Parrot Toy Angels: April 2010 Angel Wings
Parrot Toy Angels

Angel Wings

A monthly journal for human angels who make a positive difference in companion birds' lives.

April 2010
Volume 5, Issue IV

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In this month's issue:
    Spring Auction
    Angel Announcements
    Sprouted Tamales
    Recycling, Angel Style
    Bird Fair Bird Protection
    Safety Today
    Rikki Sez
    Featured Fid ~ Patagonian Conure
    Preparing For Spring
    Help Us
    The "Kewl" Cucumber
    Gardening...It IS For The Birds
    Bet You Didn't Know



Spring Has Sprung!!
Angel Toys For Angels

April's Featured Toys

April Flowers
April Flowers
Small Birds

Angel Roll
Angel Roll
Medium to Large Birds

Triple Pod Forager
Triple Pod Forager
Small to Medium Birds


Check out all the
Angel Toys for Angels

now!


Spring is here!!!

And that means PTA's Spring Auction is not far behind!!

We all know that a busy parrot is a happy parrot. Have you ever thought about who provides toys for parrots who have to live in rescues or sanctuaries because they have no one who wants them? Well, Parrot Toy Angels thinks about it constantly! And we're quite proud to say we've been able to donate over 13,000 toys to help make their lives happier!

One way we are able to raise money to do this is with fundraisers such as our Spring Online Auction. This year our Spring Auction is scheduled for June 10 to June 20. Donations have been coming in and this year's Spring Auction promises to have something to appeal to everyone. Gift baskets, gift totes and buckets, bird toys and toy making supplies, jewelry, clothing, and lots of unique surprises. You'll find gifts for you and for your birds.

Here's a sneak peak at a few of the goodies to be auctioned off:

Spring Auction Preview

It's through your support and that of our volunteers that we are able to do what we do for so many birds and make a difference in so many bird's lives. If you'd like to make a donation, please contact us at:
donations@parrottoyangels.org. All donations are tax deductible.

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ANGEL ANNOUNCEMENTS
Watch for upcoming events, news, website updates, etc. here

   

ON THE SITE:

New Project Pictures


♥  Dee's Haven Parrot Rescue
♥  TGF - Pueblo Flock
♥  A Place 2 Fledge
♥  Phoenix Landing

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Sprouted Tamales
By Toni Fortin

Sprouted Tamales

Sprouts
Dried corn husks
Hemp, sisal or cotton rope

Put sprouts in a corn husk and roll tightly. Tie them in two places. Your fids will love these crunchy munchies!

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Recycling, Angel Style
Paper Cup Forager
By Wyspur Kallis

An easy, simple and inexpensive way to enterain your pets!
Take a 3 oz. non-coated paper cup, a popsicle stick (doesn't need to be colored), a few treats and get started on a wonderful foraging toy for your parrot or small animal that loves to chew.
Paper Cup Forager
Put the treats in the cup and flatten the top.
Paper Cup Forager
Next, punch two holes in the cup, one on each side of the top. Thread the popsicle stick through the two holes and let them have fun.
Paper Cup Forager

Shiloh enjoying her Paper Cup Forager
Shiloh enjoying her
Paper Cup Forager

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WOW!  Lookie.... a PTA Coupon

Bird Fair Bird Protection
By Kim Perez

I attend several bird fairs every year as a vendor. I am very fortunate that almost every bird I take to a fair for sale, sells. But what happens with the birds that do not sell? Do people take them home and put them back in their bird rooms with their other birds? Do they quarantine them from their other birds?

When you think about it, taking birds to a bird fair can be very risky. There can be hundreds or even several thousand people in one room during that day. There can also be several hundred to several thousand birds offered for sale by the many vendors at these fairs in one day. Are their birds all healthy? There are many serious bird diseases which can be transmitted airborne via fecal dust. This means that if a person has birds at home with Psittacosis, for example, the bird dust they carry on their hands and clothing CAN transfer to the birds at the show. Or, if there is a person with sick birds at the show trying to sell them, their diseases can be transmitted to others in that enclosed space. Scary? YES! Does it happen frequently? I would say no.

The fortunate thing is that most people care so much about their birds, that they take the necessary precautions so that their birds are unharmed. When you walk through a bird fair, you will commonly see bottles of hand sanitizer and disinfectants on peopleís tables. This is a great precautionary measure. If anyone is going to be handling your birds, you should absolutely make sure that at least their hands are clean.

Many shows are now hiring avian vets to walk through and perform a visual inspection of all of the birds that will be offered for sale that day. Anything visibly wrong will get a bird, or an entire collection of birds, suspended from a show.

What can you do if you are shopping at a bird fair? When you handle other peopleís birds, be sure to sanitize your hands before and after. When you get home, it is a good idea to change clothes and sanitize your hands again before handling your own birds. This will make likelihood of disease transfer almost nil.

