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!

Implementing Parrot Enrichment: No-Brainer Foraging

November 11, 2013 § 7 Comments

A few posts ago, I summarized a few excellent articles and a DVD on parrot enrichment.  (You can read that post here.)  Although I included examples in that post, I thought it would be helpful to show how I’ve since integrated what I’ve learned about parrot enrichment into my girls’ lives.  I personally felt that the biggest takeaway from my research was just how important foraging is: it covers four out of the five major categories (occupational, physical, sensory, and nutritional) and is a natural behavior that all birds exhibit in the wild.  So I have begun integrating as many foraging opportunities as possible for my two, making sure to switch them up and to keep them guessing.

There is a myriad of excellent information about foraging on the web, and tons of sites with fantastic ideas.  My ideas draw from many of them, and are only a drop in the bucket compared to just how many brilliant ideas there are out there.  But I try to focus on natural materials, and easier foraging opportunities.  My parrots are beginning foragers, and foraging is a particular challenge with a bird as tiny as Sabrina is, so these are the few foraging tips that I’ve decided to implement for right now.  Those with more advanced parrots will probably not find this entry particularly illuminating, but if you are getting started with foraging or just looking for different, easy tips to expand your foraging repertoire, I hope this helps!

Lola’s food bowl covered with kraft paper

Lola sticking her head under the paper instead

Some of the easiest foraging toys involve simply adding paper.  The first thing I’ve started doing with Lola is simply putting some paper on top of her food bowls, and securing it with a little masking tape.  I use natural Kraft paper and Japanese washi tape.  (As a side note, I find Japanese washi tape particularly useful because it is reusable, and also because you can find it in about a billion colors and prints and patterns!  To go with my natural theme, I use natural tones [browns, tans, dark leafy greens] and a wood grain washi tape.)  It costs next to nothing and it takes about two seconds, so there’s no excuse not to do it– except that Lola absolutely doesn’t get it.  For some reason, she doesn’t understand what in the world she is supposed to do.  I can lift up the paper a million times to show her the food underneath it, but once I re-secure the paper, she stares at me like, “Well??  Where’s my food?  What am I supposed to do with this?”  She even walked on top of the paper across the bowl and looked under the bowl as if the food was hiding from her.  Silly bird.  I’ll keep trying 🙂  This is something I really want her to learn how to do because it’s one of the only ways I can think of to combine her fresh foods plus foraging.

more easy paper ideas

In fact, there’s an entire world of foraging ideas out there that just use paper.  An assortment of some of the things I use is photographed above: mini kraft paper boxes, tiny tiny kraft paper bags, slightly larger kraft paper bags, one of my rolls of washi tape, and natural mini cupcake liners.  The possibilities are endless.  For an incredibly easy fix, wrap treats, squares of bird bread, or anything else in cupcake liners or dixie cups.  If I hand Lola any nut wrapped up in a cupcake liner or a dixie cup, she knows exactly what to do, and she wastes no time getting to it.  

miniature (2.5″ x 4″) kraft paper bags

Lola foraging with her paper bag almond treat

Another thing I absolutely love are these tiny little 2.5″ x 4″ kraft paper bags.  They perfectly fit most in shell nuts and are adorable!  I wrapped one up and secured it with some thin leather cord, and Lola loved it.  The paper is actually a little bit thicker than most kraft paper bags, so it makes for a good treat wrapper.  My good friend at Avian Avenue made a post about these bags and I have been obsessed ever since.  (Actually, a lot of these ideas are things that she came up with first!!  She is a truly inspirational parrot owner and has endless ideas for foraging toys and enrichment.  The paper wrapped toy below is an original of hers, and I only found out about washi tape because of her as well.)

I buy all sizes of kraft paper bags now, and they are so versatile and easy to use.  With a slightly larger bag, you can fill it up with any assortment of treats or foot toys or anything else and just hang it up in the cage.  It’s like a parrot pinata and by changing the contents with each bag, you’ll keep your parrot guessing.  (And again, it’s something that takes about 5 seconds and costs very little!)

diy paper wrapped foraging toy materials

step two: tie knots between each treat

the finished product!

