Big Changes and a New Cage Setup

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.


All About Cage Setups

February 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

Setting up a cage well is a real art. I find it very difficult to do, increasingly so the larger your bird is and the less space you have. Whenever I am visiting my mom’s house and have to change the setup of Lola’s temporary cage, the King’s aluminum cage, I always struggle with fixing it up nicely for her because it’s only 33 x 25. (I will admit, Sabrina is pretty easy to deal with because she has quite a bit of space and is so tiny.) But fixing up a cage for a medium to large bird is a totally different story!

Where do you start? In my opinion, the easiest place to start is with the food bowls. For many people, this is the most natural place to start because it is the one part of the cage of which they don’t control the placement, because they use feeder doors. I don’t use feeder doors with attached bowls, but I still think this is the best place to begin, simply because I know that I like to keep the food bowls relatively close to the side doors (in case I ever have to travel, I can have somebody else feed Lola safely), and you’ll know that wherever there is a food bowl, you’ll need at least one perch nearby. That always helps to get me started. I try to change whether they are directly on the door or near by it, level with it, a bit higher, or a bit lower, but mostly they are a relatively constant.

Once the food bowls are in place, you can start placing a few perches. You’ll need one near the bowl, obviously, and I tend to avoid putting perches above food bowls because then you increase the likelihood of clean food or water getting soiled. I did make an exception this time by putting a very wide platform perch above a food bowl because I think it’s wide enough that the bowl getting soiled is not a danger. I’m still testing it out, but hopefully it will work!

After a few perches have found their place, I find the other stuff tends to naturally follow. There are usually a few things we all like to keep in the cage– for Lola, for example, I like to use one cotton rope perch and at least one swing. So those usually go in next, and I try to configure everything so that each perch is reach-able from at least one other without having to climb the cage bars much. I also like to make sure there is a large variety of textures, sizes, and heights. I’ll always include several natural wood perches: some with bark, some without, some curvier, some harder, some softer; a pedicure perch; a platform or two; and a cotton perch. I don’t use dowels, ever– I know that some people feel they are “okay” as long as there are other choices, but why bother with just “okay” when you can do way better with natural wood? The uniformity of dowels simply isn’t comfortable or healthy for parrots’ feet. I know some people also like to have at least one perch that spans the length of width of the cage. I choose not to have one like this because I think it limits placement of other things, but that’s a personal preference.

Once I feel like there is a solid network of perches, that’s when toys and other accessories can get placed. I like to make sure there are a very good variety of toys– a single toy often falls into multiple categories, but I like to make sure that each of these core “functions” is fulfilled: noise-making, foraging, natural wood coins or chunky pine, snap-able wood beads, natural textures like coconut or vine. Some people also include snuggly toys or plastic toys depending on their birds’ preferences. Lola also adores her foot toys, so a good foot toy bucket is a necessity as well.

And that’s all there is to it! Now of course, easier said than done– and every time I rearrange the cage, I am constantly tweaking it for the next several days. That’s okay. Some setups are more successful than others, which is why I always take photos so that I can reinstate the “good” ones after cycling through a few others. This past week I did a new setup for Lola. It’s actually not one of my favorites and I have tweaked it several times since I took these original photos, but Lola really likes the perches I chose, so I’m only making minimal changes for now. Here’s what it looks like.

the entire cage

In my opinion it’s a bit busy, although I have spaced out and lowered some of the perches since taking this photo.  Then again I’ve also added a few more toys, so not sure how it all comes out to balance.

the left side

On the left, there are two out of Lola’s three food bowls, both place on or near the side door.  So that’s where I began with this setup.  In between the two, I placed a curvy grapevine wood perch from the Birdsafe Store so that she could get between the two.  On the left is a forked sandblasted manzanita perch from Things for Wings. On the right is a safety pumice perch, and in the front winding all over is her cotton rope perch.  Up above, you’ll see the wide platform perch I was alluding to earlier.

