Pet Parakeets and COVID-19

When I wrote my most recent post giving advice about working from home with budgies for coworkers I had no idea that I would end up in a mandatory work from home situation! But, here we are, due to attempts to slow the spread of COVID-19 I’m in my home office for the foreseeable future.

My new supervisor
My new supervisor sure likes to stay on top of me! Talk about micromanaging!

In the mix with all of our other coronavirus related concerns, it is certainly scary to think that either we could give our pet parakeets COVID-19, or that they could transmit it to us.

First, the good news, per the CDC there is no evidence that COVID-19 will transmit to any pets or other animals, or that pets could transmit it to people.

But, here are some coronavirus related considerations:

  • Although your pets cannot contract and transmit this coronavirus, they could carry the disease on their bodies. Say, for instance, someone with COVID-19 coughs on a budgie (which, let’s not in the first place) – the virus could live for several hours on the budgie’s body and be transmitted to someone else who handled him. So, we should all take care not to cough or sneeze directly on our pets. I think that’s generally good advice, even without a pandemic!
  • It is never a bad idea to wash your hands before handling your parakeets, but watch out for using hand sanitizer. Sanitizers that are alcohol-based could be toxic to your birds. Plain old soap and water are perfectly good for getting rid of the virus on your hands and body. Additionally, it might be tempting to hose your home down with disinfecting sprays but these are also known to be deadly.
  • Supply chain issues could become a concern. We all know that toilet paper is virtually impossible to get at the moment. I don’t advise panicking and buying up a pet store, but there is not any harm in buying enough of whatever you feed your birds to get you through two to four weeks of quarantine.
  • Similarly, now is a good time to make sure you’ve got a good first aid kit for your budgies in case of emergencies. I imagine that veterinary clinics will stay open to some extent as a necessity, but I think it’s safe to assume that hours may be limited, and already difficult to find avian vets may be even harder to see.

As we all get settled in to practicing social distancing and getting used to being homebodies our parakeets can be a source of stress relief and humor. Although I’m trying to keep mine out of my work day I know that I appreciate, more than ever, their company and their goofy antics.

Stay safe and healthy out there, readers, and know that this trying time will pass. Try not to worry too much about your pet parakeets and COVID-19. Also, it might be the perfect time to quarantine a new feathered friend, if you’re stuck home anyway!

handsome kevin
Kevin is a handsome gentleman and a messy eater.
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Working from home with parakeet colleagues

Working from home is a great perk that’s increasingly available to employees. Creating a good environment for a full workday can be challenging in any situation, but when you throw in a flock of noisy budgies there’s a whole extra layer of careful planning to make. I only work from home occasionally, but my husband has a dedicated home office that he uses three days a week, most of these tips come right from him after a few years of experience. Here are some tips for working from home with parakeets.

  1. If at all possible, get a door (or a floor!) between you and your budgies. We have a single-floor and relatively small home, so my husband’s office is right next to the bird’s room. Even so, he does have two doors that he can close between him and the budgies, which helps dampen sound.
  2. Speaking of dampening sound, if you’ve got particularly bad spots you can buy or make sound panels to absorb some of the screeching.
  3. Use in-ear headphones for calls, particularly with an inline microphone that has a small range. This tip is mine! I have an inexpensive set of headphones that I’m absolutely in love with. They work with both my laptop and my cell phone, the in-ear speakers help me tune out parakeet noise and the inline microphone picks up my voice really well but isn’t strong enough to get a lot of noise outside of me.

If those aren’t an option and you have to use a regular headset with a more powerful microphone then try not to worry about it too much. I mean really, how many conference calls have you been on where someone’s dogs or kids created a ruckus?  Parakeet coworkers may be more unusual, but they are certainly not the only uninvited guests at the meeting! My husband has had people comment along the lines of, “oh, you’ve got birds”, but then they usually launch into their own story of bird parenting, or reminisce about the cockatiel their parents had.

