November 27, 2014 § 1 Comment
Lola and I are wishing all of our American readers a very happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving! Lola has a lot to be thankful for and we are quite behind on posts. This one will be brief since there is lots of eating to be done, but Lola would like to give a big thank you to Big Beaks Bird Toys today! (It almost seems like their company was named for Lola, doesn’t it?)
A few months ago, we took advantage of one of their fantastic sales (definitely sign up for their newsletter). We chose two great toys: the Stuck on Balsa as well as the Nutrageous. For now, the Nutrageous is just a bit too challenging for Lola– those almonds are really stuffed in there!– but I’m hoping that one day she’ll feel brave and industrious and make her way through.
The Stuck on Balsa toy, on the other hand, is already a big hit. The lollipop sticks are really lodged into the balsa block, making the first one quite a challenge to extract. But Lola was up to it!
After testing out a few different angles…
… she achieved success! She’s since cleared all of the lollipop sticks (and ripped them to shreds) from one of the holes, and will be beginning another one promptly after our feast 🙂 Interestingly, the balsa used on this toy is the hardest balsa I’ve ever come across. Balsa from most other stores can be extremely easily punctured– even my finger nail can leave an indent– but this one is considerably harder. Definitely doesn’t approach the harness of pine or probably not even basswood, but at least it will take Lola more than two seconds to destroy.
Thanks again to Big Beaks from me and Lola both. And a very Happy Thanksgiving to all!
September 22, 2014 § 4 Comments
Fall is here… which means some of Lola’s very favorite produce is also in season: cranberries, pomegranates, and squash galore! I dropped by our wonderful local farmer’s market today to see what I could pick up. I grabbed a whole bunch of fresh, delicious fruits and veggies, but was also introduced to something new: a cheese pumpkin! One of the farmers described it as a little creamier than normal pumpkins, and recommended I try it since I really like butternut squash. (I didn’t mention it was for my parrot!) I picked up a miniature one to try.
He’s a cute little guy, isn’t he? I decided I’d roast him up and serve him to Lola for dinner. One of my favorite ways to serve mini pumpkins to her is as a bowl, stuffed with her nightly mash. (One of the many wonderful contributors to the forum Avian Avenue, Saroj, shared this awesome idea!) Lola absolutely loves it. I like to roast them, then scoop out some of the insides, and replace them with her dinner. Of course, I save the insides too and especially the seeds, as she loves eating those as well.
Tonight’s dinner was the Avian Organics Quick Serve, one of Lola’s very combinations. I added some fresh pomegranate seeds to the finished product, then put it all inside her little cheese pumpkin and into her bowl.
Do you think she liked it? I absolutely love watching her go after her dinner with gusto! She actually ate and destroyed a huge amount of the pumpkin, more so than usual. Of course there is some waste involved as she’d probably burst if she consumed the entire pumpkin, but I think the foraging, enrichment, and nutritional value are worth it. Pumpkins are extremely high in Vitamin A, and contain others like Vitamin E and B. Plus, if you scoop out a good amount of pumpkin to save for future meals, you can minimize waste. It’s such a fun and creative way to serve meals, and even my picky eater goes after this healthy treat quite zealously!
September 3, 2014 § Leave a comment
Installment three of spoiling Lola silly… you didn’t think we were over just yet, did you? This awesome bundle of fun comes from I Got a Woody Bird Toys, whose toys Lola just can’t get enough of! This time around, I decided to try out a whole bunch of brand new toys of theirs that Lola hasn’t seen before, but also stock up on all of her favorite skewer clusters. I love that they have so many toys that encourage some form of foraging as well as so many different types of toys.
For example, some of my favorite types of toys are side-mounted toys, but they aren’t nearly as common as hanging toys. I like side-mounted toys because they don’t have to be hung from the top of the cage or a horizontal bar; you can put them anywhere and exactly where you like. They also serve a wonderful purpose in travel cages. I don’t like to put any hanging toys in travel cages because with the stop and go motion in a car, it’s so easy for a hanging and swinging toy to suddenly become a danger or a hazard for a parrot, knocking him off the perch or even doing more harm than that. I Got a Woody has recently started creating a lovely collection of side-mounted toys, and some of them even come with the option of stainless steel hardware, which is my favorite type of side-mounted toy as it is the most secure.
Here’s a side view of the hardware in the first toy, the Devil’s Knot. This toy has a whole bunch of arms loaded with fun parts, but the base is half of a wooden chunk with stainless steel hardware. It’s such a great side-mounted toy that you can put anywhere in the cage. Lola is absolutely nuts about these mahogany toy parts, but there are very few toys that incorporate them. This one is in her cage and she’s already picked apart several of the mahogany pieces.
The second toy in the original picture above is another awesome side-mounted toy called the Tequila. This one is a perfect candidate for a travel cage, which is exactly where it will go. What I like is that there are no swinging arms or parts that might pose a danger in a moving vehicle, but there’s still tons of fun and foraging packed in.