the foraging platform perch

I love this perch!  Aside from the fact that I can put it above a food bowl because it blocks Lola from soiling it, she really adores it.  It is made by Kris Porter but sold by Things for Wings and I highly recommend it.  As you can see, Lola has already gone to town on it and has been stripping it away and smearing her blueberries on it, but she really enjoys being on it.  I have been wrapping up little treats in unbleached cupcake liners and putting them in the foraging holes and she loves to look in each hole to see what surprises there may be.

the right side

Here’s the other side, where you’ll see the opposite end of the cotton rope perch snaking down.  That perch was from the now-closed Grey Feather Toys and I am still upset about it.  I still can’t find a cotton rope perch with a stainless steel interior that I like as much.  On the right of it, you can barely make it out, but there is a cute little side-mounted foraging pot too hidden under the cork bark perch from I Got a Woody.  That’s another little spot that Lola loves to check for treats.  The cork bark perch at that funky angle proved to be a big hit with Lola, so it reprised its role in this setup.  On the right of it is a lovely, chunky willow bark perch, also from Things for Wings.  That funny looking pale colored perch near the top right is a new one for us; it’s the Nu Perch sold by the Parrot Wizard store.  I’m always happy to see perches being made with stainless steel hardware so I thought I’d give this one a try as well.  It’s interesting in that I assume it is made of a uniform dowel, but they actually cut it and shape it so that it is no longer uniform and is quite varied in shape and diameter.  The result is a very nice looking perch that appears to be very comfortable and healthy for our parrots.  Lola really likes hers so far, except that she has already taken a big chunk out of the end.  Down below you’ll see a sandblasted manzanita corner perch (flanking a third food/water bowl), as well as a Manu mineral perch.

another cool foraging perch

In the center back of the cage you’ll notice another awesome foraging perch, this one also from Things for Wings.  I love this one: it’s also a platform, but it has lots of chunky willow bark on the bottom side for stripping, and there are several pod cups hanging below for more opportunities to hide treats!  You’ve probably noticed by now a recurring theme in my cage setups– a multitude of places in which to hide treats.  I love having dozens of different foraging opportunities for Lola because it keeps her busy.  She will go around and check all of these hiding spots, multiple times a day, because she never knows where she might find something.  This is such a great thing to do to keep your parrot active  and stimulated, even while in the cage, especially if you work all day or if you have a perch potato.  Encouraging Lola to forage is of the utmost importance to me for her physical and mental health.

a homemade swing

Finally, you probably noticed this awesome swing front and center.  It’s homemade!  Well, sort of.  The very cool, refillable stainless steel base is made by Scooter Z, an awesome chunky willow wood perch from Things for Wings, and fantastic pine wood pieces and cork-stuffed blocks from Mother Pluckin’ Bird Toys.  Actually, my sister very kindly made this for Lola.  She loves it and has been very busy chipping away at the wood pieces!

Other things included… there’s an awesome grapevines wood perch on the front door that Lola loves to perch on, as well as several toys from Things for Wings, I Got a Woody, Oliver’s Garden, Parrot’s Treasure, and more.  You can be sure that the uglier ones are homemade by me.  I have actually changed and added a few since posting these photos so there is a bit more variety now.  I am also getting some new Avian Stainless toys so I am very excited about that!

So that’s how Lola’s cage is now, but it never stays in one iteration for too long.  Just as how the seasons change in the wild, I like to change her cage often and keep her guessing.  I change out toys weekly and perches every so often, and do a full cage restructuring every 2-4 months.  🙂  Hope this helps you set up your cages in an enriching and stimulating way as well!

Lola’s Latest Cage Setup!

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.

the whole view!

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.

with the door open

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.)

the upper left-hand side of the cage

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.

left side view

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.

the center / back of the cage… and Lola photobombing it

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.

Lola on her cork shelf

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!

the right side of the cage

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.

view from the right side feeder door

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.

More on Expandable Habitats Cages

May 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

Yes, we’re alive and well!  Hello all, and my apologies for not having written.  We’ve been exceedingly busy but hope to have some more free time in the summer months.

