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

Dog stuck in crate highlights rare risk of spot-on flea treatment

advantageA dog in Ontario Canada was given a flea treatment with Advantage and put to bed in his plastic kennel. An ingredient in the Advantage dissolved the plastic which resulted in the dog becoming stuck to his crate and unable to get out. The crate and dog both had to be transported to the vet to get him out. Read the full story here.

Related articles:
Nematodes for outdoor flea control

Deaths associated with some kinds of top spot flea control