Is tea a magic potion for your bird? Should you be using it?

Hello Mitch:

Love your birdie brunch and have learned much from it.

Do you know whether or not it’s harmful to give a budgie green tea? Don’t know if you heard of the lady with the 26-year old budgie who claimed he was so long-lived because they shared a cup of green tea every day. I don’t know if that is fiction or not. Green tea has been touted as good in preventing cancer. But don’t know if there is scientific evidence.

I do know that budgies are little tumor factories and I’ve searched for a long time for something that may help prevent these illnesses. If green tea is healthy for them, do you know in what form – a few drops of extract in their water? Straight green tea as their drinking water? Decaf?

Budgies are my favorite pet bird, but I’ve lost so many to cancer. Thanks!

Susan Valenti

I heard the story from the veterinarian who did the intake on the Budgie. It’s important to use decaffeinated green tea – served straight, lukewarm in a dish will be fine. She noted that working internships at zoos, it was common practice to mix tea leaves into the food of many of the animals

According to legend, tea was first discovered by the legendary Chinese emperor and herbalist, Shennong, in 2737 BCE. It is said that the emperor liked his drinking water boiled before he drank it so it would be clean, so that is what his servants did. One day, on a trip to a distant region, he and his army stopped to rest. A servant began boiling water for him to drink, and a dead leaf from the wild tea bush fell into the water. It turned a brownish color, but it was unnoticed and presented to the emperor anyway. The emperor drank it and found it very refreshing, and cha (tea) came into being.

Tea is versatile. You can put the tea leaves directly into the bird’s food or you can steep it in water. You want to only use teas that have been decaffeinated but not decaffeinated using ethyl acetate in the decaffeination process. You’ll want to use teas that are decaffeinated using CO2 or water as they keep more of the polyphenels and catechins intact, about 95%.

Feathered factoid: In the wild many substances act like tea, steeping in what normally would be water that is far from sterile. These plant compounds can actually pull the bad things like toxic minerals out of what looks to be muddy undrinkable water.

You can choose from green tea – black tea – white tea – herbal teas – chamomile teas – calendula teas – Rose hip teas – peppermint tea’s – ginger root teas – anise seed tea – raspberry leaf tea -ribooise tea – and there are others that you can explore. The aforementioned teas have different applications.

Chamomile tea for example is the use to help birds that have night frights. Raspberry leaf tea is believed to help with the muscles needed to form contractions in a female’s reproductive tract helping them lay eggs while reducing complications. It’s been widely used for egg bound females and smaller birds with harder than normal labors.

We’ve heard anecdotally that green tea can be helpful in feather plucking. Some birds have been known to instinctively drop the plucked part of their bodies, when presented with a dish of green tea directly into the dish

There’s really not a whole lot of research on this so we would certainly love to hear anybody weigh in on their experiences or hear questions about the use of tea for their birds
written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

Can the lack of change in your bird’s life drive it’s bad behavior?

Phone call from a woman with a 15 year old Blue Front Amazon. He was in his original cage he had come home in 15 years ago. The cage needed replacing and she was seeking an residential model. Because he didn’t like being in the (24″ x 24″ brass) bird cage he had his own room. In the room was his own futon. He perched on top of the futon where he’d been whittling down the wood for a while and spent a lot of time under the futon on a blanket. He was also fond of chewing the wall board in the room.
 
She went on to relate, “We let him out at the same time every morning. I leave pretty early so and he has breakfast with my husband. When it’s time for my husband to go to work, Arnold (the Amazon) gets put back in his room where he seem quite content to be on or under the futon curled up in a blanket until I get home from work. My husband puts him in the cage when we go to bed at night, but Arnold won’t let me do it”.
 
Blue fronted amazon parrots
 
Big picture, the bird cage is a tad small for a bird that size. Good news is that the bird spent most of the time on or under the futon in his own bedroom – more about the futon in a bit. Bad news, Arnold’s likely a girl. It’s clear Arnold is exhibiting brooding behavior. The curling up under the futon AND the chewing of the wall board were all the clues I needed to figure that out. Wallboard has calcium, the stuff that’s in cuttlebones. Unfortunately wallboard also contains toxins and things like glass to hold it all together so it’s not a good choice as a calcium supplement. The blanket made great nesting material.
 
