Parrot Toy Angels: September 2009 Angel Wings
Parrot Toy Angels

Angel Wings

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

September 2009
Volume 4, Issue IX

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In this month's issue:
    Angel Announcements
    Parrots At Play Calendar
    Veggie Scramble
    Eggs-Actly What Does One Do?
    The ABC's of Nuts
    Featured Fid ~ The Spix's Macaw
    So You Think You Want A Companion Bird?
    Mucki the Teacher
    Vitamin C and Pellets Don't Mix
    Foraging Hint
    Safety Today
    Rikki Sez
    Help Us
    Bird Relaxation
    Disaster Preparation - Part 1


Sharon G. from Kentucky

Angel Toys For Angels

Featured Toys for September

1/2 Pint SS Bucket Full o' Footers
1/2 Pint SS Bucket
Full o' Footers

Small Birds

Patriotic Hand
Patriotic Hand
Small to Medium Birds

Silly Straws
Silly Straws
Medium Birds

Check out all the
Angel Toys for Angels


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

for Birdies at Play

If you are one of the lucky birds that has purchased a toy from our toy store, this is for you.
If you are one of the lucky rescue birds with one of our toys...this is especially for you.
We are putting together a YouTube video starring none other than all of you at play.
Please ask your parront to take a photo and send it to
Be sure to include your name (birdie) and permission to use your photo on the web or in our newsletter.

Parrots at Play Calendars

2010 Parrots At Play Calendar

The winners of the photo contest for the 2010 Parrots At Play Calendar can be viewed here: Parrots At Play. The 2010 calendar will be going to press very soon and will be available for purchase in September. Please don't forget to purchase your calendar and specify "Parrot Toy Angels". For every calendar sold, PTA receives $10.00.

Support PTA, purchase a Parrots-at-Play Calendar Today!

♥ ♥ ♥

Veggie Scramble
(for the non-veggie eater)
By Ilona Peterson

1 egg
Steamed veggies - cauliflower, broccoli, carrot - your choice
Favorite seasoning

Mash veggies and whip them with the egg. Microwave or fry in small amount of red palm oil.

Have fun with presentation:
Roll up in wheat tortilla
Roll up in lettuce
Or just serve as is.

♥ ♥ ♥


Q: What did the little bird say to the big bird?

A: Peck on someone your own size!

Eggs-Actly What Does One Do?
By Angel Savannah

Many people have pet birds that begin to lay eggs and they want to know what "to do." If you have a single female bird and would like to limit her laying, I recommend the following things:
♥ You should allow her to sit on her eggs - don't take them away. Of course, they will be infertile without a male around to fertilize them so they cannot hatch. But I have found that if you remove them from her cage, her need (or psychological desire) to lay a clutch of eggs can be so strong that she will continue to lay eggs - sometimes a lot of eggs! Typically, the female tires of sitting on her clutch after a couple of weeks or so and then they can be safely thrown away.
♥ Decrease the number of daylight hours, as birds typically lay eggs during the change of the seasons, especially from winter to spring, when daylight hours increase.
♥ Also, during this seasonal change in the wild for many species of birds, there is a rainy season. You may want to try to not simulate this - no showers or misting. Also, we cut out the sprouts or sprouted seeds, which are plentiful during/following the rainy season.

Sometimes, there is something altogether different which inspires our birds to lay eggs. Sometimes it is actually a mating simulation which takes place when human contact leads the bird to believe that you are her mate. Try to confine petting to the head and neck, avoiding the body and tail.

For people with breeder pairs of birds, the questions usually revolve around how to get them to breed and lay eggs. Here are a few recommendations:
♥ Following a nice healthy rest since last breeding, plenty of exercise, and a great diet, we gradually increase hours of daylight. Typically, during a rest period, we have our lights set at 10-12 hours of daylight. We increase daylight by one hour per week until they are at 15 hours of daylight.
♥ We mist them daily to simulate their rainy season.
♥ We also increase the amount of sprouted seeds we feed.
♥ We add a liquid calcium supplement to the water supply and increase humidity to around 45%.

