Author Archives: Life Among The Greys........


We have been very, very busy here at Just Greys and Life Among The Greys. The birds continue to thrive as Spring in the desert fades and temperatures begin to warm up. Recently we have experienced temps in the 90’s, 80’s and even the 70’s. During the day, some of the birds go out in the aviary to enjoy the sunshine, freedom of nature and digging in the dirt. I am amazed at just how interesting dirt can be to these African Greys. I will post some pics of the interior of the aviary and one of the solutions we have developed that provides some healthy nutrition for the birds. The goal is to mimic nature as best we can, given our circumstances.

One of the other things beneficial to living here in Arizona is the availability of palm fronts. Often, I will ask neighbors for some of their fronds, which are then placed in the aviary. This provides hours of entertainment and activity for the birds….sounds like a commercial for kids toys, doesn’t it? In a way it is….Currently, we are also working on an improved feeding area. Again, I will post pics once it is set up.

One thing I did want to share….I wish a camera had been in my hand when I witnessed this, but unfortunately, there was not. A few weeks ago, I was out by the aviary and noticed a hummingbird flitting around. We have many different species here in Arizona and they are here year round, due to the beautiful weather. I do not know what species it was, but it was very busy. I thought is was seeking food, but I was wrong….One of the things that happens with the Greys is their down feathers, which as most of you know, are very ‘sticky’, will get caught on the wire mesh. They often remain there until we get a windy day or I remove them. I was blessed to witness this hummingbird fly around to the back wall of the aviary. I thought at first, to look at the Greys, but soon enough watched as the hummingbird collected a down feather in its beak. It then took off to who knows where…(it was too fast for me to follow). It made me smile with great pleasure to know that in some small way my African Greys were helping another bird as it created new life. I still smile imagining some of those down feathers lining a nest, softening the environment for those tiny hummingbird babies. 🙂




Scout (a.k.a Scooter) says, “I see you”

While it may seem like not much is going on at Life Among the Greys, the opposite is true! One of my dreams has been to set up a Sanctuary for African Greys. I know there are a lot of very well known Rescues and Sanctuaries out there, one of which is only a few hours away from us. However, while most of the other organizations take in all species, generally speaking, of parrots, our focus will be solely on the African Grey. As the popularity of parrots as pets in the American household has increased, so has the number of birds that seek new homes after some years. Most people love their birds and strive to keep them for life. However, their are other behaviors, i.e. screaming, plucking, mess, etc. that come along with parrot ownership. Some owners will keep their birds for their lifetime, others may become ill, or need to move and are unable to take thier bird with them. Whatever, the reason, it is agony for most people to think about surrendering their bird let alone do it! As the avian population continues to grow, more and more birds will be in need of a place to call home- permanently.

We Incorporated in the State of Arizona in November of 2016, and just received our 501C3 status from the IRS a few weeks ago. We are also working on finding someone who can donate their time to assist with our website, and this Blog, Eventually you will see all merged together. I hope to also have a page for each of the birds featured on the blog, as well as those who are to come.

We have set up a GoFundMe page where you can donate-all donations are tax deductible! If you are unable to donate, please share on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Our birds appreciate any help you can offer!

It’s an exciting time and I cannot wait to see it grow! I am looking forward to sharing my flock of six African Greys and the many more that will join us at our Just Greys Sanctuary.






To Clip or not to Clip……?

If you read my previous blog post, you know we had a horrible occurrence many months ago. It so happened that Scooter flew away and spent two nights in the Arizona outdoor climate. He is a tough cookie, nonetheless it was extremely stressful for everyone involved. I have had parrots for over 30 yrs and have always clipped their wings. This was a recommendation in order to avoid injury inside the house, i.e. flying into a ceiling fan, a window, or any object, and also to avoid losing a bird when it might flight out an open door into the unknown. I have not felt badly about this as I know it saved many of my birds from a terrifying ‘adventure’ outdoors. Yes, I know they are birds and they were meant to fly…..but they were also not meant to live in a house, so the scales of nature are out of balance. If I were lucky enough to have a very large outdoor aviary, where they could live a more ‘natural’ life, I would leave their wings the way God intended. But for now, they are entrusted to me and I must insure they are well cared for and safe. It is also important to remember there are predators outdoors. Despite the fact we live in a suburb, there are hawks, falcons and others that would love nothing more to find a fairly easy meal in a lost parrot. I cannot tell you how often I have walked in our lovely park across the street and found the remains of pigeon or dove that met its demise from one of the beautiful raptors that hunt there.

