I wrote a piece at birds.about.com about getting going in the morning when you have a flock of birds. It can be tough. But planning things the night before can make this task easier. Read my piece about getting organized for the morning to come by clicking on the “About” logo:



I’ll never understand it. Never. I wrote a piece about this very subject at About.com and ranted a little bit about this. It makes me uncomfortable that people think smaller birds are somehow “experimental” in nature and that they are gong to learn how to take care of the bird they “really” want in the first place. This pisses me off.

You can read the piece I wrote at “About.com” in the Pet Birds section found right here. Just click on the logo:


My Disappearance

Been Busy Much?

Been Busy Much?

I had to step away from Parrot Nation for a while due to many other obligations with my writing. I was hired by Bird Channel to write a weekly blog called, “Psittacine Cuisine” which took quite a bit of doing to get rolling and between my editor Jessica and I, we’ve managed to get it up and out at the website which was a lot of work, but it is faring well.

On the heels of that, I received an offer from IAC (Interactive Communications) to be the Bird “Expert” at About.com which is a HUGE website and has excellent Google rankings. In short, it’s a pretty popular venue. My section can be found here: birds.about.com.

So my obligations have been increasing and my time has been cut short with some changes to my schedule. Naturally, I’ve adjusted my own personal schedule to combat this which includes getting up at 4:45 every morning to avoid traffic on the days I fly. This gets me to the airport at about 6:15 a.m. which gives me an extra two and a half hours to write and upload my work before heading over to the aircraft to fly. This may not sound like a big deal and normally it wouldn’t be. But after flying to St. Lucia and back, I don’t get home from work until 8 p.m. at night. This makes for a long day and keeping up this schedule does tend to wear one down.

However, it seems to work and I keep cranking out the content. However this has given me very little time to simply blog over here. So in order to get my work out there, I am going to tie the two websites together here and post links to my work at the About website right here at Parrot Nation. This way you will have the benefit of the work I’m doing over there conveniently located here.

I’m going to try and get some more blogging done here as well if I can find the time.

I thank you for your patience and I am so very grateful for your support!

And by the way, Parker, Pepper and Nyla are well.


I’ve written quite a bit about Chop of course. “The Chop Concept” took off like a kite and flocks all over the world are eating better. And that’s very cool. It makes me feel good to have helped put this concept in the front and center of aviculture and into the hands of families with parrots. Go Chop!


But I wasn’t done. I wanted to come up with another way of delivering a nice nutritional boost to our feathered companions. As a kid who had two parents with careers, I grew up being quite well-acquainted with the humble casserole. Ten minutes to assemble, an hour to bake and you’re good for a couple of days. Macaroni and cheese, macaroni, tomato and ground beef, tuna noodle, well the list is endless.

Well, thinking about that got me thinking about possibilities. How about a casserole for parrots? Why not? It’s a casserole. It’s no muss, no fuss and unlike Chop, the only thing you have to clean when all is said and done is a large spoon and a casserole dish after you’re done baking it. This led me to the idea of “Grain Bake.”


Grain Bake

But I wanted to do something more. Something that was easy to prepare, flexible and wasn’t a complete and total pain in the butt to prepare and didn’t make a mess. I began thinking of another way of delivering some great nutrition and to add a little variety to their diet.  There’s a million “Bird Bread” recipes out there. And most of them begin with a base of corn meal. Some people use Jiffy mix, but if you’ve ever read the ingredients in a box of that stuff, you’d never eat it yourself, let alone make it for your birds.

But birds seem to like bread.

My Greys like toast. But white bread toast sort of bites because it really has very little nutrition. So, how can we make a bread for them that isn’t loaded with a bunch of crap that isn’t healthy? Well, here it is:  “Birdie Biscotti.” If you’re unfamiliar with biscotti, here is what biscotti for humans looks like:


It’s kind of a cross between a cookie and a biscuit. I’ve made them before. You make the bread dough and bake it. Then you have to slice the loaf and bake it again.  They’re tasty little suckers and very crunchy. I was trying to figure out a way to make a bird bread that was healthy and tasty and toastable.

First loaf

 My first loaf of experimental Birdie Biscotti before baking.


