More Natural Accessories

August 31, 2012 § 3 Comments

I’m a little bit behind on updates on Sabrina’s all natural habitat, but things are going well.  I’ve gotten a few really neat things and there are more on the way, but I’ll just post two orders for now.  These should make for some interesting perching solutions!

This first order is for three flat perches from Bird on the Rocks.  I’ve purchased their unique flagstone perches before, but have always felt iffy about using them because they are extremely heavy.  The owner, John, does go to great lengths to make them extra safe and sturdy– some of the larger perches will have four heavy duty stainless steel bolts!– but I’ve always been paranoid to begin with.  That said, however, I thought that some flagstone perches would really be nice touches to Sabrina’s habitat, and since I am doing away with all anything not natural, I thought they might be especially useful for some of their nail trimming properties.  John was very understanding of my worries and actually helped quell them by finding his absolute thinnest pieces of flagstone that would still hold bolts sturdily.  The pieces he picked are perfect!  I purchased one smaller one, and a long-ish ledge for Sabrina.  I also purchased a very neat sandblasted manzanita perch that is half-moon shaped on the underside.  Everything looks great and is so well made.

I also placed a small order with Make Your Own Bird Toys.  You might have noticed a relatively new toy on the market– a really neat “climbing wall” for the little guys.  I thought this was such a great idea, but it comes with a lot of different toys attached that have plastics and dyes and other things.  (It looks like a lot of fun for birds, but would defeat the “all natural” purpose for Sabrina.)  I was thinking of just purchasing it anyway and removing the attached toys, but when I went on the manufacturer’s toy part site, I realized that I could just buy the seagrass mat part separately!  So I purchased two and I could not believe how huge they are.  I put my iPhone on one of them for a size reference.  They’re massive!!  And they don’t even look as large in the photo as they do in real life.  They’re also surprisingly thick and heavy duty, which is great– Sabrina is quite a chewer, but I think it’ll take her a good, long while to make any substantial dent in this guy.  I’m thinking of maybe hanging one on the back wall of her cage as a kind of total surface jungle gym for her.  I was originally thinking of maybe putting some kind of climbing net in her cage, but I think this will be a nice alternative that’s probably a little bit safer than any kind of rope.  I’ll have to think about how to hang perches but I think the holes might be just big enough that I can wedge some in between.

Stay tuned for more updates!  I got some great perches from another store too…

On another note, today marks a month since Charles passed away.  Rest in peace, love.  Thinking of you always.

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In Gratitude and In Loving Memory

August 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

I always knew that I am blessed with such kind and generous friends, but this week I was truly taken aback by the extent of their thoughtfulness.  Two friends of mine were so sweet that they, despite only knowing of Charles via this blog or other internet forums, sent me incredibly beautiful keepsakes to commemorate his life.  I am so moved and so touched, not only by these precious gifts but also by their love for Charles, and for their true understanding of how wonderful a little soul he was.  I am most happy knowing that Charles was loved and appreciated not just by me but also by his few “fans” around the country (and the world!), and that during his short lifetime, I was able to share with you all how precious he was to me.  He really was an amazing bird.  So a very sincere and heartfelt thank you for these lovely gifts.

The first gift is a really beautiful glass and crystal pendant made by Mango Gyrl Designs.  It’s a really adorable photo of Charles looking particularly regal in one of his many swings… it makes me smile every time I see it.  Thus, I think that the inscription “Joy” is so very appropriate for this photo.  Aside from how nice the pendant itself it, I couldn’t believe the level of care and detail that went into the packaging.  The pendant was in a blue satchel which was protected with cotton and decorated with a ribbon, also reading “Joy,” then placed in a box with the photo of Charles on it as well.  The presentation was so lovely and as soon as I began unwrapping it and saw the box, I was so, so surprised and overjoyed (it was, obviously, a completely unexpected package).  Thank you so much to both Mango Gyrl Designs and the gifter!  I absolutely love it.

