September 3, 2014 § Leave a comment
Installment three of spoiling Lola silly… you didn’t think we were over just yet, did you? This awesome bundle of fun comes from I Got a Woody Bird Toys, whose toys Lola just can’t get enough of! This time around, I decided to try out a whole bunch of brand new toys of theirs that Lola hasn’t seen before, but also stock up on all of her favorite skewer clusters. I love that they have so many toys that encourage some form of foraging as well as so many different types of toys.
For example, some of my favorite types of toys are side-mounted toys, but they aren’t nearly as common as hanging toys. I like side-mounted toys because they don’t have to be hung from the top of the cage or a horizontal bar; you can put them anywhere and exactly where you like. They also serve a wonderful purpose in travel cages. I don’t like to put any hanging toys in travel cages because with the stop and go motion in a car, it’s so easy for a hanging and swinging toy to suddenly become a danger or a hazard for a parrot, knocking him off the perch or even doing more harm than that. I Got a Woody has recently started creating a lovely collection of side-mounted toys, and some of them even come with the option of stainless steel hardware, which is my favorite type of side-mounted toy as it is the most secure.
Here’s a side view of the hardware in the first toy, the Devil’s Knot. This toy has a whole bunch of arms loaded with fun parts, but the base is half of a wooden chunk with stainless steel hardware. It’s such a great side-mounted toy that you can put anywhere in the cage. Lola is absolutely nuts about these mahogany toy parts, but there are very few toys that incorporate them. This one is in her cage and she’s already picked apart several of the mahogany pieces.
The second toy in the original picture above is another awesome side-mounted toy called the Tequila. This one is a perfect candidate for a travel cage, which is exactly where it will go. What I like is that there are no swinging arms or parts that might pose a danger in a moving vehicle, but there’s still tons of fun and foraging packed in.
Next up, I chose two new hanging toys for Lola, the Twisted Sister as well as the Lucinda. Below those are three of Lola’s favorite skewer clusters, which incorporate an awesome foraging foot toy as well as beads and bark. Lola is a huge fan of those already, but I know she’s going to love these two new toys as well. The Twisted Sister has tons of thin, chippable basswood slats that even have bark on them, and sandwiched between them are wonderful morsels of cork bark. What bird could resist so much bark and chipping fun?
I had to take a close up of the Lucinda to show you how much is packed in there. There’s cork bark, cork bark stuffed with beads, basswood stuffed with miniature pine cones, barky curly things, thin natural wood coins with bark, seagrass, and shreddable paper! This toy has so much fun stuff packed in plus so many little nooks and crannies hiding beads and mini pine cones– I can’t wait to give it to Lola. There’s so much going on here.
There’s no way I can name them all, but Lola also got a ton of different skewer cluster pieces and foot toys. They combine her precious mahogany, lots of tasty cork bark, some pine, some basswood, some more cork, some snappy beads, and probably more that I’m forgetting. On the bottom left are also some awesome basswood and cork pieces that the lovely ladies at I Got a Woody threw in as a gift.
They’re all awesome, but this is a new foot toy I was particularly excited about– the Vesta. It’s a piece of cork bark stuffed with more cork and then finished off with even more cork and wood beads on the end! If your birds like cork, I think this one is a must-have. Cork within cork surrounded by cork 🙂
Finally, I finished off the order with three HUMONGOUS foot toys! I knew they’d be big but I didn’t quite realize just what I was getting Lola into. I think they’re a bit too big for her to hold on her own, but I’ve put two in her foot toy pail and she seems to be enjoying them while the pail supports their hefty weight. In the future though, I think these foot toys belong in the talons of the big guys, like a big Greenwing or Hyacinth Macaw, or large Cockatoo.
All in all I don’t think we did too shabby. Lola is already enjoying several of these awesome toys. Since the ladies at I Got a Woody are so darned creative and always thinking up awesome new creations, I’m sure it won’t be long until we have an entire batch of more brand new toys to try out! Thanks ladies!
March 4, 2014 § Leave a comment
You know how I feel about stainless steel… can’t get enough of it! But with the demise of Grey Feather Toys, an old favorite of ours, it’s been difficult to find other companies that make great clangy, noisy toys with 100% stainless steel (and of course, ones that allow for customization, since we’re not big fans of plastics either). That void was filled when Avian Stainless opened up shop. Actually, I shouldn’t say that they “filled a void” left by GFT– they carved their entirely own, unique space into the market. They’re not new anymore, and I’ve mentioned them on the blog before, but I don’t think I’ve taken the chance to talk about how much I love their toys just yet. Owned by the some wonderful people behind Avian Organics, one of my most trusted brands of healthy, organic parrot food, they put the same thought into each toy as they do their food products. Like their foods, these toys are truly top of the line. Not only are they hand-crafted by a professional welder himself, but they are only made with the best quality stainless steel in totally innovative designs that put safety first. This is clear in their awesome, awesome toys.
