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Monday, November 30, 2009
Keeping Phinny's Trust

By Linda Costello
Explore the diaries of daily life with large birds.

Phinny, an African grey, learns to trust Linda 
Phinny is an African grey that has lived with Linda for more than a year.

I heard Phinny yell like African greys sometimes do when they are playing and exuberantly attacking their toys. I wasn't concerned at first, but I decided to check it out to be sure everything was alright. It seemed to be, so I didn't think much more about it — but I found it odd that he didn't want to come to me when I asked him to Step up. I took a better look at him but still didn't see anything out of the ordinary. It was getting close to bedtime so I figured I'd let him be.
The next morning, however, when he still wouldn't step up I knew something was wrong. On closer inspection, I saw three little red marks on his pale gray forehead. Then I noticed his favorite toy, a metal rod with multi-colored Popsicle sticks. When I removed it from his cage I discovered it had some almost razor-sharp places where the metal was twisted to hold the sticks in place.

Poor Phinny. I will check his toys a lot closer before assuming they are safe from now on!
Phinny has been with for more than a year. He has such a sweet personality and temperament for a bird that was not held or touched much in his former home. He was not used to being handled by people, so I let him watch me interact with my other birds without pressuring him to do anything himself. I hoped, in time, his curiosity would override his fear. I could see we were making progress — up until he got hurt on that darn toy!
But he is being brave again and stepping up when I ask, so things are looking positive again.
I am always looking out for the safety of my birds, but this incident has taught me that I must be extra diligent when on “toy patrol!” My birds trust that I will take care of them and keep them from harm. As hard as it can be to earn it to begin with, I am doing my best not to shake that trust again. Hopefully my “lesson learned” will prompt others to go check out those bird toys more closely, too.
I'll be making it a regular routine to go around to each bird's cage more often to check for sharp metal or plastic toys and for frayed rope that they could get caught up in as well.
If you've had any experiences with unsafe toys or preventable accidents involving your birds, share them here.
Phinny's accident could have been much worse if I hadn't found and removed that sharp object from his cage.

We sometimes rely too much on the thought that a store-bought toy is safe, but mistakes happen and things can slip by during a safety inspection.

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Reader Comments
I hope pinny is doing better and I do the same those toys are made to look cute not safe.
Barbie, Rancho Cordova, CA
Posted: 12/22/2009 12:06:21 PM
Love your post.My Peaches is always doing are saying thing i didn't know he knew.He told the dogs Thats enough.He likes to find them sleeping and pull their tails.
Joyce, Mission Hills, CA
Posted: 12/11/2009 9:23:46 PM
I always keep an eye on the toys and cage itself!
Barbara, Howell, MI
Posted: 12/3/2009 8:34:17 AM
Mom, I know from experience with some of Austin's toys that when a plastic toy cracks and breaks off, it often is as jagged as broken glass. This should be something to watch out for considering the power of the birds beaks. They could break a plastic toy and easily leave a jagged edge exposed.
Shanley, East Liverpool, OH
Posted: 12/2/2009 9:36:17 PM
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