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

March 08, 2014

Vinny has the Winter Blues

It's early March. Vinny turned Two not long ago. And Vinny has the Winter Blues.

A while ago he was still fine. He was talking, chatting, showing many many signs of happiness, playing, learning, he just picked up the awesome skill of whistling, and did I mention talking and chatting?

He would just sit there at the top of his cage, especially around sunset, he would just talk away, go through his whole vocabulary in all directions and especially when stimulated, he would whistle. We had this thing where I would do a simple 2-tone whistle (high-low) and he would repeat it. Sometimes this went back and forth over 10 times. Always followed by laughter from both Vinny and me.

During our morning showers, we would have complete discussions about anything that fits his vocabulary.

But now?

It's gone. He lost his mojo. He still does all the same things, being cute, showing signs of happiness, playing, communicating, but sans the talking and whistling. One day, about 3 weeks ago, he just stopped.

All he does now, is make short sounds. Like humming, but a bit higher pitched. Sometimes he does it in an asking way, sometimes just to give confirmation. Like someone just saying 'uh-huh' instead of 'I agree'.

Actually, come to think of it, it stopped around the time when we were giving our bathroom a big overhaul. We used a lot of chemicals and the bathroom had a very strong swimming pool odor, so obviously the bathroom was not a very healthy place for a parrot. We had to put showers on a hold for a little while.

After the smell went away, we gave it a few more days and an extra, very thorough, hose-down. And this week we have resumed giving Vinny showers in the morning. Yesterday he uttered a half-baked '.. come out' or something, but today he's back to uh-huh and uuuumm.

Of course we did our usual Google sessions, where we tried to figure out if other people have dealt with this before. And people have. Apparently it's a pretty common thing for a bird to stop talking, and we read a million and one reasons for why it could happen. But you know... everyone's just guessing, no final answers or studies on this behavior.

Our advice:
Don't google this particular problem. If the no talking persists and if your parrot shows other signs of trouble (depression, physical signs of illness or injury, other very strong behavior changes), just give your vet a call.

Vinny has been and is as happy as a parrot could be. He's affectionate, playful, trainable, he's been eating well, need I go on? He's also not going through a hormonal phase. No molting, no biting, etcetera. In fact, now that he just does the humming thing, he's actually more communicative. Vinny has just stopped using words.

So what is the cause, in Vinny's case?

No clue. But we suspect that it's just a case of the Winter Blues. Lack of sunshine and thus vitamin D12 deficiency, like in humans? He has been sleeping a bit more than usual.

Although the Dutch Winter of 2014 was extremely mild, we haven't had a lot of sunshine. It's been a pretty dull and grey winter. And today, this weekend, is actually the first weekend of beautiful weather. This morning Vinny had the longest shower in quite a while. He kept asking for more by fluffing up, spreading his wings, the usual. And now he's been sitting in front of the window, in the bright sunlight.

Maybe it's an instinct to look for natural light? We like to think so, and this has also confirmed another valuable lesson for us ...

Vinny Is Sunbathing After A Shower
Watch your parrot's behavior closely. Be a true bird whisperer. Just read the signs, weigh them, and draw your conclusions. Don't panic. Discover what your parrot's sad, neutral and happy sounds are. "It's elementary, my dear Watson!", as Sherlock would say.

We are not worried. We are confident that he will be his old chatting self soon enough!


December 07, 2013

Vinny joins Facebook and Imgur

Vinny can now be found on Facebook. Please be patient, he just now figured out how to set up a group but hasn't really written anything on his 'wall' yet, but close observation of Vinny has taught us that he's a very smart bird with lots of random thoughts, so I'm sure it won't take long before you'll see more Facebook activity from Vinny.

For those who don't know what Facebook is ...
It's a website where pretty birds such as Vinny can create a profile and post all kinds stuff, like stories, random thoughts, images, videos, etcetera. Then other people can comment on that. Of course Vinny is only interested in making friends with other birds on Facebook, so if you are one, please befriend Vinny on Facebook.

Also, Vinny is now on Imgur. There's nothing to see there yet, but hopefully Vinny will soon discover what a 'selfie' is, so he will post on Imgur regularly.

For those who don't know what Imgur is ...
Imgur is a website where people and birds can post images and photos. They can make their uploads private or public, and then others (for private pictures they need the exact link) can view those uploads. It's a website with a social idea behind it: people and birds can comment on and rate other people's uploads. The 'random' button at the top sometimes reveals very funny images and unexpected artsy treasures.

