Parrot Toy Angels: September 2008 Angel Wings
Parrot Toy Angels

Angel Wings

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

September 2008
Volume 3, Issue IX

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In this month's issue:
    Parrot Toy Angels Fall Auction
    Hot Plopz by ParrotNutz
    Angel Announcements
    Safety Today
    Have You Ever Tried to Peel a Strawberry?
    An Angel Amongst Us
    Special Delivery
    Featured Fid ~ Lovebirds
    Lester Peterson, Special IRN
    Rikki Sez
    Pluckers Spray
    Out of the Blue

A big thank you to the Newsletter Committee. Ya'll rock!

Debra E. from Alabama
Wendy S. from New Jersey
Angel Toys For Angels

Featured Toys for September

Gonzo's Tongue Teazer
Gonzo's Tongue Teazer
Footer for Medium to Large Birds

Circle of Fun II
Circle of Fun II
Small to Medium Birds

Beaded Ball
Beaded Ball
Footer for Medium to Large Birds

Check out all the
Angel Toys for Angels


Parrot Toy Angels Fall Auction

Every Parrot should have a toy. That was what we had in mind three years ago when we organized Parrot Toy Angels.

We are an all volunteer, non profit, 501(c)3 organization with volunteers all over the US, Canada and even Australia. Our motto is "making a difference one bird at a time. With that goal in mind we do "Angel Projects" to help ease the burden for rescue organizations by providing toys, food, cages, supplies and occasionally money to help with veterinary care.

Here's a brief quote from RuthAnn LaRue, Foster Care Center for The Oasis Sanctuary: "This is an open letter thanking you and your wonderful Parrot Toy Angels for showering Tom and me with toys for the birds we keep in foster care in our home. Overall, V (African Grey with amputated wing) has regained her life, and in good part it is due to the timely arrival of new and interesting (and SAFE) toys from the Parrot Toy Angel organization. Tom and I thank you so much for your consideration of us as recipients of your wonderful toys." UPDATE from RuthAnn: "We are one year past V's wing amputation. She has made a full recovery from the July 2007 amputation, but continues to over preen her feathers and pulls her tail feathers. The PTA toys left from the 2007 shower of gifts are still being placed in V's cage to help her cope with her obsession of chewing and tearing. We have given PTA toys to some of our problem plucking birds, with good results. One in particular is a Vosmaeri Eclectus female. This 10 year old hen has such a hard time with leaving her feathers alone. When we can keep her busy chewing easily destroyed toys, she forgets to chew her own feathers. As parrot pros (you know, those of us who have had our beloved companion parrot for a while) know, it is a never ending challenge to keep troubled parrots distracted with playthings instead of themselves. If it were not for the shower of PTA toys, Tom and I would not see the success we have with these two troubled, but precious parrots."

We can only make this happen with donations and our current and future fundraisers, such as auctions, a cookbook, toy sales and a toy making CD. Over the last three years our volunteers have made over 6,000 toys for birds in rescues and sanctuaries all over the US and Canada. Twice a year we hold an auction as a fundraiser. Our volunteers donate items such as handmade toys and crafts, bird-themed wall prints and jewelry, items for the home and gift baskets. As generous as our volunteers are, we must also ask for donations from our faithful supporters. We have received in the past gift certificates and items that we use to make up gift baskets, which are always a big hit.

Our next Auction is planned for October and we would like to ask you for a donation. In return, we would be glad to list you and/or your company on our "Auction Supporter" pages which can be viewed here: Auction Supporters. Please contact us at PTA Donations to make arrangements for your donation. We have photos on our home page of our last two auctions, which will show you the variety of items we offer. Our auctions have proven to be a successful fundraiser for us and we would appreciate anything you may be able to donate. All donations are tax deductible.

We thank you for helping us "Make a difference, one bird at a time".




New Flavor Creation

Hot Plopz

Diego enjoying his Plopz

Especially for newsletter subscribers. A preview of our new creation not even on our web site yet!

Hot Plopz are loaded with spicy red and green peppers. Made "Italian Style".

Full Order $14.95/4 dz. min.
Half Order $8.00/2 dz. min.

