Parrot Toy Angels: August 2010 Angel Wings
Parrot Toy Angels

Angel Wings

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

August 2010
Volume 5, Issue VIII

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In this month's issue:
    Happy 5th Anniversary
    And So, Here We Are...
    Zucchini Blossoms
    Recycling, Angel Style
    How PTA Was Hatched
    Cassie Update
    Featured Fid ~ Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo
    What It Means To Be An Angel
    How To Hang A Toy
    Wing Clipping & More
    PTA 5th Anniversary Birdie Party
    Help Us
    What It Means To Be An Angel
    Rikki Sez
    Pesticides - Are There Safe Ones?

A big thank you to the Newsletter Committee. Ya'll rock!
Special thanks to George G!
Angel Toys For Angels

August's Featured Toys

Giant Swing
Giant Swing
Medium to Large Birds

Come Back Around
Come Back Around
Medium to Large Birds

Mac Attack
Mac Attack
Large to X-Large Birds

Check out all the
Angel Toys for Angels


Happy 5th Anniversary Parrot Toy Angels!!
Founded August 6, 2005

Happy 5th Anniversary PTA!

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By Lynn Williams

There once was a very kind individual...who heard about a very sad bird...and posted its story. Two friends read the post and an idea came to mind...they began burning up the phone lines from Texas to California. "What if...? I wonder if we could...? Wouldn't this be great if we could...? Oh heck, what have we got to lose? Let's go ahead and may just be a "one time deal"...most likely it will...but, let's get it a shot..."

The call went out, only to a select few...those we "knew" had a caring heart...some were toy makers, some weren't. It didn't matter...they were all "Angels" in our eyes. Here's what was sent on August 6, 2005:

"The commitment and love for our birds is evident and proven daily in the postings of our sister groups. When there was a time of need for a member, the support was instantaneous. Not only are the members committed to the birds they chose, the sweet, hand-fed babies that we all fall in love with, but there is tremendous commitment to the damaged, the frightened, the abused, the plucked birds. The thought occurred that these rescue angels could use an angel as well. So, here we are, a group of anonymous parrot-angels who donate a gift to the rescued bird. Those of us who have the time and talent will contribute the hand-made toy, others will choose to support the toymaker by reimbursing the cost of the materials and the shipping."

And they came and by one. And Parrot Toy Angels was "hatched".

The first post to the group was made by Sue Christie-Cox, our Australian Angel, on August 7, 2005 at 10:39pm! And we were off and running...slowly at first. Even though we got some donations when we announced our plan, we had very little, less than $100. How were we going to reimburse Angels for their supplies and shipping charges? Oh my! But lucky for us, our volunteers were gentle with us. Many didn't ask for reimbursement.

Nancy Goulding was the first to volunteer to make toys for the "sad bird", Cassie the Goffins 'Too. The 5 toys were shipped. And Cassie and her human, Andrea, smiled..and were happy. So, now what, we wondered. One of our members told us there was a need at a rescue run by a friend of project #2 was in the works...and so it went. And here we'd thought this would be a "one time deal"....perhaps we were naive in believing there weren't that many birds that would need us. Apparently, in retrospect, we were very naive. Then Katrina blew in...and the need increased ten-fold...and has continued to increase for all these years. Unfortunately, we don't see the need ever decreasing.

We've been through many changes over the years. Angels have come and gone...some have come again. There have been many issues to deal with, whether it be toy safety or supply discounts. We've dealt the best we know how...there wasn't a handbook issued on the operation/organization of PTA. It's been much trial and error. We've been very lucky to have such patient, understanding Angels that have forgiven our mistakes and stood by us. We are very, very, fortunate in that aspect. We've become a "Family", so to speak. A few have tried to imitate, none have been successful. There's only one Parrot Toy Angels. We were the first...and we are the best! As they say "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery".

I'm proud of what we've accomplished during the past 5 years. It makes my heart swell with pride. It hasn't been easy...nothing worthwhile ever is. And so, here we are...5 years later...over 14,000 toys later...over 88 projects later...we are very lucky...because of our dedicated "Angels", we've been able to..."Make a difference, one bird at a time"...

Thank You All!