So this brings up the question I would like to ask those of you out there who are parrot owners. Do you clip their wings or not? If you do not, why not? If you do, share your thoughts too. We all need to learn from one another, and ultimately, what you decide for your birds is your choice. I fell strongly that it is important we do not press our own views on others in this regard. Please share your thoughts, comments and experiences….


The Incident…

Over the years I have posted many stories of some of the birds that have been in my care; some were fosters, others became family members. Many thoughts on how and when a bird speaks appropriately have been debated over time. I have had a macaw, a medium sulfer-crested cockatoo, a conure, and a yellow nape in the last 30 yrs or so. All were  great birds, well maybe not the conure, but he had severe issues from being left alone (previous owner) in a room for quite some time. My cockatoo only said, “Hi”; the macaw spoke some- rather appropriately too. She learned to say “Hi” when I uncovered her in the morning; to say, “Hot” when her food, which was warm, was placed in her cage. She learned to say, “Ow!” and then laugh after she had bitten someone. There were other things they said, but I have to say living with African Greys has got to be the most interesting for me.

Greys are so observant. They pay attention to detail even when you do not. Like the sounds of the buttons on the microwave. They know what’s coming when you push them, they often will make the beep sound just as you are ready to push the button! Or how about the door you didn’t realize needed some WD-40 until one day you put two and two together, as the bird started making the sound before the door moved! Then there is the case of the noise level that often occurs with any bird owner. In our case, one or two of the birds will tell the other birds to “Be Quiet!” when they become a bit to raucous. When they don’t die down they are told to, “knock it off!” So amazingly intelligent, loving, creative and brilliant creatures. I believe my birds think of me as one of them. They trust me, which is definitely learned over time, but more importantly they know to come to me when they want something, whether it be food or companionship. I cannot stress enough the need to develop a strong relationship with your birds. This became a most valuable asset a few months ago. This story could be an episode on a sitcom, although it was not funny…….well parts of it were.

One evening late in August, I began bringing the birds indoor from the outdoor aviary. If you know anything about Arizona in August, you know there are monsoon storms that come with the territory. The sky began getting dark and the winds started picking up as I was bringing everybody inside. Most of my birds are stick trained, which is helpful in the event I am not around, someone else can assist if needed without stress for the bird or the person. The ‘boys’ as I call them, Stu and Scooter (aliases), are best friends and are housed together in a large cage. As I was bringing them both in, Stu decided to start flapping his wings; a few moments later Scooter began doing the same thing. This is a scary thing because Scooter is a bit of a rogue and could actually fly, although I thought he was not able to get any lift at the time. Well, he was beautiful to watch, but the reality of it was horrifying. Off he took and I could not catch or deter him. He flew into a tree near our house, but we couldn’t see him and he was not responding verbally. After an hour and a half of calling and searching we saw him fly in the opposite direction, over our two story house and off to who knows where. The only saving Grace was that the monsoon that looked like it was headed our way never appeared. By now it was dark and we had no idea where he may have headed. Posts were put on Facebook, Craigslist, Nextdoor, 911 Parrot Alert’s FB page and I made flyers. Keep in mind the temps in August in the Phoenix Metro area average about 108. I worried all night and finally arose at 4 am. My husband (who had to go to a job a few hours later) and I went out and started calling, but still no response. Hours went by. Nothing. I was getting so discouraged. The people on the 911 Parrot Alert were awesome; they kept me going even when I thought the situation was hopeless. I perused the neighborhood on my bike, called him, listened, talked to people and posted flyers. If I thought I heard him respond I would stop and call again…then listen. All day, every hour I biked the area over and over again calling him.

One thing I have to say about Scooter is that he is a tough cookie, as I said a bit of a rogue. Years ago, he was actually found living in the desert. No one knows how long he had been out there, but rest assured, it was a while. The person who originally found him said they found a “red-tailed hawk”! A search was conducted to try and find an owner, with no success. If you scroll back on the pages on this blog you will actually see pics of Scooter when he had surgery on one of his nares a number of years ago. So I worried and stressed, but knew he was pretty tough to start with….but I wanted him home. Around 5 pm that day my husband came home from work, my daughter and cousin came over to help in the search. We formulated a plan and set out to find our boy. About an hour or so into it, I thought I heard him respond to my calling his name. I followed the sound and kept calling. By the Grace of God, there he was up in a tree about 30″ high! I called the search team and everyone came to the location. I should also tell you, we are in a development and he was in someone’s backyard. The homeowners were so very wonderful. They assisted and allowed us whatever help we needed. I was so happy to see Scooter up in the tree, but now it was dusk and much too late to attempt to climb the tree and get him down. (He made no attempts to fly to us, but it was obvious he wanted to be out of that tree. Sadly, we had to leave him  in that tree all night. I prayed he would stay put and nothing would harm him. We had made arrangements with the homeowners to get into their backyard at 5 am. Thankfully, he was still in place.

