Parrot Toy Angels: October 2009 Angel Wings
Parrot Toy Angels

Angel Wings

A monthly journal for human angels who make a positive difference in companion birds' lives.

October 2009
Volume 4, Issue X

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In this month's issue:
    Angel Announcements
    Sites to See
    Popcorn Balls
    Auction Plea
    Blind Birds
    Featured Fid ~ The Hawk-headed Parrot
    Molting
    So You Think You Want A Companion Bird?
    Boarding Your Bird
    Rikki Sez
    Help Us
    Nut Factoid
    More ABC's of Nuts
    Do You Know The Pumpkin Facts?
    Disaster Preparation - Part 2

Happy Halloween
Angel Toys For Angels

Featured Toys for October

Scary Spider
Scary Spider
Small to Medium Birds

RIP Rattler
RIP Rattler
Medium Birds

Black Cat Filter
Black Cat
Medium to Large Birds


Check out all the
Angel Toys for Angels

now!


ANGEL ANNOUNCEMENTS
Watch for upcoming events, news, website updates, etc. here


NJ-PA-NY-DE-CT-MD
Parrot Toy Angels at
Parrot Palooza 2009

Come join us October 17 and 18 at Bird Paradise in Burlington, NJ for this year's Parrot Palooza. We'll have a table again this year and hope to see you there. We will have PTA Cookbooks to sell, Wacky Whirlys, Angel Cornbread Muffins and our new Angel Cornbread Mix. We'll also be featuring foraging this year and will show you how to set up a cage to give your bird a fun foraging experience.

If you've never been to Parrot Palooza it is worth the trip. There will be free seminars, great sales, prizes, free food, raffles, rescues and bird clubs and lots of birds to see. See ya there!

♥ ♥ ♥

SITES TO SEE

Avian Education & Resource Center
If you are looking for information and resources on any bird related topic, then this website is one of the best you have ever visited. From "A" for anatomy and avian vets info to "W" for wild bird info, this site has it all.

Parrot Enrichment
Many might be already familiar with Kris Porter and her work on "The Parrot Enrichment Activity Books". These books are available as free PDF downloads. This is her new website. While still in the "construction" phase there is plenty of great info already available plus the links to her free PDFs.

♥ ♥ ♥



Mabel

Mabel, 41+ year old DYH who was adored by Pam A. flew over the Rainbow Bridge shortly after last month's newsletter
Fly free Mabel

♥ ♥ ♥

Popcorn Balls
"Polly Wants More Than A Cracker -
A Parrot Owner's Cookbook"

6 heaping cups popped popcorn (pop it yourself, don't use commercially bagged popcorn)
3/4 C chopped walnuts
3/4 C raisins
1/4 to 1/2 C molasses (just enough to make the ingredients stick together)
Popsicle sticks

Directions:
Put popped popcorn in a large bowl. Add walnuts and raisins and toss. Warm molasses to soften. Pour over popcorn in bowl and quickly stir to get everything coated. Butter your hands (work quickly) and roll into balls. Insert popsicle sticks. Place on waxed or parchment paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Make the balls large or small. Whatever suits your type of birds (or kids).

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WOW!  Lookie.... a PTA Coupon
Dear Supporters and Readers,

You have been so supportive of our past auctions and we are working hard to make this year's Holiday Auction even better than the last. Can we ask for your support in donating towards the auction?

If you have a business, a store, have a talent, do crafts...we would be so grateful to include your items in our auction. If not such an item, a gift certificate and gift cards are something everyone likes.

We hold two auctions each year. This is a major life-line for PTA. Those of you who have macaws know how heavy a big toy is. Imagine shipping 40 or more across the US. The auctions allow us to pay for this. There are also rescues that need food, cages and perches. Your auction dollar helps us provide these as well.

Any gift will be welcomed and remember, it is tax-deductible.

Thank you for your past and continued support.

♥ ♥ ♥



Insulting Parrot
Submitted By Brandy Reed

A lady was walking past a pet store when a parrot said, "Hey, lady! You're really ugly!" The lady was angry, but she continued on her way.
On the way home, she passed by the pet store again, and again, the parrot said, "Hey, lady! You're really ugly!" Furious, the lady stormed into the store and threatened to sue the store.
The store manager apologized profusely and promised he would make sure the parrot didn't say it again.
The next day, she deliberately passed by the store to test the parrot. "Hey, lady!" it said.
"Yes?"
"You know..."

