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August 2021 Mayor of the Avenue... Kassiani

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expressmailtome

Ripping up the road
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Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
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Matthew
Our "Mayor of the Avenue" award is presented to a member who exhibits the qualities that distinguish them to be an upstanding credit to the Avenue, a loving, informed, conscientious and caring bird parront and an all around good neighbor.

I am happy to announce that Kassiani is August's Mayor of the Month.
I enjoyed reading your interview, and am sure that everyone else will as well!

1. What kind of birds do you have (age, species and names)?


Jelly Bean and Jujube are blue and white budgerigars. The boys will be 5 years old around October of this year. I don’t know their hatch dates. It had been a little over one year since my husband passed, and my sister sent me a PetSmart gift certificate for Christmas telling me to “go get a face you can come home to”.

Opie is a cherry-headed conure (aka red-masked parakeet) who is 22 years old this year. I adopted him from a parrot rescue near Charlotte, NC. Which reminds me, I need to find out from the rescue if they have any information about his hatch month/year!


2. What got you interested in birds?


I grew up in a family of bird watchers. My mother, especially, loved to watch birds at the feeders she would put out. We had field guides to North American birds and binoculars all over the house! This love of birds evolved a bit after I married my late husband. He was a molecular evolutionary biologist, but he also studied various ornithological topics. As a young man volunteering at the National Zoo, he studied the behavior of the Rothschild’s Mynahs and found a way to determine their sexes based on behavior to assist in the breeding program of this endangered species. That work of his was published in 1975. He published several bird-related papers since then. Of the many, many books in this house is the 16-volume set of The Handbook of the Birds of the World. He always wanted a Mousebird! His work and love of all birds further fueled my interest in and love for these amazing creatures!


3. What have your birds brought to your life?


I was very isolated and alone after my husband passed. It was just so wonderful to have life in this house again! The joy and wonder of having birds in my home, watching their behaviors and antics, is amazing! It’s such a privilege to have these feathered companions.


4. What have you learned from sharing your life with your birds?


Over the years, I’ve learned more and more about what it takes to truly provide the best life possible for these captive, wild creatures! Having birds as companions has really helped me further develop my patience and humility—it is, after all, entirely up to them to cooperate with anything *I* want. (‘Course graduate school kind of knocked the ego out of me anyway, lol.) And caring for these birds has taught me empathy toward parents because I now have an inkling of what it must be like to care for children (I was never able to have children).

Joy, wonder, patience, humility, and empathy! All wrapped up in a beautiful, feathered package!


5. What's one birdie memory that will stay with you forever?


So far, I have two that involve wild birds. Barn swallows and a brown pelican. Whenever I would mow grass on the farm when I was a teenager, I would stir up insects—and find myself in the middle of a barn swallow flock, diving and swooping and catching insects! It is exhilarating to find yourself in the middle of a flock like that!

The field research location for my PhD was a salt marsh island. I would pilot an aluminum skiff out to the island, collect data from the wells I had installed, and then motor back to the mainland once I was finished. It is so peaceful and quiet to be in that environment. I had many amazing encounters there (including seeing and hearing dolphin pods swim past!). One day, when I was finished with the work, I saw that a Pelican had sidled up to the skiff and was peering inside. I would carry a load of gear to the boat, and he would glide away, only to return when I left to collect another load—hopeful that I had left some nice fish for him! This went on for about 5 or 6 loads until I was finished. I apologized to him for my lack of fish and wished him well before motoring on back to the mainland.


6. Where is your birds main living area?


This is an evolving situation. My birds’ cages are mostly in the library room in the house. It has big windows with lots of natural light. It is where they stay while I am at work in the office and where they sleep at night. When I get home from work, I roll their cages into the kitchen/living room area so that they can have their out-of-cage time while I work at the kitchen table.


7. Did you change things in your home to accommodate your birds and if so what kinds of things did you change?


Most changes so far have been primarily for their safety, of course. I have outlet covers, have hidden electrical cords, have removed potentially harmful objects from areas where they spend tie out of their cages and so on. This is an ongoing project. Planned changes to my house include French doors to the entryway of their sleep room (Library), finish cleaning and fixing the screened porch for them to be able to hang out with me outside, turn the picture window area in the family room into their daytime play zone. I’m working on it!


