Parakeets and fresh produce – making sure we are stocked year round

There are many differing opinions about the best diet for parakeets, but one thing we can all agree on is that fresh vegetables and fruits are an important part of a budgie’s diet. Parakeets and fresh produce has been a major source of concern in my household lately, since the beginning of the pandemic.

We used to grocery shop weekly, typically on a Sunday morning and I would be sure to stock up on fresh produce for the flock. Usually this would include something for them to bathe on, like a big bunch of cilantro, parsley or carrot tops. Additionally, we would pick up a broccoli crown, and maybe some celery and whatever else looked good that week to have them try. Then, throughout the week I would make them a vegetable snack when I got home from work for the day. Some days they would eat it and others they would either ignore the vegetable or play with it, but at least I knew I was always giving them the option, and providing enrichment in one way or another!

During the pandemic, this got significantly more difficult. Instead of grocery shopping weekly we started going just a couple of times a month. This meant I had to plan meals for a longer time frame and was bringing in less fresh produce overall. I am sure part of it was panic, but I also focused more on shelf stable foods like pastas and soups, just in case there was a longer period where we weren’t able to get out to the store.

As we moved through the first few months of the pandemic and started feeling like we needed to get out of crisis mode, I realized that we were already having another crisis of parakeets and fresh produce, or lack thereof! We didn’t really want to go back to the grocery store every week, and there’s only so much frozen peas and corn you can feed a parakeet (seriously, as they are starchy and sugary, respectively).

Additionally, we realized that we humans were also in a crisis of fresh produce, so this meant we had a household-wide problem to solve. Enter Misfits Market, a subscription-based service delivering organic produce that’s been rescued from being garbage and only occasionally looks a little funny. Note: this post is not sponsored by Misfits Market and I am not being compensated for this post. They have a couple of options and as a family of two (plus three budgies) the smaller Mischief box has been perfect for us.

Every week we get a pretty hefty shipment of fresh fruits and vegetables, all organic, and many of them sharable with parakeets. Of course some of it doesn’t work for our budgie pals, like citrus fruits, onions, potatoes, etc., but they love celery and they’ve tried so many new things because of this box (and so have we humans, incidentally!).

Kevin also got to try beet greens, which he loved immediately.

The Mischief box is $26 per week/box, initially it wasn’t helping us reduce our spend at the grocery store, but I found that I just needed to adjust my meal planning to include more of the good fresh stuff, especially after being in more of a shelf stable or frozen food rut.

Now I’m enjoying an afternoon smoothie instead of reaching for potato chips, and the budgies are chowing down much more routinely on new fruits and veggies in addition to their old favorites. If you have any questions about Misfits Markets let me know! It’s certainly been a game changer for my parakeets and fresh produce supply.

Please note: if you click any of the Amazon links in this post and make a purchase I will earn a small commission as a member of the Amazon Affiliate network. Thank you! 

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Petco budgie toys unboxing

I recently went into our toy cabinet, typically a treasure trove of unused budgie toys, and found that the cupboard was empty! I’m not sure how it escaped my notice that we’d run out of new toys and the cabinet was just full of random spare parts, plastic chain and extra perches. Of course this wouldn’t do at all, so I resolved to restock immediately.

Typically I buy budgie toys from Amazon, but the last few times I’ve done that I have had trouble telling what size bird the toy is for. I don’t like ending up with a macaw-sized toy that needs to be returned. Also unless it’s a brand name I’m familiar with, I worry somewhat about the quality and safety of the toys.

I used to love ordering from Doctors Foster and Smith, and since they were purchased by Petco, I hoped the experience and selection would be similar. I went a little crazy and ended up spending about $130 on 13 toys.

By way of review of Petco, I have to say I didn’t really care for shopping on their site. They did have the ability to filter toys by type of bird, which I always appreciated about Doctors Foster and Smith. But, there wasn’t the ability to “quick add” anything to a cart, so if I knew I wanted a bird kabob I had to access the product listing, add to cart, end up in my cart, and then start all over again filtering products.

Price-wise, comparing against Amazon after the fact, I don’t think I made out particularly well. It seems like pricing is either comparable or I paid  bit more than I needed to.

Two boxes and a shipping bag of budgie toys
So many toys, it came in three shipments.

I waited for everything to arrive and then opened all of the boxes at once.

Several new budgie toys laid out.
I may have gone overboard…

Here’s a listing of everything I got. The product links do go to Amazon where possible rather than Petco. I’d rather not encourage you to overpay as well! Also Petco’s shipping took longer than Amazon’s would have with Prime. (Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial)

In every case that the toy was available at both Petco and Amazon it was less expensive at Amazon. Some by up to $5. I do see that there is a price match guarantee at Petco, but frankly it feels like less legwork just to buy the item where it is less expensive to begin with.

