Rain and Bow and the road to better health

Help birds like Rain and Bow through the Phoenix Landing Healthy Parrot Medical Fund! Up to $2500 in donations will be matched by generous supporters between November 15 – 23, 2019.

For information about adopting Rain and Bow, see their Petfinder profile, and information about Phoenix Landing’s Adoption process.

This is the story of Rain and Bow, two male cockatiels who came to Phoenix Landing with 34 other cockatiels in the Spring of 2017. They were initially in a group of 167 cockatiels who had been living in horrid conditions in a home in Pennsylvania. Many kind, compassionate people helped them get better. And, our hope is that someone soon will help them turn the page to begin that next chapter, by adopting them into a loving, knowledgeable, patient home.

In the beginning

After learning a shelter in Pennsylvania had received 167 cockatiels and desperately needed help placing them, Phoenix Landing’s Maryland Adoption Coordinator, Debbie Russell, and committed volunteer, Anne Hawthorn, made the trip to Pittsburg to pick up 36 of them to help. Donated supplies and cages from The Parrot Posse allowed us to house and care for so many at once. Many amazing people stepped up to adopt or foster many of these cockatiels, and provide them with a better life. Hawthorn herself graciously fostered many of them until they could be placed with other volunteers or adopters.

Finally breathing easier

Rain and Bow battled respiratory issues until August of this year when, finally, they can now breathe easier! Bow, especially, had very persistent respiratory infections. We are grateful to the knowledgeable team of experts at Stahls Exotic Animal Veterinary Services, who remained committed to helping us see them through to healthier days. Numerous appointments, diagnostics, radiographs, medicine, and more were required before they were healthy. The total amount for their veterinary bills between 2017 – 2019 is $2979.86. Over $2100 of that was from 2019. But, it got us to that happy announcement this past August that Bow seemed to have finally beat the respiratory issues that he just couldn’t seem to completely kick previously. It was, indeed, happy news to us all!

Volunteers made a huge difference in Rain and Bow’s lives

Beyond just the medical care that was needed, they needed caring, compassionate, knowledgeable volunteers to foster them. Not everyone is prepared to administer medicine to a bird who is wary of hands, and we are grateful to those who stepped up to help them, and helped them day in and day out. As such, we’d like to highlight some stories from two of their most recent fosters, about their time with Rain and Bow!

Catherine fostered Rain and Bow from 2018 through July 2019. She helped them through several respiratory issues, and brought them in for exams when there were signs something wasn’t right. She administered medicine when they were ill. She fostered them for about a year (a long time to foster), until she had upcoming changes so sought a new foster for them.

After we sent out a few requests for a new foster home for these special boys, Ava came forward, continued their care, and has been fostering them since. Bow had an especially difficult time getting over the respiratory infection. Radiographs and additional diagnostics were done, and a more aggressive, multi-prong approach was recommended to finally get him through it. It worked! Rain and Bow would not be healthy now, though, without the incredible care they received in their foster homes and at SEAVS.

We hope their next move will be to a home that hopes to adopt them! (Could that be you?)

Catherine’s Story: Fostering Rain and Bow

During the year I fostered Rain and Bow, they were pretty easy little birds. They never had night frights and readily returned to their cage for bedtime. With time and persistence, Rain eventually showed some interest in shredding toys. Overall, they are not loud, playful, or mischievous. When let out of their cage, they enjoy sitting on top of it or walking on the floor foraging. While they are fine being around other birds, they mostly prefer one another’s company. Rain and Bow are great birds that enjoy the simple pleasures of a full food bowl, fresh water, and a nightlight for bedtime.

Bow kind of takes care of Rain. I often saw Bow preening Rain, and where Rain went, Bow followed.

Because of Bow’s persistent respiratory infections, Bow had weekly showers to help his sinuses. While he wasn’t fond of them, he became accustomed to the weekly routine and accepted them.

I tried to get them to try new foods, and wheatgrass was the first one they were brave enough to try. Rain is very curious, so he was the first to try it. In fact, with time and patience, after building trust with him, Rain will take food from your hand.

