Parrot Toy Angels: January 2009 Angel Wings
Parrot Toy Angels

Angel Wings

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

January 2009
Volume 4, Issue I

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In this month's issue:
    ParrotNutz Newsletter Special
    Angel Announcements
    Sequoia's Pumpkin Sticks
    Honorary Angels
    Bird Fair Tips
    How to Enjoy a Caterpillar
    Bird Bathing Tips
    Featured Fid ~ Kakapo
    Touched by an Angel
    Rikki Sez
    Wax, Gas and Polymer
    Safety Today
    What Our Birds Want Us to Know

A big thank you to the Newsletter Committee. Ya'll rock!

Terri W. from Kentucky

Happy New Year
Angel Toys For Angels

Featured Toys for January

Mobile Fish
Mobile Fish
Small to Medium Birds

Fun Platter
Fun Platter
Medium to Large Birds

Angel Cuddler
Angel Cuddler
Medium to Large Birds

Check out all the
Angel Toys for Angels



Summer Breeze Fruit Mash

Special for Angel Wings subscribers only!!

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Get one half off

Offer valid until 1/25/09

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Fruit Mash,
Get 1 half price!!

Buy one at $14.50,
get one for $7.25

Your flock will savor the beak-pleasing flavors of berries, orchard fruits, and tropical fruits while enjoying the benefits of a variety of nutritious whole grains.

Just add boiling water, steep, cool and serve. It couldn't be easier to serve a warm meal to your birds.

One pound bag yields over two pounds of mash.

Click Here to order

♥ ♥ ♥

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


On the site:

♥ 'Pillars
♥ Mickaboo Pictures
♥ Angel Magnets
♥ Wacky Whirlys

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>>C O U P O N<<
10% off any item on the
Parrot Toy Angels site
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Sequoia's Pumpkin Sticks
By Sequoia Fortin

Sequoia enjoying his Pumpkin Sticks

Raisins for eyes
Small pieces of fresh asparagus or other green vegetable
Small sweet potato, cooked and grated, for the mouth
12 lollipop sticks or small wood sticks

4 tbs. sunflower oil
1/4 cup Blackstrap molasses (good source of vitamin B6, Potassium and Magnesium)
3 eggs
3/4 to 1 cup cranberry juice (reserve 1/4 cup to thin batter if necessary)
1 medium cooked and mashed sweet potato
1/3 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup cornmeal (not self-rising)
1 tsp. baking powder (non-aluminum)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl then add the rest. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes to allow oats to soak up some liquid. The batter should be dry enough to shape but not so dry that it crumbles. Add some of the reserved cranberry juice if necessary to get the right consistency. Spray a cookie sheet lightly with canola oil. Oil or butter your hands, scoop up some batter and roll into a ball, insert sticks making sure all batter is around the stick, flatten after putting on the cookie sheet. Insert decorations to make the face. Bake at 375 for 12 minutes.

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Honorary Angels of the Month

Dick & Lois Mitchell of Texas

Angel Volunteers Dick & Lois Mitchell

Made 20 "Gonzo's Tongue Teazers" for our
2008 "Pick Your Project"

Wing flutters and big thanks to the Mitchell's!!

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Bird Fair Tips For Your First Time Event
By Wyspur Kallis

Attending a Bird Fair or Expo for the first time can be a bit overwhelming for most people. The first step in this process is to make sure you have your table fee sent to the appropriate person well in advance. Whether you are setting up your table for a fundraiser or sales, here are a few good tips that can be very helpful.
♥  Have a good tablecloth. One with neutral colors is favorable.
♥  Have business cards, brochures, flyers and other professionally printed materials.
♥  Have all your items displayed in new baskets and arrange your table so it does not appear cluttered.
♥  Take snacks, drinks and any other food you like so that your table will not be unattended for any length of time.
♥  If you are a vendor, a display rack is a good attention-getting device.
♥  Smile until your face hurts until the end of your show and remember to have a great time!

