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Hello from Ruby in Arizona!


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Hello Everyone! I'm so excited to be a part of this group! These forums were super helpful for when my husband and I were doing research before adopting our CAG, Rhubarb (Ruby for short). We knew we didn't want to get a baby African Grey and we wanted to rescue one because there are so many birds out there who need good homes! This will be a slightly long post as an introduction but I will include lots of pictures!

 

Anyway, a little bit of background on us, we have a dog (Jelly, 8 years old), cat (Jams, 4 years old), and lovebird (Kiwi, 2 years old) who all get along very well! We had adopted Jelly first, from a shelter, when she was around 2 years old. She had been bounced from shelter to shelter and her previous owners would tie her up outside at night but allow her in the house during the day. We are pretty sure she was abused as she'll flinch when we're holding a broom or some other object and we have NEVER hit her. She also had a lot of separation anxiety and PTSD from thunderstorms as well. We have worked through those and is a very spoiled puppy now. We got Jams around the time when Jelly was starting to get sad and lonely being home alone when we were at work for long hours (weird schedule back then) and she took to nurturing Jams like her own baby! Jams was around 5 weeks old when we adopted her. She was born on the side of a church with a few other kittens and her mom didn't come back for days. We were thinking the momma cat had been killed. ☹️ Jams and her brothers and sisters were promptly adopted out to different families. Since Jams was raised by Jelly, she acts more like a dog than a cat. She is of course very spoiled as well. We had gotten Kiwi after we had been watching my younger sisters budgies and Jams was very excited to have them around. She would sit by the cage and watch them all day! She was very sad when they had to go back home to my sister's house so after a few months we decided to get a lovie and they've been best buddies ever since! Not sure if Kiwi even thinks she's a bird because she scoots around the floor with Jelly and Jams (she is able to fly but prefers to walk, although we are recall training her which she is having fun with!). Here are some pictures of the three: 

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Now let's get on to Ruby! Geoff and I had been looking around at rescue shelters to see if we would come across an African grey (or other bird) who would take to us and want to come home with us. But because of the pandemic, volunteering and helping out at shelters have been nonexistent (they wouldn't take in new volunteers). I just happened to be browsing Craigslist (because people list birds there all the time) and she was listed on Craigslist that same night I was browsing. The family said that they couldn't take care of her anymore and needed to be taken in by some other family. We went to go meet her (to make sure she would actually like us) and fell in love! The current owner told us her background: 

- She is currently 19 years old. The first 15 years of her life she spent with an older gentleman (we are thinking British from her accent) and she was raised very well there (based on how she interacts with us and her training). The older gentleman suddenly passed away (we are thinking he was involved in an accident after he had left the house because she has separation anxiety whenever my husband leaves the house, working on that). 

- So then she was picked up by a couple who had high school kids and they had her for 3 years. This is where she had started to feather pluck. I think also where she was abused (she is deathly afraid of towels and sticks [we had tried to use a T-perch with her] and does not like it when someone is moving too fast towards her). After their kids had moved out, they wanted to downsize and said they couldn't fit her in their new home anymore. So on Craigslist she went where the person who we picked her up from took her in. 

- The most recent house that she was at was very high energy. They had about 8 people in the house, another bird, cat, and small dog. Ruby was not settling in well with them (they had only had her for 8 months) and I think she was too much work for them too. The mom did try to help with the feather plucking. She took Ruby to the vet to get checked out and she was deemed healthy. They started her on Avi calm which seemed to help but she had only been on it for 2 weeks or so before we took her in. Here are some pictures of her first day at our house after the owner dropped her off: 

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We are her fourth (and forever) home. When she first came to us, she was a very dusty grey. I don't think they gave her baths at all which probably made her super itchy and led to even more plucking. We let her settle in and left her cage door open in case she wanted to come out and interact. We talked with her a lot and just had conversations around her. Kiwi was super excited to have her around and so were Jams and Jelly but we kept them separate for a bit.