Blind Birds
By Wyspur Kallis

Many people find pleasure in having birds as pets. There are a few who have opened their hearts to include blind birds. Having these special pets in our lives is not only a challenge, but very rewarding as well.

Connor, a 3 year old African Grey, has been blind from birth. Young birds are often clumsy and his blindness went un-noticed, resulting in brain damage from many falls from high perches. Connor was shuffled from one pet store to another for several years until Susan brought him into her heart and home. Connor has come a long way and this has been a real learning experience for both of them.

Chauncey is an 18 year old B&G Macaw who was born with no eyes. Chauncey was surrendered to a rescue six months ago and will be staying there permanently. Since arriving, she has found a friend, Romeo, an 11 year old Green Wing Macaw who has taken to looking after Chauncey. Chauncey and Romeo both live with Margaret and Chauncey has become comfortable in her new home and has recently started to talk.

Chauncey
B&G Macaw, Chauncey, who owns Margaret

Bud and Winston are a bonded pair of Cockatiels who have made their way into Vicki's heart. Winston is nearly blind so Bud helps Winston find food, water or just something to play with.

Nunpah-Ska, a white Parakeet, came into Wyspur's life fully sighted, at 6 months old. By the time she was 3 years old, Nunpah-Ska was completely blind. Having to leave the comfort of living in a flock, she quickly learned to live alone in a cage set up for her special needs.

Nunpah-Ska
Nunpah-Ska, Parakeet, owns Wyspur

Many birds with special needs can and do bring more joy into our lives than one can imagine. These birds, together with the help of compassionate people in their lives, are awesome companion pets.

♥ ♥ ♥
Featured Fid ~ The Hawk-headed Parrot
By Vicki Hartsfield

Bentley, Hawk-head
Handsome Bentley, who owns Shauna

Scientific Name: Deroptyus accipitrinus
Size: Medium, up to 14 inches (31 to 35cm long) and weigh 190 to 274g
Native Region: South America
Life Expectancy: 30 years
Noise Level: Moderate
Talk/ Trick Ability: Fair, Can learn to talk

Hawk-headed Parrots, also known as Red-fan Parrot or Guiana Hawk-head, are native to the Amazon Basin, specifically Brazil and Guiana in South America. Hawk-heads inhabit undisturbed lowland rain forests that are on higher ground and tend to avoid flooded forests, forest margins and clearings. They feed on fruits, seeds, nuts, berries, leaf buds and vegetable matter. They live in small groups.

Hawk-headed Parrots are unique parrots. The neck feathers are crimson red with blue-tinged edging. These feathers can be raised when the bird is alarmed or excited. This same coloration is found on the breast of the Hawk-head and the tail is edged in green and blue. They have white streaking in the dark brown cheek and the crown is a dull white color in adults.

A very dramatic bird, although very excitable, Hawk-heads are very affectionate and extremely playful. They are highly intelligent, very energetic but sometimes moody. They closely bond with their owners but are prone to aggressiveness and biting, usually if startled and are territorial in their cage or aviary. You need to learn to read their moods to avoid being nipped. Hawk-heads are better for the experienced bird keepers. Hawk-heads need to be socialized at an early age to keep them from being difficult in adulthood.

Shauna Roberts:
"I don't often make generalizations about any species but it does seem to me that Hawk-heads may have a greater tendency towards being or becoming skittish and only accept a few people at a time. This coincides with them living in small groups in the wild as well. I live with 3 male Hawk-heads, 2 domestically hatched and 1 wild caught, ages range from 11 to around 30 years old and have interacted with a few others. Each one has it's own very individual personality so one size certainly does not fit all! When interacting with a Hawk-head one might think of their personality as a cross between a Macaw (may enjoy swinging upside down), a Moluccan Cockatoo (can be cuddly) and a Caique (full of mischief and unpredictability). Hawk-heads tend to enjoy eating and make sounds of sheer delight at meal times or when given a treat. I've heard it said that the way to a Hawk-heads' heart is through its stomach and it certainly holds true with the Hawk-heads I have known. Diet is basically unknown at this time and a large proportion of captive Hawk-heads are prone to feather destructive behavior. To live with a Hawk-head parrot and make it successful I feel strongly that it is important to understand and use positive reinforcement. Even though this is what is recommended for living with any parrot if you make a mistake with a Hawk-head they are less forgiving than some other species may be."