1/2 cup  Hemp seeds

1/2 cup milk thistle seeds

½ cup  flax seeds

½ cup slivered and toasted almonds

A handful of walnut pieces

1 ½ cups rolled oats

2 Tbsp. chia seeds

4 Tbsp. psyllium seed husks (3 Tbsp. if using psyllium husk powder)

3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil

1 ½ cups  water

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Mix throughly. Put batter into a loaf pan greased with coconut oil. Smooth the top and ensure it ‘s evenly distributed in the load pan. Let it sit around for at least 2 hours, preferably longer or overnight. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove loaf from the pan and place it either on a cookie sheet upside down or directly onto the rack and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes. Remove your biscotti loaf from the oven and let it cool thoroughly before slicing, and baking again to make it crisp or serve as is. Slice before freezing.  You can always toast it as well. Here is the finished loaf after baking. Birdie Biscotti

It’s just the basic recipe and it’s a bit bland. Feel free to add flavorings like cinnamon, orange extract, dried fruit or other stuff to jazz it up. If you make it just as is, it’s not particularly exciting. So you have to play with it a bit to customize it to your flock’s preferences. But this recipe will indeed get you started. There’s no Jiffy Mix BS with this recipe and it’s loaded with roughage. Give it a whirl!



Hell. And Back.

IMG_3264Parker and Bill. He lounges a while before getting up.

I hit a snag and had to delete the original posting of this piece. Here it is in its entirety. 

I’ve had a tough year. And the last 4 months have been hell. (You can read what part of it has been like here: Life…Interrupted. You can read the rest of it here: Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down.”)

However, it hasn’t been as tough as it is for some people in the world. I get that. Life isn’t fair. Overall, in the big picture, it has been pretty good to me. I have had a great career flying. I’ve been places and seen things that the “Suburbia Set” will never see. I gave up a lot to do it, but it was what I chose.

Photo on 8-20-12 at 2.10 PM

I didn’t want to do what everyone else did. I know I keep beating up this thought, but I am so mystified that my peers accepted the status quo and didn’t think beyond the picket fence.

We all make choices. I certainly did. My flying career cemented some habits that still live with me. I had two appointments today and I was ten minutes early for both. I also noticed that they were both ten minutes late. Perhaps I’m obsessive. But that’s just my way.

Lucas, Michael Vick's Champion Fighting Pit Bull

I’ve had an awful year full of death, a concussion, sickness, and insecurity. And while I tried to remain strong and keep going, it finally got to me. Something had to give and it did. The dam finally broke and I had to deal with what I had been through. When my primary care physician heard the litany of crap that happened to me, he said, “Well, the CPR event would have thrown you under the bus alone, never mind the rest of the shit you went through.”
And despite all of the heartache, pain, despair, depression, and bullshit I went through, there was one thing that got me going in the morning, One thing I got out of bed for: My flock of three Greys. I got out of bed for them every morning. I prepared their dishes every day for them. I cleaned their cages, washed the floor and spent time with them.


They kept me going. Why? Because they meant something to me. I was responsible for them. Despite the LeBrea Tar Pit I was mentally stuck in, I rolled out of bed in the morning and took care of my flock. I had to.

A close friend who deals with depression and has for years, helped me tremendously. She understood not only what I was going through, she understood the pain and ache in my chest and the “shattered glass” feeling in my throat.


 She told me, “Thank God for my birds. Sometimes it was the only thing that kept me going.”  Spoken like a true expert. She’s been in those trenches of the Tar Pit. Despite everything, I made it back into the sunshine. It took some time and a lot of energy, but I began making sense of everything and slowly, but surely came out of the tar pit.


Many of you might wonder what happened that helped me turn the corner. Well, it was a lightning bolt of sorts. I finally, emotionally accepted something that I intellectually got, but couldn’t wrap my brain around:

It’s not my fault. 

None of it was my fault. None of it. Once I got that, the clouds went away and things became shiny again. I  understood that I was not responsible for those deaths, I couldn’t have done CPR any better because my friend, Kent made it to the hospital alive and lived 2 more days. I couldn’t have prevented my brother’s passing, Silvia’s passing, my cousin’s passing and I certainly couldn’t have done anything about the myriad of other events that occured this last year. They simply happened. And many of them happened to me. I didn’t cause them, I couldn’t control them and sure as hell couldn’t cure them. It’s just the way things go down sometimes. And so it goes. I can’t say I am better for the experience. But I sure as hell learned a lot. And one of the things I learned is that when you do something you love and you have good friends, you can damn near get through anything.


