Saturday, March 17, 2018

Is an Army of Ants Invading Your Space?

The ants seem to be moving in early this year at my house.  So I thought I would share a few suggestions on ways to help control ants in a natural safe bird-friendly way.

Here are a few ideas on naturally controlling ant invasions and a few stronger suggestions if necessary

Unless you are an ant lover, you probably would prefer to see no ants in your bird room or anywhere else in your home.  In fact, you probably also prefer not to have them hanging around your home on the outside either.

There are many articles online to help you identify which species of ant you are trying to rid yourself of.  However, I prefer to focus on how to get rid of them.  Getting rid of ants naturally is the way to go if you have birds, other pets, or even small children in the home.
There are commercial ant baits that do work, but I prefer not to use them around my birds, cats, and my little dog.  My birds and cats are very inquisitive creatures that love to check out anything new in the room so safety is very important to me.  Birds are quite capable of cracking open ant baits to see what is inside, and I find my cats love to bat the ant baits around the room to see how far they will slide.

 One easy way to help prevent ants from climbing up your bird's cage is to put all cage legs in a small container of water.  Ants do not like water, they do not swim.  However, you will need to check daily to be sure there is still water in the bowls.  Although this helps keep the ants out of the cage, it doesn't get rid of them.  It is, however, a quick fix to keep ants out of your bird's cage.

Idea #1: Mix a soapy water solution in a spray bottle.  Doesn't take much liquid soap or dish detergent.  Spray the ants.  This will kill them almost instantly.  The soapy water mixture also eliminates scent trails of the ants helping with newcomers.  You can also spray this mixture on your bird's cage legs (but not on your bird) and around baseboards of the room as well.  You may need to repeat daily if you have a lot of ants invading.

Idea #2: Mix a solution of 50/50 vinegar and water, and with a spray bottle, spray the ants.  This will kill them and vinegar is not harmful to your birds or other animals (of course don't spray it on your bird or other pets).  Doesn't especially smell good, but it does work.  Vinegar and water is also a great cleaning and disinfecting solution for cleaning your bird's cage too. Just rinse after cleaning.

Idea #3:  Cucumber peels repeal ants, so you can chop up some big cucumber slices and spread around the bird cage tray.  You will need to do this fresh daily as your bird if able, may decide to taste or enjoy the cucumbers as well.  Cucumbers are fine for your bird and most love the cucumber seeds as well.  However, you don't want your bird eating day old stale cucumbers.

Idea #4: Mix up a solution of water with some lemon juice and spray around the room corners or baseboard.  Ants don't seem to like lemons very much either.  Your room will probably also smell lemony good.  Clean and reapply as often as needed.

Idea #5: You can sprinkle cornmeal around the corners and baseboards of the room to keep ants out as well.  Or sprinkle a circle around your bird's cage.  Cornmeal is safe for pets and children, but not so attractive sprinkled all over your floor.  Cornmeal seems to work well outside the home, especially poured on top of ant beds or mounds.  If using outside, you will need to repeat after any rain.

Idea #6: I'm sure everyone has seen or heard of the spray bottle of Bird Mite Spray you can buy at many pet stores.

I personally do not recommend ever spraying your bird with this yucky stuff.  If your bird has mites, lice, or anything else these sprays claim to take care of, your bird needs to go to the avian vet.  Your bird does not need this chemical sprayed on him or her.  

So why do I even mention this product then you ask?  Because this Bird Mite Spray stuff kills ants.  Kills them quick and is actually safe to spray on your bird's cage, trays, papers, or all around the floor.  Just remember to not spray directly on your bird.  It does have to be repeated every day or two to stay active.

I also recommend a product called Control Bug Spray.  It is safe to use around your birds and other pets, but should never be sprayed directly on them, nor should it be sprayed freely in the air if they are in the room.  I recommend you remove the birds, then spray around the floor or baseboard or cabinet area, air out a bit, and safely return the birds and other pets to the area.  For more information:  Click for information on Control Bug Spray

A note about using Diatomaceous Earth as a deterrent.  

Yes, Diatomaceous Earth does kill ants, slugs, roaches, grasshopper, earwigs, and fleas.  However, the dust can be an irritant to birds, children, pets, or anyone with asthma or other breathing issues.  I prefer not to use this inside the home.  It can be safely used around the outside of the home with good results.  For more information:  Click to learn more about Diatomaceous Earth

Hopefully, some of these suggestions will help you with your ant problem this summer. 