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How to Enjoy a Caterpillar
By Gaby

Gaby enjoying a 'Pillar
Gaby enjoying a 'pillar

I'm picking away on the computer here because I have discovered the best toy on the planet, The Caterpillar! It was a hard decision to write this, wanted to keep them all to myself...but I'm a sharing kinda bird, so in case you ever get some, this is what you do:

A caterpillar can best be enjoyed in two ways. One, by ripping and biting it right through the bag, or, for you spoiled birds, after your parront removed it. There is an art to consuming these insects and I'm happy to share this with you newbies.

First, I recommend chewing off the little legs, one by one, it makes it last longer.

Next, go for the head. It has delicious feelers that tickle your tongue. After ripping off its little head, remove each body part.

Personally, I enjoy sitting on a flat surface so I can easily reach the dropped body parts. That's important because, after you separate them, they each come apart in four pieces. But, don't be selfish when you play with your 'pillars. Tossing the little pieces over an edge, to the floor and looking down longingly, gives your parront the opportunity to join in the fun. If you have trained them well, they may even begin by putting some of the pieces back together for you. If not, begin yelling at the top of your lungs. They'll get the message !!!

Chibi enjoying a 'Pillar
Chibi enjoying a 'pillar

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Bird Bathing Tips
By Wyspur Kallis



Some parrots are reluctant to take a spray bath. Here are a few good tips to make bath time more enjoyable for your bird.
♥ You can use a very large shallow dish in your bathtub or shower.
♥ Place some of your parrot's favorite small plastic toys in the dish of water to encourage your parrot to venture into the water.
♥ During the summer months, you may like to add some ice cubes to the water for some cool playtime.

Some birds are happy just being in the shower with a parront. When doing so, please have a shower perch in the back of the shower to allow your parrot to lean into the water if they choose to do so. If you bird is not afraid of towels, you might want to offer one for drying off. What ever you choose to do for bathing your parrot, make it a good experience for the both of you.


Reuben JamesMickey


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Featured Fid ~ Kakapo
By Sue Christie-Cox

The Kakapo, Strigops habroptilus, means "owl-like", referring to its unusual soft plumage and facial disc of bristle-like feathers. Its Maori name, 'kakapo', means 'night parrot' and belongs to the family Psittacidae, but it is the only member of a sub-family and the genus Strigops.

KakapoWhen it comes to rare parrots, New Zealand seems to corner the market. The Kakapo, Kea and Kakariki are to name a few of their six native species. The Kakapo however is probably the rarest parrot and certainly one of the most unusual. The Kakapo is a ground dwelling, flightless parrot and one of the most ancient and specialized parrot species. Kakapos were once wide-ranging over both main islands, but had probably begun to decline, on the North Island at least, with the coming of the European settlers in the early 1800s. The effects of large scale forest and scrub clearance, along with the introduction of a range of predators such as dogs, cats and rats, led to a rapid decline in Kakapo numbers and by the mid-1900s the species had all but vanished. One of the primary reasons the Kakapo succumbed to these pressures so rapidly was due to their almost total lack of flight. They are the only flightless parrot in the world and capable of no more than gliding from branch to ground. Nesting always takes place at or below ground level, making parents, eggs and young highly vulnerable to predation.

