Chicken coop cleanliness

Buff-colored Polish Laced Chicken.
Buff-colored Polish Laced Chicken.
In our email newsletter of 12/16/2012 found here: one of our readers took issue with a statement we posted highlighted in orange below. We are posting her response which hopefully will provide clarity in the issue
Odor control & birds
Dear Fellow Parrot Lovers: I am one of your customers and I would like to know what in the line of spray, plug-ins or other items can I safely use in my African Gray parrots room to control unpleasant odors. I’m 67 and somewhat handicapped but I clean his cage and room as often as possible. “Thanks A Bunch”  

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Changes in the product lines of foraging toys

Paradise Buffet Ball & Kabob Interactive Treat Holder Foraging Toy


We were recently interviewed for a pet magazine article with some interesting questions. We thought you’d enjoy our answers

1. Have you seen any noticeable changes in the product lines of bird foraging toys/ foraging treats in the past five years or so? Are more companies expanding into the foraging marketplace (bird companies that didn’t previously offer them)?

Yes, we have seen a larger offering of Foraging Toys on the market due to bird researchers and bird owners learning that parrots need more mental stimulation in order to prevent boredom, plucking and self mutilation due to long hours of being left to their own devices.

The days of a simple bell on a chain and a set of Olympic Rings are long gone. Large birds & parrots have a larger need for more metal stimulation than small ones, but it also being found that foraging toys geared toward littler birds like Conures and even Cockatiels are needed. Especially if these birds are in one bird households. They also need something to keep them active and healthy.

2. Are customers asking for certain foraging bird toys and/or foraging treats? Or are you seeing more first-time “novice” bird owners taking an interest in offering their birds foraging/enrichment opportunities; if so, what do you attribute this to?)

First time bird owners are less likely to realize the need for these items and usually under estimate the intelligence of their new birds. A new owner will often be more concerned about the cage and 2-3 toys than realizing the birds will need 10-20 toys that include foraging toys and toys that give them something to do other than sit on their stands or in their cages.

Usually if they ask about them, they may have done some research and learned, or had a friend with a bird that had the toys in their cage or they were informed of the need by a helpful salesperson in the store. We tend to express the needs of foraging toys with weekly emails to our customers that explain the benefits of these products

3. Are you promoting treats as foraging opportunities?

The appropriate treats that fit into these toys are lagging some in following the popularity of the foraging toys. Generally regular food pellets, small nuts, large seeds, some formulated snacks are used but there could be more products on the market to serve these needs. We carry at least 15-20 food and bird treats that can be used but we are always looking for more.

4. Do you have a specific plan for marketing product/ for merchandising foraging products in your store? (For example, having the in-store birds use them?)

As our store is one without live bird sales we don’t have birds in house that we can show these items in use, but we do employ video’s and photos of bird using, enjoying them and encourage our customers and those on our email list to send us their own pictures, videos and stories about how they are working to enrich their birds life.

6. Feel free to add anything else you think ties in with the subject of trends in bird foraging products/treats.

Since toys made for foraging is a relatively new concept, a just a few years, convincing bird owners to add these items to their birds environment can be a challenge, especially if they have been just providing their birds with bowls of handy food and treats and the birds have lost their instinct to look for rewards in their toys. Their owners can help this along by playing with the toys in front of the birds a few times so they start to get the idea.


Recommendations for Environmental Changes to Bird Cage

Happy African Grey Parrot in his new HQ 80040 bird cage

Hello Catherine,  

Mitch asked me to send a pic or two of the bird cage and bird after setup. Well, please find attached. 


 Ajay S. 

Dear Ajay 

 Thank you for the pictures they are very nice. 

 I do not know if you have just set up the bird cage and do not have all the toys in your cage that you have yet, but the few that you have are no where near what you need to keep your bird happy and comfortable and avoid starting to pluck. Greys are prone to this and need to be catered to more. 

 The toys in your birds cage are the leaves on your birds tree. They serve more than to just play with. The top third part of your cage inner walls, front and back should be lines with things, toys, paper strips, corn husks, interactive toys, wood toys, fabric toys, plastic toys, shreddable toys. 

 15-20 toys of varying sizes and materials is not unusual. 

 A bird in a cage as empty as yours now can feel “exposed”. Yes, they cannot get out of it but they do not know if anything can get in their cage. 

 Putting more items in the cage creates a “canopy” of security for the bird. They then have places they can hide behind and thus block their view from the outside world and make themselves feel more safe.

Some short bolt on perches are a good idea midway in the cage. 

A grooming perch would be good lower by the food dishes or in the front of the cage, lower.

I see you have a grooming perch up high and it should be lowered and replaced with a wood or rope perch before your bird starts to get sore feet from sleeping on the rough perch. 

These are some recommendations. 

Booda Perch. 


Rope/preening toy  

Wood Toys

Shredding toys

Interactive toys

Foot toys

Here is an ebook that helps you to understand the need for bird toys

These are just suggestions and hope you and your bird have a long and happy life.

 Thank you


Hello Catherine, 

I have quite a few toys, shred boxes and “intelligence” type toys (e.g. box of drawers, wheel w/ small openings) along with rope perches. I plan on inserting additional items as per your suggestions below. 