For more information please check out our Pinterest Board "Bug and Pest Control Naturally 

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Egg Laying Females without Mates

My Bird keeps laying eggs without a mate.

Is that normal?

Yes, laying eggs without a mate does happen.  Some birds such as Love Birds, Budgies, and Cockatiels, in particular may lay eggs several times a year.  Usually it's not a serious issue for them, but there are a few things you can try that might help break the hormonal breeding cycle.  Laying too many eggs can deplete calcium and can become a health issue for some birds.
Some of the triggers for breeding include longer days, warmer days, abundance of food, and nesting areas as determined by your bird.
So in attempting to break the cycle, try putting your bird to bed very early so the days are short for her.  That means covering her cage "completely" with a dark cover and making sure her cage is located in a very quite room for sleeping.  You may have to shorten her days for several weeks to break the cycle.
If she has a favorite toy she feeds, or a sleeping hut or bed, she thinks of as "nesty" spot, or even a favorite food dish she likes to sit in,  it would be a good idea to remove these.  In fact you should really consider removing all of her current bird toys and replacing them with different ones as well as moving her perches around and even food dishes.  You are then helping to distract her from the breeding cycle.  Provide lots of interactive busy foraging type toys, and it may also be helpful to move her cage from one side of the room to the other for a new non-breeding environment.
If your bird is sweet and cuddly, don't cuddle for a while.  Snuggling, petting, and such, can also encourage breeding hormones.  So stick to little feather scratches around the cheeks and such and stay away from any snuggles that she might incorrectly interpret as love is in the air.  If she tries to feed you, carefully replace her in the cage until she is distracted.  
Most birds have an internal number of eggs they will lay and if you keep removing the eggs as soon as she lays them, she may keep laying in an attempt to reach her number.  Sometimes leaving the eggs for her to sit on or roll around, will allow her to reach the number she thinks she needs, and her laying may stop.  Letting her sit on them for a week or two is fine, and often the bird will loose interest after a while and desert her eggs which is the perfect time to then remove them.  Smaller birds lay their eggs every day or every other day until their clutch is complete.  So if your bird has not laid an egg in several days, you can then guess her egg quota, and just let her sit a while.
Make sure she is getting all the calcium she needs during this time.  Providing cuttlebone, a calcium supplement, or calcium enriched bird pellets will usually provide the calcium she will need.  If at any time however, she lays a soft shelled egg, she will need to see her veterinarian as soon as possible.  Soft shelled eggs can be a sign of a serious  calcium deficiency or other health issue not allowing her to absorb calcium in her diet.
Egg binding is another serious medical condition and requires veterinarian care quickly.  Egg binding is when the bird is unable to pass an egg because of it's size, her health, or other issue, and she will need assistance of a specialist to help her pass the egg.  Soft shelled eggs that do not pass or rupture inside the bird, or egg binding, can lead to infection or internal organ damage, and even death.  If your bird looks like she is straining, or is sitting all puffed up and not eating and moving around, call your vet for assistance.  Better to be safe than sorry.
I hope this helps give you some ideas on how to safely help a bird that is laying eggs without a mate.  

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Be Ready for any Spring Weather Emergencies

A little planning can save valuable minutes in an emergency.

Although any time of year can have weather-related emergencies, spring often brings tornados, floods, severe thunderstorms, lightning strikes, power outages, or early hurricanes, for many parts of the US.

This weekend in February is our Severe Weather Preparedness free tax weekend so I thought it a good time to also give a little reminder to check your emergency kits for any needed updates or additions.  If you don't already have an emergency bag or kit of some kind, then definitely it's time to get things organized for the "just in case" situation.

Being prepared ahead of time can be key to avoiding a lot of worries, and can help keep both you and your bird safe during any weather emergency.

Severe weather can often cause power outages so it's always good to have some extra non-perishable bird food on hand for such an event.  Include a few bottles of water, as well as some paper towels, and a bird first aid kit.  If you don't have a smartphone with a flashlight app, you can include a flashlight with extra batteries.  Make sure to have either a carrier or small travel cage and a thick towel or cover.  Having some fresh fruit on hand can provide some quick energy nutrition as well as providing a distraction for an upset bird.

If your bird is frightened by thunderstorms, placing your bird in a carrier or smaller cage and covering, can provide the security feeling your bird may need.  Placing your bird in the carrier or cage before the weather gets bad, can be especially helpful, as during the storm you may be dealing with a very stressed or panicked bird who might try and fly away, or bite in fear.

