Tag Archive | cockatiels

Air Crates For Birds: Specifications

Many of you know I am relocating to the United Kingdom so I can do the work of historian-researcher better and offer you the best information possible in the Legendary Women of World History and Legendary Women of World History Dramas. This means flying international with my two precious cockatiels whom I absolutely ADORE.

Arwen-4 2017 17 February

Arwen is ready to fly!

But getting a bird from the USA to UK is an annoying challenge — and it has nothing to do with UK immigration law nor with the USDA’s rules for taking a bird out of the USA.  Rather, the annoyance of this process comes from the circular information you receive when trying to answer that straight forward question:  what kind of cargo crate do I need and how do I get one that will be accepted at both JFK (the main airport birds fly to Europe from) and LHR?

The last several months I’ve been driven crazy in circles.  I consult one website which directs me to another page and another and another and not ONE BIT is about flying WITH BIRDS. Even the pages that say they are giving you information about flying with birds inevitably re-direct you back to something that only applies to cats and dogs. (Example pg 1 to pg 2. Note how general this gets (at best) for animals other than dogs/cats).  Messaging on social media doesn’t help either, nor does email or even phone calls.  No one seems to know anything and what they do know is to refer you back to the same pages you’ve read several times before that only talk about cats and dogs. It’s the customer service runaround that drives everyone crazy when planning a big trip.

Finally today I heard from IAG Cargo which handles air cargo for British Airways and is ultimately the company that off-loads animals from BA planes and brings them to Heathrow’s animal terminal for customs clearances.  What they gave me was a pdf of the following three pages from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which sets all the standards for all crates for all animals traveling internationally.

IATA container info pg 1IATA container info pg 2IATA container info pg 3

Does that look overwhelmingly complicate to you?  It sure does to me.  Which brings us to what it all really means:

When travelling with birds a custom crate needs to be made that meets IATA rules for your bird species. While you can do this yourself, the best way to make sure the crate conforms to that maze of rules is to buy one from a professional.

The first company I priced was Pet Relocation, a big company based in Austin, Texas.  However a better deal is to be had by shopping around. West coast based O’Brien Animal Transportation Services offers custom crates for birds and help with pet moves (avian, canine, feline) with personalized and personable customer service that far surpasses what I’ve experienced with Pet Relocation. A sweet lady at O’Brien referred me to Sally at Newark/New York City based Airborne Animals which offers exceptional customer service for pet moves beginning on the East Coast.  What I love about Airborne Animals: they are very upfront about what goes into moving costs actually TELLING YOU what the average fees are for each part of their service.  That’s something the competition DOESN’T do and why I’ll be flying with Airborne Animals’ help.


A Parrot Thanksgiving


December 2004. Mithril (left) and Aragorn (right) sit in my Yule tree.  That year Mithril’s hobby was throwing the collector ornaments out of the tree — especially my Princess Leia from the original Star Wars.

Way back in 2004 the following circulated on social media.  I always call it “A Parrot Thanksgiving” but its original title was “How to Stuff Your Turkey On Thanksgiving.”

Whatever you call it, this is what nearly all of us with birds experience over the holidays.

1 Turkey
Sweet Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes with Gravy
Green Beans
Cranberry Sauce
Hot rolls and Butter
Relish tray
Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream
Hot Coffee

Get up early in the morning & have a cup of coffee. It’s going to be a
long day, so place your Parrot on a perch nearby to keep you company
while you prepare the meal.

Remove Parrot from kitchen counter and return him to perch.

Prepare stuffing, and remove Parrot from edge of stuffing bowl and
return him to perch.

Stuff turkey & place it in the roasting pan, and remove Parrot from
edge of pan and return him to perch.

Have another cup of coffee to steady your nerves.

Remove Parrot’s head from turkey cavity and return him to perch, and
re-stuff the turkey.

Prepare relish tray, and remember to make twice as much so that you’ll
have a regular size serving after the Parrot has eaten his fill.

Remove Parrot from kitchen counter and return him to perch.

Prepare cranberry sauce, discard berries accidentally flung to the
floor by Parrot.

Peel potatoes, remove Parrot from edge of potato bowl and return him to perch.

Arrange sweet potatoes in a pan & cover with brown sugar & mini marshmallows.

