An Antipodean Parcel

February 28, 2012 § 3 Comments

We received a wonderful parcel all the way from our friends in Australia this week!!  We were so pleased and grateful for the lovely surprise.  The box contained two gorgeous, all natural toys from a fantastic Australian bird toy company called GePaSo.  I’ve seen their products before and had always been extremely intrigued: not only do they focus on beautiful, un-dyed toys made with barky, native woods and other natural products, but they actually make a commitment to using 100% stainless steel metals on all of their toys! It’s so rare that a company will do this and it always immediately gains my respect and attention.  Being in Australia, however, I had never ordered from them because of the high shipping fees and the time it would take to receive an order.  Thus, this parcel was most appreciated, and I’m sure that Lola will agree.

lovely toys from Australia

the Sputnik toy

The first toy, called the Sputnik toy, is such a cool and beak-tempting design.  On a vertical wood toy base are four “arms,” at the ends of which are two very chunky and barky wood rounds with smaller wooden beads snugly fit inside.  I just know that Lola is going to go crazy trying to extract these little beads from within.

the Bead, Biscuit, and Bell toy

The second toy is an adorable design that also combines wonderful, barky wood chews that will keep Lola’s big beak busy with smaller wooden beads.  At the bottom is a stainless steel bell for some noisy fun as well.

We are so grateful for this wonderful surprise and I know Lola will have a splendid time destroying them promptly!  These toys are excellent quality.  I strongly recommend my Australian friends look into this company as I would definitely be a regular customer of theirs if I were in the country.  They use a number of native plants and woods and have some of the coolest looking natural toys I’ve seen on the market.  For anybody elsewhere in the world, they do ship internationally for those willing to cover the cost of shipping as well.

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My First Diffusing Experience

February 24, 2012 § 5 Comments

… was nothing short of surreal.  I can’t even begin to describe how sublime an experience it was.  It was like nothing else. Let’s back up.  Yesterday I received all my wonderful essential oil equipment and couldn’t have been more excited.  I mentioned in this post why I’m interested in diffusing (please read it if you are considering using essential oils; there are many safety precautions to take!), but it was much more theoretical and only discussed the why and the what.  In this post, I aim to address the how: I’ve read so much fantastic information about why essential oils are great and what they can do to help our parrots and ourselves, but I’ve found considerably less concrete advice on what exactly to do when it comes to diffusing.  Which diffuser?  Which oils or blends?  How much?  How long?  How often?  It’s all of these little things that are so vitally important that I hope to address here and in future posts.  That said, I am by no means an expert; quite the contrary!  I hope that anybody reading this will also do their own research and decide what is best for their own flock.

my ultrasonic, water-based diffuser

I’ll start with diffusers.  There are several different kinds, but at the recommendation of Dr. Shelton and other essential oil (EO) users, the best kinds to use with parrots in particular are water-based and not air-based diffusers.  Air-based diffusers release the EOs directly into the air in a more potent concentration, whereas water-based diffusers dilute the EOs, which in my opinion is probably particularly important in the beginning.  When you are just starting out with EOs, it is important to monitor your parrots very carefully for any discomfort or unusual behavior and reactions.  (If you notice any discomfort or unusual behavior or reactions, it is important to stop diffusing immediately and ventilate the area.)  It is also important to make sure that the diffuser you choose does not heat the EOs at all, as this can damage their healing properties and benefits. Young Living actually sells various diffusers on their site, but Dr. Shelton and many other people I consulted in my research highly recommended a different ultrasonic diffuser by Plant Extracts International.  This diffuser is not only water-based but it also has three different volume settings that allow you to control the output (which, again, is so important in the beginning: I started out at low) and it is virtually silent.  It also has colored lights which can be turned off if desired. I wasn’t crazy about the looks of this diffuser because it looks like a spaceship or a crock pot, and there’s one Young Living diffuser in particular that is far more aesthetically pleasing, but I was actually pleasantly surprised by it when it arrived in the mail.  The photo doesn’t really show this quite well, but it’s very compact!  I thought it was going to be rather large (I really was thinking crock pot), but it’s a very small and pleasant size that isn’t imposing in a room by any means. Once you have your diffuser, you need your oils.  Again, as I covered in my last post, you absolutely cannot purchase any old EOs and use them in your diffusers.  Poor quality EOs can actually be deadly to birds, so please be very careful.  In my research, Young Living essential oils are the absolute safest to use around parrots.  But, purchasing them isn’t as easy as it seems.  Young Living works through distributors rather than directly to customers.  Thus, you can either choose to purchase through somebody you know who has an account with Young Living, or you can enroll with Young Living yourself. As much as I would love for you all to purchase through me so that I could make money off of your purchases, that simply wouldn’t be fair.  I strongly recommend that anybody interested in EOs enroll with Young Living as an independent distributor, as I have.  At first I absolutely did not want the responsibility of being a “distributor,” but it’s really far less complicated than it seems.  All that being a distributor means is that you purchase an enrollment kit (which can be as little as $40), and then as long as you spend $50 per year (which trust me, you will), you get wholesale prices on all Young Living products.  Wholesale prices are a whopping 24% off, so you’ll earn your money back very quickly, plus the $40 kit comes with two YLEOs and a $40 coupon for a diffuser (among other things).  To be honest, I’m not sure why anybody wouldn’t become a distributor!  You have no obligation to sell whatsoever (as I’ve chosen not to sell).  To enroll, however, you do need a member referral number.  You can use mine, which is 1304850.  As far as I understand I don’t think I receive anything for referring people but I will obviously disclose if I do.  (I hope I’ve gotten across the message, however, that I’m not in this for any sort of compensation.)