We did have a lot of fun unboxing the new toys, I laid them all out on the floor and let the budgies run around and explore. For those who might be worried that this is overwhelming, I’m sure it could be for some budgies but ours really enjoy it.  Additionally, I don’t swap an entire cage of toys out, these will be rotated in over a series of weeks or months.

That actually reminds me of a good tip, don’t ever put a new toy in your parakeet’s cage right before bed time. New stuff can be very scary to them, even if it’s a fun toy they will come to love. Always swap out toys as early in the day as possible to give them time to adjust to the new thing and find it non-threatening

A blue budgie examines a bunch of new budgie toys
Toby likes to check out all the new toys, don’t worry though, she doesn’t get them all at once!
A pale budgie examines her new selection of budgie toys
Kelly has chosen her favorite new toy already

While it was certainly fun loading up a cart of bird toys and doing a grand unboxing, I probably won’t order from Petco again. In the end I wasn’t thrilled with the way the site functioned, the pricing, or the selection. This doesn’t mean that I’m any more inclined to buy toys that I’m not familiar with from Amazon either.

I think the next time I need to restock, I’ll probably shop direct from a brand that I know and love. A couple of solid possibilities include Super Bird Creations and Planet Pleasures. They are both well-known and respected companies with products that we’ve used before and the budgies have loved.

What are some of your favorite budgie toys? Let me know what I’m missing out in a comment below, or on the Home Keet Home Facebook page.

Photo tour of our parakeet cage set up and play areas

As you embark on your journey of parakeet keeping you may find that your flock’s territory expands further and further throughout your home. We welcome the flock into most rooms of our house and have employed various methods to help them feel like they have a space just for them. Hopefully this photo tour of our parakeet cage set up and play areas will help provide some ideas for your home!

First, here are our cages:

Our cage set up
Our current cage set up

I have already done a full review of all our cages so I won’t go too much into these except to say we are happy with both. When setting up a cage for a parakeet make sure to have a variety of perches and toys. Also watch out for putting perches and toys directly above water and food bowls to reduce to amount of poop you can expect in either.

HQ Victorian flight cage for parakeets
This was our first “big” cage purchased, still loving it 4 years later.
Flight cage for budgies with toys and perches in it
The A&E flight cage is a great value for a solid, well-made cage

Above are some close up shots so you can see the set up in each cage. They are tailored to the needs of the parakeets that live in them. Kelly (HQ Victorian) has a lot of shredding toys because she loves to chew all day. Toby (A&E cage) has to have all of the toys dropped below the top perches or she’ll try to sleep on whatever is the highest thing in the cage.

Our first play area is a Java Wood Table Top Play Stand . You’ll probably notice a theme between this and our floor-standing play gym, they are too large for parakeets but with adjustments we make it work. For both stands we use a lot of Comfy Perch For Birds to make usable space for budgies. The flexibility of these perches is a huge bonus.

Java tree stand for parakeets
The java tree is  technically too big for parakeets but we make it work

My favorite play stand is the Prevue Pet Products Small Parrot Playstand because I can move it around the house with me. This play stand has also been modified to be useful for parakeets.

A standing play gym for parakeets
All the parakeets feel like this is their home away from home

Next up is the Polly’s Sandy Window and Shower Bird Perch, Large. This perch is technically slightly too large for parakeets. They like to sit here and look out the back window, but not for extended periods of time. I wouldn’t encourage them to sit there for ages due to the large width of the perch as well as the fact that it’s a sand perch, which can be tough on feet.

A perch for parakeets that sticks to a window
I think this is really intended for a shower perch, but it sticks well to the window.

In the front window we use a Triangle Perch, some Plastic Chain and a Command Hook to rig this up. All three of our budgies love sitting here and looking out the window. It does also draw them upward to the curtain rod, so if you’re not looking to encourage that behavior then I don’t recommend doing this. We took those plastic balls from another toy to create “bumpers” on the triangle so it doesn’t smack into the glass too hard.

Hanging perch for parakeets near a window
Everyone enjoys looking out the front window from this perch.

Last but not least I have a hanging area for them in my home office space. This is made from a comfy perch, a command hook and a swing from a company called Hari Rustic Treasures. Hari Rustic Treasures used to be available at Dr. Foster & Smith, which is no longer operating. I’m not sure where (if anywhere) that particular swing is available any more. This Yosoo Bird Swing looks like it would be pretty fun though, if you’re looking for another idea.