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Zucchini Blossoms
By Toni Fortin

10 Zucchini blossoms, rinsed and drained
1 egg beaten
1 cup plain dry whole wheat bread crumbs
Olive oil spray

Spray cookie sheet with olive oil. Dip zucchini blossoms in egg. Spoon some egg into the middle of the blossom, then roll in the bread crumbs. Spray tops of blossoms lightly with olive oil. Place on cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes.

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Bird Cages Galore

Why buy a Bird Cage from Bird Cages Galore?? Because we do not "just sell" top quality cages at reasonable prices, provide free shipping and a free toy with each cage; we offer first rate customer service and will answer your questions about most bird-related matters. Visit us on the web, browse our selection, join our discussion forum and sign up for our free Newsletter,
The Caged Bird Courier.

We are here to help, because we care about your bird!!

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WOW!  Lookie.... a PTA Coupon

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Recycling, Angel Style
Party Hat
By Wyspur Kallis

da King Arty enjoying his PTA Party Hat    da King Arty enjoying his PTA Party Hat
da King Arty enjoying his PTA Party Hat

Supplies you will need:
Scissors, paper grocery bag, food grade markers and one sheet of copy paper

Party Hat

Decorate your sheet of paper with the food grade markers and cut the paper bag into 1/4 to 1/2 inch strips.

Party Hat

Roll decorated paper into a cone. With scissors, poke two holes in bottom of cone and two holes in top of cone. Insert one of the strips of paper into holes on the bottom and tie in a knot. Repeat the same for the two holes on the top of the cone.

Party Hat

Open scissors and by pulling the strips of paper across the scissors, curl the remaining strips of paper.

Party Hat

Stuff the cone with the curly paper strips. Now you're ready for some parrot party fun!

Party Hat

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How PTA Was Hatched
By Sue Christie-Cox

Once again, I call on you to gather 'round to hear the telling of the story of how Parrot Toy Angels came to be.

It doesn't seem possible that the year has passed by so quickly, let alone that it was 5 years ago when the call came out from Ilona and Lynn, to those wanting to join a new kind of group. A group now 5 years old, that has weathered some storms and has come through proud and strong and will continue answering the call to aid birds in distress. As always, "making a bird at a time".

This is the story of one little bird and how she opened the hearts of many people all over the world and how Parrot Toy Angels was "hatched".

Cassie is a Goffins Cockatoo. For those who aren't familiar with a Goffins, they are one of the smaller members of the cockatoo family, averaging around 12 - 13" in length. The feathers are predominantly white, with pale yellow on the underside of the wings and tail, pink lores, and a beautiful salmon-colored tinge to the base of the head and neck feathers. They are a playful, intelligent bird, with an inquisitive nature, which reminds you of a happy two-year-old child. Unfortunately, when Cassie was discovered she was nothing like the description above. Found in a tiny, dirty cage in someone's basement, Cassie had been badly neglected and cage-bound for 5 years. Andrea, who was Cassie's first Angel says "What greeted me was a badly plucked, naked, dirty, musty smelling, abused little girl. It took all of two minutes to fall totally in love with her. Cassie came straight to me".

Andrea was a member of a Yahoo group, CheepParrotToysNTips, and she posted Cassie's story asking for advice on toys that Goffins enjoyed. Andrea's obvious love for this little bird inspired a couple of members to start a group, Parrot Toy Angels. A different type of group, this was to be a group of "Angels".

These Angels are certainly not your average Angels; there is not a halo to be seen, but a few think they still might have one that they turned into a bird toy using jute and pony beads. Nor will very many of them ever meet, as they are spread far and wide. The members of this very special group are here to help birds in difficult times.

Parrot Toy Angels is an all-volunteer organization committed to providing toys, food and other avian supplies to companion birds in difficult situations. Life-altering changes, natural disasters or an organization's lack of funding all can have a negative emotional and physical impact on both birds and companion caregivers. Angel Projects help ease the burden for the generous individuals and organizations that provide safe havens for birds in need.

The first box of toys from the Angels was made by Nancy Goulding and sent to Cassie. Andrea says, "Watching her play made me think she had never had toys before. I can't tell you how heart-warming it is to know there are people in this world who care so much, and what an honor it is to be a part of this group".

