Archive for the ‘birds’ Tag


One never knows what Mother Nature has up her sleeve!

The other day coming home I decided to take the elevator and saw a chick on the floor near the plants. Looking up I saw the head of a pigeon on a small shelf between the door and right above it. I was going to put the chick up there but I know better than to fool around with a baby bird, especially when the parents are around!

Yesterday I came home and saw that maintenance had put up spikes to close the area off but either they didn’t care or didn’t know that one of the adult pigeons was still there. I, also, saw some blood on the side wall which probably meant dad(?) got out to look for food as that is their job. Today the ’nest’ was empty though there were twigs and papers all over that area. In any case I took a section of the spikes off so if they are still nesting there they won’t get hurt coming and going.

I know pigeons are a problem here but that is no way to solve it! The following day the mother was sitting on 3 eggs. Also a little further west another pair of birds had set up a nest. There is also a nest, bluebirds I think, in the tree in the back of my building.

Yes, it is THAT time of the year!

3rd picture of hatchling

Posted April 16, 2015 by greatmartin in SPRING HAPPENINGS

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Birds Are THE Best Pets To Have Part 2   Leave a comment

Please DON’T do what I did and that was to buy the birds first and then read up on them. One of the biggest mistakes I made was getting two budgies as they had each other and didn’t need me so I didn’t become part of their ‘flock!’ I missed out on a lot because I bought Butch and Sky as a pair so I wouldn’t be bothered by them too much. It took a long time before they interacted with me though they both did learn ‘step up’, meaning to get on a perch/finger which is important for all pet birds to learn.

First let me tell you birds are very easy to take care of starting with their cages. I would line the floor with 7 layers of paper every Sunday so all I had to do every morning was pick up the top layer and they had a clean floor. Once a month I would take the cage(s) downstairs, hose them down plus clean the perches. They were not high maintenance at all! Yes poop was a problem though I have heard that some people trained their birds to poop I specific spots but I didn’t. When I let them out of their cage I draped a towel over my shoulders but I should have added a shower cap on my head!

I had no trouble converting them to pellets so I really didn’t have the mess of bird seeds all over the place. I would occasionally give them seeds as a treat but not enough to dirty the floor..

One of the first things I learned was that it was easy to tell the differences between the sexes on most birds. In the case of budgies the males had a blue cere–that is right above the beak–while the female had a brown cere. The male Zebra Finch as an orange patch on each check while the female doesn’t. In the cockatiels the males have a bright orange patch on their cheeks while the female’s is duller and they have bars under their wings and spots under their wings but both are hard to see.

Sorry ladies but in the bird world the males are the more colorful ones–just look at the peacocks!

One of the many benefits of having a bird as a pet was that I met Jill on line and she lives in Fort Lauderdale. We became friends and she once surprised me by giving me a cockatiel. Also in the previous post if you look at the part 1 slideshow the eggs hatching were her budgies and she gave me 2 of them! In both part 1 and part 2 you will see a picture of her green neck conure Andie that I took care of for awhile and though it took a bit for her to warm up to me she finally did.

I did learn one lesson very quickly regarding finches–they are worse than rabbits!! I started out with two and before I knew it I had 21. I quickly separated the males and females into their own cages.

Another bird you see in the slideshows was an African Grey Parrot whose owner had to go into the hospital for a couple of weeks so I took care of it. It was then I learned that birds can lay infertile eggs without any males present, sit on them and after a couple days they would ignore them. They can cause problems for the bird if they do it too often.

All in all having birds was a smart move on my part–they really are great pets to have and will interact with you as any other animal would. It’s been a couple of years now since I have had to give them up and I miss them!

I have kept one cage—just in case! :O)

Posted October 22, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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I know I wrote a post about my birds but I am unable to find it so I will do a brief recap, or maybe it will be a new post, before I get into the heart of this post.

