Carrying a piece of your parakeet with you

If you’re anything like me every time your budgies molt you scurry around after them collecting all their gorgeous dropped feathers.  I have managed to talk myself into only keeping the “best” specimens, but I still ended up with a sandwich baggie of feathers and no idea what to do with them.

IMG_3925

Lots of folks out there are craftier than me, I’ve seen people keeping adorable country chic mason jars full of feathers (one for each parakeet!), as well as making earrings, or even crafting a woven bowl and using the feathers as embellishments.  But, even though I actually have a surplus of mason jars that my husband bought on a whim (such are the dangers of late night online shopping) I haven’t gotten around to sorting out my baggie of feathers and getting down to business.

I did, however, have an idea that the feathers would look beautiful in a glass locket necklace, so I set a course across the internet to find my new dream piece of jewelry.

First, I found a site called Custom Made that literally boasts you can have anything made, you fill out a form detailing what you’d like and then, theoretically, they match you with an artisan who makes your dreams come to life.  Not so much in reality, they got back to me fairly quickly and indicated that not only would they not allow me to send any of my own materials (feathers) but they also don’t make jewelry with moving parts AND they don’t make jewelry with glass.  At the time I wasn’t even thinking of moving parts, more of the feathers being fixed in place permanently between glass, sort of like a specimen slide, but that’s neither here nor there.

Next stop was Etsy, because everything is on Etsy.  I found a shop called Sora Designs and a glass locket that I could fill myself.  I loved that there were a bunch of different options for the shape and the metal composition of the locket, also great is that you can choose your chain length and the chain is included.

I opted for the sterling silver oval with scalloped edges and was delighted by the fast shipping and lovely packaging.

Owing to my non-craftiness, I enlisted my husband’s help by throwing the baggie and locket at him and saying “make it work” a la Tim Gunn.  After about an hour, some swearing, and some very delicate artistry (I’m pretty sure there were manicure scissors and tweezers involved) he presented me with this

I completely love seeing the beautiful feathers from both of my parakeets together in what looks so much like a miniature watercolor work of art. The interior of the locket does have a small amount of depth, which allowed for the creation of a layered effect. I like that the piece is substantial, but comfortable to wear, not too heavy. It’s also comforting to rub the locket, sort of like a worry stone, although with a lot greater risk of smudges!

A few days of wearing this at the office garnered loads of compliments, people couldn’t believe that those were actually feathers from my parakeets.

This necklace is a great gift idea for any bird owner hoarding baggies of feathers, or even for those craftier parronts among us, it’s not like there’s ever a lack of falling feathers!  Additionally, this would be a very thoughtful memorial piece for a parakeet that flew over the rainbow bridge.  And of course in my opinion it’s also always a good time to buy oneself a gift “just because”.

Please note this is not a sponsored post and I was not compensated in any way for my opinions.

IMG_4483

What do you do if the lights suddenly go out?

It was a Sunday evening in February, about 5:30pm. The budgies were enjoying their last half hour of time outside the cage, all the curtains were shut for their safety, since it was pitch dark outside.  My husband and I were watching tv when I got a text from our local police department, warning of potential localized power outages due to fire department activity involving a transformer. I immediately felt a surge of panic, if the lights went out, how in the world would I get the parakeets home safely?

We sprang into action and they were fortunately cooperative about going right to their cage.  We never ended up losing power, but it left me wondering: if there’s a blackout how will they deal with complete dark? They are used to at least having night lights on at all times to help combat the possibility of night frights.

I’ve always wanted to get a whole house generator like the Generac Guardian 7030 16 Circuit LC NEMA3 Aluminium Enclosure 9/8kW Air Cooled Standby Generator, but at that price point it’s a major investment, and I knew I needed to figure something out for the short term possibilities.

