Sabrina Loves Hemp (Rope!)

October 14, 2013 § 3 Comments

I’m trying to keep my promise on updating, so here’s one about Sabrina.  Sabrina’s all natural cage quest is going slower than imagined, but we’ll get there eventually.  I have a few things hopefully coming in the upcoming weeks that should help it along.  I’m not happy with how it looks overall right now, but I did want to share one cool swing that Sabrina just loves and loves.  I had this custom made several months ago now, but never got to posting about it in my hiatus.

Let’s start with some background.  Sabrina’s tiny little toe nails  grow on the quicker side, and nail trimming is a serious issue for us.  In order to get them down to a safer length, I have to grab her (which is in and of itself impossible and extremely stressful for both of us), and hold her while I clip.  As most of you know, she is not hand tame and this is pretty much the most traumatic experience ever for her.  She also has a beak like a razor and I come away with completely scarred hands.  I have taken her to a vet to get them done, but it’s still just as stressful for her, plus there’s the added stress of getting her in the travel cage.  Basically, either way she is very upset and it worsens our already fragile relationship.  Her nails aren’t so long that they are causing problems with gripping or health or anything like that; they are just long enough to get stuck in cotton rope .  But she absolutely loves her boings and cotton rope perches, and I didn’t want to take them all away.  However, they became supervision-only toys because she could easily get her little toes stuck in them.  I needed a safe solution for her that would be just as soft and comfortable for her, but didn’t pose the risks that the long strands of the cotton rope did.

Sabrina and her custom hemp orbit!

The lovely Michelle at Mother Pluckin’ Bird Toys was kind enough to entertain an entire collection of custom requests from me.  After literally months of research into all sorts of rope alternatives and safe sources of them (that’s the hard part– finding un-oiled, safe ropes), I finally found a company that made organic, un-oiled, totally raw and chemical-free hemp rope.  I had this company send a spool over to MPBT, where they turned it into a line of amazing perches, swings, and boings for Sabrina!  They did such a fantastic job with everything, and not only does Sabrina love it all, but it’s such a great and safe material for her tiny little toes.  The hemp rope doesn’t loosen into the long solid strands that cotton rope does, so her toes don’t get caught in it.  It’s soft and comfy on her feet, but at the same time is durable and I can feel safe leaving it in her cage unsupervised.  Sabrina is pictured on her custom orbit (it’s their small orbit swing, but with an extra ring to make it more like an atom), but she’s also enjoying a beautiful boing and several rope perches with and without stainless steel wire.

It’s only off in the corner of the photo, but in the top left you can also see Sabrina’s favorite new toy.  It’s a miniature-sized, all natural version of the Candy Stack Corky Toy from Things for Wings, and she is just obsessed!  It usually takes her a while to warm up to new things, but this one was an instant hit.

Now this part has nothing to do with Sabrina, but i just thought I’d share these funny photos of Lola stealing my apple.  I went apple picking this weekend and got some beautiful (and pesticide-free!) apples, and she can’t get enough!  🙂


Natural Toys Aplenty!

July 26, 2012 § 4 Comments

Lola got a big, lovely box of goodies from her beloved store Things for Wings this past week and she sure is a happy camper!  She’s been having to make do this summer with very ugly home made toys by me so she’s quite pleased to see some more interesting designs and varieties to play with.  Danita never disappoints us.  This time around, we ordered a mix of ready made toys as well as a few custom ones for good measure.  There’s so much fun (and lots of wood to chip!) in this box of goodies!

goodies from Things for Wings

Here is everything all together.  I think there are ten toys in total, along with one perch.  I’ll go through them in smaller batches…

I’m not sure how well you can tell, but there are actually four big, lovely toys in the photo!!  Two are the classic “Lola’s Toy” that Danita has made for us many a time, which is such a favorite around here of course.  The other two, however, are two custom versions based on the Lola’s toy that have a few other types of interesting natural wood sticks and coins mixed in (the original is all hardwood pieces, save for the base).  They’re on interesting types of rope as well, like sisal and seagrass, which should keep it interesting!  I absolutely love these toys as there is so much packed into every single one.  Lola really relishes them and despite her super fast wood chipping, they do actually last a while because Danita manages to fit so many different parts on these.  What’s more is that the strands are kept relatively short so that even when everything has been chipped and chewed off, there are no long, empty strings that could pose a safety risk.

