Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Beach Flying

So far, beach flying has been unsuccessful, due to operator error. We've only been twice, but I still have a lot of hope. The first flight was fantastic. Manzi did some loops, never hit the end of the line, then circled nicely back to me for a light landing. I was very hopeful. The fishing line got a bit tangled, but that was because I wasn't sure how to use it with a flying bird.

After fixing the line, I sent Manzi out again, but this time he bee lined away from us. With the fishing reel, it no longer snaps him and instead slows him down at the end, so he landed nicely in the sand. I called Manzi back, but he didn't come back and instead stood in the sand angrily biting his foot leash. We sat down, but after about 10 minutes I went towards him. Then he did fly to me.

I went back a few days later. This time when I first released Manzi, he bee lined away from us and then landed in the sand 80 yards away. I went and got him and tried again. This time he did a half circle, but then flew away again. I was irritated with him, so we left him a long ways off and hung out waiting. I didn't want Manzi to learn that he can just fly away and expect me to come get him. After about 20 minutes, I went to get him. As I approached him, I was horrified and seeing that he did unclip his leg leash and was sitting about a foot away from it. He happily came to me and I reclipped it.

Okay, so here's a major error:
Manzi has lost his confidence, due to my over expectations. I had him do more technically difficult flights by expecting him to circle around and land on me. The beach is breezing, new, with lots of seagulls and other birds. He's never been in that environment, so he is afraid. I expected Manzi to be as good as before, when he used to free fly, but it has been 4 years, so he needs to build up the muscle, manueverability and confidence.

We'll go back to the beach, but next time I'll only do a few a - b flights. Then do that for a few days before asking for higher difficulties, like turns and circles.

Update on Maui:
She's been doing well. She enjoys the outside cage a bit more than Manzi. At first, they both loved being outside, but now the novelty of it has worn off. So they still spend a lot of the day inside. I did get Maui a permanent, large bath in the outside cage, so she does bathe every day in it. Manzi has yet to pick up on that habit. I also supply Maui with all the boxes she can handle outside so she also spends at least an hour or so shredding those. Yesterday, in addition to shredding outside boxes, she went inside and wandered over to Manzi's sleeping cage. Then she spent an hour inside shredding up his newspaper for him (he isn't interested in shredding boxes/newspaper). Now both their sleeping cages have nicely shredded bedding.

Lastly, we bought one of those yucca wood toys for the birds. They loved that, but only for 30 minutes or so until it was completely gone. I would like to find yucca wood to make my own toys out of it, without paying an arm and a leg. If anyone has ideas, let me know. The bulk ones sold online are for parrots and likewise are ridiculously marked up.
They do have a treasure chest my sister sent me a few years ago. I've been putting treats in it and that has also kept them really occupied. I may get another one of those because they often fight over the one in their outside cage.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Gone fishin'

So, I have plans to fly Manzi. I'm going to scout out one more location. I heard it was a great place. Was using fishing line as a leash so Manzi could fly quite a ways from me without any problems. I would then manually wind up the fishing line, despite the difficulty of winding up over a hundred yards of tangled line. I'm not sure why it never occurred to me before, but I could have been using a fishing reel and pole for that. In addition, a reel will allow give without making Manzi come to a hard stop at the end.

So, I ordered the reel and it came yesterday. I have that ready to go, but I'm waiting for the fishing rod (to anchor the reel). I don't know much about fishing, so I'm hoping that the reel and rod work together. Some responses found on google, about which rod will fit which reel, made me laugh:

"As long as it's not a ridiculous mismatch like I stated at first, you should have no problem."

I'm not sure what is considered a "ridiculous mismatch" but hopefully my ability to read specs helped out somewhat. The rod will come sometime next week and then I'll give it a go.

I watch the parrot documentary, "Parrot Confidential" last night. It was excellent, but very sad as well about parrots kept as pets.

On Maui:
Her trick training has been a fail. I thought we were doing so well. She put on a perfect show for some visitors, doing on of her tricks on cue. Then suddenly, she regressed. Now, all she does is say, "work, work, work" while turning around. She won't do anything else, not even shout "Charge!" after doing a charge whistle. The last one was one of her most dependable tricks before. It is now like she is a broken record. Her flying has not regressed though. Now she flies to me a lot more confidently on command and she is even doing very small flights back to her perch. Eventually, I'm hoping she'll fly back and forth between me and her perch like Manzi does.

