Friday, July 31, 2009

A Review

After the post about toys and their impact, I thought I would do a review on Planet Pleasure toys, the repeated winner in my weekly "Destroy Your Favorite Toy!" contest.

Planet Pleasure toys are a fair trade product (I would post a link to their website to learn more about the incredible program they are running, but it is currently being revamped), and are made from 100% renewable and safe resources. Instead of capturing birds to sell, why not just make incredible parrot toys?

As some might remember, Yaz is a big fan of Planet Pleasure toys, and the repeated winner of "Destroy Your Favorite Toy the Fastest!" contest. However, he is certainly not the only one that can take down a pinata; Frank is the original pinata nemesis, though he worked with the medium size, instead of extra large. Yo-yo and Miss Patty can also give any size pinata and run for its money (even beating Frank some now!) a quality they share with the budgies. Pinatas are not the only type of Planet Pleasure toy loved around here, though. Along with all their other shredder toys (if you haven't all ready, check out their new designs!), the bamboo and coconut ones are also greatly appreciated, and have a longer cage life. And for those of you with larger parrots, the mini size toys make incredible foot toys for them!

Here are each of my parrot's current favorites:
-Ava (both chewing and preening)
-Peter (he loves to climb around and hang from it)
-Yo-yo (soft wood, crunchy shells, lots of fun)
-Miss Patty
-Frank (lots of pieces to pull out and weave with!)
-Claudia (ever seen an ekkie sit in complete bliss? She sits with one piece in her mouth, eyes half shut, and chewing slowly. Similar to a cow chewing their cud, actually.)
-Yaz (Just can't beat the original!)

I was also recently given a wonderful gift by a friend, in the form of several planet pleasure toys. Here are some pics, pre-destruction (the post destruction ones seemed a bit worthless, so just picture a blank wall)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pika and Pixel

Pika and Pixel are a normal male cockatiel and pied yellow and green female budgie, respectively. I am listing them for a friend in Richmond. They were displaced after a divorce, and were taken in by her, so she is now trying to find them a wonderful home. In case anyone reading this is looking for a delightful pair that loves flying, destroying toys, and stealing food (they love their veggies!), just send me an email!

Parrot Toys and Their Impact

Birds are destructive. This means toys are destroyed very quickly. I would quote a smart statistic here on how much destruction, in toys, an average medium sized bird could produce in a a year, but the number is too large to calculate. Therefore, I will leave it simply at a lot.

However, when you consider that you are buying toys simply to be destroyed tomorrow, it is very important to consider where those toys are from, what they are made of, and what their impact on the environment and your individual parrot is. Obviously, when considering the impact on your parrot, it is important to make sure the toys are made of safe materials - stainless steel metal, safe woods and dyes, no glues, vegetable tanned leather, etc. What is a safe material for one parrot may not be safe for another. I avoid all soft plastics for my birds, since they are full of toxins, and I am not entirely sure that those toxins are not leaching into the parrot's system as they chew on them. For Frank, though, I avoid all plastics, as he has a rather weak detox system (liver and kidneys) and will sit and chew on the plastic beads as they come apart in fine shreds. Obviously, he would be swallowing a great deal of these shreds, and they cause his system to go cattywampus! As for dyes, I completely avoid synthetic dyes for my ekkies and, again, Frank. If given a choice, I go for undyed items for the others, as well, but have not noticed a major difference either way. And finally, for all my birds, if I am in doubt, I move on. No need to put their health at risk, they will, after all, be spending hours with the toy in their mouths destroying it; if there is something bad in it, I would think it would make its way into their bodies!

It is more difficult, though, to tell what the environmental impact is. Some things are easy to tell. Plastic production, again, is very hard on the environment; another good reason to avoid soft plastics, especially. Non-organic rope is either cotton, which supports the use of pesticides (while putting those chemical residues in with your bird, by the way) or a synthetic material from petro chemicals, which are not great for the environment either. Wood, though, is something I often wonder about. How do I know the wood on my parrot toys is from sustainable harvesting? Many parrot toys are made in China, with wood taken from.....? And everyone knows the horrible environmental impact of clear cutting!

In the end, can everyone avoid these products for their birds, and only buy the best? Not really. However, by making small changes, choosing a safer toy over a suspicious one once on every toy order, it can make small differences, which can really add up. Here are some "green" products I know of:
- Planet Pleasure Toys - personally my favorite (who doesn't love supporting fair trade?), and definitely my birds' favorite!
-Organic Cotton Rope
-Stainless Steel
-Safe wood from your backyard - if unsprayed, this is always a good option!
-Java wood comes from discarded coffee trees

Let me know if you know of any more!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A new home

Miss Busy Body is off to busy another body! Milly Molly Mandy went to her new home today, one in which I know she will be very happy and spoiled. Her new family is not only very excited about adopting such a "smart, spunky, and beautiful parrot", but have also taken much time to think through the decision and make sure they are prepared for the time and expense involved in caring for a parrot. Milly Molly Mandy will be able get both all the toys, exercise, and foraging opportunities she needs, but also all the attention!

Along with a large supply of organic food, of course. Milly Molly Mandy could not be happy anywhere she did not have more food than any normal parrot should be able to consume in a week!

Monday, July 20, 2009

They wanted to take a walk

And I wouldn't let them. As Chester has a deep hatred for all birds, and the cockatiels can be incredibly annoying, they are never out at the same time. This means there are almost always discontented parrots here. To combat this irritating fact, both Yo-yo and Chester have started to take advantage of the simpler door latches on their temporary cages.

