Life runs fast and mean in this town.
-Hunter S. Thompson
Things in the world of Avicuture have gotten a little heated lately. Due to some events that have all happened at about the same time, things got weird and the weird turned pro. I’m still getting back to full speed from my concussion, so Best Friends Animal Society Parrot Caregiver, Bonnie Grafton took the helm here. She has a few things to say.
First off, let me just say that I absolutely love what Best Friends Animal Society tries to do every day and I find their work with Parrots extraordinary. Parrot Garden Manager Jacque Johnson has been at the helm for a few years and has worked tirelessly to promote the Parrot Garden as well as improving and expanding their facilities.
Bonnie Grafton established a parrot supply store in 2009 in Port Charlotte, Florida. Almost a year and a half ago, she joined me, Janet Holt Hilton and Kelly Moore Parsley in Kanab, Utah at Best Friends Animal Society to volunteer.
Well, as it sometimes happens, Best Friends captured her heart and soul and she moved out there last year with her husband Ed to work there. Her business partner Rebecca Stockslager and her daughter currently run the store, now named “Noah’s Bird Nest.”
Photo courtesy of Best Friends
Bonnie is still working in Kanab as a Parrot Caregiver to Best Friends flock at the Parrot Garden. Bonnie is passionate about the work she does and believes strongly in adoption. Recently, she wrote up this piece expressing her feelings about the recent temperature in Aviculture. Here are Bonnie’s thoughts:
*First off, let me put out the necessary disclaimer. These are MY words and may or may not reflect the thoughts of my employer, my boss, my coworkers, my husband, my friends or the mailman. These are my thoughts and ideas only.*
Before I even had expressed my thoughts much less written this, someone told me that I run the risk of being attacked by people on the internet and other people within the industry.
That comment alone nearly broke my heart. This is what we have come to already. Anyone that has an opinion that might even *suggest* that the factions in the avian world could get along or find common ground will be crucified.
We agree on one thing. We love birds. I’m pretty sure that people who work with dogs love dogs. People who work with children love children. You get the drift. We love birds and the majority of us want is what’s best for them. But what does that MEAN?
There are extremists in every cause, every culture, every family. One group of extremists will say birds belong in the wild. Yes, absolutely they do, but that is not an option. It is a romantic and unrealistic view and not feasible for a multitude of reasons.
The next group will tell you birds don’t belong in homes. Again, agreed, but we should have figured that out several thousand years ago. The keeping of parrots has evolved tremendously over the last thirty years or so and we continue to learn. There are untold numbers of people that are successfully living with healthy, happy parrots so I believe we are doing a better job of providing for them.
Do they belong in homes? No. Can they be successful in homes? Absolutely. Is everyone cut out for it? Of course not. By the same token not every one is cut out for a human child…or a dog…or anything else that would require a person to be responsible for something other than themselves. Responsibility…what we have created we are responsible for. Does anyone realize that there are many, many former breeders that are now actively involved in rehoming and rescue?? I’m certain that you will find the same in any animal welfare field. It happens…the realization that you cannot guarantee the safety of what you have created for their lifetime.
Photo Courtesy of Best Friends Parrot Garden
When you get the calls and you have a heart, you take them in. There are plenty of people out there that do this and plenty of them are not rescues at all. They just love birds. At least, I hope that is what the motive is.
Rescues and rehoming facilities are full. Yes, I absolutely believe that. I am involved with far too many of you to ever feel otherwise. But..let’s explore why they are full. Do they adopt? If not, why not? If they have made the choice to provide a lifetime for the parrots in their care, my hope is that they would have a plan for the next 80-100 years and enough sustainability to make that happen. Rescues and rehoming facilities with successful programs are getting parrots into homes at a fair rate. Are there more coming in than going out? It’s likely, but I personally don’t know for sure.
I do believe we are seeing a spike in awareness brought on by forums like social media. I attribute our current numbers to the massive breeding that happened in the 80′s and early 90′s. I feel safe in saying they are not breeding parrots in the numbers they were in the past.
Will there always be homeless parrots? Sadly, yes. I know that. We need only to look at dog and cat advocates to confirm this. Do I think we should still be breeding parrots for homes? Of course not, but it is my belief. There are those that believe otherwise and while I do not agree, I respect their right to choose for themselves. I’ve had plenty of people knock on my door over the years attempting to convert me to some religion, it hasn’t worked yet. Doesn’t stop them from coming. I will continue to “practice my religion” and if I can convert someone to my way of thinking, so much the better.