A large cage is preferable with lots of room for this active bird. Minimum cage size should be 24" x 24" x 30" with a bar spacing of 3/4" to 1". You should always make sure to have plenty of toys for these birds to swing on, climb and chew. Keeping the toys replaced and rotated will help keep the bird entertained when you cannot have them out with you.

Hawk-heads are a threatened species due to the pet trade as well as their habitat destruction from deforestation and conversion to pastureland. They are not easy to breed and uncommon in the United States. They are rarely found in a pet store. You most likely would have to contact a breeder to purchase one. The cost of a Hawk-headed Parrot usually is high. Hawk-headed Parrots mate for life. Their breeding season is December and January. They are cavity nesters that lay 2 to 4 eggs a year. The male Hawk-head cares for the female while she incubates the eggs. Incubation lasts 25 to 28 days. The chicks will start to fledge at about 10 weeks in the wild. Captive Hawk-heads require a diet rich in Vitamin A. This special need can be met by feeding plenty of dark greens, such as collards and kale, as well as deep yellow to orange fruits and veggies. They should receive a varied diet, including veggies, legumes, fruits, greens, pasta and grains.

Bentley, Hawk-head
Bentley playing

♥ ♥ ♥

Molting
By Angel Savannah

Molting is the process of replacing old feathers with new. It is a natural part of a bird's life and I find that our baby birds will start their first molt when they are about six months old. Following this initial molt, here in the Midwest, they tend to molt with the change of the seasons, spring and fall.

Not every feather will fall out in one molt. Knowing this, you will know that you should NOT see bald spots on your bird. If you do, there is probably something wrong and I strongly suggest having it seen by your vet. Likewise, we see a lot of people whose birds have had horrible wing "trims", and those poor birds will probably take two or three full molts before they will have all of their flight feathers replaced. The primary flights, the flight feathers which make the bird fly, will typically replace in every molt, but the secondary flights, the ones that help the birds land lightly and safely, can take up to three molts to replenish themselves! This is important to remember if you have a bird whose secondary flight feathers have been mistakenly cut.

During a normal molt, you will see many small feathers and a few larger ones lying in the bottom of your bird's cage. If you have several birds, you will see a LOT of feathers, and they will all generally molt at about the same time. This lasts a couple of weeks and then you will see very few feathers. For the larger feathers that your bird loses, the new ones growing in will be quite prominent. They will have a feather sheath around them, which is typically a white covering which resembles the quill. The function of the sheath is that of protector. When feathers grow in, they have blood inside of the sheaths. As the feather grows, the blood supply is used and the sheath flakes away, and a beautiful new feather is the final result. You will see many of these in smaller form on a bird's head and neck where they cannot reach to preen them open. It is very helpful, if they have no companion bird, that their companion human helps them preen these new feathers to assist in getting the sheaths off.

Some birds will molt excessively due to poor nutrition, breeding, or other stressful situations. And some birds will take seemingly forever to replace molted feathers.

There are some things you can do to help your bird along in the process, whether it is a normal or abnormal molt. I find that nutrition is truly the key ingredient to a bird's health. It helps them to maintain normal molts and fairly quick feather growth. If a bird has additional stresses, such as having recently had babies, a new home, etc., we will also add a vitamin on top of the bird's soft foods to aide in speedy feather growth. We find (through 35+ years of our research in our family aviary) that Chirp vitamins have been the most helpful in this area.

With excellent nutrition, low stress living, and happy play time, your bird should experience normal molts.

♥ ♥ ♥

So You Think You Want a Companion Bird?
Part 4

By Vicki Hartsfield

Last month we talked about Willie's needs as far as housing. In this month's issue let's talk toys.

