Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Hideaways

There is a common opinion that boxes are not good for lone parrots as they stimulate hormonal behavior and can cause excess egg laying in female birds. However I've seen a few articles which say that each parrot needs a hideaway, a nest, a little nook where he can rest and enjoy himself.
Since I've started providing Digby with a box, a hideaway of some sort I've noticed that his behavior improved a lot and he behaves a lot more hormonal and destructive when he doesn't have a box to hide in.
In fact, this is how I found out that he loves to have a box to hide in: he used to try and get in every dark nook and cranny when he just moved in with us. That was of course a sign of hormonal behavior as I thought and I tried to discourage it as much as I could but nothing helped. Tirelessly he would seek the corners, chew the walls and sometimes even go to sleep under the sofa! Until I found the solution - I gave him a box, he loved it, he calmed down and he has been happy ever since.

His hideaways are not always boxes, sometimes they are baskets or even a paper bag (given only under supervision). I never place them in his cage as he just doesn't seem to be interested or brave enough to go in them when in the cage. They always rest on his part of the windowsill.

It works for Digby, but I am safe in knowledge that he is a boy and not going to lay an egg. I would not advise giving boxes to female parrots. Egg laying is a dangerous thing and can deplete the bird's calcium storage and cause egg binding.

These are just some of the hideaways he had over the year:























I enjoy providing Digby, and Dudley the rabbit too, with large boxes. I usually put something inside as well, like a phone book or old toys for shredding. Then I watch them work, chew, shred, shaping their own habitat. They make the doors where they want them to be, Digby shreds the paper and toys to create perfect soft, finely shredded base of the box. With having a box he has something to work on, daily. Once I see there is nothing left to work on and the box is starting to look old and sad I throw it away and replace with a new clean one. 





This is not strictly a hideaway but a pine shelf of his, but it does provide some sort of shelter and he enjoyed sitting on it, shaping it up, moving things around, trimming the wood.













Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Bird Talk Magazine

If you don't subscribe to it yet, then it is definitely worth doing it! It is a great magazine with a lot of information, colourful pictures and useful advice. The best thing is that you can subscribe from anywhere in the world for only $25 for a year and that includes delivery.
To subscribe go here

Or check out a very informative website of Bird Talk magazine Bird Channel 


Bird Talk features a wide range of articles on nutrition, behavior and health. Regular columns include Memo To Pepper & Parker by wonderful Patricia Sund, Heart to Heart by Chris Davis, Parrot Psychology by Liz Wilson, and many others.



October Issue will feature the following articles: Poicephalus Tips, Don't Take Parrot Behavior Personally, Society Finches, Enrichment Made Easy Part 4. 




Looking forward to receiving my October issue, it should be in the post already, woo hoo!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Ikea Finds (For Parrots)

Yesterday we celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary with Nicholas and for some strange reason we decided it was a good idea to go to Ikea on the day. Whenever and wherever I shop, I am on the lookout for things I could use for the birds. This time wasn't any different and I found some really good things in Ikea.

Spritta Apple Slicer


















I absolutely love it! It is super easy to use. You just put an apple in the base and slide the top on it. What you get - is perfectly sliced and, most importantly, de-cored apple. Why is it so important? Because apple seeds are poisonous, so removing the core and serving the apple to the birds and bunny is now super easy. The slices are large enough to put on a skewer and small enough for Digby to hold in his foot. If putting on a skewer I spritz some lemon juice on the slices first, to prevent them from going brown.
It makes the job of chopping up apples for pies, freshly squeezed apple juice and birdie bread a whole load of easier too! And I love it is vibrant green colour.




















I love these glass jars as they don't just look cute but they are the best way to store food too. Plastic containers can release toxins so glass is the safest option. They are also dishwasher safe for those who use those, I wash everything by hand :).  I store my sprouting mix, pellets, budgie seed mix and other dry goods in them. They are perfect for my home-made jams and conserves too. They come in three different sizes.