8. Are you involved in any kind of bird related group or activities?


Other than my participation in AA, no. I work full time, and simply don’t have any extra hours to give.

9. What is the one luxury item you would love to have for your bird(s)?


A full-on, outdoor, zoo quality aviary in my back yard!


10. Is there any bird that you dream of owning and if so why?


I’ve never really had a single bird that is my ‘dream bird’. I wax and wane on ideas of birds I hope to foster or have as companions in the future. I love all birds so much, that I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite species. But, I can admit that I would love to foster or own a macaw someday! Their larger-than-life personalities are a real attraction for me.


11. Describe a typical day with you at home with your birds.


I uncover the boys at 6:30 a.m. during the week, and 7 a.m. on weekends. They get fed morning chop and given fresh water. They complain bitterly that I’m not giving them undivided attention and treats while I rush around to finish getting ready to leave for work, lol! Before I leave, they get their food dishes swapped out for dry pellets and I make sure they haven’t dirtied up their water too much—fresh again if needed. I’m out the door between 7:30 and 8 a.m.

My current work schedule has me back home between 12:30 and 2 p.m. depending on errands or appointments. Once home, I roll both cages into the kitchen. They get a bit more chop, and Opie gets his out of cage time first. I sit down to finish my work day at the kitchen table, and spend about 5 minutes every hour doing a bit of training with whoever is out and about at that time. Opie usually 2 to 4 plus p.m., and the Budgie Boys from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. I clean their cages while they are out.

They both get fed their evening meal around 4:30 p.m. (pellets and seed mixed). At 6:30 p.m. they get rolled back into the Library/sleep room. Between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., I gradually reduce the lights in that room, close the blinds, offer treats, etc. It’s lights out at 7:30 p.m., but that changes depending on the hormones!


12. What have you learned about owning birds that you would like to share?


Please ask questions, and don’t feel stupid about what you *don’t* know. If you have never been exposed to something, how are you going to know anything about it? And once you gain more information, you can have the confidence to make the best decisions for your birds and for yourself, but don’t be embarrassed to ask!!

Hopefully this little confession will help someone else. When I first brought the budgies home, I noticed that they would sometimes have their heads turned all the way around and beaks tucked under their wings! I thought something was horribly wrong!!! Luckily, Dr. Google saved me a very expensive vet trip for a diagnosis of ‘napping/sleeping birds’!


13. If you knew then what you know now about birds, what would you do differently?


I would never have purchased birds at a pet store. But then, if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have these two funny, sweet little budgie boys who light up my world. Still, I know now that I won’t purchase birds again so that I’m not contributing to the problem of abandoned and abused birds in the rescues.


14. What other hobbies do you have?


I don’t have much time for hobbies, but I do knit, crochet, and sew when I have time. I sing in the church choir and I volunteer as an usher during choir down times. I would love to take up archery!! Maybe how to use a broad sword?! Lol!


15. Anything else you would like to share?


Hmmmm, well, maybe someone would be interested to know that I am a hydrogeologist, groundwater modeler, and chemical oceanographer. I work for the state in which I live. Technically speaking, I’m “Dr. Kassiani” since I have a PhD, although I don’t ‘drop the D-bomb’ unless I have to at work.

I’m a Sagittarius, I like long walks on the beach….lol! Just kidding!
 

Chomskypom

Walking the driveway
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The BROADSWORD :rpg1: I love that!!! Wonderful interview, congrats!
 

Tiel Feathers

Joyriding the Neighborhood
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:congrats5:
What a really great interview! I loved reading more about you and your birds, and also, your job sounds really interesting!
 

Kassiani

Rollerblading along the road
Celebirdy of the Month
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Thanks!!! I'm really humbled to receive this honor, and the questions were fun to answer :)
 

tka

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Congratulations! I really enjoyed reading your interview :)
 

sunnysmom

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Congratulations! I enjoyed reading your interview!

:starshower1:
 
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