Pumpkin Season!

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.

a mini cheese pumpkin

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.

roasted, stuffed, and ready to serve

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!


Let’s Do the Twist!

August 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

lola enjoying some scratches

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.

the “do the twist” toy

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.

the “do the twist” and the sterling twirl

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 “do the twist” within the sterling twirl for comparison

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!

a selection of organic bird breads

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!

two mash mixes

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!

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!!

Oh, the Anticipation…

November 27, 2011 § 5 Comments

I should be getting two very excited packages in but there’s a back up with my mail because of the holiday.  Phooey!  I’m waiting on some new stainless steel food bowls with stainless steel ring holders (yay!), as well as a big and exciting box of Christmas toys and a few perches.  I can’t wait!

In other news, we had a lovely Thanksgiving up north with my parents.  Lola had a ball with all of the flying space– their home has a wide open floor plan with vaulted ceilings, and she got a lot of exercise in.  None of us loved the car ride, nor the massive amounts of traffic, but that’s to be expected.  Hopefully we’ll be slightly luckier when we drive back up for Christmastime.

What else?  I made some bird bread for Lola using the Avian Organics Flatbread Fusion mix and added a ton of fresh ingredients: bok choy, red chard, and even papaya.  It turned it into a lovely, dense, and rich bread.  Delicious!  Lola is loving it.  They have some great new products as well.  I hope to purchase a few during the semi-annual sidewalk sale.  Surprisingly, my list isn’t too crazy this time around.  Just stocking up on a few basics 🙂

In non-bird related news, my goal every year is to be done with my Christmas shopping by December 1st.  I’m close, but I’m not sure I will make it.  I’ve purchased gifts for everybody except my mom.  Any ideas??  She is really hard to buy for.

Food and Fun

November 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

Two fun items of food news today: Lola went nuts for her delicious (and very pretty!) breakfast this morning, and we got a package from Avian Organics!!  I’ve been trying to make Lola’s foods as local and as seasonal as possible… and today’s breakfast was almost entirely.  Everything except for the sprouts, which were from the Totally Organics All-in-One Mix, were all locally sourced from the surrounding farmer’s markets.  Today’s meal consisted of fresh and organic swiss chard, kale, broccoli, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and sprouts.  Actually, I’m pretty sure there was one other leafy green but right now it’s escaping me.

Lola's delicious breakfast

She absolutely loves biting into fresh cranberries and chewing them up, and sweet potatoes are one of her all time favorite foods.  She even ate a good amount of the leafy greens.  (I tend to throw in a ton of those, because she tries to avoid them otherwise. But today she was good.)  It’s a shallow bowl, but there was close to nothing left when I removed her breakfast shortly after.

That had me in a good mood this morning, but I was equally delighted when I received a wonderful package from Avian Organics this afternoon!  They recently held a very generous sale and I purchased some staple items and some new ones too… a good mix.  On top of the sale, however, they even threw in not one but two free items!

My order contents from Avian Organics

The staple items ordered are the bottom row: two packages of Pacific Deluxe Parrot Mix and two package of Jungle Trails.  The new items I’m trying for the first time are the new Cravings mix (I’d ordered the old recipe once or twice before but I don’t think Lola ever got a taste of it… it was too delicious to share!), the Jungle Gems, and the Pacific Shores Premium Seed Mix.

Finally, the two lovely toys you see were both freebies!  On the right is the Twister toy, a very cool foraging toy for small birds, and on the left is what was described to me as a “warped” version of one… but I absolutely love it!  I think that the curvy ridges make for even more fun and exciting foraging fun for the little guys.  The warped one was meant as a large foot toy for Lola, but… I’m not quite so sure that she’ll be getting it just yet 🙂  After all, the budgies can’t share!  They need their own everything, of course!

Comestibles Lately

September 7, 2011 § 8 Comments

A big, healthy, delectable box of goodies from Avian Organics arrived today!  I know I’ve said it only six million times, but I’m going to say it once more: I can’t get enough of Avian Organics.  Their products are so incredibly high quality, and so delicious, and so healthy to boot!!  I never imagined that getting my birds to eat so healthily would be so easy.  Put a bowl of anything from Avian Organics in front of them, and it’s like nothing else in the world matters!  As much as I love their products though, I’d be hard-pressed to say whether their products or their customer service were superior.  Doris, the owner, is so kind and so generous that it’s almost unbelievable.  She bends over backwards to help her customers and to make sure that they are happy!  My parrots couldn’t be happier with their tasty goodies, and I couldn’t be happier with how healthy they are and with the incredible customer service.

Half of my order from Avian Organics

The other half of my order from Avian Organics

I was stocking up on a lot of things, so this was a pretty large order.  I order two packages of slightly custom Pacific Deluxe Parrot Mix, two packages of slightly custom Jungle Trails mix, two packages of Mini Truffles, one package of Cazuela, one package of the new Pura Vida, two packages of the Quick Serve, and one package of the Mayan Gourmet Mash.  Doris very generously threw in a package of Cupid Cookies for me for the birds as well!  (Seriously though, have you tried the Cupid Cookies?  They’re really tasty.)  As always, I am incredibly pleased with everything.  I noticed that the Cazuela seems to have even more variety and extremely vibrant and thick peppers, bursting with flavor!

Originally, I was actually thinking about combining the Pacific Deluxe mix with the Jungle Trails mix, the Mini Truffles, the Cazuela, the Pura Vida, and even some Totally Organics Pellets as a new dry mix for Lola, but since I am no longer feeding her any dry mixes in bowls (she has to forage for all of it now), I think I will keep them separate and use them as necessary to keep them fresh for as long as possible.  Lola is going to be really happy that we finally have more Mini Truffles.  She thinks they are just divine!

