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Dixie Fire - California August 9, 2021

8/10/21 Update: I posted the following blog almost five years ago. It was a dry summer, our meadows were crisp, and the danger of fire was looming over it actually always is. We live on 60 acres, 40 of which is in Ponderosa pine, with the areas around and through the pines a thicket of overgrown grasses, downed dead timber, and yes, too many weeds. Our volunteer fire department is 7 miles of dirt roads away from us. 911 calls are filtered first through another county's emergency unit, then back to our local fire/rescue areas. It takes precious time for that to transpire. There are no fire hydrants, no running streams, no lakes, just the water tank that comes with the limited fire trucks and vehicles that our county has. There is a saying in the county when there is a fire. It's short and profound, "Save the propane tank." If a fire reaches the propane tank, it pretty much dooms the house, outbuildings, and anything living close by to a very ugly and quick explosive death. And, an errant lightning strike, a cigarette butt flipped from a pickup truck, a wet smoldering bale of hay, a stick caught in a mower blade, are all easy "matches" to create a burning hell in the country.

So, this topic of fires and our precious pets, our parrots, is not dated. Consider it just a refresher, a reminder of what NOT to take for granted and what you might want to consider doing. You probably don't live in the country, but everyone, no matter where they live, is susceptible now to the ravages of wild weather and more. What I wrote 5 years ago is as relevant today as it was then, and it will be more so in the future, as climate change rolls over us, fires explode all over the globe, temperatures radically rise and drop, etc. Right now here in Colorado, you can't see the Rocky Mountains, our eyes are watering, we're coughing, noses are running, and air quality is the 5th worst in the world. Really. We are dealing with the residuals effects of the massive fires in California.

Whether you believe in it or not, we are all in for this ride. And in the meantime, it is still a wise idea to have solid plans in place for your animals, your parrots, in this case, when you are faced with such an emergency. I hope this article will give you a good starting place from which to create a safe plan to escape from imminent disaster with your birds. Be good Boy and Girl Scouts. Be prepared. Your birds would thank you...if they could.

February 22, 2017

My husband and I walk our dogs in our rural development on a daily basis. Our route is a three mile loop through our neighborhood.

We try to be good stewards of the land as we walk by picking up any bottles, beer cans and miscellaneous trash that we see, scooping up nails and roofing staples that find their way into the road, and we seem to always come across the errant cigarette butt.

It is stunning to us that, in this warm and windy February, that anyone would have the audacity (stupidity) to toss a cigarette butt out of a car window, potentially into meadows that are as dry as crisp toast. But we find them on a regular basis. And it is always very disturbing.

Fire. To many of us, "fire" is more than a four letter word. Where we are, it is a potential threat that we live with throughout the year. In Colorado, the skies are lit up with thousands of lightning strikes every year. Our woods are filled with old pine trees scarred many times over from surviving lightning strikes. Fire, no matter what the cause, is not to be taken lightly. It is not forgiving and it does not give its recipients many options once it's turned loose. You must quickly make decisions and they must be the right decisions, because time is of the essence and "fire" is synonymous with "life and death."

I won't rehash our personal past experiences with fire. Suffice it to say that we have had first-hand experience putting out fires, and being forced to evacuate from our property because of shifting winds from huge fires nearby (in the Black Forest, June, 2013) . So far we have been lucky. We have been safe, our property and our animals have been safe. Knock on Ponderosa pine wood.

Maybe you're not in a community where wildfires are on the top of the list of potential dangers, but there are circumstances that might require a quick and safe exit for everyone in your home. Emergencies might include a gas leak or extreme weather, like flooding or a tornado.

Out here in the country, the consensus is that, if fires are coming, just open the corral gates and let the horses and cattle out. You can round them up later. That's just not the prudent choice for your parrots, though, is it? So what can you do to insure your flock is safe? Well, it's easy: Have a plan in advance for your birds (as well as your other pets) in case you need to evacuate your home on a moment's notice.

Here are some ideas that you might want to consider for your feathered family members. Have your "exit" supplies packed, easily accessible, and ready to go. Know how you will place your animals in your vehicle. Make sure there is room for what you personally need as well as for your animals and what they will require. The supplies for your birds might be:

1. An emergency avian first-aid kit

2. Bath towels (and/or small washcloths or hand towels for small birds)

3. A supply of dry food - high quality pellets & some seed. (An emergency exit is not the time to worry about a well-rounded diet!)

4. Quick access to any medications your birds must take

5. Roll of paper towels

6. Stack of newspapers

7. Traveling carriers for each of your birds with clean water and food bowls

8. A jug of fresh water

(Consider having crates at the ready near your birds, and the rest of these items ready to go by your front door or near your garage door.)

I would think in terms of having a week's worth of "parrot" provisions with you. And, if you are fortunate enough not to have to grab your emergency parrot "exit" bag or box, be sure to rotate the water, pellets and seeds out and restock with fresh.

It is a fact that, given a warning that you are in imminent danger of fire, you may not even have five minutes to grab what you need and get out. That includes family members, crating birds, dogs, and grabbing what you consider invaluable. (Your birds may sense the danger of the fire, smell the smoke. Consider keeping pillow cases handy to quickly remove your birds from their cages and individually carrying them, placing them into their crates.)

Be organized now. I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer about this. I'm just being pragmatic. Thinking ahead about how you might deal with an emergency could be the difference between saving lives or making irrevocable, very regrettable mistakes.

What else would you include in your emergency supplies for your flock? Please add your suggestions in the comments below.

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Sep 06, 2021

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