I have always had a pet, usually dogs, starting with mutts and the last one I owned was a pug. I have had salt and fresh water fish tanks but by the time I moved into Gateway I just didn’t want the responsibility of a dog plus you had to put down a $500 deposit and fish didn’t appeal to me any more as keeping the tanks clean were a pain. I was never a cat person though I have always liked looking at them and I remember when Mike had gotten two kittens and we would spend hours watching them interact.

I was working at Big Louie’s and talking about pets one day when another server suggested a bird. I had never given a second thought to getting a bird. I did know I couldn’t get one of the big birds as at that point I had been taking blood thinners and a bite from a parrot could cause me problems. He suggested a parakeet and after a few weeks I thought I would go off to a bird store and look around.

Long story short I got 2 budgies–what Americans call parakeets–and the rest was history. It wasn’t long before I had 2 budgies, 2 cockatiels and 21 Zebra finches!

It would be about 6 years before my lung doctor told me I had to get rid of the birds due to my having COPD and a few breathing problems. They were so much fun and I still miss them!

Every evening I was home I would let the tiels and budgies out of their cages and they would fly around nibbling on frames and posters, perching on placards so thin it was amazing. At around 10 PM they knew it was time to get back to THEIR own cages as it was snack time. I couldn’t let the finches out because they were too small and quick and could get lost or in trouble. As it was I had a problem with them but I will talk about that in part 2.

It didn’t take very long but all the birds got on my schedule going to sleep around 1 AM and not peep out of them until I woke up and take the covers off. You have to know that birds are at their loudest at sunrise but not mine!

Things I learned about birds—finches are worse than rabbits!–and how easy they are to take care of plus I wish some humans had a ‘bird brain’ as birds are not only smart but easy to train in part 2.

I’ll explain about some of the photos in the slideshow but keep an eye out for Andi, Jill’s bird and the budgies hatching a new family.

Posted October 21, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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ARE THE BIRDS REALLY GONE???   Leave a comment

(THIS IS A REPEAT FROM Thursday, August 12th 2010–THANKS MARY AND LAURA!!!)

It was 8 years ago that I got my first two birds—budgies, what you call parakeets–Spitfire and Butch–soon after I got tiels and then zebra finches not to forget Jill’s giving me the result of her first attempt, successful, at breeding. At one point I had 21 birds and now I have none. The last one was taken away Saturday which was Andi, a green ringneck, that I was watching for her.


I can’t explain how odd it is to live in a birdless house–it is quiet–no birds flying around and pooping, including on my computer monitor!!! Following are some of the thoughts that have been going through my mind since the weekend.

As I leave I am saying goodbye to the birds and am about to tell them when I’ll be back and realize there are no birds and/or cages!!

I can open the so salt mini pretzel bag without thinking I have to give each of the birds one so I can eat mine in peace.

At 11 PM I go to cover the cages but there aren’t any cages. Just an hour before I go to give the birds their 10 o’clock treat but I don’t have treats anymore.

All my picture frames are hanging straight on the walls which looks very strange.

I don’t have to be careful when coming in and out as the birds aren’t out of the cage–nor are they in the cages!


I still have on my to do list ‘clean bird cages’ since I cleaned a different one each Sunday.

I don’t have to worry about pictures, posters and papers on the table being chewed.

There aren’t any teils landing on my shoulder and showing their love for me by pooping on my shoulder! There are some things I won’t miss including having to cover the furniture with shower liners or cooking up a month’s supply of veggies for the birds.


My plants are all in one piece and I don’t have to keep an eye on them when I let the birds out fo the cages.

Though they don’t eat much it was fun to watch them come up to my plate when I was eating to check it out.


I have two empty bird cages and there is a bird show coming up next week–I have to stay away from there and Clive’s bird shop or I know I will fill the two cages and I really shouldn’t but I miss the birds.

Oddly enough I miss Andi the most as she and I seem to bond more than I did with any other bird but that was a mistake on my part. I always got pairs of birds, certainly more than one and, consequently, they made their own flock and didn’t need me. With Andi I was part of her flock as she didn’t have a cage mate as the other birds had.

