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.

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How much time out of the cage budgies should have every day

So, you’ve had your parakeet for a while, he’s pretty much tamed up and is one of your best pals. Now that the hard work is done you might be wondering how much time your budgie should have out of the cage every day. The answer depends on your schedule and your individual budgie.

If your budgie is still on the edge of being new then the answer is how much time can you devote? For the first several months when we had Toby as a solo parakeet she couldn’t be  out of the cage without full supervision. She would come out and immediately look to us to entertain her. If she didn’t have our full attention there was no telling where she would end up or what she’d get into. Now mind you, my house is small, but it’s still pretty darn easy to lose a parakeet in any nook or cranny.

I do not recommend having a parakeet out unsupervised that you don’t know extremely well. And I do mean even for you to run and change over a load of laundry.

Under those limitations, if you can devote two hours a day to hanging out with your parakeet I think that’s great. That’s enough time for them to stretch their wings, socialize, and hopefully tire themselves out a bit.

But please don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make that every day. Sometimes you’re going to have to work late and you get home just in time for dinner. Other times your human family will have needs that take precedence. Stuff happens that is totally out of your control and you will miss days. So, please make sure your budgie(s) have a nice large Flight Cage and all of the toys and perches that make up a varied life.

budgie time out of the cage
If this is what I do when you’re watching me, imagine the fun I have unsupervised!

Budgie time out of the cage for an established flock can be different. Now that we’ve had Toby, Kelly and Kevin for several years we know their behavior patterns pretty well. Also, having three of them typically means they keep themselves fairly well occupied. If someone wants to really get into trouble (like trying to eat framed artwork or the blinds) inevitably another parakeet will come over and ruin their fun.

Over time we have adjusted things in the house that we know are problem areas. Like putting decals on windows and covering enticing gaps.

My flock of three is usually out of their cages for about 2-3 hours on a weekday (as soon as I get home from work I let them out) and anywhere from 4 hours to the entire day on a weekend. As long as we’re going to be home I open up the cages as soon as I get up and typically put them to bed around 7pm.

Now mind you they are at their leisure to head back to their cages at any time, and they do typically go home for a lengthy afternoon nap. Otherwise they are usually on one of their window perches, on a play gym, or, yes, getting into nonsense.

budgie time out of the cage
Is this the nonsense to which you are referring?

The other key piece is that they typically like to hang out where they can see the whole flock, and that includes humans. So, if I go into my office space to work at least a couple of them will follow me and hang out on the play gym there.

For budgie(s) that you know well and have established patterns of behavior relaxing your vigilance a bit regarding supervision is natural. Check in every so often and be aware of any suspicious sounds (or the lack of sound, which is always MOST suspicious!). In any case, make sure your budgie always has easy access to food and water. Unless you are limiting their access to the cage for taming or training purposes they should also be able to chose to go home and take a break.

Ultimately I feel like a good guideline is that your budgie should have time out of the cage for about two hours a day. But, we must acknowledge that this absolutely won’t work every day. There will be days that you’re able to let them out for 15 minutes and days that are missed entirely. That’s okay, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about a random missed day or two. There will be enough days that they are out for 2++ hours that more than balance out the short days.  

budgie time out of the cage
I live here now, right?

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.

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Pet Parakeets and COVID-19

When I wrote my most recent post giving advice about working from home with budgies for coworkers I had no idea that I would end up in a mandatory work from home situation! But, here we are, due to attempts to slow the spread of COVID-19 I’m in my home office for the foreseeable future.

My new supervisor
My new supervisor sure likes to stay on top of me! Talk about micromanaging!

In the mix with all of our other coronavirus related concerns, it is certainly scary to think that either we could give our pet parakeets COVID-19, or that they could transmit it to us.

First, the good news, per the CDC there is no evidence that COVID-19 will transmit to any pets or other animals, or that pets could transmit it to people.