Yet another of life’s turns has required that I dismantle both the budgies’ and Lola’s Expandable Habitats cages this week, quite a nuisance and tough job for one (very petite) person to do solo.  But while taking these behemoths apart, I discovered one more reason why these cages are such fantastic investments and came to love them even more than I already did.  I am lucky that I can’t call any of my birds very mechanical– Lola can tackle some moderately difficult foraging toys, but she’s never been able to unscrew something or open her cage doors on her own.  It’s truly one of my fears that she’ll learn to start taking apart her cage, and one day, while I’m not home, she’ll remove one too many screws and the whole thing will collapse on her.  That’s probably irrational– it seems that even the most mechanical birds are more interesting in escaping their cages than dismantling them– but it’s still a possibility.

Well, I was very pleasantly surprised while taking apart the Expandable Habitats cage that those things simply don’t collapse!  Every single panel that I unscrewed stood completely straight up until the very last screw was removed– I could have removed seven out of the eight screws holding it up and it was still standing tall without collapsing in on itself.  Even when I had removed three out of the four “walls,” the fourth still stood until its very last screw was removed.  I was really amazed at how sturdy every single piece was.  I’ve taken apart several other kinds of cages before, and none were built so sturdily or so well as this.  It was really remarkable and made me feel a lot better about the prospect of Lola developing any mechanical skills.  I still hope she doesn’t, but at least I know that if she does, the cage will never collapse in on her and harm her.

In other news, the flock is still enjoying diffusing our essential oils!  I get a lot of comments and questions about these and I do try to answer all of them so feel free to keep them coming.  I did want to disclose that I recently discovered that I do, in fact, receive a “commission” for those of you who use my Referral Number in registering with Young Living and then purchase products.  I didn’t realize this prior to receiving a random check in the mail — only then did I understand what was going on, so I apologize if anybody feels misled.  That said, I am absolutely not in it for the money and it doesn’t matter to me whether you register under my number or not; I am simply interested in sharing my experience with essential oils and spreading knowledge.  If you register under me, great!  If you don’t, great!  Feel free to ask me questions either way.

Review: Expandable Habitats Budgie Cage

October 27, 2011 § 24 Comments

A few days later and I love my Expandable Habitats cage even more than I did when it first arrived.  Being that they also built Lola’s cage, I wasn’t expecting many surprises, but I still experienced some pleasant ones this second time around.  As some of you might know, my search for the perfect budgie cage has been a long time coming: actually, it began well over a year ago, even before Charles ended up in the powder-coated Featherland cage I hated so much.  It seems that well-made, functional, and large cages made for small birds (with 1/2″ bar spacing in particular) are quite the rarity.  There are a few options on the market: that Featherland cage, the HQ or A&E flight cages, a Prevue Hendryx cage, even an extra-large A&E flight cage.  But after all of my research, I simply wasn’t going to go with a company with a spotty track record in terms of powder-coated lead and zinc safety.  I know that chances are, the cage I purchased would probably be safe: it seems that most are, but a good enough percentage end up with deadly levels of lead or zinc that I don’t want to take that risk — and more importantly, I don’t want to reward a company with a spotty safety record with my hard-earned dollars.  So after trying out the Featherland, which had a better reputation for their powder-coated cages, and still being disappointed, I finally decided that I would have to go custom and American-made if I was going to get the cage I wanted.

Well, it turns out that that didn’t make the search much easier.  I contacted a number of bird cage companies within the U.S.A., who make both powder-coated and stainless steel cages (and even aluminum, and at one point acrylic — not the acrylic sheet style but actually acrylic bars created in the same way as a traditional metal cage).  Even with a relatively open-ended budget, I was turned down by a number of companies: making a large cage for a budgie, it seems, is actually much more difficult than it sounds.  Some companies simply don’t work with small bars, as would be required for a bird as small as a budgie: the bars required for budgies are so much thinner than the thick bars used on a medium to large parrot cage, requiring far more support bars and therefore not only increasing cost but significantly increasing labor as well, and making the acceptable margin of error that much smaller.  Eventually, I was literally left with only one: Expandable Habitats.  Not that that was a bad route to go: as I already know from personal experience, it is a very good one.  I simply like to exhaust my options.

