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May 2020 Mayor of the Avenue... Mockinbirdiva (Andrea)

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expressmailtome

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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 Andrea is May'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)?

There are eight wonderful companions in my home!
Lola - Double Yellow Head Amazon -14 years old,
Henry - Yellow Nape Amazon- almost 14 years old,

Four Crimson bellied conures:
Rocket - 11 years old
Ruby - 11 years old
Scarlette - 11 years old
Casey - 13 years old

Bob- Black Capped conure - 14 years old

Astro - Female green cheek conure -12 years old

2. What got you interested in birds?

I'm going to have to credit my mother for my love of birds. She bought a little budgie when I was a toddler and would set the cage on the floor to keep me entertained ( I was one of those whiney little kids). I would lay there for the longest time watching him. At the time we were living in Spain and his name was Pepito. I'll spare you the photo of my bare behind laying there watching him… even though I've shared that once before. She even wrote about him in my baby book. Who knew one tiny bird would have me hooked for life!

3. What have your birds brought to your life?

Companionship, laughter, enjoyment, and a sense of purpose. I have a hard time describing this unique companionship, though I know many of you understand. I am in awe of their beauty and their intriguing nature. I've never had children ( not by choice) so I do feel blessed to have these special birds in my life to look after and care for with each of their own special characteristics and personalities. My flock was never a substitute for a human family. They have however, in so many ways, become the family members who fulfill my life with the need to nurture other living beings.

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

I've learned they have individual personalities much like people do. I have not learned how to think like a bird, but rather understand certain actions and behaviors by each one. Once in a while they throw me a curve and I wonder, now why did they do that! I've learned how to cope with a strong personality ( Henry… of course!), patience, and the art of distraction…. it's an ongoing process with occasional habit changes for each bird. I've learned to not take a bite personal and to let them choose what interaction they want with me. I've also learned how important a daily routine is. I can't always adhere to a strict routine depending on my day events and when it falls short of the normal … I hear ALL about it. The conures will have a scream fest, Lola and Henry will be more vocal talking or in Lola's case some screaming ( I don't mind … her screaming is not offensive to me at all). I do get a kick out of Henry ringing his bell around dinner time, sitting on top of his cage with one foot on his bell giving it a constant DING… DING… DING…. It's the most likely time of day he'll say "Are ya hungry? Ya want some food?" So with that… I learned how much attention they pay to what I do and say. More importantly, I've learned how to adapt my life to accommodate for their needs and requirements. They certainly make life interesting…. not one day is boring with these funny little people dressed up in colorful suits of feathers!!!!

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

I have several memories that will be with me for my lifetime. If I had to choose just one, it would be the day Henry came home with me. It was my 50th birthday. The week before my birthday I was determined to bring him home after thinking about him for a couple of months ( sort of obsessing, those dark brown baby eyes had me so sucked in). I even talked my husband into going with me to bring him home. We walked into the store and I went straight back to where he had been for the past couple of months… there was no Henry. I went to the owner I knew well for many years and grilled him on where he was. He told me people from New Jersey had come in earlier in the day and had bought him. I was so disappointed and mad at myself for taking so long to commit… I really felt a bit lost emotionally after having felt so elated about going to get him. I moped for a whole week!!!! My birthday the following week…. hubby tells me we're going to a friends home for dinner. I rebelled. I was such stinker about it too…. No! I wanted to go out to eat! He said he already promised them… so what was I supposed to do? I was not a happy camper. He gave me a heavy box to carry out to the car ( my birthday gift he says..) We had a nice dinner with his friends, and after some chit chat it was time to open "the box". A box inside a box with random books from our house? Weird… then I open my card inside the box and a picture of an amazon falls out of the card. So confusing! Then the wife left the room and came back in with Henry. I'm shocked my husband pulled this off with the store owner and his friends. Happiest surprise ever!!!! I will never forget my 50th birthday!

6. Where is your birds main living area?

Lola and Henry have their own room, the Crimson clan ( Ruby, Scarlette, and Casey) are in an enclosed porch with windows on three sides ( used to be our weekend relaxing TV room), Astro and Rocket are in the ( used to be) dining room, and Bob shares the bedroom with us and comes out to the kitchen area in the evenings for his extra meals and social time.

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

Other than dedicating rooms to them there haven't been any big changes.

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

None other than Avian Avenue. I do enjoy the time I spend on the Avenue!!!!

