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Monday, January 9, 2012

Tips for those in for the long haul

A quick post. A few people have left comments in the " I found a scrub Jay what do I do? post. There are some amazing stories there. And I am glad so many people helped each other in my absence.

A Scrub Jay named Paraguin Pickle is alive and has a great home thanks to some great people who found him covered in mud as a baby. They have done an amazing job. 

As Blue is now about 13. I wanted to share a few things I learned along the way. Both good and bad.

Sandpaper perch covers. Sounds like a good idea to keep their claws from getting too long. It's not. In fact, it damages the pads on the bottom of their feet.  I know every pet store carries them, but they are no good.  And not just Scrub Jays but most all birds. They sell a soft fabric perch cover that sticks on and comes in a roll like tape. You can find this at a good vet or avian clinic. Possibly at your local pet store.

Learn to trim their nails or have an avian vet do it. I really prefer to do it myself. Make sure you learn how first. There are a ton of how to videos up on that. It can be dangerous to have their claws too long. For both of you.

Later I will do a post on beak and nail over growth as it is something that everyone will deal with who has a Scrub Jay for a long time. It can be remedied very easily.

Another reminder. The more variety in their diet the better. Mix it up. Hand feeding is great, but let them crack and eat their own nuts.  Its good for their beak and they will not become reliant on you to do it for them.

Yellow Veggies are good for their eyes and that's the one area they are prone to have the most problems as they get older. Carrots, Yellow Squash. Organic plain baby food works for this. Just vegetable and water. And the birds love it. You may find your seven year old Scrub Jay still flapping it's wings making  baby sounds when you feed them this. Blue still does.

Because these birds are so social. You will find when they are young they do well around most other people.  But they may be frightened by odd things. More so as they age.  A certain color, a certain sound.  Someday you will come home and your bird will look at you and scream. For me it was a hat... and a certain jacket or two. If I wear them. He gets scared. So, I don't wear them near him. If someone is doing yard work outside I stay home. A scared bird in a cage is no good. They will flap around and get hurt. A really scared Scrub Jay will go open beak in panic, its time to take action to calm them down if this happens. Take them in another room. Make it dark. Talk to them. Take them away from whatever is scaring them. The lawnmower, whatever it may be. Oddly blue loves white noise. He sings to it. Try it!

If you ever want another vacation in your lifetime find someone you really trust and let them bond with your bird. 

Let someone get to really know your Scrub Jay. Let them get close to it so it's very comfortable with them so they can stay and watch it for you. Although we have boarding services here. Blue at his age is so reliant on me, is so used to his known environment and our routine. I could never board him. I would not sleep at night. I have to have someone he is very comfortable with here with him in our house.

Lastly, just give them a ton of attention. They live for it. Give them plenty of toys, hiding spots for their nuts, and lots of patience and love. You won't regret it.

Check out some of the new data on the intelligence of the western Scrub Jay! New lifespan data there too. The oldest Scrub is 15 years old.


Recent research has suggested that Western Scrub-Jays, along with several other corvids, are among the most intelligent of animals. The brain-to-body mass ratio of adult Scrub Jays rivals that of chimpanzees and cetaceans, and is dwarfed only by that of humans. Scrub Jays are also the only non-primate shown to plan ahead for the future, which was previously thought of as a uniquely human trait[7] Other studies have shown that they can remember locations of over 200 food caches, as well as the food item in each cache and its rate of decay. [8]"



Alexis said...

I comented on something else but forgot which one. Sorry lol. But anyway my boyfriend and I were mowing the lawns when all of a sudden he looks down and finds a one day old baby scrub jay. It was starving so I ran to the pet store and bought baby bird formula. About an hour later we go out to find a nest and find another baby!!! So we bring it in and fed it. I do not go to work or schol so i've taken them in. To make sure they survive. They're now 4 days old and opened their eyes for the first time yesterday and have those needle type things on their body. I keep them warn in a tissue box with a heating pad underneath it and clean up their poop right after. Is there anything I need to know to keep these birds alive? Please help me!

Fellowhuman said...

Ok - Yes there are many things you need to know. And one is. That you need to realize that if you hand feeding this bird, and its been four days. Releasing it back into the wild may be near impossible. They imprint very quickly. However, to me its better to save a bird than let it die if your OK with the commitment. Blue is 13 years old!

