Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pigeons Are Not the Only Birds in Manhattan.

Migratory birds wintering in the south.

As a 30-year Manhattanite, I think of pigeons when I think of the island's birds.  Everywhere you go, there are pigeons, sometimes many many many pigeons.  There is a great scene in Home Alone 2:  Lost in New York, where the McCauly Caulkin character meets the Bird Lady in Manhattan, New York's Central Park.  It is night, and the Bird Lady is standing like a statue with pigeons all over her, coat covered in bird droppings.   She was their Home Base.  So those are the birds, from white through many shades of gray to a silvery black-blue, all are multicolored in some way.  They peck around at everything they can get their tiny, pointy beaks on.   

But the NYC pigeons are not alone.  In fact, Central Park, which is surrounded by buildings, is one of the Northeast's best spots for bird watching in spring and fall.  The vast city park with hills, lakes, trees and meadows is a welcome resting place for birds making their northern and southern migrations when the seasons change in spring and fall.  The migration starts as far as South America and as far north as Canada.  There are numerous other parks in Manhattan that also are visited by the migratory birds.   

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Screaming, Screeching Bird Help - Part One

Our pretty cherry-head (red-masked) conure can scream with the best of them.  If you have every met one, you know what I mean.  In fact, the literature about this species always talks about how loud they are.  However, I have found that he is no different than any toddler that wants something but can't express her/himself in "human" language.  But, lucky for him, I can talk with birds.  And, so can you.

First you will take notice of the screaming details:  Where exactly is the bird when it occurs - and I do mean "exactly".  Is he in a specific spot on his perch, cage, etc.?  Where exactly is everyone and anyone else in the home?  What is going on in the home (music playing, TV on, kids around, someone talking on the phone, water running (where), food cooking (what kind), lighting, etc.  Seriously, if you want to figure this out and find a calm and quiet way to live in joyous harmony with your screamer, then start a journal.   Do this for a full week and include as much detail as you are willing to manage.  Include details about what physical activity for the bird preceded and followed the screaming episode.  Then come back to to read "Screaming Bird Help - Part Two".  We will discuss the patterns that may be emerging from your screaming journal.

Our pretty little parrot has devised his own way to train and control us by the way he uses screaming, among several other activities.   Through my observations and conversations with him, I have been able to build some balance, peace, and fun in to our communal living situation (human-bird).

Our precious feathered friend has been with us for nearly 30 years.  So if you plan a long and happy relationship with a bird that screams a lot, this is a very worthwhile task to take on.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Your bird relies on you to provide all the resources he or she needs for life. Like humans and most other creatures, your bird needs fresh water. There are two schools of thought about water straight from the tap vs. using filtered or bottled water. If your water comes from a municipal water supplier, then you are probably aware that it will likely contain certain chemicals at or below levels set by the government for clean and safe water. One of those chemicals is often chlorine. Chlorine could be beneficial as a way to prevent bacteria from forming in your bird's mostly stagnant water dish. A bird's water can easily become tainted when he or she drops food or toys or poop in the dish. This is especially true if your bird uses this same water dish for bathing. That is why some veterinarians recommend using this processing, chlorinated water which keeps bacteria at bay longer than spring or filtered type of water. For those that have a strong preference to supply your bird with spring or filtered water, it is recommended that you change the water at least two times per day; more often if you see the water is soiled with debris of any sort, even a piece of fresh vegetable.

Water is your bird's lifeline. Keep it fresh and safe. Your bird will love you for it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What Spock Has Been Up To...

After a winter hibernation, Mr. Spock has chewed his way out of his cardboard hideaway.  He does such a thorough job and enjoys it so much that we are thinking of going in to the confetti manufacturing business.  Spock will be our main engineer.  

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bird Words

Bird words that are used to describe some humans and/or their traits:

Cuckoo Bird

Hmmm. Some of these even describe birds. Can you think of any others. Post your reply by clicking on "comments" below.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Feathers donated my Mr. Spock. These are his tail and wing
feathers shed during the molting process over many years.

Mr. Spock

If it has is definitely a bird. That is to say, only birds have feathers. Furthermore, all birds have feathers?...not a bird. While all feathers generally have the same basic elements, they can vary tremendously in appearance, shape and size. That is because different types of feathers have different functions. For example, the long and strong tail and wing feathers are primarily involved in flight. Various types of smaller and softer feathers provide insulation from water and cold.

According to wikipedia "Although feathers are light, a bird's plumage weighs two or three times more than its skeleton" That reminds me of the old riddle from when I was a kid: Which weighs more, a pound of rocks or a pound of feathers?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bird Toys

A pet bird, such as a parrot, should have a bunch of toys. It's a good idea to no let a pet bird have them all at the same time. Mr. Spock, our cherry-head conure, has lots of toys and interesting things in his cage and on his playpens. Sometimes a new toy will be there for weeks or even months before he tries them out. Then one may become his new favorite for a while. Six or eight toys would be a good start. Some of Spock's favorite toys are not even store bought. He LOVES the cardboard tubes from paper towels...he rolls them, flips them, flings them, etc. Sometimes I even hang them on a rope in different places for him to play with. It's a good idea to rotate toys every six months or so...move a couple out and a couple in.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Birdseye Vision

Did you know:

Birds see in color. I've known that for a long time, because our choosy Cherry-head Conure, Mr. Spock, eats his food in color order. Yes, just like a human might choose to eat jelly beans or M&Ms (click here to read about it). In fact, birds can see colors better than humans. It has to do with lenses and cones (not ice cream cones, but the cones that make up the eye), which allow them to see a greater range of the ultraviolet wavelengths than humans. That may be another reason why our pretty parrot can be found entranced with his image in anything reflective. If there is a mirror or a metallic object near by (even a spoon), he can be found snuggled up to it staring at his bright red crown and gorgeous green body. Oooh La La !!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Parrot POW - Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome

Mr. Spock, our cherry-head conure, just returned from a week-long stay at the bird hotel in South Florida while we were away. Even though he had his some of his favorite toys and snacks along with the company of lots of other beautiful and exotic birds, he still came home freaked out. This is unusual for our lively parrot; usually he is friendly and grateful for being liberated. Sometimes he would pretend to be mad for a few minutes, but would get over that quickly and return to his normal bird behavior.

This time though, for two full days, he was like a cat on the attack, or a like a cornered snake. As soon as I would get near him...his eyes would bug out, he'd back up, get a good footing, and lunge at me with the big beak snapping. Yikes! There were several near hits, and a few direct strikes on my finger. There he was...biting the hand that feeds him. By the third day (yesterday), he was as cute and cuddly as ever...snuggling up to the hand that feeds him. Welcome Back Mr. Spock!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sanderling: A Very Cute Seashore Bird

The Sanderling could possibly one of the cutest birds ever. This is the small bird that you can see on a beach at the shorline. It might be mistaken as a baby seagull or some other young bird. However, it is most likely a Sanderling. South Florida beaches are abundant with Sanderlings who seem to love chasing waves.

The Sanderling is a common shorebird that turns up on almost every beach in the world. They are the cute little birdies that run up on the beach when a wave rolls in, staying just ahead of the breaker. Then, as the wavwe recedes, the Sanderlings sprint after the retreating water. They look like they are playing a game of trying to get as close to the water as possible without letting it touch them. They are actually waiting for tiny bits of food to be deposited from the ocean on to the sand for them to eat.