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The Finster Log
Archive — January 2008
Harley Enrichment Unit #2
Posted on: 01/30/08, 20:56:00 | | link
Harley is a very curious bird, who leans us around our small apartment periodically, looking at things. He was always very interested in the items in the Peanut Memorial Shelving Unit
— you can pop up a photo here
. Recently, we decided to give Harley a cube of his own.
We went back to Ikea to get an extra box to line his shelf, so we wouldn't have to worry about poops.
At first, he was much more interested in everything around him, than anything that was inside his own box.
After a little while, he started throwing things out of his box, and watched them land on the floor. Best Game Ever.
But sometimes, he actually gets interested in the things inside his box. There is a fine line between "Plenty Of Things To Play With And Throw Out," and "So Many Things A Bird Can't Fit Inside." I'm sure you've discovered this in your own lives. Clockwise from top left we have:
1) The ever-alluring pink pony bead. (Why are pony beads so very
interesting to birds? If Harley is in the right mood, he'll play with one of these — one
of these — for minutes at a time! I just wonder what Peanut would have done, I don't think I ever gave him a single, lovely, pink pony bead.)
2) King Of The Box!
3) It almost looks like Harley is playing with that red and orange plastic nut-and-bolt, but in fact he's about to grab the orange and yellow football behind it — a happy legacy from his former owners. We toss this into the back of the box, Harley screeches, grabs it, and throws it back out at us. Good times!
4) The King Of The Box attacks the nefarious Empty Vitamin Bottle. No, actually, if you look closely, he's got a nut in his beak. Because every single spot in the entire apartment has to have a snack hidden in it, at least once. Harley lives in a continual Easter Egg hunt.
Harley isn't always interested in going inside his shelf box. But since he can't get out of it by himself (short of falling out, struggling with Mr. Gravity, and hopefully gliding to a moderately safe landing), I've been known to encourage him to go inside (with snacks if I have to) when I'm trying to finish cleaning his house and he Just! Isn't! In! The! Mood! To! Be! Any! Where!
Yeah, don't worry, I'm quick about it. This is cleaning
we're talking about, after all.
Posted on: 01/27/08, 14:32:15 | | link
It isn't every day that you can hand a soiled piece of waxed paper to a complete stranger and have them say "Thanks! I'll take that!"
Although vets do this test on dogs every six months, they only recommend it for birds once a year unless they see other birds frequently. Still, since the Finsters are new to Harley, I figured this was an easy way to do a quick health check. No parasites here!
(Aren't you glad I didn't post a picture of bird poop?)
A Minor Disaster
Posted on: 01/24/08, 15:04:31 | | link
A remote control is hardly a proper toy for a bird, but for some reason, Harley loves them. He is drawn to any remote in the house, and as soon as he gets close to one, he screeches at it and eats the buttons. Oh, don't worry, he doesn't really eat
the buttons, but he chews them off. Very quickly. In fact, I'm pretty sure — if given a choice — he'd go for the soft, squishy buttons on a remote control even before he climbed circles around an awkward set of small vertical dowels to get to half an almond wrapped in a piece of paper in the lower box of his Art Project. Well, the remote is
often left out in plain sight on the Eating Couch by forgetful people (um, that would be me).
And, since Bruce is something of a gadget guy (to put it mildly), and this is
the 21st Century, there are lots of remotes for Harley to choose from. From which Harley can choose. (Don't tell Bruce, but the XBOX controller, although shiny and very
attractive to birds, seems impervious to Harley's Beak Of Biting. You know, so far.)
Best. Toys. Ever.
TV remotes have been gotten the most abuse. The old bedroom TV remote is now missing 3/4 of the volume down button, the right third of the number 7, the left third of the number 9, and the entire number 1. Here is Harley trying to climb from the bed to my nightstand, grab the remote in his beak, and gleefully remove all the buttons from its face.
(In case you were wondering, the loss of the remote buttons is not the reason we replaced the TV in the bedroom. But one of the selling points for the new TV is a second, mini remote that doesn't have soft, squishy buttons suitable for chewing off. Instead, its buttons are hard and can be pried off like the keys on a computer keyboard. We'll see how long it lasts.)
The cable remote has suffered the most losses, in part because it has more buttons to lose. Until Tuesday night, the affected buttons weren't ones we use. The SWAP button (recorded here in old camera mediocrity) was one of the first to go, but since it's in the "Picture-in-Picture" section, we don't miss it at all. There are two (of five) buttons now missing in that section; I have no idea what the other missing button said. The "On Demand" section also has a couple of losses: the right third of both the fast forward and the pause buttons. Again, not a problem since we don't use that section.