I try to see the good in people. I understand that there are people in this industry that are here for the money or even the fame (yea,right), but I will continue to believe that this is a very small percentage. I’m sure the dog and cat folks could tell us plenty about that and compared to them, I would imagine our numbers are still pretty small.
We’ve got a long way to go before anyone will pay attention to us, but imagine how the people who advocate for our farm animals feel. I would love to see standards of care established. I’ve said that for years. I’d love to see breeders, rescues and sanctuaries regulated and responsible.
I don’t know if that is the answer. I don’t know how to get there. It occurs to me that no one does.
That’s how I feel. Period. I’m realistic enough to understand that could be a long way off. That doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to try.
We continue to find homes for parrots. We continue to learn and educate. We continue to increase awareness. We continue to network and support organizations we believe in. We continue to believe that we can create change.
In the meantime, I am going to help parrots. While the road that I follow may not be the same road you choose, I wish you well.
Posted in Best Friends Animal Society, essays and articles, Parrot Adoption and Rescue Sites, Writing | Tagged Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Best Friends animal Society, Best Friends Animal Society Parrot Caregiver, Bird Blogs, Bonnie Grafton, information about parrots, Jacque Johnson, Parrot Blog, Parrot Blogs, Parrot Garden, Parrot Nation, Parrot Rescue Sites, Patricia Sund, rehoming parrots, The Parrot Garden at Best Friends Animal Society | 17 Comments »
The things I ponder. Sometimes I discuss them with Parker…
I was straightening out the cabinet that contains, among other items, my Tupperware. Now this sounds like a mundane job one does now and then, but when you have them all straightened out and sporting their lids like brave soldiers ready to protect your leftover pasta sauce, it’s a proud moment.
Then you see what is left laying on the counter that didn’t quite match up.
Yup, you know what I mean: Those lids with no containers, the container with no matching lid, and some strange lid off of a tub of salsa. No salsa tub of course…just the lid. What happened to their mates? Where do they go? At some point every couple of years you have to simply head to the store and rebuild.
This gets into the “If pigs had wings, would they fly?” territory.
I of course equate it to “The Missing Sock in the Dryer” mystery. I don’t know where in the hell they go either. I find it disturbing that these innocent pieces of plastic have been cast adrift somewhere. But where did they go? Are they with the missing socks?
There are other mysteries of life that have happened to me. This one happened the other day. I was getting ready for bed. I took off my T-shirt to put on my jammies and I realized I had parrot poop on my bra strap. How did that happen? I had no African Grey under my shirt. But somehow, there it was: a dried smear of green parrot poop. As you can gather it didn’t particularly bother me. I’ve managed to have it end up in worse places. But on my bra strap? Under my t-shirt? Oh, come on….
Sometimes just thinking gets a little hairy…
Every once in a while when I am writing or researching or just plain goofing off on my laptop, Parker manages to silently go into stealth mode and he ends up either on the bathroom sink vanity or on top of my shower stall. How he does this, I have no idea. I simply look up, Parker has “Gone Ninja” and I find him sitting in one of those two places looking smug.
Don’t ask me…I have no idea…
So when it comes to tupperware management, I don’t have any answers for you. It’s a mystery to me. All I know is that it’s time to start over with a new set. Again.
Posted in essays and articles | Tagged Bird Blogs, blogging about parrots, Parrot Blog, Parrot Blogs, Parrot Nation, Patricia Sund, Storing Tupperware, Tupperware, Tupperware Mangement | 6 Comments »
I’ve been writing about the Chop Concept for almost five years and it seems that this method of feeding your birds has not only picked up speed, it is becoming the way of feeding flocks in households all over the place. This is quite gratifying and it has indeed revolutionized the way families feed their birds.
The first photo of “Chop.”
I knew when I first brought Parker home that I had to figure out a way to feed him a good diet without it being a complete pain in the keester twice a day. Being pretty handy in the kitchen, I came up with Chop. I did this independently because there was nothing anywhere about this method of feeding. I began feeding Parker this way in 2003, not long after he became part of my family. 6 years later, I wrote about it here on February 1st, 2009, (Parrot Food For Thought) because I didn’t have anything else to write about that day.
