Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Aviary Happenings

One of my customers sent me this picture. Is it adorable or what? This parrotlet's name is Tinkerbell and she is ready to take on the world with her little skateboard LOL! I really enjoy it when I receive pictures and updates on my babies. It warms my heart knowing they are well loved.

It's pretty quiet here at the aviary at the moment. The calm before the storm so to speak! I just pulled three lineolated parakeet babies from the nest. They are beautiful, fat and healthy! Looks like the oldest chick is a cobalt, not sure about the other two yet. I will post what colors they are on the website as soon as I know. My black headed caiques are on two eggs. So we should have some caique chicks in a few weeks!

Recently, one of my customers purchased an E-Z Care cage that the manufacturer states is suitable for conures, cockatiels, lories, etc. This cage was for a green cheek conure. When she got the cage set up and the put the bird in it, there was a large space in the bars where the side of the cage and the dometop panel meet. This space was large enough for the conure to escape from! The bar spacing on this cage was 3/4 of an inch. Too large for a small conure and certainly too large for a cockatiel. The gaps I mentioned were quite a bit larger. Luckily, they were home and her husband was able to place wire over the cage to secure the bird inside.

My customer said she will be calling this company and hopefully they will revise their product description and resolve this matter to my customer's satisfaction.

Here are some bar spacing recommendations to guide you when purchasing a cage for your bird:

Finches, budgies, lovebirds, canaries, parrotlets: 1/4" - 1/2"
Cockatiels, ringnecks, small conures (green cheeks, black caps, dusky, etc.): 1/2" - 5/8"
Senegals, caiques, mini macaws, large conures (cherry heads, patagonians, etc.): 5/8" - 3/4"
Goffins cockatoos, african greys, amazons: 3/4" - 1"
Large macaws and cockatoos: 1" - 1.5"

The above is a general guideline. If you have any questions about the correct bar spacing for your particular bird, ask a knowledgeable bird professional to help you. Some cages are built better than others. Be sure the cage does not have dangerous gaps that your bird could escape through or get stuck in. Feel the cage and make sure there are no sharp edges. If you have a choice, the smaller sized recommended bar spacing is usually a safer option.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Foraging Toy Ideas

Seems that the word "foraging" is the new buzz word in the parrot world these days. There are so many new products out to stimulate our birds and get them to tear, shred, solve puzzles, etc. looking for those special treats. Some of these toys are pretty pricey though. Here are some ideas for cheap easy ways to keep your bird busy!

1. Not a household item, but I had to mention this. There is a toy you can buy called the Foraging Sphere. I sell it on my site. It is the coolest toy! It is a clear plastic ball with holes in it on a skewer. You open it up, fill it with chunks of fruit, pellets, etc. put it back together and hang it up. Then your bird works to get the treats through the holes. My couch potato amazon, Tutti went crazy for this toy when I gave it to her the other day! I've never seen that bird so active! LOL! Very economical as you can refill it time and time again. It's also easy to fill so that is a big plus. Good for small conures up to amazons.

2. The tube sock foraging toy. Get a pack of men's tube socks from Walmart. Put some of your bird's favorite treats in it. I like to make sections, by putting in some treats, tying a knot, putting in another set of treats, tie another knot, etc. It helps to stretch out the sock before you do this to add some length. Then poke a hole in the top, use a baby link to hang it and you've got a great foraging toy! Birds that love to chew holes in your shirt will especially like this one!

3. Empty boxes. I take those small empty boxes (such as those from instant jello, 1 serving size cereal boxes, etc.). Put some treats in it, tape it shut and hang it on a parrot skewer. If you don't have a skewer, you can string it up with a piece of leather lace. For bigger birds, try bigger boxes and those Quaker Oat cylinder shape cardboard containers.

4. The parrot skewer (mentioned above). Every bird owner should have at least three of these! I use mine every day! I put old toy parts on them to make a new toy. Skewer chunks of fruit and veggies on them for your bird to gnaw on. Being on a skewer, they won't just pick up a piece of food and drop it. Skewer cheap shreddable items on it for a great shredding toy. Feel free to email me if you need help finding one.

5. Pine cones. One of my amazon's favorites. Get some good size, clean pinecones and sterilize them by placing them on a cookie sheet and heating them in an oven at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes. Then turn the oven off leaving the pine cones in there until the oven cools (about an hour). Take a screw eye, screw it into the top of the pine cone. Hang with a quick link and you've got a great shredding toy!

6. Small wicker baskets. After the holidays, hobby stores usually put their small wicker baskets on sale. Get only the natural kind. No stain, paint, etc. The dollar store also has these in stock sometimes too. Hang one up with a baby quick link or on a skewer and watch your bird have some fun! Or put two of them together and hide some treats inside to give your bird something to work for.

7. Cupcake wrappers. Put a bunch of these on a skewer or leather lace. Birds like the crinkly texture. Add some plastic beads and/or natural wooden beads to make a neat toy! If you are feeling really creative, take a few of bird's favorite treats and wrap them up. Use a small piece of tape to keep it shut and give to your bird to unravel.

8. Paper bathroom cups. Another great toy! Stack them in different ways and hang by a skewer or leather lace to make a fun shredding toy. Get creative, these can also make great foraging toys!

9. Tamale wrappers. Nice and crinkly! String up with some cupcake wrappers.

10. Lunch paper bags. Put treats in them and make a few "sections" by tying the bag together with some hemp rope (available in the craft section at Walmart). You can double up the bags to make it more challenging.

These are just a few ideas to keep your bird entertained without breaking the bank. I like to incorporate a few homemade toys with my store bought toys. Like most people, I do not have time to make all my bird toys. But making a few toys is fun to do and will help stretch your toy budget. It's also a great activity to share with the kids.