the Young Living essential oils I chose to start out with

So, once you enroll, you must choose which oils to start out with, unless you have a solid four figures to drop on a full set of all of the oils.  I’m going to assume that most of us don’t and have to be a little bit more choosy.  As you can see from the photo above, I purchased the two EOs that came with my $40 enrollment kit: Lavender and Peppermint, along with five other EOs: one single oil, Copaiba; and four blends of oils, Joy, Peace & Calming, Thieves, and Valor.  I’ll briefly outline why I chose each one.

  • Copaiba is an excellent anti-inflammatory.  I’ve read about it used to prevent swelling and pain, and used with tumors.  According to Young Living, it also aids in digestion and supports the body’s response to injury and irritation.
  • Joy, as its name implies, is an uplifting blend that raises mood.  It is said to help shake grief and depression and can also be worn as a perfume.  It has a lovely scent and I’d read so many people raving about it that I simply had to try it.
  • Peace & Calming is another very uplifting blend, but it is more targeted towards promoting relaxation and providing a sense of calm.  It supports emotional well-being and can help to lift tension and anxiety.  It also helps promote restful sleep.  I immediately thought of Sabrina when I read about this blend.  Her feisty spirit could use some peace and calming!
  • Thieves was probably the most highly touted of all of the EOs I read about.  It has some incredible properties, according to some reports, including that it may be antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiviral, etc.  It also supports the immune system and general good health.  Many people swear by it and use it to clean cages, carpets, dishes, etc.
  • Valor was not one that immediately jumped out at me as something I needed among my flock, but again, I had read so many positive reviews of the effects of valor that I was swayed.  Valor is said to help energy alignment in the body to increase feelings of strength, courage, and self-esteem.  It enhances one’s internal resources and has helped with many nervous birds.

