May 09, 2016

Vinny's recipe for succes!

It's been a while since we've made a batch of freezer-food, as we call it. Basically this is a large batch of mixed rice, pasta, beans, corn, miscellaneous vegetables and sometimes some fruits or sprouts. This all started out mainly as a bean mix, but recently we've been deviating from the original mix more and more.

The mix is now a healthy mix of avocado, coffee beans, chocolate, gummy bears, cheese, onions, lots of garlic, fried chicken, french fries and some raw eggs.

No! I'm just kidding. 

Those are pretty much the worst foods you can give to your parrot. If you are in doubt about which foods are healthy for your (particular kind of) parrot, Google it. Find forums that talk about healthy parrot foods. They are usually a rich source of information, as long as you don't go by just one opinion, but try to find the general consensus. And if you're still not sure, call a vet or a parrot expert. They will gladly advise you.

Our mix as stated below is a mix of what we know are good for Eclectus parrots. But we do keep in mind that this mix by itself by far is not enough to call a full diet. On a daily basis it needs to be supplemented with fresh foods and vegetables, a good seed mix, fresh sprouts and healthy snacks. This mix is just a decent base food. 

We also left out certain juice/water rich fruits and vegetables that don't freeze well. Leafy vegetables like spinach are well loved by Vinny as well, but are no good to freeze.

Please note that this mix, or the idea of pre-making small batches of food is not new. We wrote about making batches like this before, in the early days of this blog, for example in this post from June 2012. And of course many people have done this before us.

So, the basic idea is simple. You throw a whole bunch of healthy ingredients together, you mix well, you take little scoops and fill little bags, then put those little bags in the freezer to be taken back out one by one to be defrosted and given to your parrot. And if you have multiple parrots that all eat the same food, more bags.. ehh power to you!

We've been talking about giving you the run-down of what goes into making a batch like this. So here it is, the exact ingredients of today's batch, and how it's made.

Normally we do this with the two of us, but Vinny's 'mommy' is out of the country at the moment, so I did this by myself and obviously it took me quite a bit longer. This batch took me about 1.5 hours, but I didn't hurry and was watching TV while doing the bagging up.

The ingredients we used:
  • 1 kg (2 lbs) brown rice
  • 500 gr (1 lb) whole wheat macaroni
  • 1 cans (600 gr / just over 1 lb) corn, drained
  • 1 jar (350 gr / 12 oz) pre-boiled peas, drained
  • 1 jar (250 gr / 9 oz) pre-boiled white beans, washed and drained
  • 250 gr (9 oz) pre-boiled brown beans, washed and drained
  • 2 bags (total almost 2 lbs) of veggie mix from grocery store *
  • 1 large or 2 small zucchini's, diced
The vegetable mix bags were simply stir-fry mixes that contained (and I quote from the bags): red paprika, green beans, kidney beans, cabbage, leek and corn.

We use a plastic tub approximately the size of a kitchen sink to mix everything in. Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup, we managed to get 70 bags out of this amount, but depending on the size of your parrot and how much he/she eats on average, you can put a bit more or less on 1 bag.

Either way, you should end up with 2-3 months of food for one parrot.

The freezer bags are very simple small or medium size light-weight bags that come 80-in-a-box. The ones we use are a bit too large, but they're easy to close by tying a knot in them, then we cut off excess plastic.