If you feel that you want to connect with Vinny in other ways than Google+, Twitter, or through this blog, please don't hesitate to find us on Facebook and Imgur. But please be patient, Vinny is only 2 years of age and still figuring out how things work in the world.

Oh by the way, as you can imagine, since Vinny is still young and has the tech knowledge that fits his age, he has proclaimed that he won't be getting Google Glass anytime soon. But imagine how that would be, to be able to see how your parrot sees the world!

Anyway, more later!

October 22, 2013

Vinny writes a letter to Greenpeace (har har!)

Ahoy Greenpeace,

You know, I've been contemplating writing you for a while now. I admire your work and I'm sure you admire mine. Being green, as you well know, is a wonderful thing and slowly but surely we will make the whole world green, and then finally be at peace. One day we will rule the world!

We actually have a lot in common, which I'm sure you realized already. As I said, we're both green, and we both have links to piracy. I, being a parrot, have been accused of being a Pirate's pet in movies and tv, books, music, sports .. heck, even you confirm the link between parrots and pirates in this article!

And now, thanks to the Russian government, you are a pirate organization as well. On behalf of all Pirates, I'd like to welcome you to the wonderful global community of Piracy. Maybe, next year on September 19th, we can meet up for Talk Like A Pirate Day. Would be fun, right?

So, besides our wonderful color and the fact that we have close ties with piracy, the third thing we have in common is the fact that we both live in captivity. For you it's the 30 pirates on the Arctic Sunrise (a very fine pirate ship!) in Murmansk, Russia, for me it's in The Netherlands. I spend most of my time behind bars. I guess we kinda suck at being Pirates, right?

Now, I do have to admit that I kinda suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. I love my captors dearly. I even show that love by throwing up on them now and then. And they always treat me very well. Maybe you should throw up on Russia to show that you're not against them!

The last thing we definitely have in common, is that we are both too small to have a real effect . If it was up to me, the world would be ruled by parrots! It would definitely be a better place. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to really make an impact. My writings on this blog are a first step, according to my media adviser, but there's still lots to do. And I guess you only get attention when you're associated with something as cool as piracy.

One day we'll rule the world for sure! Maybe we should work together on this. You know where to reach me, so just get in touch when you're ready.

All in all I just wanted to write this letter to you, to show you my support. It's a harsh world and many people, governments and organizations want to either exploit us or have it in for us. I hope that somehow you figure out to pick the lock on your pirate's cages, and fly free once again!

Good luck and bon voyage! Arrrr!


(images in this article are from various sources around the internet, including Greenpeace)

September 21, 2013

Vinny writes a letter to Miley Cyrus

Dear Miley,

I sincerely hope that this letter makes it through your letter-reading department and actually reaches you. Having reached celebrity status myself a while ago, and being used to being treated like a VIP (Very Important Parrot), I know what it feels like to be watched constantly and closely.

I also realize that you're not anywhere close to be in my league when it comes to stardom, but nevertheless I have been following your progress. I decided to write to you now, after all the silly fuss that started because of your new music video 'Wrecking Ball'. In that video, you are sitting naked on a big metal ball that's hanging from a chain and licking a wrecking hammer.

We have many things in common and in this letter I will address a few of them. I'm sure you'll agree on every single one of them.

One. You like to be naked. Well .. tell you what, so do I! My mommy and daddy keep trying to put clothes on me, but I hate it! They have this weird harness thing that they try to put on me. I think it's because they don't want me to leave the nest just yet. They have some kind of sturdy string tied to it, and they keep holding on to the other end of it. But in the end, they always take it off again. So yeah, most of the time I'm butt-naked! And I love it! Don't you love the feeling of freedom that it gives?

Two. Apparently you like to wreck things. Hey hey hey! I know that one! I'm not sure what your thing is, but I like to wreck all kinds. I like shredding paper, I like chewing on leather till it breaks, I LOVE little plastic objects and I have this uncontrollable urge to chew on small cables and wires. Especially that last one seems to upset my humans time and time again.

Three. We both like to be the center of attention. I watched your performance at the VMA and I have to say: LOVED IT! The way everyone gave you attention afterwards ... I kinda envy you. At home I'm constantly trying to get the attention of my humans and through this blog I'm reaching out to the public. On my twitter account, I currently have 151 followers. You have roughly 14 million. How do you do that? Maybe you can get in touch with me on that? I'd love to know your secret.

