But these aren't the first birds I've had. In fact, I had 3 birds when I was in middle school - college too (hmm, it seems that having a 3 bird home is becoming something of a pattern with me. Yep, back then it was just 3 budgies: Petesy, Samson (Sammy) and Delilah. Don't laugh, because I started getting these birds with I was 10 years old, and I didn't get to name any of them. Mom named Samson and Delilah, and we adopted Petesy from a great aunt that went in a nursing home with Alzheimers.
I will say, too, that bird care has come a long way since I adopted Sammy at the tender age of 10 in 1985. We know so much more about better food, better toys, better cage design, and even how to arrange our homes for birds to have happier, healthier, and longer lives. In fact, the average life expectancy of a budgie back then was 5-7 years. When we got Ollie in 2010, I was told it's now around 15 years. I think that speaks to exponential increases in the lifestyle of our avian companions.
These discoveries are great, but I'm discouraged by the fact that many people don't seem to realize the improvements that have come along in the past couple of decades for bird care. Oh, the people I run across online are savvy and up on things. I believe it's because the Internet and social media is a great tool for spreading the word to other bird owners on our discoveries in this area. But at the local level, I'm still shocked by people that continue to buy crappy seed and shoddy toys at Walmart or the grocery store, and wonder why their bird always seems lethargic and sick. Or that don't provide fresh paper in cages, or use cage skirts, or deep clean at least weekly and wonder why the area around the bird cage is a smelly mess. Or get frustrated with their bird gets noisy, covers then, then wonders why that pissed them off even more. Or worst of all - they do everything right and are loving owners, but they don't clip the bird's wings, then are absolutely dismayed when they walk outside one day and the bird flys away because it saw a predator they didn't, and it's never found.
Yes, there is a lot to learn about bird ownership, and although there are many books on the market to tell you how to care for them, most of them are species specific. You get great information on how to care for that particular bird, but they lack in the good, old fashioned common sense things you need to learn about having a bird in your home. Plus more people have dogs and cats, so naturally most of the "pet book" market is dedicated to them. The information for birds is out there, but it's scattered and has to be gathered.
In perusing my Sun Conures Yahoo Group and Twitter, I started to think "if only there were a book that gave that good, general advice. We recently helped to rehome a green cheek conure that was found at Rick's work, and in thinking about all the things the new bird owner needed to know, it occured to me. Hey, I'm a writer. And they always say, if you're a writer and the book you want to read isn't out there, then write it yourself.
And so, welcome to the catalyst for my next book project. I'm planning to write a non-fiction book about basic things you need to know about integrating an avian companion in your home. Some of the topics I plan to discuss are:
· Birds & your lifestyle – what’s best for you, what’s best for them.
· Cages – best style, easy cleaning, mess control.
· Feeding – pellets, seed, and snacks. What foods are good to share.
· Toys – chew/preening/snuggle – and don’t forget happy huts and mirrors (for keets!).
· Adapting your home. Cleaning, organization, what you can’t have. Tips & tricks
· Socialization – establishing a flock and helping them adjust.
· Training. Yes, you can teach them. No, it’s not 100%. Anything’s better than nothing.
· Multiple bird homes. Cause birds are like potato chips – you can’t have just 1.
· General tips to make your life and home happy and less stressful.
· Fun ending – why birds are the best pets.
So, what do you think? I especially welcome feedback from my avian friends and their human parents. Does this sound like a good idea - and if so, are there any other things you can think of that would be good to cover? This project is on the drawing board, so let me know what you think.
I think this will also be a fun project. I haven't done much non-fiction, and this is an area where I know a lot through experience. Heck, you know I'll share more than a few bird stories along the way too. I'll be sure to let you know when I start, and of course will post excerpts. It's always exciting when you have a new project to start - and I'm doubly excited because I'm also still working on my mystery novel. Move is getting to a halfway point, and this is in the brainstorming phase right now. Since I don't do short stories any more (I only do books and blogging), then I believe I can handle two concurrent projects as long as they're in different stages.
That's all for today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.