Click Here to order

♥ ♥ ♥

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

On Our Site:
♥ Project Pictures ♥

Holiday 2007
Parrot Education
Tall Grass Parrot Sanctuary
Project Perry
View all 2008 Pictures

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>>C O U P O N<<
10% off any item on the
Parrot Toy Angels site
Coupon expires

Offer not valid
for food purchases

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Area Bird Lovers

Get out your calendars and circle Saturday and Sunday, October 18 & 19, and come to Bird Paradise for Parrot Palooza 2008!

The two day event will include guest speakers Dr. Irene Pepperberg, Sally Blanchard, Lara Joseph speaking on foraging and enrichment and Madeleine Franco, who specializes in problem behavior such as plucking and is considered a "refeathering specialist."

Besides great speakers, free BBQ and food from Carraba's Italian Grill, toy making contests and free prizes, Parrot Toy Angels will have a table featuring our Stainless Steel Toy Buckets and exclusive Foot Toys. Also attending will be many rescues from the area, including several who have been Angel Project recipients, and several bird clubs. Please stop by our table and say hello.

Go to the Bird Paradise website for details, bio's on the speakers and directions to the store located at 551 E. Route 130 South, Burlington, NJ.

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Safety Today
By Susan Kesler
Safety Committee Chairwoman

Plastic Chain
Plastic Chain

Well, it's time to order more toy making supplies. I've heard some faint rumors about a new project waiting in the wings and I am fresh out of chain, O rings and quick links. Now what size plastic chain did I order last time for Dodger? What size quick links fit 2.5mm nickel plated chain? What mm chain did I use for the macaws? Did those 16mm O rings fit thru the links in the 1 inch plastic chain?

Sound familiar? I go through this every time I need to order, so I always end up just getting some of all sizes to make sure I get the ones I need.

I also get confused about what size chain is the safest to use for what size birds. I know that you shouldn't use too large of a link for little birds because there is a chance they will get a leg or nail caught, and you shouldn't use smaller size chains for the large birds for the same reasons. My biggest problem is that the chain is usually measured in mm and my mind always works in inches.

With this in mind, I set out on a quest to put together a list of what best goes with what and for what size bird.

With the help of Angels, this is what I put together. It is by no means absolute, but it works for me and is intended as only a general guideline. Hope it helps you as much as it does me!

Plastic Chain
♥  Up to 1" - small birds
♥  1" to 1.5" - medium birds
♥  1.5" to 2" - large birds
♥  2" and up - extra large birds

NP and SS Chain
♥  1.6mm chain for small and medium birds
♥  2.0mm chain for medium to large birds
♥  2.5mm chain for medium to large birds, but 2.0mm chain works just as well
♥  3.0mm chain for extra large birds

NP O-rings
♥  7mm (1/4") O-rings for extra small toys
♥  12mm (1/2") O-rings for small and medium toys
♥  19mm (3/4") O-rings for medium and large toys
♥  25mm (1") O-rings for large and extra large toys, but most find this size is seldom needed

Pear Hooks
♥  Small (1") for 1.6mm NP / SS chain OR 1/4" to 1/2" plastic chain
♥  Medium (2")for 2mm to 2.5mm NP / SS chain OR 1" to 1 1/2" plastic chain
♥  Large (3") for 2mm to 3mm NP / SS chain OR 2" to 3" plastic chain

Quick Links
♥  3.5mm (small) for 2.5mm and 3mm NP / SS chain OR 1" to 2" plastic chain
♥  4mm (medium) for 3mm and 3.5mm NP / SS chain OR 1" to 1 1/2" plastic chain
♥  5mm (large) for 4mm and larger NP / SS chain OR 2" to 3" plastic chain.

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Have You Ever Tried to Peel a Strawberry?
By Lori M. Nelsen

It has been researched and proven that pesticides can cause the following in children:
♥  low birth weight and birth defects;
♥  interfere with child development and cognitive ability;
♥  neurological problems;
♥  disrupt hormone function;
♥  a variety of cancers, including leukemia, kidney cancer, brain cancer, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Because of the small size of a developing child's frame and weight, they suffer more of the effects from pesticides than do adults. The risk of neurological or behavioral problems following early pesticide exposure extends through puberty as the reproductive system, nervous system and brain continue to grow. Most pesticide-residue safety levels are set for individual pesticides, but many samples of fresh produce carry multiple pesticide residues. Rules often do not take into account the "cocktail effect" of combining pesticides in and on foods. Research is confirming the potential for increases in toxicity of up to 100-fold not expected from individual compounds alone. Now, think about the very small size of your avian family members.

