A Somber Summer

May 20, 2014 § 2 Comments

Well, it’s been a tough month with Sabrina’s passing, but she had a lovely burial right next to Charles and Theodore and I do hope she is finally resting in peace. Lola is adjusting well although unfortunately I won’t be seeing her for two months. I’ve (temporarily) moved across the country for my job and she is staying in the good hands of my mother who has graciously volunteered to watch her for the weeks that I am gone so that I don’t have to fly Lola across the country twice in two months. I figured that she would prefer an extended vacation over having to be transported that far, twice over, in such a short period. I know she’ll be fine but of course I miss her terribly already. Thankfully my mom gives as many updates as I request and I know little Lola is having a great time.

At the rate at which she’s going through toys I had to stock up on some extras for her. She is such a huge fan of Things for Wings so I purchased a bunch of things from them. This isn’t everything but I thought I’d post some photos of some of the cool new stuff that we got from them.

the wood jellybean toy

This one is probably my favorite and it is truly very cool! It’s a horizontally hung toy that is quite long and packed with tons of fun parts. You can order it with lots of colors and textures and plastics, or in an all natural wood version as you see above. I have this one hanging across the back of Lola’s temporary cage like a garland and she loves it! I can tell it won’t be the last time I order it.

cherry blossom toy

I believe this toy is from the cherry blossom collection. Again, another one packed full of snappable wood beads and natural wood, so I know Lola will love it. It’s simple but sweet!

yucca and cork toy

This one I already saw Lola rip into before I left. It’s an awesome big hunk of yucca as the base, stuffed with corks and topped with shredders. She loves sinking her beak into yucca and I know she’ll have such a great time pulling those corks out. What’s best is that even after the corks are gone, it’ll be a fantastic foraging toy. Actually, I ordered two of these because I knew my mom’s Hahn’s Karat would love this one as well. Hers came with cute, colorful corks and a bell on the bottom as well!

lola’s toy

Alright, this one’s not new, but I love photographing it anyway. It’s Lola’s Toy, named for yours truly, and she just can’t get enough. It’s such a great toy and always surprises me with how pretty and well made it is. It’s really packed with a lot of parts and keeps my little girl busy. I can’t even count how many of these I’ve bought now!

We also got a few other cool items that we’ve ordered before. Danita did a beautiful job on everything as usual. Hopefully this will help to keep Lola somewhat busy this summer but I have a feeling I’ll be placing a mid-summer order soon to keep her toys plentiful. :)

Fly Free, Little Sabrina

May 1, 2014 § 21 Comments

Sabrina passed away yesterday, in her sleep.  I never fully understood her and I will forever regret not being able to give her what she wanted or needed from me but I am hoping that she finds some peace in heaven with Charles and Theodore.  She was the last of my beautiful littles and I will forever miss them all.

the very first day she met me and Charles

still a wee baby with her big brother

partners in crime looking rather chubby :)

being preened after a bath

on the atom

probably my favorite photo of her

I’ll love you always, Sabrina. Rest in peace.

Spring Fever

April 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Ever since the much-anticipted arrival of Spring, the woodchuck within Lola seems to have awakened and returned to the call of relentless wood destruction! She calmed down quite a bit this Winter, but the past few weeks she has truly been no holds barred.

half an hour’s worth of destruction!

That’s the mess she made in between the short time it took me to get ready one morning. She stripped a chunky willow bark perch nearly clean and made a lot of headway on one of those pretty Things for Wings toys! Thankfully, I had placed an order with I Got a Woody Bird Toys during their early April sale, and it arrived just in time to sate Lola, for now.

three big toys for lola

She got three big toys this time, Beadazzled, the Barrel Bead Wacky Woody, and Iris. The Wacky Woody from last time was a huge hit with her, so I figured I’d order her another, this time with her absolute favorite little barrel beads that provide such a satisfying snap. This toy certainly won’t last long under her beak, but I know she’ll relish every minute of play time with it. The Beadazzled is an awesome new offering from them that is truly packed with parts!  I can’t believe how much is squeezed into this toy from cork to beads to a chunky base.  I’m hoping this one will last a little longer with her.  Finally, we’re also trying the Iris toy for the first time, which has thin, chippable pine slats stuffed with cork, which Lola loves.

foot toys and skewer clusters

But that’s not all!  One of my favorite offerings on the IGAW website is the skewer cluster section.  They make absolutely awesome little clustered toy parts that have small loops on one end so that you can string them onto a skewer and make your own toys in seconds.  It’s perfect for those of us with busy little birds like Lola who are also a bit busy ourselves and can’t always take the time to make toys, but want a simple and safe option for skewered toys.  They are so convenient and really offer a ton of variety.  They also feature some of Lola’s favorite parts like the Hidden Treasure foot toys, lots of chunky cork bark, and embedded beads.

little toys for little sabrina

Sabrina hasn’t quite followed suit with the destruction just yet, but I’m sure she’ll start feeling the fever soon.  In anticipation, I also purchased her two adorable and tiny toys, Butt Naked and Trinity.  Packed with soft and shreddable parts, I am sure they will be a hit.

and some for karat too

Of course, I can’t leave out Karat.  Unlike my guys she absolutely loves straws, so I had to purchase the Serendipity Perch for it loaded with straws, corks, and embedded beads.  I also purchased her the Spring Fling and the Polynesian Princess, both of which are loaded with her favorite toy ingredients, cork and balsa.  I think she’ll be pleased!

