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The Finster Log
Archive — February 2008
Don't Try This At Home
Posted on: 02/29/08, 13:49:00 | | link
Some of Harley's favorite toys are small boxes that food and food-related items are sold in; they're nice, soft cardboard for chewing. If we're feeling indulgent, we'll carry him around the house to find boxes (pop up a photo of the cookie box
, the cereal box
, and the plethora of boxes in the cabinet
). But usually, I'll set one down, and he'll chew up the "bottom." Here's a "before and after" photo of a box of coffee filters.
If Harley can fit inside the box, he'll generally climb all the way in, and chew his way out:
If Harley's head can (barely) fit inside the box, he'll generally chew his way in.
He isn't interested in boxes all the time, but since food and food-related boxes are plentiful, and come in many different shapes and sizes, I can usually pique his interest. Here he is, chewing up two different tea boxes, Twinings and the old Trader Joe's Honeybush:
Here he is, chewing up a three-pack Brita filter box:
And here he is, chewing up a non-food-related nest box:
The thing is, the small box game isn't all that it's cracked up to be. You see, one of the best places to play it is on the stove.
Honestly, I've hesitated telling this story because on it's face, that's just plain dangerous! But don't worry, he's always supervised when he's playing, and we're obviously never cooking. (I've had Finsters in the kitchen for more than ten years, after all.) The hot mats cover the burners so his toes don't get stuck (that is, the burners are covered if Harley hasn't screeched at the mats and bitten them into submission). And to be fair, he's much
less likely to fall off the stove than he is to fall off the counter
. And after all, his favorite perch also sits on the stove.
Stick with me here, now. We're very careful, the apartment is very small so he can't get far without us running interference, and despite the fact that Harley regularly climbs down from his perch, across the stove, and across the single, 2-foot by 1-foot counter to play with knives (you thought I was joking about the sharp knives the other day, didn't you? But don't worry, he can only reach the handles, and they're very big and heavy so he can't do more than lift them up and let them drop again. Really.) apart from falling off the counter while playing in a paper bag that one day, there haven't been any problems.
That is, until this past Wednesday. Harley wasn't even playing Box at the time, he was across the apartment in his house. I was in the kitchen boiling up a pot of water, getting ready to cook some pasta, when I realized that apparently enough spit balls (you know, from past Box-destroying sessions) had fallen under the burner that they were starting to smolder from the heat. So I turned the burner off, opened the window, made a radical change to the menu (hey, Bruce and Harley aren't the only ones who can sit around in their underwear eating cheese), let the burner cool off, and — you know — cleaned. I do it when I have to.
Don't worry. No worries. In fact, I caught the problem long before Harley
the smoke detector went off. Still, we really need to move. Harley needs more space.
I'm Much Better Now!
Posted on: 02/28/08, 14:45:58 | | link
This is what Harley did last night — clearly I was too slow tending to his snack needs, so he hung upside down on his Art Project for awhile to emphasize how much he needed
And today, he totally leeeeeaned me around the kitchen so he could explore. Since he's already pretty much demolished the cereal box on the top of the refrigerator, this morning he ended up in the cabinet. Yes, you heard that right: in the cabinet.
The 3 3/4 inches on top of the can of tomatoes is plenty
big enough for a bird to climb into, sample the oatmeal box, and chew up quite a bit of the pasta box and four elbow noodles.
Oh yeah, I think he's feeling better.
Despite the 19 degree weather, I took Harley to the vet today, who confirmed over all the barking and growling that he's doing well. We're supposed to continue to keep him quiet for another week — so I'll have to be quicker than I was last night in providing easy snacks. The best news is the vet said she'd try to take an x-ray without using anesthesia, if we decide he still needs one later.
Let Me Count The Ways
Posted on: 02/26/08, 20:27:47 | | link
I'll be taking Harley back to the vet on Thursday to check on his leg, but he's been feeling well enough lately to completely take advantage of our worry. He spent most of the weekend perched on our fingers, leeeeeaning us around the apartment, so we could take him exploring everywhere. Here he is perched on Bruce's hand, happily chewing up the box of Sticks Of Butter Walkers Shortbread
[I just had to point out that Walkers has a whole line of "Weight Watchers
" products. What is that — sticks of margarine?]