Tuesday's losses, however, were more serious. Now missing are 2/3 of the ALL ON button (was that what it said?), plus most of the small "on" buttons: AUX, TV, CABLE and SETUP. Only the small "on" POWER button is mostly intact. ("Mostly" counts.) The loss of these could pose some real problems, although so far I've been able to turn everything on and off. We'll see what Bruce says when he gets home tonight.
Do cable companies replace remote controls? Surely Harley isn't the only pet/child/destructive person that's picked off those wonderfully squishy buttons.
Harley's Art Project
Posted on: 01/21/08, 11:09:00 | | link
One of the new fixtures in our apartment dedicated to Harley's well-being is the Art Project. The primary element is the Ivar wall shelf/CD storage unit
created by Ikea
, which is made out of untreated, solid pine. Currently we're using four of the five supplied boxes for the Art Project; the fifth box is part of another Harley Enrichment Unit (more on that later). We've added a few perch-like things in various configurations, as Harley teaches us how he can best get around. You know, apart from us lifting him there ourselves, which he doesn't mind at all.
The hanging ladder below didn't last long; Harley didn't much like it when it started swinging.
The two strips of dowels are most of one of Ikea's Fanby dish racks (I can't find a link to this product on their web site). We have a few more of these, which we'll be adding soon so that Harley can climb to the very top.
Right now, he climbs from the ghastly
mostly pink rubbery perch on his cage to that long horizontal dowel, and from there to the dowel he's sitting on in this picture. From this spot he can easily get to the space between these two boxes, and he can easily climb to the box above. He can also get to the box below, although it takes a bit more work. Speaking of work, it's actually a bit of a stretch to get from the rubbery perch to that horizontal dowel. But Harley makes this effort several times a day.
Why would he expend this much energy? you ask. It's simple: we hide snacks in the boxes. Toys, too, but it's the snacks he's really looking for. Actually, we shouldn't call it the "Art Project" so much as the "Snack Project." Harley has been known to climb circles on that set of vertical dowels, several times over, in the hope that next time, maybe next time
, he'll find another tasty snack to eat. When he's worn himself out, he just sits on that top dowel, waiting for us. Waiting. For. Snacks.
Harley is ever hopeful, when it comes to snacks. I find this very endearing. And, when I'm totally wonked out with PMS, I find this a little sad. Because I'll never give him as many snacks as he'll eat. (Bruce might, though.)
The Art Project, with its requisite supply of snacks, is one of the reasons I've decided to stop obsessing about Harley's diet. (Um, not that it's working, but whatever.) Although I've steadily made his snacks smaller and smaller, he clearly needs his snacks. I mean, look at how much he'll work for them! And if he's subsisting on so many snacks, why should I expect him to be eating any "real" food? After all.
Here he is, climbing up from the couch, to grab the snacks I used to store in that bottom box for later in the day. You'll notice that the Art Project hangs directly over the couch, so that when Harley is eating his snacks, anyone sitting at that end of it gets snack crumbs in their hair. Well, this is our fault, of course; we really need a bigger place. We considered the placement of the Art Project carefully, but the other option — hanging it on the other side of Harley's cage, would have meant we'd be slipping past Bob the ficus tree several times a day to refill the snacks. We decided this would be more annoying (especially for Bob) than shaking snack sqeezin's off our heads, and vacuuming the couch much more often than I ever used to vacuum anything else in my life, ever. Besides, we're already used to getting splashed here during Harley's occasional bath in his water dish. And, since this is the couch that Harley eats, we're clearly not too worried about its longevity.
Soon, we'll finish attaching dish rack parts. Then I'll take some nice pictures with the new camera. And then we'll submit Harley's Art Project to the Ikea Hacker
Posted on: 01/19/08, 15:39:11 | | link
We got a new camera. Can you tell?
Photos should get even better once I read the manual. Sigh.
I still have some photos from the old camera, of course. I'll probably mix them up for awhile.
What Did We Do Before The Internet?
Posted on: 01/12/08, 15:51:23 | | link
Kim, one of my internet friends, found us a source for organic honeybush tea. Thank you, Kim! Thank you, SpecialTeas
We've been drinking it for a little while now, but with the weather in Michigan so overcast, I had a hard time getting a good photograph. I'm going to have to try to take a movie of this, because Harley gets really excited about tea. He practically dunks his head into the cup, and glugs. It's a good party trick! Much more appealing than his uncanny ability to poop on the rug.