With all of this encouragement, if they are not laying eggs, I look at the nest boxes we offer. Birds have different likes when it comes to their nesting sites and the rule I go by is "Less is More." If you offer them a huge nest box, they will typically spend their time playing and sleeping in it - not laying eggs! The smallest box they can fit into is generally what our birds like. For example, we had a box built for one of our pairs of Blue & Gold macaws 18" square x 36" long, thinking this would be an acceptable size. They refused to do anything but play in it! We replaced that with a box 12" square x 33" long, and they have given us several clutches of babies since then (as have other pairs of large macaws in the same size box).

Depending upon the type of bird, we also give them things that they would incorporate into their nesting in the wild. For example, Quakers are flock breeders and weavers. We set ours up in divided cages so pairs are separated by only one piece of cage wire. Their nest boxes are on opposite ends of the cage unit. We also give them a lot of sticks, thin branches, grapevine, etc., that they can weave in and out of the bars of their cages. Some can even end up building quite intricate functioning nests! For macaws, they have a strong chewing desire and we line the opening from the cage to the nest box with wood. They are able to chew on the wood and feel as though they are preparing their nesting site. It makes the same box seem new each time for them.

How many eggs can a bird safely lay? Do they run out of eggs? These are common questions which I hear over and over at bird health clinics. There is no magical number. There is no cut-off age. A healthy female bird can lay eggs throughout her life and will not run out. Health is the key!

Be sure to allow your breeder birds adequate rest periods between clutches. Reduce daylight hours by one hour per week, stop misting, shut down their nest box openings, and allow them to have plenty of room to play and exercise. Their optimum health will show in their babies.

♥ ♥ ♥
The ABC's of Nuts
By Sue Christie-Cox

We all know birds love a peanut and a large number of people may use peanuts as the only nut they give their birds.

It has long been suggested that nuts have health benefits. In July 2003, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a qualified health claim for most nuts. The claim states: "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease." Approval of this health claim was the result of an FDA review of the research related to nuts and heart health. So if nuts are this good for us, then it only follows that they can have healthful benefits for our birds.

I would like to point out a few alternative nuts to use as treats, rather than reaching for a peanut. Just keep in mind that nuts are high in calories, so limit the number you give your bird so as to maintain a healthy weight range. One way to counteract the fats in nuts is to feed them in their shells so your bird has to do a bit of extra work to open the nut.

A is for Almonds. Do a search on the word "almonds" and you will get page after page of medical research on this great nut and its many benefits. Almonds are not only delicious for us, but birds love them as well. Almonds are the best nut source of vitamin E, providing the most vitamin E per serving. Being high in vitamin E, these nuts may help slow aging on a cellular level. Studies have shown that a vitamin C- and E-rich diet was associated with having longer telomeres. Telomeres are the vital protective coverings on the ends of the DNA strands in all cells. They naturally shorten with age until, eventually, cells stop reproducing and die. With many parrots living very long lives, this is great news. Almonds contain 8% of the daily value of calcium, which is the amount in about one-third of a cup of milk (this is for a human). We all know that birds shouldn't have dairy, so almonds are a bird friendly way of getting that vital ingredient for continued bone health.

B is for Brazils. Brazil nuts contain about 210 times the amount of selenium found in other nuts. Selenium is an antioxidant that may help protect against cancer according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition. Our bodies need selenium, a non-metallic trace element that we get from food - especially plant foods such as rice and wheat, seafood, meat, and Brazil nuts. Since not too many of us feed our birds seafood or meats, Brazil nuts are a great way for us to give our birds access to this great health benefit. Brazils are a source of zinc, a mineral present in every part of the body. It helps with the healing of wounds and is a vital component of many enzyme reactions. Zinc is vital for the healthy working of many of the body's systems both for humans and for birds. It is particularly important for healthy skin and is essential for a healthy immune system and resistance to infection.

