Foraging baskets

I had a few willow baskets around the house. My parrots love willow/vine items, so every time I see an untreated basket I buy one.

So, yesterday I took all three and filled them up with lots of goodies, everything but the kitchen sink went in there. For food I used Avian Organics dry mixes- Cazuela, Bolivian Bliss, Cravings, Veggie Bars, Truffles and some seed.

For the first basket I used paper cups, some were filled with food, some were left empty. I even scattered some food around the bottom of the basket. Than I added wood parts, leftover toy parts, wood beads, etc.

After I filled the first basket, I realized that I’m all out of paper cups, so the food for the next two was wrapped in kitchen towels. I took the baskets and placed them on the playgrounds. Surprisingly, this bought me 2 hours of peace and quiet 🙂

I like this type of toys because it gives them something to do while out of the cage, so they don’t just perch and watch the world go by. They can forage, chew wood and eventually, destroy the basket it self. Needless to say, I have to buy more baskets 🙂

Spotting safe bird stores – a difficulty for international shoppers

I have been thinking about this subject a lot lately. As an international shopper, I don’t have the same point of view on the subject of what are safe and healthy parrot products as an USA parrot owner would.  The reason is quite simple, our laws and regulations regarding safety are completely different, so some issues are not on my radar, so to speak. Also, some brands that are notorious for unsafe or unhealthy products are not available here, so it’s an easy “bear trap” . This is not a contest in which one is better or which one is worse, these are just two sides of the same coin.

On one of my favorite blogs, Coco’s flock, Coco wrote three extremely useful posts on this topic. I wanted to reply to them every time, but my replies always ended up to be too large. So, I’ll divide this post into three sections, each title will have a link to her original post, so you can read it and each section will be a sort of a reply to her post. I strongly encourage all of you to take a moment of your time to read what she wrote.

What are  parrot safe materials? (An Ethical and Safe Bird Store Policy, Part One)

When on topic of parrot safe materials, first thing that comes to mind is stainless steel. Next thing after that, is – “whoa, that’s expensive”. True, but hear me out for a second.

It’s a really ungrateful task to talk about money and the ways of spending it in this era of economy, but, like many of you, I don’t have an unlimited pool of parrot budget nor do I have a money tree growing in my backyard. I’m a student working on my masters degree, so yes, I would say my budget is quite tight. That’s part of the reason I try very hard to get the very best out of it all. The second part are shipping, custom and what-not-fees I have to pay when receiving an item.

When I stared shopping for my parrots online, I found myself overwhelmed with options and left with a dilemma- what is actually safe and what just looks pretty in a picture. Personally, I do all of my parrot related shopping online from stores in North America. I’m always amazed at the amount of online stores out there and I find it quite difficult to navigate through them.  I believe that such a vast market is a big downfall for parrot ownership, because I feel like it opens a space for unsafe and unhealthy produce to march into our parrot lives all under a flag of big brands. This isn’t to say that the same isn’t here, it is. Online stores here sell the same big branded items, loaded with zinc or nickel-plated chain, lots of long rope strands calling for an accident to happen. The only difference is in price-prices here are double than in America.

I really like what Coco said in her post- ” we vote with our dollars” and that is so true. I feel very angry that there are still stores that sell grit for parrots or untested seeds without a proper product declaration. If I see a store that has a lot of items that I’m not comfortable with, I will not shop there. This goes for both online and walk-in stores. I stopped shopping at my local parrot store because they sell grit, sanded perch covers and payed no attention to parrots well-being. I strongly believe in setting an example, so hopefully speaking up about this kinds of subjects makes a difference.

Sometimes safer items are more expensive, but in the end you actually gain more. If you purchase safe items, you don’t have to worry about metal poisoning or your parrot getting caught up in long strands of cotton. You can let your parrot play without the worry that something might happen. When you have to pay larger sums for shipping and other fees that come with that, you’re sure you’re getting your moneys worth. Also, sometimes safer items mean a bit more goggling and not more dollars spent, there are a lot of safe and quality products that are made by home-bases or smaller companies.

Be aware of avian diseases ( An Ethical and Safe Bird Store Policy, Part Two )

Avian diseases are a big risk when shopping online and it should definitely be something to consider when giving a toy to your parrot without disinfecting it. Disinfection is made super easy nowadays, just spray, wipe and let it dry.

Another reason I, as an international shopper, am extra cautious about disinfection is that my packages are opened at the custom office. Anyone who has ever been to a customs office at a post office, knows that the environment there is less than ideal; lots of packages are opened in the same room, the loading dock is right next to it. If you’re wondering how to make time at the customs office as safe as possible, there is a solution. I ask vendors I buy from for a possibility of wrapping my goods up in see-through plastic bags, this way the custom officer can see the items ordered but he doesn’t have to take them out of the bag. Once home, I disinfect them and after that I give them to my parrots.

I think everyone should be aware that safe products are not only those made out of safe materials, but also those made in a non-bird environment and safe stores should not accept returns. That, to me, is a basic safe bird store policy.

Copycats anonymous ( An Ethical and Safe Bird Store Policy, Part Three )

Coco beautifully explained the issues with copied original work, take a moment to read her post, just click on the link.

Mash making day

I’m a total believer in mash type of a diet. I think if done well, they get everything they need in a natural way. I was researching this way of feeding parrots and I came across two extremely useful sites:

I found both to be very informative and gave me lots of useful tips on how to make my own mash. So, today I went to my favorite local organic farmer. Their company has opened a new shop and I was delighted to find lots and lots of root veggies for my flock’s mash.