Because pesticide exposure does occur through means other than food, research shows that reducing pesticides by choosing organic food has an immediate effect on the body's levels of pesticides. So, when in the produce aisle, pick organic when you can and when you can't, try to avoid foods with high pesticide residues and substitute those with low pesticide residues. The information below can be printed to carry in your wallet.

Peaches -- Apples -- Sweet Bell Peppers -- Celery -- Nectarines -- Strawberries -- Cherries -- Carrots -- Pears -- Frozen Winter Squash

Spinach -- Grapes -- Lettuce -- Potatoes -- Green Beans -- Hot Peppers -- Cucumbers -- Mushrooms -- Cantaloupe -- Oranges -- Fresh Winter Squash

Apple Sauce -- Raspberries -- Plums -- Grapefruit -- Tangerine -- Apple Juice -- Honeydew Melon -- Tomatoes -- Sweet Potatoes -- Watermelon -- Cauliflower

Broccoli -- Orange Juice -- Blueberries -- Papaya -- Cabbage -- Bananas -- Kiwi -- Canned Tomatoes -- Sweet Peas -- Asparagus -- Mango -- Canned Pears -- Pineapple -- Sweet Corn -- Avocado -- Onions

The foods listed in green are not always found to be pesticide-free, but they are consistently low in pesticides and are your best bet for non-organic food. You may think you are protected by extra washing and peeling, but the fruits and vegetables listed above were tested as they were eaten; bananas were peeled and apples were washed before testing. Some pesticides are applied to the soil and taken up internally by the plants. They find their way into the parts of the plant you eat and can't be washed or peeled away. Other pesticides bind tightly to the surface of the fruit or vegetable so rain doesn't wash them off and neither can you. Peeling does reduce exposure to surface pesticides for many of these foods, but you often lose valuable nutrients and roughage when you throw away the peel. Have you ever tried to peel spinach or a strawberry?

Remember that pesticides are designed to be toxic!!

References: The Environmental Working Group and The Grinning Planet

NOTE: Parrot Toy Angels does not recommend feeding avocados or onions to your birds.

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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

Angel Toy Maker Dorothy• NJ, USA

Angel Dorothy

Our Angel, Dorothy, is a very special Angel. Just ask her students! She has a busy life caring for her many feathered friends, caring for her grandchildren, making toys for Parrot Toy Angels and she has a very popular online toy making class. I've personally sat in on a few of her classes and thoroughly enjoyed myself while learning to tie a tight knot in Paulie rope. No easy task! The classes are informal and informative. She is a natural teacher and makes learning fun.

Dorothy learned at a very early age to love and appreciate birds. There were parakeets and finches in the house when she was born and she has owned (or been owned by) parrots ever since. She has also learned a lot from her birds. Most important is that if you love and respect them they will give you unconditional love in return.

This Angel has had the opportunity to make more than one "project" delivery and when asked how it made her feel, this was her response: "The feeling is AWESOME. You really have to do a delivery to know what I am saying. The look on the people's faces in unbelievable. THEY cry, YOU cry. The tears are of happiness, not sadness. The pride in knowing that you have helped some birds to be able to have some joy in their life is one that you cannot even describe. This group is the best and I for one am proud to be a part of it".

Thanks Dorothy for being an Angel!

To enroll in Dorothy's toy making classes, click here: ParrotToyMakersCyberClass

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Special Delivery
By Daulton V.
Junior Angel, age 11

When my gram called and asked if I wanted to go on a bird toy delivery with her I automatically said yes. When I thought about it I figured it would be boring. Boy was I surprised. There were birds of every color and species there and I had a great time!

The owners of A Place 2 Fledge were very nice and their son Zach told me a lot about the birds.