But you don’t only have to use kraft paper bags as bags.  I have some larger ones around 9″ long and I will cut them in half (so that they’re two detached sheets rather than a bag) and use them to create this paper wrapped foraging toy.  In each section, there’s a treat: in this one, an almond, a hazelnut, and a dried cranberry.  I am going to hang this up in Lola’s cage and she’ll have to forage her way to treat-dom.  You can make even longer or shorter versions of it, or put anything you can dream up in each pocket.

a ton of different foraging ideas

Those paper boxes are also great.  I put them together and poke holes through to skewer them (see the toy on the right in the above photo), but I am also going to try to side mount one with some stainless steel hardware.  Above the cardboard box in the photo is a little wooden treat box that opens.  There’s another super simple idea.  You can find little wooden treat boxes or cups like this at most craft stores, or you can buy them online.  I purchased this one from Things for Wings, where Danita is kind enough to drill holes through them, or add some stainless steel hardware to make a side-mounted foraging cup like Lola has in her cage.  And on top of that there is a vine ball, which has endless possibilities (more on vine balls below).

In the center of the above photo is actually a deconstructed toy that I skewered.  It’s actually a Planet Pleasures two that’s much larger (has two of those coconut feeders) and comes on a long piece of metal chain.  I’m not a big fan of chain and I don’t use any non-stainless steel metals, plus the toy was ginormous, so I took the toy apart and made a smaller, skewered version.  I actually really love the parts to this toy because aside from being made from great natural materials (just bamboo and coconut shells), it’s an awesome foraging feeder that requires Lola to stick her head in the coconut hole, but the upper coconut piece actually moves along the skewer and can be lifted up, so that there is no chance of her getting her head stuck.  With a lot of the foraging toys out there that consist of a wood, bamboo, coconut, plastic, etc. base with a hole in it, you must be very careful to make sure that it is properly sized for your parrot and that your parrot won’t get his or her head stuck in it while busy foraging.  This one bears no such risk and I think it’s a great toy.  Plus the bowl is very generously sized, and is a great alternative to just putting a seed mix or pellets in a normal bowl everyday.

Finally, on the left in the photo up above is another toy that I deconstructed and made my own.  I actually don’t know the name of this toy or the brand, but in store it comes with a bunch of dyed parts and other things stuffed inside the cardboard peanut base and attached to it elsewhere.  I took all of that stuff off and skewered the cardboard peanut.  I’m going to stuff it with some paper and other materials, and use it as a treat cage.

One more awesome foraging material: skewers!  Skewers are so easy to use, and they’re reusable, and they make the perfect safe toy base for any size bird.  Unlike rope or cord or chain, there’s no chance of a skewer getting tangled around your bird’s neck or toes, and they are great for toys or simply for skewering fresh veggies or food.

Lola and her cornucopia toy

Now back to vine balls.  Vine balls area amazing.  Strangely, I didn’t know this until I ordered this very cool toy from Things for Wings called the Cornucopia.  Lola has always been such a wood chipper and has never really taken to shredding, so I had really stopped buying toys with vine balls or using them on my DIY toys.  I’m not sure what possessed me to buy this toy– probably how cute it is– but it’s awesome.  It’s a whole bunch of delectable parts in a basket (which is yet another great foraging toy part), which Lola loved to begin with, but she truly went nuts for it when I finally thought of putting treats inside the vine balls.  Not only did it turn her on to a new toy part to play with, but it also got her exploring a lot more.  I would put treats in some of the vine balls on some days, other vine balls on other days, and sometimes nothing, but every single day, she checked the entire toy without fail.  And the more I introduced vine balls in other toys, she did the same thing.  One of the best things about foraging is that when your parrot learns that there could be treats lurking in anything, they are way more willing to try new toys and to dive right in, and they are willing to go to different parts of the cage to explore and find them!

vine ball foraging toy

For example, once she learned that vine balls could contain treats, she would seek them out wherever she could.  I threw together this ugly skewered vine ball and wood toy in about 10 seconds, and it kept her busy for hours.  She could chip away at the wood and she could break for snack time, all from one spot.

