Year in review 2017

The SO finally took the time to fix our blogs after about 6-8 months of neglect, broken plugins, and missing links. So now we’re back and ready to post sporadically. ūüôā

Life has been pretty hectic since my last post about the Avian Avenue Sidewalk Sale, and my interest in blogging waned as a result, but I hope to ramp that back up. The birds are/have been a bit cramped for space since they moved to Seattle because there really isn’t any room for hanging up their flyers or atoms or boings. I looked into upgrading Chaucer’s cage into a nice stainless steel cage, but the costs were prohibitive at that time, running up into the thousands. The birds will have to wait another year or so before they get double macaw cages each (though probably not stainless steel).

Surprise, surprise. I didn’t purchase any bird toys until recently! My stash of toys was growing and taking way too much space so I decided to let the birds chew/destroy what I had already. Only last week did I purchase new toys during the AA Sidewalk Sale and only from new two vendors: Seriously Nutz and TNT bird toys.

The toys from Seriously Nutz were large and colorful!

Here’s a size reference starring Mr. Bubbles.

Equally impressive was the Motherlode from TNT, a toy containing 12 plastic golf balls and countless knots and beads. I imagine tedious motions and finger cramps from creating this beautiful monstrosity all for Sir Chaucer and Mr. Bubbles to destroy. Expensive for a toy. Yes. Worth it? Absolutely! (Beer not included in purchase.)

I won a raffle and was gifted these beautiful gifts! AA vendors are great so for those who have not tried out TNT or Seriously Nutz, do so now! Your birds will thank you.

I wish I could say that life with parrots has been a breeze this year, but that hasn’t been the case at all. It saddens me to admit that my interest in my parrots ebbed and flowed since I moved to Seattle and rely heavily on my SO for his help and support. Sir Chaucer, my ekkie, is still plucking and barbering his feathers, though not as severe as before when he plucked the top of his breast bare. In the past, I forced him to wear a cone, but he is visibly happier without one. I try to give him as much out of time cage as possible which has helped a bit. His habit seems to have developed due to stress (aka my absence / less interaction since my new job is demanding and stress me out) and hormones. The other night he performed a tail wag “display” for his lover Jake and even rubbed his vent on Jake’s arm — all signs of hormonal behavior. Slowly, I am learning to accept¬†the fact that he may never grow feathers on his neck and will never look as feathered as before…it’s a difficult task for me, but when he sits with one foot tucked on my arm, I know he’s the same Chaucer.

Another bad development on my part is my fear of getting bitten by my galah, Mr. Bubbles. Somehow, I’ve developed a fear of him and rarely interact with him like I used to and rely on Jake (who is his favorite) to care of him. I know I shouldn’t fear the beak! It can be tough since bites are painful, and Mr. Bubbles can act aggressive! However, I am trying slowly to alleviate this debilitating mindset by only interacting with him in positive ways when I know he’s not going to bite me. Take today. Jake put him on my lap; I asked him to step up with treats; I gave him scritches; I flipped him on his back and gave him more head scratches; I popped him back up and gave him yet more treats. It was actually a really good birdy experience for me. Few and far between these days.

Avian Avenue Sidewalk Sale and Secret Santa 2016

I’m about 2 months delayed in blogging about the amazing bird toys and gifts from incredible people and vendors on Avian Avenue. (If you aren’t familiar with AA, it is an online community dedicated to parrots and their owners. Go join now!) It began in November with the Sidewalk Sale — the (bi?)annual event where AA vendors participate by giving discounts or selling new wares. I’m a huge fan as it allows me to save some money on parrot products that I would spend anyway and/or try a new vendor.

This time around, I only purchased from CA Bird Nerds and Oliver’s Garden (as I had already made a large purchase with Big Beaks, I refrained myself). From CA Bird Nerds, I ordered toy making parts: spiral SS skewer, SS hoop, wooden beads, rolling pin base, and 1/16” leather cord. A spool of 1/16” or 1/8” leather cord lasts me a couple of years and it can fit through most of the bird parts I buy. Highly recommended purchase!

The last vendor was Oliver’s Garden¬†and one of my favorite vendors! Susan makes amazing, beautifully crafted nautical themed toys. Too bad they are located in CA which makes shipping more costly. I purchase most, if not all, my OG orders during Sidewalk Sales to defray some of those costs with toy discounts. This time, my large order consisted of tulip themed toys, a giant pine fish, 2” large buoy, manicure perches, millet holder, and pine Christmas trees!

Since I was more settled in December 2016 and not moving around like last year (a record number of moves from states and apartments!), I decided to participate in the Avian Avenue Secret Santa. The rules were spend roughly~$15-25 on your randomly assigned SS recipient. My recipient received toys from ByrdBell, and I received toys from Tweety Pie’s Bird Toys. I have to thank my Secret Santa for so generously spoiling my parrots with their amazing gifts. The birds received some basswood and balsa toys.