C is for Cashews. Everyone's favorite nut improves baroreflex sensitivity. That's a fancy way of saying that when your blood pressure rises, cashews tell your heart to calm down. This makes cashews the ideal treat for birds who may be in a stressful environment or situation, like a vet visit. They are a source not only of heart-healthy good fats but also of magnesium, potassium and protein. Potassium is crucial to heart function and plays a key role in skeletal and smooth muscle contraction, making it important for normal digestive and muscular function, too.


♥ ♥ ♥

Mabel, 41+ year old DYH who owns Pam A.

Featured Fid ~ The Spix's Macaw
By Elizabeth Cirrotti

The Spix's Macaw

The Spix's Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii), or Little Blue Macaw, is a beautiful medium-sized blue parrot. The Spix's Macaw is one of the most critically endangered species in the world, with only captive populations existing since the last wild bird disappeared in 2000. It has a body length of about 22 inches, relatively small compared to a Hyacinth Macaw which is about 40 inches in length. Life expectancy is 20 years in the wild, another 8 to 10 years in captivity.

The blue plumage is darkest on the wings and tail. The pale blue-grey head and under parts contrast beautifully with the darker body. The forehead, cheeks and ear-coverts are slightly washed blue. The hooked bill is blackish grey. Legs and feet are grey-brown. Male and female are similar, with the female slightly smaller than the male.

Spix's Macaws live in woodland habitat within the caatinga, or dry scrub zone, of the Brazilian interior, where several varieties of trees, cacti and euphorbia are found. Most specifically the tree, Tabebuia caraiba, used for nesting, is found in this area. The Spix's Macaw doesn't travel far. It moves within its small range according to the food resources and the availability of nesting habitat. It also moves in response to rainfalls which create temporary streams and water sources. It uses the Tabebuia tree for both nesting and roosting. In nature, the breeding season occurs from November to March, during the rainy season. The Spix's Macaw nests in holes in the trees. Pairs often reuse the same nest year after year. Because of the dependence on this tree species, the Spix's Macaw has very small natural range.

These beautiful birds have been heavily trapped for illegal cage-bird trade. No one knows how many are kept as pets throughout the world. The introduction of Africanized Honeybees into the area caused competition for nest cavities and the bees killed incubating macaws and babies in the nests. Habitat destruction over the centuries is almost certainly a major factor in the rarity of this species. It is estimated that there are only 18 square miles of suitable woodland habitat remaining. The habitat of this rare parrot is used for crops such as corn and it is fast disappearing.

The Spix's Macaw has the unfortunate distinction of being the most critically endangered parrot in the world with no known individuals remaining in the wild. Discovered in 1817 by Dr. Johan Ritter von Spix, the last known wild Spix's Macaw was last seen less than 200 years later in October 2000.

The last wild Spix's Macaw, a male, somehow was able to evade the poachers that came looking for him and the hawks that hunted him for years. With no females of his species left as a mate, he had attempted to pair with a female Blue-winged (Illiger's) Macaw (Prophyrrura maraca). He was last seen alive on October 5th, 2000, but following a drought in the area was never seen again. He is thought to have died of natural causes because by 2000 he was believed to be more than 20 years old.

At the moment there are several breeding programs hoping to save the species and eventually return it to the wild.

The Loro Parque Fundación of Tenerife (Canary Islands - Spain) has one breeding pair on loan from the Brazilian Government which produced four young in the last three years.

A highly successful private breeding program is taking place at the Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation in Qatar. Fortunately for the Spix's Macaw, Al Wabra is run by Sheikh Saoud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al Thani, a passionate conservationist, and under his guidance Al Wabra has emerged as the single-most likely site for the "world's rarest parrot" to stage a remarkable comeback. As of January 2009 forty seven Spix's (19 males and 28 females) are being looked after at Al Wabra. With an international team of experienced veterinarians, biologists and keepers working there, Al Wabra has the most successful Spix's Macaw breeding program in the world. In 2008 AWWP acquired Concordia Farm in Brazil for the Spix's Macaw. Future plans are to to re-establish Spix's Macaws back to the wild. Concordia Farm is within the most historically significant range of the Spix's Macaw. One of the last recorded sightings of wild Spix's Macaw was on this property in October 2000.

