The Bird is the Word

by DFS-Pet-Blog on May 17, 2010

**Guest post from Keith G.**

Living with parrots is a bit like living with your parents. There are rules, curfews, and a limit to how much noise you can make, especially at night. Unfortunately, there aren’t any home cooked meals to come home to – unless you’ve got a really talented bird. Don’t get me wrong, I love our birds. But getting used to living with them was (and always is) a constant adjustment. Take, for example, our living situation at Chateau Guse.

Contessa enjoying dinner at the table

Contessa enjoying dinner at the table

When you share a modest one-bedroom apartment with what some would consider a small zoo, needless to say, space can be a little tight at times. Sure, a bucolic apartment on a beautiful lake in Northern Wisconsin might sound like a quiet, peaceful hideaway, but not when you cram it with three saltwater aquariums, a freshwater aquarium, half a dozen buckets of brine shrimp, baby seahorses, three parrots, two hamsters, and a leopard gecko. Copepod cultures in Mason jars line what little kitchen counter space we used to have, the bathroom storage space is filled with salt bucket skeletons and chewed up birdcage accessories. “Our” bedroom (and I use “our” loosely) now sleeps five – my wife and I plus our three birds – and is literally the only room we have space for them, or us, for that matter. 

chicken "helping" me read the newspaper

Chicken "helping" me read the newspaper

At first we had the birds (two conures and one Amazon) in separate cages across the room from each other in the bedroom, but this left little space for things that are supposed to be in a bedroom, like clothing, dressers, or a bed. So we invested in a Multi Vista Modular Bird Cage, which allowed us to keep the conures in the top cage and our Amazon in the bottom portion, freeing up some floor space and consolidating the feathered trio to only one side of the room. Granted, I still wake up with papaya pieces embedded in my skin and feathers under the covers, but hey, at least I can walk around the room now.

Of course, our one bedroom bungalow is only a portion of the building. Four other units occupy the same building, separated only by thin walls and ceilings, which are not exactly parrot-proof. Kiwi, our maroon-bellied conure, is the most obnoxious noisemaker of the group. Any bird flying past outside or even a strong breeze is liable to start him screaming. This in turn gets Contessa, our Amazon, excited enough to start yelling, as well.

Kiwi checking "his" email

Kiwi checking "his" email

Our trick to quickly stop the noise is to open and close the bedroom door (which, per the birds’ wishes, must remain closed at all times otherwise). This usually seems to work. Their fits cause us the most anxiety at night and in the early morning when we assume our neighbors are trying to sleep, so we’re always quick to make sure our birds are in bed at a decent time, that we’re extra quiet at night so as not to wake them, and that early in the morning we don’t cause them any alarm. God forbid we wake Kiwi from his beauty sleep. At least our landlord never has to worry about us throwing parties.

In addition, we’re always careful not to cook using non-stick Teflon pans (we don’t even own any), burn candles or use air fresheners, or even use cleaning supplies if the window isn’t open. In truth, these are all small sacrifices to make for the enjoyment we get out of our relationship with the birds, no matter how noisy they can be sometimes. However, it’s always good to remember that when you live with birds, you live by their rules, and eventually, if you have the patience to stick it out, it just becomes a way of life. So I guess you could say in our household at least, the bird is the word.


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The Bird Ladies of the Northwoods
December 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

brittany May 17, 2010 at 7:18 am

Curious- why no teflon?

Keith G. May 17, 2010 at 8:30 am

Hi Brittany,

Thanks for your question. As our Dr. Holly writes on our Peteducation.com website,

“Birds are susceptible to a respiratory condition called “teflon toxicity” or “PTFE poisoning/toxicosis.” Deaths can result from this condition, which is due to the noxious fumes emitted from overheated cookware coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). This chemical is found on most non-stick cookware and appliances, some stain repellant products, and other household items.”

There is more info on PTFE available here: http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=15+1829&aid=2874

As a bird owner, I’m overly cautious about keeping them safe, so we stick to copper and stainless steel cookware in the kitchen.

Patty Bennett May 17, 2010 at 10:13 am

That modular cage setup (http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=13394) is really neat and space-saving!
Another great thing they carry for birds are foraging toys. I have bought several kinds & my Senegal loves them! He’s so smart–he can figure them out in no time. His favorites are the Foraging Wheel & Ball of Fun (http://tinyurl.com/24mhbwg)

Katie May 17, 2010 at 1:30 pm

It is funny how you adapt to having your feathered family members around. Conures are like that loud obnoxious friend with a great personality, that throws the really great parties, but can be so embarassing to live with. When I went to college, my darling gold capped conure stayed home with my parents. When I moved into an apartment, it was decided that there was no way to subject anyone else to her screams and squawks- so she spent another couple years pouting at my parents. When I got married though, it was a part of the deal that we had to have at least rent a house that way my noisy girl and I could be together again. I don’t know that my husband would have agreed to it had he known what living with her is like. Good luck with your noisy bird apartment dwelling, and thanks for sharing!

Tina May 17, 2010 at 6:28 pm

I love your posts, Keith. They always make me feel like I’m in the room as you describe it. I read it to the kids today and they giggled at the description of living with birds being like living with your parents.

brittany May 18, 2010 at 8:16 am

Oh, cool, thanks! I never knew that!

Joann May 18, 2010 at 10:00 am

The bird is the word in our house too!!! We have 2 McCaws and 1 African Grey and 1 Goffin and yes they rule the house, we have to be very careful what we spray in the house and how we cook too. Our neighbors have left notes on the door about screaming birds. Also if anything is out of the ordinary they let us know. So yes the birds rule the house, but thats ok cause we love them and they are part of the family

Keith G. May 18, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Thanks for all the great comments. To further illustrate how the bird is the word in our house, last night we took our Amazon Tess out for about an hour so she could eat dinner with us (albeit, she ate pellets while we ate fettuccine alfredo) and spend some time outside of her cage. She was having a good ol’ time watching my wife siphon out some seahorse tanks and was talking to the wild birds outside nice and quietly until I turned on some music. Then the screaming started. Our birds normally really enjoy listening to music, especially 90’s alternative, but I guess my selection last night just wasn’t Tess’s cup of tea. Next time I guess I should ask what she wants to listen to?

monica May 19, 2010 at 6:41 am

hi..
this statement is SOOOOOOOOO true!

” However, it’s always good to remember that when you live with birds, you live by their rules, and eventually, if you have the patience to stick it out, it just becomes a way of life. ”

Our African Grey rules the house. The cats ignore him, the dog obeys him. Sit, down, come LOL “wanna go out” lololol

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