Hummingbird Hatchlings! (with updates)


The babies hatched March 5th and 6th, respectively, and are about the size of honey bees. The top one is the older one – slightly bigger already and has fuzz, the newer one below is more naked looking. You can see the remnants of eggshells under them (it’s funny – last year she chucked them out of the nest right away – see the photo of the size of the eggshells here).
In this photo you can really see the spider webs she used to strap the nest onto the bamboo.

One other little observation that seems interesting to me, (and maybe not to anyone else, as it’s a certified bird nerd moment here) is how different her posture is in the nest after they hatched. While she was incubating, she was just sitting, presumably just thinking little birdy thoughts, passing time. As soon as one hatched she became so alert, her eyes constantly searching the bamboo for insects. Her bill points up, her neck is all stretched up, her head moving around a lot. It’s a tough job to feed these little guys – they grow so amazingly quickly and eat so often. Best to be on the alert for an easy meal. I just knew from looking at her that the first chick had hatched – she looked so different.

I promise to try and get a better photo of her feeding them – they’re always hard as the light changes so much out there and she’s right over them, but here’s the first try:


March 13th, about 8 days old. Really starting to fill up the nest. The one on the left is head towards us, and the other one, a little obscured by leaves has his head pointed the other way. They’re fluffier now and mom is just about done sitting on them – she just constantly is gathering food and feeding them:

March 19th – 14 days old – hungry babies being fed:

The nest is really getting crowded:


They’re so big that you can see their little bills sticking out over the edge from below:

March 27th: We really don’t fit in this nest anymore:


They’re really ready to go any minute. They’re very restless, squirming and shoving, stretching up, really interested in looking all around, and one of them was doing some wing exercising – standing up on the edge of the nest and flapping (which looks like a blur already). I thought for sure that one would hop out by the end of the day, but at 6 p.m. they were both still in there. Next day for sure for one of them, and probably the day after for the second. They’ll stick around for a week or two in the bamboo getting fed by momma. One frustration – last year I learned that mom builds her next nest during the last few weeks of the babies growing in their nest, and lays her first egg in the new nest the day after they both fledge. However, I can’t seem to find where that next nest is, and I’m worried it’s not in the courtyard at all. I’ll keep looking.

big kids2 timetogosoon

They hopped out of their nest and into the bamboo on the 29th and 30th of March, and she continued to feed them until about the 7th or 8th of April. Still don’t know where her current nest is, but a lucky customer of ours told us there’s a female with eggs right outside their window, in their bamboo! They only live a street or two away, so maybe it’s her. Here’s a photo of one of the babies, a few days after it left the nest.


Advantage Soon to be Sold Over the Counter

This week, Bayer announced that they will be making Advantage and Advantix available to retailers (read article here), meaning you won’t have to visit a vet to obtain them. Though the above news video is discussing the rise in dangerous side effects of other over the counter flea meds and not necessarily Advantage, we will still not be carrying any of these sorts of spot on treatments.  Over and over we hear customers complaining of the same sorts of side effects seen in the above video, even when using products like Advantage and Frontline. They say their animals become lethargic or sick after use, and sometimes come in looking for products to help them with the terrible sores they have developed at the application sites. Invariably, when I ask if they’ve reported these side effects to the company, or even to their vets, they say they have not. (if your pet shows side effects from these treatments, please report them, or the company will never know their products are causing trouble. Bea sure to be ready to answer questions about the formula you used and how you applied it. These companies seem to want to place a lot of blame on the consumer for misapplication, so be ready to describe why you think that the symptoms you’ve observed were as a result of the product you used and not how you used it).

I’ve always maintained that there is a place sometimes for products like Advantage – when an animal has a serious flea allergy for example. Seeing animals in misery suffering from the discomfort of open sores from flea allergies makes me realize the value of the product in these certain situations.

I am glad that Advantage is going OTC, in that I do believe it is a safer alternative to typical grocery store brands like Hartz, and its presence in stores will hopefully edge out these more dangerous treatments.  However, it’s also my opinion that application of any chemicals month after month to a healthy animal when it doesn’t have a flea problem can be excessive and taxing to an animal’s health in the long run. These chemicals are absorbed through the skin and they work systemically, and have to be processed by organs like the liver whose job it is to filter chemicals from the body.  Does this tax organs like the liver? I’m not sure – I’m certainly not a vet. But, not all animals show these sorts of dramatic outward signs of distress from the use of these chemicals, but enough do to make me not want to use them if they don’t have an existing flea problem.

