Just to say “Hi”!

It’s been a long time since I’ve last posted on this blog and I apologize for such a long pause in my updating.

I’ll try to keep my blog updated more frequently from now on. In this past year a lot has happened and changed. Lino, my senegal, is now a full fledged teenager with all the wonderful perks of puberty. More on all fun aspects that came with that big change in a next post, though.

Until next time,

Iskra and her feathered friends wish you all the best!


Lino chronicles

Lino’s puberty is starting to hit HARD.  His behavior is puzzling me, so I’ve decided to keep a journal of what’s going on, how he’s behaving and trying to draw parallels between his reaction and his surroundings.

There are days he’s this perfect bird, that steps up for everyone, is nice to everyone, plays, is curious and nothing like the biting monster some days or uncontrolled  flying projectile.

This morning I’ve let them out, as I do every morning, to clean their cages, refill water bowls, toys, etc. I opened Ringo’s cage and she nicely stepped up and went to their playground. Same routine we have EVERY morning. Than I opened Lino’s cage, he seemed unwilling to go out, so I let him be. I thought he would just find his way out on his own.

I started cleaning Ringo’s cage and after that was done, I went for pine nuts to try to bribe Lino to come out of his cage. The second he saw me with pine nuts, he run out of his cage, flew to me and bit the hell out my hand. I decided not to react and went forward with cage cleaning. Was that a mistake? Was I supposed to put him back to his cage immediately? It seemed counterproductive,  though.

After their cages were cleaned and time to o back to their cages was coming, I went to fill their foraging toys so I could put them back to their cages. The second I went to get his foraging tray, he landed on my head, very aggressively,  so I put him back to his cage.  I’m not really sure what triggered this. Yesterday he was fine. Perfect, actually.

I’ve read that senegal parrots have this flight or fight response while going through puberty. I’m afraid not to reinforce any of these behaviors.


A postcard from the Mediterranean

We moved, for the duration of the summer, to our seaside house at the Island Krk. We’ll come back home in the beginning  of September, so until than we’ll be enjoying sea breeze, sun and fresh air.

Trip here went reasonably well. It was a 2 hour drive from our home to here. Because of high temperatures and very busy traffic, we started our trip very early in the morning, so it was easier on both them and me. Ringo is used to traveling to the seaside, we do this every year, so she didn’t make a big fuss about it. On the other hand, this was Lino’s second trip, so he was a bit more excited, which was understandable. We had to pass through 13 tunnels, what proved to be VERY interesting to Lino, he would climb up in his cage to get a better look of the red lights passing us.

Once we got here, it took a day to get used to their new surroundings, but they are perfectly fine now. In the morning I let them out while I clean their cages, prepare their foraging toys/baskets, clean water bowls and what not, than, once back in their cages, I roll them out on our terrace and they enjoy the fresh air and sun until afternoon, when the sun shines more on the terrace, so it’s better for them to be inside. Temperatures in the sun get quite high!  Also, by that time I’m all ready to go swimming! In the late afternoon, I let them out again and they are out until dinner/bed time.

I like this arrangement because they get the best out sun and they prefer being outside than indoors.

Flowers you can see in both pictures are petunias and lavender with some silver millet.

Spotting safe bird stores – a difficulty for international shoppers

I have been thinking about this subject a lot lately. As an international shopper, I don’t have the same point of view on the subject of what are safe and healthy parrot products as an USA parrot owner would.  The reason is quite simple, our laws and regulations regarding safety are completely different, so some issues are not on my radar, so to speak. Also, some brands that are notorious for unsafe or unhealthy products are not available here, so it’s an easy “bear trap” . This is not a contest in which one is better or which one is worse, these are just two sides of the same coin.

On one of my favorite blogs, Coco’s flock, Coco wrote three extremely useful posts on this topic. I wanted to reply to them every time, but my replies always ended up to be too large. So, I’ll divide this post into three sections, each title will have a link to her original post, so you can read it and each section will be a sort of a reply to her post. I strongly encourage all of you to take a moment of your time to read what she wrote.

What are  parrot safe materials? (An Ethical and Safe Bird Store Policy, Part One)

When on topic of parrot safe materials, first thing that comes to mind is stainless steel. Next thing after that, is – “whoa, that’s expensive”. True, but hear me out for a second.

It’s a really ungrateful task to talk about money and the ways of spending it in this era of economy, but, like many of you, I don’t have an unlimited pool of parrot budget nor do I have a money tree growing in my backyard. I’m a student working on my masters degree, so yes, I would say my budget is quite tight. That’s part of the reason I try very hard to get the very best out of it all. The second part are shipping, custom and what-not-fees I have to pay when receiving an item.

When I stared shopping for my parrots online, I found myself overwhelmed with options and left with a dilemma- what is actually safe and what just looks pretty in a picture. Personally, I do all of my parrot related shopping online from stores in North America. I’m always amazed at the amount of online stores out there and I find it quite difficult to navigate through them.  I believe that such a vast market is a big downfall for parrot ownership, because I feel like it opens a space for unsafe and unhealthy produce to march into our parrot lives all under a flag of big brands. This isn’t to say that the same isn’t here, it is. Online stores here sell the same big branded items, loaded with zinc or nickel-plated chain, lots of long rope strands calling for an accident to happen. The only difference is in price-prices here are double than in America.

