Angel Wings A monthly journal for human angels who make a positive difference in companion birds' lives.
A monthly journal for human angels who make a positive difference in companion birds' lives.
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Dear Friends and Supporters,
We have been "welcoming" you in our newsletter for many months. Now that you are here and part of our family, we will get right to business and give you all our important information under a new heading : "Angel Announcements". These announcements will be informative and we hope helpful. We'll let you know about upcoming events, announcements, projects, new members and just plain "news".
If there's anything you'd like to see in Angel Wings, please drop us a line at Editor
~~ Lynn Williams & Ilona Peterson
Peanut Butter Plopz
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We are here to help, because we care about your bird!! ♥ ♥ ♥
Click Here to order
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We are here to help, because we care about your bird!!
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Birdie Safe Cleaning Tips
By Sue Christie-Cox
Vinegar: Vinegar, made from soured juices, grains or wines, contains about 5% acetic acid, giving it the ability to dissolve grease; remove soap, mildew or wax; and clean windows, carpets and exteriors. It can be used straight or mixed in equal parts with water to disinfect and deodorize your home, according to the EPA.
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We would like to thank Nancy G. for telling her Avian Vet, Dr. Lauren Powers, about us and asking her to contribute her knowledge to our newsletter. Dr. Powers will be giving us an expert's view on a variety of subjects.
Here is a little about Dr. Powers:
Welcome Dr. Powers and we look forward to hearing from you.
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Don't Talk to My Parrot
Mrs. Davidson's dishwasher quit working so she calls a repairman. Since she has to go to work the next day, she tells him, "I'll leave the key under the mat. Fix the dishwasher, leave the bill on the counter, and I'll mail you the check. Oh, by the way, don't worry about my bulldog; he won't bother you. But, whatever you do, do NOT, under ANY circumstances talk to my parrot!"
When the repairman arrives at Mrs. Davidson's apartment the next day, he discovers the biggest and meanest bulldog he has ever seen. But just as she said, the dog just lays there on the carpet watching the repairman go about his business.
The parrot, however, drove him nuts the whole time with his incessant yelling, cursing, and name calling. Finally, the repairman couldn't contain himself any longer and yelled, "Shut up, you stupid ugly bird!" To which the parrot replied, "Get him, Spike!".
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Healthipet Network Corporation Toy Delivery
By Shelly and Doug Wing
When I saw that PTA was doing a project for the Healthipet Network in Anderson, Indiana, I quickly emailed Lynn and volunteered to do a delivery. Our Church is headquartered in Anderson and we do on occasion get up quite early and drive the 3-1/2 hours to Anderson to hear Pastor Bob preach the word. So, of course I would do this for an Angel delivery...are you KIDDING!
Doug, my husband, is one of those kind of guys that will call me at 4:00pm on a Friday afternoon from work and tell me that we are heading for Chicago as soon as he gets home. Chicago is 100 miles away. So, when I told him that I had volunteered to do a toy delivery to a Rescue in Anderson, IN in March...he said "okay".
Over the ensuing weeks my living room filled with boxes of goodies from all over the United States and one from Canada. They just kept coming and I just kept stacking them next to Doug's recliner in the living room! I ended up with a wall of boxes 8 feet wide and 4 feet high. One evening we had guests from Brazil over for dinner. Fabiano's English is good, but Monika's English is very limited. I finally gave up trying to explain what all the boxes were!
Friday morning, March 21st. It began to snow hard and it snowed all day long. Within about a 2 hour time frame we had over 2 feet of snow on the ground and it just kept coming down. I emailed Tim at Healthipet and let him know that the weather was "iffy" and that if we were unable to make it out in the morning that I would call him bright and early and we would reschedule. We plowed the driveway Friday night to make plowing Saturday morning easier, as still it was snowing.
About 5:30am Saturday morning Doug woke me up so that I could get ready for our trek to Anderson. We were to be there at 11:30am and wanted to stop for breakfast and have enough time to deal with any weather issues we might encounter. The drive and walk ways were already plowed/shoveled, car was loaded, coffee brewed, and still it was snowing.
We got on the road at 6:15am, it was still dark and still snowing! Our drive down was actually uneventful. It continued to snow for about the first 80-100 miles of our trip and traveling was slower than normal. However, we did stop for breakfast and a bit later stopped at Starbuck's and still arrived at Healthipet at 11:45am.