Next up, I chose two new hanging toys for Lola, the Twisted Sister as well as the Lucinda. Below those are three of Lola’s favorite skewer clusters, which incorporate an awesome foraging foot toy as well as beads and bark. Lola is a huge fan of those already, but I know she’s going to love these two new toys as well. The Twisted Sister has tons of thin, chippable basswood slats that even have bark on them, and sandwiched between them are wonderful morsels of cork bark. What bird could resist so much bark and chipping fun?
I had to take a close up of the Lucinda to show you how much is packed in there. There’s cork bark, cork bark stuffed with beads, basswood stuffed with miniature pine cones, barky curly things, thin natural wood coins with bark, seagrass, and shreddable paper! This toy has so much fun stuff packed in plus so many little nooks and crannies hiding beads and mini pine cones– I can’t wait to give it to Lola. There’s so much going on here.
There’s no way I can name them all, but Lola also got a ton of different skewer cluster pieces and foot toys. They combine her precious mahogany, lots of tasty cork bark, some pine, some basswood, some more cork, some snappy beads, and probably more that I’m forgetting. On the bottom left are also some awesome basswood and cork pieces that the lovely ladies at I Got a Woody threw in as a gift.
They’re all awesome, but this is a new foot toy I was particularly excited about– the Vesta. It’s a piece of cork bark stuffed with more cork and then finished off with even more cork and wood beads on the end! If your birds like cork, I think this one is a must-have. Cork within cork surrounded by cork 🙂
Finally, I finished off the order with three HUMONGOUS foot toys! I knew they’d be big but I didn’t quite realize just what I was getting Lola into. I think they’re a bit too big for her to hold on her own, but I’ve put two in her foot toy pail and she seems to be enjoying them while the pail supports their hefty weight. In the future though, I think these foot toys belong in the talons of the big guys, like a big Greenwing or Hyacinth Macaw, or large Cockatoo.
All in all I don’t think we did too shabby. Lola is already enjoying several of these awesome toys. Since the ladies at I Got a Woody are so darned creative and always thinking up awesome new creations, I’m sure it won’t be long until we have an entire batch of more brand new toys to try out! Thanks ladies!
August 24, 2014 § 2 Comments
I had a few requests to see the Avian Stainless Do the Twist toy loaded up and actually in use, and I’ll be honest; I haven’t made any homemade toys in a long time– so this was the perfect opportunity. I decided to load it up with some good, all natural wood! I used a combination of small wood beads in three shapes: spools, round beads, and beehive beads, along with two awesome types of wood parts from Mother Pluckin’ Bird Toys: the avian tiny wafers and the avian small cork stuffers. They’re all strung together on thin leather cord.
Not too shabby, right? The toy has a total of four holes which is kind of the perfect number– four is not so many that your fingers are left tender and sore from having to tie quite so many knots, but it’s also enough that you can load the toy up with tons of fun parts. On the top and bottom hole, I only did one string of toys each, but on the middle two holes, I added double strands of toys for even more wood chipping activity. If you use thin enough cord, you can probably load 3 or maybe even 4 strands into each hole– and in that way, you can really make a huge toy!
So what did Lola think? She gives it two wings up! She immediately started chipping away. This base makes a big toy, but again, it’s not so heavy that I feel that it poses any sort of danger. She’s still working at it now! I went with an all wood iteration of this toy, but the possibilities are endless. And because it has four toy holes, there is tons of room for plenty of variety.
Seeing Lola going at the fully loaded toy reinforces that this is a great buy. I love that even after she destroys all of the toy parts, the base will be ready for for reinvention as a brand new toy. I definitely recommend it to anybody who likes to main their own toys. And because it’s made from high quality and safe stainless steel, it’s going to last a long, long time. Even better!
August 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
Here comes part two of spoiling Lola silly! This package of beautiful toys comes from British Columbia, Canada, home of Things for Wings! Danita, the wonderful owner, knows Lola’s tastes quite well and has created some real beauties for her this time around. This order we focused on tried and true favorites: lots of natural wood, lots of bark, lots of snappy wood beads… basically, lots of destruction!
First up are three classic favorites that I know will be relished to the very last bead by Lola’s big beak: the natural wood jellybean toy, natural wild strawberries, and Lea’s toy. If they look familiar, it’s because we order them all the time. I couldn’t believe how fast the jellybean one went the first time! It might’ve lasted an afternoon? Lola couldn’t get enough of it, and I love that it can be hung horizontally like a garland too at different levels in the cage.
Next up is something old, and something new! On the right are those truly fantastic little foraging blocks that I’ve written about before– Lola is going to be so excited that they are back, especially when I stuff them with in shell almonds. I love that they are so simple and all natural, but really provide a lot of enrichment and foraging fun for her. Anything that can keep her busy and her mind stimulated is great by me. On the left is a gorgeous platform perch made of barky basswood!