There are many, many other great oils to use.  Two others that come highly touted are orange and lemon, which are actually quite inexpensive, but I didn’t want to go too overboard.  Eventually, depending on how these work out for us, I hope to purchase those, as well as other very popular ones such as Trauma Life, Purification, ImmuPower, PanAway, Geranium, and others. Once you have your oils and you have your diffuser, you can finally get started!  I chose to begin with Joy, simply because I’d heard so many positive reviews of it and I figured all of our moods could use some uplifting after Sabrina’s scary episode earlier this week.  It is very important to start slowly and carefully with EOs.  Once you fill your diffuser with one cup of distilled or purified bottled water and a few drops of your chosen oil, you should absolutely be present in the room and very carefully watching and observing your parrots.  I chose to diffuse Joy at the lowest volume for only five minutes about three to five feet away from my birds. It’s difficult to describe the immediate calming effects Joy had on my budgies.  Anybody that has a pair or more knows what they are like: they are incredibly active, busy, pleasantly noisy little birds.  Sabrina in particular is the feistiest little budgie I have ever seen.  They are always hopping from perch to perch, playing with this toy and that, never sitting still.  As soon as I turned on the diffuser– which they were oddly not afraid of at all (they are typically quite fearful of foreign objects)– they both propped themselves up on their perches and were transfixed by the diffuser.  They became so utterly calm.  Then, the weirdest thing happened: they both started to look up, as if looking at the sky, and just had the absolute most peaceful look on their faces that I have ever seen.  Seriously.  It was beyond bizarre.  They aren’t even that peaceful when they are sleeping.  Sabrina tucked one of her little footsies up and just looked like she was in Heaven.  Charles began preening away.  They just seemed so happy! As soon as I turned it off after our short five minute session, the both of them came to the front of the cage and just stared at me and the diffuser, as if to say, “Why did you turn it off?!”  Lola, who is always a zen bird, didn’t have any immediately noticeable changes, but she seemed pleasantly un-phased by the new, uplifting scent in the room.  I’m wondering if she will respond to other oils differently. Honestly, I didn’t think that diffusing would have such immediate effects, but I have never seen my two little ones act like that. In any case, after diffusing, I had a minor freak out when I realized I had no idea what to do with the left over water and oil mixture left in my diffuser and I called a friend of mine who so graciously answered my panicked questions.  (I was worried that I left it in the diffuser in the same room, it’d give them a sensory overload.)  So for anybody new to this as I am, you can leave the oil mixture in your diffuser and save it for next time.  As long as you can still smell the scent of the oil the next time you diffuse, it will have its beneficial effects.  Eventually, the quality will degrade, at which point you can dispose of any leftover if you have yet to already diffuse it all.  (It is, however, important to clean your diffuser with mild soap and water at least once a month.) From here on out I will continue our brief diffusing sessions, adding five minutes every time, so today will be ten minutes.  As long as all goes well, tomorrow will be fifteen.  From what I’ve read, it is generally considered safe to eventually build up to having three 15-30 minute diffusing sessions for five straight days, then two days off; or three straight days with one day off. That’s all for today, but hopefully I will be able to continue writing about our experiences diffusing with more practical advice for fellow parrot owners.  But again, please be sure to do your own research and to understand all of the benefits and risks involved.  I am by no means an expert and I am simply synthesizing the advice and experience of others, and very much learning as I go.

Essential Oils and Parrots

February 22, 2012 § 22 Comments

In the past several months I’d been slowly hearing and reading about more and more people touting the health benefits and healing properties of essential oils for their parrots.  My gut reaction was: no!  Anything scented is something that I don’t want near my parrots at all, ever.  I’m pretty extreme in that regard: not only have I ruled out air fresheners, candles, incense, scented sprays, and similar products in my home, but I myself no longer wear perfume or scented cosmetic products either.  But when I’d read that a holistic avian veterinarian also promoted the use of essential oils along with some of my most trusted and knowledgeable parrot owning friends, I decided to do some more research.

What I learned was very fascinating.  Yes, it’s true– in general, most scented items like the ones listed above are indeed harmful for our birds.  But, some (very few actually) extremely high quality and high grade essential oils can actually be incredibly beneficial.  I’ve learned so much over the past few months that it’s difficult to compile it all; in writing this post, I changed my “starting point” three times.  But finally I’ve chosen somewhere to start: at the beginning, with the essential oils themselves.

What exactly are essential oils?  At their most basic, they are aromatic, volatile liquids found in plants, and as their name suggests, they are vital for a plant to grow and live.  One website calls them “living energy” and a friend of mine describes them as the life blood of a plant: just like we wouldn’t survive if we didn’t have blood, a plant wouldn’t survive without its essential oils.  They support various life processes and regulate plant functions.  Different oils have many different properties, from healing to purifying to protecting.  Many are antibacterial and antifungal.  Research shows that they may have been used as early as 4,500 BC, and the Ancient Egyptians used them for treating illnesses as well as for religious ceremonies and rituals.

They sound pretty incredible– but there is one big caveat.  Essential oils come in many different grades, and can be easily adulterated with different chemical and synthetic additives in order to make them cheaper to produce for companies.  These essential oils are the reason why the vast majority of parrot owners have always been told that essential oils are a big no-no: these essential oils are actually harmful and toxic to parrots.  Over 90% of essential oils on the market are not of therapeutic grade quality, and even of those that are therapeutic grade, there are differing levels of quality.  This is why it is incredibly important only to buy certain brands of essential oils.