Remove Parrot from edge of pan and return him to perch. Replace
missing marshmallows.

Brew another pot of coffee. While it is brewing, clean up the torn
filter. Pry coffee bean from Parrot beak.

Have another cup of coffee & remove Parrot from kitchen counter and
return him to perch.

When time to serve the meal: Place roasted turkey on a large platter,
and cover beak marks with strategically placed sprigs of parsley.

Put mashed potatoes into serving bowl, rewhip at last minute to
conceal beak marks and claw prints.

Place pan of sweet potatoes on sideboard, forget presentation as
there’s no way to hide the areas of missing marshmallows.

Put rolls in decorative basket, remove Parrot from side of basket and
return him to perch. Also remove beaked rolls, serve what’s left.

Set a stick of butter out on the counter to soften – think better and
return it to the refrigerator.

Wipe down counter to remove mashed potato claw tracks.

Remove Parrot from kitchen counter and return him to perch.

Cut the pie into serving slices.

Wipe whipped cream off Parrot’s beak and place large dollops of
remaining whipped cream on pie slices.

Whole slices are then served to guests, beaked-out portions should be
reserved for host & hostess.

Place Parrot inside cage & lock the door.

Sit down to a nice relaxing dinner with your family accompanied by
plaintive cries of “WANT DINNER!” from the other room.

Psittacosis: Not a Death Sentence for Your Bird

In May 2011 I bought a beautiful whiteface pearl cockatiel I named Elendil (not realizing the bird was female) from a pet store on Kings Highway near the Kings Hwy N train station — not knowing the cage was filthy and that yellow on her tail was excrement.  Elendil flew away upon my move to Johnstown Pennsylvania in October, 2012 — but her life and the lessons learned about Psittacosis — lives on.

Psittacosis: Not a Death Sentence for Your Bird

Successfully treated for psittacosis, Elendil loved to sit on her multi-branch java wood perch and play with her toys.

Successfully treated for psittacosis, Elendil loved to sit on her multi-branch java wood perch and play with her toys.

Originally posted February 1st, 2012


It is no secret I love my birds and do absolutely everything I can to provide the best housing, food, toys, and enrichment opportunities for them. When it comes to successful aviculture, regular visits to an avian veterinarian are an important but often overlooked part of keeping healthy birds. Many expert sources advise a physical for all new birds to one’s home, before allowing the new bird(s) to interact with any other birds or pets you are keeping.

This simple piece of advice saved the lives of all my birds when, in late May 2011, I brought home from a Brooklyn pet store a new flock member, a whiteface pearl cockatiel cock I named Elendil . What my sight loss and the placement of the pet store cage prevented me from seeing at first was a tail encrusted with runny yellow feces-and a crippled left foot. A few hours after settling him into his cage, the foot issues manifest. I called the Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine (88th & Columbus Ave, New York, NY) for the next available appointment for him. Two days later, my vet looked at Elendil and told me the meaning of these abnormal feces: PSITTACOIS, also known as “parrot fever” and scientifically known as Chlamydia psittaci or Ornithosis. Psittacosis is highly contagious-not only between birds, but between birds and humans. For this reason, our ancestors dealt with the disease by slaughtering affected birds.

Fortunately for Elendil, today’s avian veterinarians now have an antibiotic solution to this painful and lethal disease. The treatment is far from cheep, but for parrots, with their expected life spans in the decades, it is an investment worth making.

If your bird contracts Psittacosis, your veterinarian will most likely prescribe doxycycline. My vet administered Elendil’s doxycycline in weekly shots for six weeks. Depending on your bird’s specific situation, additional medication, administered by you orally once or twice per day at home, may also be required. Elendil’s treatment involved a total of three different oral medications. In addition, I had to purchase a hospital cage, special perches, stainless steel food dishes, a small aquarium to weigh him in, and a gram scale for twice daily weightings. These are the standard expenses you should expect. Like Elendil, your bird may need a few days in ICU during the early part of treatment.

Today, Elendil is a happy, healthy young bird almost one year old, still very much a toddler. Despite the crippled foot, he is doing very well.

Psittacosis used to be a death sentence. Today it is treatable…and well worth the expense!