Komplement Multi-Use Hanger

























Can you see its potential? It makes a perfect climbing frame! And for only £2.99 it makes a very cheap parrot toy too! The good thing about it as it has a hook at the top covered in fabric and the hook itself is steel so even if the parrot gets to it it is not so bad, as if it was zinc or brass or any other metal toxic for birds. The rest of the frame is plastic. I wouldn't put this sort of toy in the cage of larger parrots since they can easily chew on it and I don't think chewing any plastic is a good idea. But it makes a perfect addition to the playground set up. For now I have hung it up on Digby's tree but as he is not much of a climber he might just decide it is a chew toy, then it will migrate to the budgies' playground. Will see how it goes.



The photo is from Ikea website












These baskets are made of peeled willow and nothing else. They are a bargain at £4.99 for 4. The larger baskets can make great foraging boxes if filled with foot toys, nuts, etc. and the smaller ones can just be hung up in the cage or playground for some proper shredding. I haven't purchased these ones this time because I still have a stock of "parrot" baskets but they will go in my yellow shopping bag next time I am in Ikea. 

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Paint Job

We moved in the flat we now live in about 4 years ago. The previous owners were really nice people and redid the whole flat before selling it. However they chose quite un-traditional colours for the rooms. Our living room was peach and dark red, our bedroom was completely red. They definitely had something for red! Well I don't and being quite a temperamental person I need the calming influence of more neutral colours. We repainted our bedroom straightaway, but even though Nicholas wanted to change the peach colour to white in the living room straightaway I refused because I was worried about the birds and where they would go if we were to paint the living room.
A few weeks ago I've come across this super blog I now read daily and that was the last drop. I had to make the room white. At least partially, because the red is still there but only on the fireplace wall and around the windows and we have huge windows, so there is not much wall around them. 
So with the determination off I went to look for parrot-safe paints. How excited I was when I found Ecos organic paints. These paints are solvent, toxins and VOC free. But just to be on the safe side I emailed the company and asked if i would still need to remove the birds from the room being painted and the reply was:

"Ecos Paints & Varnishes are entirely non-toxic; we have had many customers who have used our paints & varnishes with parrots (also bees, vivaria, aquaria, aviaries, etc) & we are well aware of the unusual sensitivity of these birds & our parrot-owning customers have
never had any problems."


Ecos paints are a bit pricier than your regular standard paint but it was worth it. The paints arrived very quickly. I just love their tins, are they gorgeous:




























They cover really well too and very easy to wash off your hands or surfaces. I even had some of it in my hair courtesy of Nicholas and that washed off quickly and painlessly! 
When painting I could smell something, so it is not entirely odour-free. The smell reminded me PVA glue smell. Yesterday, however, I decided to paint our old TV stand with regular B&Q antique grey solvent based paint as I could do it in the bedroom with widely open windows so as not to poison the birds. That was a nightmare for my lungs and nose and you can call Ecos odour free in comparison to a solvent based paint! 

Before



























Oh and the previous owners had a thing for fake wood pattern too (that is what you see on the door). It doesn't look as bad in the photo as it does in real life.

After



























All nice and white, but the door still needs another coat and the switch needs replacing with something  abit more exciting than that. But all those jobs pose no risk to my birds and I am soooo happy!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Look Who I Met

On Saturday, the 4th of September me and Nichols visited Wingham Wildlife Park. Overall it was a pleasant experience and we met a few lovely dudes, like this friendly Lory




















He lives in a lovely tropical house, surrounded by lots of java finches and tropical plants. He is friends with a lovely green Turaco too and a bunch of butterflies. When we came by him he was sitting high up on a tree branch. I started whistling to him and he seemed interested. After a few minutes we just went and sat down on a bench a meter away from him. He gradually climbed down the eucalyptus to where we were. He then hang off a thin eucalyptus branch to look at us closer. 



















