WATCH TWO PARROT HEALTH FOOD WACKOS IN ACTION ON YOUTUBE
|ZIGGY ON HIS ROPE PERCH
Ziggy's "formal" name is Zigothy T. McParrot, the "T" standing for trouble,
Ziggy is a blue-fronted Amazon. My mother bought him on September
28, 1985. He had been advertised as being about 22 to 24 months old at the time, so he was probably born in late
1983, which would make him about 30--a fine young gentleman! Since I am 67, I might very well predecease him.
If that does occur, I am hoping that this web site will help his new companion human in dealing with him because
he does have some "issues," such as attacking and grabbing any white cloth that comes near him. (More information
can be found on this site at the psychology of Ziggy.)
Ziggy's long-standing liver issues have begun to manifest themselves
more severely recently (late 2009), and, although I will try everything within my power to find some way to help him heal,
the sight of two areas of "altered echo texture" in the ultrasound of his liver are not promising, and I have shed more than
a few tears. So it is possible that my original purpose in creating this website--helping his new owner should he outlive
me--is not as likely as it once was.
After watching an Animal Planet program about "problem"
parrots, I was impressed with how well the Gabriel Foundation handles them. Ziggy WILL pose a behavioral problem, so I hope
that someone with an insight into the Amazon mystique, possibly even the Gabriel Foundation itself, will be able to take charge
of him after my demise.
CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO OF ZIGGY AND BUDDY BREAKING BREAD WITH ME
|A GOODY FELL UNDER THE GRATE OF HIS TRAVEL CAGE
|ZIGGY'S BEEN KNOWN TO CURSE WHEN HE CAN'T REACH THE GOODY
YES, PARROTS ARE SENTIENT
Ziggy is free-flying. He has not had his featherss clipped since he was in the original pet
store 25 years ago. My mother was a birder, and could never stand for wing clipping. Alas, I have had to
go against my own beliefs with our newer bird, Buddy, at least for the present. At the vet's suggestion, for Ziggy's protection,
I have had Buddy's wings clipped: it was my vet's belief--and I concur--that, for Buddy to be completely free-flying would
be a physical danger to Ziggy, because of Buddy's aggressiveness.
To my mother's
extremism, I add my own brand of extremism: to me, a birdcage is a prison.
I had never thought about cages one way or the other until one day, shortly after I got him, when I
realized just how intelligent he is. He was on my shoulder while I was walking around the kitchen trying to decide
what to have for breakfast. I wasn't expecting an actual answer when I asked him, "What are we going to have for breakfast?" I
did a double take when he replied, "Yum yum good egg." You cannot tell me that was mimicry: that was a specific answer
to a specific question. I have only heard him use that phrase once since.
It is unthinkable to imprison a sentient being like him. The only time he is caged now is when we are traveling
or when there are visitors. (He is jealous, and won't allow anyone to get close to me.) I don't cage him when I'm gone:
his room--which doubles as my bedroom--has thick plastic and other barriers to protect electrical outlets, etc.
Actually, my extremism goes further than just viewing cages as prisons: I believe that all creatures are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and that the extent of
those rights depends upon how sentient a particular creature is.
I am not using the term sentient in the philosophical sense or in the sense that animal
rights advocates use it; I use it in what the Wikipedia article on sentience describes as the science fiction usage--it implies qualities such as "will, desire, consciousness, ethics,
personality, intelligence, insight, and so on." Ziggy is not much of an animal rights advocate; he is perfectly willing (and
happy) to eat his cousins--chickens--as well as their unborn progeny. He occasionally gets fed a wing bone or two to
chomp; he prefers drumsticks, but I don't like the way drumstick bones splinter. I, too, make no apologies for my biological
heritage of being an omnivore, so please, PETA, no emails about the evils of eating meat.
[Note: I try not to expose my birds to human pathogens, which means that
they cannot handle anything that has been in my mouth. To give them bones, I manually slice the meat off with a paring knife,
and then rinse the bones with warm tap water to remove any remaining salty, greasy meat or skin. I leave cartilaginous
fragments on, since those may have some nutritional benefit.]
The recognition of animal sentience is built into many laws, including that of the European
Union, although the EU uses the term in a more general sense than I do:
In 1997 the concept of animal sentience was written into the basic law of
the European Union. The legally-binding Protocol annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam recognises that animals are ‘sentient
beings’, and requires the EU and its Member States to ‘pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals.’
[This quote appears verbatim in so many places, including Wikipedia, that I do not know to whom to give credit.]
Spain extends legal rights, including protection against being tortured or killed--and
even exploitation for profit--to apes, but bullfighting remains legal. Worse, they kill wild parrots in Barcelona. (Electric companies are still killing wild parrots in a number of American cities also.) I cannot fathom how anyone could kill or eat intelligent beings such as whales, gorillas, dolphins, or, most certainly, parrots.