This is our very first time trying basswood for perches, so I was really excited to see this beautiful, chunky bark. I had to get a close-up to show you just how thick and delectable it is! One of Lola’s favorite activities is stripping her beautiful perches of their lovely bark, so I have no doubts that she will really relish this one. I also love the addition of the little wood toy hook. It probably won’t last too long with Lola but I like that I can spruce up the perch a bit before adding it to her abode! Of course, it comes equipped with stainless steel hardware as well. I just saw on the site that they’ve added yet another awesome basswood perch with two edges of bark that I might have to try for next time.
Last but not least, we put Danita’s creative juices to the test with two custom toy requests: one with lots of natural wood to chip, and one with lots of soft and chewy cork bark. Aren’t they beauties? I’m proud to see that the natural wood coin one has already made it onto the site as a permanent toy, which you can purchase here! I wanted something that focused on natural wood coins, which Lola absolutely loves, and generally last a little longer than snappy beads or cork. It’s gorgeous and just packed full of cottonwood and willow coins.
The second custom toy is just as gorgeous. It is chock full of natural cork bark– just look at all of those nooks and crannies! Finished off with shreddable seagrass, snappy wood beads, and even a few willow coins, this toy would appeal to the smaller birds too despite its large size. The cork is so soft that it’s practically shreddable, and I’ve yet to meet a bird that doesn’t love sinking its beak into cork bark. I know Lola will adore this one.
I can’t wait to start giving her these toys– she’s going to jump for joy! I’m just afraid of how quickly she will go through them. Thank you, Things for Wings!
August 19, 2014 § Leave a comment
Lola was such a good girl this summer, and as a reward, August is the month of spoiling her silly! She’s gotten a number of packages full of awesome, enriching, and fun new toys. The first up is an awesome order from both Avian Stainless and Avian Organics, two fantastic sister stores that focus on providing the very best, highest quality stainless steel toys and organic parrot food respectively. I know I’ve written about both of these stores before, but I am constantly impressed with every order I receive from them. Avian Stainless in particular takes a long time to develop and test their toys to ensure that no detail is spared: their toys use super high quality stainless steel, there are no sharp edges or points anywhere, and finished products are beautifully polished and shined.
I’m always excited when they announce a new product, but I was particularly excited about this one. Usually, their toys are bells or noise-makers (which I love!), but ever since they discontinued their very cool double skewer I was hoping they’d develop a new refillable type of stainless steel toy base. This is just what the doctor ordered! It’s called the Do the Twist, and it’s a great stainless steel spiral base with a welded o-ring at the top for hanging, and holes that allow you to add your own toy parts.
This toy base actually reminded me a lot of an old toy base that used to be made by Grey Feather Toys, which unfortunately is no longer in business. They had a similar type of toy base that they called the Sterling Twirl. I wanted to see how the two toy bases compared. Although the basic idea and shape of the toys are similar, there are several key differences between the two toys that make them appropriate for different types of birds and for different uses.
The key difference between the two is that the Do the Twist is like a smaller, lighter, sleeker version of the Sterling Twirl. I love the Sterling Twirl– it is made of extremely thick, heavy duty stainless steel– but for this reason, it is a very heavy and huge toy. Aside from the fact that it takes up a ton of room, particularly when it’s loaded with toy parts, it is also so heavy that I was nervous about it knocking Lola out or something if she was playing or swinging very rowdily in her cage. That’s why I love using it as an awesome out of cage toy for Lola’s play areas, but not so much in the cage. The Do the Twist, on the other hand, is made of a much thinner bar of stainless steel that has been perfectly sanded and rounded to prevent any sharp edges, and its smaller size makes it much more appropriate for use inside the cage. The stainless steel is thin and pliable enough that the toy actually has some bounce to it, and is a fraction of the weight of the Sterling Twirl. Even loaded up with parts, I would still feel comfortable putting it in the cage. I’ve yet to actually have a chance to deck it out, but I’m sure that when I do, it’ll be a big hit!
I also made sure to restock some of Lola’s favorite bird breads from Avian Organics. She loves all of their breads, so I like to buy a variety and freeze them. I like that they contain no regular wheat and instead use healthier flours. I also like to throw in lots of fresh veggies or other add-ins when I cook them. The finished product, once baked and cooled, also freezes beautifully!
Last, but not least, I also picked up two of her beloved mashes. The Quick Serve might be her favorite flavor ever, but the Mayan Gourmet Mash is another popular mix here.
A huge thanks to Avian Organics and Avian Stainless for another great order and for such great products! Everything about these stores is top notch, including excellent customer service. Unfortunately, Doris, the wonderful owner recently suffered an injury and the stores are temporarily closed for the time being, but I hope she heals quickly– for her own sake as well as for all of her customers!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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. 🙂