There were so many birds and they were quiet, not like my gram's birds! When I heard the stories of what had happened to some of these birds it made me want to cry. I don't understand how anyone can treat birds with such cruelty. Some of the cockatoos you couldn't touch, but Charlie sat on my arm and played ball with me. I also got to hold a Quaker, but was afraid to hold the Amazon.

Daulton, Jr. Angel

I am very glad there are places like A Place 2 Fledge for these parrots to go to get well and learn what love is. Some get to go to a home with people that will treat them like the beautiful creatures they are, but some are too damaged and have to stay. That's okay though, because Jackie, Randy and Zach love them.

It made me very proud when Jackie gave an African Gray a toy that I made and he started chewing on it right away. The toys Parrot Toy Angels make and give are very important because the rescues have to spend so much money on vets, food and cages there is nothing left for entertainment. Every animal needs toys to entertain themselves and I am glad I can help provide them.

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Featured Fid ~ Lovebirds
By Marcia Rabinowitz

Lovebirds are among the most fascinating birds in the parrot family. The many species and mutations mean that there are literally thousands of different lovebirds in the world. They are a joy to watch, fun to play with and relatively easy to breed. Contrary to popular belief, lovebirds need not be kept in pairs. A single lovebird makes a wonderful pet and a faithful friend.

All lovebirds are native to Africa except the Gray-headed lovebird which originates in Madagascar. Lovebird is the name commonly used for the genus Agapornis from the Greek 'agape' for love and 'ornis' for bird. There are 9 species of lovebirds and many different color variations. Lovebirds are very social and affectionate and require daily attention and handling. The three different species of the domestic lovebirds are Peach-faced, Fisher and Masked.

The Peach-faced is the most popular variety among lovebirds. Although they are quite independent, they make excellent pets. The Peach-faced Lovebird is one of the most beautiful birds with a brilliant light red face, a blue rump, gray feet and a horn colored bill. The eyes are surrounded by a light white ring. There are many different color mutations of Peach-faced Lovebirds. Some of the most common include Creamino, Lutino, Orange-Faced, White-faced Blue, Blue Pied Dilute, Fallow and Cinnamon. Their life span can range from 12 - 25 years with proper care.

Black-masked Lovebirds are the most popular type of lovebirds after the Peach- face. Mutation colorings include Blue, Dark factored, Lutino, Albino, Dilute and Pied. Life span can range from 18 - 20 years with proper care.

Fischer's Lovebirds are admired for their beautiful coloration. The face is red and the body is predominately bright green. The forehead, cheeks and throat are bright orange then merging into yellowish orange on the breast and nape of neck. The rump is blue and there are blue, orange and black markings on the tail. The beak is red with their feet and legs being gray. They are very active, always chattering and interacting with each other or their owners. The Fischer's Lovebird comes in a wide variety of color mutations including Albino, Pied, Black or Dark Eyed White, Dilute Blue, Dilute Yellow, Lutino and Cinnamon. They are easy to maintain.

The minimum cage size for a single pair of Lovebirds is 30" x 30" x 18". Bar spacing is also important and should be no more than 1/2". This makes the Lovebird ideal for an apartment and also as a first bird. As with all birds, bigger is better. Provide your Lovebirds with the largest cage you can afford.

Lovebirds can be prone to overeating seeds, so offer a varied diet. You can offer millet as a special treat and watch it disappear within minutes! A good seed mix should contain millet, canary grass seed, hulled oats, niger seed, flax seed, striped sunflower seed, rape seed, milo, safflower, soybeans, rye, whole wheat, fennel, caraway, poppy and sesame seeds. Sprouted wheatgrass is a wonderful addition to their diet.

A variety of the following fresh food will ensure a diet full of vitamins and nutrition for your Lovebird. If possible, provide fresh and organic produce.

Fresh fruits should include apples, bananas, seedless grapes, strawberries, raspberries, rose hips, oranges, tangerines, kiwi, figs, melons and mango. Fresh greens should include romaine lettuce, green peas, spinach, endive, mango leaves (if you have an organic mango plant), kohlrabi, carrots, fresh carrot greens, corn, tomatoes, red or orange beets, parsley, dandelion greens, clover, chickweed, watercress, broccoli, kale and peppers.

