THE QUAKER NEWS

APRIL 1996

 

FROM THE EDITOR

One of our readers has made the suggestion that we all make an effort to show our Quakers when ever possible. I know that we all share his belief that our birds are not appreciated by enough people. Even those devoted to other species are often not familiar with the charms of our Quakers. As part of our efforts to eradicate unjust regulations prohibiting and limiting them in many states, this would be an excellent way to introduce them to many people. Another reader sent me a newspaper clipping in which a state official was quoted as referring to our Quakers as "birds of prey." I can think of nothing more ridiculous.

I cannot, however, help but have mixed feelings about urging all of you to take your pet Quakers to shows. I confess that although I show my cockatiels all over the country, these are birds bred specifically for showing. They are housed in an aviary entirely separate from the larger building housing our other breeding birds.

I never show my pets, and only very rarely the exotics, even though I have some very fine specimens. You will not see my blue Quakers on exhibition at shows, in spite of the fact that I would appreciate the attention I know that they would receive.

The reason for my reluctance to show is largely my fear of exposing the birds to disease. The stewards checking the birds in at the shows make a quick visual check and eliminate any bird with obvious signs of illness. We all know that birds do not have to look sick to be carrying disease. Many carry organisms that cause them no symptoms but will seriously effect others who have not been previously exposed.

Some birds react poorly to being transported to strange surroundings and are stressed by the noise and confusion. Others, with different personalities, thoroughly enjoy the experience and obviously delight in "showing off.'

Perhaps I am being over cautious. There are undoubtedly thousands of birds shown each year without the slightest ill effect. I cannot in good conscience not bring up the down side of showing birds. No matter how slight the possibility of danger, be aware before making your decision.

FROM OUR READERS

Dear Linda;

My "chili" is the most loveable, funny, sweet bird I have ever had. Even the Vet is amazed that he won't bite at all. You can do anything with him. My husband hates screaming birds, so I have taught Chili "whisper words." When he screams I get him to start whispering. Geri from Oklahoma

We have had a number of readers report that "whisper words" have been effective in controlling screaming. It's worth a try!

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Dear Linda;

I now have all of my Quakers outside in an aviary. They seem quite content and love to make all kinds of noise. I'm very hopeful that this can be at least a moderate success. This will be my first try with Quaker breeding.

I do have a question. A six year old Quaker was given to me. I tried him with the colony birds, but they would not let him on any perches. In fact, he had to sleep on the floor. I rescued him and play with him in the house, but I think that he is neurotic. When he sits with me he always ends up on my shoulder and licks my face and ears. I don't turn toward him because anything coming toward him gets bitten. So the question is - Why does he lick my face? It seems awfully strange but this is something he does continually. Erin from North Carolina

Birds use their tongues to feel and explore much as we do our fingers. Perhaps your bird is curious. Quakers, like most birds, show their love and affection by preening each other. Perhaps that is what your pet is doing - or maybe he just likes the taste of your makeup or some cream or lotion you are using. Whatever his reasons he is not necessarily neurotic, but watch that biting habit so close to your face.

Dear Linda;

Our bird Chet, a two year old Quaker, spends about 8 to 10 hours a day alone on weekdays. Should we get another bird to keep him company? Is he too old for a new bird? What about a non-Quaker bird? Jen from Ohio

We have mixed reports on getting another bird for company, Quaker or any other species. For a few it seems to work, but more often the owner who did not have time enough from a busy work week to satisfy the needs of one bird cannot possibly keep two happy. Many birds are jealous and resentful of the newcomer. If they do bond to each other, the owner loses the relationship that made the pet so satisfactory. I would suggest trying frequent changes of toys, TV or radio on timers, and lots of attention before and after work.

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Dear Linda;

We have a question concerning our four year old Quaker Oats. Recently Oats has not been as happy or playful as he was when he was younger. Oats receives new toys and plenty of attention from everyone. Still, his playfulness is steadily decreasing. Secondly, we have noticed that Oats does not try to "mate" with us any longer. When do Quakers grow out of their mating stage and will this cause them to become less active and/or bored?

