May 30, 2011 § 2 Comments
I’ve been trying to catch Lola playing with her Grey Feather Toys custom noisy toy for days now but she has been very cognizant of this and thus has refused to play with it in front of the camera. I finally caught her today!!! Here she is. This was one mini playing session out of about two hundred today. She loves this toy!!
The second video is my cutie talking on camera! I very seldom catch her on camera because she chatters to herself a lot when she thinks I’m not listening or looking, but when I have the camera out she knows I’m watching her. Today she was playing on her anchor swing and chattering to herself and I pretending I was working while really I was filming her all along! This is a really quiet one because I was actually across the room, so the sound isn’t very loud, but if you turn your volume ALL the way up, you’ll hear her giving smooches at about 10 seconds in, then saying, “I love you!” and finally “Good girl!” at the end.
May 29, 2011 § 3 Comments
Aside from the wonderful Oliver’s Garden goodies in Lola’s new cage setup, there were a few other new items that I hadn’t yet had a chance to write about. I first need to say, however, that Lola was being incredibly uncooperative today and yesterday with photos. Every time I tried to get photos or videos of her playing, she hopped on my arm and tried to eat the camera. So, none of them are very good, unfortunately.
Here’s the first one! This is a really fantastic custom toy that Grey Feather Toys made for Lola according to my specifications, and I am so pleased with it! They did an amazing job. Basically, I asked for a very noisy, fun toy that has plenty of washers and clangy parts that will allow Lola to make a racket– but, there can only be chain at the top (where it’s not really going to get played hard with at all), ALL o-rings had to be welded, and it had to be all stainless steel (no plastics). It’s perfect! The quality is fantastic, it is very, very safe, and it sure is LOUD. I kept trying to get a video of Lola playing with it (I can hear her in every room when she is), but every time I came by with the camera, she stopped. I have about 6 videos of her sitting next to it looking at me funnily. Not very helpful.
My next commission for Grey Feather Toys was a super comfortable cotton rope ring swing. They do actually make these normally so it’s not really custom, but this one is just a different size than what’s listed as available on the site. Anyway, I wanted that characteristic extremely tight cotton weave that I’ve written about, only very, very hard and thick plastic beads for the decoration (Lola can now snap through the thin handle part of the largest size acrylic pacifiers), and simply a welded o-ring at the top. Again, another perfect job and Lola totally loves her new, comfy swing! The cotton used is a very tight weave and it is wound even more tightly around the stainless steel interior.
The cotton rope perch isn’t new, but I’d never posted photos of Lola on it, so here it is. I’m glad I decided to attach one side to the cage wall and one side to the ceiling because she is really having a blast using it as a climbing and scratching and chewing pole! It was actually kind of a mistake or a last resort. I ‘d tried it in a few different locations and wasn’t happy with any of them, and of course the big old door really gets in the way, so I finally decided to put it in the ceiling. I’m very happy with its configuration and it seems like she is too!
Here’s another one of the new items– and I’ll bet it had you fooled! It looks like a cholla perch, but it’s actually a pedicure perch! I’ve written before about my troubles with finding pedicure perches that didn’t look like brightly colored non-parrot toys, to put it lightly, and then of course there’s the fact that none of them come with stainless steel hardware. I had been using those bamboo ones but am not very pleased with how quickly they are deteriorating. As soon as I run them under water to be cleaned, the sand just falls off. And I’m not talking about a small amount of sand coming loose, but rather, entire areas just completely coming off and leaving only the smooth bamboo surface. It doesn’t happen when Lola scratches her beak against it at all, but as soon as it hits water, it’s useless. What’s left is just the non-grooming bamboo perch itself that is really too smooth for Lola to be able to get a good grip on it. Of course I still have the Safety Pumice Perches, but again, they look a bit conspicuous in the cage for me.
Well, I’ve recently been seeing a new type of pedicure perch popping up on a few sites that intrigued me first and foremost because it wasn’t in some tropical fruit punch color. It actually looked just like a normal cholla branch. I found out that they are part of two new lines of pedicure perches called the Beach Sands and Desert Sands grooming perches by Polly’s Pet Products. The difference between the two lines is that the Beach Sands has a finer type of sand used. I took a risk and hunted a few of these Beach Sands ones down.