I really like what Coco said in her post- ” we vote with our dollars” and that is so true. I feel very angry that there are still stores that sell grit for parrots or untested seeds without a proper product declaration. If I see a store that has a lot of items that I’m not comfortable with, I will not shop there. This goes for both online and walk-in stores. I stopped shopping at my local parrot store because they sell grit, sanded perch covers and payed no attention to parrots well-being. I strongly believe in setting an example, so hopefully speaking up about this kinds of subjects makes a difference.

Sometimes safer items are more expensive, but in the end you actually gain more. If you purchase safe items, you don’t have to worry about metal poisoning or your parrot getting caught up in long strands of cotton. You can let your parrot play without the worry that something might happen. When you have to pay larger sums for shipping and other fees that come with that, you’re sure you’re getting your moneys worth. Also, sometimes safer items mean a bit more goggling and not more dollars spent, there are a lot of safe and quality products that are made by home-bases or smaller companies.

Be aware of avian diseases ( An Ethical and Safe Bird Store Policy, Part Two )

Avian diseases are a big risk when shopping online and it should definitely be something to consider when giving a toy to your parrot without disinfecting it. Disinfection is made super easy nowadays, just spray, wipe and let it dry.

Another reason I, as an international shopper, am extra cautious about disinfection is that my packages are opened at the custom office. Anyone who has ever been to a customs office at a post office, knows that the environment there is less than ideal; lots of packages are opened in the same room, the loading dock is right next to it. If you’re wondering how to make time at the customs office as safe as possible, there is a solution. I ask vendors I buy from for a possibility of wrapping my goods up in see-through plastic bags, this way the custom officer can see the items ordered but he doesn’t have to take them out of the bag. Once home, I disinfect them and after that I give them to my parrots.

I think everyone should be aware that safe products are not only those made out of safe materials, but also those made in a non-bird environment and safe stores should not accept returns. That, to me, is a basic safe bird store policy.

Copycats anonymous ( An Ethical and Safe Bird Store Policy, Part Three )

Coco beautifully explained the issues with copied original work, take a moment to read her post, just click on the link.

He was a boy in need of a home

I knew of Lino even before he came to me. He was my friends senegal parrot. After a short period spent at her home, due to her very young children and the demands that come with that, Lino was looking for a new home. I completely understand that she had to do what was best for her and her family and most likely any mom in her shoes would do the same. At that time I was looking into the Poi family and decided to get what ever I find available when I decide to get one. Reason for that was the fact that here are only a few Poi breeders and getting one ment a lot of traveling on my part.

She contacted me one Wednesday asking if I was interested in adopting Lino. I was thinking it over for a day or two and  Sunday, that same week, I was in my car driving to get Lino and take him home. As you can see, it really wasn’t a big thinking process for me.

I think he changed my perspective on parrot ownership all together in the time he has been in my home. He isn’t anything I thought he would be; he’s always on the go, go, GO!! A VERY hard chewer munching on everything and anything that gets in the way of his beak, he’s quite the talker for his size, very playful, stubborn and at the same time cuddly and friendly. Oh, and I almost forgot- curious like a little cat!! It’s quite difficult to get anything by him without him noticing! It will be almost a year since he joined our flock and I have found my self liking all the things about him, I thought would drive me mad! Talk about irony 🙂

I have put a lot of effort to socialize him over the last year and I see that produced a very trustworthy parrot. He readily steps up to anyone, doesn’t have a favorite human, nor will he attack anyone. I enjoy observing him growing up, I see how his likes and dislikes change and how his personality is slowly building and shaping it self. Every day I learn something new and he truly brings a lot of happiness and sunshine in my life.

Little green girl

First to join my flock was my Indian Ringneck, Ringo. I don’t know her exact hatchday, but I remember the day I got her very vividly.

It was 01.03. 2008. I was walking home from classes I had earlier that  day. For some reason I decided to go home by train and not by bus. I came too early to my train station and decided to walk around the nearest mall to make the waiting time go by quicker. I stopped at the small pet shop and, through a window, I saw her. She was in a tiny cage swinging around and not really paying attention to her surroundings. That pretty green bird owned me in all 5 seconds.

I walked in and asked the shop assistant about her, he told me she isn’t handfed or tame, that she is somewhere around 6 months old and that they got her that morning.  I looked at her and felt like she was looking right through my eyes, into my soul. I left the pet shop that day thinking; ” Oh, well, she isn’t handfed…she was raised by her parents at the breeder. What if she never decides to like people? That’s just too much for me to handle!!”  The next day she was in my car,  going home with me.

I must admit that bringing her home isn’t going to make my Top 10 most rational decisions, but it will make Top 10 best decisions list. She has thought me so much in the last 4 years, and she did it in a way noone else could.

First few months were quite bumpy, she wasn’t tame and was quite afraid of humans of all shapes and sizes. Slowly, she gained her trust in me, she saw that I wasn’t going to hurt her and we learned to enjoy each others company. Gaining her trust was a learning process, as much as for her as it was for me. It was a very slow process that lasted for months, but in the end we made it. She is a wild animal that decided that I’m worthy of her trust and love.

Looking back, I can honestly say she does own a piece of my soul and most likely, could get away with murder if I was the judge.