Healthipet is housed in what appears to be an old warehouse or other commercial type of building. It is an old brick and clapboard building that has been beautifully renovated.
The main 'bird' room takes up about 1/2 the length and width of the building and is about 20 feet wide x roughly 50 feet long. Tim used to be a dancer and what is now the main bird room used to be his Dance Studio. One wall (all 50 feet of it) is mirrored. The ceiling and crown molding are ornate and the room is lit with 6 or 8 ornate chandeliers. The floor is hardwood and the room is beautiful, with a fireplace at one end, sitting area and I am told a large screen television resides behind one of the mirrored doors. There are 2 small cafe tables and chairs in the room. 6 or 7 large Macaw cages against the wall, 2 additional cages on either side of the fireplace and several small table top cages in the room. In addition, there were at least 4 Play Gyms in the room and it wasn't crowded! It is a beautiful setup.
There is another room off of the main 'bird' room that houses primarily the smaller birds. There is a wonderful play room off the small bird room, that contains play gyms and a huge Get a Grip Net. This room is all walled in with glass across one wall so that the birds can be seen. There is also a bathroom in this same area, which is used for showering birds as well as the obvious.
The Healthipet Office is just off the living room and there are 4 birds living in the office in large stacker cages. These are Tim's personal pets; an African Grey, Blue Front Amazon, a female Eclectus and a male Eclectus.
We were greeted by a group of Volunteers, Tim, and just met Robert briefly as he had a commitment elsewhere and was on his way out. The people were excited and the birds were excited. Bonzo the Military Macaw and Cali the Catalina Macaw were offered and eagerly accepted new toys. Sammie the M2 got so excited seeing all the toys being tossed into a pile near his cage, he graced us with his rendition of 'psycho Cockatoo'...Crest up, wings out and yodeling at the top of his lungs.
A short time later, Sammie came down from the top of his cage to the floor and was given a condiment cup bell toy, which I believe Angel Wyspur made. He grabbed that toy and tossed it across the floor and then would laugh (literally), run to pick it up, toss it again and laugh! He was finally put back on top of his cage with his beloved bell toy!
Bonzo a Military Macaw willingly tried out every toy he was given...at least 3 or 4, stuck his head through the Fleece Ring (that Tim ended up wearing) and when I went around to each bird with an open bag of Almonds, he grabbed the bag with his foot and proceeded to grab as many Almonds as he could. I literally had to peel his toes off the bag! The photo shows him very nicely selecting an Almond – that's a farce, believe me! It wasn't a second later that he had a death grip on that bag!
The best thing about this delivery, other than the wonderful people and all the birds, was that this was not a visit that made you feel sad. Many of these birds have very sad stories, several are handicapped and one or two are a bit shy...but... these are all happy birds. They are all loved and obviously well cared for. The Macaws run and/or fly around and argue with each other, just like Macaws do and are supposed to. All the birds obviously have lots of time out of their cages and a great deal of interaction with people. Even those typically shy species, such as the CAGs weren't shy.
Not only did the people have a great time, the birds had a great time as well. Their eyes just lit up and they were in party mode. Lots of people, lots of noise, loads of colorful toys everywhere and Almonds – all they wanted and all they could eat! For about 3 hours last Saturday, every living thing in that building was in "birdy" heaven!
We call ourselves Angels and to some we are, but Tim, Robert, their wonderful group of volunteers and members are the 'real' Angels. Working tirelessly for the benefit of these birds and seeking nothing but the satisfaction of seeing the birds are safe, in return.
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Have these stories got your toymaking talons twitching? Do you want to help make a difference in somebirdie's life? Come join our ranks! We have angels from all different backgrounds and walks of life, and there's always room for another generous heart.
Featured Fid ~ Cockatiel|
By Regina M. Jankowski
I will confess before you even read this that I am a bit biased. A cockatiel was my first bird and best friend for many years. (Thanks Arabella!) I have found that the versatility and cheery disposition of the cockatiel fits my life perfectly.