Ilona, one of the founding members of PTA, has said of birds "Our love for them extends well beyond our own homes and because of them, we have opened our hearts to birds we will never meet, never see. Yet we know that because of us, one bird at a time will lead a happier life".

2006 was a very rewarding year for PTA, with donations of over 2659 toys to 22 organizations and individuals, as well as obtaining GuideStar Certified 501(c)3 Charity Status.

2007 ended with 15 projects completed and over 3,000 toys donated.

2007-8 was a little different for the Angels. Our committees increased and new Angels were helping with great fundraising projects and recipe ideas. Our Safety Committee grew from strength to strength, always ensuring that all "Project Toys" are the safest possible. The Newsletter Committee members worked towards creating a new and exciting newsletter each month. Some Angels left us and others joined, but as always Parrot Toy Angels worked towards the one common goal....Making a difference, one bird at a time.

2009 saw two very successful online auctions and the release of a cookbook full of delicious recipes for our birds. More toys were made and many more birds live happier and healthier with caregivers who have a lighter step and heart because of the toys that we've donated.

So far in 2010, Angels have again willingly gone beyond expectations, always stepping up to the plate eager to help. This year alone, we've helped 11 organizations, some of whom have encountered "emergency situations".

Since our beginning in 2005, we have created and donated 14,181 toys to 90 Angel Projects.

With Angels from Canada to Australia there is always room for more Angels. If you'd like to find out more about the Angels go to Parrot Toy Angels website. To see some of our "Project" pictures, click here.

Unfortunately there will always be little birds like Cassie, but with the Parrot Toy Angels around to help out with busy fingers and open hearts, hopefully, they soon will also feel the love of an "Angel".

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Cassie Update
By her new mum, Michelle

Cassie is healthy, happy and FABULOUS! Cassie came to live with us (the Pierce family) last year due to some life changes. She is the cheerleader of not only the birds, but of all the humans and animals in our home.

Every day is a show with Cassie performing her theme song "Pretty Bird". She hollers for one and all: "C'mon!" "Pretty Bird!" "I am a PRETTY BIRD!!! a PRETTY BIRD! I am a very PRETTY BIRD! I am a PRETTY BIIIIIIIIIRD!" On pretty bird, she raises her wings open wide in all her glory - be it fully feathered or annually plucked. She knows, naked or not, that she is a pretty bird. All the other birds join in either dancing or singing "pretty bird" on cue.

She even has Boo, a Catalina Macaw, trained to lead the song when I am not home. As for the other animals under our roof, she commands them front and center with a simple whistle, "c'mere (whistle)" and sometimes canoodling through the bars of her house or by dropping toys on them from the play sets.

Cassie rules the roost and she is such a diva! At first, she would help me by calling with me for my sons by name or a collective "BOYS!". She now calls them when SHE demands their company. She demands that all lights and televisions are off at night. If she had her way, she would fall asleep on my chest every night. She is a diva!

Cassie is a typical cockatoo constantly busy with one toy or another and must have her wood to chew daily. She also enjoys playing with her footie toys and whiffle balls. Cassie is always a joy bringing a smile at any moment with her "hip, hip HOORAY!!!" and raising her wings out in glory.

Needless to say, cheerleader that she is, the other birds all join in - and so do I......Cassie's friend and caregiver, Michelle

PTA is thrilled Cassie continues to thrive under Michelle's loving care.

Click here to see Cassie thru the years
Click here to see a video of Cassie

Has this story got your toymaking talons twitching? Do you want to help make a difference in somebirdie's life? Come join our ranks! We have angels from all different backgrounds and walks of life, and there's always room for another generous heart.
As a Parrot Toy Angel, you will be asked to contribute on a monthly basis to help support our ongoing work.
Apply for membership:
Angel Application ♥  ♥  ♥ Join our Yahoo! Group

Featured Fid ~ Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo
Cacatua galerita
By Sue Christie-Cox

White Cockatoo (Australia usage), Cocky, Greater Sulfur-crested Cockatoo (USA usage).

