Next level budgie bath tip

Next level budgie bath tip

I have written a post of tips for getting your parakeet to take a bath, and I’ve also written a review of a great bird bath, but there’s a super-secret next level tip that I want to share with you today.

Kelly recently decided that she needed a bigger bath than the Lixit Corporation BLX0787 Quick Lock Bird Bath, so I found her a Rubbermaid food storage container (Rubbermaid TakeAlongs 4 Cup Rectangle Food Storage Container, 3 Pack)that, when filled halfway with water, is the perfect depth for her to feel like she can get wet but she can always touch the bottom.

Actually, that’s a good point; did you know budgies cannot swim?  They are basically incapable of it, although some might float for a moment or two.  The lack of webbed feet or any other method of gaining momentum in water renders them unable to swim in a capable fashion. This is why a lot of people lose parakeets in drowning accidents; open toilets are a particular killer.

So always monitor your parakeets at bath time, which of course you would anyway since it’s crazy cute.

Here is Kelly enjoying her bath – Toby decided to drop in as well, but she really refuses anything except hanging greens as a bath these days.

And here’s the pro tip: in every one of the bath shots my head was just about a foot away, on the same level, and I was continuously telling Kelly what a good girl she is and what a good bath-taker! Fortunately my husband was kind enough not to get my head in the photo shoot.

Yes, it’s true, Kelly won’t seriously bathe unless someone is there providing constant verbal encouragement, but when I do it, she’s mad for the bath, so super excited and she gets much more soaked than Toby ever manages.

I’ve come up with two possible reasons this works:

  1. She does respond very well to positive encouragement in any context, but both of them do that, they get very perked up and alert if you tell them what good girls they are.
  2. It may just be the presence of my head, since parakeets are prey birds the “watering hole” would be a very dangerous spot, so perhaps my head is seen as a lookout that makes it safe for her to let her guard down.

Either way, if you are struggling to get your budgies to take a bath it can’t hurt to try! And, yes your face gets a lot of spray; it’s a bit like sitting in the “splash zone” at a SeaWorld show, but anyone who has fought to get their budgies washed up knows that this outcome is well worth it!

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10 tips for optimal bird cage placement

10 tips for optimal bird cage placement
  1. Budgies like to be part of the family, so place the cage in a central location where they will get lots of visitors and interaction.
  2. Budgies are prey and retain those concerns even when living in your home, place the cage against a wall or in a corner so they feel secure.
  3. They will also feel safer if you put the cage up at about your chest level. Because they are naturally tree dwellers, they feel safer up high and being near the ground makes them feel very vulnerable to attack from above.
  4. Put the cage somewhere they can see out a window and they will likely get hours of enjoyment watching other birds and nature. Conversely, they may be scared of what they see out the window, particularly large birds or lots of traffic, so I wouldn’t recommend putting the cage directly up against a window where they can’t ignore it. Another caveat is to make sure they are NOT exposed to direct sunlight; they have no sweat glands and can overheat very quickly. Also, make sure there are no cold drafts in winter.
  5. If at all possible do not put their cage where they can see a television. The images can be scary to them and the flickering lights and noise can have a very detrimental effect on their sleeping habits.
  6. Try to avoid the kitchen because of the fumes, I hope you don’t have non-stick cookware, but even regular cooking smells and smoke can be bad for your parakeet’s respiratory systems.
  7. The bedroom should also be avoided if possible, for a couple of reasons. One is that even though a child’s or an adult’s bedroom might seem like a place where a lot of time is spent there are most likely better and more trafficked areas. Two is that parrots, even parakeets, create a fair amount of air pollution via molted feathers, dust, dried poop, seed hulls etc. Breathing these things in is generally not going to be a problem, but deep-breathing every night while you sleep may cause some health issues, particularly in people who have preexisting breathing issues or allergies.
  8. Never put a bird cage on top of a refrigerator or anything else that vibrates. Apparently this can make budgies feel so insecure they lose their minds.
  9. Budgies need 10-12 hours of sleep per night so make sure the cage is somewhere that’s relatively calm and dark at night.
  10. Watch out for AC and heating vents – you never want to have hot or cold air blowing directly at your budgies.

Taken all together these seem like a pretty tall order, but you do the best you can and adjust if you see your parakeets having issues. For example, my cage is kitchen adjacent and only against 1 wall, so I’ve definitely failed on perfect placement, but unless I completely renovate my home’s floor plan it’s the best option we’ve got!

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Encouraging your budgie to work for her food

Encouraging your budgie to work for her food

I read an article recently called “Are we killing the natural instincts of the budgerigar” which put me on notice that no matter how many stimulating toys I provide, or flight time, or any material object, I have been ignoring a major component of my parakeet’s mental and physical health. That component is foraging for food.

You should read the whole article, but to condense, the experiment they are conducting in an aviary setting changed the budgies over from eating readily available seeds in shallow bowls that are refreshed every day, to serving food in deep bowls and not refreshing constantly, so the budgies would have to dig for their food. It also involves spreading the remaining seed on the aviary floor at the end of the cycle, instead of throwing it out, so that the budgies could sift through it again, simulating the ground foraging their wild cousins do, as well as getting much more use out of the provided seed.

