Friday, July 03, 2015

Fireworks and Your Pets

With our 4th of July celebrations this weekend, please remember you pets may not love all the people and sounds of the celebration.

Fireworks make my birds nervous, some get flighty, especially the cockatiels, and some get very very quiet.   My little Yorkie is terrified of all the loud pops and sizzles.  The cat however, doesn't seem bothered in any way in the whole event.

I walk outside with my Yorkie when she needs to go out, and keep her close to me at all times so she has some reassurance of the unknown.  I cover any birds that get very upset, so they will settle down better.  I give special treats too so everyone can hopefully associate treats with this time if possible.  I also make sure strangers or even known groups of people, do not invade the birds' space.  The birds all know me, they love me (well at least most of them do), and they trust me, so I am their go-to-person during this time.

Playing a television or radio on low can also help mask the fireworks and make them blend in more with normal noises.

A little thought for the feathered and furred will help make your July 4th weekend a fun celebration for all.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Are Ants Taking Over at your House?

Here are a few ideas on naturally controlling ant invasions

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 and cats, as birds and cats are very inquisitive creatures that love to check out anything new in the room.  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.

Method 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.

Method 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. 
Method 3:  Cucumber peels repeal the 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 the bird and most love the cucumber seeds as well.  However you don't want your bird eating day old stale cucumbers.

Method 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.

Method 5: You can sprinkle corn meal around the corners and baseboards of the room to keep ants out as well.  Or sprinkle a circle around your bird's cage.  Corn meal 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.

Method 6: I'm sure everyone has seen the spray bottle of Bird Mite Spray you can buy at many pet stores.  I do not ever recommend 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.  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 birds 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.

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.

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".  

Saturday, June 06, 2015

The Invasion of Fruit Flies!

Ah, summertime and the living is easy.  Well, unless you are being invaded by those nasty annoying fruit flies and gnats.

If you have birds in your home, you may well have experienced first hand the summer fruit fly takeover.  They can multiply from one to hundreds in no time at all.  They love sharing the fruits and veggies along with your bird.  Swarming onto the leftovers in the cage tray, or on the food on the floor that your parrot has selectively thrown out of the food dish.  Maybe hidden until you bring out that nice juicy piece of fruit to chop up for your bird.  Then, wham, they are there to enjoy the fruits of your labor, so to speak.

This time of year also brings those pesky gnats and to me they look just like fruit flies and are just as annoying.  Main difference is fruit flies as named, love the foods they can find, gnats tend to gather most around water sources.  It's easy to have both.  Whether it's fruit flies or gnats, in my opinion they are both nasty little buggers and not welcome.  So here are a few natural and safe tips that might help rid your home and bird area of these unwanted guests.

Apple cider vinegar and a few drops of liquid dish detergent are great for attracting the flies.  I have found also that red sweet wine works great too.  I have been told beer also works but I haven't personally tired that one yet.  Also I hear sweet fruit juice works good too.  Sometimes I add a piece of over-ripe banana to the container as extra come here attraction.  They really do love bananas.

Now that you know what to use to lure them in, decide which of the following you want to use as your vessel of entrapment.

You can use a mason jar, drinking glass, small bowl (glass or plastic), or my favorite, a plastic water or soda bottle.

If using the plastic bottle simply cup off about 1/3 of the top of the bottle.  Then place the top section upside down into the bottom part of the bottle.  I prefer not to tape the 2 pieces together as I can dump the bottle in the garbage, rinse, and reuse as many times as I need.  Now that you have the bottle in 2 sections, before placing the top part on, add a few ounces of apple cider vinegar, wine, fruit juice, or beer.  Add a couple of drops of liquid dish detergent and and stir a bit.  Then place the upside down top part into the base of the bottle and place near the kitchen sink, on a window sill, near or under the bird cage, or wherever you are seeing the flies the most.  I like to make several traps and place all around the room.