We are all familiar with the appearance of this bird, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo a large white parrot, measuring 45cm - 50cm (18 - 20 inches) and it is probably Australia's best known parrot. It has a dark grey-black bill, a distinctive sulphur-yellow crest and a yellow wash on the underside of the wings. Sexes are similar, although the female can be separated at close range by its red-brown eye (darker brown in the male). This is a noisy and conspicuous cockatoo both at rest and in flight. The most common call is a distinctive loud screech ending with a slight upward inflection. Young Sulphur-crested Cockatoos resemble the adults. The two sub-species most commonly found in the US are the Citrons and Lesser Sulphur Crested.

They are a common sight in Australia with their range extending throughout the northern and eastern mainland and Tasmania. Their popularity as a cage bird has also increased this range as these birds either escape or are released deliberately in areas where they do not already occur. A small population has become established around Perth, Western Australia. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are found in a variety of timbered habitats and are common around human settlements. The birds stay in the same area all year round. Wild Cockatoos are friendly and peaceful. They live together in flocks of 20 or more birds and can be found in some rural areas, in the hundreds, at a food source such as a grain storage pile.

The species also occurs in New Guinea and the Aru Islands and has been introduced into New Zealand and Indonesia.

The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo's normal diet consists of berries, seeds, Sulphur-crested Cockatoonuts and roots, insects and larvae. Feeding normally takes place in small to large groups with one or more members of the group watching for danger from a nearby perch. They also have become comfortable enough around homes to take handouts from humans. The species has become a pest around urban areas where it uses its powerful bill to destroy timber decking and panelling on houses. When not feeding, birds will bite off smaller branches and leaves from trees. These items are not always eaten, however. The activity may help to keep the bill trimmed and from growing too large.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos breed in August to January in the south of their range and May to September in the north. The one to three eggs are laid in a suitable tree hollow, which is prepared by both sexes. Both birds also incubate and care for the chicks, which hatch after about 30 days. The chicks leave the nest after a further 60 to 70 days, but remain with the parents all year round. Family groups will stay together indefinitely.

Cockatoos certainly demand a lot of attention, but are appreciated for their exceptionally loving, devoted personality. Cockatoos require an extremely dedicated owner who is willing to provide significant and meaningful attention to these intelligent birds. They require consistent training from a young age to ensure cockatoo owners enjoy a bird free of destructive and annoying habits. As with all birds, please provide as big a cage as possible and allow plenty of out of cage time.

Toys are important. Providing your Sulphur-crested Cockatoo with plenty of toys to keep him busy when you are not able to spend time with him will ensure a happy bird. Toys provide mental and physical exercise and a large percentage should be wooden to cater to the urge to chew and gnaw. Toys with a tough base and plenty to destroy are also good for cockatoos as the bases can be refilled with other parts which reduce the costs for toys as they can't be destroyed as quickly. They are a highly energetic and lively bird used to flying many miles in a day in the wild so they require a good deal of exercise to maintain proper health. It is also important for owners to provide plenty of space for the bird to climb, stretch, flap its wings, and play. Most Cockatoo owners provide their birds with playstands/gyms or special perches to exercise on.

Diet is important. So, research whether a mash diet, pellet or seed is right for you and your bird. Fresh fruits, veggies and nuts should also make up a percentage of your bird's diet.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos

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What It Means To Be An Angel
By Nancy G., NC

Happy Anniversary PTA!

My interpretation of what it means to be an Angel is in this toy.
The toy seems fragile. It is made with paper lace. It is the string that binds the smiley face beads (the new fledgling Angels and sponsors) to PTA (the top angel). Though it looks fragile, it is strong and endures a lot. Some of the smiley face beads are upside down, but they will soon be lifted up by the others. For we are a group that cares. The o-ring is a circle never ending. The paper lace coming from the top are the rays of hope and inspiration that we will continue to go on helping each other and the birds, one at a time. Although this is a small toy, it has room for more smiley people (Angels).

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This toy will soon be available on our website.

How To Hang A Toy
By Kim Perez

There are many toy hanging items one can use, but we are going to consider safety. What are the common mediums for stringing toy parts onto? Wire, chain, leather, and rope.

Wire: The preferred metals are stainless steel and aluminum. Both of these metals are a little on the soft side, so you will need to keep that in mind for the size of bird you are making toys for.