There are several types of toys available:
♥ Shreddables / Destroyables / Foraging
♥ Exercise
♥ Active / Interactive / Preening
♥ Noisy
♥ Foot

Shreddables / Destroyables / Foraging toys all go hand in hand. This type of toy is one your bird can tear apart, find hidden goodies inside of and completely chew apart. Chewing is a natural instinct for birds. These toys range from from wood blocks, vegetable tanned leather, jute, hemp, twig or vine wreaths and balls to heavier wood such as Manzanita for large birds who like to chew.

Exercise toys are for climbing, gripping, and swinging, providing something to hold onto while flapping their wings. Examples of these toys are boings, ladders, atoms, swings, graspable perches and a good play gym for out of cage time.

Active / Interactive / Preening toys stimulate the intellect of your bird. Things that move around and things that come apart keep the bird busy. These toys include puzzle toys, beads, imaginary enemy toys and the "snugglies". Snuggle rings or buddies help as a nesting buddy to stimulate the birds' natural instincts.

Noisy toys include toys such as bells made of bird safe metal and birdie music boxes. Birds are natural born communicators, so these types of toys help the bird's social skills and help develop vocabulary. Turning on your radio or television is also a good way to provide a learning noise toy.

Foot toys can actually fall into any one of the other categories. These toys help exercise the feet and keep the beak busy and out of trouble!

As with anything, safety is of utmost importance when buying or making toys for your bird. Always use bird safe materials. Check online for bird safe lists. Make sure your toy is size appropriate for your bird. Keep long strings and rope cut short to prevent your bird from getting tangled in it and risking death or injury. Discard any toy that you suspect might be dangerous and to keep you bird busy, happy and healthy, rotate his toys to keep the interest going.

♥ ♥ ♥

Boarding Your Bird
By Nancy Goulding

Anyone who owns a companion bird has been faced with deciding what to do with their feathered friend when it becomes necessary to be away from home for more than a day. Unlike dogs, cats and most other household pets, finding a trusted friend to care for birds, especially large birds or multiple birds can be a real challenge. Most of us do not have nearby friends or neighbors skilled in caring for companion birds, so when the time comes to go out of town on vacation or business we usually have to look for pet sitters who specialize in caring for birds (good luck finding one) or we have to turn to boarding facilities.

Boarding our special winged friends can be a scary proposition. After all we are removing our birds from their safe, comfortable environment and introducing them into a new environment in the care of strangers, and we can only hope that the birds will adjust and be kept safe and comfortable. We have always been very reluctant to board our birds out of fear of them being left alone in cages for extended periods or being neglected by those charged with their care. Of course we are also concerned about safety and health issues such as disease transmission.

We are fortunate to have a neighbor who we can trust to care for our "little guys" in our home for a few days, but our 'Zons and Grey are too much for her, so any out of town trips usually mean boarding the "big guys". We have limited our travel in the past to avoid having to board our birds, but a couple of years ago we were fortunate enough to find what we consider an excellent boarding facility named Parrot University in Pineville, North Carolina about 30 minutes away. In fact we really did stumble on this particular facility right after they first opened, and we were able to watch the boarding area of the facility as it was being built. We were very impressed with Parrot University from the beginning because of the knowledgeable staff and its mission - it was much more than just another bird supply store.

We think that Parrot University sets a high standard for boarding facilities for companion birds. They more than satisfied all of our concerns and even some concerns we should have had and didn't think about. Karen Justice, owner of PU is one of the most respected and knowledgeable companion bird people in the Southeast, and she has assembled an extremely knowledgeable staff to assist her at PU, which now has grown into a small 501(c)3 rescue (Companion Parrots Re-Homed) as well as a first class boarding facility. When we evaluated Parrot U for our own guys, here is what we discovered about their operating practice:

Health & Safety
♥ Birds must arrive in a carrier which must be left at the facility.
♥ Psittacosis testing is required for communal boarding (note that they offer private rooms as well as communal rooms).
♥ Owner must furnish proof of a wellness visit within the last twelve months from an approved vet for either type of room. No exceptions. Further testing may be required based on the individual bird's history. (Coincidentally, Parrot U uses the same avian vet we do).
♥ All birds two years old or less must have current polyoma vaccine for communal boarding.