I recently placed a small order for one toy each for Lola and Sabrina. Lucky Lola girl got this beautiful toy, the Crosswinds, with the a few custom tweaks of no plastics and full welding. This is an awesome toy. First, it’s totally fun for Lola: there are four noisy bells for her to clang and ring and bang, which she gets a kick out of, but more than that, it’s built with safety in mind. The two crossbars are welded together which are in turn welded to the upright bar.
What’s more, even the eye at the top– where a quick link can be threaded– is fully welded to the toy. For a bird like Lola who can easily ply open most o-rings, this is such a crucial detail, and it’s so great that Avian Stainless does this! Also notice the thin, cylindrical rods above each bell. These rods cover up the stainless steel chain from which each bell hangs. I love this feature, which Avian Stainless was the very first on the market to design and implement. They keep little nails or the tips of beaks from the chance of being caught in the chain, plus they add even more noisy fun. It’s so smart because some owners don’t like to use chain for safety reasons, but need something more substantial than rope, that will stand up to big beak for a long time. The addition of these rods slipped over the chain makes these toys both safe as well as built to last.
Little Sabrina got this adorable toy, the Puzzle Bell. It’s a single bell, more fit for a smaller parrot, but it has the addition of a beautifully shined and designed puzzle piece as its clapper. I have no idea how they get their puzzle pieces to shine like this! There are these really cool, pretty designs on the surface of the puzzle piece that reflect light in all different directions and truly make it sparkle. It makes a very pretty noise. Of course, the chain is also covered by Avian Stainless’s signature rods, which is important for a little one like Sabrina who tends to have long little nails that can easily get caught in things.
Like I said, I only ordered the girls one toy each… but Avian Stainless very generously included even more for us! We are very, very lucky to be one of the first recipients of the Square Dance toy as testers. (I’m posting a bit late!) Wow, I can’t say enough of this toy! It’s a big one, but it’s not so big that it overwhelms Lola. Even though the overall size is large, the bells are the same size as the ones on both the Crosswinds and the Puzzle Bell above, so it’s not too big for her to be able to play with or manipulate. But boy does it make a lot of noise! It’s a very neat, complex toy with square cross barsfor the added fun of tugging each bell on its opposing sides. There are even added washers for more noise and fun. Lola was a little nervous around it for about a day but has since warmed up to it once she realized what a racket she could make with it!
Finally, we got one last wonderful surprise, which was one of the refillable foot toy skewers that Avian Stainless was testing out a short while back. These are really, really neat: they’re stainless steel shovels with stainless steel balls at the end that can be unscrewed, turning them into skewers! They’re great foot toys for medium to larger parrots. They ultimately decided to go with non-removable balls at the ends of the skewers for safety reasons, but I was the lucky recipient of this test design, strictly for out-of-cage, supervised play only. As you can see, Lola is very suspicious of hers and is sure that it is an alien, but I’ll report back when she begins to think otherwise.
Thanks to Avian Stainless for these wonderful, high quality toys and especially for letting us test some of them out for you. We highly recommend these toys! (On a related note, as always, none of the reviews on my blog are solicited in any way nor do I receive compensation for them.)
January 16, 2014 § 2 Comments
2014 has only just begun and it already feels like a whirlwind! Goodness, sometimes life can really get in the way. 🙂 Anyway, just a few random updates here with no particular threading holding everything together.
First up, Lola has brand new all-time favorite foot toys! The wonderful Kris Porter of Parrot Enrichment designed some amazing and enticing foot toys, exclusive to Things for Wings. They are awesome! They are perfect for a smaller in shell almond (I usually buy Lola these chunky big kahuna ones because they are much more challenging, but these holes are only 3/4″ I believe, so only smaller ones will fit). I lodged a few inside the foraging holes and let her work away. They drive her nuts because she can’t get the almond out without actually breaking into the wood. It’s one of the few foraging toys that combines both visibility of the treat but also more of a challenge. I have trouble with increasing the difficulty rate of a lot of Lola’s foraging because for her, once it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. But these give her visual confirmation of a reward, and also make her work much harder for it than a lot of my more simple foraging toys.