Particularly since, and this is a bit embarrassing, I know that we have flashlights, but I couldn’t tell you where they are, or whether the batteries are good. So – if the power goes out we’d be stumbling around with just the light of our smart phones, which is clearly the start of a horror movie.  Add a couple of panicked parakeets into the mix and I think you’re in for something potentially gory.

To avoid any Saw-like outcomes I went online and started looking for something I could have on deck for sudden power loss. I found the The American Red Cross Blackout Buddy the emergency LED flashlight, blackout alert and nightlight, pack of 2, ARCBB200W-DBL and at about $14 it was a lot easier on the wallet than the big generator.

These emergency flashlights have recharging batteries and three modes, the first is nightlight mode, the second is flashlight mode and the third is emergency mode. When the power goes out the flashlight senses the interruption in power and turns on as an emergency light.

A few things I really like about this product are that the plug is intelligently placed so the flashlight can be plugged into the bottom outlet without covering the top. Also, the plug can be folded into the back of the flashlight to make it comfortable to carry around.  The lights are nice and bright too, which you’d want in an emergency.

The major downside to this product is that it has a very strong plastic smell. A few of the reviews note that it dissipates after a few days, but we’ve had ours for a couple of weeks and they are still quite fragrant.  Of course this means they are quarantined in the hallway with everything else that has to off-gas before coming into the house proper. They are currently not doing us very much good. I don’t think the smell would be as big an issue in most households, we just happen to have some serious restrictions in place.

Even with the downside I do recommend this light, particularly since your budgies probably like a nightlight anyway, this kills several birds with one stone. Or, rather, renders the birds safe from killing… (ha! probably should have had a dad joke warning there)

I still worry, even though I can go grab my emergency flashlight from the hallway in a pinch, what would it be like if we had a major power outage? Particularly in winter, I don’t have a secondary source of heat beyond our gas furnace and the parakeets won’t tolerate a rapidly dropping temperature very well. My short term plan would be to corral them into their travel carrier (Prevue Pet Products Travel Cage for Birds and Small Animals, Green) and put a fleece blanket over it to conserve their body heat. If we were going to have a longer outage then I guess we’d have to decamp to my mom’s house (that’s your heads up mom!), where there is a generator.

We’ve been lucky lately, in the past several years I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve lost power. Even in those instances it was for no more than half an hour. But, I do want to prepare for the inevitability of disaster (not being dramatic at all) and the emergency lights feel like a good first step.

Please don’t use nonstick cookware with parakeets in the home

A pretty common question that new parakeet owners have is whether it’s safe to continue using nonstick or Teflon pans. The bottom line is that nonstick cookware and parakeets don’t mix. Nonstick cookware is coated with a synthetic polymer called PTFE, Teflon is PTFE, it’s the trademarked name that DuPont uses for the polymer.

The message that marketers want you to hear that is Teflon and other PTFE coatings are only dangerous at high heats, some studies say that the dangerous fumes are only released at upwards of 500 degrees.  This is not the case, here’s an infographic about common cooking temperatures and what chemicals are released and it seems pretty clear that you can risk bird death at typical cooking temperatures.

Now, even if you don’t have birds and don’t ever intend to have them I would still encourage you to get rid of your nonstick cookware, mostly because I’ve come to believe that anything that will kill a bird suddenly will probably harm me over time (canary in a coal mine, anyone?) and also because human beings have been known to come down with flu like symptoms after Teflon use, it’s actually called “Teflon flu”.

I’ve seen several people on social media encouraging new bird owners to continue using nonstick and saying “just don’t ever burn anything”, and they’ve done the same for 800 years and never had an issue. Well, I have a couple of questions for them, one is that may be fine for you, but why would you encourage a new bird owner if there’s even the slightest risk?   How will you feel when they come back in a week or two lamenting the loss of their bird?  Also, who has ever set out to burn something?  Perhaps in your household no one ever distracts you while you’re cooking, but I don’t see how there’s even the slightest way you can guarantee nothing will ever burn in your kitchen.  It seems like I burn something every time I make dinner and I can assure you I didn’t plan for that to happen!