The hope is that sometime in the near future, captive bred birds can be used to reestablish the species to its native caatinga habitat in the North-eastern Brazilian state of Bahia.

♥ ♥ ♥

So You Think You Want a Companion Bird?
Part 3

By Vicki Hartsfield

Last month we talked about Willie's needs as far as housing, toys and food. Let's get a little more in depth with housing in this month's issue.

When you bring Willie home you are going to want, of course, the very best and biggest cage that you can afford for your new love. You should consider his health, happiness, safety and overall comfort when choosing a cage. Here is a list of some of the important things to consider when purchasing Willie's new home:
♥ Cage size: buy the largest you can afford - birds need exercise, room to play, climb and fly. They love to flap their wings, so they need the room to be active without the risk of injury. Without exercise they can develop all different kinds of health issues.
♥ Bar spacing: make sure the spacing of the bars is not too large for your new friend. If they are too far apart he can get his head, wings or body stuck in between. Safety is always a number one factor when purchasing a cage.
♥ Maintenance: make sure the cage is easy to clean. The water and food dishes are easier to maintain if they are accessible from the outside of the cage. The cage should have a pullout grate and pullout tray for cleaning. Seed skirts are available on most cages and help keep the area around the cage cleaner. A large access door will make it easier to maintain inside.
♥ Wheels: consider purchasing a cage with wheels. With wheels you can easily move him to different locations for a change of scenery which in the long run can help prevent boredom from setting in. All of us enjoy a change of scenery after looking at the same thing day in and day out. You can even consider taking him outdoors, weather and safety permitting. (You should never leave an unattended bird outdoors.) Most bird owners like to take the cage outdoors without the bird to power wash it occasionally, wheels are very helpful for this.
♥ Style: while a lot of people can't be picky about style, it is a consideration. This will become a fixture in your home for years to come, so color and style can be considered for décor purposes. You should also think about this cage being Willie's home for years to come. It is where he will probably spend the majority of his life. It may seem like a lot to spend but the cost should be considered an investment in Willie's quality of life and the cage could very well last your bird's lifetime.
♥ Type: you can get cages with play tops, dome tops, cages for table top or that have free standing roll around stands. You can get aviaries, flight cages, sleep cages and travel cages. Cages come in powder coat, stainless steel, acrylic and come in an assortment of colors and styles.

♥ ♥ ♥

Mucki the Teacher
By Ilona Peterson

Mucki (Mookie), my Pionus, became my classroom bird and co-teacher at about 6 months. I had no idea it would turn into that kind of partnership.

Having had a macaw and a cockatoo, years ago, I knew that if I wanted a calm, quiet bird, one that would not spook if there was noise or sudden movement close-by, I would have to do some research. Another important consideration was a bird that was heavy and with clipping, would be least likely to gain height if it tried to fly. The gentle, perch-potato, Pionus was a good choice.

First, I went about setting up a play stand near the window. Next we put up photos and had discussions about birds and their needs. Last, during recess, the children made toys to welcome their new mascot.

Mucki became an instant star! We visited classrooms armed with baggies of different food that parrots eat, samples of toys and answered hundreds of questions.

On a hot day in the school yard, Mucki would delight the children by joyfully flapping her wings as I poured bottled water over her. This was fun for all and for me it insured that flying off was now even less a possibility.

One of the best things to come out of having Mucki in the classroom was that she became an inspiration for writing. The children wrote story after story about adventures with Mucki. They created math problems related to seeds and miles of flight. We even made it into the local paper. They printed this picture from our party at the end of a writing/math challenge.

