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.