Ava’s Story: Fostering Rain and Bow

Rain and Bow came across my Facebook feed as a request to help two cockatiels in Northern Virginia who needed nursing back to health.  At first, I pushed it to the back of my mind – there are lots of people who might want to help.  A few days later, I saw the request again, and tried to ignore it, telling myself that I had too much going on.  The third time I saw it, I knew it had to be me: I am in NoVa and local to SEAVS; I’ve been a bird owner almost as long as I’ve been alive; I’ve worked in multiple veterinary clinics so I’m familiar with medicating animals, dosing, signs and symptoms, etc; and finally, I’ve also done raptor rehab. I figured if I could handle hand feeding and medicating aggressive red-tailed hawks and sharp little kestrels, two cockatiels would be nothing.

I arrived at SEAVS not sure what condition to expect the birds to be in.  The vet tech went over medications and dosage, Rain scrambled around looking terrified and hyper-vigilant, and a fluffed-up Bow tried to sleep.  Meanwhile, I focused on learning their markings to tell them apart later – Bow was still sick but Rain had been cleared and would no longer need medication.  When I finally got them home and settled in, I covered their cage and began making up a daily checklist of medications for the next 14 days – pain medicine once daily, oral antibiotics twice daily, boric acid saline flush once daily (which required diluting boric acid into the saline by hand), followed by two different nasal drops administered 5 minutes later, 5 minutes apart.  I printed out my chart and wondered if I had gotten in over my head.  And then I heard one of the boys grind his beak.  I knew I’d done the right thing, and I knew the birds were going to be fine.

14 days eventually turned into nearly a month of medicating Bow, but a few days after that we were able to move them out of quarantine and began introducing them to our flock. Now they hold their own, much to my inquisitive Illiger’s chagrin, and while they are still very nervous about people, they’ve been making good strides on stepping up to be moved back and forth from cage to play stand.  Rain is vocal, and while Bow sometimes joins in, Rain can be counted on 100% to sing his song exactly when things get too quiet — like when the entire house tries to nap on a weekend!

Are the Air Fryers from the Instant Pot company safe for use around parrots or other birds? 

Researching whether small appliances contain non-stick coatings is important

Many small kitchen appliances have polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and perfluorooctanoic (PFOA) non-stick coatings on them, which can be deadly to birds. If you have any questions concerning whether or not an appliance you are considering contains them, it is best to email the company that manufactures it with the appliance number and ask if the appliance itself, or any accessories that come with it, contain PTFE or other non-stick coatings.

So, while this information only pertains to one company’s products, if you are considering an air fryer or other small appliance from any company, inquiring with the company before purchasing or using it is important.

Christine Chaffee’s research on air fryers from Instant Pot Company

Christine Chaffee recently was in the market for an air fryer, and because Instant Pot had been so responsive in the past concerning whether their Instant Pots contained non-stick coatings, she wrote to the company to find out if any of their air fryers or toaster ovens with convection/air fryer settings included non-stick coatings.

One model, the Omni 26 Toast Oven (NOT the Plus model) doesn’t contain PTFE

What she found was that one model, the Omni 26 Toaster Oven (NOT the Omni Plus 26 Toaster Oven) was free of PTFE and other non-stick coatings in the appliance itself and its accessories.

From Christine:

I really wanted an Air Fryer but have heard reports of bird deaths due to their use.    I decided to phone the Instant Pot company to get information on the Air Fryers that they sell and to ask about PTFE, Teflon, or any other material that could harm our birds.

I found there is 1 model only that is safe.   I will be buying that model.

I have attached the letter from Instant Pot regarding the safety of their Air Fryers, and they freely admit all other models are not to be used with birds.   The model I will be buying is actually a toaster oven air fryer.

Feel free to spread this information to all of your bird groups.

InstantPot, support
To: Christine Chaffee
Oct 25 at 2:22 PM

Hello Christine,

Thank you for calling us regarding the materials in our various air frying appliances. We take concerns for pet health very seriously, and we are happy to ensure our customers are informed of any potential risks.