So we began talks, and the result has been spectacular.  It is everything I wanted.  Here are the specs:

  • an American-made cage
  • 304-grade non-magnetic stainless steel
  • 1/8″ bars spaced exactly 1/2″ apart
  • Interior dimensions: 36″ wide by 24″ deep
  • a large front door with one 6 x 6″ door on each side
  • no grate, just a slide out tray
  • an acrylic divider that keeps my aggressive two safe from each other
  • a flat top with a frame that supports an acrylic sheet above
  • a spacious shelf underneath
  • the amazing paper roll system
  • heavy duty casters

the entire cage

I’ll begin with quality: it’s phenomenal.  Really.  This cage is flawlessly electropolished and perfectly constructed.  The welds are strong and beautiful, and the entire cage is a wonderful and airy addition to the room.  The stainless steel is thick and sturdy, and the casters that the cage is mounted on are very heavy duty.  One of the best ways, in my opinion, to distinguish the quality of the cage is to actually put it together.  There are a few hints: the directions or the manual, the actual fit of the panels, the smoothness or rigidity of movement.

Unlike a cage made in China by an anonymous factory, this cage comes with hand-typed instructions complete with diagrams that completely explain how to put the cage together.  Each piece comes specifically and clearly labeled, including all of the bolts and screws!  It even anticipates the difficulties in cage construction that might occur and warns you not to tighten all of the screws on the first round.  It has suggestions for putting the cage together with a second person v. by yourself.  It has suggestions for how to most effectively use the paper roll system.  They are clear, comprehensive, and utterly appreciated by somebody who has ever had to put together a China-made cage.  The best part is, at one point I got confused, so I called the company and they actually picked up.  I didn’t have to wait on hold for ages listening to a recorded message; I spoke to the owner right away and she answered my questions and made sure I was completely satisfied within two minutes.

close up of one of the top corners of the cage

Then when you’re actually putting the cage together, magically, everything fits.  Have you ever had to push, shove, or simply “make” something fit?  I have.  But not with this cage.  Everything fits together perfectly, just as it should– there are holes that line up with each other in the places where screws should go, every panel fits exactly into the next, and there are no sharp edges or jutting bars or unsightly misfits anywhere.  (In fact, because the budgies are so little and I was concerned about little toes being caught at the corners of the cage where the panels come together, the company was nice enough to grind back all of the corner joints so that there were absolutely no small crevices for toes or beaks, and no sharp edges at all.)  Everything fits and is made with the highest safety standards.

close up of the bottom door hinge on the large front door

Finally, everything is smooth and works like a well-oiled machine.  In Charles’s last cage, I literally never shut the door.  Why?  Because if I did, I couldn’t get it back open.  The locks were so rigid and tight that I simply pushed the door ajar– and the hinges on the door itself were so rigid and awful that even that in and of itself was a challenge.  (There was absolutely no risk that Charles could have escaped; it was perfectly safe.)  The side doors, too, were difficult to open and close, and the locks were extremely shoddy.  Not so with this cage.  Every door opens and closes with ease, the wheels run smoothly, and everything simply works!

close up of the front door locking mechanism

On the note of doors and locks, I absolutely love the locking system on this cage; it’s different from their larger parrot cages.  It’s basically an eye screw that can be turned vertically to lock the cage and hold the door in place, or horizontally to open it: it’s so simple, requires no padlocks, nor any other locks or things that can be misplaced!  And, for a small bird, it’s perfectly safe and cannot be manipulated (it’s made of a thicker bar).  This probably wouldn’t work for a large bird– especially a mechanical one– but I don’t see the budgies ever figuring out how to escape from it.

view of the smaller side doors

Both Charles and Sabrina each have one side door.  Usually, these are used as feeder doors, but I like to change the location of mine frequently so I just had them place single ones in the center.  (You can have them customized to have them in different locations, or to have more than one, etc.)  I had them simply placed in the center of each side.  These have the same locking mechanism as the front door.