In addition, we believe that jealousy may play a role in his lack of activity. We recently acquired a new male Quaker, Puff. At first we believed Oat's change in behavior was due to the new bird. Yet we attend separate colleges and the two birds spend little time together. Obviously when they are together Oats withdraws, but when the birds are apart Oats is still less active. Do Quakers tend to lose their liveliness as they mature? Is it common for Quakers to withdraw due to traveling from place to place? Is there something you can recommend to increase Oat's liveliness and playfulness? Clarence and Amanda

Four is certainly too young for Oats to become less active and to lose his interest in mating. He is a long way from an old bird - really just in his prime. His reaction of jealousy is certainly predictable. Perhaps traveling from place to place, always stressful, combined with a rival for your attention appearing on the scene has just been too much for him to tolerate. My concern, however, is that your close observation of behavior changes indicate some physical problem and I suggested an exam by an Avian Vet to eliminate the possibility that he is suffering from some sub-acute condition. If he is healthy - all the attention you can find time to give him will restore his good nature.

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Dear Linda;

I have always been afraid of birds but around a year ago my husband and I went to a local bird show. I met a man who owned a Quaker named Cookie and fell in love with it. There were no Quakers to be found that day and I was talked into a baby Love Bird. That was a mistake, but it did teach me to hand feed a baby bird. I could not get Cookie out of my mind, so for several months we went to local shows but still no luck in finding my Quaker.

I was ready to give up when the owner of a pet shop I go to offered me two small baby Quakers at a reasonable price for me to hand feed. I gave one to my daughter and Grandsons and kept our Jade who we love so dearly. Jade is six months old now and has grown very close to my husband who just adores her. I am sure that you get a lot of letters about these charming little gifts from God. I hope someday to raise them. Jonell from Illinois.

Dear Linda;

I want to share a recent event in my life concerning my bird babies. We have an aviary with exotic Finches,, Cockatiels, Splendids, and Diamond Doves. My "children" live in the house with us, two seven year old Quakers which I have owned since they were on one feeding per day- Abby and Gus, a seven year old blue front Amazon named Snoopy, and a six year old black headed Caique - Frog. Most recently Frog was in the aviary with a male Caique named Thumper. Thumper was a dream bird. When ever I went into their flight he would fly down on my shoulder and nibble on my ear and neck until I would wrestle with his feet while he lay on his back. I loved that bird with all my heart and he loved me. He died about three weeks ago. I cried for several days when I went into the aviary after he died.

Since Thump died, Abby the Quaker, has all of a sudden become unusually affectionate with me. When she is out she will now fly into every room until she finds me, then fly to my shoulder as close to my neck as possible. She makes a buzzing sound, whispers her name, and rubs her soft head against my neck or hand.

The only thing I can make of this is that THE BIRD MAKER has seen fit to have another bird love me as much as Thumper did. I do not want to sound corny or like some religious fanatic. This event is true and still unfolding. I can only see good coming from it. I firmly believe that people who truly love and cherish their birds are embarking on a spiritual journey which will reward them to the end of life. My Quakers are intelligent, great talkers, playful, affectionate, and great company. Anyone who acquires a Quaker will be astounded by the bird's personality. I hope that someday they will be recognized for being true gems of the avian world. I hope that you find some value in my sharing of this information. Susan from Alabama

 

BIRD AEROBICS AND EXERCISE

from Learning Tracks, published by Kaytee

Just as exercise is essential for our physical and mental health, the same is the case for your companion birds. Therefore it is important that you think about what your bird might be doing in its natural environment and then try to simulate the experience for it. Types of exercise can be divided into two categories: physical and mental exercises. PHYSICAL EXERCISE: To provide quality exercise, supervised care outside the cage should be a part of your bird's routine. They love the exercise and the excitement of their extended home. But before you let the bird out of its home be sure to run through the following checklist:

Remove all poisonous plants. Cover mirrors and windows (if bird is fully flighted) Keep  all doors closed and locked (so that an unexpected visitor doesn't let the bird loose.) 

Do not use the kitchen stove during free time.

Keep all dogs and cats out of the room (unless they are well socialized to birds) Small children can injure or kill small birds and can be injured by large birds. Be sure to be present when children are enjoying the bird's free time

Leave the bird's cage door open so that it can return when it feels like it.

Birds of the parrot family are chewers by nature and must be watched with extra care.