a skewered plastic cup, vine ball, and natural box

Here’s another easy peasy foraging toy using a vine ball.  This one’s also got a plastic cup and a little foraging box too, but it was still a breeze to make.  With plastic cups nowadays I will usually wrap the treat in paper first (like one of those mini paper bags or mini cupcake liners), unless I know the plastic is food safe.

natural foraging materials

Those little boxes are really great resources as well.  A lot of bird toy stores carry little boxes or containers in all shapes and sizes, made out of great shreddable material.  These are just a few examples.

foraging toys made from natural shreddables

Stick them on a skewer, and suddenly you have a new toy!  Lola loves this one in particular for some reason, and it’s really funny to watch her stick her whole head and half her body into this toy to fish out one measly sunflower seed.  She pretty much always has some variation of this toy in her cage, and she forages for all sorts of dry foods out of it.

Similarly, natural baskets make great foraging toys.  You can skewer them, hang them, or side mount them, and throw some stuff in there.  Alternatively they also make great foot toy buckets.

shreddable bags

In the same vein, little shreddable bags also make great foraging toys, in particular for the little guys.  I often find it challenging to create foraging opportunities for Sabrina, but this is one of her favorites.  If I stick natural items or treats or anything into a little shopping bag like this one, Sabrina will go in and fish it right out.  She loves these little bags and has gone through a ton of them.  This one in particular is from Things for Wings.  Be careful about the handles when using them and make sure they are either too small for your bird to get his head through, or large enough for him to get his whole body through.  If they are somewhere in between, I’d snip the handles.

soft balsa wood toys

Soft woods make awesome foraging toys.  Just like the balsa wood toy on the right from I Got a Woody, I often take all sorts of soft wood and push little treats into them to embed them in the wood.  It will get your bird foraging but it’ll also help get them started destroying their toys and playing more.  I do this with yucca and cork as well, as they are both very soft and great for embedding sunflower seeds or pine nuts.  Mother Pluckin’ Bird Toys carries corks in all sizes, but they also carry jumbo size ones I haven’t seen anywhere else that make awesome foot toys.  Loofah is another cool toy part that also makes a great foraging base.

an extra small fantastic foraging block

Soft woods are great for embedded treats, but hard woods can do the trick too!  The wooden block toy above is an awesome (and actually very cost effective toy) from Kris Porter called the Fantastic Foraging Block.  (They also happen to be on sale right now!)  As you can see above, you can stick hole veggies in the holes (like I did with the carrot tops), or you can put pieces of them in the slats (like I did with the actual carrot).  Another great choice is are the wood toys from Parrot’s Treasure.  I’m sure if you were handy with a drill, you could also make some awesome ones on your own.

DIY foraging toy 1

DIY foraging toy 2

DIY foraging toy 3

Don’t get me wrong– I’m absolutely not handy with a drill.  But if you’re like me, you can still buy the parts for cheap and with a little patience, turn them into really cool toys!  Here are three toys that I’m extra proud of.  The one on top has a longer channel in it and three big hole openings, but you can make them more challenging by tying leather cord in them like I did so that the treats don’t just fall out and require some manipulation.  Below that, the middle toy has a ton of fun wood to chew and destroy, but also holes embedded in the center blocks for treats.  And finally, the one below it has two long foraging tubes that also have leather strips in front of the holes to make them more challenging.  Notice that all three of them are based on my trusty stainless steel skewers as well!

DIY bridge / ladder swing

detail shot of the foraging blocks on the swing

My masterpiece is the DIY bridge / ladder swing above, which also marked my official retirement from DIY toys.  (Just kidding.  Sort of.  I don’t take anything ambitious on anymore, at least.)  But this is a really cool project, and I even managed to slip some foraging opportunities in there for Lola while she’s hanging out and swinging.

But there’s so much more.  I recently mentioned the acrylic drawer toys from Parrot Island Inc.  Still love ’em!  They do admittedly require more of an upfront investment, but they are so well made that I am sure they’ll last forever.  Another easy toy to make yourself: a measuring cup or stainless steel spoon toy.  You can use what you already have, or buy a cheap set from the store.  I also recently purchased some paper straws, which I’ve seen really cool toys made out of.  I haven’t gotten them yet but will post some ideas once I receive them and figure out how to make something.  Another thing I’m working on is creating foraging trays for my guys, both Lola and Sabrina.  They’ll be wooden trays and I’ll fill them up with wood pieces, fresh branches and leaves, and other foraging material, and hidden will be some seeds, nuts, etc. that they will forage for.  It’s a similar idea to creating a foraging food mix rather than just a dry food mix, which I’ve seen some manufacturers actually create now.  I first learned about it here (a really cool link!).

