Tuesday, March 29, 2005

We had a nice long play time today. She seemed to enjoy getting very wet from the spray bottle, but later after I put her back in her cage she tried climbing into her water dish again. I filled the glass casserole dish and put it on the bottom of the cage but she wasn't interested. Danny had the brilliant idea that maybe I should try something that wasn't clear. I poured the water into a gray cake pan, and she went straight to it. She didn't climb in, but she leaned over and washed her face the way she does in her water dish, splashing water everywhere. It was wonderful. :)

Monday, March 28, 2005

After a rough holiday weekend in which we were very busy, Charlie is happily chewing apart a new toy. She seemed to enjoy her bath this morning and wasn't content until she was dripping wet.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

I think I have finally figured out how Charlie wants to get her baths! During play time today I picked her up and decided to try squirting her with the water bottle while holding her. She actually liked it! Previously we had always just sprayed her while she was in her cage or on her play place, but she never really looked like she liked it. I guess the trick was holding her.

I have started teaching her what the color green is. She watched me very carefully through out the whole ten minutes we worked on it.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Charlie was feeling very playful this evening.

This is one of her all time favortie toys.

Friday, March 18, 2005

We were feeling rather guilty that we had been away so much today, and knowing we would be out all day tomorrow, we decided to bring out a small length of a shredding toy we got for Charlie last weekend. We had been saving it for an appropriate moment, and this seemed to be it. In this picture you can't even tell what it looked like she was swinging it around so fast. She had it torn apart surprisingly quickly and seemed to have a wonderful time doing it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I gave Charlie an ice cube today. I read that sometimes you can coax a bird into using a dish to bathe in by putting ice cubes in it. That sounded to me like a very chilly way for a tropical bird to take a bath, but I figured it was worth a try...

Well, the ice didn't get her into the water, Charlie is too clever for that. She managed to fish out a piece though, and took it up to her trusty perch to investigate it. She seemed to enjoy it very much.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Charlie and I are getting some alone time today. I think this is being a good thing, but it is hard to tell. Before play time today I went up in the attic and got down three tiny FisherPrice strollers for her to play with. I brought all three because I was curious to see if she would show a preference for a particular color, but she seemed to enjoy all of them fairly equally. I showed her how to push them and called them "toy". For now she is content to pick them up and taste them. I think she likes that they have such a convient handle.

I tried to introduce the idea of the towel game. She already seems to be interested in the idea of peek-a-boo when I peek around a wall at her. She wasn't quite so sure when I hid behind the towel. When I just held the towel drapped over my head she was curious and came closer for a better look.

Towards the end of play time I started cleaning her cage, and as I cleaned and dried each item I set them on the table. She loved this! She climbed right down on the table and investigated everything. She picked up perches, and food bowls, and the rotation toys that I was going to put in the cage for this week.

Friday, March 11, 2005

So many questions! I guess its like parenting in some ways, but the subject, (er, victim?) has (in this case) no grasp of English (yet).

Every morning while we eat breakfast Charlie calls/talks through her roll, and at the same time marches/paces back and forth on her perch. To me it appears that she is not agitated: she doesn't bob her head, and her roll continues, without fixating on any particular call (like obvious alarm, for example.) Yet I also have a strong feeling that she has more purpose and desire than simple calisthenics. Most mornings there's a cat sitting nearby, mostly ignoring her. I don't perceive that they're interacting.

What does it mean for a parrot/large parakeet to "be out" for a time? In our case it seems to mean that we set Charlie on her playground on the kitchen table with one or more adults and children sitting around working on schoolwork or other tasks. Charlie may sit very still, cautiously. Or she may climb down to snag a drink or a seed, then carry her morsel quickly back to the top of the playground where she can crack and drop it. When there are pens in a cup nearby she may decide to steal them one by one, dropping them after a thorough inspection. (What a coup it would be if she learned to put them back in the cup too.)

Our most interactive activities with Charlie are feeding her fruit (apple slices, grapes, banana slices, or small carrots) and telling her to "Step-Up." (What then?) My perception is that "out" time should be much more interactive, but we're so inexperienced and ignorant. We know how to sit with a cat, or how to "play" with cats: what do you do when you're interacting with a very intelligent, shy and bored bird?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Charlie seems quite cautious about play time until the music starts. That seems to be her cue that it is time to start climbing, playing, and eating.

She seems much more interested in what I am doing than what she has to play with. She has discovered my pen cup, and keeps climbing down onto the table and snagging the pens and running off with them. I am watching her very carefully, I don't want her to chew on them and get hurt or sick. But I am just pleased that she feels brave enough to venture off of the jungle gym to investigate something.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Charlie and Beth are playing "Drop the Peanut." Charlie loves to shell peanuts, but she never really shows much interest in eating them. She loves it when you hand her peanuts though, she drops them and looks at them until you pick them up and hand them back to her, Of course she drops them again as soon as you do.

She is being much more adventurous with what she is choosing to munch on today. Usually she ignores the corn and pellets in her bowl, but they have caught her interest for some reason today.

I am wondering if she will like the way I have changed her cage around. I haven't done much to it, just taken out the ladder, and added the Booda perch high in the cage.