In my research, only two companies are producing oils that are therapeutic grade and high enough quality (with the testing to prove it) to use around parrots.  The most highly recommended one that I have come across is Young Living, who create pure, unadulterated, therapeutic grade essential oils.  They begin with the soil: their plants are only grown on virgin land that has never been treated with pesticides or other harsh chemicals.  Once plants are harvested, they are distilled using a gentle steam-extraction technique that leaves their chemical composition and healing properties in tact.  Every single batch of oils produced is then completely analyzed for purity before being sold, ensuring the highest possible quality.  And unlike any other company, their spectrometry testing is actually available for each oil.  Many big believers and users of essential oils swear by Young Living and only use their oils, exclusively.

But why use them in the first place?  I don’t normally need to “heal” anything in my flock, since (knock on wood) we are lucky enough to be in good health.  (Ironically, we had an emergency situation with Sabrina this week, but the vet has been taking great care of her.  Otherwise, we’ve all been in great health as of late.)  For a few months I wasn’t interested in essential oils, simply because I thought they were more medicinal than anything else.  But when I began reading several reports of essential oils not only healing birds but helping birds’ moods and behavior and hormones, I became fascinated.  I’ve read testimonials of essential oils helping to calm hormonal birds, helping birds overcome the loss of mate or a friend, helping to increase birds’ appetites, helping to reduce screaming, and more.  Even more alluring to me were the many reports I’d read that essential oils also helped the parrot owners themselves: they felt less stress, more calm, more happy, and more at peace when using certain essential oils.  Parrot owners could also safely wear “perfumes” again in the form of essential oils.  But perhaps the most interesting facet of my research on essential oils was that almost all of these reported changes were instant: I saw many people purchase their diffusers and oils and report positive experiences within days!

After several months of deliberation and discussion with many essential oil users (thank you to all of you who answered my barrages of questions!) and essential oil producers, I finally decided that we would also try diffusing and using essential oils.  Although we are all healthy, I would love to see if perhaps some oil blends like Peace & Calming can help to calm down Sabrina a bit, or perhaps encourage her to get along with Charles a bit better.  I’m also interested in Thieves, which many swear by for its cleansing abilities as well as its immune system support.  It’s supposedly an all natural antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial essential oil that is 100% safe and non-toxic to use around birds.  I finally took the plunge and purchased a diffuser, a model recommended by a holistic vet, along with a few oils to begin with.

I’m taking things very slowly at first while I am still getting started, but hopefully I will have more to report soon.  My diffuser should arrive here on Thursday, and my fancy shmancy oils should be here soon after.  Once those arrive, I’ll post more about how to choose a diffuser and some benefits of different oils and oil blends.  This isn’t an inexpensive investment, but I truly believe that the rewards will be great.

For anybody interested in using essential oils with their parrots, don’t take my word for it: visit Dr. Melissa Shelton’s website on essential oils and animals, or visit the excellent Essential Bird group website.  Read more about Young Living Essential Oils in particular or to get started.  (If you do decide to get started, let me know if you need a referral number as they work through distributors and referrals.)  A little research never hurt!

Spoiling the Littles

February 19, 2012 § 7 Comments

As per usual, Danita from Things for Wings has done it again!  Sabrina has been gradually plowing through all of the little bird toys we have here, so I’m replenishing this month.  But buying quality toys for little birds isn’t actually that easy.  For one, my two can be very fearful, so size is a top concern: anything bigger than they are is generally a no.  Other concerns are materials: I use strictly stainless steel metals and I avoid balsa wood, two restrictions that rule out the vast majority of small bird toys on the market.  Thus, purchasing custom toys is always a very appealing option, and nobody does custom better than Danita.  I simply tell her a few “ingredients” and overall dimensions, and she whips up the most beautiful concoctions.

toys

toys for the littles

Here’s the entire collection of the little bird toys.  I’ll go through them in groups…

preening toys

Here are the preening toys, or any toys with lots of fluffy supreme cotton rope.  I just love them!!  Two of them are on animal-shaped leather bases, a bear and a horse, and they have lovely little beads and baubles on top.  On the top right is based on little vine balls with lots of beads and plastic chain to beak.  So cute!