A carrier can be a lifesaver for your bird if you need to move quickly to an interior room in your home, to a storm shelter, or even evacuate during dangerous weather events.  Emergency items can be stored year-round inside the carrier so everything is always ready when you need it.

Some birds may relate carriers to not so good events such as vet visits.  Begin early to teach your bird that his or her carrier can be a cool place to hang out.  Make the carrier available to your bird often throughout the year with treats and favorite toys inside.  Bird treats and foot toys that your bird can go into the carrier and retrieve can be good training.

It's always a very good idea to have a towel stored with your carrier supplies in the event your bird never learns to like the carrier, as it can be used a quick wrap to move your bird from cage to carrier.  Don't worry about removing the towel, just deposit bird and towel into the carrier.  Birds pick up quickly on human emotion and if you are nervous or stressed by the weather even, then even the bird that is a sweetheart, may be nippier than usual and avoiding the bite will benefit both you and your bird.  The towel in the carrier may also provide a snuggle place or even an object to nip at instead of you.

Let us know if there is a must-have for your severe weather emergency kit.

Links to additional information:

US Tornado Climatology

CDC Prepare to Spring Weather

Why is the US a Hotbed for Severe Storms

Red Cross Severe Weather Common in Spring

Friday, February 09, 2018

Celebrate National Pizza Day


Pizza is not just for humans.  Birds love pizza too.  You just need to prepare it a little differently sometimes.

You can easily start with a frozen pizza crust to bake, or a small ready-made whole wheat pizza crust, rice cake, or a large flour tortilla for the base of your pizza.

Add some of your bird's favorites such as minced or shredded carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, apple, bell peppers (any color or combination of colors), spinach, and so on.

Begin your pizza layering with a thin layer of one of the following on your pizza to help hold all the food together on the crust, rice cake or tortilla:

Organic Peanut butter or Almond Butter; a layer of sweet potato baby food, or mixed vegetables baby food (found in small size jars in your local grocery store). 

Then layer on top any and all veggies and fruits your bird enjoys.

(I personally prefer not to use any cheese as some birds are not able to digest easily, and remember no onions, avocados, or chocolate for your bird's pizza.)

You can also sprinkle some wheat germ or wheatgrass powder on top for extra nutrition.

Place on non-stick non-teflon cookie sheet and bake in 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes to soften veggies.  (If you are using frozen raw pizza dough crust, bake per directions on package)

Cool before serving to your bird.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

February the Month of Love

"My bird threw up on me. Yuck!"

Well, maybe "Yuck!" to the human, but it could be a sign of true love from your parrot.  Of course, we are assuming it is indeed love sharing by your parrot and not a health issue.  If in doubt, have your bird checked by your avian veterinarian to be sure.

Now back to the "love gurge".  Although it might not smell fragrant (depending on what your bird's diet consists of), and can be kind of yucky in texture and volume, especially if it's love from a large parrot like a macaw, but it's also an honor to be the recipient.  It's your bird's way of sharing food and love with you.

Usually it starts with the bobbing of the head and you may even find bits of undigested food from a fresh fruit and vegetable diet, tiny bits of seed, or pellets if it happens soon after a meal.  Again, if you are not sure whether it's regurgitation or vomiting, don't hesitate to check with your vet.

Birds regurgitate to their partners in the wild, as well as feeding those sweet baby parrots with such love and care.  So be honored you have been chosen, even as you wipe the goo from your clothes.

If you want to limit some of this love action, you can take care where you pet your bird as well as how much you snuggle with your bird as both cases can put your bird into the love cycle.  Offering a distraction of a bird toy or treat might also help redirect the food sharing.  Of course sometimes there is not much you can do about it except smile and wipe. 

It is also sometimes shared with favorite toys, rather than humans, so don't feel left out if your bird prefers to share what's on the menu with his or her bird toy instead of you.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

How's the Humidity at Your House?

How Important is Humidity to Your Bird?

Most parrots are originally native to Rainforests around the world.  The average humidity level in most rainforests is about 80% humidity.  Sometimes as high as 90% in certain seasons of the year.

The average home in the winter months with the heat running to keep us warm has a humidity level of about 20-25% humidity.

That is indeed quite a difference.  Of course, we do not need to maintain such high humidity in our homes for our birds to be comfortable as the rainforest provides, but we do need a little more than 25% for both parrots and their people.  The most recommended humidity level in the winter in our homes is about 40%.