Harley spent quite a bit of time exploring things both on and on top of the refrigerator. He decided that was the Only Place To Be for most of the weekend, which got to be a bit trying after awhile. But since he was gripping our fingers with both
feet, we took that as a good sign, and indulged him. Here he is after he climbed up on top of the microwave oven a few times, and discovered the box of Joe's O's
(Human breakfast cereal is a slightly better snack for a bird than Sticks Of Butter
Walkers Shortbread, but Harley wasn't after the food, only the chewy boxes.)
On a related note, Harley was very good about taking his medicine when we mixed the drops in a spoonful of juice. Obviously, now he will only drink juice if we feed it to him from a spoon. Obviously. Everything is better when your human holds it for you.
Posted on: 02/21/08, 20:16:35 | | link
This evening, Harley "helped" me fold the laundry. This mostly entails me holding items up for him to screech at. Underpants are particularly popular. Who am I to question this?
While he is still limping, and he's been less active today than yesterday, I think he's feeling a little better. He tried to climb up onto the laundry basket, and when I helped him up there, he turned around and around on the edge a few times. It was hard for him to do this, but he managed — and he couldn't have done it yesterday.
Posted on: 02/20/08, 20:03:16 | | link
Harley still gets Night Time Scritches on the towel rack in the bathroom
(click to pop up a photo
), but particularly when Bruce is home, he also gets Loves On The Bed. I can give Harley Loves, too, but not so much at bed time, and not so much when Bruce is home. (His feathers are very soft, and smell very good.)
Try to ignore the small spit ball in front of Harley's beak. (I cropped out the really big ones, and the partially-chomped dehydrated Just Pea
. Talk about crumbs in bed!)
Last night, as Harley ran across the bed to get into the proper Position For Loves, we realized that he was limping. Later, he let me place him directly on his Sleepy Perch, instead of climbing around the cage on his own. And this morning, it was clear that he was favoring his right leg. Oh, he still climbed down from his perch on the stove to 1) steal tasty seeds from the Finsters' food dish, 2) steal corn from the Finsters' other food dish, 3) eat
drink some bok choy, 4) throw some knives around, and 5) drive me crazy. But despite his activity, he was still putting as little weight on his right leg as he could.
So we put him in his travel cage, stuffed it into a duffel bag complete with an extra towel for insulation and a heating pad warmed up a bit (it was 12 degrees F outside at the time), and took him to the vet. She poked and prodded him for awhile, and decided it probably wasn't a bone break. So she sent us home with three days' worth of Metacam®, an NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory) intended for veterinary use. If he doesn't seem better when the meds are done, we may have to bring him back to get an X-ray, which is a big deal for a bird since they'd have to anesthetize him. Fingers crossed.
So for the rest of the day, Harley got extra cheese, snacks held by hand, rides everywhere, drinks on demand, and quite a bit of extra
attention. As if that were possible. And while he's still favoring that right leg, by mid-afternoon he was comfortable enough with his owie to stretch it out, and he's done that at least twice since then. Phew!
We can't figure out what caused the injury, but we're keeping an eye out. It probably happened while he was hunting for snacks. He probably wouldn't strain himself for anything less.
Posted on: 02/05/08, 18:25:55 | | link
Here are two more photos from the Popcorn Event. I love how the popcorn gets stuck all over Harley when he eats it. We must have a lot of static electricity in this place. Yummy:
The caption to this photo is "Are you looking at ME?"
The Eye! The Eye!
Posted on: 02/04/08, 18:24:41 | | link
The other night we had the perfect combination of Harley, popcorn, static electricity, and the new camera. I have more photos that show off the birdy goodness even more. But take a close look at this one. Take a look at that eye:
That's a nictitating membrane
! I didn't even know birds had them!
Posted on: 02/03/08, 13:33:02 | | link
In the pet parrot world, a "foot toy" is a toy that a bird picks up and plays with — it balances on one foot while holding the toy in the other foot. Usually, "playing" entails destroying. Although Harley is generally considered a medium-sized parrot, he seems to prefer smaller foot toys, and he doesn't seem to like to work very hard. No hard pine for him (although I want to try making some very thin slices); he prefers softer material like balsa or vines. He is also pretty fickle; he'll play with a toy once, and then won't be interested in it again. This means I have to
get to test out all different kinds of toys and toy-making parts.