But, here are some coronavirus related considerations:

  • Although your pets cannot contract and transmit this coronavirus, they could carry the disease on their bodies. Say, for instance, someone with COVID-19 coughs on a budgie (which, let’s not in the first place) – the virus could live for several hours on the budgie’s body and be transmitted to someone else who handled him. So, we should all take care not to cough or sneeze directly on our pets. I think that’s generally good advice, even without a pandemic!
  • It is never a bad idea to wash your hands before handling your parakeets, but watch out for using hand sanitizer. Sanitizers that are alcohol-based could be toxic to your birds. Plain old soap and water are perfectly good for getting rid of the virus on your hands and body. Additionally, it might be tempting to hose your home down with disinfecting sprays but these are also known to be deadly.
  • Supply chain issues could become a concern. We all know that toilet paper is virtually impossible to get at the moment. I don’t advise panicking and buying up a pet store, but there is not any harm in buying enough of whatever you feed your birds to get you through two to four weeks of quarantine.
  • Similarly, now is a good time to make sure you’ve got a good first aid kit for your budgies in case of emergencies. I imagine that veterinary clinics will stay open to some extent as a necessity, but I think it’s safe to assume that hours may be limited, and already difficult to find avian vets may be even harder to see.

As we all get settled in to practicing social distancing and getting used to being homebodies our parakeets can be a source of stress relief and humor. Although I’m trying to keep mine out of my work day I know that I appreciate, more than ever, their company and their goofy antics.

Stay safe and healthy out there, readers, and know that this trying time will pass. Try not to worry too much about your pet parakeets and COVID-19. Also, it might be the perfect time to quarantine a new feathered friend, if you’re stuck home anyway!

handsome kevin
Kevin is a handsome gentleman and a messy eater.
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Working from home with parakeet colleagues

Working from home is a great perk that’s increasingly available to employees. Creating a good environment for a full workday can be challenging in any situation, but when you throw in a flock of noisy budgies there’s a whole extra layer of careful planning to make. I only work from home occasionally, but my husband has a dedicated home office that he uses three days a week, most of these tips come right from him after a few years of experience. Here are some tips for working from home with parakeets.

  1. If at all possible, get a door (or a floor!) between you and your budgies. We have a single-floor and relatively small home, so my husband’s office is right next to the bird’s room. Even so, he does have two doors that he can close between him and the budgies, which helps dampen sound.
  2. Speaking of dampening sound, if you’ve got particularly bad spots you can buy or make sound panels to absorb some of the screeching.
  3. Use in-ear headphones for calls, particularly with an inline microphone that has a small range. This tip is mine! I have an inexpensive set of headphones that I’m absolutely in love with. They work with both my laptop and my cell phone, the in-ear speakers help me tune out parakeet noise and the inline microphone picks up my voice really well but isn’t strong enough to get a lot of noise outside of me.

If those aren’t an option and you have to use a regular headset with a more powerful microphone then try not to worry about it too much. I mean really, how many conference calls have you been on where someone’s dogs or kids created a ruckus?  Parakeet coworkers may be more unusual, but they are certainly not the only uninvited guests at the meeting! My husband has had people comment along the lines of, “oh, you’ve got birds”, but then they usually launch into their own story of bird parenting, or reminisce about the cockatiel their parents had.

  1. Play soft pleasant music for your parakeets. This may seem counterintuitive because of course they are compelled to sing along, but, fairly continuous pleasant singing is better than intermittent screaming. Especially if you’ve been quiet for a long time and then pick up a call, the budgies are likely to be reminded that you’re home and start desperately flock calling.
  2. I suggest resisting the urge to cover them routinely during the day. If you’re attending a Board meeting via conference call and absolutely have to be sure of silence then that’s one thing, but for daily routine, I don’t think it’s quite fair to take away their daytime. I’m sure not everyone will agree with me on that one, but I feel like they deserve to have their day as well, and it’s not their fault there’s so much to sing about!
  3. Listen to your own music or white noise when you need to focus. There are tons of white noise options or music to help you concentrate options on YouTube. My personal favorite is wind through bamboo. If you put on a pair of Noise Cancelling Headphones and some good masking noise it may help you concentrate and not get distracted thinking of all the fun you could be having with your parakeets.
  4. Make sure your budgies have ample things to occupy themselves with! A bored budgie can be an exponentially noisy budgie. Add in and regularly rotate a variety of engaging toys and items for destruction to keep those beaks and brains busy.

Although working from home with parakeets can be an adjustment, there are ways to help you get your work done while your budgies have a nice day at home in their cage. If you’ve got any tips to share that I missed, please drop a comment below!