If you use something other than a plastic bottle, you may also need some plastic wrap or wax paper that you can poke some small holes in, or a piece of construction or heavyweight paper to make your own funnel.  Pour a few ounces of the apple cider vinegar, wine, juice, or beer into the glass or mason jar.  Add a few drops of the liquid dish detergent and stir a little.  Then place the paper cover over the glass or mason jar making sure that is large enough to overlap the top sides of the glass or jar.  You can use a rubber band to hold the paper on or you can tape it if that works better for you.  You will need to make a circle of several small holes around the paper in the top.  Make sure one hole you make in the center of the paper is large enough for the flies to enter into the container.  If you are creating a paper funnel, it is best if the smallest tip inside the container does not quite touch the liquid or bottom of the container.

The idea of the upside down water bottle technique, self made funnel, or paper top, is that you want to make it easy for the flies to enter, but harder for them to find a way out.

You can also use a shallow bowl with the same ingredients and add a small piece of fruit into the liquid such as banana or apple.  You will probably catch some flies and gnats even if the container is left open.

For more tips on controlling bugs and pests naturally and safely around our birds, please check out our Pinterest Board

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Summer Travel with your Bird

Planning that fun summer vacation trip yet?  

Whether traveling and/or vacationing for fun or just visiting with family and friends, you may want to weigh the pros and cons of taking your bird along with you.  Many birds enjoy traveling with their family and do very well.  Remember it's never too soon to start planning either.  

If you have a responsible friend or family member to care for your bird, you may decide to vacation without your feathered friend.  If your bird will be staying at home, try to have someone come in at lease twice a day to check on everything, provide fresh water or food, and turn on or off a radio or television that your bird may be enjoying during the day.  Provide some new toys and some special treats while you are gone so your bird has something to do while the family is away.  If you don't think your bird will be happy staying at home alone, then have him or her vacation with their caretaker or board at a local bird store or vet's office while you are away. 

Even if your bird will not be staying at home by itself, it is still a good idea to provide those new fun toys and special treat to be enjoyed while visiting or boarding away from home.  

If on the other hand you decide to take your feathered buddy along on your summer travels, following some simple guidelines can make a happy and safe vacation for humans and birds.

If you are traveling by airplane, be sure and contact the airline company well in advance of your travel dates. Some airlines do not allow birds in the cabin with their people.  Others may charge a full person ticket price even if the bird's carrier is under your seat.  If the airline is one who only allows animals and birds to travel in the cargo hold, travel may be allowed during hot summer months.  Personally I'm not keen on any animal or bird traveling in a cargo hold, so I would suggest if at all possible try to take your bird inside the cabin with you. Make sure your bird has a reservation just as you do and confirm this with the airline 24 hours before you plan to leave. Find out what type of carrier your particular airline requires and familiarize your bird with its travel carrier beforehand. Most airlines have strict dimensions of allowed carriers, and it's not a standard, so allowed carriers can vary from airline to airline.  

Airlines may require a health certificate issued within 10 days of flight so be sure and bring all documentation with you as well as extra supplies for your bird. The bird's carrier should be well marked and tagged with all pertinent information such as flight number, destination, owner's name and address, home phone number, vet's name and phone number, bird's name and schedule for food and water. You can use a permanent marker to write all information on the carrier.

Whether traveling by plane or car here are a few tips to make your bird's travel a little easier.

Be sure and bring a cover for the carrier or travel cage. This will allow your bird a sense of security if necessary when traveling and a night cover/

If traveling by car, be sure and strap your bird's cage or carrier into a seat belt away from air bags.

Bring a small play gym or attach-a-perch for the top of his cage or carrier for out time in your hotel room unless your travel cage has it's own built in play top.  Always always only allow your bird out of the travel cage or carrier when you can supervise.

Be sure there are not any toys that can swing and hit your bird as you travel. If necessary remove such toys until you are checked safely into your hotel room.

Just as some people, birds can become airsick or suffer from motion sickness. Sometimes covers the cage or carrier can help.  Looking at the window of your traveling car may be fun for people, but not always so with your feathered friend.  

Place a few moist foods such as sliced orange pieces, grapes or apple inside the carrier for your bird rather than an open dish of water that will spill easily.

If you make your hotel reservations before leaving on your trip, be sure they allow pets. Take extra newspapers or a sheet to place under your bird's cage at the hotel. Bring paper towels for cleaning up any messes, and even a small hand held vacuum will help you keep your hotel room nice and clean.