Thanks to IGAW for another great order and for keeping these busy beaks quite content!

Lola Turns Four!

April 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

Four years ago today, my lovely little Lola girl hatched! She might be an April Fool’s Day baby but it’s no joke how much I love her. She is my perfect little girl and truly a dream parrot!! My eternal gratitude to the wonderful Maggie Tarleton of Wing Nuts Aviary for raising my beautiful Lola. Here are a few snaps of her from this morning.

And here’s another photo of her on her brand new beautiful birch perch, from I Got a Woody! They very kindly surprised us with this beauty and another huge, chunky willow bark perch this week as a thank you for helping them revamp their website. (I have some web experience and volunteered to help out.) If you haven’t checked out their new site yet, you should! Maybe I’m biased, but I think it’s looking pretty good :) Oh, and even better, they’re having a pretty fantastic 15% off sale right now if you enter the code “Spring1415″ at checkout. I picked up some goodies for Lola, Sabrina, and even Karat too!

Actually, it’s a good time to shop, because a few of our favorite stores are holding sales. Off the top of my head I know Avian Organics (celebrating their eighth year!) is having an awesome one as is Oliver’s Garden. Happy Shopping!!

Top Notch Stainless Steel Toys

March 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

You know how I feel about stainless steel… can’t get enough of it!  But with the demise of Grey Feather Toys, an old favorite of ours, it’s been difficult to find other companies that make great clangy, noisy toys with 100% stainless steel (and of course, ones that allow for customization, since we’re not big fans of plastics either).  That void was filled when Avian Stainless opened up shop.  Actually, I shouldn’t say that they “filled a void” left by GFT– they carved their entirely own, unique space into the market. They’re not new anymore, and I’ve mentioned them on the blog before, but I don’t think I’ve taken the chance to talk about how much I love their toys just yet. Owned by the some wonderful people behind Avian Organics, one of my most trusted brands of healthy, organic parrot food, they put the same thought into each toy as they do their food products. Like their foods, these toys are truly top of the line. Not only are they hand-crafted by a professional welder himself, but they are only made with the best quality stainless steel in totally innovative designs that put safety first. This is clear in their awesome, awesome toys.

the crosswinds toy

I recently placed a small order for one toy each for Lola and Sabrina. Lucky Lola girl got this beautiful toy, the Crosswinds, with the a few custom tweaks of no plastics and full welding. This is an awesome toy.  First, it’s totally fun for Lola: there are four noisy bells for her to clang and ring and bang, which she gets a kick out of, but more than that, it’s built with safety in mind.  The two crossbars are welded together which are in turn welded to the upright bar.

notice the welded eye at the top

What’s more, even the eye at the top– where a quick link can be threaded– is fully welded to the toy.  For a bird like Lola who can easily ply open most o-rings, this is such a crucial detail, and it’s so great that Avian Stainless does this!  Also notice the thin, cylindrical rods above each bell.  These rods cover up the stainless steel chain from which each bell hangs.  I love this feature, which Avian Stainless was the very first on the market to design and implement.  They keep little nails or the tips of beaks from the chance of being caught in the chain, plus they add even more noisy fun.  It’s so smart because some owners don’t like to use chain for safety reasons, but need something more substantial than rope, that will stand up to big beak for a long time.  The addition of these rods slipped over the chain makes these toys both safe as well as built to last.

the puzzle bell

Little Sabrina got this adorable toy, the Puzzle Bell.  It’s a single bell, more fit for a smaller parrot, but it has the addition of a beautifully shined and designed puzzle piece as its clapper.  I have no idea how they get their puzzle pieces to shine like this!  There are these really cool, pretty designs on the surface of the puzzle piece that reflect light in all different directions and truly make it sparkle.  It makes a very pretty noise.  Of course, the chain is also covered by Avian Stainless’s signature rods, which is important for a little one like Sabrina who tends to have long little nails that can easily get caught in things.

