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.

A brief review of every budgie cage we own

I know it’s completely excessive, but I own five cages (two of them flight cages) and only three birds! I swear there’s an excuse for every one. Since I’ve got a good range of parakeet cages, I thought it might help someone out to have a brief review of each one.  They all have pros, cons and some have very specific purposes. Hopefully I can justify a portion of my over-spending by helping others make informed decisions!

prevue park plaza bird cage
Prevue Pet Products Park Plaza Bird Cage, Coco Brown (on the right)
This was our very first bird cage. It met the minimum size requirement for parakeets (see size on link) and seemed to have some nice features. To be honest, before we got our first parakeet we weren’t too sure birds would be for us, and this cage could have also worked for a sugar glider.

The Park Plaza is a very good solid bird cage with nice construction. I liked that the food and water bowls swung out with the access doors, making it easy to replace food and water without letting a not yet tame bird out of the cage. There is also a double lock on the front access door. The door itself has a nice large opening which was a big help for taming.

We ended up replacing this cage because it was too low to the ground. Toby is not at all a ground bird and so ended up just using the top portion of the cage. She was fine with it, but it really wasn’t enough room to move or play. Also for a bird that spends several hours a day in their cage it just doesn’t have enough horizontal space for exercising.

Another con is that when you take the grate out at the bottom, which we like to do so our parakeets can ground forage, it leaves a huge gap at the front which must be “patched” with cardboard. Not a huge deal for our Toby, who has never tried to escape anything in her life, but for a more intrepid budgie this would be a problem.

Also, not shown are the seed catcher attachments, which we used for a while, and found that they really increased the footprint of the cage without much benefit.

parakeet cage costs

HQ Victorian Top Bird Cage with Cart Stand
This is my favorite cage out of all five. It is incredibly well-made, and really attractive. I find that our flight cages are okay looking, but this cage looks like a nice piece of furniture versus something utilitarian.

It’s not just appealing to the human eye, but also has many features that birds appreciate. The top opens for a great way to transition to the outside, there’s a wooden dowel perch included to keep the top open, otherwise it could slam shut which would be dangerous. We’ve weighted it with perches on the outside to make it heavy enough to stay open on its own.

The area above the main access door also folds out for a porch-like area. Our parakeets get a ton of use out of the indoor/outdoor features.

The food access doors on this cage are great too, you open the door and slide out the bowl, which is nestled in a “cage” of its own. It’s very easy to sneak bowls in and out of the cage without risking an escape.

Speaking of which, you can also remove the grate without having to patch a gap, because of the included metal flap covering the area.

There are a few cons to the cage – all the decorative curves make it a little harder to clean the crevices. Additionally, because of the way the top opens it can be challenging to hang toys from the top of the cage, the way you would in a flat top cage. Because it narrows at the top we found it difficult to make a good place for multiple budgies to sleep, since they all like to be high up.

For the size, this cage is also fairly expensive, $209 at the time of this posting. You can certainly get a bigger cage for a lot less money, but what you’re paying for here is the superior quality and the details. Even with the few cons, this cage edges out the A&E flight cage as my favorite.

Prevue chalk white flight cage
Prevue Pet Products Wrought Iron Flight Cage with Stand, Chalk White (on left, dimensions at link)
Out of the three largest cages we own, this is the one that I would least recommend. As soon as we took it out of the box we were disappointed by the quality. Several of the bars were bent and the finish was already nicked. The bent bars were pushed back into shape, but it was certainly telling how easy it was to do so. Also I like having a flat top to put out treats or toys, but this was so weak and bowed in it made me nervous putting anything remotely heavy up there.

I thought I would dislike the brightness of the cage, but I actually didn’t mind that at all. It makes it easy to find soiled areas and clean them up.

The size is really nice, but that’s about it. The food access doors are on spring hinges which would be dangerous for any budgie that might try to escape. Also, removing the grate at the bottom left a huge gap at the back. We used paper tape to cover it, which worked for Toby because, again, she’s never tried to escape anything in her life. But, there’s no way that Kelly could live in this cage, she’d be out in a second either through the food doors or the bottom. With Kelly’s propensity for bar-chewing she would almost certainly eat all the paint off this cage anyway.