Cockatiels are the smallest in the family Cacatuidae (cockatoo family). They are native only to Australia and the only Cockatoo species known to reproduce in the end of their first year. They have their own genus, Nymphicus hollandicus. The name came from European travelers who were so captivated by their beauty they chose to name them after nymphs. Who could blame them? With their colorful heads and expressive crests cockatiels are very impressive images to behold. Cockatiels are known for their grey body, yellow head, and bright orange cheek patch but many hybrids do not have all of these features.
From beak to tail they measure approximately 12-13 inches long. Due to their activity level and length, a larger cage is important. The smallest cage for one cockatiel should be 20 inches long by 20 inches wide and 26 inches tall. My two cockatiels, Carly and Major, share a 24 x 24 inch cage with an inside height of 39 inches. They cannot have bar spacing larger than 3/4 inches. A larger cage is always better, providing plenty of room for play and exercise. They need room to flap their wings and maneuver those exceptionally long tails around!
A well-bred and well-cared-for cockatiel can live 15-20 years. Some cases have been reported of cockatiels living into their 30's, while others only live 10-15 years. I personally had the honor to know a 21 year young cockatiel. Mr. Andy'Tiel was vibrant, playful, mischievous, and energetic right up to his trip to Rainbow Bridge.
Most people don't chose cockatiels for their lengthy lifespan, but for their reputation. Cockatiels are very social birds who love interaction and play. In comparison to other parrots, cockatiels are not considered "loud", although volume is in the ear of the beholder. I have successfully lived in several apartments with cockatiels and had never received a complaint. Just because they aren't loud doesn't mean they aren't noisy! Cockatiels love to chatter, whistle, sing, and even talk. Mine love to sing and dance. They whistle the theme song to "The Andy Griffith Show" when they are excited and when I make kissing sounds at them, they politely return the favor.
There is a rumor that only males can speak, but I didn't find that true. I had a female, Baby, who could say anything my male, Ricky could. Personally, I have not noticed any personality differences between males and females. I have had nippy birds of each sex, and cuddle-bugs of both sexes. Some believe you can sex a cockatiel based on the brightness of their cheek patch, or the scallops under the wings. This was true at one point, but as hybrids are changing and continuing to develop, these methods can no longer be trusted. For example, I had a yellow pearled cockatiel. I was told he was a male, due to his flawless and extremely dark/bright cheek patch. A year later he laid eggs.
Cockatiels by nature are ground foragers. Hiding treats under cups for them to forage and find is a great way to keep your feathered friend from being bored. I find they love leafy green vegetables, pasta, and sprouts. (As with any parrot, a varied diet is best!) Keep plenty of foot toys around for play. They may be small parrots, but they demand the same amount of love and attention as the larger birds. As with most birds, they do startle easily with loud or unexpected sounds and will give warning nips when needed. Cockatiels are known for "night frights" so you will want to keep a night light in the room. They are also notorious egg layers. If you have a female, you will want to know what to do in the case of egg-binding and how to discourage your bird from laying. Egg-binding and excessive egg laying can prove fatal. Make certain to discuss these issues with your veterinarian at your wellness visit.
An important factor to consider for those who suffer from allergies is that cockatiels (like their relative Cockatoos) are dusty birds. Frequent baths or showers are important to keep dander to a minimum. I have allergies and have never been bothered by cockatiel dander. However, I adopted my current cockatiels because their new owner had problems with his asthma acting up. If you suffer from asthma, a cockatiel may not be the best choice for you.
Ricky kissing Baby
Personally, I find cockatiels addictive so be careful! Like potato chips, I can't just have one. I guess you can never have too much of a good thing. I love all my birds, but the cockatiel breed holds a special place beside my heart. They adjust to change the best of all my birds and are the least likely to scold me if I arrive home late. They tend to be the fastest to forgive and forget, and are always happy to see me. It's a rare moment that they are not up for a cuddle or to play. They are genuinely happy birds. I have loved and lost five cockatiels and currently have two. The old adage is correct; I'd rather have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
Beryl and Jasper hanging out
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Rikki will try and answer frequently asked questions here.
Rikki, my sun conure and I were sitting by the window when a wild bird flew by. My bird bit me. Why?
Rikki, I just got my first parrot a few weeks ago. In the beginning he was so sweet and quiet but lately he has been biting me and screeching every morning and night. What am I doing wrong?