Feathered factoid: Back in the day when wallboard (drywall) wasn’t tainted and didn’t contain things like sulfur and strands of glass, farmers would feed crumbled wall board to their chickens as a calcium supplement. 
 
Another problem that came to mind was the fixed daily routine. In our unscientific observations we see Amazons being a “one person” bird. Because hubby was doing the daily feeding, I asked if she could think of reasons she had issues handling the bird and her husband did not. “He – she doesn’t like me very much – especially lately.” I asked if anything had changed in the household recently. “Actually my husband’s been home sick for the past couple of weeks.” What jumped to mind was this excellent blog post from Lara Joseph Question on behavior . . . Bird showing sudden signs of aggression after change in routine. A sentence she wrote really brings this issue into focus, “I try not to keep the birds on many routines because if that routine is broken, I begin to see undesired behavior issues begin to develop” Our caller had a smartphone so I shot that link right off to her.
 
 
Then I went on to explain, the bird’s point of view and we ask people to put themselves (mentally) in the SAME bird cage (room of the house) for 15 years. Things can get awfully boring for your bird which may be prompting the additional negative behavior Arnold was exhibiting towards her.
 
There’s a reason cable TV offers a gazillion channels – we like variety. Birds need variety to be good mental too. Change is good for birds. Actually as a best practice we recommend taking everything out of your bird’s cage at least once a month and re-installing all the cage perches, feeder dishes and bird toys in new locations in the bird cage. This not only challenges the bird mentally but causes them to use their bodies and especially their feet in different ways, important for good bird foot health.
 
(If you’re doing things right, this is a good size project but will pay off in the long run for your bird’s psychological well being. Some people will look at their cage with the original dowel perch that came with the cage and a couple of toys and say “no problem.” We recommend at least 3 types of perches and no less than 10 toys in your parrot’s cage. A well stimulated bird that feels secure, is a happy bird. – but I digress).
 
Regarding a new bird cage we recommended a larger play top style bird cage giving Arnold a more natural place to be on the cage when out of the cage, a higher point in the room too. To go along with the new cage we recommended a bird play stand. Something light and portable so when Arnold came out of her room, she’d have a place of her own to perch, anywhere in the house.
 
 
How would Arnold react? I guess probably not well initially. But what Arnold doesn’t realize is, in the long run. she’ll feel better about herself in a new bigger home. Just like any of us would. We sugested putting the futon in the trash and introduce a bed inside the new larger bird cage. A place she could feel secure AND safe. Arnold would probably adapt to the new cage in just a few days. Most birds do.
 
Here’s the thing. It seems as though many of us are driven to keep our birds on a daily routine with minimal change as possible. Problem is when that routine changes it can and probably will impact the behavior of your bird. If you get up every morning at 8 AM open up the cage, pour yourself a cup of coffee while going through the newspaper (remember those?), your bird will certainly enjoy the routine. The question is what happens when you have an appointment or an obligation that causes your bird to be locked up for a few additional hours in the morning or the rest of the day for that matter. The change in routine can trigger anything from screaming to plucking to simply acting out with weird behavior.
 
You’re not doing your bird any favors by not exposing them to anything new in terms of their immediate environment or their daily schedule. What was the last time you took everything out of your bird’s cage and put it back in and all new places? It’s been a while hasn’t it? You’re afraid you’ll upset your little pooky bird. 
 
The issue of cage and routine change goes beyond behavior problems. Some of you read about how our Cockatiel Popcorn’s foot ended up in a cast this past February. the reason I’m bringing this up to this discussion is it required us to modify the cage layout to discourage climbing. 
 
This is a bird who usually sees three bird cages a day – home – travel – work. she also lives in a veritable toy store and office so when we see something we think would be really cool for a cockatiel, we stuff it into one of her cages. That said, ask yourself something. How would your bird react if it left home with its cage looking like this
 
White cockatiel on top of platinum birdcage filled with many toys perches and swings
 
and by the time you got back home after being traumatized by the terrible Dr. Ellen AND your foot looked like a stupid duck’s foot, your cage looked like this.
 