Mucki enjoying class
Mucki enjoying the party

I doubt if the 3rd grade students at our school will ever forget their year with Mucki and I think their birds at home had better lives from having this little bird in our class.

♥ ♥ ♥

Vitamin C and Pellets Don't Mix
By Lori M. Nelsen

Have you read the back of your pellet package? Have you seen this posted?
"For birds with suspected iron-storage disease: Avoid citrus fruits, tomatoes, kiwi, strawberries and other foods containing Vitamin C. Avoid grapes, currants, raisins, liver, red meat, egg yolk or dark green vegetables such as spinach, which may contain high levels of iron".

Fruit eating birds - such as Mynahs, Toucans, and Lories - are particularly susceptible IOD (Iron Overload Disease or Iron Storage Disease) but it is increasingly being seen in hookbills/psittacines such as Hawkheads, Quakers, and Ekkies. No captive parrot is immune to this IOD. IOD is not found in the wild population.

The symptoms of loss of appetite, lethargy, weakness, and loss of balance can be hereditary but some researchers are blaming the increase of IOD on fortified bird seed and pellets. The dietary components in these fortified diets may increase the storage of iron, including Vitamin C, ascorbic acid (citrus fruit) and sugar.

Citrus fruit is a concern because the ascorbic acid renders the iron in plant foods more available and easier to store. In general, the iron in plants is not readily available to birds, but bananas, raisins, and grapes are exceptions to that rule. People overlook the fact that it is not just citrus, but all fruits that are high in Vitamin C such as strawberries and kiwi.

Now for the boring part: Most plants contain a nonheme form of iron which does not absorb well. In addition, some plants contain phytates (grains) and oxalates (spinach, tomatoes, etc.) which bind to iron to further prevent absorption. Vitamin E and calcium also bind to iron and prevent absorption. So a diet balanced in Vitamin A (to increase absorption) and Vitamin E (to decrease absorption - it protects the liver) is the key. Current research recommendations include: analysis of dietary iron and Vitamin C concentrations, particularly those of iron-sensitive species; formulation of low iron commercial diets; minimize or eliminate all animal proteins parrot diets; keep ascorbic acid levels < 100 mg/kg and/or the feeding of Vitamin C-containing foods separately.

If you are feeding pellets or fortified seed, and the bag does not give you the information, check with the manufacturer. The ingredients need to be low in iron and Vitamin A, and higher in Vitamin E. It is your right to know!

♥ ♥ ♥

Foraging/Picky-eater Hint
By Ilona Peterson

Add a little foraging fun to your birdies day and at the same time get him to eat something he might normally turn his beak up at.

Crack a walnut gently so it opens a little at the big end. Stick a knife in and twist. You should now have two perfect, or nearly perfect halves.

Let your bird remove the nut. Keep the halves and stuff them with goodies.

I have squeezed in: a piece of apple, a couple grapes, broccoli and other goodies.

To add more fun to this, put the stuffed walnut inside a closed paper lunch bag. My grey has hours of fun getting little bits of treats out of a hole in the bag. The bags are placed in different areas on the playpen and if you have cages, hide them in the cage.

Stuffed Walnuts
Walnut stuffed with (top left, clockwise) Carrot, Apple, Birdie Bread and Walnut pieces

♥ ♥ ♥

Gracie enjoying her PTA foot toy
Sandy W's Gracie, G2
enjoying her PTA foot toy
Safety Today
By Susan Kesler
Safety Committee Chairwoman

Leather Laces

Have an old leather belt you'd like to recycle into a bird toy? Find a good deal on a gross of leather shoelaces thinking they would be great for toy making? Is your bird eyeing that leather dog collar you got for Fido? WAIT!

These may all seem like great ideas but we have to make sure the leather is safe.

There are two methods used to tan leather. One method uses the bark and leaves of plants (vegetable tanning), and the other uses chemicals (mineral tanning).

Mineral tanning renders the leather stretchable and is generally used for garments, belts, and handbags. Leather tanned using this method should be avoided as the chemicals used can make your feathered friend sick.