Overall I’m pretty disappointed with this purchase, particularly since a spend of just about $30 more got me much better quality for the next cage on our list.

second flight cage A&E flight cage

A&E Cage Company Flight Bird Cage (on left, dimension at link, select color “green”)
With similar dimensions and features, for just slightly more money, this cage is FAR better than the Prevue flight cage. The bars are much sturdier and the top is rock solid. I’m not a huge fan of the food access doors on this one either, but they have a tab lock that is at least secure, if not convenient.

The space and the construction are very good, but there aren’t a lot of optional features to be found here either. Just a good solid flight cage with a lot of room. Taking out the grate does leave a gap, we were able to use the included dowel perch to fill the space and I’m still able to remove the bottom tray, so that worked out just fine.

If you want a utilitarian flight cage with loads of room and really good finish and bar quality this is the cage for you.

small Vision cage quarantine cage for our new parakeet
Vision Bird Cage Model S01 – Small
I almost forgot to include this cage because we don’t use it very often at all! I purchased the Small Vision cage for a few potential purposes.
– Hospital cage for a sick bird
– Travel cage if we needed to go to the vet
– Going outside to enjoy good weather cage

For the size, this cage was a real pain to put together! After having owned several relatively expensive cages, this is definitely a whole different animal. The bars seem very weak, everything else is made of plastic. I know a lot of people find the bottom tray very convenient for containing mess, but I can’t imagine having a bigger version of this and having to lift the whole cage top off to clean the bottom.

I don’t like that the doors just fall open if you’re not careful when unlocking them. Overall this cage is fine for what we would use it for, but based on my feelings about this one I would never get a larger Vision Cage for a main cage. I know they are very reasonably priced and a lot of people love them, so no flames please! It’s just not my cup of tea. I do like that they are tabletop though, that seems like it would be great, since all of my main cages eat a ton of floor space.

So, that’s a very brief review of our five cages. The two that we are currently using are the HQ Victorian Top and the A&E flight cage. The Park Prevue I think I’m going to donate to a bird rescue or see if there’s anyone else local who would like it. The Prevue Chalk White flight cage is currently taking up a ton of space in a spare room, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with that one!

If you have any specific questions about these cages feel free to drop a comment or reach out through my Facebook page. I’ll be happy to help!

A very budgie Christmas – budgie gifts are the best!

The holidays can be a relatively hectic time of year, it’s always fun, but there are lots of folks to visit and celebrate with. Patrick and I decided a few years back that we would pick a day after Christmas and use that as our Christmas Day for our own traditions and gift exchange. That way we wouldn’t miss out on any of the extended family fun, but we could still have a day that felt special to us. He really knocked it out of the park this year and I received a number of awesome budgie gifts!

We also don’t buy a traditional Christmas tree, both for parakeet and human-based reasons. With the parakeets I worry that buying a non-organic tree could put them at risk of ingesting pesticides and other chemicals if they landed on the tree. As far as fake trees go, I would fret about them chewing on the needles and eating plastic. I’ve never pretended to be blasé about life, so this tree-related angst probably comes as no surprise to anyone! In addition to my parakeet/tree issues, my husband also has a bunch of allergies and chemical sensitivities that make either kind of tree a challenge to his well being. So, several years ago we ditched the concept of traditional trees and have either used a Java Tree for the birds with holiday-themed ornaments, or Patrick builds a tree out of cardboard and it’s a temporary affair.

This year was a build year – he used cardboard, tissue paper, tiny fake tea light candles and here’s the result.

It is very beautiful with the lights flickering, there’s even one in the star.  And the birds totally ignore it because it’s relatively short and not in one of their flight paths.

On to the budgie gifts!  It’s probably poor form to “brag” about the things I got for Christmas, but I feel like other parakeet lovers will want to know these things exist!

This tank is the cutest thing! It would be a great workout tank or just lounging around the house in summer.  Patrick wanted to find one with a parakeet that looked like Kelly, since she’s our big girl, but she’s not a very common color. budgie gift

Usually I’m not a huge fan of these figurines, but it’s a girl with three birds! So cute! Patrick even took some crayons and colored the birds to resemble Toby, Kelly and Kevin. I mean, come on, how sweet is that?

budgie gifts

The real star of the Christmas show, however, was this custom necklace he had made to look like Toby.

budgie gifts - a custom necklace of TobyIt looks exactly like her!  Down to the expression in her eyes. Patrick said he provided the shop owner with three pictures of Toby to start and then they refined from a proof after that. The shop owner was incredibly responsive and polite, even when he made multiple changes and asked that she rush the order for Christmas delivery.