Manzi is pretty good about knowing not to fly to me when I call Maui. Maui does often fly when I call Manzi though. She really needs to work on her specificity of commands.

This is the first time I've lived in  a place with stairs. I didn't think they would be a big deal, but apparently they are very difficult for Manzi. He cannot fly up or down the stairs yet. He tries and only makes it about 2/3 the way up before he lands. At that point, he will wait for me to get him. He also struggles to fly down the stairs. It is too steep and too narrow, so instead of using momentum, he must muscle his way up and down.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Maui's new trick

Maui has a new trick. She can turn around on command.

Manzi gets so excited during training. I usually keep them separate during training because Manzi distracts Maui with his faster display of each trick. At first, when Maui wouldn't do the turn around trick at all, Manzi would do several spins, really wanting to get the treat.

I was concerned that Maui wasn't picking up on this trick, but then she suddenly did it. She isn't nearly as motivated as Manzi. If I have a treat and want Manzi to learn a new trick, he'll try all sorts of things to get the treat, like going through all his old tricks.

Her flying is much better and now she'll fly without having Manzi flying as well.

With flight training, I'm scoping out new parks. I think I'll stick with the beach. It has no trees or cars or powerlines. I need to start taking Manzi there to get him used to the area. I've been doing recalls with him inside every day and he is getting very dependable.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Maui flies!

I have been training these guys every day. I'm just doing recalls with Manzi. With Maui, I was trying to get her to "turn around," but that hasn't caught on yet. It is funny because when I'm asking Maui to turn around, I see Manzi out of the corner of my eye doing turns over and over again to get the treat that I'm offering Maui. So far, Maui still needs the target aid and does not seem to be understanding my voice command.

Despite that, Maui has been flying a lot more. And for the first time, Maui is actually landing on my hand. Before, she just flew back to her cage. She is flying so much now that she can do a loop around the room, then land on my hand. She is doing recalls, but not really of her own accord. She still isn't quite making the jump to fly all on her own. If I call her, she will put her wings out and look like she's going to fly, but she won't actually fly until Manzi or something else around her startles her, then she'll fly to me.

On the downside, she is flying an awful lot. Having perches in the house works well for Manzi because he knows where he can land and he is fine with that. It doesn't work for Maui. She takes off every 5 minutes, then cannot get back to her perch. She either lands on me, or somewhere else around the house wanting to be rescued. If she lands on the ground, then she'll use the opportunity to go explore, and by explore I mean destroy my house.

Here is a video of Maui flying:

Here is another video clip of the water bottle. Both Manzi and Maui are drinking from it just fine. This is how Maui drinks from it:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Our new life

Manzi and Maui are loving their new outdoor cage. I put in a parrot door so they can come and go when they want (as long as I am home). They usually prefer to stay outside though and will only come in periodically or when it starts to get dark at night. I also set up perches around the house so when they do come in, they have places to stand without getting into trouble. I only have two perches, but I'm contracting my younger brother to build me some more (having younger brothers is an awesome thing).

Manzi was only scared of the hanging piece of screen at first, but he quickly realized it is harmless. Maui, usually the brave one, still finds it mildly terrifying and the first few times through left marks in my hand from her toes (even though I keep them trimmed) as I carried her through the birdy door. I leave the flap to take care of the flies. Hercules is outside and his droppings seem to be quite popular with the flies.

The garden we planted is coming along nicely. It is not ready for Hercules quite yet, but he seems to think it is fair game. The other day, I came outside and found him trying his best to get to the green grass.

As I was working on my computer a few days ago, I heard the bird's cage keep rattling. After 30 minutes of it, I decided to investigate. Hercules can be quite determined about where he wants to go. It took me quite a bit of strength to convince him to give up. He's getting stronger every day and isn't easy to pry out of tight quarters.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My life flashed before my eyes

Maybe not quite, but I did have a "holy smokes" moment!

Yesterday the moving truck finally arrived. That was wonderful. The birds now have their large cage. I set it up outside and plan on having perches inside for them. The cage has an extra door, that previously had no purpose. I am going to use that to cut a hole in my window screen so I can let them in and out of their outdoor cage freely and without having to risk them flying away.