the custom flat top with the acrylic frame attachment

Here’s what the top of the cage looks like– it comes with an attachment frame that fits a sheet of acrylic through it.  I had this added for a few reasons: first and foremost, Lola is a naughty parrot and likes to land on top of the budgie cage all the time.  I’m weary, for obvious reasons, of her big beak getting through the bars and harming the budgies, and I also don’t want them biting at her toes.  But since all of the birds like to hang out up there, and I have hooks in the ceiling above the cage, the acrylic also keeps everything inside nice and clean (and not soiled!).  I had this done on Lola’s cage first and liked it so much; I consider it a must have for right now while we all share a limited space and confined bird room.

close up of the bottom of the cage

As I stated in the previous entry, I actually had this cage built without a grate at all.  I never use them anyway– I always cover them with paper– and I find them quite a bother to clean.  So I figured I would save some money and opt not to have one at all.  (Of course, should I always change my mind, I can always have one built in the future.)  To compensate for the lack of the grate, the company slightly extended the height of the stainless steel sheet metal at the bottom of the cage.  The effect is actually amazing: all of the debris, feathers, droppings, and food fall to the bottom of the cage (rather than getting stuck on the grate), and the sheet metal acts like a shield to keep it from escaping or flying out of the cage, even when they flap their little wings as hard as they can!  The best part is that unlike seed skirts, they don’t take up an extra 8-10 inches, but rather are perfectly flat against the cage.  That also means that I can’t walk into them and bruise my poor legs because I’m clumsy.  On a more relevant note, I’ve already noticed that there are significantly less dust and feathers around the room.

the paper roll system

Finally, the paper roll system.  For some reason, I opted not to use it when I had Lola’s cage built. I have no idea why.  I absolutely LOVE it!!!  It is so easy to use and so much cleaner!!  I simply roll, pull, and cut.  No more meticulously arranging and fitting newspaper to oddly sized grates or cage bottoms– it’s so quick and easy this way.  It’s also very cleverly designed so that it’s really not visible from the front of the cage at all and isn’t at all unsightly.  I love the system so much that I actually went out and bought a paper roll for Lola’s cage and have switched to using it for hers as well.  No more newspaper for us!  I’ve noticed that observing droppings is much easier with the kraft paper as well.  I’m liking the change quite a bit.

And there you have it.  I love this cage, and I hope I’ve sufficiently conveyed exactly why.  It’s beautiful, it’s well-built, the company offers excellent customer service, and it’s safe.  It is a perfect home for my two little loves.  I highly recommend Expandable Habitats.

In with the New!

October 24, 2011 § 6 Comments

The budgies’ new cage is here!!!  And I somehow mustered up the strength to put the entire thing together, by myself, despite being sick.  The hardest part was probably lifting the massive kraft paper roll by myself.  Now that was heavy.  Otherwise, however, putting it together was a breeze.  It’s really nice to purchase a cage with great and thorough directions, with every single part (and even extras), and with customer service so excellent that the owner of the company is available to answer your phone calls while you’re putting it together if you have any questions (which I did!).  Everything fit together like a breeze (another rarity in parrot cages!).  It is beautiful and shiny and lovely and the budgies have already moved in!!  They are christening it with their first sleep tonight.  I’m too tired to write a full review with any detail tonight and I know that all anyone cares about anyway is photos, so without further ado…

The full cage, in all its glory

The cage body, slightly closer up

The cage is a custom built stainless steel cage from Expandable Habitats.  It matches Lola’s quite well: it has the custom acrylic panel on top that keeps toes from being bitten and also allows them to hang out up there without soiling the interior of the cage.  The entire cage is lovely and incredibly well built!  This time around I actually opted for the paper roll system on the bottom and had them remove the grate entirely since I don’t use them.  There is sheet metal around all four sides, which helps to keep in the mess.  I think clean up will be a breeze with this cage!

Charles's side of the cage

Sabrina's side of the cage

As you can see, the cage is divided in half, split down the center by an acrylic divider.  It’s a bit hard to see in the above photos.  To be honest, it’s not ideal– I hate the acrylic– but stainless steel bars is not an option right now because my two are very, very aggressive towards each other.  It was actually quite difficult to set up their cages with one less wall from which to hang toys and perches.  (I don’t know why anybody would ever want a cage with an acrylic side unless they absolutely had to.  I am hoping that my two will quickly get over their aggression so that I can use a stainless steel barred divider rather than the acrylic as soon as possible.)  But I did it, for now, and we’ll live with it.