Don't forget to pack your bird first aid kit and a list of avian vets in the area you will be staying. Your own avian vet may be able to recommend someone they are familiar with at your destination. 

Bring your own drinking water for your bird from home or bottled water your bird is used to.  Pack all the bird's food together. Baby wipes are great to have along. Bring a spray bottle for cleanup and at least one cleanup cloth. Don't forget a supply of plastic garbage bags also. Don't pour your bird's water dish into hotel sinks if there is food or seed in the water. Dump them into your garbage bags instead.

You may want to do your own cleaning of your hotel room to avoid any cleaning fumes if you will be staying for several days. Be aware also that some hotels in humid, hot vacation areas spray for bugs on a regular basis. Ask beforehand if your hotel does this. You may need to air out your room once you arrive to make it bird safe. If you take care to keep your hotel room clean from bird debris you will leave a positive message with the management for the next bird traveler.

Never, never leave your bird unattended in a car for even a few minutes. Someone should stay in the car with the bird any time you must stop, or if necessary, take the bird in its carrier with you. Try to leave your bird alone in your hotel room as little as possible. Use the "DO NOT DISTURB" sign at all times your bird is in your room alone.

Feather clipping may be controversial for some, but if you bird is traveling, I highly recommend it. Car accidents can and do happen, and an accident may release your bird from it's carrier or cage.  Unexpected escapes can also occur while you are changing bedding, or food, or comforting your bird.  Flight feather grow back, and better safe than sorry can be a real statement of fact.  

Most of all, enjoy your vacation or travels, and if you can, share them with your special feathered friend whenever possible

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Does Your Bird have a Favorite Fruit or Veggie?

I am often asked what are some healthy fruits and vegetables to feed a bird.  Healthy foods are always the goal, but if your bird won't touch them, well a 'bird's gonna do what a bird's gonna do'.  So here are 3 suggestions of some fun fruits and veggies to try.  All it sometimes takes is one new veggie or fruit piece to start your bird on a healthier diet.

I love feeding carrot tops and carrots.  Carrots and carrot tops are awesome Vitamin A sources for your bird.  All of our birds from the smallest finches to the largest Macaw, have fun while they eat them.  I rinse the carrot tops and weave through the bars of a cage for the small birds who love munching, shredding, and even enjoying the wet greenery as a refreshment.  The added bonus of feeding carrot tops, is that if you are growing them in a pot or your garden, clipping the tops only encourages them to produce more carrot tops.  That's a win-win.

Watermelon is a yummy super food that you may not have thought of for your bird.  Most people think of
watermelon as a food that is mostly water.  That's true, but this refreshing fruit is loaded with vitamins A, B6, C, and other goodies.  It's low fat (as most vegetables and fruits are) and healthy.    Larger birds can even enjoy watermelon seeds and some will love the meat of the watermelon close to the rind as much as the juicy red center.  Try small pieces for small birds, you can even float a chunk in a water dish to capture your bird's curiosity.   Freeze some watermelon in an ice cube for larger birds and place it in their water dish.  Watch the fun begin.  (Don't forget to give clean water after the snack)

 Summer squash can be a fun food as well.  Chunks and slices are loved by our bigger birds.  But surprisingly even the small birds love picking out the squash seeds.  Sometimes eating them, sometimes just playing with them.  Playing with your food however is highly recommended.  Squash is a great vitamin C source for your bird as well as other many health benefits.

Make a fun kabob with some squash, watermelon, and carrot slices.  Weave some carrot tops in, and not only provide something healthy, but also something that can be fun and entertaining for your bird.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

It's Veggie Time!

Finally, for just about everyone, spring has arrived in the US.  Time to get those veggie gardens going if you haven't already done so.

Many think that growing fresh healthy vegetables and greens for your bird is a whole lot of work. Maybe you don't have room for an in-the-ground vegetable garden.  Maybe you don't want to spend your free time getting rid of all those weeds you envision.  Maybe you don't feel like you have that "green" thumb you hear people speak of.

So let's put all those "maybe" thoughts away.  If you have land to plant a big garden, awesome, but if you don't, join the new generation of container gardeners.  Containers do not have to be expensive garden variety flower pots, any old, or new, plastic container will do.  Depending on the plants you choose to grow, containers can vary from a plastic shoe box, to a big storage tub, or anything in between.