Chop Ready for Sale
Selling Chop to Benefit Florida Parrot Rescue
I had no idea there were breeders that were doing this because either they never told anyone they did it, or they never wrote about it.
I could find nothing on the internet about a homemade frozen vegetable diet for parrots. Nothing! So with a little dithering around starting with frozen vegetables and then switching over to fresh, I found a convenient way to feed my African Greys a nutritious and varied diet. I would get depressed when my Chop ran out and I had to make it again, so over the years, the batches grew in size. Chop began raising funds for parrot adoption organizations.
Many Hands…Make a Hell of a Lot of Chop!
Now I have to make pretty big batches of it because people are now asking me to make some for them, which I am glad to do. Both the Chop Concept and I have come under fire a few times for varied reasons. Debbie Downer got her knickers in a twist because she misunderstood the concept from the giddy up. This person actually called up a publication I wrote for and told them I should not be allowed to mention Chop in anything I wrote because Chop could kill parrots. I think the editor laughed.
How feeding fresh organic vegetables in one form is okay, but by chopping and mixing those very same ingredients a different way somehow turns them deadly is beyond me.
Another person got hot under the collar because they had been doing this for years. This of course invoked my response of, “Well, it must be a good idea then, if you are doing it. Why didn’t you share the idea? Why didn’t you start a blog, take photos, shoot video and start teaching it?”
Silence. Well, of course there was silence. What could they say?
Then came Grain Bake. This recent development has also taken off like a rocket. I really have no way of explaining how I came up with it. I think I simply thought that casseroles were pretty quick and easy to make and why don’t I try and come up with one for my Greys. So I did. And I managed to do it without the obligatory can of cream of mushroom soup that seems to hit every casserole recipe in the world.
I am now seeing “Grain Bake” all over the place. Score. Another win for the flocks.
I just got a call yesterday from a wonderful woman in Florida who runs a parrot organization. Apparently Wendy has 50 parrots under foot at Ziggy’s Haven Bird Sanctuary.
Wendy, who with her husband runs Ziggy’s, is making a Grain Bake for them today. She’s never made it before and wanted some coaching. I was delighted to help. I’ll be on her speed dial today in case she runs into any snags. But I know she won’t. Making Grain Bake is so easy.
Not unlike taking the big plunge, cutting off your waist-length hair and going really short, I told her yesterday that once she starts this method of preparing food for her flock, she’ll never go back. Next, I’ll be easing her into making Chop. Feeding 50 parrots twice a day isn’t easy. But using these 2 methods might lighten her load a bit. It’ll also cut down on waste, save her money in the long run and make their lives a little easier. This makes me happy.
I don’t know what I’m going to come up with next, but I’m hoping it’s a winner.
Posted in Grain Bake, Parrot Adoption and Rescue Sites, Posts About the "Chop" Concept, Recipes for your Parrots, Stuff Bird People Like | Tagged "Chop" Concept, bird food, blogging about parrots, Chop for Parrots, feeding birds, Grain Bake, Grain Bake For Parrots, Parrot Blog, Parrot Blogs, Parrot Nation, Patricia Sund, preparing food for birds, taking care of parrots, The Chop Revolution, Ziggy's Haven Bird Sanctuary | 3 Comments »
How can you be creative with your flock’s diet? How can you change up your routine and keep things fresh not only for you, but for your birds? Robin Shewokis would call this enrichment. My friend Melissa calls them “Condiments.” I call it “Getting jiggy with it.”
There are lots of ways to “riff” on Chop and Grain Bake, but one of the best ways is to choose a combination of flavors you are familiar with. Certain flavors go together. Not unlike Forrest Gump’s comment about he and his friend Jenny getting along like peas and carrots, certain foods and flavorings just work together and some don’t.
You wouldn’t put spaghetti sauce on oatmeal. And chicken pot pie filling simply doesn’t work in a taco shell. So working out a flavor family is one way of giving your Chop or Grain Bake a particular taste and aroma that works.
I’m quite partial to Thai food. In one of the flavor families of the cuisine, the use of cilantro, ginger and garlic is in play. Bump that up with some hot peppers and you’ve got yourself a really good tasting dish.
In Mexican cuisine, you’ll once again find cilantro, but they use cumin to give it a distinct taste. Italian food? Well, basil and oregano play heavily into their flavor family.
In Indian cuisine they love curry. So finding a particular flavor family for a dish goes a long way in making a Grain Bake or Chop that is tasty for your flock and pleasant for you to make. Play around with the flavors and cuisines you like, apply those ideas to your Chop or Grain Bake and watch them go tails up!