 

 

Happy New Year 2017

The flock and I welcomed the New Year comfortably. I did some spring cleaning, vacuuming some floors and stairs, purchasing some organizers, throwing things away (which turns out, I’m a bit of an hoarder), hanging out with the birds, and gardening. I even have some New Years resolutions: firstly the generic resolution of getting fit, secondly the ever dull one of being more organized, thirdly learn the art of decompressing, fourthly…. Turns out I have lots of resolutions this following year, most of which aren’t tangible goals but are small life improvements that will drastically affect my happiness (mainly ameliorate my anxiety and depression) and overall well-being. Hopefully, in turn, this will positively impact the birdies.

I look forward to Chaucer growing back all his feathers! There are signs that next year he will be fully feathered such as not pulling out the pin feathers on the back of his neck or leg. Fingers crossed!

Happy New Year everybody and everybirdy! May it be a year full of blessings and hope! I’m certainly looking forward to it… –much love, Bic

 

Gourmet Cat Food

My parrot blog mostly focuses on my feathered animals, but I am glad to report that this post is about my furry pet Glenda. For those unfamiliar with her, she’s a Maine Coon mix that Jake adopted from some Stray Rescue¬†in St. Louis, MO. A year ago, she was switched from purely dry food to 2:1 wet:dry food when she developed an urinary tract infection, eating Abound dry food and Fancy Feast.

Glenda is beautiful, isn’t she?

I was Christmas shopping yesterday and popped into a mom-and-pop pet store around my neighborhood. The birds are receiving many holiday gifts from me so I figured Glenda should get something nice as well. Glenda isn’t a huge fan of toys (catnip does nothing for her), and she already has a cat stand (plus all the furniture for her to lounge and shed on). Food, then, was the most viable option. After perusing the collection of interesting and gourmet cat food, I ended up purchasing two cans of wet food and a new dry food mix for her to try.

The dry food is from Four Star Nutrientals which is marketed as grain-free cat food. It has pretty good reviews from cat owners on Amazon, and hopefully, Glenda will like it as well.

The two cans of wet food are a bit more unusual; I think Glenda is going to be quite the gourmet after sampling these exotic dishes. Apparently, Wellness chicken & lobster formula is “crack for cats” according to an Amazon reviewer. I’m a bit jealous of the Kangeroo pate…will have to go to Australia before I sample such a delicacy.

Big Beak Bird Toys: Woodilicious Toys

Mr. Bubble’s voracious chewing needs are running me out of wood and toys! My stash of Avian Antics wood is deplenishing as well as toys from the last AA Sidewalk Sale. I am someone who has a hard time buying anything full price because why? when you can buy it on sale? I’ve been eyeballing a company called Big Beak Bird Toys¬†for quite a while but with such a steep price tag, I haven’t ordered from them. Luckily, they ran a 20% off sale, and I decided to take the plunge.

I ordered  three large wood toys stuffed with almonds and beads and a large wood block with drilled holes. The company warned me ahead of time that shipping time takes 2-3 weeks, and my order arrived roughly in that time.

The picture doesn’t do them much justice because the toys are gigantic (as they should be for their price). They are quite sizable compared to my iPhone. Plus, the craftsmanship is superb. I have no idea where they get such nice logs…

This almond and bead laden natural wood log is the most impressive toy I purchased. It is about 3” in diameter made of a solid wood log. The waffle chunks on the bottom and top add a nice accent. Sir Chaucer is going to go crazy with delight. I predict he’ll pull out all the almonds and leave the rest of the beads and wood, which I will then proceed to give to Mr. Bubbles to chew to his heart’s content. (BubbleBut attempted to de-almond it in this photo.)

I made a balsa forager a few years ago that was similar to this, and the birds loved it. I’m sure they will love this almond-stuffed block of solid pine as well. The plastic, not so much…but it does add color!

I purchased this toy as it was a combination of both toys shown above. It has almonds, pine, and natural wood. Another foraging success I predict.

And finally, the wood block with drilled holes. I am planning on stuffing it with shelled almonds as I don’t think the holes are large enough for unshelled almonds.

Overall, I’m quite pleased (as the birds are) with my purchase. The only minor gripe was that I had a peculiar time attempting an add-on to my existing order that had not shipped.

Birdie Thanksgiving

Hi fellow birdies!

Chaucer here.
Mom has been treating us extremely well during this holiday season, which I hope bodes well for the Christmas holidays. Feathers crossed for extra presents.
So far we have had pomegranates, cranberries, pineapple, kiwi, and brussels sprouts with our normal mash. Yummy. I make a big mess that mom has to clean up.

The best foragers are edible ones. ;0
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Mom also took the time to rearrange Bubs’ cage and gave him new toys. She tells me that she won’t give me any new toys until I chew more…but I’ve nibbled on all of them. I guess I’m a slow chewer. Gotta sharpen that beak.

