I have an Avian Avenue Forum member, Renae, to thank for giving me the idea to make my own version of a toy she shared in a forum post. Renae posted this picture of a toy she made using links, bagels and rolled newspaper.
I know, terrific idea isn’t it? I saw this and immediately went to my parts bins. I had all the parts to make a toy similar to this one.
I also made a video showing how I put mine together with parts from www.MakeYourOwnBirdToys.com. I especially like this toy idea because it is affordable and makes up quick with just a few parts.
I originally made this toy with the Large Heart and Star Links. I needed to order more of those parts from MakeYourOwnBirdToys.com but they were out of stock. I did find a substitute part that I actually like much better, Geo Links . I made a new video to show you how to make this same toy with Geo Links. And, as you will see in the video, it is a toy that keeps my birds actively shredding away.
Stainless steel skewers are safe durable toy bases. Skewers are refillable so you can make some pretty impressive foraging toys for your parrots in no time at all. You can string on a wide variety of toy parts as well as fruits and vegetables. And they are dishwasher safe so you can wash and refill as often as needed.
Using stainless steel skewers as toy bases not only saves you time when making bird toys but can save you money as well. You can use leftover parts from used toys, household items like small cardboard boxes and egg cartons and thread them on the skewer together with vegetable and fruit pieces.
For these toys I used SS Skewers and threaded on leftover parts from other toys, some vine balls, small cardboard boxes, cardboard coffee sleeves, egg cartons and wood. In between the non-food items I sandwiched butternut squash ends and pieces of red bell pepper. I stuffed chunks of apple and orange slices inside the vine balls.
When I need to make some quick foraging toys, stainless steel skewers are a life saver. It is so easy to thread a few vegetables or pieces of fruit onto the skewers along with some shreddable material and there you have it, practically instant foraging toys.
Over the years I have tried different kinds of stainless steel skewers. Pictured to the right in the photo above is one called the Stainless Kabob and I haven’t been pleased with it. I bought it because it had a pointed end and I thought it would be easier to thread on hard vegetables like carrots and squash. But the push button release on the bottom metal cap breaks and then you can’t use it. Also my parrots seem to be able to take off the end cap and I have this stainless steel spear hanging in the cage with no bottom cover.
I like the skewer pictured in the center. Expandable Habitatsmakes it in different sizes. It is long lasting and the acrylic ball screws on securely. You can see in the photo mine is well used and I’ve had it for years. The one thing I do not like about this skewer is the end is blunt and it is hard to thread on harder vegetables like carrots or butternut squash without them breaking.
The skewer pictured to the far left is Scooter Z’s Stainless Steel Skewer and it comes in small, medium and large sizes. Even with the large size you can easily thread on harder vegetables because the SS rod is thin enough to pierce harder vegetables without them breaking in half on you. This is a thinner diameter skewer and there is no wide ball or cap on the end so I like to add an acrylic washer or piece of wood to the end of this skewer to give support for the items I am threading on the skewer.
Make Your Own Bird Toys sells a curved SS skewer called a Twister Kabob. I find if I thread wood slices on a curved skewer my parrots are more interested in chewing the wood than on a straight skewer.
I would consider stainless steel skewers an essential item when it comes to making your own parrot toys. Skewers make it quick and easy for you to make foraging toys for your parrots as they are perfect for hanging fruits, vegetables and toy parts in the cage.
My parrots love pomegranate seeds. The season for fresh pomegranates is short but I found a way to freeze and store the pomegranate arils (seeds) so that my parrots can enjoy them months after they are out of season.
Don’t try freezing the whole pomegranate as it turns into mush. I de-seeded the pomegranate and froze the arils with great success. The first year I de-seeded pomegranates by hand. Then I fould a great little gadget at Walmart (you can also find them at Target or online at Amazon). The 60 Second Pomegranate Deseeder and I must say it works as advertised. I de-seeded several pomegranates with this handy kitchen tool and was amazed at how well it worked.
I stored the pomegranate seeds in small plastic bowls which are about two servings for my flock of parrots. You could also store them in plastic baggies. You can store them in your freezer for up to 6 months.
Once frozen, you take out a bowl of seeds, open the lid, and loosen them a little with a spoon.
Then add them to chop, mash or whatever you are serving up.
I’ve found frozen pomegranate seeds don’t seem to make as much of a mess as fresh pomegranates or fresh seeds. My parrots get very excited about breakfast when it is served up with pomegranate seeds.
Here is a video of how the pomegranate de-seeder works.
This video demonstrates another way to de-seed a pomegranate if you don’t have a 60 Second Pomegranate Deseeder.
Whether you try the 60 Second Pomegranate Deseeder or decide to follow the directions for de-seeding by hand; you will be glad you thought to buy some extra pomegranates to freeze seeds for your parrots to enjoy after the season for them is over.
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!
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.
We started working on the aviary last month. We thought we’d do it right and get a building permit. First requirement was to have the holes inspected before we filled them in with cement. And wouldn’t you know it, as soon as the inspector gave them the OK and left we had 3 days of thunderstorms and the holes collapsed before we could get the concrete in.
After the ground dried out we dug the holes out, replaced the Sono tubes and filled them with cement. Then proceeded to build the foundation for the porch.
Next we screwed the floor boards down and built the landing and the steps.
Desperate attempt by someone more accustomed to Alaska summers to stay cool working in the heat of Minnesota summer.
Jerry had the foresight to build a landing out the door and then a box step down instead of open stairs. This way no parrot can get under the stairs which could trigger “nesty” behavior with resulting attitudes we can do without.
With the porch complete we are ready to build the first wall. Jerry’s plan is for 16 foot high walls. I’m helping hold the boards straight as he nails them in.
Realizing I am the only help Jerry has – I’m hoping, as we are building this wall, that Jerry has a good plan for raising it.
And he does.
OK, so 16 foot high walls sounded like a cool idea. Reality check please. Time to lower this wall and cut it down to 12 feet.
First wall up. This back porch aviary will have 12 foot high walls. As I said, it is a work in progress.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 update the ParrotEnrichment website and share a creative 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.
Another Phoenix Landing volunteer, Laura Ford, wrote a pamphlet, How To Build A Cajeoller, and she offered to let me post it on ParrotEnrichment.com. Here is the link http://blog.parrotenrichment.com/activity/outdooraviary.html. If you scroll down the page you will see more photos of Cageollers and be able to download How To Build A Cajoller, by Laura Ford.
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”.