Posted in Grain Bake, Posts About the "Chop" Concept, Recipes for your Parrots | Tagged "Chop" Concept, Bird Blogs, bird food, blogging about parrots, Forrest Gump, Grain Bake, Grain Bake for Birds, Grain Bake For Parrots, information about parrots, Parrot Blog, Parrot Blogs, Parrot Nation, Patricia Sund, preparing food for birds, Robin Shewokis | Leave a Comment »
It’s Autumn. Time for the root vegetables, squashes and pumpkins. The reason I call this version, “Fall Back Autumn Chop” is because we made it on Saturday, the 2nd of November, the day everyone turns the clocks back one hour. This time, I had some help. Nan of course gave me a hand and my friend Jackie drove over to help out. She wanted to see the process and learn how to make it.
So as a tip of the hat to the season, it’s time to pull out the Big-Ass Stockpot, scrub out the tub, and shop for some fall season organic produce. Before you play the video, take a look at this photo. I used these vegetables in my Chop, but I didn’t mention them all in the video:
They are spaghetti squash, parsnips, turnips, celery root and golden beets. I also had a pumpkin.
I have so much fun making Chop. It’s fun to be creative, find great new items to add to it and enrich your flock’s diet with nutritionally dense ingredients. I’ve taken people to the grocery store to show them how to shop for Chop. You have to think about flavors, textures, colors, and of course, nutrition. Despite this challenge, it’s a fun and enjoyable process. I suggest you search local ethnic markets. I stumbled upon a Russian-Eastern European market and was able to locate all kinds of wonderful things, including buckwheat! I simply couldn’t find it. And not only did I find that, I found unsweetened dried coconut, and other assorted neat stuff to put in my Grey’s’ Chop. So search out some of the ethnic markets. You never know what you might find.
So without further ado, here is the latest Chop Video for your Chopping pleasure.
Posted in Posts About the "Chop" Concept, Recipes for your Parrots | Tagged "Chop" Concept, Bird Blogs, bird food, blogging about parrots, chop, Chop for Birds, Chop for Parrots, Chop Recipe, feeding birds, information about parrots, Parrot Blog, Parrot Blogs, Parrot Nation, Patricia Sund, Patricia Sund's Chop, preparing food for birds, root vegetables, taking care of parrots | 3 Comments »
I’m getting ready to do a pretty big batch of Chop this coming weekend. So I have to do a little shopping.
I discovered a little store a couple of miles away from me called the World Market. One day a few months a go I decided to investigate and I’m so happy I did! It’s sort of an Eastern European food market and even though I’m a “Foodie,” I don’t know what half the stuff that’s in there. As I am always on the hunt for nutritious food for my Chop, I was happy to discover some stuff they don’t have at the local big grocery stores. They sell buckwheat for instance. And buckwheat rocks nutritionally. It contains all 8 essential amino acids, and it contains a high-quality protein. Google it; you’ll be surprised.
What I have in this photo clockwise from the top left is Barley, (regular barley, not “pearled barley) real bulgur, not the pasta, oat groats, buckwheat flakes, oatmeal and regular buckwheat. I’ll cook the barley and the buckwheat, but the rest is going in as is. The buckwheat flakes appear to be like oatmeal, only it’s made of buckwheat instead of oats. I thought that was kind of cool.
Let me explain something about barley. Barley is a tough little grain and it has to have the husk removed before it can be eaten. Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but when you have “pearled barley,” they also polish it to remove the bran layer. This removes a lot of the nutrition. This is not unlike the difference between brown rice and white rice. White rice is also polished to remove the nutritious brown outer layer. I also have other ingredients I’m using, of course, but those are some pretty neat little items. I’m also adding this:
The wild rice mix is a no-brainer, but I also have unsweetened dried or desiccated coconut as it’s sometimes called, raw hemp hearts, chia seed, and in the upper right hand corner is quinoa flakes. The rice gets cooked and the rest of it goes in as is.
As always, I’ll be undercooking the rice, pastas, and other cooked ingredients so they can more easily absorb some of the moisture from the vegetables. I’ll also be coating the pastas and other grains with coconut oil to help keep the grains and other cooked items from sticking together as well as adding another layer of nutrition. I’ve used flax seed oil as well as hemp seed oil in the past. I’ll be busy this weekend doing my hunter-gatherer thing. I’m hoping to put some very nice standards into my Chop as well as maybe some more exotic items. We’ll see what I end up with.