Photo: Courtesy of Janet Holt Hilton


This is Terri Holt with her sister. Teri lost her sister to breast cancer.

“After losing her sister to breast cancer in 1999, a routine mammogram screening revealed a small tumor in the milk duct of the breast. Without thinking twice she decided to have a bi-lateral mastectomy to remove both breast. A brave decision on her part to save her life and her family more heartache. In memory of her sister, she would love to be part of The Survivors Parade. Ten years later she remains cancer free! Breast and ovarian cancer has affected our family in many ways. This is a chance for her to pay tribute to family and friends that have lost their battle to cancer.”

I am asking that you go to the following link and vote for Terri. It’s an easy vote with no registration required. One click and you’re done. While I realize this isn’t normal for Parrot Nation, this is a Flight Attendant family and her wish is so simple: She just wants to honor her sister by marching in a parade. You can vote every day. Please help if you have a moment. Voting ends at the end of the month which is soon. I thank you so much.

                                                                      Please Click here: Survivors Parade


Life occasionally has a way of suddenly grabbing you by the scruff of the neck and shaking you like a puppy shakes a toy. Everything is going along just swimmingly and then stuff happens that makes you aware once again how little control you have over what happens, or is meant to be.

Things were going along right on track for me. I was doing my cleaning/organizing/de-cluttering thing. I was due to return to flying after my vacation and was just getting errands done and working on those pesky little projects one never gets to. In a previous post, I talked about how freakin’ miserable 2013 was for me as well as for quite a few of my friends:

  “2013: Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down”

Unfortunately for me, 2013’s curse has bled into this year as well.

February 6th rocked my world when I had to perform CPR on a friend while visiting him the day after he got out of the hospital. I managed to keep Kent going until the paramedics arrived and took over. The emergency room managed to get his heart started again and he was put on a ventilator. He lived another 48 hours until complications finally took him. Took a week to get my back, shoulders, triceps and abdomen to stop hurting from doing chest compressions by myself for about six minutes until the paramedics arrived. Took me a couple of weeks to get over the shock and stress of the incident.

And by the way, if you don’t know CPR, learn it. You can start here:

Unfortunately, this “Curse of 2013” thing reared up again when my big brother died late Wednesday evening. We were close and he was my best friend for decades. Naturally, I am depressed about this and really don’t want to go into details about the entire situation, but chronicling the events of the last 20 years regarding my brother, his family and the entire mess would read like something out of a script for a bad reality TV show combined with a soap opera.

I couldn’t possibly write the script or make it up. Suffice it to say, it was like a bad traffic accident in slow motion and I chose to hide my eyes. I didn’t cause it, couldn’t control it and couldn’t cure it. So I stepped away from it.

 I found it distasteful, disrespectful and undignified. So I just never discussed it.  I’ve always been a little short in the human family department as we were never really prolific when it came to bringing children into the world. As it now stands, I’m pretty much down to 1 cousin.

I’m holding my own with caring for my three Greys, so not to worry about that. I’m just not real happy at the moment as you can imagine. My flock senses it and get upset every time I get on the phone. I guess they sense the sound of stress in my voice when I’m talking. So I’ve tried to be conscious of this and I’m trying to modulate it when I’m having a conversation. This isn’t easy as I’ve had to make some pretty hairy phone calls.

I’ll be okay. I have to. We all have to deal with stuff like this. What choice do we have when we’re up against the crap life throws at us? We all go on. And I will go on, too. Just as soon as I get out from the mental state not unlike being in a pre-natal position and under an electric blanket that’s turned up to 9.

All I know is that while it may be true that, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” it sure as hell is hard to go through. But I think that this “having to be strong” jazz is sometimes highly overrated. Because it’s tough. Really tough.

I guess that’s where time enters the picture. It helps. It heals. It gives you perspective. So if there is any reason at all to look forward to the future, it’s knowing that eventually, I’ll feel better.  In the meantime, well, just getting through the day is a big job at the moment. But my Greys and I will be okay. It will just take some time.


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