Yo-yo has actually succeeded in his quest, something he is quite proud of. It is not the easiest door to open, as it has to be lifted up and pushed out and down. Still, he has figured it out. This means he can not only get out when it is dangerous out of the cage (i.e. Chester is loose) but also is in danger from the door itself. The second time he tried to open it (the first time I convinced myself I had left it open, which I am sure was very amusing for all others involved) he had a very narrow escape with being choked. He managed to open it partway, and re-lock it on his neck. Fortunately, I was in the room, and was alerted to his predicament by the strange strangling noises coming from the cage. Don't worry, he was fine after being released and cuddled, and has suffered no long term damage. However, it puts a lot of pressure on me to remember to lock the doors every time; I have forgotten, though he fortunately managed to open the door safely.

Chester has yet to get the doors open on his cage, but not for lack of trying (and frustration at Yo-yo's new found ability!) He has to lift a latch to get the door to open, and is getting very close. I am beginning to wonder whether I should lock the doors now before he figures it out, but then, he is so dedicated to it, I figure a nice puzzle is good stimulation!

Of course, Frank can already get out of everything, so his doors had large locks on them from the beginning!

Ava is the only one that seems disinterested with doors. If she wants to get out (she is only locked up if Mr. Green Jeans is out) she climbs to the top corner of the cage, and curls up into a little ball, with her beak on the bar, and her feet on either side of her head. Awkward, I know! Once in this position, she alternates between pushing hard against the bars with her body, looking at me and begging (sort of, that position, you know......) and calling to be let out. Very convincing, and I must say, very effective!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What About the Wildlife

Actually that is exactly what I would like to know. I am staying on a large creek/small river off the Potomac. When I was young, there was a great deal of aquatic life- crabs, fish, shrimp, etc. Through pollution, poor farming practices, and extreme over-fishing/crabbing,this was all changed. It became much shallower, and the crabs all but disappeared; we certainly never saw any. Through new regulations, and with the help of my watchdog relatives, this has slowly improved. Although it is still shallow, and pollution still comes in, it is not as much. The crabs began to come back, and we began to see them every now and again off the dock.

This year is different, though, and very disturbing. The first time I went down to the dock, I noticed it. At low tide it is extremely obvious. Dead crabs line the bottom and the shore. As the water washes the mud on the bottom, more are uncovered. Dead fish are also everywhere. Gone are the huge schools of minnows, ranging in size from 1/2 inch to 3 or 4 inches. Gone are the huge schools of shrimp. If one sits there long enough, you do see a few live animals. A few crabs, some minnows, exactly two shrimp. But almost more disturbing was what these creatures were doing. All of them were jumping to the surface, over and over. This is to be expected of crabs; they breathe air. But fish? they should not be behaving as dolphins. And they were dying, as I sat there. One particularly large minnow's passing was "memorable." He skipped across the top of the water, before stopping and dying, turning over on his back. Almost immediately, minnows of the same species began eating him. What can best be described as a bait ball, where predator is prey, was formed. Soon, not just the dead minnow, but others still alive, were being eaten. Very strange. Other minnows were "swimming" by spinning, over and over, from being on their stomach, to side, to back, etc.

From the fact that they were all jumping out of the water so, I would conclude that the oxygen content of the water was low, perhaps from fertilizer run off. However, I don't know what is causing the fish to suffer from vertigo, perhaps some disease? As to why they have resorted to eating each other alive, well.....

I have no way of telling on my own what is causing the problems. I do know it is a real problem, though, and one that is impossible to escape. I say this as I sit on the porch, the air being filled with the scent of rotting animals.

So, to all you readers, wherever you are, please think before you use any chemicals on your yard, or in fact use any chemicals at all. There are so many natural, environmentally friendly products available, many of which work just as well. And even if they didn't, once your world, your personal environment, is dead, you are not far behind. So why would it matter?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Reasoning with Cockatiels

It is practically impossible. Miss Patty and Yo-yo finally decided the floor of their cage was the best place to start a family, as that was the one place I could not keep them from.

Miss Patty laid the first egg without much trouble. The second one, however, was another story. She was two days late laying, during which time she got plenty of steam baths. After the last one, she did finally lay it, but not without great difficulty. I was worried that the strain had been too much for her- for the next day she did nothing but lay on the floor of the cage. However, she has since improved, and now, a week later, seems as good as she was before. The experience, though, seems to have cooled her urge to raise a family.

After she laid the first one,I was surprised to see that she really seemed serious about raising a family. Both she and Yo-yo took very good care of that egg. She not only sat on it,but turned it regularly, and even seemed to check it with her beak for temperature. She would then stand beside it for several minutes before resuming her position on top. She also got up quite often, wet her stomach in the water dish and then went back to sitting, though now with proper egg hatching humidity.

Yo-yo would take over sitting on the egg whenever she left to eat, or just took a break. He was ever so dedicated a father, but I must say, he was not very good at it. He would spend the entire time he was supposed to be sitting on the egg, often half an hour or more, simply trying to adjust it beneath himself. Instead of watching Miss Patty, and placing the egg between his leg and breast bone as she had done, he continually tried to place it directly beneath his breast bone. Obviously, this did not work, for once it was there, his feet could no longer touch the ground, and Yo-yo would fall forward while the egg rolled backward. Needless to say,Yo-yo took the egg on some very long walks across the bottom of the cage!

For a day or so after the second egg was laid, they continued sitting. Actually Miss Patty was too tired to get up, so she sat on the eggs while Yo-yo preened and fed her. After a bit, Yo-yo even took one of the eggs to "sit" on, so she only had to sit on one. Very adorable to watch, but I am only too glad to say that a week later, there have been no more eggs, and the two that were laid are totally abandoned on the bottom of the cage. Miss Patty hopefully has laid her last, so I do not have to worry about her anymore, or replacing the eggs, as I would have had to do if she had kept up her dedication. I certainly don't need to add to the thousands of cockatiels already needing homes!