If you are stuck with your nonstick for the time being while researching or saving up for a new set of cookware then please:

  • Never preheat nonstick cookware at a high heat, especially with nothing in it – always heat at the lowest possible temperature
  • Vent your kitchen by opening a window and blowing the air out and/or use your stove’s exhaust fan
  • Move your birds as far away from the kitchen as possible, in a large home this may not be an issue, but for people like me who live in small houses or apartments, there is literally nowhere that’s far enough away

Really though, PLEASE give up the Teflon, birds with Teflon toxicosis experience scorched lungs and ruptured blood vessels and it sounds like an absolutely horrible and terrifying way to die.

When you are buying your new cookware be sure to avoid Teflon, PTFE, PFOA and nonstick that doesn’t specifically reference being free of those polymers. I think sometimes manufacturers put the word nonstick on products hoping that if consumers don’t see “Teflon” they will think a product is safe, but remember Teflon is just the trademark that DuPont uses for the chemical, it is not the only thing that is dangerous.

Some safe cookware is stainless steel (Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set) or cast iron (Outdoor Gourmet 5 Piece Cast Iron Cookware Set). I can’t use cast iron with my glass stove top, so I made the switch over to stainless. Ceramic is also a good bet, I love my ceramic insert crock pot (Hamilton Beach 33473 Programmable Slow Cooker, 7-Quart, Silver).

My bottom line is that you’ve gotten your pet budgie, you love him, you spent a substantial amount of money on getting him all set up – so why wouldn’t you spend a bit more to safeguard him against a KNOWN and scientifically proven bird killer?

 

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!


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 in-home flight injury or death, but also because in many cases the injury was entirely preventable.

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″).

img_3840

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 something they cannot 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 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 works.

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”.

IMG_3873
we love flying!

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Update to the review of the 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.

Realistic start-up costs for a budgie

In my first post on this blog I made a bit of a wild claim as to how much I felt start-up budgie costs would be.  Recently I’ve been wondering whether I was close at all and decided to do a bit of research and some basic addition. This post assumes you are purchasing nothing secondhand and you don’t have any existing supplies.