The Kakapo has many unique features
♥ It is the world's heaviest parrot with mature males weighing up to 3.5 kg and females up to 2 kg.
♥ It has facial discs, whiskers and soft plumage similar to owls and is one of the few truly nocturnal parrots.
♥ The males have a thoracic air-sac (similar to frogs) which is used during the breeding season to produce 'booming' calls to attract females. The booming sound resembles distant thunder, or a deep resounding heartbeat. To produce the deep bass sound, the male kakapo inflates air sacs in his chest and belly. The booming calls start out softly, become louder and then slowly fade away. Males do not start to boom until about 5 yrs of age at sexual maturity.
♥ The courtship ritual, known as a "lek" mating system, is unlike any used by other parrot species and performed by very few other animal species. It is this which also sets the Kakapo apart from other parrots. Males begin the courtship ritual with the construction of an elaborate series of tracks often located on ridge or hill tops. These are connected to 'bowls', cleared depressions forming an arena where the bird, in synchronisation with all male Kakapos, perform their 'booming' courtship calls, repeated many hundreds of times a night and audible for distances of up to 1 kilometer. One male, on Stewart Island (a small island off the southern coast of New Zealand), was recorded as giving nearly 9,000 booms during an 8 hour period! Males loosely gather in an arena and compete with each other to attract females. Females watch the males display, or "lek". They choose a mate based on the quality of his display. They are not pursued by the males in any overt way. No pair bond is formed. Males and females meet only to mate.
♥ Kakapos have a synchronized breeding period only occurring every three to four years. They breed only in years when food is abundant, to insure plenty of nourishment for their chicks. Two or three eggs are laid on the ground, usually under a clump of tussock, in a hole on a bank or a rotten tree. Females do not seek out males for breeding until approximately 6 yrs of age.

Kakapos are herbivores and eat a variety of foods such as roots, leaves and fruit cones and pollen of many different plants. Their diet varies according to which food plants are available. When key food species are abundant, such as the fruit of Rimu trees, the Kakapo will feed almost exclusively on their fruit.

Kakapo hiding When roosting, they are difficult to see, even at just an arms length. Mottled green plumage, that resembles moss, provides a perfect camouflage. As Kakapo can sit perfectly motionless, it may only be the blink of an eye that gives them away. The Kakapo has soft moss-green feathers barred with black on its back, pale yellow-green feathers underneath and, hidden away, an unusually soft layer of downy feathers. (Old specimens of pure yellow kakapo exist in various museums around the globe.) The females are smaller and less brightly colored than the males. It has an owl-like face with 'whiskers' and a large ivory and pale blue beak. The Kakapos' unique bill structure is adapted for grinding food finely. The gizzard, the organ in which food is ground in most parrots, is small and degenerate.

The Kakapo has a strong musty smell which can be described as sweet smelling like honey or flowerlike.

The world population of Kakapo currently stands at 91. An interesting aspect of the Kakapo's breeding system is that the females can alter the sex ratio of their offspring in relation to maternal condition. Females that eat protein-rich foods produce more male-biased offspring (males have 3040% more body weight than females). Females produce bias offspring towards the dispersive sex when competition for resources (such as food) is high and to the non-dispersive sex when food is plentiful. A female Kakapo will likely be able to produce eggs, even when there are few resources, while a male Kakapo will be more capable of perpetuating the species when there are plenty, by mating with several females. The oldest surviving Kakapo, "Richard Henry", is thought to be between 35 and 50 years old, though experts believe his age to be closer to 60.

Those who know the Kakapo say it is one of the most outrageously funny, loving and strangest birds, living in a land renowned for unusual creatures. It is slow to breed and may live longer than any other bird. With no females in the population known to researchers, it was effectively extinct for three-quarters of the 20th century and dangerously close to extinction during the last quarter century. But now Kakapos have help in the most extensive protected breeding program the New Zealand government has ever undertaken.

Photos courtesy of Ryan Photographic
Reprinted with permission

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Touched by an Angel
By Francie Waller & Nancy Powell
Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue
San Jose, California

Mickaboo VolunteersLast summer Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue, in California, was touched by an angel. . . Parrot Toy Angels that is!

Mickaboo rescues unwanted, abused and neglected parrot type birds and adopts them into loving and caring families. Until birds get adopted foster parents take on the responsibility of providing food, toys and other environmental enrichment items for the birds they care for. Occasionally we get food or cage donations to assist us, but nothing can compare to what Parrot Toy Angels did for us!

