Author Archives: zephythelovebird

A Quarter Century

No one is really quite sure the day I — Pookie the Cockatiel — was hatched. So, after careful investigation, it was determined that Columbus Day October 12 was probably my hatch date. Today, I am 25 years old, not bad.

Let me just say it is difficult work to train humans to communicate with us. Primarily for survival reasons, we birds do not reveal a lot. But, Dad and Mrs. H. have gotten reasonable marks for figuring me out.

Doing what I always do, inspecting.

Dad left his dresser messy just for my birthday.



Filed under Bird Stories, General

Our Bird Mash

Now, I know all of you have just been waiting to hear about the bird mash we eat, so here goes. Pookie The Cockatiel and I have a primary diet of cooked grains, which Dad and Mrs. Highpants call mash. Periodically, Dad makes a trip to a natural grocer in Central Square Cambridge, MA. This place is completely natural, including occasional moths in the grain. To be honest, Dad doesn’t go there, because it’s natural, but instead because they have good prices on bulk grains.

Cooking the mash takes several elapsed hours, because everything has to cool. However, the actual cooking time is about 1 1/2 hours from prep to finish.

First, after the grains (and beans) are purchased, they are divided into three categories and three jars, long cooking, short cooking, and no cooking.

Long Cooking

Brown rice

Small beans like Adzuki


Wheat Berries

and any other grain that takes about 40 minutes to cook.

Short Cooking

Red/Orange, Green, or other kind of Lentil



Buckwheat (groats, kasha)

No Cooking

Wheat, Rye, or Oat Flakes


or anything that will cook (soften) from the heat of the other cooked ingredients


To a 4 QT covered saucepan, mix 1 cup of long cooking ingredients and two cups of water. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for twenty minutes.

Then add 1 cup short cooking ingredients and two cups of water to the first ingredients that have been cooking for twenty minutes.

Heat to bring back close to a boil and then simmer for twenty more minutes.

Remove mash from heat.

Stir in one cup of no cooking ingredients, and let everything cool with the lid on, to preserve moisture.

This mixture can be seasoned with a little allspice. If you want to use other spices, check with your veterinarian or bird expert for spices that won’t hurt birds. We know about allspice, because it is used in commercially available bird mash.

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Filed under Bird Care and Feeding

Watch Birds

Some people think birds only build nests, have babies, fly around, and eat. But there is much more to us than that. Pookie The Cockatiel and I like to survey our holdings. We see enough of the house, so we like to see our yard especially who is skulking through it.

Dad snapped the following when we were surveying our kingdom, kicking out large birds — yes I can do that with my cry — and just enjoying things in general.

Pookie The 'Tiel and Zephy Love Bird Surveying Their Yard

Small parrots surveying their holdings.

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Filed under Bird Stories

The Grain Hawk

A lot of people do not get how birds work. It takes a lot of fuel for us to fly, build nests, and just to exist, especially in colder weather. We have to eat often. We are not like dogs or cats.

Peachy, an emerald-backed peach faced lovebird who preceded me, was such a good flier, that he could fly upstairs following the staircase. That’s flying upwards at a 45 degree angle. Peachy was a fast flier. But after a flight, he would seek out food.

Pookie (the Cockatiel) and I get a varied diet of mash (cooked grains), Avi Cakes and Nutri-berries (from LaFebre). But, I never miss the opportunity to bulk up on grain. My favorite is rice. I do not fly a lot, but it takes a lot of energy to fuss and keep things the way I want them.

Lovebird [Hawk]

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Filed under General

When Mandibles Grow Wild

I have many times tweeted that I’m going out to Sager Animal Hospital for a beak trim. This was because my beak grows too quickly, which usually means a liver disorder. The good news is my liver is not enlarged. Dr. Bill [Sager] ought to know. He prods my liver often enough.

Until last December, only my maxilla — upper beak — grew too long. Dr. Bill trained Dad and Mrs. H. how to do this, but I am not recommending anyone try this at home on your bird. Complications can arise. However, my mandible — lower beak — started growing too long and crooked. Here is a picture, which unfortunately is blurred, but you can see a little bit of the mandible poking up. It kind of looks like something is in my mouth, but that’s my mandible too long.

My mandible overgrowth

The good news is with a lot of sculpting of my mandible and maxilla by Dr. Bill, things seem to be calming down. That is my beak is Dad thinks the overgrowth was hormone-based and also due to the cold weather. Who really knows? We are birds; that automatically means we are complicated.

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Filed under Rx

When Cockatiels Need Pain Relief

<Disclaimer: This post is a “parrot”dy and does not recommend giving pain reliever for humans to birds. We recommend you contact your veterinarian if your bird appears to be in pain.>

Cockatiels love to play and investigate, but it takes all a ‘Tiel can give to keep up with a Lovebird. Lovebirds also love to play and play hard. So, after a day of play, this ‘Tiel goes for real pain relief:

But just make sure you are there to help if there is a bird-proof cap.

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Filed under Bird Stories