White cockatiel with injured foot in birdcage where all the toys perches and accessories have been moved to the floor of the cage
 
Popcorn’s only reaction was the thought they should serve a snack at the vet’s office – because for her, every day is a little different.
 
written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

 

7 Edge of your seat tantalizing heart pounding bird bathing videos

wild quaker parrots bathing in a pond

don’t blame me. marketing said to use that title.

Parrots in the wild bathe by receiving a gentle misting on a regular basis simply by enjoying the rain. In this video you’ll see a Lorikeet in Australia having a wonderful day sucking nectar from flowers while bathing courtesy of Mother nature. One-way Lorikeets get nutrition is just like Hummingbirds, from the nectar found in flowers.

Read more7 Edge of your seat tantalizing heart pounding bird bathing videos

Would you buy cigarettes, beer or gasoline from a parrot?

As a mid 20th century child a.k.a. baby boomer I grew up in what would be called “naïve time”. Let me illustrate.
 
 
 
We had our priorities as a nation in the 1950s. We didn’t allow ourselves to be exposed to things that might hurt us. TV shows like Leave it to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet supported the notions of the idyllic stay-at-home moms. One thing we’re certainly clueless about was birds and parrots as pets. Actually it wasn’t really until the turn of the 21st century that we began to accept and understand the brilliance and complexity of companion birds.
 
Doral cigarette ad with parrot and pirate
A ship’s captain has to trust the opinion of the ship’s parrot
especially when talking about cigarettes – right?
 
Every once in a while I’m asked what it is I do for a living. If it’s a friend, stranger or acquaintance my answer might be a little flippant “I’m the bird toy guy”.
 
Vintage cigarette ad Japanese woman with two parakeets and canary
The only thing I could think of looking at this is
“what could she possibly be looking at – hello?”
 
If I’m at a nerdy networking event my stock answer is “I’m a digital marketer”. That means something like I get asked a bird question and then research cool stuff about birds and push the information to places all over the internet.
 
 
 
try a parrot cigar vintage poster
You would think someone said
let’s name a cigar line after a parrot – once.
 
With the bird (ownership) category paling in comparison to the dog and cat category (in retail sales) birds are not really mainstream yet you’d be surprised how many products birds & parrots have shown up “squawking” their merits over the last 2 centuries.
 
search of parrots with cigar ads
yet marketing many marketing folks and 
cartoon artists have felt parrots and cigars are a great match
 
What this post really highlights is how dumb we’ve been about the use of birds in marketing. Can you imagine the outrage from the bird community if some these ads showed up in today’s media?
 
Vintage Chesterfield cigarette poster with parrot taking a cigarette out of the pack
parrots apparently were valued for their
opinion of cigarette mildness at one time
 
I actually get paid to find a lot of both smart and silly stuff about birds. In doing so I’ve accumulated collection of advertising images with of course parrots. Because you’re a bird person, would you be more influenced by a large cockatoo than a sports personality in guiding your purchasing decisions?
 
Vintage old gold cigarette ad with 2 Budgies
“We perch our case on just one fact” really????
They needed a 911 call to Don Draper (Madmen TV show)
 
Much like sports personalities and advertising there’s not a whole lot of relationship between spokesperson and the product other than compensation. We do know that certain birds out there work for money but the birds in these ads – well I guess they should have unionized early on.
 
 
vintage illustration of parrot on perch light sexy womans cigarette
When clicker and stick training really got results
google “peter driben parrot art” for more of these tasty pics
 
1929 Vintage Lincoln car ad with parrot over car
Parrots were used to sell cars in the last century – but why?
 
The connection between cars and parrots totally eludes me. Parrots come with their own mode of transportation namely “wings”. Perhaps that’s the “lift” car companies were seeking.
 