  • First and most important is cage selection, I have heard a lot of good reviews of Vision brand cages and I would always endorse getting the largest cage possible, so I’m picking the Vision Bird Cage Model L01 – Large for my scenario (this cage is approx. $85). I have the HQ Victorian top bird cage with cart stand (approx. $200). So clearly there is a big range here, and of course I’ve chosen higher end cages, which may not be in everyone’s budgie budget.  In this instance I will say you need to anticipate a minimum spend of $70.
  • Next up is food. You’ll want to get some of whatever your budge is accustomed to eating, let’s assume he has been on a seed-based diet because that’s very common, especially for a pet store. An example would be Volkman Avian Science Super Parakeet Bird Seed 4 Lb, and that’s about $11 for 4 pounds. You might as well get Kaytee Spray Millet for Birds, 12-Count while you’re at it because you’ll need it for treats and to help you in taming your budgie (if feral).  The millet is approximately $7. Most bird owners these days also offer their parakeets pelleted food, and a very common brand is ZuPreem. I don’t recommend feeding anything with unnatural color and so I’ll start with the ZuPreem Natural with Added Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids Small Bird Food, 2.25 lb and get a 2.25 pound bag for $13. Total food spend is $31
  • On to perches – your cage will probably come with one or two, but they will undoubtedly be either round plastic or smooth doweled wood. You can leave them in if you like, but parakeets need a lot more variety in perch size and material. This is for foot exercise and nail maintenance, and also for chewing and mental stimulation. Perches should not exceed ½ inch in diameter, or your budgie will have trouble getting comfortable. You are going to buy the Alfie Pet by Petoga Couture – Iona Natural Wood Y-Rack 2-Piece Set for Birds for $10, the Living World Pedi-Perch, Small for $11.50 and the Living World Nature’s Perch, Small for $15.20. There are a million different kinds of perches, fun chewy perches and mineral perches, with all sorts of shapes and sizes. And these should be rotated fairly regularly so your initial spend should by no means be considered your lifetime spend. Total start up is approximately $36
  • Toys are another extremely important facet of initial cage set up. Every parakeet needs them, and especially those who may need taming. If a parakeet is confined to his cage for the bulk of his time he absolutely needs an outlet for physical activity, mental stimulation, and destructive chewing. Much like with perches the toy options are almost limitless. Let’s assume that you need a minimum of three toys to start with.  First I recommend the BIRD KABOB Bird Toy, Mini Max ($7) which provides hours of chewing fun. Next something like the JW Pet Company Activitoy Olympia Rings Small Bird Toy, Colors Vary for about $5; this toy is deceptively simple, being just a series of interlocked rings, my parakeets adore this and like going through the rings acrobatically or just chewing them and ringing the bell repetitively.  Super Bird Creations Wind Chimes Toy for Birds coming in at $12.50 which I’ve written a whole separate review about because my budgies are obsessed with it.  Much like the perches, toy options are vast and start-up cost is just the beginning of spending!  Total is $24.50
  • This item is completely optional – there are a lot of different ways to handle the bottom of the cage lining material. Many people use newspaper (black ink pages only) or even paper towel. I like to use Bird Cage Liners – Small Cages – Pick-Your-Size – 150 Count – 40 Pound Paper. Not only does it allow me to easily assess my budgies’ poop condition (and therefore their health) but it also resists absorbing water spills and makes clean up a total snap. I can’t imagine not having them. Cost depends on cage size approx. $35
  • Another semi-optional starter item is the Lixit Bird Waterer – 5 oz. I can practically guarantee that within a few days of parakeet-ownership you will realize that it is nearly impossible to keep their water from being contaminated by poop, food, and/or bathing. You should still maintain the traditional water bowl, but having the lixit bird waterer means that you do not have to worry about a clean supply of drinking water. You should buy as many of these as you have budgies so they don’t fight over it (in theory!). Minimum cost $12.50
  • Living World Cuttlebone, Large, Twin Pack provides absolutely essential calcium and minerals and is very inexpensive to boot! Cost $3.50
  • And finally – the budgies!! I’m hoping you’re starting with two so that they feel less afraid and have a pal, I know it will be harder to tame them, but I don’t think you’ll regret it.  Depending on where you get your parakeets they are either a small donation to a rescue, or up to $50 each for a handfed baby. I will hit sort of in the middle and say that you spent $40 for your two parakeets.  $40

Done conservatively, that comes to about $250 dollars.  That is far less than my original estimate of $400, but still a pretty substantial chunk of change.

Of course, that does not include everything that you will either find is a necessity down the road (like a 1st aid kit) or replacement toys and perches.  Also, almost every bird owner discovers they need a dedicated vacuum or some type for budgie mess.  You will probably also end up buying an air purifier (we have the Winix WAC9500 Ultimate Pet True HEPA Air Cleaner with PlasmaWave Technology), both for your budgie’s health and for yours once you realize the amount of dust and other air contaminants that come with birds.

Also not accounted for is an Zoo Med AvianSun Deluxe Floor Pet Lamp, and Zoo Med 24975 Avian Sun 5.0 Uvb Compact Fluorescent Lamp, 26W these provide full spectrum UVB and UVA lighting which parrots need to synthesize vitamin D3.  They cannot get these types of light through windows – so even if you think your budgie is technically getting “enough light” because they are near a big window, they are not getting the full spectrum which they need for physical and mental health.  Buying the lamp and bulb at Amazon will run you another $65.

For such a small thing budgies need a lot of gear for optimal physical and mental health. Far from being just an ornamental pet to keep in a cage, budgies are complex and extremely intelligent creatures and they deserve to have their basic needs met, or hopefully exceeded.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.