The new line of I ♥ Parrots merchandise is now available for purchase on the Parrot Wizard website.Kili and Truman are featured on this special release on a TShirt (available in S-XXXXL adult unisex sizes), Hat (one size fits all), and Mug. Collect all three for the complete line of I Heart Parrots memorabilia and I'll throw in a free I ♥ Parrots mousepad. These items make a great gift for parrot lovers.
This was a really fun and exciting weekend. The parrots came on a flying and camping trip to Maine. We set out not too early. Shortly after takeoff, air traffic control had me fly right over the Empire State Building and cross La Guardia airport. I let the birds out and they would go from sitting on me to atop Truman's travel cage. This was the first time I have ever taken them flying together in my airplane. Prior to this it was just one at a time and on occasion. But lately I have been testing things out and making preparations for our cross country flight to Arizona in June to present our live seminar.
Cartoon depiction of Kili & Truman on their camping outing
Kili copiloting the airplane
Truman giving flying advice from my shoulder
Kili & Truman perch atop Truman's travel cage while he tries to put a shoe on
We climbed to 13,500 feet to practice high elevation flying in preparation for our upcoming trip to Arizona to present a seminar. The birds got sleepy and dozed off. Kili was out like a log in her carrier in the full turned around sleeping position. Truman took longer to fall asleep but fell into a light slumber as well. However, the birds held up just fine and I'm no longer worried about flying over the rockies with them without supplemental oxygen. My airplane isn't pressurized, so although flying lower than jetliners, the actual cabin pressure is far lower.
Truman falls asleep in his travel cage because of the low pressure but shows no discomfort
After two and a half hours flight, we arrived in Belfast, Maine. We took a quick fly over the town and landed at the municipal airport. I harnessed up the parrots in the airplane and then we walked to town. It was only a few miles each way so not a big deal. Fresh air, sun, and entertainment for the birds. Kili & Truman took turns riding my hand or shoulder.
We went to a seafood place by the water and enjoyed some Maine lobster and seafood. Although pets aren't allowed into the restaurant, Kili and Truman earned special permission for their cuteness. We took a table at the furthest end to avoid disturbing anyone. The parrots sat on a nearby fence and earned scraps of french fries and veggies from the masters' table.
Airport and town of Belfast Maine
After a tasty seafood meal, we go to check out the marina in Belfast Maine
Kili and Truman find the airplane's propeller an ideal place to perch and drop a poo before the next flight
We walked back to the airport and climbed in the plane for a very short flight over to the island of Islesboro. The airport there was quite short and desolated. One other airplane was parked there but otherwise it did not appear as though anyone had been through there in weeks. I parked the plane near a grassy patch and then proceeded to unload. I put the parrots out in their carriers to watch the tent set up process. They were just in awe how all that tent fit in such a small bag. After everything was set up, we took a walk and watched the sun set.
Upon return to the camping area, we broke out the cooler and sat down for a picnic dinner. I brought a parrot training perch for the birds to share when they were out. The two of them jealously watched the picnic set up but were treated to some bread and parrot food. It was getting dark so I put the birds into their travel cages and wrapped them with their sheet so they could have their own tent within the tent to stay warm at night. I specifically opted to cover them with one big sheet rather than separate ones so they could share their trapped heat under it.
The parrots were awakened by the calls of wild birds that they had never heard before. So they joined in with their own chatter, shrieks, and whistles. I took the parrots outside wearing their harnesses and practiced some flight recalls with them for treats. They did some but were mostly busy looking around so I didn't push it much. I let them climb around in the tree near our tent and they were thrilled. It was a lot bigger than their tree at home!
Parrots go camping in a tent by the airplane in Islesboro Maine
Kili and Truman decorate the airport sign by doing their own run up
The parrots enjoy some morning sunshine in the tent atop Truman's travel cage
Kili and Truman had a thrill climbing around a tree by the tent
We packed up the tent and loaded the plane. Before long we were airborne and enroute to Hyannis in Cape Cod Massachussets. We flew right over top Boston Logan Airport enroute and Kili got a bird's eye view of Boston.
We arrived in an hour and a half, parked the plane, and headed into town for lunch. After a pleasant walk, we found my favorite raw bar called The Raw Bar. This place is home of the biggest Lobster Roll I have ever seen. For $25 you get a Lobster Roll the size of a Cape Parrot. It's gotta have at least 3-4 lobsters worth of meat piled on it. It is virtually impossible to eat this much lobster by yourself so it's good to have someone to share it with.
