Thursday, May 26, 2016

Summer Bird Slaw

Summer Birdie Cabbage Slaw Recipe

1 small head of cabbage
1 pound fresh carrots
1 large bunch of fresh broccoli heads with partial stems
4 summer squash with the ends cut off
1 large green or red or yellow bell pepper
1 apples chopped (remove apple seeds)
1-2 Tablespoons Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Remove outer leaves of cabbage and thoroughly rinse all fresh foods to remove any contaminants.

Cut cabbage into sections and finely chop. A food processor helps make this an easy task. Layer cabbage in large plastic container. I use a sheet cake container upside down so that the bottom becomes the lid, and it holds the slaw perfectly.

Next chop broccoli and spread evenly over the cabbage.

Then finely chop the carrots and spread evenly over the broccoli.
Next chop squash and layer on top of the broccoli.
Finely chop the peppers and layer next.
When finished layering the slaw, add 1 or 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar sprinkled over the top of the slaw. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
To serve, take a large serving spoon and scoop out ever how much you need to feed your flock, 
and place into a bowl. Stir mixture thoroughly and add a fresh chopped apple to the mixture. 

This birdie slaw can be fed to all birds, from finches and canaries to the large macaws.
A great recipe for adding Vitamin A and calcium to your bird's diet, and a fun favorite.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Safe Tree Branches for your Bird

Now that we have all the spring cleaning out of the way, why not take advantage of adding some natural tree branches to your bird's cage or play area.

Natural tree branches can provide foot exercise, simulate movement, and provide lots of chewing fun.  I leave the bark and even leaves of my weeping willow whenever possible.  The birds love peeling off tender new shoots of green from the branches.  Stripping every inch of bark off is a fun activity especially for my large parrots.

Try to choose branches with no visible wild bird poop or other stuff.  Make sure anything you choose you know for certain has not been sprayed with any kind of pesticide or fertilizer.

Small branches can be washed with soapy water or a mixture of vinegar and water in the shower, tub or a sink, rinsed well, then placed on baking sheet and baked in over at 250 for a couple of hours to kill bugs and germs.

Larger branches can be washed off outside with a hose or power washer, rinsed well, then laid in a safe location in the sun for a day.  The sun is amazing at killing bacteria and mold and can be as effective as bleach without the toxicity.

Branches can be stuck between bars in the cage at any angle that fits.  Birds are not particular that their perches be straight or aligned.  Birds also don't care if the branch is of the appropriate size.  I have watched my hefty male Amazon Ronnie walk along a small branch that actually seemed to give a little under this weight.  He treated it as a vine to maneuver across exercising his toes as he gripped.  I've watched my smaller conures sit atop a large branch as if it were a resting platform for them.

If the branch is large and heavy, you can insert large screws into the ends that will fit between the bars of the cage.  If you are handy with tools or have a helper that is, the ends of the branches can be shaped into slats that will fit better into the cage.  If nothing else, pile some branches securely on top of the cage or play area and watch your bird have fun.

Here is a list of a few tree branches that are considered safe to help you get started.


**Pine is often listed as a safe tree but beware of any sap as that could be a problem for your bird.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Growing Safe Flowers and Herbs for your Bird

People who love birds often love flower gardens also.  Did you know some flowers and most herbs are safe, nutritious, and quite yummy to feed your bird?

To be sure the plants and flowers are edible make sure they are grown without the use of pesticides and other harmful additives.  Even better, you can grow a few for yourself in pots or any garden area.

Although all of the plants and flowers we have listed are considered edible, it's always a good idea to only feed a small portion initially to your bird.  For example, parsley is considered safe and edible, yet I had a budgie named BlueBell who loved it, but it always made her throw up.  No other bird in our home had that reaction.  So although a flower or plant is considered safe, a bird may still have a sensitivity that is not common.

Here is a few healthy, yummy, easy flowers and herbs to start with.  You might find you enjoy them as much as your bird.

Basil is highly fragrant herb with a pungent and peppery taste.  Easy to grow in containers.

Bee Balm tastes like a mixture of peppermint and spearmint with a touch of oregano.  Interesting and quite lovely to grow.  Bees and butterflies love it too.

Borage leaves and flowers smell and taste kind of like cucumber and can be added to salads.  The lovely blue flowers are neat.  Not the prettiest plant, but a good one to 

Chamomile leaves and flowers have an apple or pineapple taste, and are great also in a salad as well as in tea.  The flowers are pretty and daisy-like and make a great addition.  Chamomile is known for its calming influence, and you might notice it helps calm your parrot a little too.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) have lovely pink pom-pom like flowers and the flowers do have a mild onion flower.  Easy to grow in containers.