At this age they eat every 30 min on the clock in the day. But lucky for you they sleep at night. It is important you keep that up. Eating every 30 minutes. He should be hungry and open his mouth every 30 minutes for food. Besides the EXACT brand baby food. You should add vegetables. You can use baby food. Just make sure its organic simple like carrots and water. You can mash up some good cat food too with water. Get a healthy dry cat food, one that has lots of protein. Egg yolks work too. You can cook them first but whatever you feed him has to be liquid. Add water. All its food has to be liquid at this age. They get the water from this food at this point. Make sure the bottom of his box is warm at night when he sleeps, maybe a heating pad on LOW. Unless your house is very warm.

If you feel a 7-18 year commitment to keep a bird is too much for you. Find a native Animal Rescue center ASAP.
The have methods to feed and release where the birds have no human contact. The longer the contact. The less chance of being released. I say this as it is a big deal deal. My last vacation was... I forgot. Blue does not do well unless he is under my care. They become very very bonded to those that hand feed them.

Writing this quickly but feel free to post other questions. The exact bird food is not enough alone. It will keep him alive for a time, but you need to expand his diet. Add the veggies and egg cat food. Worms if you can find em and mash em. Yep Spring is here! Look through the oldest posts here and you will find lost of information. The comments in the " I found a Scrub Jay what do I do" have lots of good stuff.
Good luck and good job. Peace Tim

alexis said...

Thank you so much! I can handle this commitment. I'm so attached... I don't go anywhere with out these guys! I even have to give my my front row seats to a Laker Game this thursday because I feed them every 30 minutes, and their eyes are open and they know it's me. I don't trust anyone else with them yet. I'm going to buy baby food does it need to be warmed or just room temperature?

alexis said...

I got mixed vegetables too is that ok to feed them?

Alexis Modlin said...

This is the pic of when we first got them and I will post another of them now;postID=7265540317089730016

Fellowhuman said...

You want cat food, not dog, and dry. But right now you will need to make it wet and liquid. Something without allot of additives and organic, high protein. Mixed veggies is great.Just as long as that's all that's in it, veggies and water. Normally Baby food is just this. I still give this to blue. Carrots are good because the one common health issue in Covids is cataracts. But the broader the diet the better. And this will happen more as they grow too. Bugs are great, meal worms, crickets. In the spring the Scrubs stop eating nuts so much, they stop hiding them, and they eat more bugs, eggs, lizards and fruits for the extra protein for their babies. Yes you really have to bring them everywhere at that age they eat so often. Be very careful in front of Fish and Game. You can apply for a license. But if they refuse it, they kill your birds... So, just be careful. Later, much later, you can trim his wings a tad, just the flight feathers so he can fly, but not too high and not too far.

In the post I mentioned, "what to do if you find a scrub jay." There are a few others who have had birds a long time and have lots of advice too. I suggest you also post there.
This Blog has been up for years and for a time I had to just leave it. People took over and helped each other. And there is lots of good advice there too.
The relationship that will form between you and your companion is really something I cannot even describe. These birds are highly intelligent. Blue knows when i am sick, happy, sad, etc. And they are very playful. When he was younger he could fly a circle in my car and grab a dime out of my hand in mid flight. When I nap, he sings in a whisper to me. He is better now, but the first ... 5 years. He would not let me sleep, unless he could see me. So consider this when your deciding on where he will sleep.
^ ^ although, he only did that when I was having bad health issues...

Be very aware of predators. Hawks, snakes etc. I do suggest you have a very good friend bond with your bird at an early age if you ever want a vacation, ever again! You will see how attached they get, and how they react to certain people. Its really good to have a second or even third person that your bird is very comfortable with.

Blue loves to preen my hair like they are feathers. So he hates my hats and has learned how to remove them. They also become very aware of anything you use allot. Your cell phone. The remote, your keys. And its almost like they are jealous. Blue has taken my remote and slowly got it all the way into his cage.

Later, you will want spots in the house for him to roost where he can be as high as possible, and where he can get lots of sunlight. Within a year he will start to do the sun trance like in the video. And if you have never seen it, you will think he is dying. But it becomes a daily thing in the summer. They have several songs, one in a whisper. Blue loves white noise. He sings to it instantly.

But until they fly, which will happen rather suddenly, its all about eating and sleeping. :) and just talk and sing softly him. It may be a girl or a boy. The only true way to know is a DNA test. Runs about $90.00. If you are anywhere near Monetery. I can recommend via email a very good Avian vet. Keep us up to date. I have been busy but love when people send in pics and will be posting some others soon. Feel free to send some in.

This Scientist helped me eons ago when I first got Blue. He is now in Europe continuing his studies on Scrub Jays. But this article may interest you.

All the best in sight