So, the whole run-down goes as follows:
  1. clean the tub/container/bowl well. Disinfect it if you see fit, or wash well.
  2. Start boiling the brown rice and whole wheat macaroni. Follow the instructions on the packing in case you're not sure how to do this. We boil the pasta till it's 'al dente'. Any shape of pasta will do, but small standard elbow macaroni is easier to mix and bag. 
  3. In the mean time mix the rest of the ingredients together in the tub/container/bowl.
  4. Add in the boiled pasta and rice after it has cooled down for a little while. 
  5. Mix it well, with your hands (wash them well first, or use clean gloves) or with a large spool
  6. Find a comfortable spot. On the couch in front of the TV works, or at the kitchen table with family or friends (for good conversation). 
  7. Use a 1/2 cup or 1/3 cup or a table spoon to put scoops into the freezer bags
  8. Close the freezer bags
  9. Put them into larger bags (in our case, 15 per zip-lock bag)
  10. Put them in the freezer (but leave 1-2 out for immediate or next-day consumption). If you're in doubt about the power of your freezer, put half in the freezer first and half in the fridge. Then add the fridge-half to the freezer the next day.
  11. Feel satisfied that you made it easier for you for a while to come. Reward yourself with a nice glass of whatever your favorite beverage is. Well done.
Taking a break half way through
the bagging process
Further notes and thoughts:
  • The amounts listed above are far from exact science. We just put together these ingredients in these amounts because that is how they were packed. Just try to balance it out. 
  • Try to find these foods fresh, or in case of jars/cans/packs/bags, make sure you use ones with the least amount of additives. None of our ingredients had additives, except for a tiny bit of salt in the cans of corn. Use organic/natural foods if they are available. 
  • Once you take them out of the freezer to be used, put them in the refrigerator to thaw. This takes longer, but try to think a day ahead. After thawed, we use them within 2 days for freshness. If we haven't used them after 2 days, we usually throw them out and get new ones out from the freezer.
  • Make sure you work in a clean environment and please do wash your hands before starting. If you put anything spicy such as peppers or jalapenos in the mix, do not rub your eyes if you've touched them with bare hands. Trust me, I've made this mistake before. Wash your hands thoroughly. 
  • Feel free to experiment by adding extra ingredients that your parrot likes and that are healthy. A good idea is to add already-frozen fruits, like berries and pomegranate that you get from the freezer section of your supermarket.
And well, that's basically it. Vinny just eats it up, literally! Usually he eats the pasta and beans first, then goes for the rest. Fruits are usually saved for last.

If you have any further questions, tips, comments or remarks, please do speak up below. For example, what do you usually add to a batch that isn't listed above?

Have fun!

January 03, 2016

Vinny gets a manicure

Time for a parrot manicure!
Here is something that most parrot owners will recognize .. sharp nails! And by sharp nails I mean razor sharp! It had been gradually getting worse of the last few months and it got to the point where he left too much damage.

I'm sure parrot owners are not strangers to scratches and the occasional bite, but with Vinny it reached a typical 'that's it!' point. We got a pet-nail clipper before and used it on Vinny by grabbing him, holding him (gently) in a towel and doing his nails. But it was troublesome to keep him still long enough and we were definitely not looking forward to it. However, evidently it was time to face the fact.

Our clipper, bought at a local pet store
He was on to us as soon as he saw the towel. He's not traumatized, he's just smart. Towel in hand: beware, could be shower (YAY!) or attempt to catch (NOOO!). Clippers by themselves: Curious, could be a new toy? Clippers combined with towel: Time for a game of 'Catch the bird!', also known as 'FLY AWAY!'.

In the end we did manage to lure him in and hold him. Needless to say he wasn't happy and while we were ignoring his angry growling, we realized that Vinny was way too restless to even attempt anything with our 'instrument of terror'.

Nail clipping in action
So we gave up on that attempt. This gave Vinny a chance to calm down and sent us into a brainstorm session on how to make this process go any smoother.Meanwhile Vinny was sitting on my hand and as usual he was cute as a button, talking up a storm, making laughing sounds (seriously, I think he was laughing at us!) and fluffing up his feathers.

And then it dawned on us, he may not have to be caught. I got the clippers, approached his feet and he was fine letting it all happen. We clipped his nails (not too short of course, only got the needle-sharp ends off. Of course that was our goal to begin with.

This is how our endeavor got a happy end after all. It's 2 days later now and it's much better now. His nails are still sharp enough for him to hold on and climb up and down chairs, ropes, and us, but not sharp enough to break skin on the lightest of touches anymore.

So here's our tip on bird manicures: train your parrot well while he or she is young. Make sure it's not afraid of new things. Let your bird be comfortable with being touched and prodded. Play tickle games as part of the training. And the result is that you'll get a bird that you don't need to hold or force down as much.