a close-up of one of the preening toys

My absolute favorite of the preening toys, however, is this little gem.  Based on two lovely pine wood slickety sticks, it is loaded with pacifiers of all colors and some soft cotton rope as well.  I’m going to have a very hard time choosing who gets this one!

toys with mixed textures and colors

The next group of toys have a lovely mixture of natural bases and materials with colorful, beak-able beads.  The one on top is actually the custom toy I purchased for Charles a few months ago, but it turned out so cute that it became a regular!  Charles’s version is blue, so I purchased a purple one for Sabrina.  On the left is an adorable toy that combines willow wood, a rolled up shreddable paper … thing?, seagrass, and a few beads.  It’s actually a foot toy that I’ll be giving to the budgies.  On the right is another custom toy based on a small round of willow wood with lots of cute beads and heavy hemp rope.

two hanging basket toys

Next up are two adorable little hanging baskets, one for each!!  The seagrass one has purple accents for Sabrina and the coconut one has blue and green for Charles.

two natural toys

Finally, there are two natural toys.  Both are based on beautiful and fragrant eucalyptus wood, whichI’d read budgies like in particular, so I asked Danita to use little eucalyptus wood trunks as the bases.  They combine the wood with loofah, seagrass, shredders, and vine stars to make these enriching combinations of textures.

I’m so happy with this bounty of toys!  Danita’s creativity and imagination just astound me.  She always comes up with the most adorable and innovative designs; they never look tired or boring.  I’m glad to know that the budgies have a lot of extra toys waiting for them.  I brought a lot of toys over to my parents’ house for their spare cages and I keep forgetting that we have less toys here than I thought.

Lola's special toys and treats

Of course, I couldn’t leave Lola out of the fun either.  She also received three lovely custom toys and a few shreddable foraging boxes to add to her skewers.  The first toy in the bottom left is a very cool horizontal toy that I’m going to put in her travel cage.  I like horizontal toys for the travel cage because they can be attached at both ends, and therefore don’t pose any risk because they don’t swing and can’t accidentally knock her off a perch or something on a bumpy ride.  This toy combines some great woods like apple, alder, dogwood, and possibly others, along with hard wood, vine balls, and pod cups.  The smaller toy in the upper middle of the photograph is an all-leather toy on a ocotillo base.  Lola is obsessed with chewing and snapping leather cords right now, so I think this toy will satisfy her quite a bit!

close-up of the coconut toy

Finally, there’s one more very cool toy on a coconut base strung on seagrass.  It combines different types of natural woods along with hardwood, coconut husk, and these neat pod things that Lola has never tried before.

Yay!!  Toy reserves have been replenished and I’m sure the budgies and Lola will be quite pleased to know it.  The budgies are extra lucky this month though and have a few other very exciting and big treasure troves of new toys coming their way as well.  Can’t wait for those to arrive soon!

Sun in February

February 17, 2012 § 4 Comments

We’ve had such an incredibly mild winter this year that I’ve actually been pretty consistently getting the flock outside for natural sunlight about once or twice a week.  It’s pretty incredibly considering that this time last year it was in the 20’s and 30’s, and two years ago we had “snowpocalypse” and schools and government jobs were shut down for nine straight days.  Sun in February!  I can’t believe it.

Lola catching some rays outside

Having read a few interesting studies about weaker bones and lower bone density of parrots who live in colder climates due to a lack of sunlight exposure, I am naturally very concerned with getting my parrots enough Vitamin D3.  I’m not a big believer in the ability of synthetic sources to provide adequate amounts of or even adequate quality Vitamin D3 (and all sources of Vitamin D3 in all of the current pellets on the market that I’ve seen are indeed synthetic supplements), so my only options are limited to a few natural food sources (egg yolks, for example, are one source) and natural sunlight.  (I am also not a big believer in full spectrum lighting having the ability to provide Vitamin D3 — I believe it is necessary, yes, but for completely different reasons.)  But most research shows that by far, natural sunlight is the very best source and most efficient source of Vitamin D3, so I prize any time I can get my parrots outside under the sun.  Lola and Sabrina actually adore it.  Charles couldn’t care less, but I drag him outside for his own good anyway.