I mounted the cage last weekend and didn’t want to congest the cage too much. She is loose most of the day and switches off between outside and inside. I will send you a different picture after I review and add additional items based on your suggestion. 

 Catherine, question, I’ve been thinking of adding a small pot with soil and seedlings at the bottom of a cage corner. I’m not certain if there is any specific soil. However, it would give the cage some “live” greens available to the African Grey. 

Do you recommend it? Do you know anyone else that has done such a thing? I tried looking online and am waiting for the vet to call me back with suggestions. I wanted to ask you as you may know. I have seedlings that I will give to her for about an hour tomorrow morning. However, I can also plant some in a pot and let them grow at the bottom of her cage. Thoughts?  

Ajay S. 

NO potted plants in the cage. You can use the packages of “cat grass” available in pet shops (usually wheat) or if you can find a bird version (rare) that you can grow and put in your birds cage that would be fine. 

Commercial dirt or even any from the ground can contain toxins, fertilizers and other things that could be harmful to your bird. ONLY use the pet approved plant packets they sell for pets. They carefully control the growing medium.

 I would not recommend it at all as your bird will likely destroy it the same day as it is installed anyway and make a huge mess. 

Your bird will be happy with some fresh romaine lettuce to munch on, Either clipped to the bars, or woven between a couple or even in a dish. 

Sprouts are okay, ones you make yourself are best and priced much better. Over the years there have been too many instances of contamination for commercially grown sprouts and the public trust in them has diminished so there are less on the market to select from.


Researching DNA Testing for Birds

2 opposing military macaw parrots
Dear Sir/Madam,
I am a researcher within the University of Glasgow and I am currently compiling a case study on one of our staff members, Dr Richard Griffiths. 
Dr. Griffiths developed a PCR technique for determining the sex of birds which I see is a service your company currently offers. We are trying to trace companies which have directly used Richard’s research which is exactly as described on your website.

USPS Parrotlet Bird Food Vandalism

I (Dana S.) from Buffalo, ordered a Parrotlett seed to be delivered to my parents home; Don R., Schaumburg . The box was delivered at 1:30pm to my parents home and had been soaked in what they believe to be Kerosene. The postman stated that they are aware of it. The Kerosene soaked through the box and soaked the bag of seed. Please help, my parents need the food ASAP for their bird who ran out.

Sounds like vandalism, if the box was left out, some children may have poured something on the package. Terrible. It may have been Lighter fluid too which is easy to pour into a mail box or on a package unnoticed.

On Sat, Dec 1, 2012 at 2:38 PM, dana wrote:

Hi Catherine,

I just took some pictures of the box and parrotlet food that my parents had received damaged on 11/30. My father told me that the box arrived from the post office in two clear plastic bags. 

The mailman hand delivered to my father who had been outside at the time. The package couldn’t of therefore been vandalized at their home. My father immediately smelled a strong odor and noticed the box was wet. When my father asked the mailman right then and there what happened the mailman replied he didn’t know, however that the post office was already aware of it. My father’s entire garage smells from this box, and from the liquid soaking into the bird food. It actually smells like Turpentine or some sort of paint cleaner for paint brushes.

I just wanted to say thank you for acting so quickly to resolve the problem. It is greatly appreciated. I hope the pictures help. Please reply back just I know you in fact received this.

Thanks much again

Dana S 

Dear Dana 

Thank you for the pictures. Mitch called the post office on Friday and expects to follow up as well, our mail is picked up from inside our store daily by the post office and what does not make the 1:30 pm pick up, is hand delivered by us about 3 pm to the inside of the postal terminal in our area. It is never left outside. 

Somehow it was contaminated by the post office and then was bagged up and continued on to you instead of returning to us. 

I am very surprised that they would have not destroyed it and then sent us a notice. They do not allow flammable substances to be shipped, no matches, etc.

Someone screwed up, but I doubt a lot will be done about it. 

Hopefully your parents received the replacement from us on Saturday and you will still entrust with the safety and needs of your birds. 

Thank you.


Dear Catherine, 

There is no need to worry. I am well aware of how you and hubby operate your business. I have purchased $1,000’s of dollars on bird stuff (when you were in your old original place in Chicago) and some on the Internet.

Your husband one time even delivered a cage we purchased for our Cockatoo, and he helped us to assemble it. If I remember correctly, I believe he mentioned he was raised in Buffalo Grove which is where I live. I know that both of you do your best to operate a professional business. I use to also visit you at the Rolling Meadows Bird Show. I’m not sure exactly what happened to the bird food that I purchased, but I do know that you would have never sent it out like that. If I recall correctly you use to own a yellow plucked bird in your store. I will continue to order and trust you both, as this was just an unfortunate accident. 

Again, I greatly appreciate your efficiency in correcting the matter.


How to Get a Bird Used to a Shower Perch

Amazon parrot taking shower on shower perch
Buy bird shower perches
I have posed the question to many bird friends on Facebook. Here are some replies. We will be posting a “cleaned up” version of this on our website to help others with the same questions.
Thank you for asking.
Catherine Tobsing
Windy City Parrot Birdie Boutique

Read moreHow to Get a Bird Used to a Shower Perch

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