If you take birds to a fair to sell and end up taking some of them back home, you should absolutely NOT put them back in your aviary with your other birds. That is just asking for trouble. You need to quarantine the birds as if they were new purchases, away from your other birds. I have a room where I keep the birds that are going to be travelling to bird shows until they are sold. They can go to a show, and then come back to this room. They are in an entirely separate section of my house than where our pet birds and breeder birds are. I also like to disinfect all of the cages I use for bird fairs, just to be sure they havenít picked up anything during the day.

The more precautions you take when you attend a bird fair, or buy a bird, the more likely you are to preserve and maintain the good health of your birds. Keep in mind that you should follow these precautions even if you have not handled a bird.

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Safety Today
By Susan Kesler
Safety Committee Chairwoman

Easter Grass

Hope everyone had a warm, dry Easter Sunday and for those that didn't, I hope you at least had a beautiful, fun day!

Now, what to do with all that Easter grass and those empty baskets? I know some of you may store them away for reuse next year, but for those who recycle them into toys for the birds, a few words of caution.

First, please use only the grass that is all paper. Any of the plastic or synthetic type of grass is a potential choking hazard for birds, just as it is for small children. The paper grass is great for adding to foraging toys.

The baskets can also make wonderful foraging toys, or a place to put foot toys. If you use wicker or other natural baskets, please make absolutely sure they are not coated with anything and check to see if they have any small nails or staples anywhere on them. If you use plastic baskets make sure that there are no metal fasteners. Be wary of baskets that have paint or glitter. These things all have the potential to harm your bird and can turn a toy into a tragedy.

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FEATHERED FUNNIES



Rikki Sez

Rikki will try and answer frequently asked questions here.

Rikki, Mom says I am a perch potato and calls me her little feathered "butterball!" I eat right (Mom gives me a good diet), but I'm no longer sleek and trim. What can I do? I don't like to exercise.
Signed, Teddy Bird

Dear Teddy Bird, You and your mom should become exercise buddies! Exercise is important for everyone and every bird! There are fun games and exercises that you can do together. Try doing some wing flaps. Sit on your mom's hand and have her hold your toes and gently drop her arm down, just enough to make you flutter your wings. If your wings aren't clipped you can also practice flying to your mom and back to your cage or play gym.

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Rikki, My parronts brought home a rather large box with lots of metal pieces that took them all day to put together. Next, they put all my toys in this new metal box. Then, they tried to put me in this metal box too. I'm so afraid of this new box. Why do my parronts keep trying to put me into the new box? I don't want to go in there because I am afraid of it. What's a parrot to do??
Signed, Scaredy Bird

Dear Scaredy Bird, That metal box is called a cage. It's your new one. Your parronts need to be patient about this move and let you go into it on your own. Tell them to put the new cage next to your present cage and leave the door open. Maybe you can just visit the new one to play with some of those toys you really like. You can still sleep in your other cage until you get use to the new one. When they see that you're playing, eating and taking naps in your new one, it will be time to get rid of the older cage.

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Do you have a question for Rikki?
Please send it to The Editor at editor@parrottoyangels.org

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Featured Fid ~ Patagonian Conure
By Kim Perez

Abby, who owns Dee, waving hello!
Abby, who owns Dee, waving hello!

The Patagonian Conure, Cyanoliseus patagonus, is a large conure and the only one in the Cyanoliseus genus of the conure species. They are native to the Patagonia region of Argentina and Chile. Their name, Patagonian, translates to "big feet" in Spanish. This bird measures 17 - 19 inches in length. They are fairly unremarkable in coloration - dark gray to brown mixed with some olive green covers most of the body. Under the bird's body, there is some yellow coloring and a red patch. Their primary flight feathers are blue.

What they lack in splashy coloration, they make up for in personality! This conure makes a fantastic pet. They are outgoing, curious, and very friendly. They are also known for learning to perform tricks. They travel in flocks in the wild and enjoy being a part of a flock in captivity, even when their flock is human. They are very intelligent birds and can learn to speak quite proficiently, but like their size, their voice is also very big and they can have a very harsh scream. Because of their social nature, they can be kept in large multi-bird aviaries. In a cage situation, they are best housed singly or in pairs.

The diet of the Pattie is a typical conure diet. It should be widely varied, including pellets, seed, fruits and vegetables. They can live 20 - 30 years and they need a cage that would be ample for an African Grey or Amazon parrot.

Toys! Do these birds ever need toys! Patagonian should translate to 'big chewer!' You will need a variety of wood toys to keep this bird busy. They are constantly chewing and can easily destroy a toy or more a day. Chewing and destroying toys is an excellent activity for them and should be encouraged.