Sea-shell covered perch (found on E-bay)
Now, there are possibilities to prevent their nails and beaks from getting too long or too sharp. There are special perches that are made of coarse concrete or are covered with sea-shells or other materials to give it a rough surface similar to sanding paper. And there are brand-grade products out there that sell very colorful perches that are supposed to have the same effect.

Our personal experience is that they don't work for Vinny. He simply doesn't like them. Maybe the surface is too rough for the padding on his feet. Or maybe he thought he was too manly for the pink perch we got for him. Color can definitely be a factor for a bird's opinion about anything, so make sure you know your bird's favorite color, or pick a neutral one.
Example of brand-grade perches

We're not against these types of perches by definition, but we do stay away from them. They're relatively expensive and they may just become an ornament in the cage, just for show. Plus it's not always clear what types of materials are used in production. Besides that, our vet didn't seem to find Vinny's nails too long, so we don't consider it a concern and we deal with it by just clipping once in a while.

Using special perches is a personal choice (such as many things related to bird-care). What do you do to prevent long or sharp nails? Do you use those special perches and have you tried different ones? In your opinion, what are the best perches made of and/or what are the best brands/types? Or if you clip your bird's nails regularly, what is your trick to do this with the least amount of hassle? Feel free to leave a comment.

December 31, 2015

Vinny shows off 4 years of personal growth

Vinny came out of his egg on January 1st, 2012. That makes him 4 years of age tomorrow! Congratulations to Vinny of course, but also a time to reflect on how he is now.

And we can be short about this, he's doing great. The past year Vinny has gone through a big molt that lasted almost half a year and he has learned new words and phrases. Like most parrots, their talking/whistling/mumbling is usually triggered by some kind of background sound. Could be a tv, could be music playing, or could be people talking.

In Vinny's case, we noticed that he often laughs along with the audience when we are watching a sitcom. Or he starts whistling when he's waiting for a shower and I'm in there whistling a song. By now he knows part of the Addams Family theme song. And apparently he has picked up on the snoring sounds I make, since he had a few sleep overs in our bedroom recently. Wonderful (ahum) ...

As you can imagine, he constantly brings us lots of joy, usually when he surprises us with his wit and smarts. For example, he often shows his cleverness when he's downstairs and says 'Wanna go upstairs?', yet when he's upstairs with us, he sometimes utters 'Wanna come downstairs'?

And of course he's gotten better at saying the things we've been talking about before. 'Go Poopie' is still one of his favorites, and when he wants/needs a shower, he usually lets us know by saying 'Shower?'. That in itself is not new, but he did progress from 'ower' to 'shower'.

I'm dreading the day he'll fully have outsmarted us!

Now, I know what you're thinking ... is this all we get? An update on this blog once a year? That's it? The simple answer is No. As you may or may not know, Vinny has a Facebook page and by now over 2,100 friends and strangers are following him. Amazing, isn't it? Vinny has done some posts during the year, and there will be more stuff on this blog in the year to come. That's a New Year's Resolution for 2016.

For everyone who's curious on how Vinny sounds and what he looks like, here's a 3 minute YouTube video compiled from pictures that have appeared on this blog and his Facebook page, accompanied by an edited soundtrack of Vinny talking and making sounds. We were able to make a 14 minute recording of Vinny and edited out the boring/silent parts, which left us with enough material for a video. So here goes ...

And after this there's only one more thing left to say ... 

Happy New Year, and lots of luck, happiness, success and love for 2016 !!!

April 20, 2015

Vinny is alive and kicking!

Alright alright, we haven't posted much since ... a long time ago!

We have been somewhat active on Facebook though. Vinny's page now has 1935 followers. It's been crazy! Maybe we should have a t-shirt printed with Vinny on it (one of a kind!) and send it out to follower number 2500 or so.

Anyway, since we've been posting some photos on Vinny's Facebook Page and not here, it's kind of unfair, don't you think? So without wasting any more time on words, please enjoy these lovely pictures of our little cute green fellah!

An old pic of Vinny enjoying a shower!

You want to play with this plastic thingie too? Here you go ...

Fluffing up can mean so many things .. in this case 100% happiness!

It's MY favorite toy, not yours! Try and take it from me, and you will regret it!

If you give me an almond, I can put this in a cup, take it out, put it back. I swear!