Sammy from Healthipet Network enjoying his new Ding-a-ling
Part Two of Three
By Regina M. Jankowski
So you've ordered your EasySprout from Parrot Toy Angels and are eagerly awaiting its delivery. (If you haven't, click here to order now). Great! Before your EasySprout arrives, there is more learning to do. (yeah, I hate that part too so let's keep the groans to a minimum.) If you read March's Angel Wings Newsletter, you already know why you need to sprout. If by chance you missed it, you can access it on our website.
Now comes the hardest part of this entire ordeal, deciding what to sprout. The most important thing to remember is to use organic seeds. You do not want to sprout seeds that were soaked in harmful chemicals and feed them to your birds. The good news is organic seeds are easier to find than organic fruits or vegetables and safe to ship to your home.
Being the short-cut lover that I am, I cheated on this part. I took the easy road and you can too, if you choose. There are many seed mixes already made for you to sprout. I went to a local avian store and purchased an "All in One" organic seed mix. These seeds are a "Soak or Dry Seed Mix". This mix contains: Barley, Rye Berries, Spelt, Kamut, Buckwheat, Millet, Sunflower Seeds, Rice, and Pumpkin Seeds. I have seen a variety of mixes online and found this to be a simple way to start off. If you do not have this option available at your local avian store, try surfing that world-wide-web! Two websites I found helpful were Totally Organics and SproutPeople. The site Land of Vos does not sell seeds to sprout, but they do have many helpful articles.
There are many different kinds of sprouts. This can get confusing and is the main reason I chose a ready-made mix. Since this article is for beginners, like myself, I will keep it simple.
Here is a basic run-down of the different types of sprouts:
Now you are all set and ready to sprout! Next month I will detail sprouting directions along with opinions from my flock. Since the seeds do most of the work and the learning is behind us until we chose to be a novice, I'm expecting this to be relatively easy.
EDITORS NOTE: Regina's journey into the world of sprouts will be continued in the May issue of Angel Wings. Stay tuned!!
ABC Blocks: Hazardous or Harmless
By Susan Kesler, Safety Committee Chairwoman
There has been some heated discussion on different groups lately concerning high levels of lead paint in children's alphabet blocks. This has admittedly been a problem and one we all need to be aware of, but please don't panic. Most, if not all, of the unsafe blocks have come from China, but that doesn't mean that all blocks have unacceptable levels of lead paint.
In the course of my research, I discovered that many online retailers get their blocks from distributors that buy them from China. Most assured me that theirs were safe and had no lead in the paint. As a safety precaution Parrot Toy Angels has taken all painted ABC blocks from our list of acceptable materials for assembling bird toys. But again, I have to say not "all" alphabet blocks, even the ones from China, are tainted.
There are retailers that have bird safe, untainted blocks for sale. Before purchasing them I would advise asking for confirmation. They should be happy to provide it. If you have ABC blocks you previously bought and are worried, I suggest buying a lead testing kit, available from most large hardware stores, and checking the paint on one or two blocks. If you bought them from more than one store, check a block from each store.
Other than testing the blocks yourself, the only way that I know of to be absolutely, positively, 99 and 44/100ths percent sure that your blocks are safe is to make them yourself. It's easy! Just take a length of 1" x 1" or 2" x 2" untreated pine and cut to the length you want. Many hardware stores will cut it for you, charging a small fee. Birds love them natural, but if you want them colored just use food grade coloring such as Wilton's Frosting Dye, VitaCritter, Kopykake, or just plain old McCormick's food coloring diluted with water or alcohol to suit the color intensity you want. You can also try FooDoodlers, available here to create your own designs.
An Angel Amongst Us
Parrot Toy Angels come in all shapes and sizes, and from all walks of life. Let us introduce you to one of our Angels
Christine is not only a Parrot Toy Angel, she also works as a supervisor in the Foster Care and Preventive Services Unit of a Social Services Department. Reaching out to help support, strengthen and keep struggling families together is the work of a true Angel.
Although a full time job and caring for dogs, cats, and birds takes up most of her time, Christine does try to make time for the reading and hiking she enjoys.
Not really an avid crafter, she says bird toy making has taken over her life! With a room full of conventional toy making parts, she has also developed that "special way" of looking at everything in a store, sizing up its potential to become part of a bird toy. Seems that happens to the best of us.