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now, until my guys advance to more difficult foraging tasks.  I hope this has given you some ideas.  For me, the key thing is to keep them guessing and keep changing it up!  You might have noticed that Lola has about a billion different types of “bowls” in her cage: three food bowls, two foraging bowls, a coconut cup (will post about that soon), skewered boxes that serve as food bowls, acrylic drawers, a stainless steel toy bucket, etc.  (Yes, Sabrina has a ton too.)  They’re never all full at once, but she knows that I might put food or treats in any of them on any given day, so she checks them all.  This keeps her busy and hunting around for food– foraging!  It’s all about keeping her mind and body busy, and keeping her enriched.  

For way more ideas and inspirational articles, definitely take a look at the following: Desi Milpacher’s article on foraging toys and Kris Porter’s two awesome enrichment books.

An Old Favorite

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!

natural foraging toys from Parrot’s Treasure

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.

Lola with her scrumptious Fun Pop

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!

Christmas Foraging Toys

December 2, 2011 § 3 Comments

That’s right… toys that are not only delightfully Christmas-themed, but also promote foraging!  They are adorable, but they’re also going to work quite well as I try to keep up the foraging spirit in Lola’s cage.  She’s been doing quite well with her different foraging feeders, working for all of her food as of late.  These new toys should help her keep it up while also decorating her cage for the holidays!  They are made by Parrot’s Treasure, and I’ve really come to like their toys a lot.  The people at Parrot’s Treasure seem to really know what birds like and they design their toys with birds and safety in mind: they are simple, un-dyed, no frills type toys, but they are truly irresistible.  They have quite a range of toys as well, some that are very quickly easily destroyed, and others that are built to last.  I ordered a little bit of each.

the entire order from Parrot's Treasure

Although not Christmas-themed, the huge toy on the top left is the Whale Rattle, a very cool toy made from chunky 1-3/4″ pine wood.  This toy is thick!  It will definitely stand up to Lola’s beak, and will serve as a perfect long term foraging toy that I can load with pine nuts, sunflower seeds, and other small treats.  There are also two other hanging toys, this time both Christmas-y: a reindeer and a candy cane.  These are both adorable.  The little shapes are so festive and I love that they are sanded down so nicely and smoothly.  They were definitely made with care.

Lola and her new reindeer toy

Lola has already begun to show her reindeer some love by biting off the leather strips that hold together its heart-adorned hoofs!  (And yes– that’s her new grapevine wood perch!!  Huge hit already!!)  I haven’t even loaded the toys up with treats, but she adores them as is.  What I love about these is that they aren’t just the simple pine shapes with holes, but they are also decorated with chewy leather strips and crunchy hardwood pieces.  Lola adores every aspect of these toys.

some of the smaller Christmas toys

I also absolutely adore these tiny Christmas foot toys.  On the left is an adorable hardwood snowman with tons of different shapes to crunch and snap.  On top are two Christmas trees with leather “ornaments.”  Lola’s latest craze is chewing on and snapping leather strips, no matter how thick.  I came home one day to all of her toys strung on leather slaughtered and laying lifelessly on the floor of her cage!  I had to re-string them all with something a little bit tougher.  But I know she will love destroying the leather on these little trees.  Finally on the right is an adorable pine Christmas tree that I can stuff with treats, but it’s also decorated with a hardwood trunk and discs.

some more of Lola's favorite foot toys

Finally, I also purchased some of the foot toys that Lola was absolutely obsessed with on our last order: the Fun Pops and the Yum Yums.  I never thought that a little scrap of pine wood could entertain her so much.  She is obsessed with the curvy shapes and corners of these yum yums!!!  I don’t even have to put treats in them: she just chips away.  The Fun Pops are probably her biggest favorite though.  The combination of soft pine plus hardwood stems and move-able parts… it drives her insane.  She goes through these in seconds.  The last toy in the center is one we’re trying for the first time: a rattle!  It’s made up of all hard wood so perhaps it will entertain her for more than just a few moments… but with that big beak, you never know!