On the topic of Things for Wings, we’ve gotten two awesome packages from them in the past month or two, but keep forgetting to take photos. I did snap one of her gorgeous Sunflower Basket, which is both a toy and a forager and a perching area all in one! I’m wondering if it will fit in her cage. I’m planning on rearranging the whole cage soon, though, and will definitely be adding a lot of our new perches (like the Fantastic Foraging Perch or the chunky willow bark foraging perch!) so I will have photos soon. Sabrina also got some cute little toys.
What’s that? More toys? Well, I couldn’t resist placing an order with Oliver’s Garden before they shut down for new year renovations. This one was just a small one but we got some awesome goodies– Lola’s beloved crabby toy, an awesome new lobster toy that has stainless steel hardware to be side-mounted, as well as an awesome hitching post perch for Sabrina and a tiny maple candy toy too. To fit in with Sabrina’s all natural oasis, I switched out the colorful beads below the perches with some natural ones, but it still looks gorgeous. I’m thinking of using it as a foraging platform for her and putting some natural materials in it and maybe some sprinkles of seed or crumplets for her to pick at. I love that she will be able to perch on the small, natural wood perches on the side.
In other news, here’s a photo of a big batch of mixed veggies I made the other day. It had a mix of fresh and dry ingredients: sweet pea shoots, broccoli, kale, bok choy, watercress, coconut, pomegranate, red peppers, carrots, mulberries, mango, goji berries, figs, laver (seaweed), corn, peas, sesame seed, dandelion, and alfalfa. I think that’s everything. For some reason it was still very wet and my attempt to freeze it didn’t pan out well but I’ll keep trying.
October 21, 2013 § Leave a comment
Lola and Sabrina received a very exciting package today! This one was from a brand new vendor for us, which I don’t actually do very often. I do a lot of heavy research into the toys I buy, and ask the companies and toy makers a lot of questions before I feel comfortable making a purchase– it’s not every toy company that passes muster (far from it!). But after reading loads of positive reviews about I Got a Woody Bird Toys and consulting my trusted friend at Just Poifect!, my interest was piqued. I was really interested in a bunch of the toys on their site, and knew that they’d be big hits with Lola and Sabrina. The owners of the store were very responsive to my questions and even open to custom tweaks, which is big deal for me (as you all probably know!). So I finally took the plunge! Of course, I asked for everything to be all natural, un-dyed.
What attracted me to the store was the focus on using lots and lots of wood in their toys: most of the toys use wood bases and have a lot of delectable wood parts, which I knew immediately would attract Lola, of course. They have really nice cuts of clean, natural pine wood, lots of barky natural wood rounds, and a new wood that we’ve yet to try: basswood. But even Sabrina can get in on the fun, because they also carry much softer alternatives, including balsa, yucca, and coveted cork. Cork is something that I’d been looking for for ages, but only recently have North American toy makers seemed to embrace this soft wood that is so popular with birds. Now, a few stores have popped up here and there using cork (usually in the wine bottle stopper form) as toy parts, and I’m sure all have found it’s been a big seller.
Here are a few examples of exactly what I mean. These awesome toys incorporate basswood, cork, and balsa for some really great wood chipping action. The first toy on the left is a deconstructed Basswood Stairway to Heaven, that I skewered for Lola. (They sent me the parts; I threw them onto a skewer.) She’s never tried basswood before, and even though it’ll probably be pretty easy for her, I’m sure she’ll have a great time picking the cork out of each piece as well. (She goes nuts for anything embedded in wood.) The other two tiny toys are for Sabrina. One is the Maniac, albeit a very itty bitty version customized for her (she’s fearful of large things), which I am sure she will love to pick at, and second is the Balsa Woody. I actually think the size of the Balsa Woody might intimidate Sabrina still but I’ll introduce it slowly and hopefully she’ll take to it. Now that I’ve seen the Basswood Stairway to Heaven parts in person, though, I’m actually thinking that it’s small enough that she might enjoy the balsa version as well.
I also really liked that the store used wood for a lot of their toy bases. One of the things I’m especially weary of for in the cage, unsupervised toys is the use of long strings or ropes, or other bases that can pose safety issues once the birds destroy the toy parts, revealing long strands of naked cords. This isn’t a concern so much with Sabrina, who is generally pretty gentle with her toys and takes several weeks to get through them, but for a real wood chipper like Lola who can get through a single toy in few hours or less, it’s a worry. That’s why I was really excited to see so many toys with wood bases, like the Basswood Forager and the Jersey Devil. I knew that they would not only be huge hits with Lola, but also be safe toys that I wouldn’t have to worry about leaving in the cage while I’m gone at work or school. The Basswood Forager (also a deconstructed version) is embedded with enticing wood parts that I’m sure will get Lola riled up! The Jersey Devil has really neat pine cones embedded in the side, and the wood base is chock full of delectable natural wood coins and twigs. I love that they left the bark on the bottom end of the toy as well.