Wires to avoid include the most commonly found galvanized wire. This is a steel wire that has been dipped into melted zinc, and that zinc becomes a sealant or protective coating against rust. Zinc is toxic. Another commonly found wire is brass which is also toxic.

Chain: Stainless steel and nickel plated are the two safe metal options with chain. Stainless steel is expensive, but it is safe. Nickel plated chain is a very cost-effective alternative, and will also be a safe toy hanger. The most common sizes used in assembling toys are 1.6mm and 2.0mm. These sizes will work for most birds. There are larger sizes, but they tend to be very difficult to work with (hard to cut).

You must take strangulation prevention into account with metal chain. When the toy is chewed up, you could have a very long length of empty chain which can be dangerous. The simple fix that I do with my birds' toys is to put a hook on each end. I will attach top and bottom of the toy to different areas of the cage so that the birds cannot wrap a loose chain around their neck. Then, as the toy is chewed, remove what is left when it gets low on parts. When you have a few of those, you can take them apart and string all parts together and make into one "new" toy.

Plastic Chain: Plastic chain comes in a variety of sizes and colors. It can make a toy look very festive! Keep in mind that the smaller sizes, although perfect for fitting through toy parts, may not be strong enough to hold up to bigger beaks. But plastic chain is generally a safe medium to use.

Leather: Vegetable-tanned is the only acceptable leather product for birds. This is available in shapes and in strips or lace. The strips or lace are great for stringing toy parts onto. They are strong, and you can knot them to make the toys even more challenging for your birds. I recently found a wonderful all leather toy at a bird show made by a friend of mine. She strung all sorts of leather shapes onto leather strips and laces and put them all together for this awesome toy that probably weighs around 5 lbs! Imagine the fun your chewer would have with that!

Rope: There are a lot of ropes to choose from, but only a couple that really are safe for your bird. 100% cotton non-bleached rope is great! It is soft and it is digestible in case your bird happens to ingest some. The down side is that it sometimes tends to be a little too soft and fluffy to work with. But it is safe.

Plastic ropes: The only truly safe plastic rope is Paulie/Polly rope, a rope manufactured specifically for the purpose of making bird toys. The original Paulie Rope came out in the early 1990's. The rope has been through extensive testing and has been deemed an amazingly safe rope. It is now available in a dozen colors and adds a sense of fun to bird toys.

Concerns: With any rope, you must take care to avoid long lengths that could potentially strangle your bird. As you are assembling a toy, keep in mind what the rope will look like when the parts are chewed off. You can strategize and put an indestructible part in a place that will prevent a long section of empty rope. Knotting in between the parts also helps with this.

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Wing Clipping & More
By Angel Savannah

I know we have all debated wing clipping - flighted birds vs. flightless birds. With the warmer weather, there have been several birds brought to the clinic where I work because of injuries suffered outdoors or trying to get outdoors. The strange coincidence is that every one of the injured birds was a flighted bird.

At home, we have a three season room, a wonderful place for our birds to play on their Manzanita trees and play gyms, get fresh air and sunshine, and still be protected from the 'wild' elements they have little defense against. We saw a bird at the clinic who was in a similar room and had become spooked and flew into the screen at full speed and broke his wing.

My birds at home are out - on their cages, in their play areas, on our furniture, and on me! We treated more than 8 birds in the last month at the clinic for broken legs, wings, and cuts on their bodies from being in a similar play situation, but then flew into windows and doors inside of their homes.

I take my Blue & Gold macaws, Paulie and Shania, with me in their flight suits and with leashes on. We go to the store, to work and to friends' homes. We saw an African Grey last week who had gotten away from his owner while in a flight suit and on a leash and had gotten away from the people. The double sided Velcro leash had just come out of the flight suit when the bird became startled. They brought him in to the clinic because he had been out for a day and a half and had been picked on by wild birds and wasn't able to defend himself.

The owners called the manufacturer of the suits and explained what had happened. The company claimed that there was a disclaimer on the packaging of the flight suits warning that these are not for use with flighted birds. In checking the packaging from their suit and then from mine, I discovered that this is not true. People who use these with their birds need to be warned that if you use flight suits with flighted birds, it is possible for them to pull free from the leash when they use their full flight power. The people with the Grey have adapted their flight suit by installing grommets into the suit itself and tying the leash to the suit so that it cannot come apart. (They will not clip their bird's wings.)