Next is another regular for us: the Hardwood Hullaballoo, another Lola-inspired toy on the site.  This toy has all the appeal of the Lola’s Toy, but has even more packed onto it.  It’s really built to last, plus the base is reusable which is always a plus.  The second one on the right is a new one for us.  This one was inspired by another Cape Parrot, our lovely friend Lea (read about her and her flock on the blog Just Poifect!).  It’s a custom toy that Lea’s mom commissioned and we liked it so much, we had to have one as well, just un-dyed.  I think Lola will absolutely love it– Capes tend to like their wood. 🙂

We also had to try out some of the new toys from the “Pine Only” line, an adorable new collection that is also especially reasonably priced.  We purchased the Quad toy which has four dangly legs of crunchy pine and hardwood beads, but unlike most toys, they are strung on stainless steel wire.  This gives them an extremely fun shape (kind of reminds me of a four-legged spider or a weird mutant octopus– quadropus?) and it also means that again, even when all of the wood is chipped and removed, there are no naked strings that can pose a safety risk.  We also nabbed the Moon Dance toy, another adorable one.  There are so many cute designs on the site though, from a palm tree to a horse to a little bug-style car.  Finally, on the right, that adorable little toy is from the Grandma’s Strawberry Patch collection, again only un-dyed.  It’s so cute and the hardwood textures and natural wood sticks should really entice Lola.  I also love that it’s on a great pine wood base that is reusable… if Lola doesn’t get to it first.

Finally, I couldn’t leave out the budgies.  Sabrina got another shopping bag-style toy stuffed with shreddable goodies.  I think this is her fourth one– she absolutely loves them!  She does everything from pull out each shreddable one by one and dump them each on the ground, she nibbles and chews each shreddable up, she gets inside the bag and naps, she beaks the beads or the crunchy vine outside the bag, she destroys the bag itself… and she enjoys every minute of it.  These are such great shredding toys for the little ones.  I also purchased Charles this eucalyptus perch with stainless steel hardware.  I was originally purchasing a Lola-sized one but they were out of stock, so I decided that Charles could use one.  I also realized that eucalyptus is a type of tree that budgies in the wild would be familiar with, so I think Charles might enjoy it.

As always, we are so very pleased with this amazing order– Danita never disappoints!  Her toys are the real deal, and she doesn’t skimp anywhere, whether it be safety, enrichment, aesthetics, or customer service.  We can’t wait to see the cute collections she comes up with next!

Peace & Calming through Essential Oils

March 2, 2012 § 4 Comments

Yesterday, I diffused a new Young Living essential oil, Peace & Calming, for the first time.  Wow.  What an effect!  Again, almost immediately, all three of my birds this time responded very positively to the new scent wafting through the air.  Charles and Sabrina again had the most dramatic reactions.  Both of them were immediately calmed by the essential oil, and their noisy chatter turned into very pleasant, soft, higher-pitched chirps.  Sabrina actually stopped trying to attack Charles through the acrylic divider in their cage, and the two of them sat across from each other making lovey-dovey eyes.  It was unbelievable!  Lola, too, actually responded to this oil.  Usually in the afternoon when I come home from work, she is hyperactive and anxious to get out of her cage.  But as soon as I started diffusing, she stopped her squeaking and begging, and sat on the platform perch in front of her cage and just soaked it in.  She seemed utterly at peace and actually okay with the fact that I was home and she was in her cage.

In the spirit of disseminating practical advice for using essential oils with birds, I’ll talk about some of the more logistical things.  Since I last wrote about essential oils, I have worked my way up to full thirty minute diffusion sessions once daily with my birds.  Because tomorrow is Saturday, I will probably try more than one diffusion session in a day for the first time.  Conservative estimates generally consider three thirty-minute sessions a day to be safe (again, keeping to a schedule of either three days on, one day off; or five days on, two days off).

I had been diffusing Joy for about one week when I decided to switch.  There was still a small amount of Joy essential oil diluted with water in my diffuser, however, and I could have poured it into a glass bottle for keeping for further use.  This is okay to do so long as the smell of the essential oil is still strong; once the scent degrades, so do the beneficial effects.  Unfortunately, I did not have any receptacles handy and decided to pour out the extra Joy mixture.  I am not sure how much longer the mixture would have lasted, but I wanted to try a new oil.  I suppose I should invest in a few glass jars for the future.  But I poured it out and rinsed out the bowl of my diffuser, and switched to a few drops of Peace & Calming instead.  We will probably continue using this oil for another week or so, or until the mixture is completely diffused (since I am diffusing for longer amounts of time, it might be used up more quickly).

fleece-covered platform perches

Since we’re on the topic of peace and calming, I figured I’d also throw in a photo of these very adorable little fleece-covered platform perches I recently had custom made from a chinchilla shop actually.  They are regular pine wood platform perches with stainless steel hardware, only they have little envelope-style covers made to fit over them so that the birds have a snug and cozy place to rest their feet.  There’s one for each.  I hope they like them!