You can also include cooked eggs, pasta, cooked rice, lentils, beans and yams. They love a variety of shelled nuts including Hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, Pine nuts, Pecans and Walnuts.

The above food list is only an example of the variety of healthful foods for your Lovebird.

Please note that Lovebirds are heavy water drinkers, so make sure you provide plenty of fresh water.

Whenever in doubt about foods, health care, etc. consult with an Avian vet.

♥ ♥ ♥

Lester Peterson, "Special IRN"
By Jan Peterson

What an honor it is this month to talk about my special needs bird Lester, an Indian Ringneck. Lester's life started off as every other baby birds, perfectly normal. He even had a forever home and his name was Jazz. Jazz was about 4 weeks old when he decided to take his first flight right into the front window of the store where I was working. He landed with a thud on the ground and had obviously hurt himself. My co-worker had the unpleasant job of telling his prospective owners that Jazz may not live through the night. Jazz was placed in a bucket with a towel and we all assumed he would not make it.

Was I ever surprised the next day to find this little guy still alive and obviously hungry. We placed millet into the bucket and the little man crawled over and started to eat. At this point, I surely was not going to give up on this incredible little guy. His previous owners went on to choose another bird from the store which left Jazz available. I took it upon myself to work with the little guy. He couldn't really walk, but got where he wanted to go. Then I got the best news anyone could wish for. The store offered to let me take Jazz home. I was speechless. I had a bird of my very own!

Lester today

Well, the first thing I did was talk to Jazz about his name. I wasn't at all "Jazzed" about the name Jazz. At some point in our talk, Lester came to my mind. I wasn't sure Lester was a great name either, so I read a baby name book. There was simply no other name in that whole book that fit him as well as Lester. With his new name chosen, I went on to see what my broken little man could do.

I brought him home and he literally crawled everywhere. He loved coming over to me to get treats, so I let him crawl to build up his strength. He eventually went from a crawl to a limp-walk and then to a walk. It took about a month for him to get strong enough to stand up. To this day, Lester can't fly and leans to one side. My funny husband said we should have named him Eileen. It may take him twice as long as any other bird, but Lester gets where he wants to go. He is my best talker and has tons of personality. I can't imagine my life without my boy. It brings tears to my eyes every time I think that we may have lost him. I am truly thankful every day for my special little man named "Lester".

♥ ♥ ♥
Rikki Sez

Rikki will try and answer frequently asked questions here.

Rikki, Please tell me why my bird's feathers just fall out sometimes?
Signed, Curious Bird Mom

Dear Curious Bird Mom, This is natural and is called molting. All birds molt from chickens to finches. Damaged, tattered and old feathers are replaced with brand new ones. Kind of like when humans shed their hair. Out with the old and in with the new.

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Rikki, Why does my parrot rub his head near the base of his tail?
Signed, Curious

Dear Curious, There is a gland located there that is called the uropygial gland. When we rub our heads there, it stimulates the gland to secrete an oily substance. Then we use our beak to spread this oil throughout our whole bodies to keep our skin soft and feathers waterproof. We use our claws to spread the oil to the hard to reach areas such as our head and face.

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Rikki, Sometimes my Quaker hangs onto his perch real tight and just flaps his wings real fast. Can you tell me why?
Signed, Quaker Slave

Dear Quaker Slave, Since we don't get to fly as much in captivity as we do in the wild, we parrots have to simulate flying to get the wing exercise we need.

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Plucker's Spray
By Shauna Roberts
The Gabriel Foundation

A recipe to help with skin inflammation and itching is
1 TBS. Hylands Calendula spray
1 TSP. chickweed extract, non-alcohol or add a few drops boiling water to evaporate alcohol
Put into 2 cups water, keep in fridge up to one week.

Another version that may be easier to obtain is:
1 TBS. dried calendula herb
1 TBS. dried chickweed herb
Steep each herb in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. Combine and store in refrigerator for up to one week. Use several times a day for 5 days. Stop for 3 days to determine if another dose is needed.

This recipe does not help all pluckers.

Herbs can be found at Mountain Rose Herbs

Recipe reprinted with permission.