Three of the Angels traveled long distances to attend a gathering of Mickaboolians at Francie's home in the California Sierra's. Bonnie Bruhn, a former Mickaboo volunteer, who lives in Shingle Springs, Verna Brisbon-Lucey , who traveled all the way from Massachusetts and one of the founders, Ilona Peterson of PTA came up from Southern California. They traveled to present Mickaboo with over THIRTEEN HUNDRED handmade toys - made especially for Mickaboo foster parrots.

We felt extremely honored, and very humbled, by this generous gift to our birds. Every bird in Mickaboo received at least three toys appropriate for their species. The toys ranged from cute little foot toys, for 'tiels to 'toos, to enormously large toys that included several pounds of pine blocks of wood and a gorgeous jolly ball toy any bird would envy.

The AngelsThe three PTA representatives arrived in adorable bird beak caps carrying box after box from Bonnie's car. As each box was opened we oohed and aahed at all the wonderful toys. They were so bright and colorful. Completely bird safe - made out of bird safe materials such as stainless steel and bird safe woods with special hooks and all. It was obvious how much time and effort had been put into the making of these toys.

Several Mickaboo volunteers had tears in their eyes - it was just so overwhelming. The generosity given to us was hard to imagine. Pictures are great - but they cannot do full justice to these toys.

We thank you all so very much for your love for our foster birds!

Francie Waller and Nancy Powell

To see the Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue
delivery pictures click here

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Have these stories 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

Rikki Sez

Rikki will try and answer frequently asked questions here.

Rikki, My human got a beautiful bouquet of flowers delivered to her. She put them on the table and when I flew over to investigate, she squealed and snatched them away from me. They looked very tasty too. Why wouldn't she share with me?
Signed, Disappointed

Dear Disappointed, Your human knows that some flowers can be toxic to parrots, which means they can make you very, very sick. She was trying to protect you. Maybe if you give her your 'sad and hungry' look, she will share some of her dinner with you.

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Rikki, I'm just a little parakeet. I hope you answer questions for us little guys too. My human slides my cage door up when she gives me fresh food, but when she is done she puts a clip on the top of the door to lock it. Why does she do that? Doesn't she trust me?
Signed, Untrustworthy

Dear Untrustworthy, She doesn't do it because you are untrustworthy. She probably read about a little guy who was playing with his slide-up door and got his neck caught when the door slid down. Luckily, his human heard him squawking and saved him. Your human is just protecting you from having an accident when you are playing with the door.

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Rikki, I am trying to train my human to come when I call. I scream and scream and she just ignores me. Do you have any tips for properly training a human?
Signed, Frustrated

Dear Frustrated, It can be frustrating trying to train a human. They can be very stubborn. If she ignores you when you are screaming, trying being quiet. Humans like that. They will come to you and tell you what a good bird you are and sometimes even give you a treat. It's not always easy trying to figure out what works with a human who doesn't understand parrot-talk, but eventually you can figure out what will motivate them to do what you want them to do. Here's a little tip -- they are putty in your hands when you give them a kiss and say "I love you". It works every time.

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

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Wax, Gas and Polymer
By Lori M. Nelsen

Although, vegetable and fruits are healthy food sources in your avian's diet, there continues to be food borne disease outbreaks from produce that affect people and avians.

Because of the wide distribution across many states, the CDC estimates that fresh produce causes 12 percent of food borne illness to humans in the United States. Fresh fruits and vegetables can become contaminated with harmful bacteria or viruses, such as Salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7, Norovirus, and Hepatitis A. This contamination can occur anytime between the field and home. If eaten, these contaminated fruits and vegetables can cause food borne illness. Produce is vulnerable to contamination due to many factors including water quality, manure fertilizer, animals in fields, and the health and hygiene of produce handlers. Because the produce is often consumed raw, it is a potential source of illness.