Vegetable tanning is more flexible and is used in making furniture and luggage. Vegetable tanned or "veggie" tanned leather is safe for bird toys, as there are no toxic chemicals used in the process.

Funny isn't it that it's okay to chew on the couch and suitcase, but not the belt or jacket?

Please be careful using dyed leather of any kind unless you determine that the colorant used is FDA approved food coloring.

So, play it safe and use only veggie tanned leather for your toy creations!

Twin Leather Company
Twin Leather Company,
for all your "bird safe" leather needs

♥ ♥ ♥

Rikki Sez

Rikki will try and answer frequently asked questions here.

Rikki, It's winter here in Australia and it's getting mighty cold. Mum has the heating on morning and night to keep us warm. Is there anything she should know about dry air or stuff?
Signed, Toasty Bella

Dear Bella, Your Mum needs to be sure to use new, clean filters in the heater. Many filters are only good for 3 months, so they need to be changed before turning the heat on. It is also a good idea for your Mum to have a Carbon Monoxide detector in the house. It's like that noisy smoke alarm that we love to imitate. It makes loud noises if there are dangerous gases in the air from the heaters.

If the air is dry, you will need more frequent baths or misting to help keep your skin soft and supple and keep those feathers from irritating you. If the air is really dry, your Mum might consider a humidifier. Some humans have wood stoves that they use for heat. These are easy because they can just put a kettle of water on top of them to moisten the air. Of course, they have to be careful to use a container that you can't fall into! If you start feeling itchy and dry, take a bath in your water dish when your Mum is watching...she'll get the hint and will mist you, give you a bath or take you into the shower!

♥ ♥ 

Rikki, My Mom joined Parrot Toy Angels. She says that the Angels make toys for birds. If she is an Angel and she makes toys, why can't I play with them? My Mom won't even let me help her make toys; she goes in the other room. Why won't she let me help, I would be a good help. I could pick out all the pretty beads and help cut the rope and fix all the Angel Curls just right for her. It's not fair! I want a toy and I want to help too!
Signed, Helpful

Dear Helpful, The birdies that receive the toys made by Angels are often originally from abusive or neglectful homes or have physical or emotional problems. They may not be in the best health when they get to the rescue. Even though you are probably nice and healthy, even the littlest bit of bacteria or dust can hurt these birds. So your mom wants to make sure they get the cleanest, safest toys possible. I know you'd love to help, but I'm sure you wouldn't want a toy that some other birdie has chewed on or mouthed, even in the most helpful manner, right? So, neither do these birds. The very best way for you to help your mom make toys is to show her how much you love her sample toys (the ones she tests on you before making ones for the rescues), or what you don't like about them. Be sure to give her the quiet time she needs for making the toys.

♥ ♥ 

Do you have a question for Rikki?
Please send it to The Editor at

♥ ♥ ♥
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Bird Relaxation Tip
By Kim Perez

As a result of keeping and raising fish and birds since childhood, I have worked in, managed and owned pet shops for most of my life. I was recently reminded of the calming effects of fish on people. But fish also have a soothing effect on birds! I don't know if it's the sound of the aeration or if they just become mesmerized by watching the graceful movements of the fish, but a nervous bird can have better training or taming sessions away from the hubbub of a busy household and in front of an aquarium. I always keep aquariums in my house. They supply humidity for my breeding birds and are soothing for all of my birds.

Disaster Preparation
Part 1 - Protecting You and Your Family

By George Goulding

This is a two part article. Part one deals with general background material and protecting persons and property, the first step in protecting pets. Part two will be geared specifically to pets and more specifically to companion birds.

Anyone who has ever been affected by a disaster or ordered to evacuate an area because of threat of natural or man made disaster knows how confusing and frightening it can be. Most of us will never have to face a disaster or an evacuation order, but there is no doubt that many of us live in areas that are prone to natural disasters such as hurricane, flood, tornado, and earthquake. These are the most likely causes of natural disaster, but we also need to consider man made disasters such as nuclear plant accidents, chemical leaks from derailed tank cars, and refinery fires (refer to FEMA web site for more information Are You Ready?).