Beets: They're Evil
Posted on: 01/06/08, 16:29:46 | | link
I made a serious mistake today. In my zeal to embrace my New Years' Resolution to stop worrying so much about what Harley eats, I gave all the birds some fresh beets. Not the wimpy orange ones I've tried in the past, but traditional, scary-poop-producing red ones! It's Red Food Day! That'll show me to worry about what birds eat!
But as it turns out, the Finsters think beets are evil. Not even Oolong, who loooves
her tasty seeds, could overcome her fear of the tiny red bits. She tried: she hopped down and even perched on the dish a couple of times, looking at those crazy vegetables. But in the end, not even she could bring herself to pick out the real food. So after a few hours I gave them some of tomorrow's seeds, sans any veg at all, and put the tainted batch outside for the Wild Finster Cousins. I think they ate the grains, and left all the vegetables behind. Of course.
Harley wasn't upset by the bits of beet, he just ignored everything
on his plate and ate the couch for awhile.
Over in the Messing With My Head department, yesterday — for the first time in weeks — Harley climbed down from his perch to steal food from the Finsters. You can see him here drinking a piece of carrot.
Welcome To Michigan, Part Two
Posted on: 01/04/08, 17:39:49 | | link
Over New Years' Eve, we got about 10 inches of snow. And on New Years' Day, we got another couple of inches. It's very beautiful. Here's a picture, looking up the hill I live on:
The snow is very thick and sticky, and because the temperature has stayed below freezing, it's still stuck to all the trees and bushes, making everything very pretty to look at. Here's a picture looking down the hill I live on:
Oooooh! Aaaaah! Pretty! (Although, I never quite know if snow pictures look good. Is it my camera? Is it the white background on the page?)
As the days go on, and the temperature stays cold, and the snow keeps sticking like this to the trees, so pretty and white, like sugar dusted on everything, I keep looking out the window and being a little surprised. Snow! Still! Isn't that pretty!
Because to be honest, we don't usually get this much snow around Ann Arbor. Western Michigan — yes. Northern Michigan — yes. But southeastern Michigan? Not so much. Ten inches in one go is unusual, and frankly, downright unfair. Especially since we already got ten inches of snow in the middle of December. Dry, dusty snow that time. Just for a change. Just so you don't immediately add it all up and realize that we've gotten over TWENTY inches of snow in the past MONTH. Let me add that up again. Yes. Twenty. 20. Twenty.
I really don't like snow. And can I say, if we usually got this much snow, I would not still live here. And can I also say, it's taken me more than twenty years
to finally decide that maybe Michigan isn't such a bad place to live, after all. But now, after twenty inches
of snow in LESS THAN ONE MONTH, I'm beginning to rethink that. If only it weren't raining frozen lizards in Florida
(or this one
There's good news, though. Although Harley is stuck inside with this cold weather (did I mention it's below freezing?), he's discovered a new food, that he really, really
So refreshing! So tasty! So nutritious!
Officially Not A Habit
Posted on: 01/02/08, 19:40:10 | | link
Over in the category of Birds Who Don't Eat Anything, Much Less A Tasty Seed, Harley has officially broken his habit
of climbing down from his perch in the kitchen to help himself to a Second Breakfast (or Second Lunch) from the Finsters' dishes. He won't even sample the food if I hold the dish up for him — so convenient! so tasty! His habit of actually eating food only lasted a couple of weeks.
I tried leaving the Finsters' breakfast dish out on the counter for awhile, to tempt Harley to climb down. But then I realized the Finsters weren't getting much of a chance to eat breakfast. So then I tried leaving the Finsters' lunch dish on the counter, but after a few days I realized their lunch snacks were sitting out for awhile, thus negating any preservative powers the refrigerator might have on the food. So now I pack everything away in their appropriate spots in the morning, figuring if Harley can't easily get to the snacks, they might tempt him more during the short time they're available. No such luck. He's apparently back to surviving on air, love and the couch — with a few illicit nibbles on my jeans.
Just when I'm at my wit's end, he surprises me by eating (really
eating) raw sweet potato, or taking a bite out of not one but TWO cranberries in the same meal, or eating a grain (or maybe just a bit of cheese Bruce snuck onto his plate). Harley seems to know when I'm at a breaking point, and eats something just before I throw my hands up in the air and stop offering him any food at all. (What, I'm supposed to live without a couch?)
But I've decided to try to stop obsessing about what Harley eats. This is my only official New Years' Resolution. He isn't losing weight, and while he might not be eating the best diet possible, I'm offering him some pretty good food, and at least he's eating something. And if I have to buck up and learn to deal better with Red Days
, so be it.
And in case you were curious, if he eats enough pomegranate, his poops turn purple.