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

The one luxury item I would love to have would be an outdoor enclosed garden/flight that attaches to the house with more natural settings for them to explore. (Would be lovely to have a special shower area too!)

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

The one species of bird I did dream of years ago was the beautiful Golden Conure. I am still enamored by their beauty but have no desires now to bring one in to my already large flock. I have my dream birds, they're wonderful companions and I couldn't ask for more than what they give me every day.

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

Mornings are a slow start for me. I need time for aches and pains to subside...I wash, rinse and fill all the water cups at night, clean and fill pellet cups (night time is also the time of day they can have a spoonful of seed in a separate cup.) For Henry and Lola, a teaspoon or less of safflower/seed mix with an almond and a few pieces of chopped walnut mixed in with smaller pellets at night time for a snack and motivation to go in on their own. They also eat their bigger pellets after those snacks and take about 15 minutes before they settle on the perch they will stay on until morning and then I turn their lights out. All of the birds are quiet in the morning until they hear me get up and then the calling/greetings, and toy banging begins. Bob is in the bedroom, his cage door is open. He waits to come out when he sees I'm awake. He'll climb to the top of his cage and wrestle with his hanging toys until I'm dressed and ready to go out. He also waits for me to leave the room to eat. I close the door for his safety. I feed the dogs, take them outside and then start turning lights on for the birds. I open Lola and Henry's doors ( the big green guy will throw pellets out of his cup if I don't hurry) and leave a treat for Henry ( always trying to stay on his good side!) and Lola. Henry is fairly grumpy about his space when he first comes out so I leave him to eat his snacks in peace. (Coffee Time!!!!) I check in with littles to make sure they're all doing well and I remove the seed cups for the rest of the day until after I clean cages at night. Their pellet cups have Roudybush, Zupreem and Harrisons. When I'm finished with my rounds I can open the bedroom door so Bob can see what's going on. If I'm not in the immediate area I do close the bedroom door just in case he hears the odd noise and gets spooked and does a fly through the house. Mid day I'll give a few vegetables for everyone, wash water cups out. Evenings are my busy time with the birds. I make a grain/veggie ( a variety of pre-cooked frozen grains mixed with fresh finely cut vegetables) chop for Lola and Henry. It takes me an hour to wash veggies, cut,cook some, some raw and go around to all the birds. Bob also gets the same mix when I bring him out to the kitchen nook. He can't be in the same room with Astro and Rocket or there would be a nasty fight. He's the only one of the littles that will eat this mix. Next I open doors for Rocket and Astro, pull the sheer curtain shut to keep Rocket from flying out of the room to look for me ( or to the cage Bob is in). Rocket spends most of his evening in Astro's cage and will fly back to his cage occasionally for a jolly perch rub. Neither of these two will touch each other and can share space without any issues. I have a panel I slide to close the bottom of the doorway off to keep the dogs out. All of the conures will get whole vegetable slices different from what they had earlier in the day. I find they will eat more of what I'd like for them to eat if they have less of a choice at one time and this reduces waste. I take fresh water cups and the evening meal for Lola and Henry. Scritches upon request to start... Lola will sit on on her door perch next to me waiting for her scritches, if it's not enough she'll climb down to the bottom of the door and block me from reaching in her cage for more scritches. Henry is happily chewing on a wood block or paper cookie stick while I'm changing Lola's papers. ( A busy bird is a good bird!) As soon as I finish with Lola's papers he drops his chewies like a hot potato and does the "I need a scratch dance". Lucky for me he's still in the mood for them so I rub his head while he closes his eyes making happy noises. When he's satisfied I change his papers, wipe off their top trays, give them their meal and leave - they don't care for distracting company while they're eating. Everybody is happy eating and then they