I don’t follow any precise recipe when it comes to making these type of foods. I use what is fresh and in season, I try to choose vegetables that can be given raw, so they get maximum nutrition out of them. If I would have to “boil it down ” to a simple recipe or a rule, I would say that I always put at least;

  • two to three different grains (like quinoa, amaranth, kamut, spelt,…)
  • two different beans (such as mung beans, adzuki, lentils,…)
  • two different yellow vegetables because vitamin A is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies, so I like to put in vegetables that are high in that specific vitamin like sweet potato or chilli peppers
  • three different dark leafy greens ( of eg. kale, watercress, chard,…
  • other things I put in are for color, taste and aroma (like cabbage, peppers,…)

I also add some dry ingredients that are there to soak up the extra water, so the mash freezes well, a very useful tip I’ve read on Parrot nation.

For today’s mash dry ingredients  I used coconut flakes, sesame seed, flax seed, mix of five different puffed grains and Avian Organics- Craving Carrots . Smell of the mash was absolutely AMAZING!!

This time around I used: carrots, celery root, parsley, ginger, black radish, kale, chard, broccoli, pumpkin, watercress, sweet potato, purple cabbage and that would be all, if I haven’t forgotten anything. In this batch I haven’t put any beans into the mash, because I have made a mix made only of beans few days ago, so I’ll combine everything together when I serve it to them. I concentrated only on organic, in season and fresh foods.

I serve them mash each morning, along with beans if they are not already in the mix and some sprouts. I have stopped free-feeding them, so I make them forage and work for everything. I believe that keeps them more occupied, active and fulfilled in the end. Mash, on the other hand,  is something that has to be served in a bowl, so I try to change it up as much as I possibly can, on day-to-day basis. To do that I sometimes feed it on their playground, sometimes I place a bowl of it in the bottom of their cages, while they’re out, so it’s has a surprise factor to it. They do get fresh food on skewers or some type of foraging toys like a buffet ball, but I try to make them work for it and have while doing so. I’m aware they shred or play in some way with fresh foods, but at least some of it gets eaten. Nothing is given without any work in our house, well, nothing except for mash! 🙂 They also get a dry mix, that mostly consists of Avian Organics dry mixes. I hide those inside of their foraging toys.

He was a boy in need of a home

I knew of Lino even before he came to me. He was my friends senegal parrot. After a short period spent at her home, due to her very young children and the demands that come with that, Lino was looking for a new home. I completely understand that she had to do what was best for her and her family and most likely any mom in her shoes would do the same. At that time I was looking into the Poi family and decided to get what ever I find available when I decide to get one. Reason for that was the fact that here are only a few Poi breeders and getting one ment a lot of traveling on my part.

She contacted me one Wednesday asking if I was interested in adopting Lino. I was thinking it over for a day or two and  Sunday, that same week, I was in my car driving to get Lino and take him home. As you can see, it really wasn’t a big thinking process for me.

I think he changed my perspective on parrot ownership all together in the time he has been in my home. He isn’t anything I thought he would be; he’s always on the go, go, GO!! A VERY hard chewer munching on everything and anything that gets in the way of his beak, he’s quite the talker for his size, very playful, stubborn and at the same time cuddly and friendly. Oh, and I almost forgot- curious like a little cat!! It’s quite difficult to get anything by him without him noticing! It will be almost a year since he joined our flock and I have found my self liking all the things about him, I thought would drive me mad! Talk about irony 🙂

I have put a lot of effort to socialize him over the last year and I see that produced a very trustworthy parrot. He readily steps up to anyone, doesn’t have a favorite human, nor will he attack anyone. I enjoy observing him growing up, I see how his likes and dislikes change and how his personality is slowly building and shaping it self. Every day I learn something new and he truly brings a lot of happiness and sunshine in my life.

Little green girl

First to join my flock was my Indian Ringneck, Ringo. I don’t know her exact hatchday, but I remember the day I got her very vividly.

It was 01.03. 2008. I was walking home from classes I had earlier that  day. For some reason I decided to go home by train and not by bus. I came too early to my train station and decided to walk around the nearest mall to make the waiting time go by quicker. I stopped at the small pet shop and, through a window, I saw her. She was in a tiny cage swinging around and not really paying attention to her surroundings. That pretty green bird owned me in all 5 seconds.

I walked in and asked the shop assistant about her, he told me she isn’t handfed or tame, that she is somewhere around 6 months old and that they got her that morning.  I looked at her and felt like she was looking right through my eyes, into my soul. I left the pet shop that day thinking; ” Oh, well, she isn’t handfed…she was raised by her parents at the breeder. What if she never decides to like people? That’s just too much for me to handle!!”  The next day she was in my car,  going home with me.

I must admit that bringing her home isn’t going to make my Top 10 most rational decisions, but it will make Top 10 best decisions list. She has thought me so much in the last 4 years, and she did it in a way noone else could.

First few months were quite bumpy, she wasn’t tame and was quite afraid of humans of all shapes and sizes. Slowly, she gained her trust in me, she saw that I wasn’t going to hurt her and we learned to enjoy each others company. Gaining her trust was a learning process, as much as for her as it was for me. It was a very slow process that lasted for months, but in the end we made it. She is a wild animal that decided that I’m worthy of her trust and love.

Looking back, I can honestly say she does own a piece of my soul and most likely, could get away with murder if I was the judge.

A new beginning

After some thought, I decided to start a blog and share information and stories from my flock to yours, hence Story on wings 🙂

I’ve named this blog A story on wings mostly because, I don’t know, yet, where will this journey take me. I’m hoping grate adventures are waiting for us and I’m planning on sharing them with all of you.