Very low humidity levels increase dry skin, itchy skin, and even flakiness for your bird.  It can cause over-preening and even feather destruction in an attempt to help the itchy dry feeling of skin and feathers.  It also usually affects humans with dry flaky itchy skin in the winter.  Air too dry can also contribute to sinus and allergy problems in both birds and people.

So how do you add some extra humidity to your home you ask?  Well, adding a cool mist humidifier in the room where your bird spends most of its time will help tremendously.  Adding a tabletop water fountain to the room can also add some much-needed moisture to the air.  You may be amazed at how fast that fountain needs filling as the water evaporates into the air adding the moisture needed.  Adding safe plants to the room can also be a great way to add some extra humidity.

 Shower Perches
Making sure your bird still enjoys baths in the winter will add moisture to feathers and skin.  Just make sure baths are early in the day allowing the bird to completely dry before any cooling of the house at night or let your bird preen and dry off in a heated bath until dry enough to be moved back to the cage.

By adding one or more of the above suggestions to your winter routine, not only will your bird receive some of the extra humidity needed, but you may find the humans benefiting as well in the improved air quality.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Winter Holiday Bird Hazards

Holiday Safety for Birds

We all want our winter holiday season to be a safe happy time of the year.  Here are a few suggestions and thoughts on how to help keep everyone safe during this hectic time of year.

Plants & Trees:  Birds should not be allowed to chew on the Christmas tree whether it is a live tree or artificial.  Unless you know FOR SURE that your live tree has not been treated with any chemicals or pesticides, it's best to keep your bird at a safe distance.  Also remember that mistletoe berries, holly berries, and Poinsettias are generally considered highly toxic plants to all pets.

Holiday Decorations:  Although not many of us today still use the silvery strands of tinsel, and if you do although it does not contain any lead, it is definitely not a good idea to let your bird chew on it.  Tinsel, strings of small beads, and some garlands can too easily tangle around tiny toes, legs or other body parts.  Not all tree ornaments are safe either so keep a keen eye on your feathered friend when enjoying the holidays.

Beware also of fake snow or tree flocking which can pose a serious hazard and possible injury to your bird.

Double check to be sure all electrical cords for holiday lights as well as extension cords to hold all the extra plugins are safely out of your bird's reach.  One small bite of an electrical cord can be deadly.

Aromas:   Most candles contain essential oils which can be very toxic to birds when burned.  Usually, the better the candle smells, the more dangerous it usually is.  Better to simply enjoy the look of holiday candles scattered around, rather than burning them anywhere near your bird. 

Also be aware of the dangers of potpourri and pine scented sprays to make your home smell like the outdoors as they also can pose dangers for your bird.

You can make our own wonderful holiday smells by simply adding some cloves and cinnamon to water in a simmering pot.  Just be sure the simmering pot does not boil dry and always unplug it when you leave the house.

Fireplaces:  Although your bird may have his own Christmas stocking hanging by the fireplace, make sure the wood you burn is safe.  Some Yule logs and holiday fire starters may contain heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and such.  A bird's lungs and air sacs are very susceptible to smoke so check to be sure your fireplace draws as it should up the chimney.  Making sure the room is well ventilated if you warm up your home with a nice holiday fire can save worry later.

Gifts:  Everybody loves getting and unwrapping presents, and your bird will too.  Just be sure to wrap your bird's presents only in plain paper or what you know to be bird-safe wrappings, and let the fun begin.  A plain lunch bag also makes a great wrapper for your bird's enjoyment of getting to the goodies. 

Edible Goodies:  First and foremost, be sure to keep your bird away from all the kitchen fumes.  Remember Teflon-coated or any nonstick cookware should never, never, never be used in a home with birds.  This type of cookware contains polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) which is lethal to birds often causing death within only minutes.  Many self-cleaning ovens are coated in PTFE also. 

Share the healthy foods you prepare and keep the extra goodies at a minimum.  No matter how much your bird begs, he really doesn't need any of the extra sweet or salty holiday goodies.  Never give your bird (or allow anyone else either) alcoholic beverages, coffee or chocolate.    Keeping some birdie treats handy will help your bird feel included with all the family.

The Other Stuff:  If you entertain a lot during this festive time of year, you may want to designate a quiet place in a bedroom where your bird can be moved while there are lots of family and friends visiting.  This can be the designated stress-free zone (you might want to take a break there occasionally yourself). 

We hope you and all your feathered friends enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.

                 Merry Christmas & Seasons Greetings from

                                     The Nature Chest Bird Shop