all nap for a while. Later I collect water cups to wash (again) for the little birds, vacuum floors, Bob goes back to the bedroom after being out for a couple of hours ( loves some snuggle time), I take out the papers from his kitchen cage and then change papers for Astro and Rocket ( flies to my shoulder - climbs down my arm to my hand when I'm picking up my papers to put in the cages. He loves to be held up to my face with his back against my nose, truly his happy place. He does these short wing slaps of contentment and makes kissy clicks with half closed eyes. It's hard doing papers one handed!) , fresh water, pellets, treats, in five minutes time Astro has already turned her water into soup - rinse her cup out again - turn their lights out ( as soon as their lights are out Astro is eating pellets AGAIN… ( ambient light from the kitchen) making more soup.. every night). Next I clean out the biggies dinner food bowls and wash them ( Bob's too), night time treats for Lola and Henry, pick up their soiled floor papers and any in cage papers ( again) if they're messy, wipe top trays again if they've been up top but usually not and close their doors. Vacuum my kitchen and then turn lights out for Lola and Henry since by now they're done snacking. Sit and rest a few minutes…. back to vacuuming my bedroom/bathroom… change Bob's papers… turn the lights out. Homestretch…the Crimson clan…open their doors, turn the TV on, fresh water, seed treats, pellets, wet wipe the floor before I change papers in three cages… all the while Ruby is clinging to me or climbing up and down my body until I go over to Casey's cage where she'll hop off to rummage his pellets ( I remove his treats so she doesn't get double and he gets them back when I'm done cleaning) and as long as she doesn't pull any feathers off his belly I'll let her visit him a bit ( it's a bad habit of hers and I'm not sure why she loves to do this). She'll fly back to me when I go over to her cage - go in and eat while I'm changing her papers. For quite a while I would put Casey on Scarlette's cage to visit, I watch their bickering to make sure it doesn't get serious but the hanky panky efforts never cease… geez whiz!!!! I can't get enough done having to keep my eyeballs on those two so I've given them a visitation break. Scarlette is more social with me when Casey isn't in her cage visiting. In the beginning of their separation she was looking like a jaded lover sulking. She hates Ruby with Casey and will hang on the side of her cage with the feathers on the back of her head raised up and swaying from side to side…The CB "I'm burning holes in you" stare. There's no love between these two sisters! I can't leave their room for one minute when they're out. Casey doesn't care who he gets to spend time with. It's nice they can have the opportunity to preen those head pin feathers I'm not allowed to. These three love to eat while I'm cleaning up their room and could care less about my pulling papers out of their cages and putting fresh in no matter how noisy I am. As Ruby steals a pellet from Casey's bowl she'll hop back up to my shoulder and continue crunching away…dropping crumbs on me and the floor I just wiped. ( Dinner with a friend!) They'll all drink water from their bowls when I hold it for them before I put it back in their cages. Scarlette has always been a bit of a nervous girl. She will step up for me whether she's inside or outside of her cage. I'll hold her for the couple of minutes she's comfortable with. She'll touch my nose with her beak, look at her cage, and repeat a few more times and then I hold her closer to her outdoor perch and give her the choice of hopping off or staying. I appreciate the times she chooses to stay and the times she climbs on my shoulder when I change her papers… she's also a sneaky pooper and once in a while I get a nice decoration on my back! Casey- eh, he's my biter and takes every opportunity to bite except when I'm changing his paper. He sits on his door perch next to my arm, never climbs on even though Ruby is hopping off and on me. He does like being talked to and will happily munch away when I tell him what a good boy he is ( even though he's not most of the time). I do love clean paper ( for a minute). I turn the TV off, close their doors and this is their cue to go to their perches and then it's lights off. This pretty much concludes the end of the day. Are you tired yet? I sure am!!!!! I'm sure I've missed a few things ( you know, those other household chores and my own dinner time) but for now… my novel is long enough!