Inside Charles's abode

And Sabrina's domicile

For some reason, Charles’s side looks oddly empty in the photos, but it doesn’t in person.  Unlike Sabrina he also never goes to the bottom of the cage, so maybe that’s why it looks so empty.  I am going to stick a few perches down there anyway, though, just in case the mood strikes.  Maybe Sabrina will lure him down there.

In any case, I’m quite pleased with it.  It really is beautiful: very shiny and airy.  I wish I could have gone bigger for them, but at least I can rest assured knowing that the cage is expandable.  Right now, it’s 36″ wide by 24″ deep, so each of them has 24″ by 18″ of space to him and herself.  I had it built, however, so that in the future we can add another 36″ by 24″ section of cage, doubling the size, making it 48″ wide by 36″ overall.  That’s probably a few years off, for now, but it’s something to look forward to for all of us. 🙂

I will write more soon– a full review with plenty of details.  The doors and their locks, for example, I absolutely love!  I will take some closeups and whatnot as well.  Just not tonight!

Lola’s Redecorated Cage Setup!

May 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

I wanted to add in my new Oliver’s Garden goodies (as well as some other new goodies), so I decided to redecorate Lola’s cage today!  I have to say, although I do feel like the expert at great budgie setups now, redecorating Lola’s cage has always boggled my mind.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a cage setup for her that I loved 100%.  I find it much more difficult to redecorate for her, and especially to make accurate calculations on proper placement of perches, toys, and bowls to avoid being soiled.  That said, I do think that this one is actually pretty good for once!  I’ll see how it goes in the next few days and tweak accordingly.

The whole view, door closed

The whole view, door open

There it is!  I don’t have terribly many “rules” about cage setup really.  The “ingredients” change every time.  My main concerns are safety, using mostly natural wood perches with a variety of diameters and textures, including one roosting perch that must be double-bolted for security, and keeping those food and water bowls clean.  To suit Lola’s needs and play habits in particular, I also like to have a variety of toys including destructible, noisy, and foraging-type, and at least one swing.  The last requirement for Lola because she is a crazy and destructive bird, but really because I am also very paranoid, is that there cannot be any non-stainless steel metal.  All toys, food bowls, and even the bolt and wing nut on all perches have to be stainless steel.

The right side of Lola's cage

Here’s the right side.  The perches include one of the very beautiful Grey Feather Toys custom rope perches, a sandblasted manzanita corner perch, a ribbonwood perch, and a really awesome and actually very safe, non-abrasive pedicure perch made to look like a cholla perch (I’ll post a separate entry on this– I adore this perch!).  The toys include a stainless steel “MegaFone,” my lovely new Oliver’s Garden “Spike” toy, a super cool custom stainless steel toy (I’ll also post a separate entry on this– another cool one), and an acrylic treasure chest toy.

The left side of Lola's cage

Here’s the left side.  Perches include Lola’s double-bolted roosting perch, the adorable new platform perch, a wonderful barky willow perch, and you can’t see it in the photo, but also one Cajeput perch.  There’s also a lovely cotton swing, a home-made wood toy, an elephant foraging toy, and a stainless steel side-mounted pail for foot toys.

Lola on her new platform perch!

Loving those built in beads!

By the way, I got several requests for photos of Lola on the platform perch and her reaction to it.  At first, she thought it was some sort of alien life form coming to eat her, naturally, but as soon as I put an almond on it she decided it was okay by her!  Now she just loves it!  She is really, really enticed by those beads and has spent a lot of time trying to wiggle them out, but they aren’t budging.  She’s quite bothered.  I think this will keep her entertained for a good, long while!

So there it is, Lola’s brand new cage setup including all of her lovely new perches and toys!  I’m very pleased with it for once and am hoping that she is too.  Time will tell!

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