For my animals, I would prefer that they not have to deal with the assault of additional chemicals to their bodies on a regular basis. Feeding a quality diet that contains natural whole foods can create such a strong immune system and such healthy skin that the animal is naturally more immune to flea infestation, and the regular use of a good flea comb will alert you to the presence of fleas so you can catch them before they become a problem. Add that to the presence of lots of excellent natural deterrents that are on the market (the consumer should still do some good research, as “natural plant-based” repellents can still be toxic to our pets) I feel like my customers and I can manage and prevent flea infestations without the really regular use of Advantage.

Note: If your animal attracts fleas easily and you’re constantly having to resort to topical flea products, please consult with a naturopathic vet about alternatives. Chances are you can turn your pet’s health around through changes to their diet that can save you from the cost and worry of using topical chemical treatments (as well as extend the life of your pet through better nutrition!)

Joy! Hummingbirds are back at Green Dog

hummerfalsestartForgive the lack of posts recently – we’ve been in almost over our heads recently with many back of the house issues to contend with and gladly, we’re very busy in the front of the house, thanks to all of you! But I wanted to let you know that spring has sprung for us in our little courtyard, as we officially have our first hummingbird nest of the season.  There’s a tag for hummingbird posts in the category list for this blog – we got some good photos last year of the two nests that successfully fledged 2 chicks each, so you should check out some of those posts for photos if you’d like to see them. If we’re lucky this year, we might see three nests of babies, as Anna’s Hummingbirds usually can pull off 3 nests per season.

Here’s something unusual though – this is the second nest in the courtyard this year – the first one was either a false start, or this is a new female building this current nest. Here’s what happened: In early January we started to see an Anna’s female flying in and out of the bamboo numerous times per day. She’d forage for insects as she went, but mostly she seemed to be auditioning different spots in the bamboo for a nest. She’d fly over here and sit for a minute, then fly over there and sit there for a minute, etc. After about 2 weeks of this, she picked what I thought was a poor location for a nest (but who am I to judge what makes a good one?) and started building. It was pretty low down and way out on the edge of the foliage, making her more vulnerable to human activity, and on a dead stalk that seemed weak to me. She wasn’t fazed at all with us watching her, so I’m sure it was the same female from last year. Soon enough (about a week) she had enough of a nest built to lay her eggs, and she laid one on Jan 20th and one on the 21st. However, after about a week, she disappeared.  Several days later, we were all pretty depressed, as we knew it would be very unusual for a female to abandon newly laid eggs. We’ve lost other hummers in the neighborhood to windows and one to a neighbor’s cat, so we felt sure that she had fallen victim to something like this.
But lo and behold – I spotted a female cruising the bamboo for a few days, even looking fairly closely at the abandoned nest but not interacting with it, and she started a new nest in the bamboo planter that’s closest to the stairs! It’s a pretty one, with lots of moss and lichen:hummer'10

As of now it looks ready for the first egg (it’s started to be lined with feathers as of Saturday and Sunday – she even scored a big grey feather that had been shed by another bird) We’re off today (mon) but I expect to see a Jelly Belly sized egg in there when I arrive Tues. Here’s the feather-lined nest (we can see it from the balcony above):


Next time you’re in, ask Christine or Mike to show you where it is. Luckily it’s in a good place for photos this time around!
Funny thing is, I’m not quite sure if this is the same female. I’ve seen the nest growing, but rarely have caught a glimpse of the hummer. I figure that if she’s upset at me looking at her when she’s incubating, it’s a new female. If she gives an “Oh, it’s you” look  then I think it’s our resident female. But why would she abandon eggs? Anyone know?

Update: Yep, on Tues there was first egg in there, and the next day, two. We should be looking for a hatch on or around March 5th

yep, egg 2eggs

Is Table Food Really Bad For Your Pets?

This is a really great video – Holistic Veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker  describes so eloquently what we try to convey to people every day in the store. We humans certainly don’t thrive on a diet of processed foods alone – your pets also will never be able to achieve optimal health on a diet that doesn’t contain some whole foods.

So don’t be frightened of feeding some whole foods. Adding yogurt, bananas or cooked sweet potato to your dog’s Kong (you can even freeze this to keep her busy for a long time!) or providing fresh chicken, fish, or small amounts of organ meats to your cats and dogs as treats or as a food topper, or growing cat grass for your indoor cats are all great ways to supply some whole foods to the diet. When you cook foods, they lose some or all of their naturally occurring vitamins and digestive enzymes, which is why she calls whole foods “living”. As a final note, a great source of perfectly balanced whole food nutrition for our little carnivores are raw meaty bones (never home cooked bones – cooking makes a bone far more brittle and dangerous). Raw bones are also great for cleaning teeth and for keeping pets occupied!

