Bird Brain

Although I am a bird lover and a pet owner, I am also a science major and I often think like a science major.  One of the things I’m obviously interested in is the psychology of the avian.  And having Erin down at school with me has provided the perfect opportunity for me to conduct some of my own mini science activities.

Obviously, I am not taking Erin into the labs and seeing what type of bacteria affects her or what type of medicine does what to her.  She’s not a testing bird, shes my fid!  But the way her mind works fascinates me sometimes.

Recently, I noticed that Erin seemed much more interested in my writing utensils.  And by interested, I mean she’s been climbing onto my homework and attempting to take my pencil out of my hand.  I have her out on my desk while I do my homework, so at first this was really annoying.  I started giving her one of my extra pencils with a worn out eraser on it to keep her occupied while I was doing my homework.  And little Erin, who never plays with anything, started going to town on the pencil!  She would bite at it, pick it up and toss it around, pull it around the desk, and even graduated to throwing the pencil off my desk into my trash can.  I didn’t really think anything of it until I accidentally gave her a pen one day to play with instead of her usual pencil.   Immediately, she was back on top of my homework, trying to take my pencil away from me.

Maybe this just seems really stupid, but to me it was kind of interesting; why does Erin only like pencils and not pens?

I started giving her other writing utensils.  Highlighters, markers, dry erase markers, pens that look different from my normal pen, colored pencils.  Out of everything I have offered Erin, she prefers my mechanical pencils best.  But why?  Markers and highlighters are much more colorful, pen tops are easier to chew, and colored pencils have exposed graphite!

My hypothesis is that because Erin’s cage faces my desk and she spends so much time out on my desk while I am recopying notes, working problems, and doing labs, Erin is seeing me play with the pencils and therefore, they are the best toy option.   Birds are observational.  They love to watch and learn.  I spend a lot of time scratching away with my mechanical pencils, and I’m sure Erin watches this and things that pencils must be the best toy ever.  

Do any of your birds make toys out of everyday objects that you use often?

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The Dollar Store: The Ultimate House of Bird Toys

Today Lance and I decided to go around to some of the local dollar stores and see what we could find to make our own bird toys.  With Bella being an avid shredder and Jules easily figuring out toys, Erin being a plucker and Taylor being afraid or uninterested in most toys, our toy bill can be astranomical.  Early on, I started trying to copy some of the more common toy designs and build them myself or design my own toys, particularly for the handicapped birds to help alleviate large bills.  I’d read online that a lot of other toy builders go to dollar stores to find good bird building materials, so we figured it was worth a shot.  We went to two different dollar stores and this is what we found:

Dollar stores are the ultimate bird toy store!

All of those awkward little pieces that you’d never know where you can go can be found at the local dollar store for pennies.  Plus, there is so much awkward things crammed into a dollar store, its hard to not get further inspiration for different toys just by looking around. 

Here is a list of everything we walked out with:

  • 1 crate for storing bird toy materials
  • 2 sleeves of cotton rounds (80 count each) for bird diaper liners
  • 1 sewing kit for threading bird toys
  • 1 2pk of ice cube tray for making frozen bird desserts
  • 1 rope loop dog pull toy
  • 3 packs of multiple colored tissue papers
  • 2 packs of solid color tissue paper
  • 3 packs of 12 wiffle golf balls
  • 1 pack of 4 large wiffle ball
  • 2 bags of pony beads
  • 1 pack of wooden beads
  • 1 pack of 200 count straws
  • 1 pack of 100 count paper cup cake liners
  • 2 spools of all natural twine
  • 4 bags of basket/bag shreds
  • 2 decks of playing cards
  • 1 150 count of coffee filters
  • 1 set 60 count kraft sticks

All this plus a bamboo butterfly net for Lance for $30!  Thats a lot of bird toys for the price of one, literally.  I’ve already gone through and started making toys.  So far, I’ve made 14 pinatas for Bella to shred out of old toliet paper rolls, news paper, and tissue paper.  I also recreated a rope swing that I bought for $16 for a dollar.  Its amazing what a little creativity and dollar store items can do lol.

Make Your Own Bird Toys, Issue 1!

As a quick update, Taylor still has a swollen crop, but is looking happy and healthy (other than the large bulge on his chest) in his hospital box.  He has eaten the entire sprig of millet I gave him last night, as well as part of his seed and pellet mixture.  I also caught him drinking this morning, so he is eating, drinking, and pooping, all essential to life!  Tay also has an appointment down at Northview tomorrow at 11:40.  So, hopefully we will find out what is wrong with him and remedy it!

I also found a vet to shadow over the summer on my days off from Petscapes!  I called Dr. Hope today from Hope Veterinary Hospital and he said I was welcome to come anytime, for surgeries on Tuesday and Friday mornings, to office hours throughout the week. I am so pumped!  So, I’m sure I’ll have many good things to write about!

However, today I decided to do a fun installation about making your own bird toys.  Bella enjoys shredding things up, and therefore goes through toys like water.  Because the average bird toy runs around $5-$10 depending on how complex and big it is, I have decided to start making a lot of my own.  So, I am going to share some of my secrets with you.  Shh. 

I don’t really name these things.  This particular toy is a basic paper shredding toy.  It’s ideal for budgies up to conures or amazons.  I wouldn’t want to make this toy for a macaw, because they would probably look at it and it would fall apart.  So, this is recommended for smaller shredders.

Materials:

  1. Two or more pieces of colored paper, your choice
  2. Yarn or another type of string
  3. Scissors
  4. a bird to keep you company.  Little Erin is our model today, because she’s just so darn cute.

Step One

cut the pieces of colored paper into strips width wise.  Depending on your birds size, you may need to cut these pieces wider or thinner than mine.  I made a matching toy for Erin and her strips were much thinner.

Step Two

Bend the strips back and forth to make an accordion style piece of paper. Bend each strip separately.  Its faster to bend them all together, but then they all spoon each other and it doesn’t make as fun of a toy.

Step Three

Continue bending until you have enough strips bent to make a decent size wad of paper.

Step Four

place all the strips together at the center and tie with yarn around.  Wrap a few times to make a tougher toy and make sure there are no loops that can easily catch a bird leg.  Leave a tail of yarn for tying into the cage.  Erin decided she wanted this one.

Step Five

Tie new toy into bird-cage.  Here is an angry Bella with her new toy.  She wasn’t happy I let it invade her space.  I kinda like pissing her off though because she looks so dinosaur like when she puts that little ruff of feathers up on the back of her neck!