  1. Play soft pleasant music for your parakeets. This may seem counterintuitive because of course they are compelled to sing along, but, fairly continuous pleasant singing is better than intermittent screaming. Especially if you’ve been quiet for a long time and then pick up a call, the budgies are likely to be reminded that you’re home and start desperately flock calling.
  2. I suggest resisting the urge to cover them routinely during the day. If you’re attending a Board meeting via conference call and absolutely have to be sure of silence then that’s one thing, but for daily routine, I don’t think it’s quite fair to take away their daytime. I’m sure not everyone will agree with me on that one, but I feel like they deserve to have their day as well, and it’s not their fault there’s so much to sing about!
  3. Listen to your own music or white noise when you need to focus. There are tons of white noise options or music to help you concentrate options on YouTube. My personal favorite is wind through bamboo. If you put on a pair of Noise Cancelling Headphones and some good masking noise it may help you concentrate and not get distracted thinking of all the fun you could be having with your parakeets.
  4. Make sure your budgies have ample things to occupy themselves with! A bored budgie can be an exponentially noisy budgie. Add in and regularly rotate a variety of engaging toys and items for destruction to keep those beaks and brains busy.

Although working from home with parakeets can be an adjustment, there are ways to help you get your work done while your budgies have a nice day at home in their cage. If you’ve got any tips to share that I missed, please drop a comment below!

Never fear, we’re all still here!

After a one year delay, I’m sure that even our semi-faithful readers must have thought that some tragedy befell the flock. Fear not for the lives of our intrepid budgies, it’s merely my laziness that has kept me from posting.

To be honest not much has changed since I wrote Kelly’s two year post, except for the fact that she’s three! Toby, Kelly and Kevin have not been joined by any additional budgies, and they are still enjoying their privacy with a room of their own. Regardless, I thought a good post to start writing again would be a general update of how everyone’s doing.

Toby will be four in October and although she’s still quite sassy and feisty I do think there’s an air of maturity about her. Although she remained close to her human flock after we got Kelly, it’s been a bit different since Kevin assimilated. She and Kevin live together and I sometimes refer to Kevin as Toby’s support animal. He takes very good care of her and always looks out for her well-being. As a consequence she really doesn’t need us that much for social interaction anymore. Toby enjoys fresh corn and millet and is still the quietest of the bunch.

Kelly is our resident crab. I frequently feel like she wants to be friends with everyone but just can’t figure out how to stop being so aggressive. She has her moments, of course, but mostly spends her free time starting trouble with other birds, humans, or biting her cage bars. We do everything we can to make her happy and give her lots of toys to destroy, but most of the time she’s pretty cranky. We can’t seem to snap her out of breeding condition, although she’s never laid an egg, so I think that’s part of the issue with her attitude. Kelly’s favorites include shredding toys and watching videos of parrots on YouTube.

Kevin the budgie on a swing

Kevin is a total sweetheart to Toby and alternately aggressive and amorous with Kelly. He would be willing to shack up with either lady, but they aren’t that interested in his advances. He has pressed his suit successfully on a couple of occasions with both of them, but no permanent romantic bonds have been established and he hasn’t made any babies. I think recently he’s given up a bit on the wooing and settled in to playing, yelling, and tons of singing. He’s not particularly interested in human interaction, but will occasionally acquiesce and chew on my glasses or groom my eyebrows. When he does it’s clear he’s doing it to be a good sport, but he’d rather be elsewhere.

Kevin wants everyone to get along and be happy, and he’ll nip any budgie who steps out of line, assuming it’s Kelly. Toby could probably stand on his head pecking and he’d put up with it and say, “whatever you want, boss”. Kevin loves chewing on lava rocks and he adores singing along to whatever we play on our Amazon Echo, but his number one, all-time favorite, passionate sing-along song is Let It Go from the Frozen soundtrack.

Not much changes day-to-day or even month-to month-now, and although we do variations on enrichments and try to play together every day, humans are a much tougher sell with all the budgie entertainments on deck. I’m going to try to get back into the habit of posting at least once a month, but we’ll see! At any rate, I did want to make sure to let readers know that the flock is still going strong!

A letter to Kelly on her second Gotcha Day

I cannot believe it has been two years since Kelly came home with us. It simultaneously feels like no time at all and forever. Celebrating a budgie gotcha day is a good time to pause and reflect on what your little friend has brought to your life. I wrote a letter to Toby on her second gotcha day and thought I would continue the tradition with Kelly. Given all the time I’ve spent writing about Kelly’s penchant for biting everything in sight (especially humans) you might think this post would take a turn for the negative. But, there’s much to admire about this little lady too!

the second time we saw KellyThis picture is from the second time I ever saw Kelly, when she was still a baby being weaned at the Rensselaer Bird Center. How could this little baby not steal your heart?