A picture showing a hanging play gym for parakeets
This hangs near my home-based office space – a command hook holds it all up.

That’s it (so far!) for our parakeet cage set up and play areas. About half the rooms in our house are parakeet-welcoming. They are not invited to hang out in our bedroom, bathroom and my husband’s office. If you have any questions about our set up or would like more detailed pictures feel free to let me know by dropping a comment on this post.

Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you click them and make a purchase I will earn a small commission.

 

NutriBullet Rx Review (and how that has anything to do with budgies)

When Patrick had his tonsils out we knew he’d be on soft foods for weeks and that he’d probably get sick or starve to death trying to eat popsicles and fro-yo the whole time! So, my mom and stepdad were kind enough to loan us their NutriBullet Rx and I began looking up Smoothie Recipes that would be good meal replacements. Leading up to his surgery we started using the NutriBullet Rx and testing things out.

Almost immediately we realized this was a huge game changer in a house with budgies, and would help us stop wasting a lot of fruits and vegetables.

Virtually every week I buy a bunch of carrots with tops so that the birds can have their preferred type of bath. But the thing is, I don’t want to eat carrots every week. They aren’t my favorite snack and they don’t always fit into our dinners. Same thing goes for bunches of celery, as well as most fruits and vegetables that I buy for the parakeets. If I buy a pint of strawberries and they eat two, I better figure out what to do with the rest of them!

I realize that this may not be an issue in larger households where there are healthy lunches and after school snacks being made for little ones. But, in a two adult situation it’s just too much produce to choke down every week.

Enter the NutriBullet Rx . Now for weekend breakfasts everything that didn’t go in a budgie’s crop goes into the blender. We keep some frozen fruit and oatmeal on hand to pad it out and I always have greek yogurt in the refrigerator. It’s a great way to stop throwing out money on produce and Patrick and I are having healthy breakfasts on the weekend instead of starting the day with carbs.

I know, I am years behind on discovering how great smoothies are! But, I think they are even more awesome to help manage the extra produce you have when you’re trying to get your budgies to eat some fresh fruits and vegetables and don’t particularly feel like eating crudité every day.

As far as the NutriBullet Rx review, it is extremely easy to use and clean up after. Fill the cup to the max line with your preferred combination of fruits, veggies, liquids and fillers like oatmeal, then just turn it over and place it on the base. The blender automatically starts working and stops after a preset amount of time. No timing or thinking involved there!

nutribullet rx cupnutribullet rx review

When it stops you remove the cup from the base, unscrew the cap (which has the blades) and rinse in the sink. Pour out your smoothies and voila, you have two perfect cups of goodness!

I can’t imagine the NutriBullet Rx being any easier to use than it is. And, Kelly enjoyed the carrot stump that didn’t go into the mix!

 

The parakeets eat popcorn for the first time

I am all about feeding the parakeets new and interesting foods, although of course only parakeet-safe stuff. There aren’t too many human snacks that we can share with our parakeets, but popcorn is on the approved list. The only caveat is that it can’t be the salty, buttery awesomeness like you get at the movie theater or from a bag of microwaved popcorn. Plain old popcorn is the ticket.

We’ve had a Presto Hot Air Corn Popper for years – it’s the same brand that I grew up with and it’s so easy to use. You put the corn kernels into the well, plug it in and wait until they pop. It’s a bit noisy as the air heats the kernels but in a few minutes it’s all over and you have a beautiful bowl of pristine popcorn. Our favorite kernels are Snappy White Popcorn and we have some on hand at all times. The best thing about the air popper is that you don’t have to worry about burning oil on the stove top or washing a greasy pan afterwards. It’s a great way to make a healthy snack for humans or parakeets.

Because of my concerns about the noise, I hadn’t made popcorn literally in the two years since we got Toby. Pretty silly, right? We recently decided to try it out and see how traumatized the parakeets would be – which was, as it turns out, zero traumatized.

Although that didn’t mean they quite knew what to do with the popcorn once it was popped. Kelly enjoyed ripping a few pieces apart while Patrick held them, but once they were on a little plate in her cage she totally lost interest. Toby was very suspicious of the end product and didn’t even venture to lick a piece of popcorn.

No worries though, parakeets are notoriously reluctant to try new things so I’m not really put off. Now that we know they aren’t scared of the noisy Air Popper there will be a lot more popcorn opportunities in our house. So, we will offer them a little bit each time and see if the idea catches on; if not, at least it’s something unusual for them to think about, which is always an enriching experience.