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.

Birds and Ladders

Years ago we lived with three birds. Back then, our birds needed a way to get from their cages to each others’ cages and to the floor. Pookie The Cockatiel is the oldest, and lives alone now, but he still needs a way down to the floor.

The method we employed involved purchasing a couple of three-foot wooden ladders. Each ladder had hooks, so it could be held safely to the cage, and was long enough to reach the floor. I quickly dubbed these ladders the Viking Ladders, because they looked like miniature siege ladders used in the middle ages.

Pookie hangs out on his ladder or the stool that sits next to it. But, when lovebirds lived with us, they used to park themselves on these ladders and hold the resident of the cage semi-captive. In fact they were laying siege to the cage.

Recently, another bird on twitter asked Pookie what a Viking Ladder was, so here are some pictures.

Pookie and The Viking Ladder
Pookie and The Viking Ladder
Just relaxing out on the ladder porch
Just relaxing out on the ladder porch


Pookie The Cockatiel

Almost twenty-two years ago, Pookie The Cockatiel came to live with us. He was raised by a breeder near us, and hatched in an outdoor aviary, kept around fifty degrees. He was an only bird for just a few months, because Peachy showed up not much later, and then came Louie, and finally Zephy. People stopping by @ZephyLoveBird have seen Pookie in pictures and heard his name, but he has preferred the low profile life.

Pookie Getting February sun
Pookie Getting February sun

Pookie has spent most of his life living with at least one other bird, first Peachy The Lovebird and then Zephy The Lovebird, and for fourteen years a Quaker Parakeet, Louie. Now, Pookie is training us to be more bird-like, because with the loss of Zephy, we are stepping in to perform extra duties like preening and hanging out. It is not hard work; he is our friend.

In Memorium: Zephy The Lovebird

It is with great sadness that Pookie The ‘Tiel, Mrs. H., and I wish to let you know that Zephy the Lovebird passed away yesterday evening. She had was recovering from a spill in liquid laundry detergent, and went into respiratory distress. We have asked Pookie, our 21 year old cockatiel to take over tweeting for Zephy as @ZephyLoveBird. He said he will consider it.

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.

Spaghetti Hawk

In their native habitat, Lovebirds eat millet and sorghum. In captivity, we struggle to get Lovebirds, other members of the parrot family, as well as finches and canaries as close to nature’s diet as possible. Our Cockatiel and Lovebird eat mash made of brown rice and other grains, as well as Nekton vitamins, fresh corn and carrots.

Pookie The Cockatiel prefers junk food, if he can get it, which is almost never. His preferred junk food is potato chips, but he’s been kept away from that stuff, and is 21 years old as of October 12, 2012.

Zephy, our slate gray Lovebird, likes rice and spaghetti, as this picture shows. Pookie is very non-chalant about his comings and goings, and is literally a ninja bird, if he chooses to be still and invisible.

Zephy, on the other hand is right out there, declaring her desires about everything, including dinner.

A Lovebird in her [almost] native habitat raiding the fruits of a spaghetti dinner

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.