the square dance toy

Like I said, I only ordered the girls one toy each… but Avian Stainless very generously included even more for us!  We are very, very lucky to be one of the first recipients of the Square Dance toy as testers.  (I’m posting a bit late!) Wow, I can’t say enough of this toy!  It’s a big one, but it’s not so big that it overwhelms Lola.  Even though the overall size is large, the bells are the same size as the ones on both the Crosswinds and the Puzzle Bell above, so it’s not too big for her to be able to play with or manipulate.  But boy does it make a lot of noise!  It’s a very neat, complex toy with square cross barsfor the added fun of tugging each bell on its opposing sides.  There are even added washers for more noise and fun.  Lola was a little nervous around it for about a day but has since warmed up to it once she realized what a racket she could make with it!

a foot toy skewer!

lola looks on suspiciously…

Finally, we got one last wonderful surprise, which was one of the refillable foot toy skewers that Avian Stainless was testing out a short while back.  These are really, really neat: they’re stainless steel shovels with stainless steel balls at the end that can be unscrewed, turning them into skewers!  They’re great foot toys for medium to larger parrots.  They ultimately decided to go with non-removable balls at the ends of the skewers for safety reasons, but I was the lucky recipient of this test design, strictly for out-of-cage, supervised play only.  As you can see, Lola is very suspicious of hers and is sure that it is an alien, but I’ll report back when she begins to think otherwise.

Thanks to Avian Stainless for these wonderful, high quality toys and especially for letting us test some of them out for you.  We highly recommend these toys!  (On a related note, as always, none of the reviews on my blog are solicited in any way nor do I receive compensation for them.)

All About Cage Setups

February 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

Setting up a cage well is a real art. I find it very difficult to do, increasingly so the larger your bird is and the less space you have. Whenever I am visiting my mom’s house and have to change the setup of Lola’s temporary cage, the King’s aluminum cage, I always struggle with fixing it up nicely for her because it’s only 33 x 25. (I will admit, Sabrina is pretty easy to deal with because she has quite a bit of space and is so tiny.) But fixing up a cage for a medium to large bird is a totally different story!

Where do you start? In my opinion, the easiest place to start is with the food bowls. For many people, this is the most natural place to start because it is the one part of the cage of which they don’t control the placement, because they use feeder doors. I don’t use feeder doors with attached bowls, but I still think this is the best place to begin, simply because I know that I like to keep the food bowls relatively close to the side doors (in case I ever have to travel, I can have somebody else feed Lola safely), and you’ll know that wherever there is a food bowl, you’ll need at least one perch nearby. That always helps to get me started. I try to change whether they are directly on the door or near by it, level with it, a bit higher, or a bit lower, but mostly they are a relatively constant.

Once the food bowls are in place, you can start placing a few perches. You’ll need one near the bowl, obviously, and I tend to avoid putting perches above food bowls because then you increase the likelihood of clean food or water getting soiled. I did make an exception this time by putting a very wide platform perch above a food bowl because I think it’s wide enough that the bowl getting soiled is not a danger. I’m still testing it out, but hopefully it will work!

After a few perches have found their place, I find the other stuff tends to naturally follow. There are usually a few things we all like to keep in the cage– for Lola, for example, I like to use one cotton rope perch and at least one swing. So those usually go in next, and I try to configure everything so that each perch is reach-able from at least one other without having to climb the cage bars much. I also like to make sure there is a large variety of textures, sizes, and heights. I’ll always include several natural wood perches: some with bark, some without, some curvier, some harder, some softer; a pedicure perch; a platform or two; and a cotton perch. I don’t use dowels, ever– I know that some people feel they are “okay” as long as there are other choices, but why bother with just “okay” when you can do way better with natural wood? The uniformity of dowels simply isn’t comfortable or healthy for parrots’ feet. I know some people also like to have at least one perch that spans the length of width of the cage. I choose not to have one like this because I think it limits placement of other things, but that’s a personal preference.

Once I feel like there is a solid network of perches, that’s when toys and other accessories can get placed. I like to make sure there are a very good variety of toys– a single toy often falls into multiple categories, but I like to make sure that each of these core “functions” is fulfilled: noise-making, foraging, natural wood coins or chunky pine, snap-able wood beads, natural textures like coconut or vine. Some people also include snuggly toys or plastic toys depending on their birds’ preferences. Lola also adores her foot toys, so a good foot toy bucket is a necessity as well.