Will I be able to live without a bird or birds? I really don’t know as it seems they are still here and I am acting as if they are!!!


JULY 17, 2013

I still miss the birds but I have learned to live without them. Birds are one of the easiest pets to have and take care of–I really should get rid of the cage but you never know!

Posted July 17, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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It didn’t take long before I had bird cages all over the place–moderation is NOT my name. At one point I had 21 birds plus I was taking care of an African Gray bird whose owner was in the hospital. There was Andi, Jill’s bird, who was a lot of fun. If I remember correctly she also let me take care of her birds for a short period of time when she and her mother went on a cruise. At one point she was having breathing problems caused by the ‘down’, also called feather dust, that budgies and tiels give off. I would eventually have something similar but what happened to me was that along with not having birds that have down I couldn’t have  a larger bird due to the possibility of a bite and my thin blood which could get out of control  and wind up with major problems .

Now comes the hard part–unless my stalkers who collect everything I post want to help!–Jill doesn’t remember, Allen thinks it is more like 2011 and  I know I wrote a blog about it on a few of my blog web sites but I never have any luck trying to find a particular blog–I did briefly look through my diary for that period of time but since I was blogging I basically just wrote 1 or 2 lines–I won’t be able to give any specific dates except to tell you what happened. THANKS TO MARY, who did the research, it seems we were all wrong–I gave the birds away about a month after I spent a week in the hospital–and I don’t know what for!! Now I have to look that up!!!

My NET, heart and pulmonary doctors all told me the same thing–that due to my C.O.P.D., my valve replacement operation, my arterial fibrillation and a few other health issues I would have to get rid of my birds! My immediate answer was a lour “No!” It was my pulmonary doc who calmed me down and explained step by step why I had to, showing me, graphically what would happen if I didn’t.

My first (horrid) thought was just to let them loose and I knew that would be the wrong thing to do. I went to Clive’s shop and spoke to him and he said he was sorry but he had too many of each right now. I spoke to a few people who I thought would be good bird owners and offered them everything from the cage to the toys to the food completely free but no one wanted one let alone all of them. I finally put an ‘ad’ on Craig’s list specifying I did not want to give them to anyone who hadn’t had birds before and would in fact be better if they had a bird, or birds, now. It took awhile, a few interviews, a few ‘home inspections’ and finally I feel I found good homes for all of them.

It’s been a couple or 3 years now and every time I walk into the apartment I look for them. It took quite awhile for me to stop getting up at 10 PM to get their snacks and I have kept one cage just in case the doctors say it is okay to get a bird and I do ask them each time!!! I miss them, and, yes, even their poop!

When I hear people are interested in getting a pet I immediately start talking about birds. They are very easy to take care of, especially tiels and budgies and though I have never had a conure because of the bite factor–I didn’t have any problems with Jill’s bird Andi–but Jill has three of them and they are not giving her any breathing problems.

I still have ‘my’ wild parrots that come by around 5-6 PM and socialize in the trees in front and in the back of my building–yes they are loud but striking with their green and red coloring. It is aginst the rules to feed the wild birds around here and some day someone will find that renegade who feeds the doves, puts food bits near the bluebird’s nests and even throws some bird seed on the back lawn!!

In a short span of time–6-7 years–I had Butch, Sky, Loner, Cassie, Lola, Spitfire and the 21 finches–I am glad I took so many pictures of them!

Posted July 16, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES SERIES 2005 PART 30 A   Leave a comment

Of 8 books(and 1 play) I have had published my favorite is “The Free Prisoner” which I wrote the first few months of 2004 and was published  at the end of the year. I sent out 12 copies to friends and 12 to critics. I wonder where those 24 books are now?!!? In any case I am still getting royalties, (wish I knew who was buying it), $1.08 last month! LOL And I have to pay tax and report it to Gateway so they can get their share. At the end of 2005 my book “Letting It All Hang Out: Commentaries, Musings and Essays From An Old(er), Poor, Gay Man” was published. I wasn’t that  aware of blogging yet though I had posted a few what was called ‘articles’ and basically the book are all blogs but if anyone wants to know about me all I have to do is tell them to read this!