The next morning, we brought grapes, watermelon, veggies and pellets and his pal, Stu, which turned out to be fairly uneventful. He was most excited by the foods, which he could see from up there as I was tapping on the metal dish to draw his attention. My husband started to climb the tree; he kept talking to me, but I couldn’t hear him- frustration. He finally said he could see Scooter and was headed that way. I was on the ground tapping the dish and walking backwards when my footing completely gave out and I landed in the play pool! I got out rather quickly with my now wet iPhone, grapes on the bottom of the pool and no more sounds from Scooter in the tree. My husband said he could no longer see him either. We thought he had been startled by my fall and took off. So very discouraged, we packed up and left; my husband drove around and get out and call him. I went home- put my iPhone in silica gel and rice and got back on my bike. After an hour, I heard him again- in the same area. Having no phone I had to go find my husband and we both went back to the area. It turned out Scooter had not left the tree at all! I was elated, but apprehensive. We repeated the same process; hubs climbed the tree; me talking to him and showing him some food from the ground. Scooter was just out of reach, but he gladly got on the stick we use at home! My man climbed down the tree, one-handed with Scooter on the other. The crate was open and equipped with water and food, which Scooter was happy to see. We brought him home where he gladly drank water and ate, then fell asleep.

Scooter is doing great and had his wings clipped that night after some rest and food. I am not sure he would be home today if he had not responded to my voice that day………

Post collar_6.24.11

I am so very thankful to have him safe and sound. So please, be sure you and your bird(s) know you and your voice very well. If you ever are in such a situation, don’t ever give up. Be aggressive in your search efforts- it will pay off. I had not been in this situation previously and do not intend to be so ever again.

In my next post, I would like to talk about something that came up as a result of this incident- the clip or not to clip your birds wings?

Setting up the environment in the Aviary…

I have been working on the aviary to make it more homey for the birdies. This has also included the addition of some fresh palm fronds and late season Canary Island palm fruits (they are a great source of Vitamin A). In addition, there is a table garden for future greens. It is taking shape quite nicely. I took a few panoramic shots. (Forgive me, it was only my second time using this feature. I hope it gives you a sense of the size of the aviary.

You will notice our only Amazon, Zig. He is a handsome Red-Lored, who often spends time in the aviary with the Greys. You can see the table garden, which also has newspaper covering the dirt for now, the palm fruit branches and an assortment of perches, etc. I added the rope perch, which is a bit of a challenge as it wants to start swinging whenever any of the birds get on it! It’s rather comical, but they take it in stride.

In addition, I had added a child’s water/play table for a bit. (The ultimate goal is to have a couple of feeding stations.) However, they really did not like or use the table at all, so it has since been removed. The shade fabric also still needs to be decided, but since we are now heading towards our ‘winter’ here in Arizona, it is not urgent and the birds enjoy sunbathing.

Let me know what you think! Talk to you soon! I’m also working on getting some videos of the ‘kids’ to share, as well as non-profit status for an exciting new project!

New Aviary!

One of the things I have wanted to do for quite some time is enlarge our outdoor aviary. After a tedious search of used aviaries, it was determined it would be best to start new. My husband, handyman extraordinaire, concluded the most sensible approach was to have someone replicate our current aviary; in other words- double the size. The new section would then be bolted to the previous section when we eventually move to a new location. The current aviary is 4′ x 12′; the new combined area would then be 8′ x 12′!

On of the benefits of working ‘in the field’ is meeting and networking with many people from many different backgrounds and trades. As it turned out, my husband had done some work for a guy who was a welder. Yippee! Things were finally in the works!

Here are some pics of Bill and the hubs getting things in order…..


Next steps…clean the metal, prime/paint it, find mesh wire and attach….More to come!

Reuse and Recycle= a New Perch!

Owning birds can often make one much more creative. Seriously, you find ways to use things to make into fun playthings for your birds. Do you agree? Whether it is clean packing material, an empty box or…..a commercial clothing rack! A while ago, years actually, a good friend of mine, who has established a great non-profit, Treasures 4 Teachers, check it out – gave me a clothing rack to use for an upcoming non-profit yard sale. She told me I could keep it. I have looked at this thing for years trying to figure out a way to make it into a perch for the gang. I would start on it, stop; re-examine or recalculate and try again. Thankfully, I have a talented handyman husband who is invaluable in these matters.