Four. We're both still young and discovering life and everything that it has to offer. With that comes experimenting to see what works and what doesn't. Your recent actions, like the VMA thing and your new music video, are all just about trying something new, right? I know what you mean, and I can tell you that I experiment all the time! I try new sounds, words and tricks all the time!

Five. You like to lick stuff. Again, you're a female to my heart! In that music video, you seem to like licking a big metal object on a wooden stick. Isn't it wonderful to lick things? I do it all the time! I chew on things, I lick things, I roll them around in my beak ... doesn't matter what it is! Don't you love the different tastes that are out there in the world?

I could go on and on, but in the end it all comes down to the same thing. I hear ya! I fully agree with everything you do and I support you! Don't listen to what the world thinks! Keep doing your own thing, and eventually you will get the recognition you are working so hard for.

If you ever want to get together over some orange juice and a nice bowl of fresh fruit to chat about these things, just have your people call my people and we'll set it up. Take care, dear Miley, and keep up the good work!

The Warmest of Regards,

September 07, 2013

Vinny writes a letter to Santa

Dear Santa Claus,

First off, I hope you're okay! It was disturbing to see this video and I would hate it if something happened to you, because of a parrot! Please understand that not all of us parrot-kin are aggressive and/or destructive! Of course I'm saying this after finding this unsettling Youtube video!

I know it's only early September, but I'm writing you now because I don't know if I can trust my humans to forward my letter to you in time. Or actually I'm not sure I can trust them at all!

The thing is .. I really do feel awkward at times. I can sense that my body is going through some changes and I really can't help it when I let out some yells now and then. I don't do it often, because I've noticed that every time i do that, I have to go back in the cage, my humans are leaving the room, or I get a blanket thrown over my cage. They really seem pissed off at me at times!

Please, Santa, you have to trust me, I'm NOT a bad boy! I just can't help myself!

The other day, when one of the humans I'm living with, the chubby one who's feet smell so delightful and let's me play with them now and then -let's call him 'daddy'-, was taking me for a shower. I know, I got a bit overexcited again. I just couldn't sit still. It was like, I don't know, a whole bunch of bees were swarming around me. I felt so agitated, but enthusiastic at the same time.

And the other human, the one with the long hair that is so much fun to play with -let's call her 'mommy'-, I had lost her! I could hear her, but I couldn't see her. I guess there was a small element of panic there as well. So I jumped around the small wet room with the great acoustics, and let out a few yells.

And daddy was very angry! He came out of the waterfall, chased me, tapped me on my tail, and I really do think he thinks that I'm a bad boy. But please Santa, you have to trust me, I'm NOT a bad boy!

Most of the time, both mommy and daddy are really nice to me though. They get me new stuff all the time. To play with, to sit on, to eat, to chew on, to exercise with, and more! So I'm still very happy with both of them, and the small chirping birds as well of course. In the end I think we're all one big family and we love each other very much, even though we have our squabbles now and then. And, even though they don't always do what I tell them to do.

That's why I'm not sure this letter will reach you in time, or at all! We'll have to see. Maybe I'll send you a short note by pigeon as well. My neighbors, a whole flock of 20 pigeons, have this whole courier service operation going on. I've been getting along with hem very well, so maybe they'll give me a discount, especially when they know my situation at home and that it's a letter to you, of all people.

So, that said, now let's talk about my 'demands'. This year, my wish list is as follows:

  • A nice natural looking Java tree stand, one of those with white curvy branches and all
  • More toys. I like the leather one. Great to chew on. Flexible, yet sturdy.
  • A bigger cage! (although I'm not sure my humans would agree)
  • A harness that doesn't feel icky, so my mommy and my daddy will take me out more often
  • A dictionary! I'm practicing my speech, but my humans keep repeating me. I want to learn new words! 
  • A dictionary! I love shredding paper in general, but especially dictionaries.

I can't think of anything else for the moment, but I'll let you know. I'll CC Mrs. Santa on this note as well, I know you're really busy with prepping and all.

Take care, dear Santa, and I really do hope that you know that I'm not a bad boy!