What I most admire and appreciate about Kelly is her sense of adventure. She’s the first one to expand a territory, discover something new, and show Toby and Kevin that there’s nothing to be scared about. This enhances the other budgies’ lives immeasurably. Even if there are prices to pay for having a bold spirit in your flock (like chewed up tables and painting frames), it’s totally worth it to have a fearless flock leader.

Kelly's recent fascination with the microwaveIf I’m being honest, it also keeps me on my toes in a way that I enjoy. Kelly is engaged with the house and the world around her in a way that Toby and Kevin aren’t.  They are perfectly content to stay on their loops (little Westworld reference there), but Kelly wants more from life.

I also love how this engagement applies to the human members of the flock too. Even when all she wants to do is test our skin strength, Kelly is the budgie who is most reliably interested in being with her people. Sure, most of the time it devolves into an attempted mole removal, but when you walk up to Kelly’s cage she is super excited to see you and wants to hop on your shoulder and be part of your action.

Can I pierce this ear for you ma'am?In her calmer moments she does also love preening hair and eyebrows and chilling out. Kelly is a total mama’s girl, nothing wrong with that! She will pal around with Patrick if I’m not home, but I’m the clear winner of favorites at present, which I would never turn down.

Lastly, she is a special beauty. I mean it is hard to look at her precious angel face, even while she’s chewing up the grocery list, and not want to just coo endearments at her. I have to assume there’s some kind of intentional delicate balance at work here, like, I can get away with “this much” absolute evil as long as I look like an angel that flitted down to earth.

Gorgeous angel budgieA very happy second gotcha day to Kelly. Thank you for keeping me on my toes and biting your way into my heart!

NutriBullet Rx Review (and how that has anything to do with budgies)

When Patrick had his tonsils out we knew he’d be on soft foods for weeks and that he’d probably get sick or starve to death trying to eat popsicles and fro-yo the whole time! So, my mom and stepdad were kind enough to loan us their NutriBullet Rx and I began looking up Smoothie Recipes that would be good meal replacements. Leading up to his surgery we started using the NutriBullet Rx and testing things out.

Almost immediately we realized this was a huge game changer in a house with budgies, and would help us stop wasting a lot of fruits and vegetables.

Virtually every week I buy a bunch of carrots with tops so that the birds can have their preferred type of bath. But the thing is, I don’t want to eat carrots every week. They aren’t my favorite snack and they don’t always fit into our dinners. Same thing goes for bunches of celery, as well as most fruits and vegetables that I buy for the parakeets. If I buy a pint of strawberries and they eat two, I better figure out what to do with the rest of them!

I realize that this may not be an issue in larger households where there are healthy lunches and after school snacks being made for little ones. But, in a two adult situation it’s just too much produce to choke down every week.

Enter the NutriBullet Rx . Now for weekend breakfasts everything that didn’t go in a budgie’s crop goes into the blender. We keep some frozen fruit and oatmeal on hand to pad it out and I always have greek yogurt in the refrigerator. It’s a great way to stop throwing out money on produce and Patrick and I are having healthy breakfasts on the weekend instead of starting the day with carbs.

I know, I am years behind on discovering how great smoothies are! But, I think they are even more awesome to help manage the extra produce you have when you’re trying to get your budgies to eat some fresh fruits and vegetables and don’t particularly feel like eating crudité every day.

As far as the NutriBullet Rx review, it is extremely easy to use and clean up after. Fill the cup to the max line with your preferred combination of fruits, veggies, liquids and fillers like oatmeal, then just turn it over and place it on the base. The blender automatically starts working and stops after a preset amount of time. No timing or thinking involved there!

nutribullet rx cupnutribullet rx review

When it stops you remove the cup from the base, unscrew the cap (which has the blades) and rinse in the sink. Pour out your smoothies and voila, you have two perfect cups of goodness!

I can’t imagine the NutriBullet Rx being any easier to use than it is. And, Kelly enjoyed the carrot stump that didn’t go into the mix!