ad for Infinity q45 interio with sulfur crested cockatoo on steering wheel
And parrots are still being used to sell cars in this century – the question really is
Is a Sulfur crested cockatoo the best way to test Infiniti’s Voice Recognition System? Or do you have to squawk commands at the car for it to work?
image of all sign for poly gasoline from the Wilshire oil company in Los Angeles California
not only did parrots sell cars but they sold the stuff you put in cars
 
portable bar with Polly's brand oil logo
you gotta admit this pretty cool whatever it is/does
vintage image of Blue Parrot cranberries tin
Food must be trustworthy if it’s named after a parrot
 
Clearly people in marketing back in the day felt that name and a product after parrot gave it additional credibility.
 
vintage tin of parrot quality lard
i rest my case
 
vintage post for Karo pancake syrup with a parakeet
our cockatiel always asks us about ingredients 
before she eats something – not
 
 
this takes “Polly want a cracker” to the next level
 
The creativity of marketing people should never be underestimated especially when it comes to parrots.
 
 
they even made a second commercial
 
I get the whole “Polly wants a cracker thing” but this next commercial for Doritos chips had to of been influenced by a mind altering substance.
 
 
what do you do with a trained parrot? 
Put him in a Doritos commercial
 
Vintage poster for Sheraton hotels in latin america
ok – so this makes sense
 
ad for carribean cruise naive man holding parrot
this has always been one of my faves
 
 
vintage tin of Parrot brand sewing needles
but sewing needles? makes as much sense as cars
 
ad for cellophane with parrot
who knew parrots were your go to source for cellophane info?
then again this was from a time zoos kept parrots close by leg chains. 
Vintage ad for Le gramaphone with several parrots
I get the concept – birds and sound – but not how the cockatoo 
got in the picture (think different continents) it’s a mystery
 
bird using beak to play record on turntable
and sometimes the bird IS the phonograph
 
 
vintage poster for making cookies with baby ruth candy bars
before chocolate made it to the “no good for birds” list
 
Polly wants a cookie made with a Baby Ruth. Here is the classic recipe – 2 sticks butter, softened 1 1/2 cups sugar 2 eggs 1 tsp. soda 1/2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. vanilla 3 scant cups flour 5 Baby Ruth candy bars, cut up. Cream together softened butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add soda, salt, vanilla and flour. Fold in chocolate chips and pecan pieces. Drop teaspoon size dough on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes about 6 dozen cookies. You’re gonna need a lot of milk
 
vintage poster for Ghirardelli's chocolate with parrot
a diabetic’s and parrot’s food dream/nightmare
 
Amor Bern chocolate poster with parrot
what parrot doesn’t like chocolate?
 
The relationship between parrots and alcohol runs deep. We just don’t know why or when it began. We have a small collection of Corby’s “drinking paraphernalia” everything from cocktail pics to bottle pourers to lighting fixtures .
 
Vintage Corbys whiskey poster Parrot
Corby’s used parrots to sell it’s whiskey until they went out of business
 
corbys whiskey plastic parrot light up sign
part of the Windy City Parrot collection
 
vintage poster for Fleishmann's gin with old sailor and Cockatoo parrot
who drinks gin anymore? 
once they stopped using parrots to market it – it got boring
 
vintage poster 3 generations of family and parrot - all drinking beer
back in the day beer was good for the whole fam damily including pets (is that beer in the goldfish bowl?)
note: parrot beer glass perch – currently out of stock
note 2: time to cut off dad – but no one cares – because the beer taste so damn good
 
 
you know this really happens!
 
Poll parrot neon sign
what animal than a bird with zygodactyl 
feet is better suited to sell human shoes than a parrot?
 
 
proof!
 
Poll Parrot & Howdy Doody comic book
If you remember this – you’re old
 
Vintage 1963 harley motorcycle ad with 3 macaw parrots
Harley got it’s marketing (and motorcycles) right – but it took 2 more decades
 
Hope you enjoyed our trip down memory lane and had some fun.
 
written by mitch rezman
approved by cathrine tobsing

6 Bird safe all natural home made human mosquito repellents & we explore the safety of citronella mosquito repellent in a bird’s world

amazon parrot holding insect killing racket

File under something like “life imitating art or nature”? I don’t know how you can tell them apart (unless you know to look for the female’s proboscis) but it’s interesting to note that only female mosquitoes bite, males do not. They both need some sort of nectar to sustain themselves but the females need blood to lay their eggs.