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While mom is making her human food, Bubbles and I snuck in and stole some nibbles. No worries. She caught us before we could stuff ourselves. She tells us that human food isn’t good for us, but I figured a little once in a while can’t hurt. ;0

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Bubbles and I wish you all, parrots and parronts, a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

DIY: Assortment of Homemade Toys

I was recently asked how much money I spend on my parrots per month. I’ve become more frugal over the years after having an Eureka moment about how I was wasting money. I’ll break down my largest expenditures in three categories.
1. Health costs are minimal since my parrots are healthy and don’t need monthly vet visits so the costs are usually an annual bird wellness exam. After an annual exam with a full blood panel, I tend to visit the vet every 18 months. Anyways, that comes out to ~$20-25/month. Obviously more depending on blood work or nail/beak trims. And I have money saved for avian emergencies.
2. Food costs are relatively low as well since I bundle it with my personal groceries. Mash and birdie bread ingredients (think of bean mixes, oats, various grains, flour, etc) are cheap in bulk and available at grocery stores. Any fresh foods that the birds eat are typically seasonal and are often vegetables or fruit that I buy for myself, which I then share with the birds. This comes out to ~$30/month.
3. Toy costs are probably my highest. When I first became a parrot owner, I had a weakness for cute parrot toys (still do). Then I realized that my birds like the uglier toys I make just as much as the designer toys. To satisfy my parrots and my wallet, I now buy bulk wood and toy making parts. A box of wood from Avian Antics costs about $25 and will last me months! I love bulk wood and would cut it myself if I had the equipment. But, I definitely splurge on the parrots when there are sales! My toy costs tend to come out at ~$40-50/month.

Speaking of parrot toys and making your own toys, I thought I would share a few toys I made while watching TV this past month.

Refillable skewers really help to keep my toy costs down. Mr. Bubbles chews through rope like no other so toys intended for him have to strung on stainless steel chain or skewers.

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Sir Chaucer loves beads!

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…as well as wood slats.

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Cork is a fun alternative to balsa or pine.

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For toy pieces that I can’t string or don’t look particularly nice, I stuff into stainless steel foraging cages. These are great products that allow me to recycle old toys and toy parts. They come in two sizes and cost roughly $20-30 but are a fantastic investment! A big hit here for my galah.

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Do the Mash! – the birdie mash! It’s a birdhouse smash!

Hello everyone and everybirdy!
First and foremost, Happy Halloween!

So I was super motivated today to get my Avian Avenue Sidewalk Sale orders placed which then spurred me to make mash and bake some birdie bread. I’ve been quite busy with my real job, and the parrots have been eating less fresh, unprocessed foods and more pellets than before. Anyhow, I went downstairs and decided to whip up some delish grains for them.

I whipped up some Higgins Worldly Cuisine. (picture with Mr. Bubbles / second picture is of the birdie bread mix)
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Then mixed instant oats, amaranth, almond meal, coconut flour, coconut flakes, cranberries, walnuts, and millet together (basic ingredients of my DIY birdie bread mix I made last year) with 2 eggs and water. Instead of baking them in a pan, I decided to try out my new mini muffin pan that I originally purchased in mind with making small breakfast bacon and egg tarts for human consumption. I guess >_< the pan can be used for parrot cuisine as well. ;P

After a 30 minute bake at 350C, the birdie muffins came out fantastic and easily popped out from the tray. Both Chaucer and the BubbleButt loved them immediately! Personally, I think baking them in individual portions is fantastic and am kicking myself for not doing it earlier. It’s super convenient.

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Crazy for the Maze – a Foraging Success

Sir Chaucer – my vibrant little green guy – is amazing me daily with his antics and personality. First and foremost, he is free of his fashionable turtleneck (aka his anti-plucking cone of shame and colored vet tape). I felt comfortable to remove it about 2 weeks ago, and I haven’t observed any significant loss of plumage. Chaucer is visibly happier and so am I. It is an amazing feeling to watch any loved one, be it a pet parrot or human parent, recover from an illness. **Feeling blessed**

Okay. Done with being sentimental and moving on to being proud!! ChauceBot gives new meaning to birdbrained. Drum roll please……here he is foraging for an almond in his maze craze. It’s a parrot toy that requires a bird to rotate the wheel in order to get the treat. The direction in which the wheel moves influences how the treat interacts with the maze inside and how close it can get to the opening.

Note: the positioning of the foraging wheel does matter when teaching your parrot how to use it! Earlier this year, I had the foraging toy positioned too low next to a perch. Even with multiple delicious almonds, I couldn’t entice Chaucer to spin the wheel. Then, I moved it up about 2 inches (~to head level) and immediately, he figured it out. Smart birdy.

 

How to Use the Stairs

My new place has 3 flights of stairs now, and the parrots having been learning how to navigate. They usually do not fly up or down the stairs, preferring to circle around the room before flying back to their respective perches.

Stairs seem to be a foreign concept to them — which means stairs are perfect training grounds! I place them on the stairs and watch how they react. Chaucer seems oblivious and has no idea what to do until I place out my arm for him; Mr. Bubbles, on the hand, will hop down the stairs or climb up with his little beak to get to me. Adorable. The cutest pets.

Also, hello from the Pacific Northwest. Mr. Bubbles in his harness for the first time in a long time!!

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