I am usually not a huge fan of pedicure perches that are rough all over, but these Beach Sands perches could really change my mind. The sand is very, very fine and really doesn’t feel overly abrasive to the touch. I also really like that it has the cholla-style holes throughout to make it more comfortable and to offer some variation. Pleased with them, I had a handy friend change out the hardware to stainless steel for me, and I’m loving these perches! Lola seems to like them as well. I don’t have it placed too high up so that she doesn’t sit on it too often, but it is near her palm nut bowl so she will get some good use out of it. I’m wondering just how much nail trimming it will do since it feels surprisingly comfortable to me, but I’ll be able to report on that later.
Anyway, that should explain all of the new goodies in Lola’s cage! I’m very happy with these purchases and am hoping that they serve Lola well.
May 27, 2011 § 1 Comment
I wanted to add in my new Oliver’s Garden goodies (as well as some other new goodies), so I decided to redecorate Lola’s cage today! I have to say, although I do feel like the expert at great budgie setups now, redecorating Lola’s cage has always boggled my mind. I don’t think I’ve ever had a cage setup for her that I loved 100%. I find it much more difficult to redecorate for her, and especially to make accurate calculations on proper placement of perches, toys, and bowls to avoid being soiled. That said, I do think that this one is actually pretty good for once! I’ll see how it goes in the next few days and tweak accordingly.
There it is! I don’t have terribly many “rules” about cage setup really. The “ingredients” change every time. My main concerns are safety, using mostly natural wood perches with a variety of diameters and textures, including one roosting perch that must be double-bolted for security, and keeping those food and water bowls clean. To suit Lola’s needs and play habits in particular, I also like to have a variety of toys including destructible, noisy, and foraging-type, and at least one swing. The last requirement for Lola because she is a crazy and destructive bird, but really because I am also very paranoid, is that there cannot be any non-stainless steel metal. All toys, food bowls, and even the bolt and wing nut on all perches have to be stainless steel.
Here’s the right side. The perches include one of the very beautiful Grey Feather Toys custom rope perches, a sandblasted manzanita corner perch, a ribbonwood perch, and a really awesome and actually very safe, non-abrasive pedicure perch made to look like a cholla perch (I’ll post a separate entry on this– I adore this perch!). The toys include a stainless steel “MegaFone,” my lovely new Oliver’s Garden “Spike” toy, a super cool custom stainless steel toy (I’ll also post a separate entry on this– another cool one), and an acrylic treasure chest toy.
Here’s the left side. Perches include Lola’s double-bolted roosting perch, the adorable new platform perch, a wonderful barky willow perch, and you can’t see it in the photo, but also one Cajeput perch. There’s also a lovely cotton swing, a home-made wood toy, an elephant foraging toy, and a stainless steel side-mounted pail for foot toys.
By the way, I got several requests for photos of Lola on the platform perch and her reaction to it. At first, she thought it was some sort of alien life form coming to eat her, naturally, but as soon as I put an almond on it she decided it was okay by her! Now she just loves it! She is really, really enticed by those beads and has spent a lot of time trying to wiggle them out, but they aren’t budging. She’s quite bothered. I think this will keep her entertained for a good, long while!
So there it is, Lola’s brand new cage setup including all of her lovely new perches and toys! I’m very pleased with it for once and am hoping that she is too. Time will tell!
May 25, 2011 § 7 Comments
I’m completely tickled by
my Lola’s new Oliver’s Garden goodies!! They are beyond adorable. I’m obsessed. This was an uncharacteristically small order for me, as I am attempting to be more modest as of late, and I only ordered two things– but they are making me positively giddy! They’re being cleaned and whatnot right now, but I just can’t wait to give these to Lola. I think they will both be big hits.
The first is a BEAUTIFUL platform perch. It is a beautiful, big slice of natural wood, perfectly sanded and smooth. I really like that it is super lightweight as well. I have some fantastic flagstone platform perches, but they make me a little bit nervous with how heavy they are. Best of all, it comes with five fun beads built into the perch as toys!! I know this will keep Lola completely enthralled!! I usually don’t give her plastics, but since these are huge, very hard plastic beads that she won’t be able to get her beak around to try to destroy anyway, I think she will love playing with and spinning these. I can’t wait to put this in her cage and see how she likes it. I think I will rearrange her whole cage to add it in this weekend!