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 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!

Truly Fantastic Foraging Blocks

January 5, 2012 § 8 Comments

We are really feeling the love here!  Another very dear friend of ours, the writer of one of our favorite blogs, Mabel Serendipity, also sent us a very thoughtful gift this week and we are so touched by her generosity.  She picked out a whole bunch of toys for the entire flock, and then some!  She must also be a mind reader, because she knew we had been eying a really wonderful new line of parrot toys called the Fantastic Foraging Blocks, created by parrot enrichment expert Kris Porter.  This brand new line of foraging toys combines the joys of wood chipping and foraging for food and treats into one!  They are really brilliant, simple, no-fuss toys that are really made for parrots’ enjoyment.  Not only are they completely un-dyed (which is a plus in our book), but they are made using only stainless steel eye screws, and they are made in a completely bird-free workshop.  We love to see toy makers who take responsible and safe measures such as these.

Lola was a bit startled at first by the new veggie tower in her cage

... but she quickly showed it who's boss!

Lola is already loving her Fantastic Foraging Block, this one in size small, although our friend was so generous that she sent both a small and a medium!  I stuffed it this morning with some fresh, organic kale, broccoli, and carrots, and it only took her a few seconds to start digging in.  She absolutely loves it!  I love that the holes on these toys are actually a bit bigger than most foraging toys you see, because I can stick whole, fresh vegetables into them rather than simply dry treats like sunflower seeds or nuts.  I think this is a really innovative and fun alternative to skewered veggies in particular and I am sure Lola will have a lot of fun with this veggie and toy tower combination.

an adorable budgie-sized foraging block too!

Not only did our friend send two wonderful foraging blocks for Lola, but she even somehow finagled Kris into making two custom extra small foragers, one each for Charles and Sabrina!  We really are so very blessed and lucky to have such thoughtful friends who truly go above and beyond.  These adorable mini foragers are shorter versions of the small size, but they are perfect for the smaller or more timid birds.  I prepared Charles and Sabrina’s foragers with some fresh, delicious carrot tops for them to devour.  I had to shave the carrots down a bit to get them to fit in the holes, so I took the extra carrot slivers and stuffed them into the ridges in the blocks for the budgies to nibble on as well.

Charles enjoying his fresh greens

Sabrina is a bit more skeptical at first

Charles can’t be stopped when it comes to fresh greens: he has no fear!  He started nibbling as soon as he saw those irresistible carrot tops.  It took Sabrina a few more minutes to muster up the courage, but she too began devouring her greens, and even actually pulled the carrot out of the hole, and all of the carrot slivers out of the notches too.  I think I have a lot of foraging potential with her!

We want to thank our friend one more time for such a wonderful, generous, and thoughtful gift!  Also not photographed is another medium Fantastic Foraging Block and several wood squares for my wood chipper, Lola.  You have truly made the birds VERY happy little foragers.  They are so enjoying their new way of eating their veggies.  To everybody else, we highly recommend these wonderful toys and I am sure I will have to purchase many, many more in the future!

An Adorable Christmas Surprise!

December 12, 2011 § 2 Comments

We love a Things for Wings package any day, but our most recent one was extra special thanks to a very dear friend!  Our wonderful box not only contained beautiful custom toys galore as well as a gorgeous grapevine wood perch, but it also held a lovely gift, all the way from Hong Kong!

a Lego model budgerigar!

I was so surprised and so tickled… how adorable is it?  It’s a little Lego budgie!  I put it together last night.  (It was actually pretty difficult because the pieces were so tiny!  Even when fully assembled, it’s no bigger than two inches in any direction.)  Our friend Carmen from Hong Kong found the kit and it reminded her of Charles, so she was nice enough to send it to us.  Thank you so much!!  What a thoughtful and adorable gift!!