Finally, I also ordered some other toys that I knew would be big hits with Lola: the Gumball, the Wacky Woody, and tons of different foot toys. The Gumball I’m sure Lola will adore with its crunchy pine wood and embedded wood pieces, and the Wacky Woody is right up her alley, with tons of snap-able hardwood pieces. Actually, I was really quite amazed at this toy when I took it out of the box– I couldn’t believe how many toy parts there were on it! I will admit that I thought it was a bit pricy when I saw it on the website, but after I saw it in person and realized just how many snap-able wood pieces went into this toy (and how much my hands would hurt after tying all of those knots), I realized it was quite a good investment. More importantly, I think Lola will certainly agree. The foot toys are also fantastic. I ordered a large variety of different types, but I think she will particularly love the flat, square slices of pine with the bunches of embedded beads, and the slides of wood with the bark still on with embedded beads as well.
For those of you feeling bad for Sabrina, don’t you worry– I think she’s the real winner here. Finally, Leslie and Dawn from I Got A Woody were kind enough to custom make these beautiful cork bark perches for my little girl! These are perches I commonly see used in Europe in particular, but they are totally unavailable here. I floated the idea by Leslie and Dawn and they loved it– and came up with these beauties! I purchased two smaller cork perches and two larger, shelf-like perches for Sabrina. I think these are going to be huge hits with her. Not only are they a nice and soft wood with so many natural nooks and crannies that will create a comfortable, non-uniform surface for her little feet, but this cork bark is pick-able, shreddable, and 100% fun for her as well. Plus, it will look fantastic as I continue to transform her cage into the natural oasis that I envision for her.
Here’s another confession: I also thought these were pretty pricy when I first saw the costs. But upon taking them out of the box, they were seriously impressive: they’re actually much, much larger than I’d imagined they’d be, and they are very, very thick. Even with Sabrina’s incessant picking and prodding, I think they’ll last quite a long time. I am even considering giving one to Lola, because they are thick enough (and big enough!) that they might even stand up to her chewing. I would certainly not hesitate to give one of these to a medium or larger bird that is not too destructive. Of course, they are also outfitted with stainless steel hardware.
Here’s the whole order, all together, and I must say I am quite pleased with this beautiful bunch of natural and enriching wood toys. A big thanks to I Got A Woody!
October 10, 2013 § Leave a comment
Hi everybody! A big thanks to all of the people who have sent kind comments and messages about the blog. I do read and appreciate them all, and miss having more time to update. I’m in year two of my program now, and it’s going exceedingly well, so I know this sacrifice is not for naught! I am going to try to make a little more time, however, to update at least intermittently, so here’s my first in a long while.
I have been extremely lazy on the toy making front these days, but luckily our favorite vendors have kept Lola and Sabrina well-stocked. This week, Lola was very happy to receive some toys she hadn’t seen in a long while! This box was from an old favorite of Lola’s, Parrot’s Treasure. She really adores their line of foraging toys. I purchased two of her favorite, the Elephant foraging toy, along with their delectable Fun Pop foot toys and some Star Rattles. What’s more, Parrot’s Treasure was kind enough to send along some free samples of their Yum Yum foot toys as well!
What I love about these toys is that they are simple and all natural– the toys that I picked are only made up of three parts: pine, hardwood, and leather– but they provide a lot of fun and enrichment for the birds. The prices actually include each crevice and hole being packed with a delicious pine nut. Even after the pine nuts are gone, I like to pack them with sunflower seeds for Lola because those are big motivators for her, but that’s the beauty of these toys– you can load them with whatever you want, and the heavy duty ones, like the Elephant, can be used and re-used over and over again. When I load up one of these toys before I leave for work, I know it keeps Lola busy and entertained throughout the day.
She goes absolutely nuts when she sees a Fun Pop, which for her is the perfect foot toy! Plus, she loves the satisfaction of snapping the hardwood, or sinking her beak into all of that all natural pine. The pine nuts are actually really tightly squeezed into these toys, so they’re not an instant reward. She has to work at it. I highly recommend them!
People have been really pressing me for some some more updates. I promise they’re coming. Next up I will write about a brand new store that’s on my girls’ favorites lists, and also how my quest for an all natural cage for Sabrina is going… coming soon!