors of Pampered Parrots Avian Rescue - Tracy and Bret Conant for about two months. Before being surrendered to Pampered Parrots, Koko had been neglected and left in her cage without much attention or time out to play and explore. That kind of life is like rotting in prison for Grey so Koko proceeded to pluck her self.

Tracy and Brent spent a lot of time with her, especially Brent as even though Koko loves everyone, she ADORES men! What looks like red lipstick on Koko in her picture is strawberries. She had just eaten garden fresh strawberries shortly before she decided to share them with Bret; whom she was madly in love with.

We were not looking for a parrot to join our family of one large Congo African Grey male named Nick, 5 Boston Terriers, a barn cat and several Japanese Koi and a few gold fish. It was all God's idea. One morning as I was feeding and talking to Nick I had said how we really could care for and love one more bird. I had no intention of looking at baby parrots, we had lived and gone that route in the past as well as adopting and taming a few wild caught parrots in our days gone by. It would have to be a special bird, one that NEEDED us and the love, attention and good care we had to offer. Then I was distracted by life and work and did not even think that thought again. About two or three days later, I got an email from my dear friend, Maggie Wright she was circulating about a CAG in Utah that had been in rescue, cage bound for two years. Usually I just re-circulate and cross post these emails to my other bird crazy friends but this time, something struck me. Was I to be Tipper's new home? I felt like God was whispering to me and I needed to find out more and put in an application for Tipper.

I then learned that Phoebe Linden, Gay Bradshaw, Kathy White and a few others were all working together to find Tipper a new, forever home. I emailed my application to Lisa, owner of Utah Critter Sanctuary and then called her on the phone to talk about Tipper. Lisa was very hesitant to let Tipper go to anyone out of Utah so it was not meant to be that he come live us.

Meanwhile, I had been corresponding with Tracy Conant at Pampered Parrots. I had seen the picture of Koko on Petfinders but Tracy had told me earlier that they did not ship birds. I had stayed in touch with Tracy about her work in being a parrot service animal advocate and we corresponded back and forth for a week or two. I had shared with her about my husband being disabled and pretty much bed-ridden. He loves the animals living with us but has always been disappointed that Nick would not let him pet him. We talked about the nature of parrots and how she had a service parrot of her own and how she had help place a few and told me of the fantastic ways these birds kept people from anxiety attacks or PTSS flash-backs. One day she emailed me and out of the blue said, "I think we need to talk on the phone about how to get Koko to you" I was in a state of shock. We had never discussed Koko coming to live with us... She then told me that she had been praying about it and believed that not only would Koko benefit by living with us but that my husband would benefit from having her in his life since she was such a flirt and sweetheart with men.

So, Koko came to us a little over a week ago and I will keep you updated on how she adjusts and how our lives are effected by her sweet presence.

Check back soon....

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Of Pampered Parrot Rescue AND Parrot Service Animals

Pamperd Parrots is Christian run rescue that has placed 400+ birds that have come through their rescue since opening their doors in 1999.

*In fact, Dr Jeannie just adopted a wonderful little CAG named Koko from them when we were not able to be Tipper's new family (read Meet Tipper posted July 21st, 2008).

President and co-director of Pamperd Parrots, Tracy Conant is Educated in Bird Behavior Modification, Avian Nutrition, Clicker Training,
Avian Tech, Rescue and Recovery Operations, 15+ years experience,
Animal rescue in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, animal advocate,
Wild bird /raptor Triage and Transport, Holistic avian medicine, movie
wrangler, First aid, toy builder/designer and MORE! She is also an advocate for Service birds!

Below is the article Tracy wrote on the subject:

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) an individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.

The disabilities that we focus on, using parrots as service animals are the social/emotional limitations one may experience. These limitations can include, but are in no way limited to: interaction with others (e.g. withdrawal ; inability to relate due to paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, obsessive compulsive ideation, negativity; inability to regulate mood and anxiety) and communication with others (e.g., expressing emotions appropriately, expressing needs, following a sequence).
While interacting with others, a bird can aid in many areas. In symptoms of withdrawal, such as found in depression, a bird may provide the extra push to encourage the owner to get out of bed and perform daily functions like getting dressed, personal hygiene or eating. Performing the tasks of caring for their service animal is often enough to help a depressed person to make it through another day. In events of paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, OCD and more, the bird becomes a focus to help decipher what is real and what is not. Watching the birds body language offers a key to distinguishing what is occurring around them, what is safe and what is real. Regulating mood and anxiety is another service performed by a bird by again, allowing the person to focus on the bird. This focus, through direct contact with the bird acts as a mood stabilizer (in addition or replacement of medications) and acts as a calming agent through petting or talking to the bird. This may help mental health patients go places by him or herself, or go places they would not normally go that their mood or anxiety would prevent them from going to before.

Communicating with others is another aspect of mental health that a parrot service animal can help. Often, it is hard for a person to express emotions appropriately. A parrot, still acting as a focus, can help keep the client from excited outbursts of anger, mania and more. Studies of others utilizing service animals have shown that persons whom are bipolar are able to go into grocery stores, shopping malls or other public places and have fewer outbursts than they normally would have without the aid of a service animal. Using a parrot can open doors of communicating with others by reducing emotional instability through touch, petting and again, allowing a person to use the bird to gauge safe environments. Birds can be specially trained to interact well in crowds and deciphering safety in public areas, thus allowing the client to lead a more active, normal life.

Current clients that have a service parrot are able to go into public places where they were unable to go before having the bird. One severely agoraphobic client is now able to leave their house and do simple tasks like grocery shopping. Another client suffering from severe depression has had their symptoms reduced greatly, in conjunction with medications, and has purpose to get up out of bed every day; suicidal ideation occurs with less frequency. Yet another client, who is bipolar, benefits from not only have fewer ‘lows’ but is able to function in society be keeping extreme anger or mania in closer check. It has also been proven through other service animals that persons having extended illness or surgical procedures heal much faster with elevated moods through utilizing the benefits provided by their service animal.

Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell is a well respected psychiatric professional in the Spokane area and has commented, “I have seen patients whose sole reason for getting out of bed is their service animal. Patients have related to me that but for their service animal(s) they would have committed suicide. These animals actually save and improve lives. Birds are especially suited as service animals and as an added bonus many of these talk, but all communicate well with their owner providing mental stability. Birds are growing in popularity as service animals and I recommend Pampered Parrots as one of the local providers for these birds. They determine suitability of birds for the purpose of being a service animal and place each appropriately.” Dr. Mitchell is a Doctor of Psychology, a National Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Psychiatry and is a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Parrots may be relatively new to the job of service animal, but they continue to be more widely used as their qualities of usefulness are revealed.They continue to improve the lives of those experiencing social and emotional imbalances and troubles with communicating. These birds are not pets, but service animals like dogs, cats, or monkeys and do provide companionship- but more importantly they provide invaluable assistance on the emotional level.

Tracy Conant
Parrot Service Animal Advocate

*More about Koko and Pamperd Parrots to come!