I can’t get over this one… the “Spike” toy. It is so adorable. I ordered it undyed so that I could use it as an in cage toy for Lola — it is loaded with tons of parts and textures! Maybe this just makes me look bad… since it’s proof that un-dyed toys don’t have to look as ugly as mine do. Oh well. There’s something about the pine that Oliver’s Garden uses. It’s incredibly fragrant. Lola isn’t a big pine girl because she’s a spoiled, picky little thing, but she does actually really like the pine from Oliver’s Garden. I am so enamored with this toy and I hope she will be too! I think that if it goes over well I will have to order’s Spike’s girlfriend, the “Sassy” toy, and I’m really considering one of those hilarious U Crabby? toys as well.
I truly can’t say enough good things about Oliver’s Garden. They make really wonderful toys with a commitment to safety– not only in the toy parts they use but also in their incredible construction as well as the bird-free environment they’re made in. They also have amazing customer service and are willing to deal with total pain in the bum customers like me. And finally… their products are just so PRETTY, unique, and whimsical! Their toys really, truly stand out among others. Even my non-parrot friends that visit always notice them and comment on them. I love their toys!
May 24, 2011 § 2 Comments
I have recently been raving about how much I love using slim natural paper cord for toy making. I had gotten a small sample of it in one of my recent orders and made a few foot toys, and I loved it– natural, safe, no threads, so easy on the hands to use, etc. But I take that last part back!! I had a toy making session using exclusively my slim paper cord, and my hands were absolutely aching by the end of it! I had one hundred feet to use and thought it would go quickly… was I ever wrong. The hundred feet of rope made me exactly three toys, and I honestly thought my fingers were going to fall off afterward.
The toys I made with it, as per usual, aren’t pretty, but they’ll keep little Lola busy. There are two cool things about the rope: first, it bends in crazy ways rather than just hanging downward, so the toys turn out extra voluminous! Second, at the end, rather than simply cutting it loose, you can unwind the paper cord and fan it out, so that it becomes a shreddable toy as well. I’d imagine it’d also help to keep those mechanical parrots from untying all of their toys.
This rope really is excellent– completely safe, no threads, super sturdy yet shreddable when unwound– I don’t think it gets much better. The thin cord fits through even small, 5/8″ beads! But at least now I know better. I can’t make more than one toy at a time using it, lest I should lose functioning in my fingers. I’ll have to keep that in mind, as I have an entire spool on its way here…
Oh, and on an unrelated note, Lola pooped on me for the first time today. She was on my shoulder and I was standing up, and it dripped down my entire ensemble. I was wearing silk and cashmere.
May 22, 2011 § 4 Comments
Although Sabrina really became a part of my flock simply for Charles– to be his companion, and not to be my pet– I do find myself slowly coming to love her. This is big for me, because in general I really am not a fan of female budgies. They tend to be much nippier, more highly strung, more feisty, and more high maintenance– and boy does Sabrina fit the bill! She’s nothing like the calm, docile sweetheart that my Charles is. But she’s a cutie nonetheless. And I adore how she really relishes her toys! She is a mini destructo-bird and it does make me smile, no matter how much I suppress it.
This week I discovered a new toy interest for her: loofa! I’d seen it on toys before, but never thought to try it for whatever reason. Well, I had actually gotten this chunk as a free sample from one of my purchase from Things for Wings, so I wedged it onto a knobby part of one of the grapevine perches. Sure enough, Sabrina came by and started to rip it up! I was pretty pleased. I purchased a few custom toys for her with adorable loofa parts that should be here next week. I can’t wait to see how she likes them!
In other news, I’ve been having to travel a lot on weekends, but finally I think I’m done, at least for a short while. It’s tough being gone from the flock, even for a few days. This weekend they seem to have been extra kind, though, and it isn’t nearly as messy and chaotic here as it has been in the past. I am also pleased to report that Sabrina finally has one flight feather coming in on each side! She got a horrible, horrible clip as a baby and she just drops to the ground when she tries to fly. I can’t wait for her flights to grow back in. Not terribly much else is going on here. I do believe I have a new cage for the budgies in the works, so that’s exciting, but it won’t be done for a few months.