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Gaby & Dinky
Gaby & Dinky snuggling

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Out of the Blue
By Father Don Scott
The Chloe Sanctuary

"It all happened fast. I was working hard and focused on my efforts. Still, I am always aware of my surroundings. I saw my beloved come around the corner from the back bedroom and the evil one had him! The foe I had vanquished just days ago had somehow returned. His dark eyes and bright plumage were clearly peering through my beloved's arms. I tossed my own safety out the window and I sprang into action.

Leaping from the couch to the perch I bounced off it and soared into the air in one graceful motion. I swooped down and forced my beloved to drop the monstrous one by grasping his thumb securely in my beak. I did notice the strange expression of surprise on my beloved's face. He must have admired my courage because his expression was one of amazement at my daring and well-executed flight! He dropped the monster to the floor as requested. I descended in a fell swoop.

All of this took place in less than five seconds. The only thought that passed through my mind was protecting him from the evil one; I would sacrifice my own life for my beloved! After I subdued the creature with forced blows of my powerful beak it was roped carefully by my mate and then placed in a large paper bag. I supervised the operation to insure that no hurt came to him. The bag was taken into the back bedroom. Once again our home was safe from the intruder. Still, I am always alert that he might again appear."


That is what I believe ran through Chloe's mind when she forced me to drop the toy parrot. As with most of her kind, they bite their mates to shield them from danger. It is a signal to the mate to fly away. Many times I have heard people say "it came out of the blue" or "for no reason at all" concerning a bird's behavior. Those with more experience know that there is always a reason. There is always deep thought going on. Whether it is the need to protect, the need for safety, the need for companionship, or the need for freedom, there is always a reason. They can decide to do an action in an instant. More often, there are obvious signs of their intentions - obvious to other birds, that is, not to humans. Often they are driven to action in desperation because we have not seen the obvious.

A person new to birds might not understand why their hand was bitten rather than the toy bird. That's simply the way it is done in the wild. That is how mates are warned of danger. It does not hurt their mates - feathers are forgiving in the forest. It can happen lightning fast and seem to come out of the blue. Knowing just how they react as animals in the wild can help us understand what they are doing, what their purpose might be.

When I was first learning about Chloe, I couldn't understand what she was saying. I could not understand because her speech is body language. Posturing, feather position, eye contact, and subtle motions of her body describe her language - not the use of her pharynx. Vocalizations have a place. They are like punctuation marks. They add emphasis or direct the attention to something important. We all have had people ask, "Does your bird talk?" My answer is usually, "Yes. But not the way you think." There is hardly a moment when Chloe is not commenting on the world around her. It is so for all parrots and cockatoos.

She knows my body language, too. I could get dressed and anyone watching might think I am about to go out. Chloe will know the difference. I can get off the phone and she will know that I am about to leave because of the call. How does she know this? Parrots are the greatest interpreters of sign language in the world. Only the deaf among us truly understand the subtleties of body language. I took signing in school for awhile and I realized this truth: you can lie to a deaf person, but they will know a hearing person is lying. They read your posture, your expression and your movements like we read a good book. Parrots are the same. I hope one day to see how well a deaf person works with a parrot. I believe that they will see the sign language of the bird much better than those of us who hear. That just might be a match made in heaven.

Until you take "parrot sign language" as a course given by your companion, you will miss the great story being told each moment by the avians in your world. Frankly, I am surprised that I was able to learn her language. I had a good teacher, though. She "shouted" until I could "hear" the quiet words she speaks all day; she made exaggerated actions to teach me the way she talks.

I have learned a great deal, but there is so much to learn. The task is enormous. I understand the need she feels to keep me safe and protected. Still, once in awhile I forget and bring out Fred the toy parrot in my hands. The day I brought her home I would not have understood it. I would have thought it came "out of the blue."

When she defends me from him, I realize just how loved and protected I am.

♥ ♥ ♥

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:

©  2008 Parrot Toy Angels • P.O. Box 34372 • Houston, Texas  77234
All rights reserved. No part of this newsletter may be reproduced by any means, print, electronic or any other,
without prior written permission of the Editor or author.
For permission to reprint, please contact us at Editor