December 3, 2014 § 1 Comment
Sorry, but she’s not for sale! 🙂
In other news, I finally sat down and made a good four homemade toys for Lola! I haven’t done that in months so I was pretty proud. I even refilled the Avian Stainless Do the Twist toy base! Goodness, I don’t envy toymakers at all. My toys aren’t nearly as cute and they sure left my fingers sore!
I refilled the Avian Stainless toy base similarly to last time, with lots and lots of wood. I used hardwood beads, chunky monkey pine squares from Oliver’s Garden, pine chunks with embedded corks from Mother Pluckin’ Bird Toys, and lots of natural wood coins (great stuff like ocotillo, willow, and yucca) from Things for Wings.
I also made four other toys, the two above and two (really plain looking) rolling pin toy base toys which didn’t merit photos. I used the same types of woods as above. They’re plain but hey, they keep Lola busy!
November 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s officially “acceptable” to start decorating for my very favorite holiday of the year: Christmas! I love getting Lola’s cage decked out with festive decor and ornaments and garlands. Of course, it’s slightly more difficult with my “all natural” color scheme, but thankfully the ladies at I Got a Woody were up to the challenge! I asked them to design a custom toy for Lola– some sort of Christmas tree with a few parameters, but mostly I left the details up to their creative license. I absolutely love how it turned out! There may not be color, but I think it captures the spirit of the season quite well. Unfortunately, my photo really doesn’t do it justice, but it’s lovely.
To create the shape of a Christmas tree, they used four carefully carved balsa chunks that mimic the boughs and branches of a real tree, and embedded little ornaments into the branches– cute little hardwood beads. They make great foraging opportunities and always entice Lola. The tree is also decorated with chain garlands hanging from the different levels, and there is a real natural wood trunk at the bottom (not visible in the photo). Beneath the tree are extra fun presents, in the form of chunky corks and hardwood beads. It’s even topped off with a pretty wicker star! What’s more, it’s all strung on a stainless steel skewer, so when Lola’s all done destroying it, I can refill the base and turn it into an entirely new toy. This toy came out perfectly. I couldn’t be more pleased.
I purchased another Christmas toy, but without the color– it doesn’t quite look like Santa’s Belly without the distinctive red, but I still think the toy is awesome. It has two wicker baskets that hide lots of treats within, like basswood, turned corks, natural cork bark, and more. Of course, there’s lots to chew both above and below as well! I wonder how long it will take Lola to realize that it’s the perfect spot to hide an in shell almond.
A few other toys also incorporated the foraging opportunities of baskets, but in the form of side-mounted toys instead. They both come equipped with stainless steel mounts, which I love because they can be installed exactly where you want them (as opposed to only where there’s a horizontal cross bar). I especially like to install foraging toys at lower levels of the cage, where Lola might not necessarily visit without something to attract her there. The possibility of a treat hiding in one of her baskets always does the trick. The smaller basket on the left is open on top, but has cork, wicker, and beads flowing from it, whereas the basket on the right has a balsa “cover” that hides the goodies within.
These garland toys are huge and packed with so many toy parts. The first one, Twigs and Berries, really has a ton: basswood slats with bark, willow chunks, natural cork bark, tons of hardwood beads, shredders, paper, and probably more. It’s a really good size and will definitely last at least a little longer than Lola’s average toy. The next toy included a few custom twists, like larger vine balls (which are also great for foraging!), and includes balsa with embedded beads, cardboard, and even more beads. The garland toys can be hung at both their ends, either side to side, up and down, diagonally, or even hanging from the ceiling like a swing.
The last two toys are surefire hits. On the left is the Isis. I made the mistake last time of only getting the small version, which Lola quickly turned into toothpicks in no time. She couldn’t get enough of fishing the turned corks out of the thin, crunchy pine. So this time, we got the large. But perhaps I didn’t quite learn the lesson because I only ordered the Mini Sanitarium. (Yes, there’s and even bigger version!) This one has huge jumbo corks and basswood triangles. We’ll see how it fares under her beak!
The last addition to the order was one of the basswood platform perches. Oh my goodness, I had no idea how MASSIVE it is! It’s like a serving platter! I think it’s a bit too big for the inside of Lola’s cage, so I’ll have to figure out where it can go. Perhaps it’ll be her new balcony?