He didn't even mind us scratching his head and would put one of his feet on our finger but not the other! Go figure!


that scratch on my cheek is a result of a fight with some brambles
 and a plum tree at the allotment, it is not the lory's fault




















We also met some sleepy lemurs



















Not so sleepy turtles



















And gorgeous herons



















We also visited so-called Parrot House which I didn't enjoy at all. It was extremely boring, for the parrots, not me, as they didn't have a single toy or any stimulating "furniture" in their cages. The birds looked quite bored, though we did cheer them up for a bit by whistling and doing some head bobbing, to which they always respond happily. After some thinking I sent an email to Wingham Park to complain about the conditions the parrots are kept in. I was told that improving the aviaries is on their maps, so fingers crossed it will get better one day! 
All in all it was a pleasant experience and surprisingly we even were lucky with the weather!

Monday, 6 September 2010

In Season: Cobnuts

The season of fresh nuts here in the UK is quite short. The nuts on offer are mainly cobnuts and also walnuts, though these are harder to find. I was lucky however and picked some of both from my local farm shop. Fresh nuts taste quite different to dry ones. They are crunchy and even slightly moist. This makes me think they are lower in fat than once they get dry.
Cobnuts, are a type of a hazelnut. They are rich in vitamin E, B1 and B6 and calcium. They have a good amount of protein and fibre too. Cobnuts can be slightly cracked for smaller parrots or given whole in shell to macaws or large cockatoos. I am not sure what Digby enjoys more - eating nuts or chewing on the shell of cobnuts and walnuts.
When choosing nuts to give to parrots in shell choose those without any sign of rot.

You can see in the photo some nuts are whiter and some are darker. The lighter ones are just younger nuts. These are the ones I choose to give to Digby. There is one black-ish nut on the left there in the pile. It looks to me like it has started to go mouldy, so I would definitely not give that one to him.

Walnuts are a powerhouse of nutrients. They are very rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, contain some minerals, like manganese and copper. Walnuts also possess anti-inflammatory properties, so good for arthritis and inflammatory skin conditions sufferers. They also have an antioxidant compound beneficial for immune system support. 
Since walnuts are quite large in size I wouldn't give more than half of it per day per medium sized parrot. Again, eating them from a shell is a lot more exciting for birds and if you know they are fresh and clean you can have a piece of mind that they are safe nibbling on that woody shell. 


















All nuts are best kept in the fridge short-term and in the freezer long-term. If they are dry then they can go rancid if left at room temperature for long, ff they are fresh nuts then they will just go mouldy if not stored properly.

Here is his highness first enjoying his tiny bit of walnut, then cobnut...

















Saturday, 4 September 2010

Budgies' Houseplant

Sometimes I grow wheatgrass for the birds and the rabbit. Usually I just pick a few grass blades and clip them to the cage bars but they wilt very quickly this way. So, here is my solution to the problem. Meet my new budgies' houseplant:


How it is made:
I get these trays of grass sold for rabbits under Trixie brand. The seeds which come with the pack don't germinate very well and take ages. Instead I just sprinkle wheat berries into the medium. It grows really well and the roots of the grass don't go mouldy as easily as they do if the wheat grass is just grown on a paper towel or even compost. 

It takes only about a week for the grass to grow this big:



To pot a piece of grass I just cut out a small square off, along with the turf:



To prevent the birds from picking on the seeds and turf bits and to keep the root ball moist I wrapped it in a piece of paper towel:



I tucked the root ball in a bit more, than shown in the photo above, once it was in a cage as I could see if they would be able to reach the turf and seeds easily.

And here they are enjoying their snack:



I apologise for the grainy photo but they would hop away as soon as i got closer with the big scary camera so had to take the photo from afar.