Biosecurity
♥ Birds must arrive and leave by appointment only so that no exposure to other birds will occur in the lobby.
♥ A UV sterilizer and ionizer are used in each room. HEPA filters are on the main units and are changed frequently.
♥ Foot baths and hand washes occur each time the staff exits a room.
♥ If handling the birds staff wears disposable gowns.
♥ All trash remains in the room (contained) until checkout.
♥ Food and water bowls are sterilized after each use.
♥ After a room is vacated it is cleaned ceiling to floor and sterilized.
♥ All cages, perches and play stands provided by the facility are scrubbed, steamed and bleached between uses (we use their cages but supply our own perches, toys, and play stands).
♥ Each room is swabbed yearly and tested for Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, (more often if deemed necessary).

We also like the fact that Parrot U staff notes any special requirements, such as diet, behavior, etc. and posts it outside the room where the bird is housed. The boarding rooms are in a separate part of the facility and each room has a large glass window for observing the birds.

While this is not in any way intended to be an endorsement of Parrot University, we do believe that using this facility as a model for high standards in boarding facilities makes sense. Responsible bird owners must set their own standards for boarding facilities. We simply hope that what was presented here offers some assistance to anyone thinking of boarding their birds.

♥ ♥ ♥

Rikki Sez

Rikki will try and answer frequently asked questions here.

Rikki, My Mum has got a new sprouting mix. Usually she just soaks my normal seed. She has noticed that some seeds get tails before others, like the green ones that I chuck out, the "Mungs". These Mungs always sprout first and then the others take a bit longer. Does she have to wait until they all have tails, or can she give them to me like this?
Signed, Curious Bella

Dear Bella, If she is sprouting other legumes, they need to be sprouted to 1/2" before they can be eaten. I prefer to sprout grains and legumes separately because the grains can be eaten after an overnight soak but legumes need to be fully sprouted. The reason for suggesting that tails on the lentils be at least 1/4" and other legumes be at least 1/2" long is so the legume nutrients are more bioavailable. Soaking helps cut down on nutritional inhibitors but sprouting until tails are that length is even more helpful. It's a recommendation for humans also. Grains, however, only need to be soaked and are ready to eat as soon as tails appear. However, sorghum (Super Millet) cannot be soaked or sprouted as it is toxic when wet. It can be fed dry. Amaranth has to be soaked and sprouted or cooked as it can be toxic when fed dry.

♥ ♥ 

Rikki, My Mom just bought this stuff that makes her real happy. It saves her a lot of time because she doesn't have to iron everything. It's called Downy Wrinkle Releaser. It smells funny. Should I be worried?
Signed, What's Up?

Dear What's Up, Many bird doctors recommend not using fabric softeners and similar products when the parronts own birdies. These products can leave behind residue on their beautiful clothes, and the pretty smells can harm our sensitive respiratory tracts. Your mom might want to try just using the dryer on it's wrinkle release setting, with no dryer sheets or additives. If your dryer does not have a wrinkle setting, your mom can put the clothes in the dryer on a low setting with a damp washcloth, and dry for just a few minutes. This will take most wrinkles out of the clothes. For the very special clothes that need to be totally wrinkle-free, your parronts will need to use an old fashioned iron. Just make sure it does not have a non-stick coating. These are very harmful for birdies.

♥ ♥ 



Do you have a question for Rikki?
Please send it to The Editor at editor@parrottoyangels.org

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Nut Factoid

The term "nuts" is actually a generic term. Botanically, true nuts are acorns, chestnuts, hazelnuts, filberts and a few others that we wouldn't commonly recognize. Walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews and most of the other "nuts" we commonly consume, are technically seeds. Peanuts are legumes. The term nut is used in a culinary sense to describe these items, which is how it has been used in our articles about nuts.

More ABC's of Nuts
By Sue Christie-Cox

Now that we have established what a nut is, let's look at some of the other nuts out there to tempt your bird with.

C is for Chestnuts. The chestnut is a unique fresh product more like a fruit than a nut. It has a high water content, about 50%, which makes it more like the vegetables or fruits that are displayed in refrigerated display cases in the market. Unfortunately, the majority of produce managers do not understand these special storage requirements and so it is common to find chestnuts displayed with other nuts, where they dry out and begin to show signs of mold within a few days. Chestnuts contain just a trace of fat. They also are the only nut that contains a significant amount of Vitamin C, plus contain B1 and B2 and folates. Like all plant foods, chestnuts contain no cholesterol.