Having read about the Parrot Toy Angels on the internet, Christine first approached Lynn to donate some of her vast store of parts. Sensing true "Angel material" it didn't take Lynn long to suggest she join us, and the rest, as we say, is history.
Not having the chance herself yet, she enjoys seeing pictures of and hearing the stories about the deliveries made by other Angels. Many times it brings tears to her eyes and always joy to her heart to see the impact our toys make on the recipient's lives. Thanks for being an Angel, Christine. We're honored to have you!
Don't forget you can help PTA by clicking one of the following buttons:
Make sure to specify "Parrot Toy Angels"
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The unique quart-size dual container system
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Does Your Corn Have a Dent?
By Lori M. Nelsen
Corn dates back in the Americas to 10,000 years ago. It is closely related to a wild grass called teosinte. It is suggested that at one time, each kernel had a covering of floral parts. The cob broke down into small segments. The husk and cob gradually developed from the wild varieties by the natives. They developed into the major classes of corn known to us today: sweet, popping, flint, flour and dent corn.
SWEET CORN has more natural sugar than the other types. It is eaten on the cob, frozen or canned. Some varieties of sweet corn are unable to convert sugar to starch.
POPPING CORN is an extreme form of flint corn that contains only a small amount of soft starch. The ability to pop is caused by a small hard kernel with a large amount of moisture inside. When the moisture steams and the kernel explodes.
FLINT CORN is very hard. It is also known as Indian corn. It is primarily used for industrial purposes and animal feed.
FLOUR CORN has a very soft starchy kernel. It can be ground easily and used in baking.
DENT CORN is softer than flint corn. It is either yellow or white and has a dent in each kernel. It is used for animal feed and processed foods.
As you see above, there are several different types of corn. The one that most concerns us, as avian owners, is the DENT corn. We have all given our feathered friends the infamous "wheel of sweet corn". They also love to steal our popcorn from our bowl in front of the television. As long as these practices are an occasional thing and part of the "big picture" diet, our feathered family handles the corn fine (allergies can be an exception). Because corn is deficient in protein, nutritional problems can arise when it makes up a large part of the diet. Kernels contain only about 9.5% protein and are very low in two amino acids, lysine and tryptophan. Corn is also deficient in usable niacin and can be known to cause the following symptoms of pellagra such as dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia.
Now on to DENT corn (field corn). Field corn has a very thick outer skin that does not soften easily. There are really only two ways to eat it: grind it into a meal, or by using lye to remove the skin. Commercial enterprises use common lye (sodium hydroxide), or Quicklime (calcium oxide) or slake lime (calcium hydroxide) to remove the skin and then add back calcium at the end. When it is milled, instead of soaked, the outer skin (source of fiber) and the germ (loaded with nutrients) are removed. The millers remove the germ as it contains the oils that go rancid quickly. So, just like white wheat flour, they'll add cheap un-chelated minerals back to store bought corn meal so the customer believes he is purchasing a healthy product.
The DENT corn produces higher grain yields and dominates the production in North America. Corn is used in avian pellets such as: Scenic, Zupreem, Harrisons, TOPS, and most others. Some of these pellet manufactures use freshly ground organic corn and some the lye soaked or germ removed corn meal. Then they high heat extrude them, low heat extrude them, or compress them to make them stick together for our feathered family.
The livestock industry continues to be the largest user of corn using up to 60% of the DENT corn for animal feed. Now, man has figured a way to use the rest of the crop to make dyes, paints, oilcloth, oil for soap, syrups, starches, glaze, corn gum, margarine substitutes, press board, insulation, ethanol fuel, windshield washer fluid, road de-icer, corn starch, drugs, batteries, rubber, beverages, crayons, food additives, diapers, plastics and more.
I guess, all this sums up to:
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This is the official newsletter of the Parrot Toy Angels. Members and subscribers are encouraged to submit articles/photographs for publication. PTA reserves the right to reject, edit, or use only portions of items submitted. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the PTA Editor, Directors, Officers, or the general membership.
Do you have a question or comment? Perhaps you have an idea for our newsletter, or simply want to share a story on how an Angel has touched your life. Drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2008 Parrot Toy Angels • P.O. Box 34372 • Houston, Texas 77234
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