Top Notch Stainless Steel Toys

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.

the crosswinds toy

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.

notice the welded eye at the top

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.

the puzzle bell

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.

the square dance toy

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!

a foot toy skewer!

lola looks on suspiciously…

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.)

Natural Toys Aplenty!

July 26, 2012 § 4 Comments

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

goodies from Things for Wings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spoiling the Littles

February 19, 2012 § 7 Comments

As per usual, Danita from Things for Wings has done it again!  Sabrina has been gradually plowing through all of the little bird toys we have here, so I’m replenishing this month.  But buying quality toys for little birds isn’t actually that easy.  For one, my two can be very fearful, so size is a top concern: anything bigger than they are is generally a no.  Other concerns are materials: I use strictly stainless steel metals and I avoid balsa wood, two restrictions that rule out the vast majority of small bird toys on the market.  Thus, purchasing custom toys is always a very appealing option, and nobody does custom better than Danita.  I simply tell her a few “ingredients” and overall dimensions, and she whips up the most beautiful concoctions.

toys

toys for the littles

Here’s the entire collection of the little bird toys.  I’ll go through them in groups…

preening toys

Here are the preening toys, or any toys with lots of fluffy supreme cotton rope.  I just love them!!  Two of them are on animal-shaped leather bases, a bear and a horse, and they have lovely little beads and baubles on top.  On the top right is based on little vine balls with lots of beads and plastic chain to beak.  So cute!

a close-up of one of the preening toys

My absolute favorite of the preening toys, however, is this little gem.  Based on two lovely pine wood slickety sticks, it is loaded with pacifiers of all colors and some soft cotton rope as well.  I’m going to have a very hard time choosing who gets this one!

toys with mixed textures and colors

The next group of toys have a lovely mixture of natural bases and materials with colorful, beak-able beads.  The one on top is actually the custom toy I purchased for Charles a few months ago, but it turned out so cute that it became a regular!  Charles’s version is blue, so I purchased a purple one for Sabrina.  On the left is an adorable toy that combines willow wood, a rolled up shreddable paper … thing?, seagrass, and a few beads.  It’s actually a foot toy that I’ll be giving to the budgies.  On the right is another custom toy based on a small round of willow wood with lots of cute beads and heavy hemp rope.

two hanging basket toys

Next up are two adorable little hanging baskets, one for each!!  The seagrass one has purple accents for Sabrina and the coconut one has blue and green for Charles.

two natural toys

Finally, there are two natural toys.  Both are based on beautiful and fragrant eucalyptus wood, whichI’d read budgies like in particular, so I asked Danita to use little eucalyptus wood trunks as the bases.  They combine the wood with loofah, seagrass, shredders, and vine stars to make these enriching combinations of textures.

I’m so happy with this bounty of toys!  Danita’s creativity and imagination just astound me.  She always comes up with the most adorable and innovative designs; they never look tired or boring.  I’m glad to know that the budgies have a lot of extra toys waiting for them.  I brought a lot of toys over to my parents’ house for their spare cages and I keep forgetting that we have less toys here than I thought.

Lola's special toys and treats

Of course, I couldn’t leave Lola out of the fun either.  She also received three lovely custom toys and a few shreddable foraging boxes to add to her skewers.  The first toy in the bottom left is a very cool horizontal toy that I’m going to put in her travel cage.  I like horizontal toys for the travel cage because they can be attached at both ends, and therefore don’t pose any risk because they don’t swing and can’t accidentally knock her off a perch or something on a bumpy ride.  This toy combines some great woods like apple, alder, dogwood, and possibly others, along with hard wood, vine balls, and pod cups.  The smaller toy in the upper middle of the photograph is an all-leather toy on a ocotillo base.  Lola is obsessed with chewing and snapping leather cords right now, so I think this toy will satisfy her quite a bit!

close-up of the coconut toy

Finally, there’s one more very cool toy on a coconut base strung on seagrass.  It combines different types of natural woods along with hardwood, coconut husk, and these neat pod things that Lola has never tried before.

Yay!!  Toy reserves have been replenished and I’m sure the budgies and Lola will be quite pleased to know it.  The budgies are extra lucky this month though and have a few other very exciting and big treasure troves of new toys coming their way as well.  Can’t wait for those to arrive soon!