By the way my favorite short story was published in a book in 1995, called “My First Time” and, yes, it was about that!


I don’t know/remember the first time I met Allen but the first mention I have of him in my diary is December 19, 2004 “Jill, Allen, Jim, Bob and I went to see “Art” at the Mosiac Theatre (closed) and then Sweet Tomatoes (open) afterwards.”  I do know he started to come over to the Wednesday afternoon sessions before that but it was awhile before  the Wednesday lunch, Thursday food shopping and Friday movie day became part of our weekly routine. More about Allen and me in part 30B


The year started off with a few good movies in January like “Hotel Rwanda”, “Sideways” and “The Woodsman.” Gino and I went to see “The Great American Follies” with Robert Morse and Kitty Carlisle (ask your grandmother!) at the Parker Playhouse and The Cheesecake Factory after. The next night Gino and I had dinner at the Lone Star Restaurant (closed) and a movie while the next day after taking me to the dentist Anita and I went to Big Louie’s for lunch! The following weekend Robert, James, Allen, Jill and I went once again to the Mosiac Theatre where we saw “The Memory of Water” and to Too-Jay’s Deli (open) and the month ended with seeing Hillary Swank in “Million Dollar Baby” and then to the Red Star Tavern, where, finally, they had the carrot cake, which is so tall a piece it towers over an iced tea glass. The constants in my life whether going good or bad are: eating out, restaurants, movies, theatres and, yes, sex.


Life was going along smoothly with the birds adding a lot of fun to my life. The first time I let out the finches I learned not to do it again. They are very small and get in the tightest places not to mention they are swift and I am glad there wasn’t a camera to watch me trying to catch them–but, eventually, I did. The baby budgies were doing great and getting along with the rest of the birds.

It was a good time in my life and I didn’t see anything ahead to change that for me so, obviously, I still had a lot to learn.

Posted July 2, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES SERIES CONVERTIBLE 2004 29 B   Leave a comment

2004 started off in a strange way with the fun of my Leap Year birthday, the birds and my getting a larger bedroom apartment but–and there always seems to be a but–after 23 years of owning and really enjoying my 1974 Chevy Caprice convertible I had to sell it. There were a couple of things involved with the main one being that because of my bankruptcies my car insurance rates tripled! Yes folks your insurance rates take into consideration your financial ratings in spite of the fact that I had never been late with my payments or did I ever go without insurance! Also there was the fact that I didn’t have the cash–see I was learning– didn’t use credit cards even though the companies were still sending me them!–to reupholster and repaint the car as I did every 3 years. Along with that it was starting to fall apart and I didn’t have the money for repairs. I needed new window motors, it was either use the cigarette lighter (Iwas still smoking) or listen to the radio but I couldn’t do both and the top frame was rusting out. I became a bus rider a couple of months before I finally was able to sell it. As much as I missed and wanted it I immediately felt the financial advantage of not having a car–the bus wasn’t the perfect answer but it worked. The car wouldn’t be sold until June 29 but I hadn’t used it since February.

Without too much ado Anita became part of the movie, theatre, going out to it group which consisted mainly of Gino, Robert, James and me. Once in awhile Gino’s brother would join us or when Robert Igizi came down from New Jersey or someone else we knew. From The Cheesecake Factory to Kilwin’s across the street and, for the first time since I had retired two years previously, back to Big Louie’s. We went to the Arts Center to see “The Full Monty” and to the 26th Street theatre to see “Iago” based on the Olivier, Leigh and Finch affair.  Of course there were the movies like “Laws of Attraction”, the long and boring “Touching the Void” not to forget “Connie and Carla” which I have forgotten!