The first order of business was to shorten it. So it was cut and holes were drilled in the base to add pins to hold it. (Sorry, I don’t have any pics of it at its original height.) I repainted it and viola!

New perch baseThe next challenge was the top. My hubby, Matt, made a wood base to set on top of the metal frame, but we still needed something to cover it. I found a sheet of Formica at Habitat for Humanity for $3.00. We glued it – many times. Please keep in mind this was my first attempt at formica- it’s not the prettiest, but it works. Once the top was fitted and secured the fun began. I love making perches using natural wood in its natural form. Here in Arizona we have the luxury of many different kinds of trees, orange, grapefruit, manzanita, eucalyptus, palm, etc. I recently had taken apart another taller perch so I again recycled and added other pieces.

New perchHere it is! (Sorry about the background slightly obscuring your view.) Now all I need is to add a few birdies! (The handyman is on the left in the pic.)

New perch Gobby n Lola New perch n GobbyI may not be done with it, but it is working out great so far. I will be starting on another perch shortly. I have found that I prefer having play gyms/perches taller so my doggies cannot get at the base. Does anyone else have doggies that think bird poop is delicious?

Are you there?

Of course, the question really is, “Are we here?” The answer is YES! The flock has stayed stagnant in number only, as they continue to grow and evolve. The characters of these birds never cease to amaze me! The vocabulary of many of the birds has expanded, or should I say the sounds emitted. 🙂 Some are talking more while others are making more sounds, either way they are awesome.

One of the residents, Scooter- who was found living in the desert a number of years ago, has often befriended some of the residents. In the past, he became friends with a female, named Hilton. I hesitated from putting them together in the same cage, but finally did so. (I should clarify-the goal is never for any of my birds to reproduce.) Upon uncovering them in the morning I found Scooter had been over preened by Hilton- he had no feathers on one side of his head! They continued to hang out together, but not in the same cage, until Hilton went to a new home. Scooter has now become best friends with another male, Favian. Favian is a regal guy- the unspoken King of the flock, until one of the girls decides to boss him around. 🙂

For a year, Favian and Scooter could not wait to get out of their cages and feed and hang out with one another. I was extremely concerned about putting two males in the same cage. However, after a year of them spending time together while residing in separate cages, they moved in together. It has been over six months and there has been no fighting or bickering. They are friends and enjoy spending time together and apart when they are out of the cage. Scooter has even become almost fully feathered, something that had not happened previously.

When they are out of the cage they play inside boxes. Really…it’s a simple toy and can be obtained at no cost. I hand select the boxes when I visit Costco. Once the boxes have been put in place, they have a grand time shredding, designing and creating a humble abode. I know this is mating behaviour, but there is no concern with such things involving, ‘the boys’ as they have come to be known. More to follow….









Updates….and things…

It (again) had been way too long since I have shared a post or two on my blog. Hopefully, we are back in business… There have been numerous factors that have prevented as much activity on here as I would have liked…life, work, people becoming ill, a new puppy, etc. If you read the previous post you know we lost our beloved Vet, Kevin Wright almost a year ago. It has been an adjustment, to say the least, to think he is no longer with us on Earth. We miss him greatly. In all the years I have owned and lived with parrots, 30+, never had I ever had the benefit of a brilliant mind such as Kevin’s. I never worried about my birds getting sick because he taught me even more about prevention, good nutrition and identifying (and treating) those that might become ill. To say my security is gone is an understatement. Well, as life would have it one of my birds has ‘grown’ something on the underside of his wing, which has required attention. I first noticed it about six weeks ago when I was giving him a shower. It was pink, kind of round with no seepage or blood, etc. I have been watching it as well researching possible conclusions. It seemed as though it was a feather cyst, but I was not sure. When I had the opportunity to look at and touch it, he didn’t even flinch. There was no pain- nothing.

As luck would have it, the previous office where Kevin worked now has an exotic vet that comes highly recommended by one of Kevin’s previous employees. After a quick meeting last week I made an appt. and brought my boy, Favian, in this morning. So this is what this thing looks like….

Feather cyst Finn_7.19.14       I have never seen such a growth on a bird, but it was confirmed as a feather cyst this morning. So what are the options? Watch it- he is not bothered by or picking at it; surgery- best to remove when

it is small, according to the Vet. This would mean less time under anesthesia, faster recovery, etc. So for now, I am going to watch it. It if grows or he begins picking at it, surgery will happen. If not,

we will just continue to watch it. Eventually, I will have it removed, but anesthesia in birds can be fatal. More on the flock and future plans next time……Thanks for your patience…..