And I can also hold things sideways. Aren't I super intelligent? Now give me that almond!

I love fresh strawberries!

You can tell that I like something very much. I will hold it without dropping!

I'm sooooooo happy!

September 07, 2014

Vinny got Paged on Facebook!

Now that the dust has settled around Vinny and his Facebook account, let's put into words what actually happened and how we're dealing with this.

What happened last weekend, was that Vinny was logging in to Facebook, checking up on his bird-friends and family, ready to click some like buttons, and possibly even post a selfie. Upon logging in, Facebook popped up with the message that Vinny is not a real person and that his account was converted into a Facebook Page.

Alright, in hindsight I can understand the 'not real' statement. We knew this was going to happen. It's not Vinny's website, it's Mark Zuckerberg's, so he sets the rules. And if he says that parrots and other pets can be on Facebook, but not with a full account, then so be it. I guess it was inevitable that Mark stumbled upon Vinny's account and said "NO MORE, VINNY!". So now Vinny has a fan page instead of a full account.

In reality, this means that Vinny's friends got converted to profile-likes and followers of the page. Vinny won't be able to see other people's posts on his own timeline anymore, but we'll see how we can work around that later. Another effect is that Vinny's own timeline content (photo's, video's and other posts) got lost in the conversion. They were simply not there anymore. All the fun comments are gone, the likes, the links, you name it. I'm sure it was just a technical issue or someone at Facebook HQ being in dire need of a nap, but it added up to the anger we felt last week. Blurry images of wrecking balls came to mind.

Of course we can get mad at Facebook for doing this without warning, we can discuss how Facebook should be more pet-friendly, we can try to claim that parrots are very smart beings, that many parrots get as old as humans or sometimes even outlive them, that parrots are often treated as a full member of the family, and that Facebook sucks, but what's the point?

The thing is: Vinny's Facebook Page has been 'empty' for a week now. Nothing on the timeline other than the fact that he hatched on January 1st, 2012, plus of course the banner and profile picture. And still his page got 30 more likes just for being there.

Vinny's profile picture on Facebook
So we figured: what happened happened and let's just deal with it. If his page can get likes just for being there, maybe actually having content on there might have a positive effect.

This whole thing started with Vinny's parronts wanting to share their experiences as first-time parrot owners with the world. Put their mishaps and tips into words, and maybe even let them be of some benefit to others. And connect to other parrot owners.

If Vinny's 'new' fan page helps in any way, then kudos to Facebook for that. This blog will always be the basis of operations when it comes to Vinny's online presence, but who knows, maybe Mark will lend a hand.

So without further ado, I present to you:

Ps. Don't forget that Vinny can also be found on Youtube, Twitter, DailyMotion, Vine, Google+ and some other sites.

August 23, 2014

Vinny completes the Ice Bucket Challenge

If you haven't heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge by now, for the past month you must have been living in a cave, have been cut off from the internet and all other media, have been floating around on a life raft, or have not been talking to anyone else.

I'm sure you have seen video's on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and TV about this phenomenon. People emptying buckets of ice water on themselves has become THE hype of 2014 and will definitely be remembered as such.

Even more important: this hype is all for a good cause. ALS (or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is a very serious disease that has no cure yet. I will not go into explaining what it is right here, but you might know one famous person who has it: Stephen Hawking.

Let me explain what's going on:
It all started with Pete Frates, a former baseball player who was diagnosed with ALS and his advocacy for awareness. On June 30th it was time for the first TV appearance of the challenge, in the form of a news caster performing it on live television. After that it went viral. Many celebrities did it and challenged other celebrities.

The rules are simple:
After getting challenged, within 24 hours, you shoot and post a video of yourself emptying a bucket of ice water over your head. In the video you state that you have accepted the challenge, and you can in turn challenge other people (usually 3).

Of course you don't have to do the thing with the bucket of ice water but in that case you are challenged to donate $100 to an ALS related charity. In the USA the ALS Association has been the receiving end of most donations. Many people donate even if they have accepted and completed the challenge.

Now, what all does this have to do with Vinny?