TOE EXERCISE is also important for birds. To enable it, simply provide clean, dry perches of various sizes. The birds will get the exercise they need and it will help to keep their nails trim. Perches should be oval in shape, widely spaced, and at different levels for exercise value. Allowing your bird to use your hands as a ladder - stepping from right to left hand - is fun, good exercise, and stimulates the human-animal bond.

Birds also need frequent BEAK EXERCISE. A cuttlefish bone or lava stone should be provided to the bird for exercising the beak and keeping it sharp and trim. Members of the parrot family use their beaks for climbing which is another reason for having numerous perches available.

MENTAL EXERCISE Birds need mental stimulation. In other words, they need games, toys, etc. To provide the necessary stimulation you should consider the following:

Ropes, ladders, swings, small bells approved for birds. Don't hang anything by string as the bird could become tangled.

Supervised free time outside of your bird's home Play gyms which can be placed on top of the cage or in another location. 

If you have provided for your bird's physical and mental needs you should have a happy, friendly bird and a good companion animal.

 

FRIDAY'S FIRST

By Ann Selck ( one of our subscribers)

When Linda Greeson penned her long-overdue feature on Those Charming Little Quakers, she must have had my husband Tom in mind."He's too much!" Those who know Tom say "I think he's lost it," and I, who know the man best, know he's lost what little he had left. Completely. Absolutely. If you think I jest, read on.

ITEM "Tom spent three hours picking his baby Quaker from a clutch of six." says Linda Ward as she shakes her head. She and her husband Ray own a fine Miami bird emporium where Tom's already a legend. "Actually, Friday picked Tom, but I thought we'd have to bring in lunch for the guy. It wasn't a whole lot different from a pro sports draft" Linda says nostalgcally. "Friday Ross Perot" (his true name) is named for the day of his adoption.

ITEM - The birdie was the cheapest part of this deal. Two cages, two perches (one a magnificent cast iron affair for his office), dozens of toys, a nifty fits-under-the-airplaneseat travel cage, and more, are what cost. Linda and Roy offer free wing clips for life to anyone who buys a bird from them. Smart marketing, I say, because Tom never gets away from his free monthly pedicure, coiff, and beak buff for less than a twenty dollar bill.

ITEM - Friday's a boat bird. He joined the crew of our sailboat two days before we sailed off to the Bahamas for a month."It's just perfect," Tom crowed. "I'll hand feed him twice a day....and we will bond." Bonded isn't the half of it as Friday has played duck twice. Each time Tom has wallowed in the harbor to save Friday's soggy green life - clothes, wallet, watch, shoes, designer sun glasses and all.

ITEM - Role reversals: Friday thinks Tom is his mother... and so does Tom. Since I don't pay all that much attention to the little green money burner, I'm the father. "Now I know why all Mothers are so radiant!" clucks Tom, eyes aglow with motherly love, to anyone who listens. I've gotten used to seeing their eyes roll.

ITEM - Tom saves every feather. Really! The devoted Mom can't bear to see his son shuck perfectly good feathers, so he saves every one - even the down - in his feather jar. You'd think his jar would soon over-floweth, but nay, Momsey puts feathers in all the mail he sends. Green feathers appear under envelope flaps and under stamps. Worse yet, the crazed architect keeps feathers in his briefcase in case anyone might want some. Strangely, some do.

ITEM - Mother sports a "doo-rag... In public. What's a "doorag?", you query, They're old tea towels he clips around his neck. The "doo" stands for doo-doo. These doo splattered rags are unattractive in the extreme. Need I say more?

ITEM Aside from being he "second smartest person in the family" as the grande dame likes to say of his son, Friday is a people magnet. For some reason, people love that little green feather duster. What's the result of all this? Friday now gets the bulk of the mail, the faxes, the calls, even Email from around the world.

It saddens me to spill more dark family secrets, but you get the picture. I have never before thought of Tom as a closet case, but now.... Tom may think of himself as a devoted Mom, yet he changed exactly one human diaper ( and it wasn't No. 2!) while he oversaw my raising of our two children. Now he adores being a parent.

Last March Tom lost what little he held in reserve. He announced his intention to host (or is it hostess?) Friday's first birthday party. Invitations went to Friday's oldest and dearest friends, his later friends, and emerging friends, and finally it seems to anyone who happened to smile upon the little loud mouthed guano machine. "Nobody will come." I said with assurance. "Hold a party, they will come" was Tom's quiet answer.

