Fear Not the Wet Batch of CHOP

CHOP Production Supervisors

After my first blog post on making CHOP, I had several e-mails from parrot owners wanting to know if I had a recipe they could go by.  I didn’t.  I had watched Patricia Sund’s video on how to make CHOP and just dove in.  However I am accustomed to cooking without measuring exactly what goes into the pot; a pinch of this; a handful of that sort of cooking.

But I realize there are people who aren’t comfortable making something without a recipe and, to tell you the truth, it took me awhile to jump into making my first batch of CHOP.  I got stuck on wondering how much of the dry ingredients would you put in proportion to how much vegetables, grains, etc.  So I made a second batch and wrote down measures of what I put in the batch and all the steps I took to make that batch of CHOP and put that recipe on my website.  My plan was to write down every batch I made for awhile to give people a variety of methods for making CHOP.

Well I got busy.  And I have made several batches of CHOP since putting up that first recipe without taking the time to write it all down for a second or third recipe.  Feeling a bit guilty about that, I made time to write down everything that went into the batch I made last week and I put this second recipe on my website, “Another Batch of CHOP”.   To tell you the truth, this last batch was a little on the wet side after I froze it and thawed it to serve.  The batches of CHOP I made before without worrying about exactly how much of everything I was putting in the tub turned out better in my opinion.

Another Batch of CHOP - Before Freezing


Another Batch of CHOP - After Freezing

But I learned something with this last batch.  Even though it is a little wetter or mushier than I would like for it to be; it still works.  This morning I added some fresh sprouts, chopped steamed beets and fresh blueberries to the bowl of thawed CHOP and the parrots love it.

Another Batch of CHOP - Serving it Up - It's All Good!

So here you have it.  My second and last recipe for CHOP can be found at my website, http://blog.parrotenrichment.com/nutrition/recipes.html .  I’m understanding why Patricia Sund who also gets a lot of requests for a “Recipe” for Chop doesn’t have one.  She explains why in her blog post,  “Recipe-Schmecipe” http://parrotnation.com/2012/03/10/recipe-schmecipe/ .

There is a new facebook group I would like to promote here, The Parrot’s Pantry, https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/156496311144601/ .  This is a fantastic group where people post photos of what they are making for their birds and share their experience with making CHOP as well as bird bread and other meals.  If you have questions, this group will help you find answers.  The Parrot’s Pantry will help give you ideas and keep you motivated to make more nutritious meals for your own birds.

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The Parrot’s Workshop Group

I’ve just recently been added to a new facebook group that I am ever so excited about.  The Parrot’s Workshop group is a place where people can share their ideas and sources for making toys, perches, playstands, play areas, and any other items that will enrich the lives of parrots living in our homes.

I kid you not, if you are on facebook and you live with a parrot, you need to be in this group.  Members of The Parrot’s Workshop are posting the most amazing ideas and DIY instructions on how to make a variety of parrot enrichment items.  One of the first posts I saw was of the Armchair Perch that Diane and Bill Groth made for Zaz.


Zaz's Armchair Perch

I got so excited about this idea that I asked Diane if I could put it on my website.  She agreed and sent the parts list.  Here is a link to the parts list for making this perch, http://blog.parrotenrichment.com/activity/alternateplayareas.html .

This is just one example of the many great ideas you will find at The Parrot’s Workshop, https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/206228222832350/ .  They have a sister group, The Parrot’s Pantry, https://www.facebook.com/groups/156496311144601/, that is another fun group all about feeding our parrots and sharing healthy food options for them.

If you are already members of these two facebook groups – great.  If not, you might want to check them out.  I don’t know about the rest of you but when it comes to providing  enrichment for my birds and feeding my parrots well, I can use a daily dose of motivation and inspiration.  I’m getting it with The Parrot’s Workshop and The Parrot’s Pantry.


Posted in Activity, Foraging, Toys | 1 Comment

A Great Resource for Promoting Parrot Activity

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am enjoying the warm weather and what seems to be an early start to summer.  I am anxious to have the aviary built so I can get the birds out to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and feel the breeze in their feathers.

I have big plans for the new aviary and I’m dreaming up all the possibilities of play stations and areas I can put in a 16’ x 16’ x 16’ space and I intend to enlist the services of Nyla Copp, http://www.MyBirdieBuddy.com/, to help me create some unique play stations for my special needs parrots and some terrific hanging perches for the fully flighted birds.

Nyla Copp has spent over 25 years in the trades working genres as varied as construction & handiwork, theatrical productions, cabinetry, custom furniture and building mechanics.  She turned her attention and skills to companion birds when a critically ill lovebird found its way into her stewardship.  Under excellent avian veterinary care, Orlando as she became known, survived.  For a strong recovery and continued good health, the veterinary directive was outdoor time.  Nyla immediately set to work.  Materials, resources and design proved more challenging than expected.  With guidance from companion bird vets, behaviorists and experienced avian caretakers, the backyard aviary was completed and a new career had begun.  Since 2008, she has  specialized in enriched habitats for healthy, recovering and special needs birds.  Safe, high quality outdoor environments are her passion and specialty!  Avian medicine is finding time outdoors, not only beneficial, but necessary for the health of our companion birds.  If you are thinking about building an aviary for your own birds but don’t have the tools, skills or know how to build one, you might consider giving Nyla Copp a call.  Nyla can literally turn almost any area into a custom aviary which will provide your birds with endless hours of play time and enrichment.