Here are some safe steps you can take to help keep produce safe to eat for all of your family, both human and feathered:
♥  Handle produce with clean hands
♥  Store produce at 41 degrees F or below and separate from raw meats
♥  Remove damaged and bruised areas
♥  Wash produce well under running water even if you plan to peel it
♥  Prepare produce in a clean sink and counter area sanitized with 1 tsp. bleach to 1 quart water
♥  Dry all produce with paper towels to reduce bacteria

Some fruits and vegetables may have waxy coatings added to keep them fresh and to prevent them from bruising or mold. These are safe, food-grade specialty wax coatings utilized on the outer surface and roots of parsnips, rutabagas, and turnips. The wax is applied in a thin coating to protect the outer surface and roots to preserve freshness. Other commonly waxed produce includes apples, peaches, citrus fruits, cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

Wax coatings are used on fruits and vegetables to help prevent moisture loss, protect from bruising during shipping and handling, and increase shelf life. When purchasing non-organic fruits and vegetables, you should ask your grocer about the kind of wax used even if you are going to peel the produce. Carnauba wax (from carnauba palm tree), beeswax, and shellac (from the lac beetle) are preferable to petroleum-based waxes, which contain solvent residues of wood rosins. Yet, it is not just the wax itself that may be of concern: but the other compounds often added to it: ethyl alcohol or ethanol for consistency, milk casein (a protein linked to milk allergy) as "film formers," and soaps as flowing agents. Unfortunately, at this point in time, the only way to remove the wax from non-organic produce is to remove the skin. If you choose to do this, use a peeler that takes off only a thin layer of skin, as many healthy vitamins and minerals lie below the skin. Non-synthetic waxes, including carnauba wax and beeswax, are currently permitted for use on certified organic fruits and vegetables.

Some fruits and vegetables naturally produce ethylene gas when they ripen. Such produce is harvested in the unripe state to preserve firmness. They are later exposed to ethylene gas to induce ripening. Ethylene spraying is allowed by the National Organics Program for use on tropical fruits certified as organic, including bananas, avocados, pineapples, persimmons and mangos.

BASF has developed a polymer (FreshSeal) that is said to seal in freshness, cut spoilage, contain flavor, as well as extend shelf life. The coating seals in moisture, slows respiration and ripening, and dissolves in water. By applying a mist of polymer following washing, the optimal gas levels within the produce are preserved by restricting oxygen ingress into the fruit. FreshSeal is being tested on several types of produce in many different countries.

So, whether you purchase organic or not, the produce you feed your family is gassed, waxed, and polymered. It is all done to protect you from spoilage and bacteria, but I have not found anything in my research that guarantees that the waxes, gasses and polymers are perfectly safe except by the companies that produce them. So keep scrubbing and peeling!!

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Safety Today
By Susan Kesler
Safety Committee Chairwoman

Well the Holidays are over, the wrapping paper is gone, the presents are being cherished and a New Year is here.

I'm sure all the birds got new toys and have been busily beaking and chomping, so a great way to start the New Year is by checking all the toys in their cages and play stands. It's something that is easily forgotten in the wake of parties and family members departing, but very important.

Check for and trim any frayed rope ends. They should be short enough so toes and heads can't get trapped. It's always a good idea to check the rope between toy parts for fraying also, so your bird doesn't take a fall.

Did your bird get a chain toy with loads of wood blocks on it? If there are any long lengths of chain that used to be covered with wood, maybe it's time to restring them.

Shredding toys should be checked closely too. Long lengths of raffia can be of concern and should be trimmed. Baskets made with sea grass rope can come unraveled and wicker wreaths can get chewed in the middle. The weight of the bird can cause it to come apart.

None of us want the New Year to start with an accident, so for safety sake, check those toys!

Happy New Year everyone.

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What Our Birds Want Us to Know
By Ilona Peterson & Sue Christie-Cox

With Christmas passed, many families find themselves with new feathery or furry members. If you are lucky enough to be enjoying a new feathered friend, or you know someone else who is, please take a few minutes to read through these important reminders.

Our fids have been part of our lives for many years. For some of us, the memories go back to our grandmother's little budgie. This makes it easy for us to forget that birds are not domesticated animals. Unlike dogs and cats that have been bred and changed to our "specifications" and "tastes", there is little difference between our companion birds and the ones we love to see flying in their native habitat.