Aside from our adorable new friend, we also received oodles of other wonderful gifts from Danita at Things for Wings.  Her creativity never ceases to amaze me!  I ordered three custom toys for the little ones, and I love and adore all three of them.  I love that I can just give her a list of things they like, and she turns it into something enriching yet beautiful.  They are all so fun and full of great textures.

budgie toy number one

budgie toy number two

The first one is a lovely mixture of palm, seagrass, vine, leather, and really adorable beads in blue and purple for Charles and Sabrina.  I haven’t decided who will receive this one yet, but I know that it will be a treasured one!  The second one is a horizontal style toy with palm, plastic beads, an adorable plastic mug with a face, vine, seagrass, and loofah.  This one is definitely for Sabrina.  She is going to love all of the textures and the loofah of course as well.

budgie toy number three, from the top

budgie toy number three, from below

And here’s the third one, which I have to admit is my favorite.  It is SO cute!  It’s an adorable little palm shredder cap that has three strings of fun beads inside strung on hemp and leather, and around it are three adorable loofah pods and palm shredders strung on seagrass.  It’s a shredding delight, but it also has nice beak-able beads and textures.  This one’s for Charles for sure.  He is going to love it!  I was really impressed by the creativity behind these toys, especially considering that Danita has made a million custom toys for us now.  She never runs out of new ideas!

three more of Lola's custom toys

a horizontal version of the original custom toys

Lola’s been absolutely ravenous lately, and I’ve been absolutely swamped, so I always ordered her a whole bunch of toys to hold us over until I have more time to get workin’ again.  She received three more of her beautiful custom toys from our last order: two of the Lola’s Toy and one of the Hardwood Hullaballoo.  I can’t get over how well-made and absolutely packed these toys are!  And, I will admit, they are much nicer than anything I could make.  I wanted to get her a little something special too, though, so she received one more variation on this same theme, but this time in a horizontal version.  Love it of course, as always!  This should keep us well-stocked, at least for a short while.

another beautiful grapewood perch

Finally, I couldn’t resist another beautiful perch.  These are really top notch.  They have nice, thick diameters and lots of knobs and variation, but they aren’t super heavy and they don’t sag when you attach them to the cage bars.  It’s hard to find nice varied perches for the bigger birds that actually stay up, but these are really great (and beautiful to boot!).

Thanks to Danita for another wonderful order and to Carmen for the thoughtful gift!  We are so lucky to have such great friends.

My Little Skywalkers

October 17, 2011 § 2 Comments

I received a very exciting package from Oliver’s Garden this weekend!  The wonderfully creative Susan Tuck invented a brand new type of perch: the Skywalk.  I absolutely loved the idea of it and purchased one for each of my little companions.  I decided that they each deserved a new toy as well in preparation for the new cages!  As usual, Susan did not disappoint.  Everything is fun, playful, and very unique.  (And, of course, incredibly well-made to boot!)

Three Skywalk perches

I absolutely adore the Skywalk perches.  They are very similar to her beautiful platform perches, but they have a little peephole through the middle, sized appropriately for each species to be able to climb through!  The large one is, of course, Lola’s.  It has the signature beads inside that she loves so much– she really adores spinning them around.  The hole is also perfectly sized for her body so that she can’t get stuck between the perch and the cage.  The two little ones are for the budgies.  I opted for no beads on those simply because their feet are so tiny that I didn’t want them to slip or get caught.  I really love the look of them with no beads, though– very refined looking!  I know that Sabrina in particular, my little climber, will have a blast climbing in and out and around this perch!

Fun toys by Oliver's Garden

Here are the beautiful toys as well.  For Lola, I ordered one “Catch of the Day,” with added ribs in the fish to entice her to chew on them a bit more.  (She’s a bit picky when it comes to pine wood, but she does love the fragrant Oliver’s Garden pine.)  I think she will like the combination of the soft wood fish with the hard wood buoys.  The littles received very special custom-made fleece toys, designed specifically for them!  Susan was nice enough to take my request for a custom fleece toy that is tiny– budgie-sized– but that they can snuggle and preen.  They are adorable, and the colors really pop!  Charles’s has adorable little beads strung throughout on soft and chewy hemp rope, and Sabrina’s has some teeny tiny wood pieces that I know she will love chewing.  (She’s the most voracious little budgie I’ve ever seen– she chews willow wood!!)  Best of all… Susan was nice enough to throw in three of the adorable Star Cannon toys that we helped to name, and another awesome foot toy that I know Lola will love and adore.

A huge thank you to Susan for another big hit!!  The budgies’ new cage is set to ship TODAY!!  So I can’t wait for it to come so that I can outfit it with all of these beautiful new toys and perches.  I promise lots of photos when I do!

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