This woven wicker spiral started out life three times this size. Harley liked a dainty third of it much better as a foot toy. He chewed off a few bits, and then threw it in the garbage, which is conveniently located right near this perch. That's okay, though, because I can pull out another piece in a few weeks, and he might be interested in it again. I got this Super Rattle Bird Toy
from Drs. Foster and Smith
The toy below is one of a series in the category of Toy On A Stick: Get your standard lollipop stick from a kitchen-supply or craft store, string toy parts on it, put a pony bead on either end, and crimp the end of each stick with a pair of pliers so that the bead can't slide off. It takes a certain amount of finesse to ensure the pony beads can't come off too easily — or, in Harley's case, that it doesn't take too much work to get them off. The basic toy is simply a stick filled with pony beads (mmmmm, pony beads!), but you can string lots of different things on a stick. In addition, the lollipop sticks are available in different sizes.
Although you can't tell very well, this stick started out life with the two green pony beads holding a mini munch ball on it. Munch balls are made of wicker or some sort of vine material, that is shaped into a sphere. They come in different sizes, are often strung up to make larger toys, and sometimes have things stuffed inside (like paper strips and other fun things to pull out). In terms of foot toys, though, Harley prefers the smallest ones, on a stick. I got the mini munch balls
from The Bird Safe Store
(and the sticks from a local craft store, and I don't remember where I got the pony beads — lots of places have pony beads, just be sure to give birds plastic, not glass).
Foot toys can be strung up in many different ways. The toy below is made of two pieces of balsa wood (dyed with bird-safe dyes), a small "birdie bagel" in the middle, and a strip of a vegetable-tanned leather to tie it all together.
Harley really likes to tear up balsa, although he much preferred the easier, sharper angles of the triangle! He's also a fan of leather, and likes to chew on the knots to untie them. So far, birdie bagels haven't appealed to him much. These bird-safe paper concoctions come in many different colors and sizes, but so far Harley just drops them, and watches them land on the ground. In all, though, this balsa bagel
, which I got from ParroToys
(where Harley is famous!), is a real hit. Was
a real hit, I should say. Although the size was almost too big for his dainty foot, the balsa made it light enough to hold and destroy.
The toy below is a fire cracker from Chopper's Toys
(scroll down on this page
to find it):
Not many bird stores seem to use cellophane. The truth is, ANY material a bird swallows can be dangerous, and I'd expect plastic to be more dangerous than the bird-safe type of cellophane that Chopper's uses. But I guess most people figure they'd rather be safe than sorry. The thing is, Harley loves
the cellophane! It's just the type of easy-to-destroy material that appeals to him the most! Since he doesn't seem to swallow things (and don't worry, I watch), I figure a fire cracker every now and then is a nice treat. While the cellophane is the best part of this toy, Harley also likes the paper tag. Of course. I find the squares of woven cane (like the seat of a chair) to be much more interesting than Harley does.
So far, the caterpillar has been Harley's favorite toy:
This brightly-colored plastic toy can be torn completely apart: all six legs come off, the body pieces can be ripped apart, and the face snaps off in two pieces! Harley grabbed it right out of my hand, tore all the pieces off, climbed down from his perch to get to the bits, watched me put it together again, said "Here Harley" while he waited impatiently for me (something he usually only says when he wants food), got back up on the perch and tore it all apart again! What a great toy! It kept his attention for about two days, but now he's back to ignoring it. I'll hide it for awhile, and try it again.
The only "bad" thing about this toy are the antennae — which Harley can chew off. He's already done that in this photo. I watched carefully; he didn't swallow the bits. But once he taught me how to rip the face off, I trimmed the antennae down to the nub, so I wouldn't have to worry about him playing with it. I got the caterpillar
Of course, almost anything can be a foot toy, if Harley is in the mood. A regular is a small piece of paper, like the paper wrappers from some tea bags, twisted up a bit. Food also works — remember the piece of sweet potato
(picture pops up)? And here's Harley from a little while ago, eating a snap pea:
Of course, he really prefers food if a human holds it for him, but that's a different story.
You'll notice that in all these photos, Harley is standing on his right foot, and holding the toy with his left foot. Does this means he's left-footed, or right-footed?