What we did with all of the other birds was clip their wings. By cutting the primary flight feathers, you are taking away the power that is behind a bird's flight. You must leave the secondary flight feathers in order to give them safe landing ability. If you have never clipped wings, you should not experiment! Take your bird to a very experienced person - avian vet, long-time bird owner/breeder, or other bird specialist - and have that person teach you how to do it correctly. A bird can sense when the person handling him/her is uncomfortable with what they are doing, and the bird will take advantage of the situation. If the person handling the bird is experienced and knowledgeable, the bird will sense that and be comfortable with them.

On a personal note about wing clipping: I was born into a bird family, so have been around birds forever. My Mom has had birds since she was five. Our shared theory is to allow the babies to learn to fly when they are babies. Once then can fly a little and know how to use their wings, we clip them. They then learn to interact with people and how to behave, etc. During the time of year we take birds outside, we do clip their flight feathers for their safety. If they are allowed to play loose in a room where there is a door or window they are clipped. Birds kept in flights or aviaries are allowed to keep full flight feathers. Breeder birds are allowed to keep full flight feathers. Flighted birds tend to be more muscular and longer, stronger birds - desirable for breeding. Flightless birds tend to be more muscular in the legs than body and they typically cannot fly strongly nor quickly enough to injure themselves.

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PTA 5th Anniversary Birdie Party
By Lori M. Nelsen

To help us celebrate our anniversary, please grab your feathered ones and join us in our celebration with birdie pizza and a dessert of cornmeal anniversary cake.

Pizza Crust**

1 cup golden or brown flax seed
3 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2 red bell peppers, stem and seeds removed
stems of 2 broccoli heads
2 stalks celery
1 pound tomatoes

Soak the flax in two cups water and the chickpeas in six cups water for eight hours. Drain and discard the soak water from the chickpeas and flax seed. If you have a food processor, process all the ingredients. You will need to alternate flax and garbanzo beans with vegetables so the food processor does not become too hot. Blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients except flax seeds and process until well-combined.

Transfer mixture to a bowl and mix in flax seeds by hand. Spread dough on approximately 3 dehydrator trays lined with parchment paper. Dehydrate at 105 degrees F for approximately eight hours. Top with finely chopped veggies for that pizza look.

Birdie Cornbread Anniversary Cake or Muffins**

1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup organic carrot juice
2 T low fat yogurt
2 eggs
2 T finely chopped vegetables
2 T mashed pumpkin/squash/red pepper
1 T ground flaxseed
1/2 T sesame seed
1 T pumpkin seed
1 crushed red chili can be added if desired.

Spread fairly flat in a greased baking pan or muffin tins and bake at 325 degrees F for about 35 minutes.

**Recipes provided by Feeding Feathers at

Happy Anniversary Parrot Toy Angels
Happy Anniversary Parrot Toy Angels

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Help Us Help the Birds...

Toys Donated: 14,181
Projects Helped: 90

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.

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What It Means To Be An Angel

Angel Verna, MA shares: It means hard work, unselfish commitment, love, and knowing that what you're doing is helping not only the birds, but the people who take care of them. And the wonderful feeling you have inside you, knowing what you're doing is from the heart because you care.

Angel Debby, AR says: Since I haven't really got into the program yet, it's kind of hard for me to say. I know as I was making those 2 toys, I thought about how a bird might play with them and it did give me a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. I am also hoping that one day my toys will make some birds happy.

Angel Lori, MN shares: There are many unfortunate feathers that are in need. I want to share with them a little bit of what I am able to give Gonzo. Parrot Toy Angels gives me a way to share the love and the toys. Giving makes me feel better about the person I am. In PTA, I have found a family of friends that unselfishly give of themselves to help those that someone else has neglected. Thank you, PTA and Happy Anniversary.