Take your container, drill a few drainage holes in the bottom, add a layer of pine cones, rocks, or recycled cans to help hold the soil in the container.  Add some good vegetable garden soil, and then add the vegetables.  Purchasing plants rather than seeds will help get your garden growing quick and easy.  Most home improvement stores and local co-ops have healthy plants for your garden at very inexpensive prices.

Some great plants to try if you are a newbie, are romaine lettuce, cabbage, carrots, and radishes. They don't take much room, grow fast, and your birds will probably go crazy for them.  Just rinse and serve and watch the fun begin.  Rinse well and weave romaine leaves through cage bars for foraging fun.  Both carrot tops and carrots can be rinsed and fed to birds, and if you only cut the tops to feed, the carrot tops will continue to grow for all summer long healthy eating.  Cut tops off radishes, rinse the radish well, and give whole or cut into pieces.  You do not have to wait until cabbage plants grow into a round cabbage ball, rinse and feed at any time.

Since you are feeding these healthy goodies to your bird, do not use any type of pest control on the plants.  A few bugs never hurt anyone.  If the bugs begin to take over, spraying plants lightly with a mixture of water and a little dishwasher detergent will help deter the bugs for a while.

If you feel brave and experienced, try growing a big tub of corn, cucumbers or squash, and some carrots or radishes together.  Okra can be grown in a medium size containers easily and most larger parrots love the okra pods whole.  Watching our cockatoos open the pods and enjoy the okra seeds inside, is fun indeed.

Most of all have fun, enjoy gardening for your special feathered friend.  In fact you may enjoy a few veggies with your bird.

Find lots of gardening suggestions for you and your bird on our Pinterest Board Gardening for Parrots.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Small birds like Big Bird Toys Too

My small bird prefers really big toys, is that normal?

Some people may think this is an unusual question, but it really is not.  Bird toy preferences are very individual among birds.

Some small birds such as medium and large Conures, Mini Macaws, and similar sized birds, often prefer larger bird toys with lots of soft wood to destroy.  Larger bells make more noise which seems to be a good thing for some birds.  Small bird toys just don't meet the requirements of such active and fun loving parrots.  

On the other hand, there are also some very large birds who enjoy smaller delicate and intricate bird toys.  My amazon PJ loves small toys that he can hold in his foot and dismantle.  I never give large bird toys to my African Grey Shiloh as he is convinced new toys are out to get him.  He enjoys small and medium sized bird toys.  My Macaw Cosmo, will play with all sizes of toys from Cockatiel size to the largest macaw size toys.  Sure she makes quick work out of those smaller toys, but sometimes she just needs some variety.  When giving smaller toys to larger birds, supervise, supervise, supervise.  Small beads, bells, and such, are often not the best choice for large parrots.  Even if you think you know your bird, still supervise play and safety with any and all bird toys.

Small bird toys without bells can often make a great foot toy for larger parrots.  Large bird toys with lots of colorful soft wood shapes can often create a great challenge for smaller birds who love to destroy and need to stay busy.

There is a perfect size bird toy for every bird.  Sometimes it may seem like a mismatch when in reality it's the perfect match.  Just remember to supervise your bird as you would a small toddler, as birds can always find a way to get into trouble. Check toys often for wear and tear and replace just as often for new fun and more fun.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Got the Spring Cleaning Bug?

 Here are a few tips that might make the job a little easier

Tip 1  Remove bird from cage to fun play area with lots of things to keep him occupied before beginning. Some birds do not like anyone messing with their stuff.  If your bird is not tame, or is fully flighted and may get into trouble if left unattended, place your bird in a carrier or small travel cage with fun stuff while you clean.

Tip 2 - Remove all bird toys and perches from cage prior to cleaning. Good time to inspect all toys for wear and tear and throw out anything that might not still be safe. Check bells, texture toys, bird beds, and links closely.