The article inspired me to make some changes, because I am of course one of those people who feeds every day and discards every day, meaning the chances for foraging are extremely limited.

My big change was to take out the grate at the bottom of the cage. It took a couple of days, but the budgies love going down there and hunting through the seed hulls that fall out of their bowls. This also means that when I serve them vegetables they can go down to the cage floor and “forage” around in them. Like the green pepper shown above. They love ripping off all the seeds and then coming back to go through them all over again.  Right now they have a cup of torn romaine lettuce that they are digging through and throwing all over, and then going back to forage around in the lettuce leaves.

I also tried scattering what was left of their seed bowls on the ground of the cage, which would be okay a couple of times a week but really caused a mess explosion, due to the dramatically increased likelihood of hulls being blown out of the cage.

My next steps are to create more foraging opportunities. I always see foraging toys for big parrots, but I think for the little guys it may have to be a little more DIY.  Here’s a great idea for a foraging mat just made out of a doormat, and here’s another post about making a bunch of different foraging toys – some seem to be for bigger parrots, but there are some awesome easy things the the blogger suggests, even something as simple as covering the food bowl with a paper towel that the parrot has to remove before eating.

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Foraging 101

For higher up foraging, we are going to get back into using our Creative Foraging Systems Ball and Kabob, 5-Inch. If we put some shredded veggies in the ball the budgies will spend the bulk of their day pulling them out, whether they eat them or not, so at least mentally there’s the simulation of working for your food.

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The importance of foraging and digging through food also reinforces my decision to switch to a mostly seed diet, with pelleted diets a budgie would have even less opportunities for foraging.  And with Dr. Harvey’s parakeet food (Dr. Harvey’s Our Best Parakeet Blend Natural Food for Parakeets, 4-Pound Bag) there are a lot of different items in the blend to be foraged through and pushed aside to find the favorite morsels, and then throughout the day more and more of the less desirable items are consumed.

Overall, I want to be more cognizant of how I could be making it harder and more rewarding for Toby and Kelly to find food, after reading that article I’m certain I can do better at meeting their need to forage.

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Foraging for the wild cucumber

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Protecting your parakeets from in-home flight accidents

Protecting your parakeets from in-home flight accidents

‘If only her wings had been clipped’ is a phrase I see pretty frequently on social media, and it makes me cringe. Not just because it usually accompanies a terrible story about budgie injury or death, but also because the thought could be, “If only I had taken precautions for safe in-home flight“.

There are dangers that are immediately fixable, like turning off ceiling fans or any fan without a blade guard, also turning off any exposed heating elements like stove tops.  Close the lid of your toilet and take away glasses of liquid. Budgies can and have been killed by all of these things.

Next step, if you have windows that could have windows without screens that you plan to open, EVER, install screens. When installed on the interior this will help your budgie not hit the glass, and even if they are exterior it will ensure that on hot summer days, or when airing out, you don’t lose your budgie out a window. You do not need to have a professional come and install expensive custom screens, you can make them from kits that are easily procured, such as this one: Saint-Gobain ADFORS 5/16″ SCREEN FRAME KIT x 4′ WHITE (don’t forget to get the screen Saint-Gobain ADFORS CHARCOAL FIBERGLASS SCREEN 48″ X 84″).

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In the above picture you can see the right panel of the window has a screen that was made from that type of kit. Also the left panel has a stained glass window covering it, which the parakeets can tell is not something they can fly through.

On windows that don’t open and therefore would not need screens you can invest in some inexpensive decals that fit your decor, or the season. I have snowflakes on one window and ducks on the other and they have, without question, saved my budgies from head trauma or broken necks on countless occasions.  Here are some decal options,Disney Princess Window Cling Set and Duck Hunter & Ducks ~ Wall Decal or Window Decal ~ (2) 13″ x 21″ Sections ~ Black or Color Option By: Starlight Decals. My ducks don’t have a hunter, but to each their own!

Another pro tip for windows is to install curtains or blinds.  If your budgies are out  after dusk it is best to completely cover the windows. A dark, black window can be even more dangerous and enticing than one in daytime. There’s a story floating around about a budgie named Boo who hit a window at night and lost the use of her legs – it’s a touching story that’s  frequently used as a cautionary tale about full flight in the home, but I think we miss the point and it should be used to educate new budgie owners about the importance of covering windows.

Mirrors can also be a big issue for budgies, Toby learned early on that they were not going to magically turn into portals, but Kelly has struggled with the concept. I could have used some more pretty decals here, but one day I just decided to slap on some ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape, Multi-Use, 1.41-Inch by 60-Yard, 1 Roll – it’s not the most elegant solution, but it was interesting to watch her attempt to dive bomb the mirror and then realize that it was a bad idea.

You can do all this and still have issues, I’m sure there are things I didn’t cover here and your home is literally full of ways for your budgies to murder themselves. Also, if your budgie was clipped and is learning to fly you can expect them to hit some walls, appliances, etc and generally end up in the worst places. Rest assured they will figure it out, and much like watching a child learn to walk, it will be extremely rewarding to see your clumsy baby grow into a competent flier.