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

I've learned just how observant they are, some may say things I repeat on a daily basis without the intentions of teaching them to say those words ( no unpleasant surprises.. I use a happy voice!" ). With one exception - I do wish Astro didn't tell me to "GET OUT!" every time I'm near her but it is what it is when you have extra critters in the house. They all check doors for a latch that may not be closed properly. I've learned to slowly introduce new items such as different shaped perches and toys. ( sometimes new foods can be scary) My smaller birds are more receptive to new things than my two zons. My large Brickhouse Bell Toys arrived and currently those are monsters for both Lola and Henry so I'll have to keep them in view and touch them several times a day to build their confidence to play with them. One of the biggest things I've learned from my birds is how forgiving they are…at least my smaller birds are. When I broke my leg nine years ago I couldn't take care of them for four months. It wasn't until I could walk on my own without the use of a walker that I was able to start caring for them again (such a happy day for me!). It was a tougher reintroduction to be accepted with Henry than it was with the rest of my flock ( Lola was a bit piffy too). With the conures it was like a day had not passed without me taking care of them. They treated me no differently than before my accident and were happy to step up as always. Lower your expectations and respect them for what they are no matter what. I've also learned so much more about healthier diets from members on AA through the years and always love to see what others share in chop recipes or new foods to offer!

There's so much to learn about birds. They're not all alike even within the same species. Each one will have their likes, dislikes and quirks. Give them time to observe you when you bring them home and learn what their body language means. If you think you've researched everything you need to know…. living with a bird will prove to be an ongoing lesson as they go through changes throughout the years. It may take days, weeks or months … be patient and understand your bird may never be the snuggly friendly companion you wanted. First impressions after you bring them home can form the type of relationship or behaviors you may have with them going forward. I'm not of the belief in opening doors and letting them out when you first bring them home. Everything is new, confusing and may be frightening. Without trust in a new care taker they might be difficult to return to their cage and the efforts of trying can cause undo stress resulting in fear the next time you try to interact with them. They'll avoid you any way they can or bite as the only form of protection they know if they see you as an intruder in their space. Cages are unpleasant, restricting and offer little choice of movement. Give them the most spacious cage you can, activities, options to perch on…. some place that can offer comfort when they can't be out of the cage. All things to consider before you even think about bringing a bird home. I understand every circumstance will be different depending on each bird and where it came from. Birds that come from established homes still need to learn 'you' and feel safe. Setting a routine from the start will help them adjust to a new normal. Babies and young fledglings can be more receptive to handling and as they mature with more natural instincts it may change how they want to interact with being touched or handled. Be respectful and understanding if they choose to avoid touching. Teach them to step up on a hand held perch early on as this may be the tool they'll accept (if your hands are not welcome) for stepping up when you need to transfer them to another area or retrieve them from somewhere they flew to and you need to return them to the cage or stand. Positive experiences build trust and happier interactions for both of you. Existing diets may not be acceptable - offer the healthier diet while reducing the other to transition over to better eating. Experiment with new fresh foods and don't be discouraged if they don't eat them. Lola and Henry were great vegetable eaters when they were young. They no longer want to eat those same foods and it can be difficult to get them to try anything new. I mince those foods and incorporate them into their chop starting off with small amounts and increasing the volume gradually to get them used to new flavors. ( boy, do they resist big changes!)

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

I would have fewer birds which could all be kept socially in the same area with larger accommodations and greater amenities to give them more enrichment. Having them spread out to several areas makes it more time consuming in daily care and limits quality time spent out of the cage unless I can be with them to supervise and intervene possible fights. ( highly likely with five of the littles)


14. What other hobbies do you have?


I'm an artist with many interests in different mediums of art. It's been some time since I've worked with polymer clay in sculpture, stained glass, carving or even doing painted furniture and portraits. At one time I was busy doing murals in homes for clients. That all ended when I broke my leg. I'm very content to make jewelry now and have been for the past nine years. I sell what I make in a local gallery just a few miles south of me. I work there too occasionally and enjoy interacting with the public. Though now…. that's all changed so we'll see what the future holds. I have enough supplies to keep me busy for years no matter what I chose to do!!!

15. Anything else you would like to share?

Nothing other than how grateful I am for this great community. I love how caring, informative, intelligent, and supportive you all are. I will always be awestruck with all the people from around the globe who come here with the common ground of love and interest for the well being of birds. There's no shortage of chuckles here either… thanks to each of you for all the giggles and fits!!!
 

rocky'smom

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Congratulations from one Mayor to another
 

Zara

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:yah: Congratulations Andrea!!!! :starshower1: Very well deserved. You´re always so kind, caring, patient, knowledgable and funny :) and Wow, that´s one major daily routine! Lot´s of work! I really enjoyed reading more about you and your birds, I really love how your husband pulled off your 50th birthday surprise, very wonderful :loveshower:
 

Shezbug

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:congrats5:

Such a great choice for Mayor of the Avenue, you have always been so kind, supportive and helpful and very fast to reply to those in need- you have a heart of gold and great sense of humor.
I always love reading everything you post :smileflower::cheer:
 

Hawk12237

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Yeah Andrea!! I really enjoyed how you wrote this.
I got a real good laugh with number 11, as I can relate!!
:yah::woot2::yourock:
 

Clueless

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Congrats!!
 

Tiel Feathers

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:congrats5:
I loved reading your interview, especially on how you got Henry!:heart:
 

tka

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Congratulations! I always enjoy hearing about your flock, especially how you handle the different interactions and the flock dynamic.
 
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