Okay, here is the scary moment. In the morning, I put them both in the outdoor cage while I was working on my computer. Manzi was busy eating while Maui was on a perch looking around. After 5 minutes, I glanced over at them and saw Maui standing on top of the cage. I immediately looked for Manzi and exhaled when I saw him still inside the cage. I was outside so fast, but worried about opening the door on the patio too fast and startling Maui which might cause her to fly. Luckily, she happily stepped up on my hand and I put her back inside the cage. She had opened one of the food dish doors that I didn't properly tighten.

The food dish doors have spring loaded locks and also an extra tightening screw to secure them. Just the day before I had a conversation with Andrew (my husband) about whether or not the extra screw is even necessary since the spring lock is pretty tight. Well, Maui answered the question for us.

Seeing Maui on the top of the cage scared the living daylights out of me. My mind flashed a million possibilities in an instant. All of my neighbors, except one, have dogs. The back patio has three sides of fencing, whom I share with the neighbors. If Maui were to get startled, from the top of the cage she could definitely make it over the fence, but probably not much further, which would mean she'd land in a dog infested yard. I imagine it would only take them fractions of a second to take her out. That thought terrified me.

So, now all food dish doors have their locks and screws double checked. My brother is coming over today and hopefully we can figure out how to connect the cage to the window so I don't have to carry them outside before putting them in the outdoor cage.

The birds loved being outside. I had errands the entire afternoon. When I returned home, I thought Manzi would want to come in right away. I was wrong. He politely declined my offer (putting head down to stop my finger from getting to his legs and backing up) and wanted to stay outside. They seem to have quite the time chatting away. I heard the neighbors whistling back to them as well. It will only be a few days or so before they start picking up some of the outside noise, probably including dog barks.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Manzi met a friend

The birds have settled into their new place, despite still not having their main cage. The moving company is coming Thursday, then we'll be all set up. We still need perches as we plan on keeping their main cage on the patio. Then have perches set up around the house and let them hang out between those.

I have been taking Manzi out walking the neighborhood. I want to be able to fly him outside here, so I need him to be familiar with the landscape. The last time I went out walking with him, a woman told me she has an African Grey as well. A 2-year old. We walked to her place, 1/2 a block away, and said hello to the guy. He was larger than Manzi. He didn't fluff up at Manzi, but Manzi was a bit scared of him. After 10 minutes Manzi was more curious and it was pretty cute to see them interact. The other Grey, Pancho, is not hand tamed at all. They were surprised that I was able to hold Manzi. I'm hoping to go back to their place this week and bring some treats for Pancho. Maybe even convince him that humans are not so bad after all.

There are lots of parrots here in L.A. I see them flying around wild and many people have them as pets as well. So here Manzi is not a superstar, or a rare item, but on the other hand everyone does seem to like him and see him as a friendly creature (many people who have never been around parrots are very afraid of him, but since a lot of people here have parrots, they are not afraid of him at all).

We do still have hawks here, but I've only seen smaller ones. I think with proper practice, Manzi will get back into shape and be able to outmaneuver them.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Moved, sunny California

We're in Los Angeles!! The move started off pretty poorly. After getting the birds loaded into the car for the first 14-hr drive, Maui went into a seizure pretty quickly. I was by myself at this point, on the way to pick up my brother. Maui was hanging upside down from the top of her cage. She began to go into a seizure and was flopping a bit. Then her wing got caught in a toy and she released her feet grip and she was just hanging by her wing twisted up in a toy. It looked terrible. I was able to reach into her cage and untangle her wing. She flopped to the bottom of the cage and I was worried that she may have broke her wing.

After a few minutes she began to be responsive again. Within 30 minutes she stood up and climbed back up to the perch in the travel cage. I was worried that she would continue to have these seizures, but luckily that was the last one.

Once I picked up my brother from the airport, things were much easier. We had a method to give the birds water using a bottle cap. They already knew how to drink from there. Maui even cheered up and by day two she was making some noises.

We arrived late Sunday night. On Monday, Manzi came out of his cage, but only to fly to me. Maui didn't want to come out of her cage at all. I let her be. I thought she was going to take a few days, but by Tuesday she was tentatively walking around exploring my place. Seeing that we're moving, one of Maui's favorite things is filling the new place: cardboard boxes. She has already begun to dismantle two of them to suit her liking.