We were still going to the Florida Stage Theatre, which would go out of business in a few years and reopen in 2012 as The Plaza theatre just in time for my Leap Year birthday with the opening attraction being ‘my Cassie’ Donna McKechnie in her one woman show. Yes I went and I met her and Allen took a picture of her and me together! In 2004 and 2012 I had dinner, with the group back then and Allen the last time , at the Key Lime Seafood House one of the oldest restaurants in Florida, plus being very good and still open !

In May I bought the 2 finches which I named Sugar and cream and on June 12 Jill bought me my first  cockatiel. I was having a lot of fun with the birds. Sadly both finches died by the end of August. It wasn’t until the end of October that I bought 3 finches and a mixed breed and before I knew it I had 21 finches!!!

Anita, Jill, Robert, James and I went to the Mosaic Theatre to see “Amadeus” and to Sweet Tomatoes afterwards and the next day I heard Byron had a stroke and I have never seen him since nor do I know if he is still alive. He had been at my Leap Year luncheon and had become a good friend of mine over the past few years. In November both Robert Igizi from New Jersey and Chuck from Memphis came down for a visit. We went gambling on the Sea Escape ship and out at the Hard Rock, went to the movies to see “Kinsey” and “The Polar Express” at the IMAX theatre. Chuck, Gino and I went to The Red Star Tavern where they served a huge slice of good carrot cake but they were out of it that evening plus adding injury to insult the  food took so long in coming the manager picked up the check! Oh yes, that place is closed now replaced by Seasons 52 which is doing a good business!

Life was going good–at the end of 2004 I got 4 out of 6 numbers in Lotto (no big deal–I won $80 BUT I WON!) I, also, had my favorite book “The Free Prisoner” published. I was ready for 2005.

Posted July 1, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES SERIES BIRDS HATCHING 2003 PART 28 C   Leave a comment


Mother Nature never stops astounding me with what she is capable of doing! Giving birth is one of the most amazing feats in the world and when it comes to birds I experienced it for the first time when Jill decided to breed her budgie with the one her mother had. I was to go through it a couple of years later having success–TOO MUCH!!–with my zebra finches.

On September 20, 2003, Jill’s budgie laid 7 eggs. I had told her I would like two and she said as soon as they were weaned and knew how to fly I could get them. On the 21st two had hatched but from what I can tell in the pictures one of the eggs didn’t survive.  I honestly don’t remember how many did survive but by October there seems to be only 3. My two, which I would eventually call Leader  (male) and Spitfire (female), did okay from the beginning. Leader was hatched September 19 and made his first flight October 20 while Spitfire was hatched on September 23rd and took her first flight on October 23rd.

I went out on September 28th to a bird show and bought an extra large cage. I had heard/read stories about birds being territorial, fighting over perches, food cups and where they rested so I decided on the extra big cage and not putting Butch and Sky in there until I got Leader and Spitfire and would put all 4 in at the same time. On November 15, 2003, Jill brought the 2 eight week old babies over. I put all 4 in the new cage and there weren’t any problems. All 4 got along, flew around together and seemed to have bonded without any blood shed which made me happy!

I did a lot of things one wasn’t suppose to do with birds such as putting their cage in front of a window but that never caused a problem.

The one thing I had been worried about when I first got Butch and Sky was the problem of them waking me up in the morning as birds do get up early–whether there was a worm to catch or not! From the very beginning I would cover their cage when I went to sleep and not uncover it until I got up and they both followed my routine not making a peep (sorry for the pun) until I would get up and take the cover off. Both Spitfire and Leader fell into the routine from day one!

It looked like the birds and I would have a new home in the new year as I got notice from the office that a larger one bedroom on the top floor of building D would be available as soon as it was cleaned up, painted and made ready. I would be moving in on January 23, 2004 and my Leap Year birthday was coming up the next month. All things looked good!

Posted June 24, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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I never had any trouble with the birds though I had to learn a lot, mostly through experience.  I had separate cages for the budgies, finches and tiels though the tiels would ‘visit’ the budgies I still had to keep an eye on them just in case.