Vinny the Eclectus
The Netherlands

Recently I've discovered that when you have a pitcher or bottle with cold water/drink, the outside gets really wet! And that the cold wetness on the side is absolutely fantastic to lick off! And ice cubes are great to munch on too, as long as they're being dunked in water first. I don't like it when they're still 'dry'. They get a bit sticky. Anyway, can you also send along a big bag of ice, please, you know, with you living at the North Pole and such? Thank you Santa! You're the best!

July 07, 2013

Vinny goes back to basic!

Lately, and I'm talking about the last month or so, Vinny has become somewhat of a teenager. We can tell that hormones are surging through his little body and he's become more difficult to handle. Especially Mommy has gotten a few jabs, probably because she's more around than Daddy.

I guess Vinny has become a Daddy's boy, or in bird-keeper terms a 'one-person-bird'. And being Daddy's boy, he's also shown his affection towards Daddy. Especially after eating fresh fruit, he's more than happy to share this food with Daddy, bring it back up in his beak and offering it to Daddy with a load of head-bobbing and wing flapping. Daddy can deal with it, but Mommy is disgusted to say the least, especially when Vinny mistakes Mommy for Daddy and shares his food with her!

Of course we're not really too alarmed by this, all the experts say that it's just a phase. However, because we were reading up on this phenomenon, we did learn a few things that we've been doing wrong. Unwillingly and unknowingly, we've encouraged his hormonal behavior by giving him tickle sessions, playing with him, touching his beautiful candy corn beak, and the like.

The head bobbing and the regurgitating wasn't the worst. But the last 2 weeks or so he's started to become more aggressive and certainly louder. He's started short but ear-pounding screaming sessions, especially when about to be left alone or when he's been demanding some TLC.

A few days ago we drew the line.

Rule no. One: No more touching of erogenous zones, i.e. no more tickle sessions.

Rule no. Two: Change of diet. Less sugar rushes (read: less carbs), more healthy food.

Rule no. Three: Start over with training.

The first one is pretty obvious. If you play-wrestle with your bird, he might interpret that in an entirely wrong way. We're not his natural parents, he has nobody else besides us, and he doesn't have another Eclectus mate. So if we show the 'right' behavior, he'll start seeing us as his potential lover, even though it's just for short moods swings. I guess tickling areas of his body (i.e. under his wings, his belly, his beak, his neck) doesn't help. So we're done with that.

The 2nd one might seem less directly linked to his hormonal behavior, but hey, it doesn't hurt him. And the sugar rush thing makes sense, right? There was too much pasta and rice in his diet anyway, as opposed to legumes, sprouts and fresh fruits that are not too sugary.

Rule number 3 we read on various blogs. Training is fun and non-sexual attention. And attention is always good. Leave any parrot by himself too long and he'll go bonkers. A daily dosage of attention is very important.

Now, in that area Vinny had no reason to complain, but it's not just about the quantity of the attention, it's also the quality that counts. So, we've started training him again. Potty training, target training, simple commands like 'step up', etcetera.

Now, I can read your mind a little bit and I can see that you're wondering where we got all this 'wisdom'. We promise that sometime soon we'll just make a whole blog post about sources of information. For now you'll just have to believe us when we say that we get our information from various reliable sources (websites, blogs, etc) and we blend it all together.

There are as many opinions on bird-care and bird-handling as there are bird owners. But there's definitely some consensus to be discovered, when you read closely. We just go with the 'general opinion'.

The results?

Even after a few days of change we can tell that his hormonal behavior has become less. It definitely hasn't completely vanished yet, but we're on the way there. The no tickling rule and the training has helped the most so far. So really it's about the type of attention we've given Vinny.

With the training, we've also read up on what's the best way to go at it. Target training is a general type of training that will help with further more specific training later on. And simple commands like 'step up' and 'come here' should definitely be worth the effort.

One source says that you should always stop a training session before your parrot does. Try to figure out his attention span and use that info. Let's say that that's about 7 minutes, make sure you stop the training session after 6 minutes. We've noticed that this really helps. This way training doesn't get boring to Vinny and he stays eager to learn.

Usually he picks up a trick after 4 or 5 tries within one session, but we've yet to discover how many sessions it takes for him to consistently do a trick correct on the 1st try in a new session.

Anyway, as we said, we'll go into reliable sources in a separate post and give you a further update on Vinny's teenage behavior.

Do you have a bird that is or was going through a phase like this? Do you have any hints and tips on how to deal with it? Feel free to comment. Take care and till next time!