Manzi has gotten a lot more comfortable around my place and already found lots of places to land (much to my dismay).

Hercules is doing fine as well. We set him up with water, food and his new home made by kind friends of mine. We're going to build him a garden this weekend.

The moving truck won't come for another 2-3 weeks, so the birds will have to live in their travel cages until then. The cages are open most of the day, so they don't seem to mind.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Poor Birds

So, their cage is dismantled and now my poor guys are residing in their sleeping cages. Those cages are only 20" x 20" x 30" each. As soon as I get home from work, I let them out. Manzi is still not doing great. He is scared of everything. Manzi has even begun to fly around after being frightened, then not know where to land. He circles and circles till he gets tired. I call to him and usually he'll come back to me, otherwise he eventually lands on the ground seriously out of breath.

Well, tonight we're leaving my apartment for good. I'm going to keep the cages completely covered during transport and hope that they do okay. We'll stay with a friend, then leave MN on Friday!

Sunday, July 20, 2014


This weekend was another long weekend of packing. I had some help, so I kept Manzi and Maui in their cages while others were around. They seemed content and usually don't want to come out if there is too much going on anyway.

Still, Manzi is adapting. He went from not wanting to leave his cage last week, to landing on a box today. Sometimes I want Manzi to be brave, but then other times it is really nice not to have to chase Manzi off boxes. I'm glad Maui isn't as mobile, because if she made it to one of the boxes, it would be nicely shredded in no time.

I have been thinking about the cross country trip. I'm really concerned about Maui and her potential for seizures. I'm going to travel the first day at night. Hopefully the darkness will keep her calm. I'm doing the trip in two very long days, but that will really limit her time locked up in her travel cage. I am also planning on keeping a sheet over her travel cage to really reduce external stimuli.

The trip is still two weeks away. I'm already getting anxious!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Update: Life is changing

Life is going through some substantial changes.

Quick update on Maui:
She is totally healthy again. She recovered about one week after visiting the vet. She had a clostridium infection and within a couple days she began to recover her appetite. By the end of the week, she was back up to her normal weight. All her blood work came back fine. She does have a heart murmur and is not in the prime of her life as I had once thought. She may still be only 30, but the vet thinks she is on the downhill side of life and will not last too many more years. I thought she'd live till 60 or so, but the vet thinks 40 would be optimistic. I went from treating her like she's in the prime of her life to now treating her like she is a geriatric patient.

Manzi has been a bit stressed lately. I am moving back to the West Coast. My place is getting full of boxes, which to Manzi, appear to be parrot eating monsters. Maui doesn't even give them a second glance. I got married and now we have another guy in our lives. The birds are doing quite well with him. Hercules is taking a mini-vacation from my place and is in the yard of a kind neighbor who has lots of space and absolutely loves him. I still have a couple weeks left till moving day. I don't have a new place yet, but I'm looking for something with a yard so the birds can go outside during the day along with Hercules.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Manzi finally breaks it down!

I've been wanting Manzi to dance for years. Sometimes he'll move his head a small amount, but finally he put some of his body into it. Maui's great and she'll dance away, so one day when she was dancing with me, Manzi was watching from his perch. When I turned my attention to him, he began to move. We're still a long ways from him being a talented dancer, but I'm happy with these baby steps.

On a side note, Maui's not doing super great. She's been losing weight. I took her to the vet and they think she has some kind of crop or digestive tract infection. I started her on antibiotics. Next week I'll get back the lab test results. She dropped from 490g to 425g while I was away on vacation. She's never been that low. I weigh her at least once per day, but lately have been weighing her more like 3-4 times per day. She is quite happy to step on the scale for me. Now her weight is back up to 450g, but she is still underweight.

She was a trooper at the vet and they absolutely loved her. She was so sweet and begged for scratches from both the vet and her assistant. They took blood, which required restraining. Maui freaked out completely over that, although she didn't go into seizures. Still, as soon as they let her go from taking blood, she went back to ask for more scratches. She doesn't hold a grudge.

I used the new box technique to take her to the vet's office. She was pretty irritated to have to ride in a dark box and spent the entire ride chewing it as fast as possible. The box will not last another trip to the vet, but on the plus side, she didn't have any seizures. I was quite happy to have her irritated with the box rather than freaking out from over stimulation.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Maui playing dead

Maui has been watching Manzi play dead for several months now. I know she is paying attention, so then when I picked her up and gave her the cue, she knew exactly what to do, albeit with some hesitation.