 

We believe she is settling in well. She likes the very calm environment at the house (yes even with 3 other pets, we like to keep a very calm environment). She has taken to my husband more (since she was raised by the older gentleman) but I have been working with her so that she doesn't just like him. Here are some pictures after 2/2.5 weeks from when we adopted her: 

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We have been giving her daily baths (she's not too fond of them and grumbles about it) but she is getting better. She is not dusty anymore (still some but not the puff cloud that would come out when we first got her) and it seems to be helping with her feathers too. We are adding aloe vera to her bath as well (thank you, I think it was Dan who posted about the aloe vera here?, for that great advice!). She is very loving and sweet and we've had her meet my parents and my husband's parents so that she gets used to being around other people as well. She is a lot more talkative when it's just my husband and I around though. She continues to surprise us every day and she is very smart! She has a vet appointment next Saturday to make sure she is alright (we waited a bit until she was settled in since the other owner took her in a few months ago to the vet and she was healthy then). We did find out that her previous owner had taken her to a bird shop who trimmed her secondary feathers so now she can't fly! We were super upset about that but our groomers said that they should grow back but it will take time. That bird shop also trimmed her beak for no reason which I'm glad they didn't do any damage (according to our groomer). Here is a picture of her after a bath, this was a month after adopting her: 

 

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We are so happy to have her in the home even if it has been a lot of work so far (totally worth it!). She is a bit overprotective with Geoff and I when Jelly, Jams, and Kiwi come around but we are training her to not chase them off and that they are part of the family (work in progress). We have been trying different toys with her (she's not a huge fan of them) and also different foraging opportunities but she doesn't seem to want to forage. She even hands a nut back to me if it's too hard to open for her (this was a back and forth handing back one night because at first I didn't understand what she wanted). We are thinking she is just enjoying the new home and she is settling in. We are continually looking for things to spoil her with (looking for a new perch stand for her, more toys, etc.) but we've noticed she just loves to be around us and likes to have conversations with us. She loves listening to Disney music which is great because we love listening to it (and singing along to it, whether it sounds good or bad, haha!).

 

Anyway, this post has been long enough! And I really do appreciate you reading to the end! Again, super excited to be a part of the community and I love reading all of the threads! They have been super helpful! Until next time!

 

Sincerely,

Johanne & Geoff

(Mom and Dad to fur and feather children)

 

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Welcome! Wow! What a nice intro to your furry and feathered family!

May I ask what type of diet she's been on before you and now? There may be some dietary adjustments that could help her moving forward.

 

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2 hours ago, Greytness said:

Welcome! Wow! What a nice intro to your furry and feathered family!

May I ask what type of diet she's been on before you and now? There may be some dietary adjustments that could help her moving forward.

 

Thank you! I appreciate you reading my novel! Hah! 

 

The previous owners had her on a seed and pellet diet. The seed was the Higgins Sunburst Gourmet blend (which we stopped giving her because too many sunflower seeds) and they were using Zupreem Natural pellets. We replaced the seed mix with Volkman Avian science which has a mix of various seeds, fruits, etc. So we are giving her about 50% of that and 50% of the Zupreem natural pellets. We were told she likes eating the pellets (she does not, she picks around them) but she has been eating them more lately now that we're increasing the amount in her food. We've also made her veggie chop which she was not a big fan of. She does like rice and orzo so that's something she gets occasionally. We've tried cucumbers, celery, lettuce, carrots... she'll try them but doesn't like them. We did find out Kiwi loves lettuce which is great! Both Kiwi and Ruby are very picky eaters but more so Kiwi. The difference is that Ruby actually tries new foods and Kiwi is more skeptical. We are wanting to convert both of them over to a seasonal feeding system with various chop recipes: https://birdtricksstore.com/products/natural-feeding-system-parrot-cookbook#:~:text=The Seasonal Feeding System is,they'll live longer too! (saw this with these free flight parrot people that we have been watching on youtube). We wanted to start off the conversion slow by trying to convert to a full pellet diet first and then jumping into more natural chop foods. The previous house was also giving her these "Real Rewards" treats and a lot of almonds and crackers. She doesn't seem to like the Real Rewards treats (there are orchard blend, fruit blend, etc.) but she does love almonds which we have limited to one a night and sometimes skips a few nights. We also experimented with other nuts and she seems to like walnuts too but we only have half since nuts are high in fat and we haven't weaned her off the seed diet yet. No ideas what she was on before the last house but I think the 2nd house fed her junk food just by how her face lights up if we're eating hot dogs or something bad for her.