I think that she has become comfortable with the jungle gym. She seems very relaxed on it now. She plays, eats, drinks,

More questions: Charlie has been only slightly interested in the cuttle-bone. Does she not need it? Also, parakeets (at least the smaller ones) need a little gravel to aid their feeding. Does she? Should we remove that bottom grate? or provide gravel in a plate?

Another question is about Charlie's flight capacity and training. It's clear that she's supposed to fly: she's a bird! It's also clear that flight is dangerous for her: cats, hot burners, windows and other indoor hazards abound. Her wings have been show-clipped (my assessment) and only the first flight feather is still long, so she doesn't gain altitude.

As she becomes more comfortable with us she's begun engaging in wing exercise in her cage, where the ladder provides a central perch with the widest available wingspan. She also likes to flutter when she's with us, on the finger or on her playground, and more questions arise: It seems like she's most likely to "fly" when she's frustrated with us and tired of where she's been. If she's on my hand, I can trigger her flight exercise by pumping my hand up and down. It's not clear that she likes this. What should we be doing? How can we take the best care of her?

The last couple of days have been rough for Charlie, in terms of disappointment and disruption and similar terms of annoyance. For example, we can see that she wants to bathe, but her only water source is her water dish. As soon as we notice her behaviour we give her a casserole dish with a little water in it, but she doesn't connect that with the idea of bathing.

If we leave the dish in there for long periods of time, there comes a moments when the water becomes unclean. So we've rearranged her perches to create a spot where there's no perch overhanging this dish, so that we can leave it in for long periods of time without the water becoming soiled. We also placed her water dish in this pan.

However, we haven't got it right yet: it's not arranged to her satisfaction. This morning when I lifted the cover from her cage Charlie was perched on the top step of her ladder. It looked to me like she probably slept there. So this morning she's shuffling back and forth in an agitated fashion. And she clearly wants her water dish back in its usual holder.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

We were out of the house this morning, attending church with the Linthicum SDA congregation, where our brass group performed several numbers. We didn't get home until well after two o'clock in the afternoon, and followed that up with a nap. TMALSS (too late) Charlie didn't get her playground time until after four. But she seems to be happy with it anyway. She's certainly not the shy bird she was the first few times we brought her out of the cage.

We're still so new to the idea of having a companion bird that I have many questions. Charlie is very well trained to respond to the step-up command and prompt. It's a thrill to have her on your finger. But what then? I'm not seeing behaviour that suggests she wants a head-scratching. Usually it's most obvious that she just wants to go back to her perch.

We've provided two different toys that have a bell. Books seem to make it clear that birds like toys with bells. But when Charlie "plays" with these toys, it looks to me like she's angry, as if they are in her way, annoying her. Her eyes pin-point, and she strikes the bell with her beak open, violently. Is this normal? Or have we placed these toys in the wrong part of her cage?

These and many other questions come up frequently.

Tonight we covered her cage a little after sundown, sometime just before 7 PM. She's been pretty quiet since then.

Friday, March 04, 2005

It is playtime so Charlie is out of her cage for a bit. She is appearing more relaxed and curious today. I have Corelli Concerto no. 8 in G minor playing softly. She seems to like it, and keeps tilting as if she is listening or thinking about things.

She is currently tearing a peanut shell apart. She never seems to have much interest in the peanut itself, but she sure has fun chewing up the shell. She is having fun playing with her little lifting toy too.

William is proving to be quite facinating at the moment. He is working on his book list chain. It is made out of paper strips and Charlie keeps leaning forward toward him as far as she can with her head cocked watching him.

She is playing non stop now. She is climbing all over her jungle gym to get to her toys. She even pulled the chew toy up that has the bell on the end and talked softly into the bell for a bit.

We just put some more peanuts and hot peppers in her blue toy/treat dispenser, and she is having a great time tearing them up. (She just climbed down and is walking around on the table!!!! She went over to Beth's spelling book, looked at it, and then went back to her gym.) She has gotten very brave and even went over to her food bowl for the first time (at the jungle gym). I wonder if the music is what has made the difference? And, she has now discovered the water dish. I should think after all those peppers she would want some!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

She tried taking a bath in her small dish of drinking water this morning. We quickly put some water in a 10x10 inch casserole dish and placed it on the floor of her cage, but although she drank from it, she wouldn't splash in it. She seems to be very cautious of new things (except new toys which she investigates immediately), so I guess we will just keep offering her the water in the morning to see if she gets used to it.

I'm starting this journal Thursday afternoon, March 3. We've had this beautiful bird for ten days. She goes through periods of napping and chattering, and it seems it could be useful to make a note of these times. For the last few mornings Vicki has gotten her out of the cage, but she seems very frightened or cautious and sits quietly on top of her playground, although today she climbed down its ladder to retrieve a slice of apple.

Today after lunch I gave her the stick from a corn-dog, a piece of wood like a popsicle stick but thinner. I thought she might like to shred it, but after she carefully removed the miniscule remaining fragments of corn, she let the stick fall through the grating to the bottom of her cage.

She makes a wide variety of vocalizations, some squeaky-wheel sounds, some screams, some chortles and clucks. For the first few days we thought she was having fun screaming at Tashi, as he would run from the room when she did, but we haven't noticed that connection recently. Today during lunch I thought she might be meowing at Riker, who was lounged in the sunshine nearby. If she was, Riker did a fine job of ignoring her.