A quick rundown on chestnuts shows
♥ Low in oil, chestnuts are 99% fat free
♥ Only one-third the calorie content of peanuts and cashews, great if you have a bird with a weight problem
♥ High in complex carbohydrates for energy
♥ Cholesterol free
♥ Contain as much Vitamin C as an equal weight of lemons
♥ Nutritionally similar to brown rice, described as "a grain that grows on a tree"
♥ Gluten free

Chestnuts have a sweet and nutty flavor and a texture like a firm baked potato. If you haven't ever tried chestnuts before, they may look a little intimidating to prepare but they are remarkably simple, just follow these directions. Before cooking, the most important step is to cut the shell to prevent the nut exploding while cooking. Some people cut a slit across the face of the nut; others cut a cross into the flat-end.

To bake: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chestnuts onto a baking tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until shell splits.

To microwave: Place chestnuts in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate. Cook, uncovered, on 850 watts/High/100% for 4 to 6 minutes or until flesh is tender.

To roast, grill or barbeque: Cook, turning occasionally, in a pan over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes or until shell splits.

To boil (if using to puree): Place chestnuts into a pan of cold water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until flesh is tender.

Wrap the cooked chestnuts in a tea-towel. Remove outer shell and inner skin while still warm (they're difficult to peel once cooled).

H is for Hazelnuts, (also known as Filberts). Hazelnuts are rich in protein and unsaturated fat. Moreover, they contain significant amounts of Thiamine and Vitamin B6, as well as smaller amounts of other B vitamins. They are very high in Vitamin E, antioxidants and cholesterol lowering fats; they are also high in calcium. Hazelnuts appear to also have an effect in lowering the risk of heart disease. In a recent study, men with high cholesterol consumed about 1 ounce of hazelnuts daily for 8 weeks. At the end of the 8 weeks, researchers noticed an average 30 percent drop in their LDL and an increase of 12 percent in their HDL. The high content of monosaturated fat is what doctors say should be credited for the improvement in blood lipids.

Now while these studies are on humans, the benefits for your bird may be echoed. A number of birds have problems with fat and cholesterol so making the right choice of nut to give as a treat means your bird is getting more than just a tasty reward.

Bibliography:
http://www.hazelnuts.org.au

http://www.chestnutsaustralia.com/au/
content/view/22/47/


http://www.thecardioblog.com/2007/05/22/
hazelnuts-shown-to-reduce-cholesterol

♥ ♥ ♥

Do You Know The Pumpkin Facts?
By Lori M. Nelsen

Gonzo & friend admiring their pumpkin
Gonzo and friend admiring their pumpkin

Pumpkins offer far more than a door-stop or stoop sitter at Halloween. Make them do double duty. Instead of carving a face in your Halloween pumpkin, use nontoxic food marker pens to create a unique face. After Halloween has passed, the pumpkin flesh inside can be preserved by cooking or freezing. Pumpkin seeds can also be dried and roasted.

First Jack O'Lantern: The Irish carved turnips, potatoes, or rutabagas and put coals or small candles inside. They were placed outside their homes on All Hallow's Eve to ward off evil spirits. When Irish Immigrants came to America, they quickly discovered that Jack O'Lanterns were much easier to carve out and began using them for decorations.

Choosing the perfect pumpkin: Choose a pumpkin that is ripe and completely orange. There are several varieties with different shades of orange. Pumpkins will not ripen further after they are picked. A ripe pumpkin has a hard shell that does not dent or scratch easily. To find the best pumpkin, choose one that is free from soft spots, cracks, splits, or insects. Small pumpkins are best for cooking and the large one best for carving.

Health benefits of pumpkin: Pumpkins by themselves are very low in fat and calories, and high in potassium. They also possess a fair amount of Vitamin C and other nutrients, such as Niacin, Vitamin E, Calcium and Iron. They are also 90% water. The main healthful benefits of pumpkin nutrition are the large amounts of antioxidants and beta-carotene present within the pumpkin. Antioxidants help strengthen the immune system. Beta-carotene converts to Vitamin A and helps reduce the risk of cancer and other dangerous diseases.