Updated Review: King’s 33×25 Aluminum Cage

January 1, 2012 § 7 Comments

Happy New Year!!  Here’s to new beginnings in 2012.  I hope you all have a very happy and healthy new year.

Since Lola has had her King’s Cages 33×25 flat top aluminum cage for over a year now, I figured it would be a good time to write an updated review.  (You can read the original review here.)  To re-state, this is not her normal cage, this is a temporary cage that we use only when we are visiting my parents’ house.  I feel that it is too small for her as a normal cage and that a bird her size really needs much more space.  As a temporary cage, however, it does a great job.

the entire cage

the view with the door open

Here’s how the cage currently looks. I still like the simple shape (although I do think that the dome top is quite nice too, plus it offers a lot more vertical space). I like that it is streamlined and I like the silver on silver coloring. More importantly, it functions really well as a temporary cage because it is so incredibly lightweight and easy to move. I can’t tell you what an enormous world of difference it makes, especially in comparison to Lola’s stainless steel cage at home. It is a breeze to wheel around and even to lift, if I have to. That said, it isn’t at all flimsy, but rather it is very sturdy and strong.  That’s the beauty of aluminum!

One downside of aluminum, however, is that it is the biggest pain to clean.  It seems that once anything dries onto it, it is there to stay, unless you scrub and scrub and scrub until your fingers and hands are sore.  I will admit that Lola is a disgustingly messy eater, but this cage is definitely more difficult to clean than both her stainless steel and her powder-coated cages.

the inner right side of Lola's cage

the inner left side of Lola's cage

As you can see, it’s not a huge cage, but it has ample room for at least a few different types of perches and toys.  I currently have Lola set up with a grapevine wood perch, a platform perch, two ribbonwood perches (one double bolted), a safety pedicure perch, and a great cotton boing.  She has a good amount of toys, and two food bowls as well.  By the way, that sad looking brown and orange toy up top used to look like this:

the original U Crabby? toy

Lola seems to have had a blast destroying the once adorable little crab.  You might also remember the adorable custom Snowman toy that Lola got for Christmas, which was once very big and loaded with toy parts.  Well, here’s what the poor thing looks like now:

That’s really all that’s left of the toy– that and a vineball or two underneath– and the only poor remaining Snowman head looks like he suffered a zombie apocalypse and had his brains eaten.

Anyway, back to the cage.  My biggest complaint is the feeder doors.  They are a real pain in the bum to clean.  I have the “upgraded” stainless steel bowls, which I highly recommend for anybody purchasing this cage.  They look like this:

But the way that the doors are made, with all of the ridges, make them the perfect spot for tons of little crumbs and husks and other bits of food to get stuck!

As you can see, lots of little bits and pieces can get stuck in there, and that’s after being wiped away.  I had to get a toothbrush to clean these out properly (and I have to do it after every meal too).  I wouldn’t bother to use the feeder doors at all and just get separate ring holders to put elsewhere, but my mother doesn’t feel comfortable with Lola’s beak and likes using the feeder doors.

Aside from the feeder doors, I have one other warning.  I say warning because it’s not really a complaint, but just a warning that there is a good reason that these cages do not come in bigger sizes, as they are NOT meant for larger birds.  I as well as many other people have contacted King’s asking if they will do larger sizes, but they said no because the aluminum is not strong enough to stand up to bigger beaks.  I was confused by this because there is another company that makes aluminum cages for macaws and cockatoos, but apparently the anodization process is key here.  As you may know, aluminum is a highly toxic metal, and poses a great danger to birds if ingested.  Aluminum cages, however, are generally considered safe because they are anodized, a process that makes them incredibly hard and durable, and in some cases can make them even more hard than stainless steel.  But it depends on to what extent they are anodized.

I guess that the aluminum that King’s uses is anodized, but not to the point that it is harder than stainless steel, as I would guess the other company’s aluminum cages are.  I was putting together Lola’s King’s aluminum travel cage prior to the visit to prepare everything, and I accidentally slammed it against something else (I’m really clumsy).  I can’t remember exactly what, but it must’ve been pretty hard because it actually chipped part of the square tubing of her cage.  Some aluminum flaked off, which could have easily been ingested (and would have cause heavy metal poisoning).  Thankfully it was only on an isolated part on the outside of the cage, so it’s not an issue, but it did show me that I have to be very careful with aluminum.  I am fairly certain that Lola’s beak isn’t quite strong enough to chip it as she plays pretty rough and tumble in her travel and temporary cages, and thankfully doesn’t show much interest in attempting to chip it, but a large macaw or a cockatoo would be a different story.