May 19, 2011 § 6 Comments
I see papayas at the grocery store year-round, but I’ve never actually purchased one simply because I didn’t know how. I had never looked up how to find a ripe or tasty papaya, so I always passed. Plus, they seemed awfully large for just me and Lola (the budgies aren’t big on fruit). This week, however, there were no good looking mangoes, which are Lola’s favorite, so I decided to take a risk and buy a papaya. I literally just picked one up and put it in my cart since I didn’t know how to identify a good one anyway. When I got home, I looked up how to tell if they are ripe or not and I guess I got lucky! Mine was perfectly ripe and ready to be eaten! I sliced it open, cut it up, put some in a bowl and the rest in the fridge and handed the bowl over to Lola to let her be the judge.
She absolutely loved it!! I actually think she liked it even more than her beloved mangoes!! I gave her a big bowl full thinking there was no way she’d get through it all but much to my surprise, she actually chewed up pretty much every single piece, as well as the tasty seeds. Papaya was a HUGE hit! I guess I’ll be adding it to my weekly grocery list!
On the topic of food, I’ve been thinking a lot about food presentation lately. I very often read on websites, forums, books, etc. about people’s mash recipes, which are very often very nutritionally diverse mixtures that are either chopped very finely together or even put in the food processor to be blended together. The theory behind this is that all of the pieces will be so tiny that parrots can’t simply pick out the bits that they want, but rather will end up eating a very nutritional and healthy meal. I too believed in this and Lola’s normal morning meals used to be made up of sprouted seeds and legumes along with leafy greens and vegetables, all very finely chopped and mixed together.
I was recently chatting with a friend, however, who has been doing some research into various breeders recently and asking them about what kinds of diets they feed their baby birds. She is looking into a species that is well known for being a particularly picky eater. She made an incredibly interesting point: she mentioned that she was looking specifically for a breeder that does not make a mash and throw it all in the food processor, because babies raised on blended mixes will not learn to enjoy and savor different textures, tastes, and colors. She wanted a breeder that offered fruit and veggies in their actual form and weaned his or her babies onto well-rounded diets of real veggies, not blended mashes. I found this point fascinating and I can’t believe I had never considered it before!
Thinking about my experience with Lola in particular, she really does LOVE veggies and savor them the most when I present them to her in larger chunks and skewered form, rather than chopped up into her mash. She often leaves a lot of mash uneaten, but whenever I skewer her veggies, she will actually eat the majority of them, and play with and destroy the rest. This week, rather than her normal finely chopped sprout and veggie mix, I’ve been giving her non-chopped sprouts and chunkier fruits and veggies, and she has actually been eating more, and eating each ingredient as well.
I’m glad that my friend pointed this out to me as I think that Lola seems to enjoy her food more now, as she can truly enjoy the individual tastes, textures, and colors. Food presentation is very important to me as I think it is my job as Lola’s “mom” to make her interesting, delicious, and varied meals. It’s no wonder many parrots are “picky” eaters when they are served the same thing, every single day. This is one of the reasons why I don’t make large batches of mash or cooked food and freeze them. Since it is impossible for me to replicate her natural diet in the wild (yellowwood fruits), I like to offer Lola as much variation as possible.
I have also been much more cognizant, in recent months, of adhering to specific palettes for her meals. I used to make a big mash full of various ingredients: leafy greens, various veggies, berries, tropical fruits, sprouted seeds and legumes, etc. all mixed together. It wasn’t until a friend of mine noted that the combination of chard with strawberries and sweet potato and mango didn’t sound very appealing that I even gave it thought. I tasted it, and, well, he was right. I do now make an effort to make tastier dishes with complimentary fruits or veggies as well. For example, this morning Lola had a berry supreme and papaya breakfast (fresh sprouts with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and papaya), a leafy green and veggie skewer snack, and a different palette for dinner altogether. Tomorrow’s breakfast will still have papaya, but I am thinking it’ll be more tropical instead and maybe contain banana, coconut, pineapple, and perhaps some apple. Or maybe I’ll do more of a papaya “salad” with some leafy greens and other ingredients. Who knows?