If you do your part and bird-proof your home, including windows and mirrors, you will be in a much better position to let your budgies fly safely and you won’t have to spend time regretting the “if onlys”.

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we love flying!
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Prepping vegetables for your budgies – and actually getting them to eat

Prepping vegetables for your budgies – and actually getting them to eat

I have to tell you something that will seem unrelated to parakeets; I hate cooking. I’m really horrendous about kitchen stuff; sometimes an activity as easy as making a cup of tea is too much bother.

Where this impacts my budgies is chop and my utter failure to make it happen. Chop is basically the ideal parrot diet; you grab a ton of fresh veggies, fruits, grains and beans and then blend them up in a food processor. I love my budgies, I think a ton about their well-being and diet, and I cannot get myself either to the grocery store to procure these supplies or into the kitchen to prepare.

Here’s what I have managed to do, and what’s worked to get my budgies eating fruits and vegetables pretty reliably.

Tools needed:
– small plate
OXO Good Grips Utility Cutting Board
OXO Good Grips Soft-Handled Garlic Press (I got a separate one for bird stuff since garlic is a “no” for them)
OXO Good Grips Swivel Peeler
Good Cook 4.5-Inch Vegetable Knife
OXO Good Grips Grater

The plate is probably the most important piece of the puzzle, I realized after several weeks of reliably feeding fruits and veggies on one specific plate they were getting excited any time that plate came out of the cupboard. They so strongly associate that plate with food that they will try anything that shows up on it, even if they have never seen it before!
When I prep a veggie for them the doors of the cage are usually open, they become aware that I’m taking out the plate, and the cutting board etc, and get increasingly excited because they know something good is coming. They fly over to my shoulders and typically start walking down my arms which makes the whole process quite a bit longer, ensuring they are safe from getting cut.

I usually “sell” them what I’m preparing by eating little pieces of it and visibly enjoying them and even talking about what I’m doing. Sometimes I will let them try it off of my hand as a sneak peak.

They do prefer very small pieces or even puréed items, so instead of taking the time to mince things I run them through the garlic press or I grate them.

I also prefer to peel every fruit or veggie that isn’t organic, even though I wash them thoroughly I worry about pesticides. Apples are one of the most pesticide-laden fruits out there, so I try to buy organic at least for apples if not everything they eat.

So far, using the same-plate method they have tried, cucumber, peaches, oranges and grapes, to name a few, they also love any color pepper head, picking off the seeds and eating them is an hours-long project of pure pleasure.

Until I get my kitchen-hating self-motivated enough to make some chop they get a single fruit or vegetable per day offered up in a way that makes them feel it’s a treat. If not on their special plate then in their hanging foraging ball, like alfalfa sprouts or torn up dark greens or broccoli. We also offer hanging greens as a bath and those usually get eaten too!
I thought about writing a post about what fruits and veggies are safe, but other folks have done it all before and very well, so a quick google search of a specific item or a search for a list will suffice.

For a long time I felt discouraged about how to get my budgies to eat anything other than seed, pellets or millet, but by repeatedly offering them fruits and vegetables in a way that they grew accustomed to and a size of food bit that they felt comfortable with we have made some major progress. It is a total joy to watch them dig in to a new food without hesitation, and that makes it worth dragging myself into the dreaded kitchen!

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Top 10 reasons owning budgies is like going to a gentleman’s club

Top 10 reasons owning budgies is like going to a gentleman’s club
  1. Budgie names are usually cute and easy to remember
  2. The budgies can touch you, but you can’t touch them
  3. Budgies dance in cages for your amusement, but they would do it anyway if you weren’t there
  4. They only pay attention to you if you give them a lot of want they want (millet)
  5. It’s hard to keep them off the (curtain) pole – see pic above
  6. They will probably lose interest in you and move on to the next customer
  7. They need time in between “shows” to preen and chat
  8. They really seem to like shiny things
  9. It’s way more expensive than you thought it would be going into it
  10. Sometimes at night there’s a cover
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Do you like what you see, gentlemen?

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Update to the review of Super Bird Creations Wind Chime Toy for Birds

Update to the review of Super Bird Creations Wind Chime Toy for Birds

It’s been several months now since my original review of the Super Bird Creations Wind Chimes Toy for Birds and this toy is still Kelly’s number one favorite.  Not only that, but it is still in good shape for being abused daily.  The toy lost a plastic straw and bead last week when the bottom knot came until, but other than that it looks pretty darn mint.

Here’s a video of Kelly being a bat girl with the wind chimes – I wish it was better but she gets very camera shy, you can see she stops playing and rapidly nods her head at me to indicate I should leave her alone!  Although Kelly is the primary user, Toby also gets into it, but instead of hanging upside down and twisting around Toby prefers to separate one “leg” at a time and drape it over the nearby perch before dominating.

I know that at about $13 it might seem like a pretty big outlay of cash for a single toy, but with budgies it will last you a long time and if yours are like mine it will be the belle of the ball.

 

 

 

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