The Patagonian conure has a reputation for being easily bred in captivity. In the wild, they are known for burrowing up to 6 feet into hillsides to nest. A typical nest consists of 3 - 4 eggs which hatch in 24 - 28 days. In captivity, breeders sometimes try to replicate their instinctive burrowing habits and give them similar mediums to use. One breeder I spoke with says she packs metal trash cans with a mixture of dirt and clay, which the Patties will dig out as part of their pre-nesting ritual. This takes place in an outdoor aviary (for those breeders only having indoor aviaries wondering how messy this is!) as this is a very messy endeavor! Most breeders provide grandfather-style nest boxes for the Patagonians - measuring around 12" by 24" or more deep. The bottom is amply filled with nesting material in which they lay their eggs. Patties are known for taking good care of their babies and the babies are quick to adapt to hand-feeding and wean around 3 months of age.

Abby taking a bath
Abby enjoying her bath
...lookin' pretty splashy

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Preparing For Spring
By Wyspur Kallis

Shiloh's aviaryThe smell of spring is in the air and your birds may be getting anxious to venture outside for the first time this year. In some regions of the country, we are not able to keep our feathered loved ones outside year-round. During the winter months, some of us are forced to abandon our aviaries for the comfort of the indoors. Before you let your parrots venture out into the aviary, a good close inspection is in order to keep everybirdie safe and comfortable. Check the inside and outside Snowey's aviaryof your aviary for any rust, mold, broken or worn wire and droppings from any animals or birds that may have been wintering in this secure place. Check all hardware for missing or rusted parts to make sure your birds will be secure in their warm weather outdoor housing. Be sure to check the top of the aviary for proper shade and shelter from the elements. Check the flooring for shifting or changes that may have occurred from freezing, thawing or animals burrowing under the surface. Make sure there isn't anything left over from last year that may be a Gonzo's outside play areahazard to your parrot, such as wasp nests, ants or termites. Check all perches, toys and swings for any frayed strings, sharp edges or things your parrot may be impaled on. When you have made your aviary safe for your feathered babies, it's now time to introduce them to the aviary. Take it slow at first as they may be wary of any changes from their usual indoor routine. Having your parrots outside in an aviary is a wonderful experience for both of you. Have a safe and fun season.

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Help Us Help the Birds...

Our Angels generously donate their time making toys for our needy feathered friends. Quality toy-making supplies are expensive and shipping charges are outrageous. That's why we need your support to help keep us going. Every dollar amount, large or small, is gratefully accepted. Donations are tax deductible.

We also welcome donations of toymaking parts and supplies. A receipt will be issued for every donation. Contact us at Parrot Toy Info for further information on donating.

All donations tax deductible.

You can also help PTA by using GoodSearch, a search engine toolbar that's totally spyware free.
Every time you use it we get a penny...you can download it here:

GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!

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The "Kewl" Cucumber
By Lori M. Nelsen

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) places cucumbers on their Shopper's Guide to Pesticides List at #19 out of 47 of the fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide load score of 100*. Cucumbers hit the list with a score of 50.

Cucumbers contain unacceptable levels of Dieldrin, an extremely carcinogenic pesticide that was banned in the U.S. over twenty years ago. Unfortunately it is persistent in the soil and is taken up by cucumbers. One of every fourteen cucumber samples from across the U.S. and Mexico contained this highly toxic compound. Dieldrin and Aldrin (which morphs into Dieldrin) had been applied to the basement level of homes to protect the foundation from termites. Studies indicate that detectable levels of these chemicals can exist in a home for up to 10 years after the first application. The FDA regulates the residues of Aldrin and Dieldrin in raw foods. The allowable range for residues is from 0 to 0.1 ppm depending on the type of food product. This limits the intake of Aldrin and Dieldrin in food to levels considered to be safe. These chemicals are now considered hazardous waste.**

After reading the information above about cucumbers, for safety reasons, you may not want to purchase them for feeding to your family either feathered or human. They do, however, supply a small amount of vitamin C per serving but are also 96% water with little nutritional value. Remember, fruits and vegetables that are colorful on the inside (not just the skin) are more nutrient-rich than plant foods that are white or light on the inside.

There are, however, other ways to use this "kewl" cucumber in your life:
♥ Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a feather's shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.
♥  Are grubs and slugs ruining the organic garden you have planted to provide wonderful produce for your family, both feathered and human? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent that is undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.
♥  Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish the shoes that your favorite parrot pooped on? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.
♥  Don't want to spray WD 40 in the bird room and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!
♥  Looking for a 'green' way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel after the feathered kitchen helper has licked them? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean . Not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but won't leave streaks and won't harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean.
♥  Using a pen to write this article and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the ink .This also works great on crayons and markers. How about that beet or cherry splatter on the wall?