Angel Sue, AU says: It has gone quickly, the 5 years that I have been an Angel; in fact it is hard to believe it has been 5 years. I have been a part of PTA since day 2 and have enjoyed and loved every minute. Being a Parrot Toy Angel makes me smile, as I know I am part of a wonderful and strong group.

Angel Vicky, AR shares: I am proud to be a PTA Angel! Initially I thought the only reason I became an Angel was to make toys and help the birds. I soon found out in addition to making and donating toys that I had opened up a whole new world of friends. People caring about what you love most, the birds, and people that actually care for each other. My best friends, aside from my spouse and my feathered and furry friends, are right here. They stand by you, lift you up, pray for you, share with you and I love them all for being there. Being an Angel is one of the best parts of my day.

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Rikki Sez

Rikki will try and answer frequently asked questions here.

Rikki, What does 'cession mean? I heard my parronts talking last night when I was 'posed to be asleep. My Daddy said the 'cession was bad and my brothers and sisters and me might have to go to a new home 'cause they couldn't afford to feed all of us. I am so scared, I don't want to go to a new home, this is my home. Please tell the 'cession to go away.
Signed, Scared for me, my brothers and sisters

Dear Scared, Your parronts were talking about a recession. A recession is a decline in the economy. These are just big words meaning that things may be difficult with work and money. Things cost more and people have less money to spend. It is scary for everyone including our parronts. Remember your parronts love you and will do everything they can to keep you. They will provide for you and your brothers and sisters. Try to remember that they may be a little stressed even though they don't mean to be. Give them lots of love and kisses. Try to make them laugh once in a while. These things will help both you and your parronts get through these tough times with the recession. Hang in there!

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Rikki, Mom always complains about my nails being sharp and hurting her. I love being out with mom but don't want to hurt her. I try to keep my nails groomed but they are still too sharp for mom. Any suggestions to help with my nails?
Signed, Needle Nails

Dear Needle Nails, Tell your Mom to not only manicure her nails but yours too! She needs to purchase an emery board just for you. She should let you get familiar with the emery board and then she can gradually start giving you a manicure with your very own emery board. It can be a nice time for bonding and getting your nails manicured for both of you. She should also make sure you have at least one sandy perch and that it is the correct size for you. Another option would be to plan to take you to be "groomed" regularly.

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Do you have a question for Rikki?
Please send it to The Editor at

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Pesticides - Are There Safe Ones?
By George Goulding

What is a pesticide? Most of us probably think of bug sprays when we hear the term, but in reality the term refers to insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and various other substances used to control pests. Pests are living organisms that bother, injure, or cause damage to buildings, plants, humans, and animals, including pets. Some pesticides are deemed "safe" to use around humans and animals when applied according to direction, but others are restricted to use by licensed professionals only. The term "safe pesticide" is really an oxymoron. No product bearing the label pesticide is completely safe for use around humans or pets.

Birds are especially susceptible to toxic poisoning from pesticides, and pet bird owners should be acutely aware of the impact of pesticides and other toxic chemicals in our environment on our birds. The EPA is responsible for controlling and labeling pesticides, but we know from watching the news that we cannot rely on the EPA or any other government agency to tell us that a pesticide is safe or to control the amount of toxins we consume as result of eating pesticide contaminated foods or drinking pesticide contaminated water. In fact, the EPA tends to be more reactionary than pro active often taking action only after damage has already been done. This is partly due to chemical industry lobby influence at the agency and congressional levels.

Rachel Carson's 1962 book "Silent Spring" was perhaps the primary catalyst behind the so-called Environmental Movement in the United States and other countries. Her book about the impact of pesticides, particularly DDT, on the environment, animals, and humans caused a lot of controversy at the time, but ultimately her findings were widely accepted resulting in passage of many of the early pesticide regulations of the 1960's. It has been nearly 50 years since Carson's book was published and our food and water supplies are still being contaminated by toxic chemicals, especially pesticides and fertilizers used in agriculture. Dangerous pesticides are common on nearly every type of fruit and produce, other than organic, grown in this country. Even organically grown produce can contain lower levels of pesticides due to contamination from external sources such as run off from neighboring farms.