All in all, this really is a great and very well-made cage, but please remember to keep the appropriately sized bird in it.  You do not want to take the risk of keeping a larger bird with a more powerful beak in a cage this size, not only because it is too small, but because it might pose a metal poisoning risk.  I would say that this makes a great cage for smaller poicephalus, pionus, conures, etc., or a temporary cage for a slightly larger bird.

I hope this updated review helps, and once more, a very Happy New Year to you and yours.

An Adorable Christmas Surprise!

December 12, 2011 § 2 Comments

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

a Lego model budgerigar!

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

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

budgie toy number one

budgie toy number two

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

budgie toy number three, from the top

budgie toy number three, from below

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

three more of Lola's custom toys

a horizontal version of the original custom toys

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

another beautiful grapewood perch

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

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

Review: Expandable Habitats Budgie Cage

October 27, 2011 § 22 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.

Fresh and Clean Soaps!

June 19, 2011 § 6 Comments

I am very impressed with Quaking Canopy Soap Co. and for the first time I can say I absolutely love soap!  Quaking Canopy goat milk soaps, at least.  I have never gotten excited about soaps before.  In fact, I’m one of those people that really dreads buying soaps because I hate scents, I have sensitive skin, I am into buying chemical and usually fragrance-free products for both my and the birds’ sake, and I also try to be as sustainable as possible.  A lot of soaps contain petroleum products (well, dish soaps, but it’s still a pain– Dawn, for example, is a petrol-based soap) and if it’s not petrol then it’s palm oil, which is rapidly causing the habitat destruction of orangutans and general deforestation.  So as you can see, I am nitpicky and neurotic to the maximum.  I use organic, fair trade, all natural baby soaps for most of my needs because they are super gentle and generally the least offensive to my nose.

Well, I really needed to buy a gift for an older couple I don’t know very well, but I wanted it to be thoughtful, which makes it difficult.  Quaking Canopy was participating in a sale on Avian Avenue, so I decided to check them out.  Usually, I think that soap is a pretty lame gift that I hate getting myself, but the woman really loves soaps.  I was a bit hesitant because I thought that would really make the gift solely for her rather than both of them, but I checked out the website anyway and lo and behold, Quaking Canopy also has shaving soap and a great shaving bristle brush!  I thought it would make a lovely gift for the both of them, so I ordered some adorable soaps (in the shape of goats, no less), some lotion, and the shaving soap and brush set.

My gift order from Quaking Canopy Soap Co.

Free Samples!

I thought I’d be done at that point, but the order arrived so quickly (less than 48 hours!) that I was even more pleased than I already was.  It even came with free samples!!  Expecting to hate them all, I smelled the Clean Linen soap and LOVED it.  The scent was light, clean, and very fresh– not overpowering, artificial, or flowery at all.  I also loved the Honey Almond Oatmeal and the Bamboo Vanilla Sugar Cane.  I got curious and began thinking about an order for myself…

But I realized I should probably inquire about ingredients and whatnot due to my sensitive skin as well as the fact that they were not fragrance free.  I exchanged several emails with the owner, Amanda, about her ingredients, the sources for her ingredients, scents, sustainability, and more– and I am so impressed!  Not only did she actually answer all of my crazy questions, but she makes a serious commitment to sustainability and responsibly sources all of her materials.  She pays more to use sustainably forested palm oil, and even supports a sustainable goat farm by purchasing their goat milk as well.  All of her scents use only high quality essential oils, and everything is hand made by her, so she knows exactly what goes in.

I simply had to place a second order for myself and I am so happy with my selections.  Another favorite scent is the Day at the Beach, which came as a sample on my order.  I think I might be a regular customer from now on!  Thank you to Quaking Canopy for making sustainable, fresh, and lovely soaps with delicate scents and safe ingredients that I can feel confident using myself and around my birds!

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