That ‘s it all together. We are so happy with this awesome order and are ready to get decorating!
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!
August 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
Here comes part two of spoiling Lola silly! This package of beautiful toys comes from British Columbia, Canada, home of Things for Wings! Danita, the wonderful owner, knows Lola’s tastes quite well and has created some real beauties for her this time around. This order we focused on tried and true favorites: lots of natural wood, lots of bark, lots of snappy wood beads… basically, lots of destruction!
First up are three classic favorites that I know will be relished to the very last bead by Lola’s big beak: the natural wood jellybean toy, natural wild strawberries, and Lea’s toy. If they look familiar, it’s because we order them all the time. I couldn’t believe how fast the jellybean one went the first time! It might’ve lasted an afternoon? Lola couldn’t get enough of it, and I love that it can be hung horizontally like a garland too at different levels in the cage.
Next up is something old, and something new! On the right are those truly fantastic little foraging blocks that I’ve written about before– Lola is going to be so excited that they are back, especially when I stuff them with in shell almonds. I love that they are so simple and all natural, but really provide a lot of enrichment and foraging fun for her. Anything that can keep her busy and her mind stimulated is great by me. On the left is a gorgeous platform perch made of barky basswood!
This is our very first time trying basswood for perches, so I was really excited to see this beautiful, chunky bark. I had to get a close-up to show you just how thick and delectable it is! One of Lola’s favorite activities is stripping her beautiful perches of their lovely bark, so I have no doubts that she will really relish this one. I also love the addition of the little wood toy hook. It probably won’t last too long with Lola but I like that I can spruce up the perch a bit before adding it to her abode! Of course, it comes equipped with stainless steel hardware as well. I just saw on the site that they’ve added yet another awesome basswood perch with two edges of bark that I might have to try for next time.
Last but not least, we put Danita’s creative juices to the test with two custom toy requests: one with lots of natural wood to chip, and one with lots of soft and chewy cork bark. Aren’t they beauties? I’m proud to see that the natural wood coin one has already made it onto the site as a permanent toy, which you can purchase here! I wanted something that focused on natural wood coins, which Lola absolutely loves, and generally last a little longer than snappy beads or cork. It’s gorgeous and just packed full of cottonwood and willow coins.
The second custom toy is just as gorgeous. It is chock full of natural cork bark– just look at all of those nooks and crannies! Finished off with shreddable seagrass, snappy wood beads, and even a few willow coins, this toy would appeal to the smaller birds too despite its large size. The cork is so soft that it’s practically shreddable, and I’ve yet to meet a bird that doesn’t love sinking its beak into cork bark. I know Lola will adore this one.
I can’t wait to start giving her these toys– she’s going to jump for joy! I’m just afraid of how quickly she will go through them. Thank you, Things for Wings!
December 24, 2013 § 3 Comments
We are so, so grateful for this beautiful orb swing that was made for little Sabrina! We feel very blessed. Peggy from Nature’s Bird Perch and Toys very kindly custom made this orb with Sabrina in mind and I think she is just going to love it. It’s made from natural grapevines with the bark still on, and it is very soft, thin, and peel-able, perfect even for the tiniest of beaks. Even though the perch diameters are small, however, this orb is HUGE! Despite Sabrina’s relatively large cage, I am wondering how I will get it to fit. But I’ll make it happen! It’ll require a major overhaul of her cage setup but I think she is going to love it.
The orb is very three-dimensional and has perches going every which way. She is going to have a blast climbing in and out and all around it. If you’ve never checked out Peggy’s website, you absolutely have to. She makes some of the most creative and unusual pieces for parrots that I have ever seen, from toys to tabletop stands to massive, beautiful, castle-like play gyms. We also used to have one of her awesome little playground-style jungle gyms (complete a swing set, monkey bars, and more), but one day clumsy me stepped backwards onto it, fell over, and broke it. 😦 That’s what you get for being clumsy. Anyway, we are totally in love with this orb and are even more pleased that Peggy very kindly used all stainless steel hardware on it for us. When we have more space, we are going to have to purchase a parrot parrotdise of all of Peggy’s different creations and collections!
Peggy even included these adorable little toys, perfectly sized for Brina. I have a feeling Lola is going to be jealous. 🙂
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 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.
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! 🙂