Laws are more extreme in Switzerland. The
Swiss modified their constitution recently to make sure their citizens respect "the dignity of creation when handling animals,
plants and other organisms." Their Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology, concluded that "decapitation of wild
flowers at the roadside without rational reason" is criminal--that it is impermissible morally to cause "arbitrary harm"
to plants. Maybe there's a little bit of Buddhist in me because I have always been disgusted at people who would kill or destroy
any life, including plants, for no reason, but the Swiss law strikes me as rather extreme.
Since Sept 1, 2008, even goldfish there have been
protected against physical and psychological abuse. Aquariums must allow fish to live in a natural day/night cycles.
They've created rigorous standards for how all social animals are treated. According
to the Houston Chronicle, "the country's 160-page animal protection law states exactly how much space owners must give Mongolian
gerbils (233 square inches) and what water temperature is required for African clawed frogs (18-22 degrees Celsius; 64-72
degrees Fahrenheit)." If you want to see all the teabaggers having to be sent to emergency rooms due to sudden apoplexy
resulting from fits of anger, just try suggesting that here.
Switzerland's canton of Zurich
requires that all animals have an attorney, and he is Mr. Antoine F. Goetschel. But in a March, 2010, election,
voters nationwide rejected a move that would have extended that requirement to the entire nation.
|ZIGGY (ON THE LEFT) WITH HIS NEW COMPANION, BUDDY
|WATCHING WEATHERMAN ED BRANDON
|NOTE ZIGGY'S "PIN-UPS" ON THE WALL
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|GETTING READY FOR A NIGHT-NIGHT NAP
MORE ABOUT ZIGGY:
Ziggy was wild-caught--i.e., birdnapped. He was torn from
his flock and family, transported to a USDA-regulated quarantine station, and then taken to a now-defunct Houston pet
store, Tropical Treasures, where he was put on sale. The letter code on his quarantine band is LGH, denoting a
Louisiana station. The numeric portion of the code is related to his quarantine date, but the USDA has
disposed of its old records and is unable to interpret that code for me.
These days, we know to oppose the trade in wild-caught birds, not
just because of its impact on wild bird populations, but because of the conditions under which that trade operates.
HELP PROTECT WILD PARROTS: visit and support the World Parrot Trust, www.parrots.org: their name says it all.
At the time my mother purchased Ziggy, public awareness of the wild-caught
bird trade issue was not widespread. If you wanted a bird, you simply went to a pet store and bought one. The
thought never occurred to most people that the process by which these birds were often captured could have been so
nightmarish as to be unconscionable to a civilized being.
I believe we owe Ziggy and all his wild-caught cousins
a debt that can never be paid. As far as I am concerned, he should be treated as an emperor--an emperor parrot!
Even though laws regulating the wild-caught bird trade are stricter these days, the market for such
birds still exists, the result being that now they get smuggled instead of being openly transported. Smuggled birds often die unimaginably horrible deaths because of the conditions under which they are transported--perhaps
drugged, or without food and water, or breathing only stale air. According to information posted on their official
website, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents "continue to find birds hidden inside plastic tubes, under car seats, in luggage and stuffed into cans
of baby formula....The illegal wildlife trade is a highly lucrative black market that ranks second in profits only to
illegal drug traffic. Not only does smuggling decrease the population of rare birds in the wild, it also increases the
chances that a communicable bird disease, such as Exotic Newcastle or Avian Influenza, could enter this country."
Obviously, there cannot be exact figures, but best estimates put the number of smuggled birds that
die before reaching their intended market at two out of three. The biosecurity threat to our nation is not just to wild
and domestic fowl, but to humans; there is scientific speculation that the presence of the West Nile virus in the Western
hemisphere may be due to bird smuggling (see birdfluebook.com.) Write your congressman to demand harsher penalties for this crime.
The book, "Of Parrots and People," by Mira Tweti, has an excellent discussion of these (and other) injustices that have been--and sometimes continue
to be--perpetrated on our feathered parrot friends. Warning: the book contains some highly unsettling photos.
The cover blurb accurately describes the book as being about "The Sometimes Funny, Always Fascinating and Often Catastrophic
Collision of Two Intelligent Species."
For general news about parrots, visit FreeParrots.net. Mike Schindlinger, Harvard biologist, describes the site as "a meeting ground for rescue shelters,
animal welfare societies, and conservationists... and the people who share their concern and love for parrots." On
it are links that allow you to purchase his film, "Stalking the Wild Amazons," which has fantastic shots, including some from
inside the nests of wild parrots.