One cup of pumpkin puree contains:
♥ Calories: 80
♥ Carbohydrates: 19 grams
♥ Cholesterol: 0
♥ Fat: less than 1 gram
♥ Potassium: 588 milligrams
♥ Protein: 2.4 grams
♥ Vitamin A: 310% of RDA
♥ Vitamin C: 20% of RDA

Preparing pumpkin for your parrot:
To Steam: Halve the pumpkin; remove seeds, pulp, and stringy portion. Cut into small pieces and peel. Place in a steamer or metal colander which will fit in a covered pot. Put over boiling water, cover, and steam for about 50 minutes, or until tender. Mash, purée in a blender or food processor, or put through a food mill.
To Boil: Halve the pumpkin; remove seeds, pulp, and stringy portion. Cut into small pieces and peel. Cover with water; boil for about 25 minutes, or until tender. Mash, purée in a blender or food processor, or put through a food mill. A 5-pound pumpkin will yield about 4 1/2 cups of mashed, cooked pumpkin.

Freezing pumpkins: Freezing is the easiest way to preserve pumpkin, and it yields the best quality product. Prepare the pumpkin puree as listed above. When the pumpkin is cool, pack into rigid containers leaving a bit of space and then freeze.

Save those pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seed nutrition is high in essential amino acids and zinc. Pumpkin seeds contain a large variety of minerals and other vital nutrients, such as iron, protein and fiber. Although the roasted pumpkin seeds tend to be better-tasting, a higher nutritional value is provided by the raw seeds.

Pumpkin seeds have long been a favorite of parrots. It is easy to prepare them:
Remove seeds from pumpkin.
Wash and remove pulp and strings.
Pat dry and place on an aluminum cookie sheet (It is highly recommended that you use cookie sheets that do not have nonstick surfaces or that you remove your birds from any room near the kitchen).
Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, turning every 5 to 10 minutes.
Let cool and serve these delicious tidbits to your feathered friends!

Please remember do not salt these seeds unless they are for human consumption. Birds cannot excrete salt the way humans can and it is not good for them.

Happy Hunting for the Perfect Pumpkin!

♥ ♥ ♥

Disaster Preparation
Part 2 - Protecting Your Pets

By George Goulding

In part one of this article, we looked at general disaster preparation with an emphasis on protecting human lives. In this article we will look at ways to protect pets and prepare for an evacuation. Since we are well into hurricane season, our focus will continue to be on preparing for hurricanes with their potential for damaging winds and flooding.

We want to include pets in general rather than focus strictly on birds in this article because most of us will have dogs, cats, and other pets along with our birds. Horses and livestock require special treatment, so we are not including them here. The information contained in this article comes mainly from the National Hurricane Center, Red Cross, AVMA and the Humane Society of America.

The time to prepare for a disaster is well before a disaster strikes. Think about the types of disasters that could affect your area. Hurricanes? Floods? Tornadoes? Forest Fires? Earthquakes? Chemical Leaks? Nuclear plant accidents? Any one of these events has the potential to endanger your home on a short term basis or even force a general evacuation that could last days or weeks. No matter how unlikely being involved in a disaster seems it makes sense to have a plan and the tools needed to execute your plan. According to the Humane Society, the single most important thing you can do to protect your pets when disaster forces an evacuation is to take them with you. Here are some simple steps you can take now to prepare.