Please refer to the following material information for each model:

Omni 26 Toaster Oven:

The cooking pan is made with an enamel-coating
The rotisserie spit, lift, and forks are stainless-steel: 201 and 304
The oven rack and air fry basket are chrome
The interior of the oven has no coating

Omni Plus 26 Toaster Oven:

The cooking pan is made with an enamel-coating
The rotisserie spit, lift, and forks are stainless steel: 201 and 304
The oven rack and air fry basket are chrome
The interior of the oven has a non-stick PTFE coating*

Vortex and Vortex Plus 6-Quart Air Fryers:

Both air fryers have a non-stick PTFE coating on their cooking trays*

Vortex Plus 10-Quart Air Frying Oven:

The rotisserie spit, lift, and forks are stainless-steel: 201 and 304
The cooking trays and drip trays have a non-stick PTFE coating*

*Because of the presence of PTFE in the cooking trays of the Vortex air fryers and air frying ovens, these would not meet your requirements for a PTFE-free product.

*The Omni Plus 26 also has a PTFE coating on the interior, so it would not meet your requirements either.

The Omni 26 contains no PTFE. It contains enamel coating, stainless steel, and chrome in its various parts.

If there are any other materials besides PTFE that may cause a potential risk, please let us know and we would be happy to confirm if they are used in a specific product.

We hope this information will help you select an appliance that is safe to use in your home without affecting your pet. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Matthew J.
Instant Brands – Customer Care
1-800-828-7280

From feather plucker to re-feathered: A success story

Birdie, before re-feathering. Photo by Kevin Blaylock

Birdie, before re-feathering. Photo by Kevin Blaylock

Feather picking is a common problem in companion parrots, and causes great angst for many people who live with birds who do. The cause of feather picking often remains a mystery to bird owners, veterinarians, and behaviorists, though medical care, foraging and enrichment opportunities, and nutritious foods are often provided in an attempt to eliminate or at least curtail feather destructive behavior.

Cause or causes?

Often, we try to identify ONE cause of feather picking. As bird owners, we sometimes think if we identify a single cause and “fix” it, all will be well for our bird. What if there isn’t one single cause? What if there are several different causes that lead some birds to pick their feathers?

The road to fully feathered

Evet Loewen, who adopted a caique named Birdie from Phoenix Landing who engaged in feather destructive behavior in 2017, set out on a journey to help her. What did Loewen do that helped Birdie? She took multiple approaches simultaneously, and the result is a healthier, happier, and fully feathered Birdie! Birdie’s care and treatment included establishing a daily routine that included safe time outside for access to full spectrum sunlight, a variety of healthy foods that were supplemented with Buriti oil (which contains vitamins E, C, and A, essential fatty acids, and carotenoids), medical care and treatment by a knowledgeable veterinarian, enrichment, and a social life for Birdie.

Read more about the multi-prong approach that helped Birdie

Loewen wrote an excellent article in the December 2018 issue of World Parrot Trust’s PsittaScene, to share exactly what Birdie’s routine, medical care, food, enrichment, and social life looked like. You may download and read the entire article at https://issuu.com/worldparrottrust/docs/birdie-refeathering-success-story.

Thumb name of the article in PsittaScene

Click to read or download the full article from World Parrot Trust’s Winter 2018 issue of PsittaScene.

Feather picking may have many causes simultaneously

Loewen’s conclusion is that there wasn’t just one cause of Birdie’s feather picking behavior. There were several. She includes tips in her article for others facing feather destructive behavior in their own birds. It is a must read for all those who experience the ups and downs of living with a bird who exhibits feather destructive behavior.

Tips for Living with a Special Needs Bird

by Dawn Grace

Special needs Quaker parakeet hanging out with cockatooIs it more work to live with a special needs bird? Not necessarily!

Living with a parrot is challenging, no doubt about it.  So, does that mean that living with a handicapped parrot is more difficult?  Not necessarily!  The basics still apply – ample cage space, good nutrition, proper avian vet care, environmental enrichment and safety.  With a few adjustments, you can help your bird live fully with its disability.

My experience with a special needs bird

My experience has involved 18 years living with a doubly handicapped Quaker.  He came to me with a missing foot.  Many years into our journey, he also managed to fall, which resulted in losing his sight in one eye.  Since his foot had been that way since birth or nearly so, it didn’t slow him down at all.  Birds use their beaks as an appendage for many activities anyway!  He did, however, go through a period after the blindness where he was less active.  I watched him carefully to see how I could help.  Approaching him from the sighted eye was an easy adjustment for me, and gave him more security.