Read more6 Bird safe all natural home made human mosquito repellents & we explore the safety of citronella mosquito repellent in a bird’s world

Your 60 second list of good & bad fruits for birds

close up of african grey parrot eating a strawberry

It’s summer and we all eat more fruit in the summer. Birds like fruit too, but………..

 the skinny
 
Unsafe fruits for birds: Avocado – Rhubarb
 
The seeds and pits of: apples – apricots – cherries – nectarines – peaches – plums – they all contain a cyanide-like substance (the fruit “meats” are OK)
 Australian King Parrot eating watermelon isolated white background
 
Safe fruits for birds: apple – apricot – banana – blackberry – blackcurrant – blood orange – blueberry – cantaloupe melon – cherry – cranberry – dried dates – figs (fresh) – gooseberries – grape – guava – honeydew melon – kiwifruit – lychee – mandarin – mango – melon – nectarine – orange – papaya – peach – pear – pineapple – plum – pomegranate – quince – raspberry – red currants – strawberry – tangerine – watermelon – yellow plum – (all included in a lot of manufactured bird food)
 
Safe seeds & pits for birds: grapes – cantaloupe – cranberries – watermelon – pomegranates – oranges – grapefruits – lemons
 
cut up pomegranates & leaves
Pomegranates make a great foraging food
(only the seeds are edible)
You’ll be foraging for paper towels & a mop
 but that’s your lot in life being owned by a bird.
 
if you feed your parrot dried fruit, make sure it’s free of sulfides and sulfates.
 

it is our unscientific belief that citrus fruit may be a possible plucking trigger (birdie heartburn)

 

button-higgins-safflower-gold
 
written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

If a budgie starred in Diehard would they call it Flyhard?

 

Click the arrow to see the escape scene
No budgies were harmed in the making of this video
 
 
 

As long as we’re looking at Blue & Gold Macaws
It’s Bubba Cyan’s outdoor fly fun exercise time 🙂 Was so windy and chilly and she managed to enjoy it 🙂 Good girl 🙂
More journeys at www.facebook.com/groups/ParrotBuddiesCheers 🙂
Posted by Cyan Blue Gold Macaw on Thursday, May 14, 2015

 

As long as we’re looking at Blue & Gold Macaws

It’s Bubba Cyan’s outdoor fly fun exercise time 🙂 Was so windy and chilly and she managed to enjoy it 🙂 Good girl :-)More journeys at www.facebook.com/groups/ParrotBuddiesCheers 🙂

Posted by Cyan Blue Gold Macaw on Thursday, May 14, 2015

     

Will Changing the Term “Cage” to “Home” Fix Our Bird’s Behavioral Problems?

 

In a recent article in birds.about.com, Patricia Sund a “Pet Birds Expert”, states the case that the word “cage” is brutal, antiquated and out of date.

 
She feels bird cages should be called a “house” or “room”.She compares it to a child’s “playpen” because we never refer to a child’s playpen as a cage (even though the older wooden styles look like a cage) and she actually finds the words to be “a little offensive” and “harsh” terms for your pet bird’s home.

 
Another expression she alludes to is “enclosure” the locution used by zoos across the globe furthering her argument that using the word “cage” is considered archaic and barbaric. The ensuing logic is that because the bird lives in your home the birds “enclosure” is their home.
 
yellow & black warning sign - rant ahead
 
We all love our homes. When we’re away for extended periods we think about returning home. On lazy Sunday afternoons, we relish the rare opportunity to lounge around our home. That’s because they are our “homes”.
 
Here’s the thought process, the fantasy, the defining moment when you thought a bird was the right fit for you and your lifestyle. You would get the biggest most expensive cage money could buy.
 
