December 3, 2016 § 5 Comments
Hello, parrot people! It’s been too long. But Lola and I are doing well, and so much has changed for us since we last wrote. We are now proud residents of sunny California, where we have been enjoying the year-round beautiful weather, and many more days outside soaking up vitamin D. Lola and I made an epic cross-country road trip together, where we got to see many, many parts of the U.S. we’d never seen before. In less happy news, Lola came very close to getting a new sister and flock mate, another female cape parrot. She was a much, much older and retired breeder, but unfortunately she passed away at home just a week before we planned to adopt her. We all agreed it was for the best that she passed away in comfortable, familiar surroundings. And we are still waiting for our perfect adult female cape companion for Lola.
I am even more sad to say that this fall, Scott Lewis of Old World Aviaries passed away. Scott was truly a giant in the cape parrot and general aviculture community. He was a wonderful man who had extensive expertise and was always willing to share it and help out. When I was first researching what parrot species would suit me, I found videos of the most charming parrot online, Thor, who I learned was a cape parrot from none other than Scott Lewis. His website provided a wealth of information, and when I emailed him letting him know that I was interested in learning more, he immediately offered his help and knowledge with absolutely no expectation that I would be a customer of his. When I eventually chose another breeder, whom he happened to know, he had only the most wonderful things to say about her and told me I had made a great choice. And he and I continued to discuss cape parrots, their classification, their diets, their habits, and their all-around wonderfulness for many years after that. He was a kind man who genuinely loved parrots and spreading that love. Rest in peace, Scott. You are already sorely missed.
I thought I’d share Lola’s latest cage setup, which we are still perfecting for optimal perch placement. The front panel’s lower area is pretty empty at the moment but I can’t seem to find a spot that won’t get soiled daily. So we’re still experimenting. Also, apologies for terrible photos. These were taken in the early morning, and although the room was sun drenched and lovely, the photos look quite dim due to the back lighting.
I often get messages asking if I still recommend Expandable Habitats, and the answer is an effusive yes! Lola’s cage is still going strong and is every bit as sturdy as the day it came home. They’re a big investment, but it’s a lot of peace of mind to never have to worry about checking all of the bars for chipped paint or rust, or worrying that there is something toxic that could hurt her.
Starting with the left side, there’s a food bowl on her main door, along with a fun natural and shreddable toy. (There’s also a flagstone platform perch to the left of the bowl, but it’s not visible in this photo.) Just behind that toy is a safety pumice perch, and above that is a chunky willow wood perch with lots of delicious bark (and Lola sitting on top of it, playing with her acrylic ball foraging toy).
On the side door of the left panel of the cage is another food bowl, and next to it a fantastic foraging perch. I love these perches– lots of ridges for chewing but also holes drilled throughout for stuffing with food (I like stuffing them with stalks of carrots or cucumbers or zucchini, or in shell nuts). On the back wall there is a cardboard box holder in acrylic for more foraging fun. And all the way up in the corner is a hard-to-get treat pot.
Lola’s got her soft and fuzzy swing hanging on this side, as well as another fantastic foraging block toy, hanging from the ceiling. (We’re big on foraging!) And on the right of this photo but the center of the cage is a lovely cotton boing with a great Avian Stainless bell toy that makes tons of noise hanging in the middle.
Around the center of the back panel is a platform perch, I believe in elm– Things for Wings always has so many beautiful types of wood for platforms. To the right of that is hard to see, but it’s an acrylic drawer foraging toy with two side-by-side drawers that pull and slide. And next to that is another really beautiful platform perch, this one with built-in toys on one and and lots of cork drilled into the sides. That one definitely keeps her busy. Up above you can see one balsa Christmas tree toy, which is hiding a second holiday toy behind it, a mini snowman’s head, both from Tweety Pie’s Bird Toys. Lola has made short work of the santa one. On the right, one of her favorite double-ended ribbon wood perches, still an old stand by. Next to it is a second cardboard box foraging toy with an acrylic holder.
Below that layer is another with (on the left) a great toy packed with balsa and cork, a very prized cajeput perch that I’d been hoarding (sadly, it’s my last), and an Avian Stainless pepper toy. In the corner is Lola’s trusty stainless steel toy bucket chock full of stray toy parts and foot toys, straddled by a sandblasted manzanita corner perch. And up front here, another food bowl.
And that’s it! So far, so good with perch placement of the existing perches. We like to rotate toys and also make sure there’s a variety of types and textures in there. So many toy companies have come and gone the past few years, but we are thankful for all of the wonderful toymakers who have provided Lola with so much enrichment and fun.