Daisies (Bellis perennis) have yellow and white flowers that have a mint or clover flavor and are so pretty growing in the garden.

Although dandelion flowers are considered unwanted weeds by many, they are a super nutritious addition when picked young.  The yellow blossoms have a honey flavor and are very nutritional.  

Fully mature flowers turn white and are bitter and not recommended.

White fragrant gardenias are a great addition to the garden with a delicate taste and a fabulous aroma.  

Tropical Hibiscus flowers are not only beautiful but fun for your bird to eat.  Although the flowers tend to have an acidy taste, most parrots seem to love them.

Honeysuckle flowers are small white or yellow trumpet shaped blossoms and they are sweet and as delicious as they smell.  Lories in particular love these flowers.  

NOTE:  Only the blooms should be fed to your bird, not the leaves and absolutely none of the berries they produce.  

Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana) are found in many colors and the blooms have a mild sweet flavor.  Add them to your salads and drinks too.

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) has purple flowers that are edible as well as the leaves as well as the milk thistle seeds produced.  

Milk Thistle is known for its benefits to the liver and can be a great healing flower for a bird with liver problems.  The leaves taste similar to spinach, just a little bitter and with an earthy taste.

Nasturtiums (Tropaelum majus) have red, yellow, and orange flowers and both flowers and leaves can be eaten.  They tend to taste a little sweet at first, then the taste blends into a rather hot and peppery radish flavor.  Birds tend to love them.

Pansies (Viola X Wittrockiana) come in many colors such as purples, whites, yellows, blue, etc., and have a sweet yet tart flavor. Although I haven't personally tried one, I'm told the blue flowers have a mild wintergreen flavor.


Petunias (Petunia hybrida) have flowers in many many colors these days.  The flowers have a mild flavor.


Roses (Rosa spp) are some of the tastiest flowers and can have a slightly fruity flavor as well as an awesome fragrance.

Rosemary has tiny flowering blooms and makes a really cool looking container plant.  Rosemary is great to add to many grilled dishes also.

Sage can have lavender blue flower spikes on some varieties.  The flowers definitely have a strong sage flavor.

Sunflowers (Helianthus) have yellow black-eyed centers.  If you let them mature, they will contain those seeds that many parrots just find so yummy. 

Thyme has a slight minty flavor and is often used in many cooking dishes as well.

In Summary:  There are many more plants, herbs, flowers, and such that can be safe for your bird.  Start with a few, then do some research and experiment with flavors and colors, and find what you and your bird enjoy the most.  Just remember to always use caution with new foods to make sure both you and your bird are not sensitive to it.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Spring Painting and your Bird

Got the spring cleaning bug?  Having the urge to do some freshening up which might include painting a wall or a room?

Plan carefully to avoid any dangers to your bird.  To understand why birds are so sensitive to anything in the air including odors of cleaners and paint, let's take a quick look into how a bird's unique respiratory system works.

Birds are very different than us and their respiratory system is much more complex.  Air enters through the bird's nares, then passes through the sinuses, and then into the throat.  There is a small slit in the roof of a parrot's mouth called the choana which helps clean and warm the air taken in.  Then the air passes on through the larynx and trachea and into the bronchi, then the lungs, and onto the air sacs.  Now these air sacs reach all the way into the bones of the bird which helps with flight, but also means that anything the parrot breaths in, reaches far into the bird's body.

Dr. Greg Harrison, an Avian Veterinarian, explains that when a bird breathes in, some of the air is sent from the lungs to the air sacs.  When the bird breathes out, air passes from the air sacs back through the lungs a second time.  This means that each breath is basically sent through the bird's body twice so they take in twice as much of any toxin as we would.

According to Dr. Gregory Burket, an Avian Veterinarian, a parrot's respiratory system means the inhaled air stays in the bird's respiratory system longer, therefore making any toxin inhaled stay longer and cause more damage more quickly to the bird.

So, if you are planning on doing some painting this spring, removing your bird from the home before you begin and for a minimum of 48 hours after completion is the best idea.  If that's simply not possible, make sure your bird is as far away from the area being painted as possible.  Make sure windows in the painted room are open and the area is well ventilated.  Closing the room door and even laying a towel at the bottom of the doorway for extra containment helps.

There are more and more paints that say 0% VOC (volatile organic compounds) or low VOC.  When searching for the safest paints, try to find both “Zero-VOC” and “Non-Toxic”, using a “Zero-VOC” tinting system for adding colorant.  Labels that clearly state safe for babies, safe for people with asthma or respiratory problems are better to use.  Doing your homework before you begin, will help everyone stay healthy and happy.