Lessons in Foraging

December 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

Lola wanted to do a little demonstration on foraging with her very favorite foraging perch from Things for Wings.  It’s a little basic, but she thought it might help encourage the beginners.

Step one: Scope out the goods.  Check out each pod cup and see which one has the best goodies.

Step two: Like what you see?  Then start foraging!

Step three: Sometimes, you need a little bit of leverage.  Don’t be afraid to use a firm grip!

Step four: Don’t give up!  You’ll get it eventually.

Step five: My darn big beak… just… let me at it!!!

Step six: Success!!!  Retrieve the nut!!!

Step seven: Now here is the most important part: savor your hard-earned treat!  (And don’t forget to check the other pod cups too in case there’s anything else worth foraging for!)

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Batty Little Budgies

November 6, 2011 § 2 Comments

Oh, these two… they’re enough to drive me batty!  I’ll start with Sabrina.  Last week, I received a wonderful order from Kathie at My Safe Bird Store with some staples, some great toy parts for foraging (on sale!), and some little pedicure perches for Sabrina.  Sabrina’s nails are getting long and sharp, and because she’s so tiny, it’s more of a safety hazard for her than for a larger bird because her nails can so easily get stuck in cotton rope or even stainless steel chain.  But, she doesn’t trust me enough to let me cut her nails.  I could grab her and just do it as quickly as possible, as I have in the past, but she’s actually beginning to trust me right now and I don’t want to ruin the little I have going for us.  (Charles is a good, sweet boy and lets me do it myself.)  So, I purchased a safety pumice perch for her because they’re effective and in my opinion, the safest type of grooming perch. (For those of you who have agreed with me in the past that the larger ones look… well, questionable, you’ll be happy to know that the little ones don’t at all.  They’re so tiny and thin that they’re almost cute!)

I put the little purple perch in her cage last week on Tuesday or Wednesday, and of course, she was completely terrified of it.  Absolutely wouldn’t go near it– wouldn’t even go near that part of the cage.  It was right next to one of her food bowls and she stalked and pounced on the food bowl from the opposite side and kept an eye on that evil perch all the while.  I thought she’d give it up after a day or two, but by Saturday, she still wasn’t going near it.

Finally, I decided I’d hang her veggies above the perch, so that she had to step on it if she wanted her coveted leafy greens (they’re about the highest value treat you can give her or Charles, funnily enough!).  I took a nice, thick bundle of organic pea shoots and tied them to the cage bars right above the perch.  She was hilarious.  For half an hour, she sat across from the perch, staring at those greens and thinking of how she could possibly get to them.  Finally, she decided climbing up to the ceiling and then backing downward and eating the greens upside down was the best course of action, all to avoid this perch.

Eventually, I am happy to say, she did finally step on it, and– it didn’t kill her!  She still isn’t crazy about it, but at least now she knows that it’s not some sort of evil contraption bent on destruction. Plus, she got to enjoy her delicious, fresh, healthy greens in a more comfortable position.

Some of you might notice the chubby fellow in the background.  Why yes, that is Charles, who doesn’t seem to understand that there’s a divider in between him and the coveted pea shoots.  Of course, he had his own very large bushel of them in his side of the cage as well, but that didn’t seem to make a difference.  You always want what you can’t have, it seems!

"So close and yet so far away!!"

On another note, I think the acrylic divider is actually working out quite well.  They seem to like being able to see each other and also seem to like each other more while the divider is there.  I very frequently come home to really adorable little scenes like this:

Charles and Sabrina, across the divider

It breaks my heart to see them yearning to get to each other!!  Of course, the other day when I actually tried removing the divider to see how they would act towards each other, they were good for all of 10 minutes.  Then they started clobbering each other once more.  I am hopeful, however, that the divider is helping them to learn to coexist and to learn how to have their own spaces.  I’m hoping that in time, I can begin removing the divider maybe for half an hour everyday… and building up from there.  I am constantly catching them trying to “communicate” through the divider in non-aggressive ways, so perhaps this is the beginning of something.  Let’s hope!

Homemade, Organic “Nutri-Berry”-Type Recipe

June 30, 2011 § 10 Comments

I have been wanting to create an organic and healthier version of the Nutri-Berry for a long while now.  They look very tasty and fun for birds to eat, but the ingredient list contains a few things I’d rather not feed, so I’ve always stayed away from them.  I did some searches online for some recipes and have tried some in the past that required egg whites and baking, but those recipes never seemed to work very well as they don’t yield the softer texture that seems so appealing about the actual Nutri-Berry to so many parrots.  I finally found a very unique one that used molasses and no baking, and was intrigued.  I gathered all of my ingredients this weekend and finally got to work!  The molasses content isn’t overwhelming but it does make them pretty sweet; these snacks will be used as treats only among my flock, but they look pretty delectable if I may say so myself!  I threw together the ingredients at random so feel free to add, subtract, or substitute as you please.  I didn’t measure anything but used varying amounts… there are probably equal amounts of each puffed grain, but not quite as much in the way of sunflower seeds or cranberries as there are other ingredients.

The dry ingredients, minus the pellets

Ingredients (All Organic):

  • Puffed Brown Rice
  • Puffed Buckwheat
  • Puffed Barley
  • Puffed Triticale
  • Flax Seed
  • Sesame Seed
  • Sunflower Seed (shelled)
  • Pumpkin Seed (shelled)
  • Unsweetened Cranberries
  • Unsweetened Papaya
  • Unsweetened Mango
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Totally Organics Pellets (Crumplet Size)
  • Molasses
  • Coconut Oil


Directions:

First I took any of the larger ingredients– papaya, mango, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seed– and chopped them in the food processor until they were uniform in size, and nice and small for the treats.  I left the rest in tact, but they can also be run through the food processor for smaller birds.  I then combined all ingredients except for the molasses and coconut oil in a large, non-reactive mixing bowl– see the photograph above.  (The first time around I forgot to add the pellets, but they were added shortly after I added the molasses.)

Next I poured some molasses into a small saucepan.  I’m not sure of exactly how much I used, but it was probably around 1/3 of a cup (there was also plenty of molasses left in the saucepan when I was done).  I put it on the stove over medium heat waiting for it to bubble.  In the mean time, I lined a few trays with waxed paper, and lightly coated a spatula with coconut oil to use for mixing.  When the molasses began to bubble, I quickly poured it over the dry ingredients and vigorously mixed them until there was just enough molasses to cat all of the ingredients and make them just sticky enough to form.

I then lightly coated my own hands with coconut oil and began to form them into little balls.  It took a few rounds to get it down correctly.  Too much oil and the balls don’t hold together, but not enough and the ingredients just stick to your hands.  You also have to re-coat your hands after every few treats (I ended up re-coating after every third treat).  As I’m sure you can guess… this is a very messy endeavor!  Be prepared to be coated in lots of oil and molasses and stickiness by the time you are done.

The finished product!

Some of them aren’t quite as nicely shaped as others, but I think they came out quite well!  My recipe made nearly three trays of treats.  Lola had just eaten and wasn’t hungry when I offered her one so unfortunately I have no idea if they’re any good or not just yet, but hopefully they will be a big hit.  I tasted one and it was quite good, kind of like a sticky trail mix treat.

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