The second gift is an absolutely beautiful painting of Charles, recreated from perhaps my favorite photo of him alone (the ones of him and Theodore might not be a fair comparison since they have double the cuteness).  But the background was turned into a rainbow, signifying his passing… which I thought such a lovely way to commemorate him.  This painting, to me, really captures his true spirit.  Even in passing over the “Rainbow Bridge,” his expression is brave, docile, and steadfast.  Charles approached everything with maturity and equanimity no matter the task, be it nail clippings or vet visits or new, somewhat hyperactive cohabitants.  And, he looks as spiffy as ever, with his polka dotted collar perfectly in place.  I absolutely love this painting so very much– thank you!

Both of these gifts are so perfect and so thoughtful.  Thank you to my dear, dear friends.  My grief over Charles’s passing is lessened by my happiness that you two were able to “feel the love” as well.

The Operation Begins…

August 17, 2012 § 3 Comments

I’ve been a little slow to get started with this since I had to figure out what exactly to put in her cage and then where to get all of it, but one of the first things I did was to call up my good friend Donna at Exotic Wood Dreams and ask her for her expertise.  (You can go to her website for product information and photos, but you must call to place an order.  You cannot email or use the form on the site.)  Donna has created some really beautiful grapevine creations for us in the past, and I knew that she would be able to whip up something for Sabrina’s new natural environment.  As usual, she didn’t disappoint.  She crafted an absolutely beautiful swing (not quite a flyer; it was made for in cage use obviously) out of grapevine and sisal, completely with a coconut foraging cup.

Unfortunately, photos really don’t flatter how well positioned the branches are, but it really is a beauty.  It has an amazing spread of branches that really give her a lot of useful perching areas and space to roam.  It also has a really cool, knotted sisal rope connected at various areas for her to climb.

I’m not sure if the second angle helps at all, but Donna did an amazing job of making sure that there is a lot of usable space and that no branches are going to get totally soiled while she hangs out above them.  When I get it hanging in the cage, I’ll take better photos, and ones with Sabrina on them too, but naturally she’s terrified of the thing right now.  I’m slowly acclimated her to the idea of it invading her personal space.

Donna also thought that Sabrina might love a little tunnel in which to hide.  She has these fabulous grapevine wood tunnel pieces and made a side-mounted one for little Sabrina.  It’s too cute:

She was so thoughtful about it: she added these wooden spacers to the side to make sure that Sabrina couldn’t get stuck when it was mounted to the side of the cage.  There’s even a soft leather “roof” and a removable leather “rug” for her, along with lots of baubles of leather and wood toys to play with.  What’s even cuter, however, is the other end of the tunnel, which has little toys that come down the sides like the tasseled entrance to a fancy club house!

It’s so cute, tiny, and delicate in person, and I know Sabrina is absolutely going to love it.  The grapevine wood tunnel was her favorite part of the table top stand, so she’s definitely going to spend a lot of time playing in and around it.  I am aware that it can possibly cause nesting issues and will definitely work to prevent those, but I think that she will love this nonetheless.  It’s really well made (by request, Donna uses only stainless steel hardware) and has so many fun, different types of wood as well.

But she didn’t stop there!  Donna even included a whole bunch of different natural toys for Sabrina using all different types of textures included sisal, cotton, yucca, grapevine wood, cholla, leather, sandblasted manzanita, pine, and more.  The photograph only includes some of the wonderful toys she sent along.  In the center are a bunch of teeny tiny wood pieces as well, which will go into her foraging cup for her to play with as she enjoys.

Didn’t she do a great job?  I absolutely love this beautiful, new swing, the tunnel, and the toys, and I know Sabrina will too (eventually, when she’s feeling brave).  I’ll post photos of her with her goodies as soon as I can!