Nyla provides a variety of services for you and your parrots.  She can help you design areas in your home that will provide your parrot with more choices of location as we are all learning that change of venue is key to successful parrot keeping.  She can help you with plans so you can build it yourself or she can travel and build it for you.

Flighted parrots need places to land, forage and play. Birdie Buddy wall and hanging perches are convenient solutions.

Nyla builds and sells handcrafted playstands constructed of bird safe woods and quality hardware with all accessible metal fasteners and chains composed of bird-safe stainless steel.  She designs and builds for healthy, recovering and special needs birds of many sizes and species.  You can visit her website, http://www.MyBirdieBuddy.com/ or her facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/#!/MyBirdieBuddy, to see photos of her unique designs.  She also shares some great enrichment tips at her Birdie Buddy facebook page.

AviStations are designed with the parrot in mind as well as the parrot owner.  They are versatile and you can easily detach the perches for cleaning.

Multi Piece Perches are attached with a specially designed mount that detaches easily for cleaning.

Close up view of the Multi Perch Mount.

I recently visited my good friend Pamela Clark and watched her Congo African Grey, Navidad, enjoying an AviHang that Nyla  created especially for him.  Pam wanted a hanging playstand that would swing around when Navi flapped his wings.  Nyla designed one for Pam to beta test.  Navi was having so much fun I had to grab a quick video.  The AviHang that Navi is playing on was the “Beta One” test model and Nyla has since worked out the bugs and some of the safety concerns she had with the “Beta One” to create a newer model of the AviHang that she now has available for sale.  After you watch this video you will understand why I got so excited about Nyla Copp’s uniquely handcrafted  playstands and perches.

Posted in Activity, Aviaries, Outdoor Enrichment | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Egg Carton Toy

I call this the Egg Carton Toy.  This is a terrific foraging toy that also has great shredding appeal.  It is fun, easy and economical to make yourself from items you have at home or can find at the dollar store.

I put the instructions for making this toy up at the ParrotEnrichment.com website.  Here is the link to download the instruction pamphlet as well as watch a video of the toy in action http://blog.parrotenrichment.com/toys.html.  If you’ve colored lots of eggs for Easter, I hope you saved the cartons.

Laura Lewis was my inspiration for this Egg Carton Toy.  I attended a toy making party hosted by the Minnesota Companion Bird Club.   While there I met a most incredible parrot toy maker, Laura Lewis.   Her toy was made out of two cardboard drink carriers.

Great toy right?  I’m guessing this photo has inspired you as well.

I was so excited by this creation of Laura’s that she gave it to me to take home!  Before I gave it to one of my parrots, I took photos of the details of this terrific toy as I knew this would be a future blog post and toy idea.

Laura cut pieces of plastic straws to thread on the rope she hung the toy with.  She used large cardboard puzzle pieces that she got at the dollar store between the straws as separators.  She also tied puzzle pieces to each end of the cup inserts on the holder.

For added interest, Laura put a large vine ball filled with wooden sticks and treats in between the two cup holders.  For even more fun she added plastic dangling beads and rings on the corners.

Laura Lewis is the owner of Crazy Bird Lady Creations where she custom makes hand crafted quality bird toys.   I’ve included the link to her website where you can see more of Laura’s inovative creations. http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/studio/Crazy_Bird_Ladys_Creations


Posted in Foraging Toys | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Cageollers or Outdoor Bird Strollers

We still have a little bit of snow on the ground here, but tomorrow the temperature is forecast to be in the high 50’s and it might even hit 60 degrees F.  With the promise of Spring and Summer right around the corner I thought I would share a novel idea for getting your parrots outdoors to enjoy sunshine and fresh air.  The Cageoller is a combination of a cage and a stroller and is the brain child of Phoenix Landing volunteer Bobbie Kerns.  If you live where you can’t have your parrots in an outdoor aviary this outdoor parrot stroller is a creative alternative.

Another Phoenix Landing volunteer, Laura Ford, wrote a pamphlet, How_To_Build_A_Cageoller .  If you click on the link and open the PDF you can scroll down the page to see more photos of Cageollers with brief instructions on how to build them.  The pamphlet is also downloadable.

(Important side note here, make sure all doors, even food bowl doors are very securely latched when using these cages outdoors, use quick links, clamps or zip ties for extra safety.)

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A Recipe for “CHOP”

I’ve been feeding my parrots “Chop” for about 2 weeks now and I’m here to say my birds are all liking their “Chop”.  I like the convenience of simply taking a package of “Chop” out of the freezer, thawing and serving.  In the morning I usually add beans and a tiny bit of fresh chopped apple, or a grape, blue berry or other fruit and we are good to go.