References:
*Environmental Working Group
**Department of Health and Human Services

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Gardening...It IS For The Birds!
By Jan Lewis

I don't have the green thumb my grandmother had, but I still enjoy growing a few house plants and some vegetables. My birds and I love our fresh fruits and vegetables.

Unfortunately, it is often difficult to find fresh fruit and vegetables at the local supermarkets, so when we moved into our house I decided to start a small container garden. My birds and I love cherry tomatoes and bell peppers (two of our favorites) so I started out with containers of these. My first time trying to grow edible plants was a big success for me and they were enjoyed by all of us, especially the birds. It was easier than I thought and the best part was that I knew exactly what was used on my plants, nothing but a little all-natural fertilizer. I felt confident having safe vegetables grown without pesticides or other harmful chemicals to give to my birds and family.

Container gardening is easy and doesn't require a lot of room. I think container gardening is a great way to "get your feet wet" with gardening and is essential if you live in an apartment or house with little space for a garden. The main concerns with container gardening are having the right light and water to grow the plants desired. Also, you will need a plan to prevent pests and other common problems that plague your plants. You also need a safe alternative to chemical treatments. So far, every year, my plants have thrived and have had no major problems. Make sure your plants are not close to areas that may get a lot of dust or car and truck exhaust that can coat the plants.

Gardening not only provides you with the bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables or whatever you choose to grow, but is relaxing and rewarding. Try it! Your birds and family will be delighted with fabulous, fresh, healthy vegetables and fruit and you will love the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.

This year I'm considering adding herbs to my garden. Perhaps with time I will earn a green thumb like my grandmother!

Angel Gardening Hints:
Start a compost heap using the "throw-aways" from your fruit and vegetables (never put meat or other fats in your compost heap). The compost will enrich the soil.

Use only natural products in your garden. Natural fertilizers such as horse, cow, or chicken manure or fish emulsion can be purchased. Research safe, natural pesticides to use with the vegetables and fruits you are growing.

Angel Tomato Tips:
Plant a row of basil next to your tomato plants to repel aphids. Marigolds placed around your tomato plants will deter those pesky bugs as well.

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Bet You Didn't Know...
Ten Amazing Bird Facts

By Elena Campiotti

♥ Parrot fossils found in Europe show that the ancestors of the modern parrot go as far back as the Eocene period, 50 million years ago. However, the fossils that closely resemble today's parrots in terms of bone structure and appearance are about 23 million years old. Egyptian hieroglyphics going back four thousand years indicate that they were pets of royal families. Over two thousand years ago, parrots were considered almost sacred animals in India, as they represented the concept of "freedom of love".

♥ Parrots range in size from 3 to 4 inches to 40 inches in length. The smallest is probably the Buff-faced Pygmy Parrot (Micropsitta pusio) from Papua, New Guinea. The largest is the Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) from South America.

♥ Oddly enough, considering how colorful parrots are, their eggs are white.

♥ Most species of parrots feed on fruit and seeds, although some species feed on insects as well. Black Cockatoos, for example, feed extensively on wood-boring beetle larvae. Perhaps the strangest feeding habit among parrots is that of the Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus), found in New Zealand. Kakapos chew on leaves that are still attached to the plant. They suck the juices out of the chewed leaves, leaving behind a ball of chewed leaf still attached to the plant. Another New Zealand parrot, the Kea, has a reputation in common myth as a killer of sheep. There is no scientific evidence to support this accusation, although Keas are known to feed on carrion if given the opportunity. Recent scientific evidence suggests that they do feed on blowfly larvae living in sheep's wool.

♥ Hanging Parrots got their name because they sleep hanging upside down like bats.

♥ Ten species of parrot have become extinct since mankind started keeping parrot specimens in museums.

♥ Palm Cockatoos can crack Brazil nuts with their beaks.

♥ The Kakapo is the only completely flightless parrot in the world. It has wings but no breast bone to anchor the large flight muscles. This large bird, which feeds mostly at night, was once thought to be an owl.

♥ Winston Churchill owned a female Blue & Gold Macaw named "Charlie".

♥ Wild canaries are usually gray or green instead of the yellow color of domesticated birds.

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This is the official newsletter of the Parrot Toy Angels. Members and subscribers are encouraged to submit articles/photographs for publication. PTA reserves the right to reject, edit, or use only portions of items submitted. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the PTA Editor, Directors, Officers, or the general membership.

Do you have a question or comment? Perhaps you have an idea for our newsletter, or simply want to share a story on how an Angel has touched your life. Drop us a line at: editor@parrottoyangels.org

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©  2008-2010 Parrot Toy Angels • P.O. Box 34372 • Houston, Texas  77234
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