Archive for January, 2012

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Interview: Pamela Clark, CVT

January 21, 2012

Pam ClarkPamela Clark, in addition to being a certified veterinary technician (CVT), is an author, speaker, and parrot behavior consultant with a special interest in feather destructive behavior, training, flight and nutrition. As a parrot behavior consultant, Pam focuses on coupling improvements in husbandry and nutrition with the most positive and most effective behavior modification strategies. Pam writes about parrots and behavior for publications such as Companion Parrot Quarterly, Bird Talk magazine, Birds USA, Parrots magazine, Good Bird magazine and the Holistic Bird Newsletter and her articles have been translated into several foreign languages.

She’s spoken at events for Phoenix Landing and took time out of her busy schedule to join Best in Flock for a quick interview.

Best in Flock: Please tell our readers about your background as a parrot behavior consultant and how you got into this line of work.

Pam Clark: I have a diverse background of experience with parrots. I have lived with companion parrots, ranging in size from parrotlets to the largest macaws and cockatoos, for over 40 years. For several years I bred African Greys and some of the smaller parrot species. As a breeder, I learned first-hand about the rearing practices that produce the most successful parrot companions and to understand how inadequate rearing methods can contribute to behavior problems later on.

For many years, I worked to rehabilitate previously-owned parrots. I converted them to a better diet, resolved their behavior problems, and finally adopted them into good homes. This allowed me to develop my effectiveness as a consultant by getting hands-on experience with a very wide range of species. I also train parrots in a variety of different behaviors, including free flight outdoors. Lastly, I am a licensed veterinary technician with 10 years’ experience working for an avian veterinarian.

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More Foraging Toys: Introducing the Puzzler

January 18, 2012

Inspired by a request from Saemma and Coco, Kris Porter has released a modified design of her Fantastic Foraging Blocks.

The new design, called The Puzzler, has an additional cut along each long side, which gives small beaks more nooks and crannies to explore and exploit. It also comes in smaller sizes.

This small modification was a huge hit with both Stewie and Mika. I unpacked the new blocks and put them on a table for a quick photo shoot, and Mika came right over and started chipping away at all the delicious corners right away. I put a small one in a dish on Stewie’s bottlebrush gym and he spent about 2 hours (nearly uninterrupted) breaking off piece after piece (and then flinging the bits that collected in the bowl across the room).

Here’s what the new blocks look like:

Puzzler Foraging Block

Mika came right over to get started:

Puzzler Foraging Block

…and made quick work of that corner:

Puzzler Foraging Block

Everything I (and the birds) liked about the original Foraging Blocks are included in this new design, but that extra cut for some reason ratchets up the appeal to my birds even more.

These fir blocks with super appealing texture, slats and peek-a-boo holes — perfectly sized for a Nutriberry or almond treat (or a variety of veggies) — can be strung up with the reusable stainless steel hook that Kris offers with this toy. The Puzzler also comes in a smaller “foot toy” size that doesn’t have a hook.

You can find the “Puzzler” as well as the original Fantastic Foraging Block design on Kris Porter’s website.

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Is This Crow Sledding?!

January 13, 2012

Sure looks like he’s sledding to me!

In any case, it’s clear that even wild animals like to do things that serve no other purpose than to have fun. Smart animals will come up with games for themselves even when it doesn’t serve any immediate needs like shelter, food or reproduction. Since most of us can’t really send our pet birds outside to play in the snow (“and don’t come back until I call you in for dinner, but stay out of the street!”), we should try to offer them as much opportunity for fun and games (e.g. “enrichment”) indoors as we can.