Nobody is immune from these threats, and one of the ways we can lessen the impact of a situation that makes our homes or even an entire community or geographic area uninhabitable for a period of time is to be prepared no matter how unlikely it seems that we would need to carry out a disaster plan.

It is easy to be caught off guard by natural disasters. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo, a category 3 storm, slammed into Charleston, South Carolina and continued on a northeast trek inland as a category 2 storm, hitting the Charlotte, North Carolina area where we live with winds of 105 mph. Charlotte is 200 miles from the coast, and nobody in Charlotte was prepared for the destructive power of Hugo. According to the National Hurricane Service, this was a "hundred year storm" for Charlotte, meaning that such a storm happens only once every hundred years on average. The storm caused more than a hundred million dollars damage here damaging or destroying thousands of homes and commercial buildings, and caused many residents to be without power and forced into shelters for several weeks.

While it may be a mere inconvenience for us to be forced out of our homes for a day or two, it can be quite another story when forced to evacuate for extended periods, especially when pets are involved. We all remember the horrible situations caused by hurricane Katrina when residents of New Orleans and surrounding areas along the Gulf Coast were forced to evacuate leaving many pets behind to fend for themselves. To put Katrina's impact on domestic animals in perspective, consider this: The Humane Society of the U.S. alone rescued nearly 3,000 domestic animals left behind in Louisiana and Mississippi. Other rescue groups saved many more domestic animals, but thousands of domestic animals undoubtedly perished.

The best way to avoid having your pets, especially companion birds, become casualties of disasters is by knowing how to prepare for a disaster, making a disaster plan tailored to you and your pets' needs, and having the resources needed to execute your disaster plan. The time to do this is now, not when a disaster is imminent.

The first step in preparing a disaster plan is to plan for your own survival. Know what is needed to keep you and your family safe, but take into account how your pets, especially your birds, could affect your planning. Then work on a disaster plan specific to the needs of your pets. Remember that no plan is a good plan unless you have the resources on hand to carry the plan out.

Since we are now well into the 2009 hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through December 1, it makes sense to look at disaster preparedness recommendations from the National Hurricane Center. Hurricanes produce many different hazards that contribute to disasters. A hurricane disaster plan will encompass many of the generally recommended disaster planning steps, so it is a good starting point. Other resources such as FEMA, the Humane Society, and the Red Cross are also available to assist with planning. Remember that the NHC guidelines are targeted toward protecting humans, the first step in protecting pets.

♥ Know the type of hazards that could affect your family. Know your home's vulnerability to storm surge, flooding, and wind. Add to this hazards from other types of disasters. See FEMA web site for detailed information.
♥ Locate a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hurricane or weather related hazard. In certain circumstances the safest areas may not be your home but within your community (designated shelter for instance).
♥ Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet if disaster strikes while the family is apart. These should be measured in tens of miles rather than hundreds of miles (unless more general evacuation is ordered such as is likely in advance of a hurricane). Have an out-of-state friend or family member as a family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact.
♥ Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911.
♥ Check your insurance coverage - flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance. If you live near the coast or in a flood prone area, flood insurance is usually available from the State or Federal government.
♥ Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a Disaster Supply Kit. See FEMA web site for recommendations Disaster Supplies Kit.
♥ Have a battery operated radio including a NOAA weather radio. Remember to replace batteries every 6 months, as you do with your smoke detectors.
♥ Take First Aid, CPR and disaster preparedness classes. This includes taking a pet first aid class, as well.
♥ Know evacuation routes. Evacuation routes for most disasters have been planned out by local and state authorities. NEVER wait until the last minute to evacuate.
♥ Finally, make a plan for what to do with your pets if disaster is imminent or if you need to evacuate. This will be covered in part 2 of this article.

♥ ♥ ♥
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