Well, on August 13th, Vinny received an Ice Bucket Challenge himself, through Facebook, from his Aunt Julie. Unfortunately Vinny doesn't really check his own Facebook wall. It also took a while for his parronts to notice it. But there it was, and of course Vinny had to accept and comply within 24 hours after learning about his challenge. And he did just that. After all, nobody calls Vinny chicken !!!

So, without any further ado, Vinny proudly presents the completion of his Ice Bucket Challenge!

Of course, no parrots or buckets were hurt in the making of this video. No stunt-parrots were used and Vinny received extensive training leading up to him completing the challenge.

Please note that if you would like to receive a challenge from Vinny, please leave a comment below. And if you would like to support the ALS awareness campaign and research, please go to and hit the donate button.

This video can also be found on DailyMotion

July 05, 2014

Vinny roots for the Netherlands!

Even though Vinny is an Eclectus parrot and thus not indigenous to the Netherlands, Vinny was born and raised here. And thus Vinny has successfully been intoxicated with a subtle dose of 'Orange Fever'. This phenomenon comes up about every 2 years, mostly during global sports events.

This Winter the Netherlands did very well at the Winter Olympics with speed skating. Vinny often cheered along with the crowds on TV. And now the World Cup Soccer is upon us! Well, in the USA it's called soccer, anywhere else, in English, it's called Football. So that's what I'll call it from now on.

We, as Vinny's parronts, are normally not big on football (or most other sports, to be honest). However, when huge tournaments like the Olympics, European Cup Football (Netherlands won in 1988) and now the World Cup Football, are there, we get a bit fanatic. And by 'we', I mean Dutch people and parrots in general.

See, the biggest sport in the Netherlands is football. Every two years there's either a European Cup or a World Cup. We won the European Cup in 1988 and the Dutch people went crazy. The football team was honored in Amsterdam during a boat tour through the canals.

Four years ago, in 2010, we reached the finals, but lost from Spain, as predicted by Paul the psychic octopus, seer of all seers.

Before Paul, but even more after his success, many animals have given it a shot at predicting outcomes of games. From hamsters, elephants, kangaroos, turtles, penguins, armadillo's ... even parrots have given it a try. A few examples can be found here.

Some become famous, others don't. I would say this probably depends on their success in predicting the correct outcomes. Duh!

The point is that nobody knows what's really going to happen. Vinny has tried predicting a game once (see below), but that's it. Vinny just enjoys watching the games, above anything else. He jut sits there, cheers a lot, goes 'oooh' and 'aaah' when the crowds on TV make those sounds, and that's pretty much it.

But don't be mistaken, he's very fanatic! Recently he posted a few pictures on his own Facebook wall that lead me to believe that Vinny is secretly a fanboy that knows no limits! All in good sports of course. A bit of friendly banter here and there, but other than that always with a positive note.

I just found it so remarkable that Vinny posted these pictures, that I had to show them here on his blog as well. So here goes ...

Right before the game against Mexico, he posted this. This is his first prediction ever. He predicted the win correctly, but was off on the score. Either way, let's not encourage him to strive for world fame when it comes to being a psychic parrot.

Then after the game, he posted this:

With vinny in the picture is Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, the player who scored the winning goal by means of penalty. What many people don't know is that Mr. Huntelaar had failed to score from penalties the last 3 times (in other matches). So Vinny probably believed he not only needed some encouragement, but also directions. Either way, it worked, so that's what counts in the end.

And then today, in the hours counting down to the quarter final match between the Netherlands and Costa Rica, he posted the following picture:

His artwork seems to be getting a little bit better, but in all honesty, isn't he getting a little bit overconfident here? He even colored the world cup orange already. Don't worry, I'll have a heart to heart with him in a bit.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this with you and hopefully you won't think of Vinny being a cocky bird. Although, I have to say, I do hope he's going to be correct!

June 15, 2014

Vinny will work for food!

Just a quick shout-out ... we haven't been writing a lot lately, but we will get to work over the Summer and get some articles out. We have a few ideas of what to write about, but your input is very welcome of course.

Also check out Vinny's on Facebook. His flock of friends is growing fast! Feel free to add Vinny as a friend.

And of course Vinny can be found on Twitter.

Warm regards,
Vinny & family