And that’s all there is to it! Now of course, easier said than done– and every time I rearrange the cage, I am constantly tweaking it for the next several days. That’s okay. Some setups are more successful than others, which is why I always take photos so that I can reinstate the “good” ones after cycling through a few others. This past week I did a new setup for Lola. It’s actually not one of my favorites and I have tweaked it several times since I took these original photos, but Lola really likes the perches I chose, so I’m only making minimal changes for now. Here’s what it looks like.

the entire cage

In my opinion it’s a bit busy, although I have spaced out and lowered some of the perches since taking this photo.  Then again I’ve also added a few more toys, so not sure how it all comes out to balance.

the left side

On the left, there are two out of Lola’s three food bowls, both place on or near the side door.  So that’s where I began with this setup.  In between the two, I placed a curvy grapevine wood perch from the Birdsafe Store so that she could get between the two.  On the left is a forked sandblasted manzanita perch from Things for Wings. On the right is a safety pumice perch, and in the front winding all over is her cotton rope perch.  Up above, you’ll see the wide platform perch I was alluding to earlier.

the foraging platform perch

I love this perch!  Aside from the fact that I can put it above a food bowl because it blocks Lola from soiling it, she really adores it.  It is made by Kris Porter but sold by Things for Wings and I highly recommend it.  As you can see, Lola has already gone to town on it and has been stripping it away and smearing her blueberries on it, but she really enjoys being on it.  I have been wrapping up little treats in unbleached cupcake liners and putting them in the foraging holes and she loves to look in each hole to see what surprises there may be.

the right side

Here’s the other side, where you’ll see the opposite end of the cotton rope perch snaking down.  That perch was from the now-closed Grey Feather Toys and I am still upset about it.  I still can’t find a cotton rope perch with a stainless steel interior that I like as much.  On the right of it, you can barely make it out, but there is a cute little side-mounted foraging pot too hidden under the cork bark perch from I Got a Woody.  That’s another little spot that Lola loves to check for treats.  The cork bark perch at that funky angle proved to be a big hit with Lola, so it reprised its role in this setup.  On the right of it is a lovely, chunky willow bark perch, also from Things for Wings.  That funny looking pale colored perch near the top right is a new one for us; it’s the Nu Perch sold by the Parrot Wizard store.  I’m always happy to see perches being made with stainless steel hardware so I thought I’d give this one a try as well.  It’s interesting in that I assume it is made of a uniform dowel, but they actually cut it and shape it so that it is no longer uniform and is quite varied in shape and diameter.  The result is a very nice looking perch that appears to be very comfortable and healthy for our parrots.  Lola really likes hers so far, except that she has already taken a big chunk out of the end.  Down below you’ll see a sandblasted manzanita corner perch (flanking a third food/water bowl), as well as a Manu mineral perch.

another cool foraging perch

In the center back of the cage you’ll notice another awesome foraging perch, this one also from Things for Wings.  I love this one: it’s also a platform, but it has lots of chunky willow bark on the bottom side for stripping, and there are several pod cups hanging below for more opportunities to hide treats!  You’ve probably noticed by now a recurring theme in my cage setups– a multitude of places in which to hide treats.  I love having dozens of different foraging opportunities for Lola because it keeps her busy.  She will go around and check all of these hiding spots, multiple times a day, because she never knows where she might find something.  This is such a great thing to do to keep your parrot active  and stimulated, even while in the cage, especially if you work all day or if you have a perch potato.  Encouraging Lola to forage is of the utmost importance to me for her physical and mental health.

a homemade swing

Finally, you probably noticed this awesome swing front and center.  It’s homemade!  Well, sort of.  The very cool, refillable stainless steel base is made by Scooter Z, an awesome chunky willow wood perch from Things for Wings, and fantastic pine wood pieces and cork-stuffed blocks from Mother Pluckin’ Bird Toys.  Actually, my sister very kindly made this for Lola.  She loves it and has been very busy chipping away at the wood pieces!

Other things included… there’s an awesome grapevines wood perch on the front door that Lola loves to perch on, as well as several toys from Things for Wings, I Got a Woody, Oliver’s Garden, Parrot’s Treasure, and more.  You can be sure that the uglier ones are homemade by me.  I have actually changed and added a few since posting these photos so there is a bit more variety now.  I am also getting some new Avian Stainless toys so I am very excited about that!

So that’s how Lola’s cage is now, but it never stays in one iteration for too long.  Just as how the seasons change in the wild, I like to change her cage often and keep her guessing.  I change out toys weekly and perches every so often, and do a full cage restructuring every 2-4 months.  :)  Hope this helps you set up your cages in an enriching and stimulating way as well!

Lola’s Beauty Routine

January 29, 2014 § 1 Comment

Lola thought she would share her beauty routine with you all :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoQQnSShHO8

First, of course, involves a bath.  Sometimes Lola will settle for a bath in her water bowl, but she much prefers a nice spa bath.  You know, so that she can really spread her wings and relax after a long day of foraging! (For some reason, I’m having trouble embedding the video, but you can click the link above.)


Post-bath, you simply must preen. It does wonders for your feathers.


You’ve really got to get every spot. Even behind the shoulders!


All the way down low, too.


Can’t forget those pretty little feet!


Both left and right, every birdy.


Now, of course, all that’s left to do is relax and dry off!

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