I set the parrots on the chair next to me and fed them oysters. Actually they were just the cracker kind, oyster crackers. But the parrots were in paradise. They love the crunchy chewy goodness of these little baked delights and were begging for more. I gave them a chance to taste some lobster but they opted to stick to the french fries and crackers instead.
Kili gets a "bird's eye view" of Boston as we fly over Boston Logan Airport
Parrots checking out the giant Lobster Roll. And yes, it's all real lobster, no substitute!
Kili and Truman prefer fake seafood like Oyster Crackers instead
After a delightful, and somewhat overfilling, seafood lunch, we strolled around Hyannis. From all directions Kili & Truman received praise from shocked onlookers. We returned to the airport and completed the flight back to New York in record time. With a steady tailwind, I was able to bring the power back to fly at 185mph on a mere 14 gallons of gas in an hour and fifteen minutes. Coming back to New York from the northeast, we turned south and flew down the Hudson to get back home.
Map portraying our trip. Red, green, yellow, then blue. NY - Belfast - Islesboro - Hyannis - NY
Senegal Parrot flying over New York City
The trip proved a huge success and we had a lot of fun. It was a new experience for the parrots but far from overwhelming. By camping, walking, and using personal transportation we were able to avoid all issues surrounding travel with pets. We ate outside and cleaned up our own mess. Thus we were able to make the entire trip with the birds without any question of whether they'd be allowed or not. This broke up the parrots' typical routine and also got them involved in something I would normally leave them at home to do. It's a win/win for everyone. Now check out the video footage from the parrots' camping trip to Maine.
Truman is really looking forward to the Superbowl now that he thinks he's a star quarterback. Not only is he good at passing the ball around by flinging it with his beak, he can also hold the ball for kicking a field goal. Check out these photos, cartoon, and video of my Cape Parrot playing with his football!
Then Truman becomes the football himself! He's just about the right size come to think of it. I can play the role of both quaterback and receiver! We started playing a game with Truman where I hold him like a football and throw him and he turns around and comes back to me. Originally this started out as me just trying to get rid of him when he was being annoying not letting me get things done but he'd just turn around and come back to keep bugging me. But then we realized the trick potential and I began encouraging these boomerang flights with treats.
Truman the Cape Parrot lining up to play some football. Set...
...Hut! Truman snaps the football
It's a fumble! Quick, recover the ball!
Ok, let's play it safe and go for the field goal! Cartoon of parrots kicking a field goal.
I get often asked about leaving parrots home while going on vacation. Well this article is about how going away on vacation ends up being a vacation for the parrots as well! There are many reasons we can't bring our feathered friends with us whether its safety, accommodations, going abroad, or just needing to get away from the squawking and cleaning for a little bit. So this article is about making your absence tolerable for your parrots.
The first and definitely most important thing for preparing your parrots for your absence is getting them used to being without you beforehand. When we hear of stories of an owner leaving a parrot home a week to come back and find it plucked naked, often this is a result of the parrot being completely spoiled with attention and then suddenly deserted. But just like taming, independence also takes some getting used to for our feathered pals. Even if you don't see yourself going on vacation any time soon, it is still important to maintain a controlled relationship. What if someone in your family becomes ill and needs care? What if you get sent some place for work? There are many unexpected scenarios besides just taking a vacation that may require our parrots to cope without our presence. The only way to prepare them for this is by letting them experience this beforehand.
Your parrot needs to be just as capable of spending time alone as with you. Surely many of us are more concerned with taming and getting them to behave with us, but we must not take this too far and make them entirely dependent on us either. This is why (both for training and vacation purposes) I recommend limited out of cage and interaction time daily. There are minimums and they are much discussed, but I also believe there should be maximums. It's impossible to put exact numbers on it but the point is that your parrot needs to spend enough time in its cage on its own every day that it won't entirely freak out when suddenly you aren't around a day.
It is important to provide good cage enrichment and activities. Of course this is much discussed elsewhere and is a good practice all the time. While maintaining routine is convenient and reassuring, it's important to be spontaneous from time to time. Yes, I try to be home to see my parrots on time, feed them at the normal time, etc. But once in a while if I need to be out late or decide to put them to sleep late than usual, it just prepares them for dealing with out of the ordinary scenarios. If I actually end up going a very long time without a natural break in the routine, I may opt to not take them out a certain day despite being home just to simulate this. But normally there are real reasons for this to happen so I generally save it for these occasions.
Don't be scared to leave the parrots home for an entire day or weekend (preferably with someone to keep an eye on them). If you've never done it before, be sure to see how they do a weekend without your presence prior to leaving them for an entire week or more. Try progressively longer durations. If you are leaving the birds alone for 12-48 hours without anyone to check up on them, consider leaving multiple sources of food and water in case any are spoiled or contaminated. A water bottle is preferable. Never leave parrots completely unattended for more than 2 days at a time though because if anything does happen to their food/water supply, they won't be able to make it much longer than this without intervention.
