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!

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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 products with fragrance, we use Seventh Generation Free & Clear Detergent, 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!

Parakeets and nail polish – what are the dangers?

It’s been several years since I used nail polish on the regular. My husband has allergies and sensitivities to chemicals, so every time I want to paint my finger or toe nails it’s been a real production. I have to go outside to paint them and stay out long enough to dry, then when I come in I have to wash my feet as soon as the polish is totally dry. Even after that the chemicals would irritate his throat and I would end up having to wear socks around the house and to bed for several days. Since I did it so infrequently I rarely though about the possible implications for parakeets and nail polish exposure.

I’ve been traveling more for work lately and attending conferences wearing sandals this summer brought the issue more to the forefront. I still didn’t really want to paint my finger nails, because Toby can’t stand most nail colors. When my mom visits with anything other than a neutral nail Toby won’t go anywhere near her! But, to look professional and put together I did want to be able to polish my toes more frequently.

I started researching whether there was a chemical-free option for nail polish, and was immediately horrified to learn about what I’d been putting on my toes and into our home’s air space for years. Most nail polish brands that I had been picking up at the grocery store contained chemicals like:

  • DBP (dibutyl phthalate) – a toxic chemicals that has been proven to cause reproductive issues in rats as well as birth defects.
  • Toulene – long term exposure to toluene is linked to several lovely conditions such as anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver and kidney damage.
  • Formaldehyde – I feel like just putting that word there should be enough, most of us associate formaldehyde with preserving dead animals and tissues as specimens and I think we can all intuit that using it on humans is a poor idea. It is a known carcinogen as well as a respiratory irritant.

No wonder it was such a problem for my husband, he consistently reacts to formaldehyde when it’s used in clothing manufacturing (also GROSS), so I’ve basically been trying to poison him every time I polished my toes. Additionally, I was pretty devastated that I’d been bringing these products into the house with budgies at all, even if I took precautions to use them outdoors only, if my husband reacted to it for days after application it couldn’t possibly be healthy for them.

Happily, there are options that are far less dangerous than traditional polishes. You want to look for products that are, at a minimum, noted to be “3 free” or “5 free”, this refers to the number of chemicals that are not present in the product.

I began searching on Amazon and found butter LONDON Nail Lacquer, which at just a little bit higher price point than my grocery store polish boasts of being “8 free”. The chemicals additionally excluded are: Formaldehyde Resin, Camphor, Ethyl Tosylamide, Xylene, and TPHP.

As a review of butter LONDON Nail Lacquer I am happy to report that it goes on fairly easily and lasts well. It does not go on as smoothly as a polish with the added chemicals, however, and you may want to buff your nails before application to ensure a smooth finish.

The final verdict was that this polish is a total success story for my household! I still applied the polish outside, but had to come in before it dried completely due to weather issues. My husband could tolerate it immediately, no frantic foot washing or hiding them away in socks required!  I am so pleased that I’ll be able to polish my toes just because I want to in the future without having to take crazy precautions. I also feel about a million times better about not exposing the parakeets to dangerous nail polish chemicals.

If you use polish frequently I urge you to make sure your preferred brand is at least “3 free” if not more. If it isn’t and this post doesn’t convince you to change then please do some additional googling and make sure you are comfortable exposing both yourself and your children/pets to the chemicals. Especially budgies, whose air systems are so much more delicate than ours.

Flight cage proliferation – buying our second flight cage

I didn’t think this would ever happen, but we’ve side-lined my previously favorite cage, the HQ Victorian Top, in favor of a second flight cage for Kelly. We had purchased the Prevue Flight Cage a few weeks ago for Toby, but always intended to leave Kelly in the old cage. Here’s what changed our minds.

The flat top of the Prevue Flight Cage – we hadn’t realized how much we missed that with the Victorian top cage. It is so convenient to serve treats on top of a cage, or offer a bath up there, and they just love running around on the surface of the cages. Patrick even installed a neat Booda Comfy Perch bridge on top of the cage, which they get enjoyment out of every day. There was a downside though, using the Prevue Flight Cage top so much we found that it wasn’t very sturdy or flat but tended to want to bow inward. I guess that’s what you get at that price point, but it was a little disappointing. I also ended up not loving the white finish, it’s easy to clean, but I think it chips more easily.

Another great thing about a traditional flight cage is the ability to hang things from any point in the ceiling of the cage. With the HQ Victorian Top you couldn’t hang much from the top doors, which left you with very little ceiling space left. And the shape of it in general encouraged short flights, but even though it was large the usable space was really diminished by the decorative shape. The traditional flight cage is also easier to clean than the HQ Victorian due to the lack of rounded edges that create small, hard to get into spaces.

Anyway, we popped in at a local pet store and were checking out their selection of cages.  We saw this A&E flight cage in black and were immediately in love with the size, the color and most importantly, the overall quality. It didn’t have the cheap, bendable feel of the Prevue Flight Cage .

We went back the next week and snapped it up, not even realizing that buying in store meant we would be purchasing an already assembled cage, instead of spending another several hours putting it together ourselves. It did, however, mean that the cage needed to be thoroughly cleaned, because it had been on the sales floor. Some White Vinegar and elbow grease made quick work of the dirt and we were quickly ready to load it up with toys and get Kelly settled in.

I’m nervous about her spending the night in there, she is not very adaptable to change, but for now we just moved everything over from her old cage and put it exactly where it had been. Hopefully that and the fact that it’s in the same spot and the same color that the old one was will help her adjust.

The best part is that when we get our boy bird in November he can move in with whichever lady he gets along with. Or maybe if he eases up the tension they can all live in the new flight cage.  AND, now I don’t have to worry about quarantining the new guy in an inappropriately small cage, he can live in the HQ Victorian Top while he quarantines in my office space.

Here’s a good indicator of just how roomy this new cage is!