There is a great debate as to whether to clip pet bird’s wings or not. I didn’t clip the wings of my birds but I made sure when I opened the cages to let them out that all doors and windows were not only shut but also locked! I wouldn’t open the door for anyone when the birds were out of the cages. Most times I let them out in the evenings after 6. I did get them in the habit of a snack in their cage at 10 PM and most would fly back into the cages a few minutes before 10 ready for their snack.

One of the first things I was told was to train them to ‘step up’–that is to get them on a perch or your finger. It is great if there was trouble brewing or you wanted to move them somewhere. I started by getting them use to my finger in their cage and within a couple of hours they were hopping on my finger except for one tiel! Growing nails can be a problem with birds because if they grow too long they can get snagged on things and break their legs! I didn’t have any problems like that as between the ‘nail’ stone and the perches they stayed in good shape.

Another problem for some is to change the birds diet from seed to pellets and using seed as sort of treat. It really wasn’t a problem for me as most of the birds, and their parents, had been raised on pellets.

There were two major problems I had–though I heard it was possible–I wasn’t able to ‘train’ them to fly back to their cage when they needed to poop and birds poop a lot!! No matter what I covered they would find the uncovered spot–I did have to keep my bedroom door closed or they would ‘attack’. The other problem, and I wasn’t aware they did such things but the gnawed on my picture frames and, in many cases, on my pictures. They almost destroyed my prized ticket to the anniversary performance of “A Chorus Line” when it became the longest running show on Broadway. They did destroy the ACL posters I had hanging all around. I didn’t believe how little room they needed to perch on something and they did.

I didn’t know that birds were such friendly pets who could be very affectionate and trained to do many things. They were fun to watch as they went about their business in and out of the cage. Watching them preen themselves and help each other do the same was fascinating and watching how they defy anything possible with the way they used and moved their necks was mind boggling. They gave me many uncountable hours of fun but first let’s talk about ‘birthin babies’!!

Posted June 18, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES SERIES BIRDS PART 28 A   Leave a comment

I knew that one day I would learn moderation but that day hadn’t come yet! As i mentioned before, wanting a pet without the responsibility a dog imposes and, though I liked looking at cats, I wasn’t a cat ‘guy’. Someone suggested birds and I went out March 16, 2002, and bought two budgies–what you call parakeets. They were really a delight and in September 23, 2003. I bought Butch and Sky a large cage.  When the maintenance crew trimmed trees I went out and got new perches and I was always buying toys for them.

My doctor had warned me against getting a big bird as since I was on coumindin their bite could cause me to bleed which could mean problems. I would go into the pet shops and ‘try out’ the bird bites!!! Within time I fell in love with a cockatiel which Jill surprised me by buying for me and I would eventually buy another one to keep the first one company and named them Cassie (“A Chorus Line”) and Lola (“Damn Yankees”) in a salute to Donna McKechnie and Gwen Verdon. On November 15, 2003, Jill brought over Leader and Spitfire but more about them later.

In May of 2004 I bought 2 finches which I named Sugar and Cream but they died in August. The following month I bought 3 Zebra finches and one mixed breed, 2 males and 2 females–big mistake!!!! I learned very quickly that finches are worse than rabbits–it was long before I had 17 baby finches!!!! I went out and bought a cage with a divider and separated the sexes!!! It is easy to tell the sex on a Zebra Finch as the male (sorry ladies) of bird species are usually the more colorful. Males and females are very similar in size  but the males usually have bright orange cheek feathers, red beaks (as opposed to the orange beaks of females), and generally more striking black and white patterns.

As I was to find out females didn’t need males to lay eggs and the finches were quite good at that. Of course the eggs were infertile and I learned very quickly not to throw them out but to let the female sit on it as long as she wanted, until she got tired of it not hatching and then would desert it. With budgies and tiels it could cause them to become egg bound which would lead to problems.

This was a whole new world I was discovering along with learning some biology!! It is never too late to learn!

Posted June 17, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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