The shop name on Etsy is NicomadeMe and based on Patrick’s experience and the finished product I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her! It’s not often that a gift makes me teary-eyed, but this one did that quite spectacularly.

Did you receive any fabulous budgie-related gifts this holiday season?  Let me know so I can build by wish list for next year!  I hope everyone had a safe and warm holiday full of love and feathers – happy new year all!

The best socks ever – not surprisingly, budgie socks!

I don’t make a habit of going around looking for products with budgies on them. If I did, my whole house would be an homage to budgies and other parrots and packed to the gills with artwork and knickknacks! But, I did see something recently that fell into the “have-to-have” category and seemed justifiable in it’s utility. The item in question was a pair of socks with budgies on them, and being winter, everyone needs new budgie socks, right?

The Socksmith Women’s crew socks “budgies” come in two colors, blue and pink, one with a blue budgie and one with green, so if you’ve got one of the more standard color budgies there’s a pair for you! I purchased both pairs because why not. I should perhaps mention that I have a pre-existing penchant for purchasing novelty socks which may have influenced my impulse spending.

I anxiously awaited the arrival of my new socks and eagerly ripped open the package as soon as they hit my doorstep. I was very pleased with their feel, made of 68% bamboo they were very soft before even washing. I always wash new clothing before wearing, so I threw them in the laundry and kept my fingers crossed that they wouldn’t fall apart immediately. One never can be certain of quality with a novelty sock purchase.

Happily they made it through and came out even softer on the other side. I washed on delicate and then tumbled dry with low heat. There’s probably not much call to talk about laundry products on a budgie blog, but since all of the humans and birds in my house are sensitive to fragranced products, we use Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent Free & Clear – 50 Fl oz, and add White Vinegar as a fabric softener. Since we are totally unscented and trying to avoid chemicals for both the human and budgie inhabitants we use Wool Dryer Balls to help with static cling in the dryer.

Sorry for the tangent!  I get kind of preachy about scented laundry products because it’s one area that a lot of people don’t think of where they are adding unnecessary fragrance to their lives every day. With increasing numbers of people walking around with chemical sensitivity it’s incumbent on all of us to think about what we’re putting out into everyone’s airspace.

Now I’m sorry for that tangent!  Back to the cute budgie socks!

budgie socks!

I did not actually mix and match my budgie socks but they do look sort of cute together, so no judgement if you go for it!

Toby and Kelly’s Christmas wish list

Toby and Kelly have been working feverishly on their Christmas wish list for parakeet-Santa.  They are cutting it a little close to the wire, but here’s their parakeet gift list full of their secret and most closely held desires!

Toby really wants to try having Nutriberries as a treat! She has heard that if I crumble them up for her she will be in a heretofore unknown ecstasy of foraging.

Kelly’s wants are a bit more basic. She plows through a cuttlebone every week, so she would like a never-ending supply of essential calcium as well as beak-exercising destruction.

Kelly snuck in a second want in a row! She loves the smaller version of this toy so much that she wants to try out the one for big birds! Since the single cupcake style is destroyed in a single day, we’re hoping that Santa brings one that lasts for three days!

Both Toby and Kelly are dreaming of a new play gym. They acknowledge that they previously had a very similar gym and totally ignored it, but they feel that since they both have flat top flight cages now they will get a lot more use of out of a play gym if it’s on top of the cage.

You’re probably wondering what poor new kid Kevin would like for Christmas. He’s just dreaming of getting out of quarantine and spending some time with his “sisters”.

He has been using the java tree as his personal play stand, so we all hope he comes out of quarantine in time for us to use his play tree as our Christmas tree like we did last year!

Speaking of which, Santa better bring us some new Christmas-themed bird toys to load up our “tree”.  Seems like some human “Santas” may need to start adding things to their carts before we run out of time!  I hope everybirdy out there finds exactly what they most want and need under their trees this year!