On a related note, another great food source for Vitamin D3 is fatty fish, like salmon.  (Actually, it’s an exceedingly far richer source of it than egg yolks.)  As a vegetarian, salmon really never enters my household, but I was recently chatting with a very trusted parrot food expert and fellow bird owner and decided to purchase some sustainably wild caught salmon to bake or grill for my flock.  I think it will be an odd experience for me to be handling and cooking it, but the health of my birds is worth it.  I can’t count on mild winters every year, so I’d like to make sure that I have ways of getting them their vitamins through natural sources year round.

Lola finally checking out the bridge swing!

checking it out from all different angles

In other news, Lola has finally decided to stop completely ignoring the painstaking creation that my hands bled to beget!  (The budgies are still pretending it doesn’t exist.)  She humored me by playing on it for a good twenty minutes yesterday.  I felt relieved and vindicated.  I think she actually kind of liked it!

close-up of the foraging blocks

These photos are for Ming, who asked for close-ups of the foraging blocks.  There are two styles, weird trapezoids and triangles, and they have either a side foraging hole or a top foraging hole.  They’re made of white pine wood.  Hope this is what you were looking for!

DIY Bridge-Style Swing

February 14, 2012 § 6 Comments

I must admit that I am quite proud of this endeavor.  I’ve never been too much of a do-it-yourself-er, mainly because I don’t have the time to dedicate to it.  For example, this latest project has literally been in the works for months.  I posted about it in early November, and even back then I said that I’d been taking way too long in making it.  You might remember the huge bridge-style swing base that I had lying around, waiting to be turned into something amazing.

Lola and the bridge swing base

Well, it’s finally turned into that something amazing!  And I think that this has to be my greatest DIY project yet.  I’m really happy with the finished result.  All in all, it didn’t even take that long.  Putting the whole thing together took approximately two and a half hours in total, which was much less than I’d anticipated.  Working with the sisal rope, however, wasn’t exactly fun: my hands were literally bleeding by the end of it.  But hey, what we wouldn’t do to make our birds happy, right?

As I wrote in the previous post, this swing was inspired by the absolutely beautiful triangle, square, and bridge swings by Les Jouets Rosie, who make the most creative and gorgeous swings on the market.  All credit for design and idea goes to them; they are the original creators of these beautiful swings.  Mine is not even close to as aesthetically pleasing, but I’m proud to be able to say it was wrought by my own hands.  Their swings are so carefully made and so time-consuming that the company hasn’t been selling them for the past several months (maybe even year?) now, and I couldn’t get my hands on one anyway.  So I decided to attempt it myself, especially because there were a few things that I wanted to change about the swing anyway.  I have a strange aversion to dowels and absolutely hate them, so that was the first thing I wanted to get rid of.  To go along with the natural wood base, I also wanted it to be made entirely of natural wood toy parts.  Sure, I sacrificed a lot of the pretty factor, but I’m okay with the result.

step one: making the base more interesting

The very first step was to work with the base.  I added sisal rope in between the “rungs” of the bridge, along with some barky willow wood chunks, in order to provide some more enrichment at the ground level.  These strings also make the bridge a lot easier for my little budgies to navigate, since the rungs and each section are a bit too large for the budgies’ little feet.  I’ve left the center section empty for now, but I might add some strings to it later as well depending on how the birds take to them.

close-up of the sisal ropes

I even took the time to teach myself how to make these very fancy Flemish knots to make the swing more decorative and beautiful!

two strings packed with parts: half-way done!

Here’s the swing at the half-way point.  Step two was to start building up the supporting rope (or the suspension) of the bridge.  I decided on a combination of hardwood honeycomb beads, pine wood foraging blocks, cottonwood, willow, and birch coins, fragrant pine wood pieces, and elm and yucca wood sticks, all strung together on the sisal.

the finished product!

from another angle

And there it is!  I hung it up where the Roller Coaster swing used to be and attached the highway from the Crawler to the bridge.  I’ll probably hang a toy in the center eventually but I want to see how they navigate it first as is.  I’m pretty excited!  It combines a lot of irresistible chews with four foraging blocks as well.  I haven’t gotten a chance to let Lola or the budgies explore yet, but I’ll take some more photos when they do.  Yay!  I think I can safely say that this is my best project ever!

New Budgie Setups!