Lola munching on an almond

Speaking of Lola, our dear friend Natacha of Just Poifect! asked if I had a recent photo of my big girl and I snapped this one yesterday.  (If you haven’t checked out her blog, do!  Especially if you are a fan of Cape Parrots.  She has a new baby girl named Léa and she is quite precious.)  There she is munching on an almond from one of her foraging toys.  She’s been doing well lately, especially with foraging.  She’s no expert, but we’re working on it.  I’ve been creating several variations on her skewers and figuring out what frustrates her, what she will eventually figure out, what she just plain doesn’t understand, and what is mechanically easier and more challenging for her.  I’m hoping to gradually build her up to more and more difficult skewers as we go on.  I purchased one of those polycarbonate foraging wheels for her a while back, but she ended up not really understanding how it worked at all after several weeks/months, so I have it somewhere in storage.  (Just a note: polycarbonate is not a BPA-free plastic and should not be allowed to touch food directly, in my opinion, especially after being repeatedly used and washed over time.)  Hopefully, as her mechanical skills develop, she will be able to learn how to manipulate the foraging wheel in time!

Lola's breakfast this morning

This has nothing to do with anything mentioned above, but I took a quick photo of Lola’s breakfast this morning and thought I’d share.  I have to be honest, this combination would probably be disgusting to the human palette, but I’ve been reading more about birds’ taste buds and am not sure if Lola can tell that these aren’t complementary tastes at all.  (Apparently, birds have far fewer taste buds than humans do.)  Anyway, it’s a mix of sprouted seeds and legumes (the All-in-One mix by Totally Organics, containing barley, rye berries, spelt, kamut, buckwheat, millet, and pumpkin seeds), along with kale, swiss chard, broccoli, sweet red peppers, yellow squash, carrots, papaya, mangoes, and blueberries.  If Lola didn’t enjoy it, she sure faked it well!

Lola’s Foraging Feeder

August 26, 2011 § 2 Comments

The majority of Lola’s diet is fed in two square meals: one fresh, raw meal in the morning, and one cooked meal in the evening.  I have yet to figure out a good way to get her to forage for these meals without creating a dire mess, so unfortunately I have resigned myself to the fact that these meals will simply be free fed.  But she also gets dry food or bird bread in her cage, however, during the day, just in case (since I do work full time).  Although she does have several foraging toys that she enjoys, I have mostly used them simply for treats rather than for actual food, and her dry mixes typically just get plopped into another bowl in her cage like any other meal.  I’ve recently decided that I am going to make a strong effort to stop allowing her to free feed during the day, in between her two big meals.  The problem is, I’m lazy and not very creative, but I figured I could at least do something with a few foraging toy parts and a skewer.

Ta-da! Lola's Foraging Feeder, Version 1.0

It’s not pretty, but keep in mind that I made this in approximately sixty seconds.  I looked through my toy parts and realized that I had some great things lying around that weren’t getting any use.  So I threw together a plastic foraging cup, a natural wicker ball, and a cute little woven box on a stainless steel skewer.  It’s super basic for now because Lola isn’t exactly an expert forager, but it’s very functional and it works!  I put an Avian Organics Mini Truffle in the plastic cup (but in the future everything that goes in the plastic cup will be wrapped in a mini cupcake wrapper or some other paper liner– I have a plastic phobia), an in shell almond inside the wicker ball, and a square of Avian Organics Bird Bannock in the woven box.

Lola had a great time with it.  She basically went easiest to hardest with it– first she extracted the Mini Truffle and gobbled it, then she went after the almond.  She’s actually not a shredder at all and isn’t very interested in naturals, so a high value treat inside of one is really the only thing that will get her to play with them.  In terms of strength or power, I know that Lola could rip up that little wicker ball in seconds, but for some reason she doesn’t like to break them really, so she tries to extract the almond while doing the least damage possible.  It makes it actually quite the challenge for her… plus it means I can reuse the wicker balls!  The woven box on the bottom actually had her quite confused though.  I had to open it up and show her what was inside of it a few times before she realized that she should attempt to open it up.  (She’s very visually motivated, I suppose.  Out of sight, out of mind!)  Eventually, she got to it!  The best thing is, she really did have to work for her food, and it kept her busy for quite a long time.

I have a ton of different toy parts that I think would work well for this and will keep things interesting for her.  I can definitely make the plastic cup a bit more challenging by putting something over the top that she has to move to get to the treat inside, and I’ve been eying some large leather shapes to do just that.  I am also thinking about incorporating some wood beads, perhaps, in the cup, so that she has to get those out of the way as well before she gets to the food.

I also plan on using different boxes on the bottom.  Because the one I used is woven with really small strands, it’s actually quite difficult to destroy– it almost feels more like fabric material than a shreddable toy part.  So, Lola had to actually remove the cover to get at the bread inside.  I don’t mind that, but I’d like her to have the option of both destroying the box and opening the lid.  I noticed that Things for Wings has some lovely looking palm boxes that appear to be the same size and shape, and should be more easily destroyed.  They also have a cylindrical version called the Pandan Box that looks especially crunchy and fun!  We will definitely be stocking up on both of these on our next order to keep Lola’s foraging interesting and fun.

I’m optimistic about this toy as her new feeder, rather than free feeding in a bowl.  I could use the box or the plastic foraging cup for a dry mix as well.  It really has a lot of possibilities and will keep her working!

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