Operation All Natural

August 6, 2012 § 8 Comments

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about Sabrina lately and how I can keep her happy.  She and I don’t have the best relationship– she is not at all tame– and thus it’s difficult for me to be there for her.  She truly is a wild one, which got me to thinking that perhaps she’d really like a more wild, untamed setting in her cage.  A while back I found a fantastic video with an incredible all natural setup for several linnies.  You can view it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hlL169hnw8  (it’s not my video).  I really think Sabrina would absolutely love something like this.  Her favorite things to do are chew and destroy natural wood bark, as well as to shred naturals like palm and seagrass.  She also loves fresh wheatgrass and leafy greens to destroy, so I think I’m going to give it a try.

I’ve been brainstorming all different sorts of things to add with plenty of help from my friends over at Avian Avenue.  Some of the things I already have and some of I’ll need to purchase,  but here’s some of what I’ve come up with so far:

  • Plenty of all natural wood branches and perches in woods like grapevine, cageput, willow, cottonwood, sandblasted manzanita, ribbonwood, dragonwood, elm, eucalyptus, etc.
  • Platform perches in flagstone as well as wood like birch, pine, willow, cork bark, etc.
  • Possibly a cork bark round
  • Natural wood bridges/ladders from which she can swing and climb
  • A big grapevine wood swing with several branches to climb and play on
  • Wheatgrass, barley grass, and sunflower grass plants
  • Sisal or some other natural rope perches and boings and swings
  • A hanging coconut cup or swing
  • Lots of natural toys to shred and destroy

I think this really has potential to be an extra enriching environment.  I have been trying to think of some sort of miniature climbing net as well, and then I thought maybe one of those climbing/activity walls that are made of those seagrass mats would work for in the cage?  I could remove all of the toys that come with it and add some of my own.  Might be worth a shot.

Anyway, this is my latest project, and I’ll probably be working on it for a while, but I think it’s going to be good.  And more importantly, I think Sabrina will love it.

Charles’s Burial and Necropsy Results

August 2, 2012 § 13 Comments

Today I buried Charles in my parents’ yard next to his beloved Theodore.  He had a short but sweet ceremony.  Immediately after it was over, the sky opened up and wept for him, too.

As some may know, Charles had not quite been at 100% for quite some while, but he was very strong and very stable.  In the past week, however, his condition rapidly deteriorated and he began breathing extremely heavily for no apparent reason, eating less, and even once began making extremely disconcerting gurgling noises while I was clipping his nails (which he usually doesn’t mind at all).  I took him to one vet who thought that he either had an infection in his trachea or that he had a piece of food stuck in his trachea, either of which were not allowing him to breathe properly.  She wanted to sedate him and do surgery in order to either treat the infection or remove the blockage.  I was skeptical that he would survive sedation and surgery and decided to seek out a second opinion.

The second vet was unsure in her diagnosis but thought it could be a few different things, all of which were easily treat-able and could be done as preventative measures without ill effects, so we went ahead and tried a few.  He was a good sport about all of it, although he was breathing very heavily again.  That night, Charles actually seemed to be doing far better and his appetite was back.  The next morning, he was playing on his boing and suddenly began sneezing, squeaking, breathing heavily, and holding his wings far away from his body.  He looked as if he could barely perch and as I held out my hand, he shut his eyes and passed away in my palm.  It was all over in a matter of seconds.

That day I had a necropsy performed by the second vet to find out the cause of death.  She found an enlarged kidney mass (tumor) in him.  Charles had cancer.  Unlike most kidney tumors, which usually cause a leg to go limp and are sometimes detected earlier on by inability to perch, Charles’s tumor was pushing against his air sacs and preventing him from being able to breathe properly, which is not a typical symptom.  I never suspected cancer, although the placement of his tumor explained his heavy panting and struggles with breathing.

Thank you so much to everybody for your love and support.  It has been a very difficult week for me and Sabrina.  I never expected him to go so soon or so young.  He was my heart and soul and the light of my life.  I never knew I could love anybody as much as I loved Charles.  Charles, I wish I could have saved you.  I’m sorry I didn’t discover the problem until it was too late.  I hope your last days were not too painful.  I love you so, so much and I hope you are happy and safe with Theodore now.

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