The EPA has banned some of the more highly toxic products (such as DDT and Diazinon), but it should be noted that some of the pesticide products banned in the U. S. (including DDT and Diazinon) are still in use in several "third world" countries and in China according to a report in the May 2009 issue of Environmental Health News. Many banned pesticides are still produced here then exported overseas where they are used legally on products that are then imported back into this country.

As long as pesticides continue to be used, especially in agriculture, their use will continue to threaten the health and well being of animals and humans. Most bird owners are aware of the dangers of feeding store bought agricultural products to pet birds. Any pesticide legal for use in the United States will kill birds. Any contact with pesticides by birds will result in build up of the toxins which can cause illness and death over time.

Pesticides are usually introduced into our birds through feeding fruits, grains, and vegetables containing pesticide residue. We can minimize the risk to our birds by feeding them only organically grown fruits, grains, and veggies or those normally found to be low risk for pesticide residue. As Lori Nelson pointed out in our June Newsletter, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has developed a list of the worst and best produce in terms of pesticide contamination. The full list studied by EWG list can be viewed at the following web site: . The full list shows 49 fruits and vegetables ranked in order from worst to best in terms of pesticide contamination. Keep in mind the "best" simply means less toxic. The EWG report points out that washing produce only reduces pesticide residue, it does not eliminate it.

The other way pesticides are introduced into our birds is the use pesticides to control everything from fleas on our dogs to mosquitoes in our back yard. For instance, if your lawn service sprays weed control on your lawn and you walk on it chances are you may unwittingly track the weed control substance indoors to your bird areas. Other products commonly used around the home which are classified as pesticides according the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences are: Flea and tick sprays, powders, and pet collars; kitchen, laundry, and bath disinfectants; and products that kill mold and mildew. The Environmental Working Group recently published the results of their research into contamination of dogs and cats by high levels of industrial toxins and pesticides. The report is alarming and well worth reading. Even though their study involved dogs and cats one can easily connect the dots to wild and pet birds, which are much more susceptible to toxin poisoning than dogs and cats. The report can be found at

So are there pesticides deemed pet safe for use in the home? Organic pesticides are reportedly safer to use around pets, but no pesticide should be considered completely safe to use around our feathered or furred friends. One widely used and among the safer is Pyrethrum. Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide made from the flowers of certain species of the chrysanthemum plant. It is a mixture of several different compounds called pyrethrins and cinerins. It is widely used in household insect sprays where it is usually combined with another chemical called piperonyl butoxide (PBO). Pyrethrum should not be confused with Permethrin which is a pyrethroid insecticide, and while still relatively low in toxicity it is highly toxic to cats and some other animals. Never use Permethrin around pets, especially birds, or around children.

One example of a Pyrethrum product is Control Aviary Bug Spray sold by Mango Pet Products. It is advertised as being effective for the control and elimination of Ants, Fleas, Spiders, Crickets, Roaches, Wasps, Silverfish, Gnats, Small Flying Moths, Lice, Grain Mites, House Flies and Mosquitos.

Other products that can be safe to use in the aviary are trap type products such as flour and seed moth traps and flying insect traps. These products are advertised as safe and reportedly do not use pesticides. One manufacturer of these products is SpringStar, Inc, which makes several trap products they advertise as being non-toxic. Their products can be viewed at: . Even though they are advertised as safe and non-toxic, all trap type products should always be used in such a manner as to prevent birds from coming in direct contact with the trap, and they should never be left in the aviary any longer than needed to eliminate the infestation.

Organic options for pest control include home made solutions. For some types of ants you can get rid of them by sprinkling common spices such as paprika or cayenne pepper over their trails. If you have a full-blown invasion, try dusting boric acid into cracks and crevices with a soft paintbrush. Boric acid should not be used in the aviary however. Catnip oil has been found to be an effective way to discourage roaches. Make a catnip tea to spray around baseboards by mixing 1 tsp. of the essential oil with 1 qt. of water. For moth or weevil problems try placing a cinnamon stick or bay leaf in with your seeds or grains. The strong-smelling spice or herb will repel or kill the insects without affecting the taste or smell of the food. A good source of tips on pest control using other common household products is an article from the May 1999 issue of Winged Wisdom at:

For some additional tips on how to keep your home pest free without using pesticides you can read an article published by the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) at:

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