Go Set a Watchbird – Robin vs. Christmasberry


Dodger alerted me to this busy robin who came to gobble up our Christmasberries.  These were taken through a screen, so they’re clearer than I had any reason to hope they’d be! (This is from my office/studio window, and the bush is about six feet from my chair!)

For oh so many years, I’ve called these shrubs, which came up as volunteers, pyracantha (or firethorn), but I think they are actually Christmasberry bushes (aka toyon or heteromeles) because of the flowers described on the pyracantha and because toyon seems perfectly suited to our climate.




Quite a stretch!



Dodger, watching the action. No kidding, he said, “Little bird lookin’ at!”

Send in the Empty Roosters

Dodger discovered the stones I’d hidden in the French rolling rooster.  He tossed a bunch of them out then stood on the rooster’s head and did a creditable impression of the Cooper’s Hawk that has been hanging out in the back yard.  Quite loud.  We try not to overreact…or really to react at all, which would encourage him to do it more!

In other bird news: Little buddies, Ricky (in gray) and Gus (in blue, looking short) in Gus’s newly renovated cage.  Gus has been falling off his perch more and more often, especially at night, and sometimes two or three times.  It’s heartbreaking.

Hydra put a couple of layers of towels under the newspaper at the bottom of Gus’s cage to cushion the falls.  Then last night he thought of blocking off the top part of the cage, because in spite of the fact that Gus’s little feet are curled up most of the time, he–like most birds, I suspect–is compelled to go to the highest perch.

Gus is a tough little guy.  He had birth defects when we bought him that rendered him unable to fly, and his little feet have been increasingly deformed over the course of his almost five years of life. None of that ever stopped him from walking the whole length of the house to climb the ladder back into his cage when he wanted to– squeezing under the bedroom door to get there sometimes–or from taking off from the playset when the other budgies flew away, only to land on his belly on the carpet.  When we got the wood floors, we put down a pillow for him to land on, but lately we’ve been letting him just hang out in his cage and Ricky’s, which seems to make him happiest.

Ricky often stands guard at the door.  The other day, when Gus wouldn’t get off the floor, Ricky squawked until I came over to have a look.  Nothing to do, he’s better off on the floor.  I’m glad Gus has Ricky to watch out for him.

Dodger at Home

The boy at home with his favorite rattle.  I dread the day when this finally breaks.  He loves this thing.

This is how you use this toy.  You shake it till you feel blurry.  This is first thing in the morning.  Rise and shine, humans!

After company went home.  Time for a nap in the basement of the living room play set.  He makes entertaining look easy, but it does tire him out a bit.

Happy Hatchday to You!

Yep, eighteen years ago today this little guy pecked his way out of a shell down in Lakewood, CA.  We first laid eyes on him when he was about 2 weeks old.  We brought him home at 12 weeks and it’s been a learning experience ever since.  Parrots are not simple pets.  They’re smart and they need affection and stimulation.

I took him to work with me, where I showered him with pistachios, almonds, and peanuts during the day.  We shared home made vegetable soup for lunch.  He mostly picked out the corn from his own dish, which is his favorite.  If he tells you that you are “So corn,” you have been complimented indeed.

Late in the day, I read him all his birthday wishes from Facebook.   He laughed and bobbed.

We had an appointment at The Perfect Parrot after work, for grooming and to pick out some toys.   He wouldn’t be able to be out looking at the toys in most pet shops.

As you can see, parrot grooming is not exactly a spa day for the little guy.  He doesn’t enjoy this, but having them use a Dremel tool to whittle down his nails is better for him than use using toenail clippers at home.  There’s a chance of splitting with clippers, I guess, though we did it that way for the first 18 years without incident.

He also had his long flight feathers trimmed back.  This way he can fly down and across the room but not so much up.  Up gets ugly pretty fast, because the highest bird is the alpha bird.  Getting him to come down from up can be stressful and painful…for us.  No matter what good pals we are, we need to be the alphas in this relationship.  That beak could get him in a lot of trouble.

The good folks at The Perfect Parrot also buffed up his beak and put some lovely lotion on it.

We also made the rather momentous decision to have Dodger’s ID band removed.  The Perfect Parrot folks kind of convinced me that he’d be happier without it.

This is a closed band, which means they slipped it over Dodger’s foot when his foot was small enough to do that.  Which proves that he was hatched in the U.S., not wild caught in Africa.  There’s a big enough breeding population of parrots in the U.S., so they don’t need to be wild caught any more.  Dodger’s parents were wild caught…so you know these are not really domesticated creatures.

The pro of keeping the band on is that it makes him identifiable should he be lost or stolen.  The coding on the band identifies his breeder and the month/year he was hatched.

The con of keeping the band is the slight chance that it could get hooked on something and he could break a leg.  Very rare occurrence, but still.  Also the whole thing of having something on his leg always, like a tiny shackle, has never been appealing.

If he were stolen, it’s a simple thing to remove the band.  If he were lost and we were trying to identify him, I think him calling out our names would probably be a clue.  Every time I got a few feet from him at the bird shop, he called out, “Sundry?  Sundry?”

OneL was worried that he’d miss his little bit of bling.   But he’s really an adaptable boy.   Jens and Weens think I should make an ear cuff or other jewelry out of the old band.  But we’re going to file it in the filing cabinet, just in case the parrot police come knocking some day.

Dodger cools off in the middle of The Perfect Parrot, post grooming.   They are so great about making sure the bird is stressed as little as possible.

He helped pick out some hanging toys and some foot toys, and we bought a perch that attaches to a window or shower door with suction cups.   We had a nice calm drive home, where he was happy to sit on his submarine while we arranged dinner and started some laundry.  He was one sleepy parrot after his big day.

Today’s photos were taken with my cell phone.  Sigh.