A question that frequently comes up is if it is better to leave parrots at home and have someone come to take care or to bring them along with their cages to someone else's home. Unless it cannot be arranged, I think it is much better and safer for the parrots to stay home. Not only are they familiar at home but they will also feel safer. To take both their favorite person away and the familiarity of their surroundings is more stressful. People worry that they'll get bored without people around, but I think if you make the above mentioned preparations they will be equipped to deal with it. Another thing is that the parrots are significantly safer remaining in your own home. As a parrot owner, you've probably spent years making your home bird safe. It is easy to begin to take this for granted and forget dangers they could face in someone else's home such as teflon fumes, other pets, children, ceiling fans, windows, etc. For all these reasons, it is best to have a sitter come briefly to your home to care for the parrots each day rather than take the birds to their own home.
When having someone birdsit for you, one of the most important considerations is whether or not they will handle the parrots. In most cases, unless the person is both familiar with parrots and specifically familiar with handling yours, it is safer not to have them let the parrots out. As much as it sucks to stay in the cage for two weeks straight, it is safer than being let loose in your home by someone who can't put them back away. Still, discuss a contingency plan with the birdsitter about what to do if they get out and cannot be returned to their cage. The sitter should leave the cage doors open and cage loaded with food so that the parrot can eventually go back inside to feed.
When I am away, I like to leave my parrots more toys than usual to keep them busy. I put in several new toys to provide with more activity and material for the parrots to play with. However, I also like to leave a few old favorite toys for familiarity as well. I make sure not to rearrange the perches just before leaving instead favoring a tried and true cage layout. This is not the time to experiment with new kinds of toys though, so any new toys that are provided should be similar to safe/successful toys in the past.
I usually end up writing a basic manual covering all things that need to be taken care of and possible contingencies for my bird sitter. So not only do I tell about the basic things that need to be done but also what to do in case there are problems and I cannot be reached. This includes biting, escape, illness, vet care, etc. At the same time, I try to reduce unnecessary activities by as much as possible not to burden the sitter too much.
The birds are fed exclusively pellets while I'm gone. Why? This is safest, simplest, and most nutritious. This is the least burden but also least responsibility for the care taker. The parrots are guaranteed to get all the nutrition they require, the food won't spoil, and it's very easy to guarantee that they don't run out of food in any way. Although I normally follow strict food management, I have my birds overfed while I'm gone. A normal pellet meal won't even line the entire bottom of their food bowls but when I'm gone I have the bowls nearly topped off. I make sure the birds are left with enough food to last several days despite the sitter coming daily. This is to ensure that if for any reason the sitter skips a day, the birds have enough food and water to get by. While we are concerned about long term diet and variety in their meals, a 100% unlimited pellet diet for a few weeks won't do any harm for a parrot that is accustomed to eating pellets.
Aritos, Latin American Onion Ring Parrot Chips (Ara + Fritos = Aritos?)
Finally, the reason I called this parrot vacation is because if done right, this can be as much of a relaxing vacation for your parrots as it is for you. Recently I spent a week traveling in Central America while my brother came once a day to take care of Kili and Truman. He is fully qualified to handle them so he would let them out for as much as an hour every day to fly around. They couldn't be more thrilled! I came back to find they had assumed full control of the situation! My computer mouse was destroyed, poop all over the carpets, and the birds helping themselves to places I would never allow them to go. Not only this, but they stuffed their crops to the brink for every day nonstop. No discipline, no food management, no responsibility. It truly was a vacation for them as well. But this is ok. Let them have it easy while you're gone and then work the taming, training, and order back in once you return.
So with all the preparations that were made over time, it was no trouble at all to leave the parrots home for a week. I got to take a vacation and do some traveling. Meanwhile Kili & Truman also got to take a vacation from training and just enjoy being wild for a little bit.
Happy Thanksgiving! I want to extend a thanks to all me readers, subscribers, participants, and followers. Your support is much appreciated and what keeps me going with all the free articles and videos. But also I'd like to say thanks to everyone that I have learned from, to the professional breeders that keep the community going, the rescues that take in parrots in difficult circumstances, the avian veterinarians, and most of all my own two parrots. I have learned more about parrot keeping from them than all the books, videos, and internet knowledge combined. I want to thank Kili and Truman for putting up with all my trick training and patiently working with me on the stuff we do.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday meals and don't eat too much turkey. But if you will, don't let your birds know!