Friday, 3 September 2010

For Your (And My) Home

According to my husband, and I agree, having parrot related items in your home when you have parrots is just tacky. Well what about other birds? There are a few bird related things I would love love love to have in my home (maybe not all at once!). Here are a few of my favourites:


Ikea Cecilia Fabric in White/Green/Black



I actually own this one and it really is lovely.  I have got three meters of it and my plan is to make windowsill sits out of it. Will see how it turns out! 




Having both this cushion and that Ikea fabric is probably going a bit too far, so I will stick with the fabric for now, but this cushion would have made a lovely addition to my newly painted white living groom otherwise. 

How about this super adorable little Owl Egg Cosy?  



It is bound to make you smiley in the morning!



I think it is gorgeous, do you?

For more lovely bird related items check out http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/





Thursday, 2 September 2010

Things To Live By

How inspiring is that?



This lovely poster can be purchased here

So how am I doing then?
Bake Cake - check!
Drink Tea - check!
Choose Handmade - something to work on
Love Your Town - Hastings is a nice town, so I suppose I kind of love it
Sing - hmm, I'd rather not!
Keep It Wonky - no problem!
Barter & Swap - I am sort of doing it - gave away an old small budgie cage through Freecycle yesterday (just as a temporary solution for a nice family) and getting some foam through Freecycle too for myself
Make Stuff - check!
Write Letters - check!
Champion The Underdog - hmm, need to work on this one too
Grow Your Community - ok, I will try
Love All The People - that is a tricky one...
Live Your Life - ok...
Be Kind - yes, sir. 


KILL YOUR TV - sorry, but that is not going to happen!


And I would add from myself - treasure each day you get to spend with your birds :) I know I do

In Season: Plums

I've been buying lots of plums recently, proper, ripe, british plums. Plums are in season right now and their season should last till about late September- October. 







Plums come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and even under different names: greengages, damsons, sloes (those tiny things growing in the woods), bullaces, etc. When feeding to your birds don't forget to remove the pip as it is poisonous (not the outer shell but the kernel, but still it is best to remove the whole pip). 

To make the most of it, eat them raw, bake them in pies or even make a jar of plum jam, why not!


The benefits of plums:
Plums contain good amount of vitamin C, A, B12 and also potassium and dietary fibre. Plums are a good source of phenols, which are strong antioxidants, protecting each cell of our body from damage. Of course you will get the best out of your plums if you consume them fully ripe. 


Of course I've been sharing the plums with Digby. I can't say he is that keen, but he eats a tiny bit and that is good enough for me. You don't have to give them only raw. They can also be baked, mashed and chopped along with other fruit to create a yummy fruit salad for birds. Low-fat plain natural yogurt will make a good dressing for that sort of salad. Or simply add baked plums to plain yogurt to sweeten it and make it more fun for your bird.


This is how I've used my latest batch of plums (for humans only, I am afraid, none of it is good for the birds)
I've made a tray crumble cake.
It is really easy to make and it is sooooo good.
All you need is:
270g plain or self-raising flour (I use self-raising, just because it is the only one I have got at the moment)
125g sugar
200-215g fridge cold butter
about half a jar of any berry conserve
and about 6-7 medium sized plums, sliced.


Mix flour, sugar and butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. 
Line your tin/tray with baking parchment and place 3/4 of the mixture on the tray. Gently flatten the mixture to form a thin base, but don't overdo it as it will become hard and unpleasant if compacted too much. 
(ignore the brown line along the right side of the table, it is not dirt, it is cinnamon, my way of fighting off ants. They are gone now but I kept the cinnamon on for just a bit longer in case they decide to return!)


Now take your conserve. If it is a bit too jelly-like break it up with a spoon in a bowl, then spread it evenly on top of the dough mix. I used Waitrose seedless raspberry jam.  Sprinkle sliced plums on tops and then top it all up with remaining dough mixture. 







Place in the oven for about 40-55 minutes, at gas mark 4 (170C). When it is ready, take the tray out of the oven and let the cake cool completely before attempting to remove it from the tin, otherwise it will all break apart.
Enjoy!





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