I had a few people tell me they wanted to try “Chop” but needed a recipe with more exact measurements to make their first batch.  So I whipped up a second batch of “Chop” and this time I wrote down everything I put into my “Chop”.  I am sharing that recipe on my website for you all to use as a guide to help you get started if you want to try a batch of “Chop” yourselves.  The link to the recipe page is: http://blog.parrotenrichment.com/nutrition/recipes.html

I also shared a couple other recipes, Curry Cornbread and Veggie Salmon Patties.  These are some of my flocks favorites and a good way to use up any chopped vegetables you may have leftover after you make your own batch of “Chop”.

Byrd enjoying a bite of "Veggie Salmon Patty".

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I May Be a Chop Convert !

I have always believed in feeding a mix of fresh vegetables, whole grains, and sprouted grains to my parrots along with Harrison’s pellets.  Seeds are a treat food for my flock and not a staple in their diet.  When I was working I followed Pamela Clark’s layered fresh food mix recipe.  Every Sunday I spent about 3 hours washing, chopping and dishing up 7 containers of layered salad mix to feed the birds for the coming week.  After I retired, I had time to chop vegetables for morning meals every couple of days.  To the vegetables I add fresh sprouted grains and cooked beans.  Trying to get a good healthy variety of vegetables in a mix to feed only 6 parrots was a challenge.  No matter how I worked it, I found I was tossing alot of vegetables at the end of each day and the end of the week.

Chop has been on my mind lately.  Thanks to Patricia Sund and her determination to educate us all on the benefits of Chop, I took the plunge and made chop yesterday.  I watched Patricia’s video http://parrotnation.com/2010/08/08/chop-shot-by-shot/ and learned exactly how to go about making, storing and serving “Chop”.

My first batch of "Chop". Not bad, if I do say so myself.

In her many blog posts about the “Chop Concept” Patricia explains, “This is what I love about “Chop”.  No set recipe, no rules, just what is freshest, in season, available and good for your birds.  Tailor it to your flock’s preferences and make enough to freeze that will free up your time in the morning and at night.  So instead of slaving away at a chopping board every day, twice a day, I simply take out two bags of “Chop” from the freezer the night before they are to be used and thaw them in the fridge. (Each bag is good for one meal for all of my flock).  In the morning, simply serve and smile knowing you couldn’t possibly get all of those ingredients in their bowl any other way.  I love fresh food for them and I offer it often, but this is a nice way of adding so much more to their diet.”

I spent a good deal of time at ParrotNation.com reading all of Patricia Sund’s blog posts about “Chop”.  What attracted me to the concept was interest in finding “a low-cost, low effort, efficient way of feeding good stuff to my birds”.  Patricia seems to nail it with her “Chop Concept”.

Here is what went into my first batch of “Chop”.

Cooked Grains:  Spelt, Hulled Barley, Brown Rice.  And some cooked Brown Rice Pasta Shells.

Dry Ingredients:  Kelp Powder, Dulse Flakes, Millet, Barley Flakes, Quinoa Flakes, Ground Flaxseed.

Chopped Fresh Vegetables:  Cilantro, Kale, Red Swiss Chard, Red Bell Pepper, Poblano Pepper, Anaheim Pepper, Broccoli, Butternut Squash, Carrots, Parsnips, Chayote Squash.

Since I already had frozen little baggies of cooked beans (a mix of Garbanzo, Adzuki and Pinto) that I was adding to my fresh vegetables each day, I didn’t add beans to this mix.  I’ll just combine one baggie of beans and one baggie of “Chop” to make the complete meal.

I had all four burners going cooking the grains and pasta while I washed, spun dry, and chopped vegetables.  I started at 1:30 pm and was finished by 4:30 pm with this tub of “Chop”.  And that was with considerable help from the parrots.  Without the extra help, I could have finished maybe as early as 3:30 pm, but where’s the fun in that?

I dished up bowls of “Chop” with added beans right away and everyone dove in.

My little Byrd enjoys her first bowl of "Chop".

Of course this is fresh chopped vegetables mixed in with cooked grains and beans.  Will they eat it in the morning after it has been frozen and thawed?  That will be the true test of “Chop” for my flock of parrots accustomed to getting a fresh vegetable mix every day.

A resounding YES.  Exactly as Patricia showed me how; I took out one package of frozen “Chop” and one package of bean mix the night before and put in in the refrigerator.  It was still slightly frozen when I took it out of the refrigerator at 6:00 am.  By the time I dished it up into the bowls, changed cage papers, water dishes and put toys in the cages, it had thawed.  They dove into their “Chop” as if they had been accustomed to having it every morning.

I'm happy to report "Chop" is a resounding success at my house!

Thanks to Patricia Sund and her dedication to teaching her “Chop Concept”, I now have a more efficient way to deliver healthy food to my parrots.  And I won’t be wasting so much fresh food each week.  I will still offer fresh fruits and vegetables.  But now I can offer those on foraging toys and skewers along with “CHOP”.







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