February 13, 2012 § 2 Comments

We’re still alive!  No reason for the hiatus really, just taking a break I guess.  Anyway, I recently gave the budgies’ home a makeover (I try to every few weeks or maybe two months at the most).  A lot of the beautiful perches I’ve been collecting have been put to good use.  I’m pretty happy with these setups and the budgies seem to be enjoying them as well.  I like the variety and they’ve actually both been using all levels of the cage too, which is always nice.  The photos actually show the setup before I made the final tweaks, so it looks slightly different from the earliest ones, but I took a few to show the changes I made below.  Here are the earlier ones.

the entire cage

There’s the entire view, which I think looks pretty good!  They both have a lot of different types of perches, swings, toys, and surfaces on their respective sides.  We’ll take a closer look now, starting with Sabrina’s side.

Sabrina's side

the top level of Sabrina's side

Here it is, except the bamboo safety pedicure perch right in front on the door is no longer there; I removed it and replaced it with a manu mineral perch.  (Photos of that are below).  On the top you see that there is her tire-style sleepy swing, of course, a boing, and a single ring swing, all from Grey Feather Toys.  Since they are most likely to roost at the top parts of the cage, I like to make sure that these perches are extra comfy.  She also has one of those great foraging toys and a nice noisy bell toy as well that she loves to ring while playing and swinging on her boing.

the middle level of Sabrina's side

Below the upper level, she has a pine wood platform perch, a cajeput perch, and a beautiful, curvy grapevine wood perch from Exotic Wood Dreams.  There’s a stainless steel water bowl and a food bowl that isn’t visible, along with toys made of shreddables, beads, fleece, and more.

the lower level of Sabrina's side

Down below, Sabrina has a purple safety pedicure perch, two beautiful sandblasted manzanita wood perches from Things for Wings, and another curvy grapevine wood perch as well that is in the door so it’s not visible in this view.  She has one more food or water bowl, and some great toys as well, including soft preening cotton, noisy toys, and beakable beads.

Charles's side

the top level of Charles's side

Here’s Charles’s side!  Up top he has his matching tire-style sleepy swing and boing, and then a supreme cotton rope fluffy swing that he can preen from Big Beaks Bird Toys.  He has some adorable toys too, including a fleece puff, a leather horse, a bunny with seagrass and beads, and a foraging block too.  Just below there you can see the multi-branch dragonwood perch from the Birdsafe Store, which Charles is just obsessed with.

the middle level and part of the front section of Charles's side

Here you can sort of see an absolutely gorgeous grapevine wood perch with a very neat configuration, a manu mineral perch, and a corner dragonwood perch as well.  Up top you’ll also see a pine wood platform perch that is on the “upper level.”  Three food bowls in total on his side as well, along with some great stainless steel toys and a beautiful shredder toy too.

the lower level of Charles's side

This photo actually shows a somewhat better view of the beautiful grapevine wood perch, but it doesn’t quite capture its beauty and its very unique design.  It’s really something.  Down below, there’s a sandblasted manzanita perch and a cajeput perch as well, along with a side-mounted MegaFone from Grey Feather Toys and a lovely shredder toy as well.

changes made to the cage setup

Finally, here are the changes made to the setup: they all happened to be in the front of the cage, on the door.  In this view, you can’t see where the divider falls, but basically right in the middle: so the small ribbonwood perch and the soapbox perch fall on Charles’s side, and the larger flat cajeput platform perch along with the manu mineral perch for Sabrina.  They both like to stand on these respective levels and make longing eyes at each other from across the acrylic divider, silly birds.  (Of course, when I let them play together, it’s instant chaos and aggression.)

the beautiful cage covers

Finally, I absolutely can’t get any flattering photos, unfortunately, but here are the beautiful cage covers!  These photos do not do them any justice at all whatsoever.  They are absolutely gorgeous and made from very heavy, high quality fabric, and are completely lined with a heavy sateen that keeps all the light out.  The seams are hidden and the workmanship is just incredible.  I love that the two fabrics are complementary but they aren’t match-y.  I am so pleased with them!  If you are interested in these beautiful covers please let me know and I will give you the email of the wonderful woman who makes them.  She does not have a site or anything; she is actually a custom curtain and window treatment maker, so she really does quite an excellent job with these.

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