November 9, 2013 § 3 Comments
I have to tell you, getting my S.O. to watch the enrichment DVD from my last post with me was about the smartest thing I’ve ever done. We were rearranging Lola’s cage yesterday (which he insisted so that we can “make sure she is fully enriched!!”) and he basically took over the operation! I was only there to put washers in place and screw on a few wing nuts. Actually, he did a really great job. He configured some things in new ways that I hadn’t thought to before, and Lola really seems to be enjoying it.
I couldn’t get a very good photo of the whole thing because of the way the room is– this is about the best I could do. But it’s the whole picture, with Lola on the top left in the photo.
So here it is with the door open. The first thing you see is that there’s her trusty double-sided ribbonwood perch from the Birdsafe Store right on the door, and a cute little flagstone porch at the bottom from Bird on the Rocks. Her foot toy bucket is next to it, on the left. (Unfortunately, the company that made this awesome stainless steel bucket– Grey Feather Toys– is no longer in business, it seems. It’s really a bummer because it was one of our absolute favorites.)
On the upper left, there’s an awesome grapevine wood perch that you can’t see too well here, but Lola loves, and a mini side-mounted foraging pot, both from Things for Wings. The stainless steel toy in the back there is a MegaFone, also from GFT and no longer available, and the toy that Lola is playing with in the photo is one of Kris Porter’s fantastic foraging blocks. The big wooden slab toy with the coins is from I Got a Woody.
Here’s a better view of that mini foraging pot. Isn’t it cute? Right in front of that, the little stubby perch is an awesome willow step from the Little Perch Company— she is obsessed with ripping the chunky bark off of these. I actually originally purchased them for Sabrina but it turns out Lola likes them a lot more. Below that is a pretty beat up Things for Wings toy that she loves, as usual, and then a gorgeous sandblasted manzanita forked perch also from Things for Wings.
In the center there’s her absolute favorite supreme cotton rope swing from Big Beaks Bird Toys, a perennial favorite. Sadly, it’s blocking a great Avian Stainless noisy toy, the Major Tude. Behind all that is one of those extremely cool shelf-style cork perches from I Got a Woody. I was going to stick it in the like a normal shelf perch, but my S.O. insisted that we angle it so that she had to climb it. I was skeptical that it would be wide enough for her to be able to do so, or that my clumsy bird would be able to make her way up, but I let him try it. To my surprise, Lola absolutely loved it!! She spent a good while on the perch climbing, inspecting, and chewing it up.
Below that is a rope perch, the last one we have left from GFT 😦 We are really sad about that. But the S.O. took it and wound it in a cool way so that it goes from the center back of the cage all the way up to the front, right-hand side of the cage, almost like stair case. I think Lola likes this mode of transportation from one side to the other. It also means that I can hang more toys in the center area of the cage and she can actually reach them!
Here’s the right side. You can see that the rope perch goes all the way up, and there are several skewered toys around it. First is just a simple pandan box on a skewer, which is one of the ways I get Lola to forage for some of her food. Behind that towards the back is the Basswood Stairway to Heaven from I Got a Woody, which I skewered. You can barely see the last skewered toy I just realized– you can kind of see a wood chunk on the far right– but that’s an ugly foraging toy I made for Lola. In that back corner area there are two food bowls (one you can’t really see, but it’s on the left of the pumice perch), and of course the very noticeable pumice perch. The look of those perches still cracks me up, but hey, they get the job done. Down below, there’s a big beautiful Things for Wings Toy, cornered by a lovely sandblasted manzanita perch and a Manu Mineral perch on the left.
One last angle so that you can see the acrylic foraging toy in the corner. I absolutely love these toys, made by Parrot Island Inc. I am very conscious of using food-safe plastics for foraging toys, but the vast majority of foraging toys on the market are all made with polycarbonate, which has BPA. Parrot Island Inc.’s toys are all made with acrylic, which is food safe. They are also incredibly thick and durable and very well made! I highly recommend them. You can also see another adorable little foraging pot on the right, and then a cool natural wood perch that actual swivels and can be configured to point at any angle! That’s from Expandable Habitats. I had forgotten about that perch for a while but it’s great for those hard to reach spots when a straight perch just won’t do.
And there it is! I think he did an awesome job of designing it. There’s a great mix of natural wood perches, from sandblasted manzanita to grapevine wood to cork to willow to ash, a pumice perch, a flagstone perch, a soft cotton rope perch, and platforms as well. There are snappy wood toys, foraging toys, skewered toys, softer cork toys, noisy toys, shreddable toys, pretty toys, and ugly toys. There’s a nice swing and even a crooked perching surface. Lola seems extremely pleased with the new look herself, which is of course what matters most.
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.