Lola and her Amazing New Foraging Toys!

May 3, 2011 § 5 Comments

One of my friends on Avian Avenue very seldom recommends a toy or product.  She knows that most people have seen it all, and that so many lines of toys are simply more of the same– but when she does take the time to recommend something, I know it’s good.  The last time she posted about a vendor, I ended up with an amazingly high quality and beautiful Wingdow Stand, which I love and highly recommend.  Well, recently, she shared a new vendor, called Parrot’s Treasure.  After reading about her recommendation, taking a look at their products myself, and speaking to the owners of the company, I decided to try out a few of their products.  And boy, am I impressed!

A bear, a parrot, and an elephant foraging toy

They make a small but extremely creative line of foraging toys, including various shapes ranging from dinosaurs to cacti to gingerbread men.  All toys are carved, sanded, decorated, and drilled out of very high quality and clean, un-dyed, fragrant pine, and are just beautiful!  Usually, they come with adorable faces or other details that are not designed with dye but rather a wood burning tool that simply darkens the wood (and is use exclusively for toy making purposes).  I opted to have them “plain,” but they look very cute with the faces too.  Finally, the holes are stuffed with delicious pine nuts to entice parrots into foraging!  I just love that these are not only fun, enriching foraging toys, but they are also high quality, un-dyed, and just plain adorable.

Foot toys galore! Fun Pops and Yum Yums.

Lola playing with a Fun Pop!

They also make really great and creative foot toys– here is a sampling of some of the ones I purchased.  Up top are the “Fun Pops,” lollipop-style foot toys with room for a treat, but also some great movable parts on the bottom that add even more fun.  Below are the “Yum Yums,” very whimsically shaped foot toys that I would guess are the scraps from the carvings of the animals.  I love this idea though: rather than tossing them, turning them into completely functional and even very fun foot toys!  They make regular square ones too, but I actually love these shapes and think that a lot of them would be easier for a smaller or medium-sized parrot to hold.  As you can see, Lola adores them.  She loves extracting the treat from the foraging hole, but she continued playing with her fun pop long after the treat was gone, until she had decimated it to little pieces.  I will definitely be purchasing more of these!

Lola's tongue at work foraging with her Elephant toy

Lola finds the toys equally as enthralling.  My personal favorite is the Elephant “Rattle,” which is basically skewered on a wooden dowel.  I removed the long leather portion and will skewer those pieces, and will do the same to the parrot and bear toys (I prefer skewers to strings for in cage toys), but the elephant works really well and safely on the wooden dowel.  I put this toy in Lola’s cage and didn’t hear a peep out of her for thirty minutes.  I have NEVER seen her so amazed by a toy, ever!!

Not only does this toy have great, movable hard wood parts that she adores gnawing on and snapping, but it’s a foraging toy too!  As you can see above, she just went nuts trying to extract those treats.  When I first saw these toys, I thought they were great as “beginner” foraging toys, but after seeing them in person, you can actually increase or decrease the difficulty.  The holes are fairly deep, so you can push treats pretty far in making them harder to extract.  The small size of the holes also makes it a bit more difficult for those with bigger beaks like Lola.

As you can see from the video, when she gets frustrated with foraging, she switches to wood chewing instead.  It is such a fantastic way to keep her busy, and I know prevent her from being bored when I’m at work.  The problem with so many of her foraging toys is that I load them up in the morning but within a half hour they’re pretty much emptied and no more fun if I’m not home.  When I went to work yesterday, I loaded it up, and when I came home in the afternoon she was still working on a few of the more difficult to extract treats.  I love this toy!!

I truly think these toys are fantastic and are such a great way to prevent boredom, especially for us working parrot owners.  You can check out the full line of toys at Parrot’s Treasure.  I am happy to report that they provided excellent customer service and were very, very open to my custom requests and tweaks.  I highly recommend these toys and I am so thankful that my friend let me know about them!

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