Among the first steps in the planning process is to make a disaster supply kit containing essential items. Here are some general recommendations, but think about your specific needs.
♥  Have enough portable carriers on hand for each pet. We have soft side carriers, dog crates, "knock down" bird cages and several small cages. Be sure that each carrier has your name and contact information on it.
♥ Plan on how you would transport you pets if an evacuation is ordered. We are fortunate to have a Honda Odyssey and a Ford F-150 crew cab truck. We would probably need to use both vehicles to transport all of our guys to safety.
♥ Have on hand a supply of packaged non-perishable food and bottled water along with enough unbreakable food and water dishes. A can opener and fork or spoon is a good idea also.
♥ Duplicate and keep copies of essential identification and medical records such as proof of vaccinations in your kit. Remember, you may need these if you end up in a shelter. A photo of each pet with its name and your contact information is good for identification if you are forced to leave your pets at a separate shelter.
♥  Make copies of registration information, adoption papers, proof of purchase, and microchip information to store in the evacuation kit. List each one of your animals and their species, breed, age, sex, color, and distinguishing characteristics.
♥ If possible keep an extra supply of medications in your kit. Keep medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container.
♥ Have extra blankets or cage covers available.
♥ Keep a few of your birds' favorite toys in the kit.
♥ Be sure to have spare leashes and collars for dogs.
♥  Keep a small animal first aid kit on hand. The AVMA web site http://www.avma.org/disaster/saving_family.asp#other offers suggestions for such a kit.
♥ Keep everything accessible, stored in sturdy containers (duffel bags, covered trash containers, etc.) that can be carried easily.

Another important step you can do well in advance is to determine where to go if you do need to evacuate. Keep in mind that hotels and shelters may have "no pets" policies. You need to look for pet friendly places. An excellent source for finding pet friendly hotels is Pets Welcome a web site listing hotels by state that accept pets. You can use this site to create your own list of hotels to keep in your kit with the other important documents.

You may end up at a shelter if forced to evacuate. Check with local and state authorities to determine if there are pet friendly emergency shelter locations. During hurricane Katrina we know that most shelters would not accept pets forcing many to be left behind by their owners. This was a tragic situation later addressed by Congress when they looked at the many disaster preparedness shortcomings noted from the Katrina evacuations. As a result of the many studies undertaken after Katrina congress passed the PETS Act to address the needs of pets and service animals during emergencies. The Act ensures that State and local emergency preparedness operational plans address the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals following a major disaster or emergency.

The PETS Act authorizes FEMA to provide rescue, care, shelter, and essential needs for individuals with household pets and service animals, and to the household pets and animals themselves following a major disaster or emergency. As a result many coastal cities have now developed their own pet specific emergency evacuation and shelter plans. Here in North Carolina, for example, disaster animal response plans have been developed at the state and county levels to deal with animal safety during disasters. These plans include teams of volunteers including veterinarians who are committed to helping animals in case of disaster by working at temporary pet shelters. In addition, the state now mandates that there be emergency shelters accepting people with pets.

Okay, so what about birds? The best information we could find specific to protecting and evacuating birds is published by the AVMA. Here is what they have to say:
♥ Transportation of pet birds is best accomplished using small, secure, covered carriers to avoid injury.
♥ If traveling in cold weather, always warm the interior of your vehicle before moving your bird(s) from the house to the vehicle. Transfer your bird(s) to a standard cage upon arrival at the evacuation site; covering the cage may reduce stress; this transfer should occur in a small, enclosed room to reduce the risk of escape.
♥ Birds should be kept in quiet areas and not allowed out of the cage in unfamiliar surroundings. Fresh food and water should be provided daily.
♥ If your bird appears ill, be sure to lower the cage perch, food dish, and water bowl and consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. In addition to the pertinent items listed under small animal evacuation kit, include:
Necessary dietary supplements
Plant mister for cooling birds in hot weather
Hot water bottle for warming birds in cold weather
Materials to line the bottom of the cage
Cage perch
Toys
You know your birds better than anyone. Consider their daily needs and include as much as you can to continue meeting those needs.

The bottom line in keeping your birds and other pets safe is to plan ahead. Remember that having a great plan in place is useless unless you can carry it out. Be able to execute your plan with minimal advance notice and most importantly if it looks like you may be forced to evacuate, leave early.

This was found on the AVMA web site. It seems to sum up why disaster planning for our pets is so important.

As the winds blow on
And the waters rise deep
You can hear their cries
You can hear them weep
Those you have brought into your home
Those who are loyal, caring and warm.
You feed them each day, and tell them to stay
And now when they need you, don't turn them away.
When you vowed to love, when you vowed to care
You vowed to sacrifice, and vowed to prepare.
So now in times of trouble and strife
You are responsible for more than one life.
You need to plan, think, and prepare
For all those who need you
Those who depend on your care.
~~ Cindy Swancott Lovernz

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