Thinking outside the box concerning housing and enrichment

For a disabled bird, you may have to think outside of what is recommended for cages, play stands, or enrichment.  For example, if a bird is blind, has arthritis, or is missing a limb, work with your veterinarian to consider what an optimal environment looks like concerning cage size, shape, and placement. What modifications cane be made for your bird to feel and be safe? Sometimes, special perches, like corner perches, can be easier for special needs birds to stand on.  In some cases, a bird who is very challenged with mobility might do better in a space with enrichment and perching opportunities that are low in the cage, to prevent falls.

Observing your bird in the cage helps.  Can he get around the toys without difficulty?  Are there enough perches, in various widths and types, to allow access to the bowls (ideally there are three bowls – water, pellets, and fresh food)?  Parrots in general like to hunt (forage) for their food.  That is what they would do naturally in the wild.  However, foraging might look a little different depending on your bird.  Start easy and small – a tasty item covered with a thin tissue for example.  It might be that a handicapped parrot wants its environment simple.  Making this decision, as with all the choices suggested here, is one that is best chosen by you, as you spend time watching your companion (and keeping in contact with your vet too!).

Flight may be especially important

Another option to consider with handicapped birds is the opportunity to fly.  As with any parrot, you should always be aware of the environment. Our homes have many dangerous opportunities for a bird, including but not limited to other pets, open water (toilets, tubs, pans), ceiling fans, hot stoves, fireplaces, windows, and doors. My birds have their own room with a door that can be shut, keeping them safe from kitchen, bathroom, and other dangers.  If the Quaker falls in the bird room, he can more easily fly to the ground without hurting himself. To allow a bird flight is a very individual decision.  Again, checking with your vet first to weigh the pros and cons is essential.

Special needs Quaker parakeet eatingNutrition and food

Nutrition remains the same for the disabled bird, with one possible exception.  A beak injury may require syringe feeding or a mash diet, instead of more whole foods.  Please do your best to offer a healthy varied diet, including pellets, seeds & nuts in moderation, and plenty of veggies, fruit, whole grains and omega 3 sources (including but not limited to flax seed, chia seed and walnuts).

Veterinary visits

A yearly visit to your avian vet applies to full bodied and disabled parrots equally.  Baseline blood work can help you help your bird through all the transitions of life.  Additionally, this visit can alert you to possible deficiencies in your bird’s diet.

The most important thing to remember in caring for your bird (handicapped or otherwise) –please give him or her plenty of loving attention, with intention.

Birdie Walk, A Ceiling Playground

By Suzanne Cromwell

Background: My husband, Larry, and I adopted two Timneh African greys from Phoenix Landing, Napoleon and Josephine. These birds are former breeders, now 48 years old. Over the years, we have tried to give them plenty of personal space so they feel safe and comfortable, and to facilitate their ability to fly so they are empowered to make choices about their activities. While living in Virginia, the birds liked to fly to a wooden beam running between the bird room and the breakfast area. When we decided to move to Florida, it was a good time to design a room for the birds that supported their ability to fly, and to have a high space to land.

What did I want to create in our bird room?  Our new room for the birds has an 11′ ceiling and no existing beams. I wanted to make sure the greys could still get exercise and the benefits from flight, as well as incorporate full spectrum lighting, a structure for the birds to fly to and play on, and something from which to hang toys. I also did not want to have any electrical wiring exposed and the light bulbs protected.  The following is a description of what we created and call the “birdie walk.”

The birdie walk is a 21 foot rectangular structure made out of bird-safe untreated wood. It is 8 inches wide and hung from the ceiling.  We made sure the structure hung low enough so that the birds could not eat the ceiling.

The side pieces of bird-safe wood are 6 inches on both sides, with ½ round trim.  The trim molding is screwed in with stainless steel screws so once it is destroyed it can easily be replaced without destroying the structure.  If the birds chew the ½ round trim, this can easily be replaced!

Birdie Walk

The birdie walk is secured to the ceiling rafters by metal rods and HVAC straps. Electrical wiring for the lights are attached to ceiling junction boxes located above the ceiling. The metal rod supports, HVAC straps and electrical wiring are enclosed in PVC tubing to keep the birds from chewing through these important structural elements. Full spectrum lighting is installed in the unit, and the lights are included in boxes with a removable plastic grate.

We use hemp rope around the supports to hang natural wood perches or baskets full of toys and chew pieces. You could screw into the bottom of the structure to hang more toys or activities depending on the capabilities of your birds. The birdie walk provides many creative opportunities for hanging bird play and foraging activities!