A Tribute….

If you have been following or have read any of the posts on this blog you will know about our phenomenal Vet, Dr. Kevin Wright. Kevin has been the source of so much knowledge, support, compassion and friendship within my flock. However, time stopped on September 26th.  Dr. Wright had apparently just come back from a conference about a week or so earlier. From what I have learned he had not been feeling well. He went into the hospital on Sept. 22nd (my birthday) and declined rapidly, passing away one day shy of his 51st birthday. Words cannot express the sadness and loss as myself, and many, many others, grapple with the feeling of devastation as a result of Kevin’s passing. He was extremely knowledgeable, intelligent- brilliant- yet unpretentious. He was a regular guy that loved animals, and loved helping others who owned and loved them as well.

Dana, from Harrison’s Bird Food, , which I have told you about previously, were gracious enough to permit me to share Kevin’s thorough biographic history with you. After reading it you will understand the depth of his intellect, interest and dedication.

September 27, 2013 – Dr. Kevin Wright, renowned exotic animal medicine author and speaker, died last night. We are greatly saddened by the loss to his family, friends and the veterinary community. Our hearts go out to his friends and family.

Dr. Wright received his DVM degree from the University of Florida in 1988 after obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in zoology. As a student, he began working in the exotic animal and wildlife ward of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and served preceptorships at the National Zoo and Miami Metrozoo.

Following 2 years in Miami in a private practice, he completed a residency in zoological medicine, which was a joint program of the Philadelphia Zoo and the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, and then served as the veterinarian and curator for the amphibian and reptile collection at the Philadelphia Zoo. He was appointed as an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Clinical Sciences.

Seven years later, he moved to The Phoenix Zoo, where he furthered his interest in animal conservation projects and mobilized groups of volunteers to support the zoo. He returned to private practice in 2005.  Dr. Wright has contributed chapters to many veterinary textbooks and co-authored the book, Amphibian Medicine and Captive Husbandry, which filled a major gap in exotic animal medicine. He has published over 300 scientific and popular articles in the field of exotic pet medicine and captive care of amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, birds and mammals for both professional and lay audiences. He has been a featured speaker at numerous conferences as well as on radio and television programs.

Dr. Wright was one of the original board members for the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians and served as its President from 1996-1997. He was also a member of the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians (AEMV) and the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV). He served as an advisor to the Wyoming Toad Species Survival Plan for the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Dr. Wright was one of only eight exotic veterinarians nationwide who were ABVP-certified as amphibian and reptile specialists.

In 2007 Dr. Wright co-founded the Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital. He was selected as the 2008 Exotic DVM of the Year and the 2009 and 2012 Speaker of the Year for the Exotics Program at the North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC). He continued to serve conservation projects. In August 2012, Dr. Wright started his own mobile practice, Wright Bird and Exotic Pet House Calls.”

The generous folks at Harrison’s also enclosed a copy of this publication with Kevin’s photo on the front cover.

Kevin Wright

Kevin was a great supporter of my work with African Greys. As a matter of fact, I would not have Lola if it had not been for him. Mario, another Grey, would not be alive if it were not for his medical care. All but one of my birds have been seen (and treated) by Kevin, not to mention all the others I fostered that needed medical attention. He was amazing. The depth of his commitment and compassion did not stop there. If you have read previous posts, you also know I lost my beloved dog, Sampson, on Aug. 28, 2012. Sampson was fine, as Kevin said, “from the neck up”, but his hind quarters had given out. Kevin and his wife, Marlene, had lost a beloved dog for the same reason. It was a difficult, painful decision to let him go, but necessary to put him out of his own agony. Needless to say, I could not get Sampson into the car and drive him to a Vet, so I called Kevin and asked him if he would come to our home. He came very quickly and our Sampson went to Heaven right from our living room.

I have never met a Vet like him and trust I never will. He was a brilliant, compassionate and genuine individual.  I hope you have a better understanding of this man who will be greatly missed.

Dr. Wright_7.21.10

Thank you, Kevin……we miss you already….

A memorial fund has been set up to help his wife with medical expenses. The fund can receive online payments or wire transfers using the following information:

Desert Schools Federal Credit Union
Phoenix, AZ 85062
(602) 433-7000Name C. Marlene Wright
Routing and transit 122187238
Account 6000201101
Account type Savings
Note Dr. Kevin Wright Memorial Fund

Checks should be made payable to C. Marlene Wright noting the Dr. Kevin Wright Memorial Fund in the memo field and sent to the following address:

2036 N. Gilbert Rd.
Suite 2-153
Mesa, AZ 85203-2139

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