As far as Ziggy is concerned, though, what's done is done, and
I don't think he would have a good chance of survival in the wild now, even if he were among the "Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill." Besides, he is pair-bonded to me now, and I do love him. I would like to get a female for him, but
I don't think it's as simple as buying a female parrot and putting them together, since they choose their own mates just
as we do. A "prearranged marriage" is not necessarily going to result in love at first sight. If you have any
suggestions about how to arrange for him to get a mate, please email me. I have emailed several parrot rescue organizations, but only one has responded (you'd think they'd
be eager to place one of their rescues with a parrot lover!) If I were a millionaire, I'd buy Ziggy an
aviary of blue-fronts, and let them pair up naturally.
|ZIGGY ON "HIS" DOLLY
Click here to visit brooklynparrots.com, a web site about the wild parrots of Brooklyn. Brooklynparrots.com kept us up to date and helped lead the
fight over the slaughter of wild parrots by Connecticut's electric company, United Illuminating, and, more
recently, about the attempt by the city of Barcelona, Spain, to eradicate its own wild parrots.
UPDATE: Ziggy now has a companion. I had run out of his probiotic mix as well as grey-striped
sunflower seeds (an occasional treat), and did not have time to order online, so I visited a local aviary. Who
could resist looking at the birds while at an aviary? Lo and behold, I discovered a blue front there who tugged at my
heart strings: the birds were having to endure Houston's heat advisories (July, 2009) in a non-climate controlled environment,
and Buddy was so pathetic. To me, the place was a hell-hole; if I were a millionaire, I would have bought all of their
birds. The birds looked horribly stressed from the heat.
"Buddy" was sold to me as a female. Ziggy had lived for almost 20 years playing second fiddle
to my mother's first bird, also named Buddy, who had turned out, upon necropsy, to be a female. The coincidence
of the same wrongly-sexed name was too spooky for me: it seemed as though I were meant to get Buddy. In August,
2009, my vet informed me that "Buddy" is actually male (by DNA.)
I could not get any definitive information from the aviary about the new Buddy, but they did tell
me that the original owner had gotten rid of him AFTER HAVING HAD THE BIRD ALMOST 20 YEARS because he could not tolerate a
newly-acquired African grey and attacked it. (I could sympathize with Buddy; Greys are obnoxiously intelligent.) The
aviary people indicated that there "may" have been other "issues." I could not even get a medical record, but I felt
so sorry for the bird that I had to rescue him.
Buddy is a precious little nipper who keeps trying to make baby blue-fronts with me.
The very first time I did the obligatory neck-scratching, he started to shiver and clucked like a chicken (the same way
Ziggy does when he tries to engender a species of half perch/half parrot, or half food cup/half parrot.)
Now, two and a half years later, Buddy has gotten much more aggressive. He thinks he is king of
the world, and will tolerate no other parrots in his territory. In order to avoid parrot bloodshed, I'm having to cage him
if I leave the room for more than a minute or two. The only alternative is to have them out in separate rooms. There
is one place where Ziggy is safe when they're both out with me gone, but that's an upper corner in the room near the
ceiling, where, before I knew that you weren't "supposed" to do such things, I had installed a home-made nest box. Even Mr.
Ruler-of-the-universe-Buddy knows that that is off limits.
Buddy is incredibly clever. They can both be out, and I'll be alternately feeding each of them
some kind of treat, and Buddy will take the first opportunity to run off Ziggy (who is much larger, but a little more
frail) if I let my attention lapse. If my arm or hand gets in the middle, then his deadly beak will let me know I'm not
supposed to interfere with his mission. Other than that, he is as sweet as could be (not as amorous as Ziggy, though.)
They are both out together most of the time, and I am working on trying to resolve Buddy's "issues"
with other birds. I started out trying to get them to share the dinner table; my premise was that the birds wouldn't
be able to kill each other if their beaks were full of food, and it's not too difficult for me to come up with healthy food
that parrots go crazy for: they both love my cooking.
THE VET SAYS YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO FEED PELLETS TO YOUR PARROT, BUT YOUR BIRD WON'T
TOUCH THEM. YOUR BIRD ONLY WANTS "PEOPLE FOOD"--WHAT CAN YOU DO? PARROTS ARE NOT HOMO SAPIENS: ALTHOUGH
WE ARE BOTH OMNIVORES, OUR DIETARY REQUIREMENTS ARE NOT THE SAME. ALTHOUGH "PEOPLE FOOD" MAY NOT BE GOOD FOR THEM, ON THE
OTHER HAND, PELLETS ARE NOT A PANACEA. THE PELLET ISSUE HAS ALWAYS SPARKED LIVELY DEBATES WITHIN THE BIRD COMMUNITY.
I DISCUSS THAT AT DIETARY CONSIDERATIONS. FOR HEALTHY RECIPES AND IDEAS ON KEEPING BOTH YOU AND YOUR BIRD HEALTHY, VISIT COOKING FOR THE TWO OF US.
IF YOU SEE ANY TYPOS OR IF YOU NOTICE ANYTHING THAT YOU THINK IS AMBIGUOUS
OR MISLEADING, OR IF IT JUST NEEDS REWORDING, FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME. FEEL FREE TO DO THE SAME IF YOU HAVE ANY ISSUES WITH OR SUGGESTIONS REGARDING THE FORMAT OF THIS WEB
SITE. ALL SERIOUS SUGGESTIONS ARE TAKEN UNDER ADVISEMENT.