Other animals can contract Swine Flu

kittyI only include this as a point of interest – I don’t mean to spread info that might make people feel unduly frightened of something that is of very low risk or occurrence so far, but it is worth mentioning. Certainly, avoiding communicable respiratory diseases are another thing to add to the long list of benefits to keeping cats inside. Also, if you are sick with swine flu, it’s worth keeping an eye out for symptoms in your pets.

The AVMA issued this statement:

November 4, 2009 — A 13-year old cat in Iowa developed signs of a respiratory infection after several people in the household were ill. Preliminary testing was positive for 2009 H1N1 on October 29, and the results were confirmed on November 2. This is the first report of a cat infected with H1N1. The cat has recovered from its illness.

To date, this is the first cat confirmed infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus. Two ferrets, one in Oregon and one in Nebraska, have also recently been confirmed infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus. The Nebraska ferret died, but the Oregon ferret has recovered. To date, there is no evidence that the ferrets or the cat passed the virus to people.

The American Veterinary Medical Association and American Association of Feline Practitioners are reminding pet owners that many viruses can pass between people and animals, so this was not an altogether unexpected event. We are advising pet owners to monitor their pets’ health very closely, no matter what type of animal, and visit a veterinarian if there are any signs of illness.

Happy Halloween! Fun Stuff and Tips


Happy Halloween!
Fun Stuff
check out this link to cute dog breed stencils for your pumpkin carving.
The “real” link is here, but I can’t figure out where the stencils are for that one. Maybe you can.

Beware of Toxic Things on Halloween

Don’t forget to be on guard for dogs getting into that Halloween Candy stash! Chocolate isn’t the only thing that’s toxic to dogs; macadamia nuts, raisins, and the sweetener xylitol are all on the list of things that can be poisonous to dogs, but the wrappers and other decorations can also cause problems when ingested. Check out this link to other household items that are toxic to dogs, and what to do if your dog gets into them.

Behavioral Tips

Behaviorally, make sure that if your dog is stressed out by strangers, to have him in a secure area of the house where he won’t be plagued by constant scary monsters ringing the doorbell. Conversely, if you’re up for it this is a great time to work on door manners with a dog that isn’t frightened just excited.  Doorbell rings, dog on leash sits, door opens, dog and costumed kid both get their own treats. Lots of repetitions available on Halloween equals lots of chances to practice how to act when people come to the door.

-Practice this a day or two beforehand with someone familiar that rings the doorbell, rehearsing the sit quietly while the door opens routine 8 or 10 times (first time is hard, then it gets easy as it’s the same person over and over. This lets the dog get better and better at the behavior because you’ve removed the novelty of someone at the door)
– work on a leash for control, but reward the sitting calmly without lots of yanking. The familiar person can hang out on the step for a few minutes while you work on that.
– on Halloween, have two people work the door, one for kid treats and one for working with the dog
– when the doorbell rings, don’t jump up. Walk calmly to the door.

If you have a new puppy this can be a good socialization exercise – monsters = good treats for puppy! Encourage them to say hi to the funny monsters, but don’t force them into it – you want socialization exercises to be positive. If you feel like it’s safe, have the monsters offer the puppy yummy dog jerky or pieces of cheese. Soon the puppy will think people in costume are a good thing!

Excellent Video about crystals and stones

This is a very nice clear description of how to protect the health of your pet’s bladder, and of the causes and prevention of stones and crystals in the bladder.

I found it on one of my favorite sites, written by holistic vet, Dr. Karen Becker and she made the excellent additional point that in the case of cats, it’s also very important that they get extra moisture in their diets, as they have evolved to get most of their moisture from the prey they eat. They generally don’t drink enough to offset the fact that their primary diet is often dry, putting their kidneys in a mild state of dehydration for years at a time. Combined with feeding a diet high in carbs, it’s no wonder why bladder and kidney problems are so prevalent for cats.

See these links to read more about these issues in cats (though the info is useful for dog owners as well):

A good explanation of why cats on dry diets need more moisture (this whole page is good actually, not just this section)

Tips for getting your cat to drink more water

Mostly Garbage Pet Food

You might have seen this on SNL – we often think this is the rationale used by companies that make many grocery store brands of dog food