Tip 3 - Wooden perches can be soaked in a sink or bathtub in gentle dish detergent and water but be sure to thoroughly rinse and dry before returning to the cage. Rope and Sisal or other material perches can be brushed with a stuff bristle brush to help remove dried on poop or food.  Once wet, these types of perch are harder to clean. Although some people may gasp, these perches can be run through a dishwasher once brushed to better clean.  Make sure they are dry before returning to cage. Throw out any material perches that look like they might trap tiny toes.  

Tip 4 - If your cage is easy to move, roll outside and make great use of a sprayer hose to clean.  If your cage is small enough to fit into the shower or bathtub, you may prefer cleaning indoors. (DO NOT LEAVE BIRD IN CAGE IN SHOWER - drowning can happen)  

Cages can be washed with vinegar and water, or a mixture of gentle dish detergent and water. Always rinse well after cleaning. carries several different products specifically made to clean and are bird safe. 

NEVER use cleaners such as Mr. Clean, Lysol, Soft Scrub, Windex, 409, etc. to clean anything your bird can come in contact with, as almost all household cleaners can be deadly to your bird. Bleach is not recommended for cleaning as it is toxic if inhaled by your bird, is very caustic to cage finishes, and can burn skin if splashed accidentally.

Tip 5 - Once everything is nice and clean, add a few new toys before returning your bird, because he or she is going to know you have been messing with their stuff, and new toys may help soothe things over for you.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Is Your Bird Prepared for Severe Storms?

Spring is the beginning of Severe Weather Season in many parts of the U.S. with tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flooding, followed by possible hurricanes.

Sometimes during and after storms, power outages can occur.  It is always smart to have some extra non-perishable bird food on hand for emergencies.   Include a few bottles of water for your bird, as well as some paper towels, and a bird first aid kit (see link below for information on creating your bird first aid kit) Having some fresh fruit on hand can provide some quick energy food and a distraction for an upset bird.

If your bird is frightened by thunder and storms, try covering the cage so your bird feels more secure.  Placing your bird in a carrier or smaller cage and covering with a blanket or large towel, can also provide the security feeling. When possible it is usually a good idea to place your bird in the carrier or cage before the weather gets really bad, 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 or small travel cage can be a lifesaver for your bird if you need to move quickly to an interior room in your home, or even to a storm shelter during dangerous weather.  In extreme situations you may even need to evacuate to a safer place temporarily.  Emergency items can be stored year round inside the carrier so everything is always ready should you ever need it. Letting your bird play on the carrier or forage and play inside, several times throughout the year, will help the bird feel safe and secure when you need to quickly put the bird into the carrier during an emergency.  The bird is much less likely to panic if the bird thinks of the carrier or cage as a fun place to be.

Although our article refers to birds, the same safety rules can be applied to your other family members whether dogs, cats, or other small furry ones.  Also remember to have fresh batteries in a flashlight, always.  For more great information on being prepared for emergencies, and a list of items you may want to include, please click the links below.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring has Sprung in the Parrot World

Those spring time warm days often seem to bring with them a feathered friend who may act like a bird with a newly developed personality disorder.

For example, in our home there is one very loud boisterous Amazon named Gertie, one very aggressive "Make My Day" Amazon named Ronnie, and one very very needy Cockatoo named Girlie.

Although there are some birds who seem to move through season with very little personality change, other than maybe a seasonal molt, there are many others who are not so mellow in their seasons.

Spring is breeding season for most parrots we share our lives with, and can bring with it hormonal ups and downs ranging from ear deafening noise levels of screaming for no apparent reason, to unprovoked aggression against the person it loved only yesterday, to needy hold me all the time or I will be a very bad bird tantrums, and on occasion an egg or two in the cage.

Spring is a good time to change out some of those old toys for new ones that can be destroyed and help redirect some spring behaviors.  Some parrots in breeding mode often have a need to shred, tear, and destroy, to fulfill that nesting feeling.  Doesn't matter if they are the only bird in the home, that breeding cycle is happening and they need to do what they need to do.  Sometimes moving the cage to a new location, even in the same room, can help give a little "change of attitude" (just make sure the move doesn't scare you bird in any way as some birds are very sensitive to change and this might make matters worse)

Although it may seem some of our feathered family may have lost their mind temporarily, be patient, as this too shall pass. (Hopefully sooner than later)