 

Very open to other suggestions and ideas of course. Oh! We've also been adding hemp seeds to her food because we were told by our groomer that it helps with growing back feathers. :)

 

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Yes, her diet sounds like it hasn't been very good, and may be contributing to her poor feathers. Switching her slowly over to a raw diet while slowly reducing the other foods will be ideal. Her diet should primarily be fresh raw vegetables, some fruit, some nuts, a high quality pellet, and some seeds without the sunflower seeds and peanuts. Sprouts, organic grains, and organic red palm oil should be added to her diet as well.

Does she like sugar snap peas? All mine adore them! They also really like yams into which I finely chop dandelion greens, kale and other organic leafy greens. They can't avoid eating the greens while they nosh on the yams.

There's a Greywood manor avian tea called 'Pretty Plume' that might help her. I steep quinoa, steel cut organic oats and other wholesome grains in this tea.

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Yes, we definitely want to get her and Kiwi over to a raw diet. We keep trying with fresh vegetables but recently found out that she seems to like the steamed vegetables better (we were having steamed vegetables and she took to it really well!). So for now, we'll give her steamed veggies since it gets her used to eating vegetables and will hopefully switch over to a raw diet. 

 

Do the grains have to be cooked? Or can it be added to her diet uncooked? Didn't know about the red palm oil! what does that do? I haven't tried sugar snap peas! Will be getting that from the store and trying it out! Thanks for the suggestion! I also really like the yams suggestion! Great idea! Oh! I looked up the Pretty Plume and we'll give it a try. Thank you again so much for the suggestions! We'll try implementing these and see how it goes!

 

We finally figured out the best way to give her a bath (she likes being in the shower with the shower on while we spritz her with the aloe vera bath water). Small changes and still figuring out her personality and what she likes/doesn't like. But we're enjoying every step of the way with her!

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Sounds like you're on the right path! Start with steamed, but very slowly decrease the amount of time the veggies are steamed until they can eventually be served raw.

Red Palm Oil is rich in vitamin A, which CAGS need. Low A can contribute to poor feathering for one. I buy Nutiva Organic Red Palm Oil (Amazon) because it;s grown on family farms, so it doesn't destroy the natural habitats. Many forests have been decimated through farming RPO.

I cook my grains. Steel cut oats, tricolored quinoa, brown rice are great. I also sprinkle flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds onto their banana slice in the morning for added nutritional boost. Sprouts are super important to throw in as well. I sprout my own to make certain they are served super fresh.

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17 hours ago, Greytness said:

Sounds like you're on the right path! Start with steamed, but very slowly decrease the amount of time the veggies are steamed until they can eventually be served raw.

Red Palm Oil is rich in vitamin A, which CAGS need. Low A can contribute to poor feathering for one. I buy Nutiva Organic Red Palm Oil (Amazon) because it;s grown on family farms, so it doesn't destroy the natural habitats. Many forests have been decimated through farming RPO.

I cook my grains. Steel cut oats, tricolored quinoa, brown rice are great. I also sprinkle flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds onto their banana slice in the morning for added nutritional boost. Sprouts are super important to throw in as well. I sprout my own to make certain they are served super fresh.

Oh good idea with the decreasing the steaming time! 

Thank you for the red palm oil recommendation! How much do you add to their food?

We have the  oats and tricolored quinoa. She's not too fond of the oats but maybe we can mix it with the quinoa and see how that goes. We'll start adding the flax and chia seeds too. She's doesn't like bananas (we've tried fresh and dried bananas) and she tosses them out and looks at us offended like why would we even give her such a disgusting thing (lol!). 

We haven't gotten around to sprouting yet. It seems like a long and complicated process according to some websites that we've read? How do you recommend sprouting? Is there a certain protocol that you follow? We've also read that you have to be very careful since it can get contaminated easily. If there's already a post on here about that, I can search for that as well. :)

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RPO is essentially vitamin A and fat. I put a half pea sized amount onto their food. Some of my birds (I have 13!) go right for it to eat first.

The Sprout People have great sprouting equipment and supplies. You can certainly go overboard getting all their stuff, but the basic sprouting trays and their certified sprouts will get you going. It's all about regular rinsing and serving them just as it sprouts; not when they've grown long.

 

If she likes any soft foods like sweet potatoes, you can hide so many nutritional goodies chopped up into it. My crew doesn't like the leafie greens, so they get finely chopped into the sweet potatoes.

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