While this may be 'preaching to the choir', it is still good information. Perhaps most important is sharing it with someone who is considering a companion bird. Too many birds have been covered up, banned from the rest of the family, or caged without being allowed out...and why? The reason why is because they behave like birds.

Health hazard for us:
It is hard to imagine that our little companions could be potential health hazards, but it is possible. If you have allergies, or asthma, they could present problems. There is help for those of us who have 'dusty' birds. Hepa air filters are one way to help control allergies and asthma.

One disease that can be transmitted from birds to humans is Chlamydiosis (psittacosis). This is transmitted through the air and can cause a significant illness. This holds true especially for those with a compromised immune system.

Birds are chewers:
Here it is: Birds chew wood. They don't differentiate between your beautiful furniture, molding and their wood toys. The most dangerous 'chew' is electrical cords. They are soft and rubbery and very attractive to our birds.

Birds make noise:
They sing, squawk and call out to their non-existent flock in the hopes of an answer. This is natural and not done to annoy us.

Birds make a mess:
We're not talking a little mess...oh no! They make a HUGE mess! In their natural habitat, birds eat throughout the day and drop bits of food and shells. The droppings are important because it gives the ground feeders their nourishment. Unfortunately, for us it means 'get out the vacuum'.

Forever a toddler:
What a joys toddlers are. Their antics and playfulness amuse and delight us. The antics that are less delightful, we are assured they will grow out of.

Not so with our parrots. What you see is what you get, forever. Sit back, enjoy and keep them safe.

Exercise and dangers:
A bird's natural way of movement is flying. While clipping your bird may be best to keep it safe, please provide room for them to move about. Flapping its wings is absolutely necessary and if your bird is caged, please ensure that the cage is big enough for that. They can get plenty of exercise by swinging and climbing and by having lots of toys around the cage to keep them moving.

If your bird is flighted, special care is necessary, i.e. no ceiling fans, windows covered, big mirrors covered and removing cats/dogs for this time, etc...

As much as we get bored with eating the same food daily, so do our birds. Not only that, but they need some of the same nutritional benefits as we do. Please provide grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and other healthy foods for them. No caffeine, chocolate or avocado though, as these can harm your bird.

Darkness and light:
Just as we are not at our best when we are sleep deprived, our birds are not at their best when they don't get their sleep. A minimum of 10 hours each night will make Polly a happy bird and you a happy Parront.

Along with sleep, exposure to UVA and UVB rays are equally important. These can be from natural sunlight or full-spectrum lighting. Vitamin D from the rays provides vitamin A absorption. This is important for their respiratory system.

Respiratory dangers:
Keeping your bird's lungs healthy involves special consideration. Those who love the plug-in air fresheners, scented candles, convenience of Teflon pans and those that have put off stopping smoking...time to leave these things behind.

When we take a breath, we don't replace all the air in our lungs, but the birds do. What this means is that all the chemicals and pollutants are passed through with each breath they take. Some of the above-mentioned dangers can cause immediate death and some can shorten your bird's life considerably.

Veterinary visits:
There is a good reason why we get annual physicals. This gives our Doctor a baseline from where to gauge changes. It is good advice to take your bird to an Avian Vet for a complete work-up when you first bring your bird home.

Vet care can be expensive and you may not be able to take your birds in annually, but having the results from this first exam can be of great help should you need to take your bird in later. Of course, annual well-bird check ups are recommended.

Arranging for care:
The last, but not the least to consider is our fids future. Unless we are young, very young, it is quite possible that our birds will outlive us. It is of most importance that we make provisions for their care. Hopefully, there will be a family member who knows the bird(s) and is willing to provide care. If not, perhaps making provisions in our will and naming a sanctuary that we have visited will assure their safety

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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:

©  2008-2009 Parrot Toy Angels • P.O. Box 34372 • Houston, Texas  77234
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