The idea for a birthday party for a parrot was ridiculous. . . no matter how human the nippy,yippy bag-offeathers seemed. This was the first child's birthday party our new mom ever had anything to do with, so he was sailing in fog. The calls started coming. 'Yeah, sounds great." "We'll be there." said our stock broker, only a casual friend

of Friday's. "A parrot party! Great! " said Linda, Friday's pet broker. Friday's oldest friends from deep in the keys and in Ft Lauderdale called to confirm. Before long my kook had 21 who pledged attendance. This party might happen. Fear gripped me. So did panic.

Our twenty-something daughter Susan, a chip off the old nuevo madre, is the main reason Friday has taken over Tom's life and our yacht. She mothers Joan, a two year old Quaker. Tom bird sat Joan for two four day stints and fell beak over belly in love with the plump green girl. Susan thought the idea great and offered to help with the party. . . if Joan attended too since her B-day was also in the spring. This was like the blind teaching the lame to clog - the kook and kookette and their two seed eaters set about planing in earnest. I visualized this birthday ball as a wreck on the rocks. Boy was I ever wrong!

It hadn't rained for a month - until April First, the day of our first feather festival. Roiling Payne's gray skies threatened as our green garbed guests started arriving. No aprons for Friday's aging ma - he glowed in his lime green Lily Pulitzer blazer, Quaker gray slacks, blue parrot shirt that befitted a drug dealer, and his fertilized doo rag.

The stalwart hostesses (me) set up food tables on thedock for magnificent lasagne that I made to go along with my garlic bread and salad. Parrot grog rounded out our menu. Party "china" consisted of green plastic plates, Quaker gray napkins that looked ominously like the evening sky, blue plastic cutlery - we duplicated the popular Quaker color scheme. Grog was served in big green plastic "shooters" on which people wrote their name with a white grease pencil.

Everyone brought bird gifts, and some thoughtful folks

even brought several. A small colorful mountain of presents grew on the boats teak decks. What amazed Tom, but not yours truly and probably not you, was the fact that no one had ever been to a parrot birthday party!

Mumsey was secretive about his party games, but when I first heard him murmur the word "games" I knew that he was all the way over the edge. His guests ran the gamut from old to young, millionaires to thousandaires, and this eccentric femme was talking about playing kid games.

The first game was the Ritz Cracker toss, and the local gulls dined well. As daylight waned the blast matured and the second game - pin the tail on the Quaker...what else? commenced. Tom stapled the target, the April Quaker centerfold of Bird Talk, to a big piling. The idea was to pin (tape, really) one of Friday's recycled tail feathers closest to"the spot"while blind folded with a genuine doo-rag -freshly washed of course. The winner's prize was of course a bag stuffed with more of Friday's green and gray locks.

Dinner was served at the correct time and everyone sat on deck under cover as darkness and a few sprinkles fell.

The party had gone beautifully....so far I was amazed. Everyone loved Tom's crazy games, but suprise-suprise, Friday and Joan were not an excuse for the party. They whistled and chirped at its center as they stepped easily from hand to hand.

Almost as if by magic the roar subsided and attention focussed on Joan and Friday and Susan and Tom and the mountain of presents. As each was opened the joyful mother would tell everyone how the gift giver fit into Friday's young life.

After the gift-opening joke telling session ended I appeared with the birthday cake. I can't believe the cake, even though I arranged it. The low-cal wallop sported a green and gray Quaker on white icing, and the words "Happy Birthday Joan and Friday". I ordered a white cake since chocolate can be toxic to birds. Orange sherbet, Friday's favorite cold food, followed the cake.

The soiree started to break up about 10PM. "Let's do it again next year." was the chant as people stepped happily from deck to dock. My mouth was agape in amazement. Friday and Joan were puffed to twice normal size, and Tom and Susan wore the smug, knowing looks of any hostess.

To sum up the event - Would I do it again? Yes- in a heartbeat. Has Tom really lost it? Almost, but the party boosted his credibility. Is Friday special? Absolutely. He's almost human. Has the past year been worth it? Yes, every dollar

 

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