You’d fill it with dozens of fun colorful and interactive bird toys, lots of accessories, ladders and rope perches. Then you’d make sure you had several feeder dishes with seeds, pellets, treats and fresh foods. Lots of fresh water and a water bottle and even a bird bath. It would be the “best bird cage ever!”
 
Now this is where me, the strange bearded guy somehow slips into your new bird fantasy. In a low soothing voice nowhere close to my nasal midwest accent I say “Here’s your first lesson in bird care Virginia. It’s a lazy Sunday warm & sunny afternoon, let’s move this beautiful cage by this big window.”
 
Now let’s open the window lift the screen for lots of fresh air and then open the bird cage door. Oh look! your bird just left the “best bird cage ever” and flew out the window. It’s return is doubtful given the strong winds today.” 
 
Now you’re standing there dumbstruck and no longer wondering what I was doing in your fantasy to begin with but why I ruined your fantasy by letting your new bird fly away. So I give to you the first rule of caged bird care in that same low soothing voice before I morph into a thousand points of light.
 
“Because it’s a cage Virginia, 
not a home – your bird doesn’t want to be in it.” 
 
Readers of this caged bird care blog will note that I address all of you as “caged bird keepers”. That’s what you are. Bird cages are designed to be bird jails. Outside of the cage and lacking your supervision, birds will walk or fly around your home destroying most of everything in their path and eventually hurt themselves by doing things like chewing on electrical cords or finding long forgotten glue mouse traps or poisonous ant traps.
 
Blue & gold macaw Parrot close up in bird cage
 
If you look at a species like blue and gold macaws, in the South American wilderness they reside in a 30 or 40 square-mile areas. A pair of birds will fly 25 to 50 miles a day with as many as 50 stops along the way foraging for food. At night they congregate with a flock of many other macaws hidden among trees with a great deal of foliage. Living in a high social setting (the godfeathers of social media), activities are planned. Relationships form, families are hatched and there’s always something to do. In the rain forest they get a bath almost every day.
 
We chop off the majority of these winged creature flight feathers because it suits us for them not to fly – “they’ll fly into a wall” is the biggest reason we hear for wing clipping. We feed them highly nutritious but counter-intuitive things like bird food pellets (there are no pellet trees in the rain forest), deprive them of sexual partners, replace their choice of trees with 10 square feet of wrought iron 6 feet off the ground (if they’re lucky to get a cage that big) make it dark out side at 5:00 in the afternoon (when they instinctively expect the sun to set at 8 or 9) and then we lock them in the “cage” for 10 hours a day while we’re at work.
 
We let them sleep on inappropriate perches (hardwood & pedicure perches) for thousands of hours of their lifetime. We trim their nails and put them back on slippery plastic and wood perches (further challenging their lack of balance because of the aforementioned clipped wings). We give them little or no exercise to speak of. We offer little if any flock type socialization and then we wonder that in spite of all of the love and money:
  • why do we fail at keeping them as pets? 
  • why do they self mutilate? 
  • why do the scream so much?
  • why do they chew up furniture & walls?
  • why are they so messy?
  • why do they have to poop so much?
It’s when we realize that bringing a bird into our home and putting it in metal structure a.k.a. bird cage is much like you or me moving into a condo on Mars. It’s a much different environment than we were designed for and intuitively expect to live in before we left earth. 
 
If you haven’t already, it’s time to re-think through this whole caged bird keeping thing. Stop reading crap on the internet and start thinking like a bird.
 
In Ms.Sund’s article she quotes Ann Brooks founder of the Phoenix Landing Foundation who “hates it” when people refer to operation as a “parrot rescue”. Trust me, parrot rescues are just that. Need more convincing? watch this:
 
 
video – PBS documentary “Parrot Confidential”
 
We took the birds out of the sky, it’s our responsibility to give them the best care possible. Simply changing the name of the device that keeps them captive will not begin to compensate for the time and energy necessary to understand, cultivate and develop the proper caged environment for your pet bird. We’re here to help. Ask us anything.
 
rant over Homer simspon walking backwards into bushes
 
written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing
     
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