Birdie Walk2

The birdie walk is visually attractive and our greys spend many hours playing on it or with the toys, flying up and down, or just overseeing all the activity in the room.

Our birdie walk is 21 foot square but the same idea can be made in any configuration to work in your bird room. Our birds like to go around the whole surface of the birdie walk or fly from one side to the other. Our Timnehs love the bird walk and use it daily. Good luck with yours!

Meet our adoption coordinators: Debbie, Maryland

Celebrating National Volunteer Week, we are sharing interviews with the Phoenix Landing adoption coordinators for different areas. Debbie has been an adoption coordinator for Phoenix Landing for a long time, and has helped Phoenix Landing help many birds over the years.

Debbie_Joey

Debbie and Joey

1. For what area are you the adoption coordinator for Phoenix Landing?
The state of Maryland.

2. How long have you served in this volunteer role?
Since February 2007, so a little over 10 years!!

3. How did you first learn about or get involved with Phoenix Landing?
In 2003, I was looking to purchase a bird or find a rescue because my son wanted his own bird. I found Phoenix Landing (PL) on-line and submitted my application to foster. After having a home visit and attending a few classes, I started fostering and never looked back. I have fostered many parrots over the years.

4. There are many causes and non-profits out there to get involved with, why did you choose this one?
I chose PL because of my love for parrots, the people I met and the education they offered. I have been involved with other pet rescues and the amount of education PL offers is amazing. I’m always learning something new!

5. What do you like most about volunteering with Phoenix Landing?
I like the fact that Phoenix Landing makes all new applicants fill out a detailed application, attend a required event and have a home visit before they will even consider placing a bird with them. Lots of people go out on a whim and get a pet and then have no idea how to care for it. I like the fact that PL takes ownership of the parrot they bring in for life and that they have a plan in place in case something ever happened to our founder, but most of all I enjoying helping parrots in need as well as helping new parrot owners acquire a pet.

6. What else would you like to share about yourself, about volunteering, or about Phoenix Landing?
I have owned my own parrots for over 30 years, but my family always had parakeets and lovebirds when I was growing up.

I currently have 9 parrots and 1 soft bill. Most were adopted from Phoenix Landing, two were adopted from Best Friends in Kanab, Utah and a couple were given to me! I have 4 macaws, a grey, a cockatoo, 2 conures, a meyers and a green aracari. Three live with my son at our beach house. Plus I have 2 rescued Italian greyhounds and a boxer.

I have found volunteering for Phoenix Landing has been very rewarding, so if you want to get involved, please contact us. We are always looking for volunteers.

Meet our adoption coordinators: Ron, Raleigh/Durham, NC

Learn more about Ron, our adoption coordinator for the Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina in his interview below. He is one of the many volunteers who helps Phoenix Landing help parrots!

FullSizeRender

Ron

1. For what area are you the adoption coordinator for Phoenix Landing?
Raleigh/Durham, NC

2. How long have you served in this volunteer role?
Since April 2014 (three years)

3. How did you first learn about or get involved with Phoenix Landing?
My avian veterinarian often spoke of Phoenix Landing; however, I learned the most by attending a Phoenix Landing Step-Up class. The class taught me much needed skills and increased my confidence so that I could shift my way of thinking in order to solve a behavioral issue within my own flock. Those skills kept me from having to re-home one of my parrots.

4. There are many causes and non-profits out there to get involved with, why did you choose this one?
As a parrot lover, I have always tried to learn as much as possible about how to provide my flock the best possible care. In doing so, my eyes were really opened to the many issues parrots and owners face. It was much worse than I ever imagined. As someone that has always enjoyed volunteer work, it simply made sense that I would volunteer with Phoenix Landing.

5. What do you like most about volunteering with Phoenix Landing?
I like when a neglected parrot goes to a new home where it is loved, fed a proper diet and given daily socialization and enrichment. Watching a once neglected parrot flourish is amazing as well as rewarding and exciting. It is as if they have been given a brand new life.

6. What else would you like to share about yourself, about volunteering, or about Phoenix Landing?
My involvement with Phoenix Landing has been life changing. Attending step-up may have been my introduction to Phoenix Landing; however, it was simply the catalyst to years of learning and meeting some of the most amazing friends.