Manzi is to the point where he falls backwards quickly, with some gusto, whereas Maui is pretty tentative. She impressed me with her ability to pick up this trick by merely watching.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

New Toys and body parts

I have been making new toys for the birds. Maui is loving the toys, but Manzi is quite afraid. Someone kindly sent me lots of toys supplies (leather twine, toys pieces, etc.), so I string them together, along with dixie cups and hang them in the cage. I put pumpkin seeds in the dixie cups so they can find a treat. The toys terrify Manzi, but Maui loves to chew on them. It is funny that the two birds are so picky about what they want to fear. Manzi is also still afraid of the mummy on the bathroom door, while Maui could care less about it.

Manzi also gets into trouble on the fridge and on various other places around the house. I just counted and I now have about either items either taped or strewn around my place to keep Manzi away. Many of these items are body parts from the mummy, which is slowly being disassembled. For instance, I put one of the mummy's arms on the fridge, the other arm on the door trim and a leg by the front door. I also have various plastic bags, sparkly twine and pieces of paper on door handles, door trim, cupboards, etc. (this takes a bit of explaining to visitors). Manzi is finding less and less landing space, but he still keeps finding more places that I hadn't previously thought of as troublesome.

Maui is still afraid of her new perch in her sleeping cage. She has been sleeping on the floor of the cage for over a month now. I thought she would eventually give in, but maybe now she's gotten used to the ground. I put her on the perch and quickly turn the lights off and leave, but she still climbs straight down to the floor and sleeps there for the night. I might just put the old perch back in. I thought this new perch was such a nice upgrade too!!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Emergency Evacuation

I was rudely awoken by my apartment shaking and then the fire alarm going off. Turns out there was an explosion in our apartments. I saw people running away from the building in pajamas and when I peaked down the hall, there were people scrambling, but there was no smoke. I figured I had a few minutes time and I jumped into action.

I took the birds out of their cages and stuffed Maui into a small travel cage (airline size) and put a leg leash on Manzi. I couldn't leave Hercules and quickly tried to stuff him into a box. He wouldn't fit, so I found a material bag and put him in. He was not yet awake, so he offered no resistance. The birds, on the other hand, were terrified. Me being terrified probably didn't help. Manzi was flapping around like crazy for a few minutes, then both him and Maui turned to their death screams (the sound they make when they think death is imminent). Overall, within about 3 minutes I had everyone packed up and out the door (I only brought the animals and my phone and wallet; in the future I probably need a better emergency packet with documents).
It was -15 deg F outside and people were saying to run to the hotel next door. I couldn't chance that with my birds, so I went down to the basement to drive out. Surprisingly, their were few other people driving out so the way was clear. I went to a nearby parking lot while I thought up a plan. I could see a lot of flames coming from our building and several small explosions. Luckily, the flames were from the other side of the building.

I called a good friend who lived 10 minutes away and told her about my cargo. She said to bring them over. We put Hercules in her bathtub and the birds on her table. They didn't have a perch, just the small travel cage. I let Maui out and she and Manzi stood next to each other, scared and panicked. I was really worried that if an emergency happened, the birds might hurt each other in close quarters, but now that fear has been alleviated. It was like they told each other, "Hey, let's call a truce till things settle down." After about 20 minutes or so they calmed down and both went right to sleep. It must have been very draining for them and Manzi even tucked his head away in his wing, something he will rarely even do in front of me, let alone in front of strangers.

My friend and her children liked the birds. They cooked us some food and the birds happily ate. At one point, I was out of the room and Manzi flew to the fridge. When I came back, my friend was holding Manzi like a ball (with a hand on each side of him) and surprisingly, he was just sitting there wondering what was going on. He didn't bite or anything. When people don't know to be afraid of his beak, Manzi doesn't ever hurt them.

Luckily, the fire was put out by the evening and my unit was just fine (unfortunately that is not the case for several of the other units). So the birds and Hercules are back home and happy.

I need to pack an emergency bag for the birds. I didn't have any food or toys for them. Manzi did get pretty bored by evening time at my friend's place and began to look for trouble. I gave him my keys (not the car clicker) and that occupied him for a while, but some toys would have been nice.

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