Posted in Patricia Sund, Posts About the "Chop" Concept, Recipes for your Parrots | Tagged "Chop" Concept, Bird Blogs, blogging about parrots, Chop for Parrots, homemade bird food, information about parrots, Parrot Blog, Parrot Blogs, Parrot Nation, Patricia Sund, preparing food for birds, taking care of parrots | 18 Comments »
Photo courtesy of Janet Holt Hilton
I’ve been pondering other options for feeding our flocks aside from the Chop Concept and Grain Bake. One of the concerns I’ve had was ensuring the bioavailability of certain nutrients. Feeding raw vegetables is wonderful. Raw food is food in its purest form. Un-messed with and untouched, fresh and nutritious, many people only eat a raw diet. I’ve been recommending the Chop Concept for years and it works. It’s a good way to feed your birds. But I’ve been trying to figure out other ways of introducing even more nutrition to my Greys’ diet. As I’ve been researching nutrition, one word kept rolling around in my brain: Bioavailability.
I knew some foods are made more nutritious by heating. Sweet potatoes and yams for instance are made more nutritious by a quick bake.
However, there are foods that benefit from cooking as it makes certain vitamins and other nutrients more bioavalable. Okay. What is that? Bioavailability is the degree and rate at which a substance is absorbed into a living system or is made available. In other words, it makes the nutrition easier to absorb as well as allowing other nutrients to be absorbed that might not be absorbed at all if it wasn’t cooked.
However, this isn’t always the case. Green cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, collards and kale contain more vitamins and minerals per calorie than any other foods. However, according to my research, combining some raw and steamed vegetables creates a synergistic effect between the two preparations.
Joel Fuhrman, MD, is a nutrition researcher, family physician and author of Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger and Disease Free. He states that some nutrients are released when raw, but others need to be heated to be bioavailable. Myrosinase is an enzyme that is released only when the cell walls are damaged by chewing, chopping or juicing. This triggers a chemical reaction that activates the body’s own antioxidant system.
This provides a very effective protection against cancer. Unfortunately, Cooking deactivates myrosinase. On the other hand, other nutrients are released when cooked. So by combining the two methods of preparation, we can increase the nutrition in our flock’s diets by offering both.
According to one study, cooking certain vegetables causes an increase in the soluble dietary fiber content of vegetables and tubers and a decrease in insoluble fiber. Heat breaks down the walls of a plant’s cellular structure, which makes the nutrients bound to the cell wall or locked inside the cells more available for digestion. So by cooking certain vegetables, we can significantly increase some nutrition that would otherwise pass through the digestive system unabsorbed. However, this isn’t the case with all nutrition. Heat can also reduce the nutritional content of food. Yet bear in mind that there are some beneficial enzymes that are destroyed by the cooking process; for example: the enzyme myrosinase, whose activity forms sulforaphane, known to prevent cancer is found in raw broccoli, but it is destroyed by cooking it. However there are two vegetables who’s nutrition is actually increased by cooking: Carrots and Celery.
So what do we do?
Serve both raw and cooked vegetables!
Yes, offer both cooked and raw vegetables and you are covering your nutritional keesters more completely. A quick steaming is probably the most efficient way of breaking down those cellular walls to introduce added nutrition to your flock’s diet. Drizzle some nutritious oil over it, serve warm and you’ve got something going on. I recommend Flax seed, hemp seed or coconut oil to layer even more nutrition on to those vegetables. So here’s my suggestion: If you are already making Chop, good for you!
However, in the next few weeks I’m going to be messing around with testing out a Cooked Chop that can be steamed, bagged, frozen and stored. Should this replace the Chop that you already make? Absolutely not. I’m suggesting that you prepare both. I’m not sure adding cooked vegetables to a raw Chop would be a good idea. So I am going to experiment with preparing a cooked Chop and see how it goes. Keep an eye out for a video!
Posted in essays and articles, Posts About the "Chop" Concept, Recipes for your Parrots | Tagged "Chop" Concept, Bird Blogs, bird food, blogging about parrots, Chop for Parrots, cooking vegetables for parrots, feeding birds, Parrot Blog, Parrot Blogs, Parrot Nation, Patricia Sund | 4 Comments »
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