Parrot Toy Angels: March 2010 Angel Wings
Parrot Toy Angels

Angel Wings

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

March 2010
Volume 5, Issue III

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In this month's issue:
    Spring Auction
    Angel Announcements
    Egg Salad for Birdies
    Flightless Birds Need Exercise Too!
    Featured Fid ~ Bourkes Parakeet
    Happily Ever After
    Still Nutty About Nuts
    Touched by an Angel
    Help Us
    Play Ball
    Safety Today
    Rikki Sez
    Nuts 2 U and Flaxseed 2



Happy St. Patrick's!
Angel Toys For Angels

March's Featured Toys

Easter Binkys
Easter Binkys
Small Birds

Easter Fun Cups
Easter Fun Cups
Small to Medium Birds

Easter Fun
Easter Fun
Small Birds


Check out all the
Angel Toys for Angels

now!


Spring Auction

Spring is on it's way and so is Parrot Toy Angel's Spring Auction.

This one promises to be as good as our last one. We will have many items for both you and your birds. Bird toys and toy parts, gift baskets, handmade items, DVD's, jewelry and lots of surprises are just a few of the items that will be up for auction. To see the items we had in our last auction follow this link:

2009 Holiday Auction

We are currently looking for donations to add to our auction. If you would like to donate an item, please contact
donations@
parrottoyangels.org
. Handcrafted items are always good sellers, but anything you may want to donate will be appreciated. (All donations are tax deductible).

The dates for the auction will be announced in April's Angel Wings, so don't miss it.

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

   

ON THE SITE:

♥  Easter Toys
♥  Small - Medium Toys
♥  Medium - Large Toys
♥  Large - X-Large Toys
♥  Incredible Shreddables
♥  Footers

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Follow parrottoyangels on Twitter

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WOW!  Lookie.... a PTA Coupon

Egg Salad for Birdies
By Toni Fortin
~ I tasted this and it's good!! ~

NOTE: When cooking eggs for your Easter egg hunt, cook up some extra for the birds!

4 chopped hard boiled eggs
1 small piece of broccoli, washed and chopped
1/3 piece of celery, washed and chopped
2 pencil asparagus, washed and chopped
1/2 carrot, washed and shredded
2 tbsp. plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

Mix all in a bowl.

Birdie Egg Salad...YUM-O!

And as always, my guys say "it's good" and "I like it, I like it!"

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Flightless Birds Need Exercise Too!
By Angel Savannah

We all know that birds get a great deal of exercise flying and how awestruck we feel when we see our large feathered friends flying freely in big spaces. They are so graceful and majestic looking. But what about those birds who do not have flight feathers? Can they get the same quality of exercise without actually being able to fly?

Of course, the answer is yes! There are many ways in which to offer exercise to our flightless friends. I have some exercise pens which were built specifically for this purpose. They are large pens for small birds - approximately 4' wide and 6' long. The sides of the pens are 2' high. Inside, I have several play areas built from dowels and 2 x 2's. I equate these areas with climbing the Mayan Ruins - knowing firsthand that there is a lot of exercise in doing that! The birds can climb and play with toys hanging from the wire cover over the top of the pen. I keep this pen full of toys of every type so that when a bird starts playing in one area, a toy in another area of the pen will catch his eye and off he goes - hiking over to the next fun spot!

There are ways to do this without having the big pens that I use. You can use an oversized plastic storage container with a couple of climbing areas and a bunch of toys. You can put a wire cover (hardware cloth works well) over the top and hang toys from it. This type of area will work well for small birds, like lovebirds, parakeets, linnies, up to senegals and cockatiels.

Of course, you can always make or buy a nice play gym for your bird. They can be made from PVC or wood, and should definitely include interesting areas to play at all different levels. One down side of the average play gym is that a bird will climb to the highest perch and just sit there. That's not what you want. Be creative and you can make something really wonderful to aide your bird in healthy play. Play gyms may also be purchased. If you can't find one at your local pet store, there are numerous online retailers that sell them.

Birds also can run around on your floor, closely supervised. I like to sit on the floor and have my birds' favorite toys and treats on a blanket. My birds will run around and play with each other, fight over toys and try to beat each other to the treats, etc. This is very good exercise for them, and a great photo opportunity for you.

So remember, climbing and interesting toys to play with - that's what keeps our flightless friends in motion!

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Featured Fid ~ The Beautiful Bourkes Parakeet
By Wyspur Kallis

The Bourkes Parakeet is the ideal bird for the novice aviculturist. They are hardy, easy to care for and are willing breeders.

These peaceful birds have very calm dispositions, which make them ideal choices for mixed flights which also house other small parakeets and cockatiels. Bourkes have a soft, pleasant voice and are not nervous or excitable birds. They are usually most active at dawn and dusk and make endearing twittering sounds. Bourkes are the only members of the parakeet family that lack green feathering. They also have a slightly different body and tail shape, indicating that they may not be as closely related to parakeets as we think. Although Bourkes are members of the parakeet family, they will not inbreed with other grass keets.

Males and females are virtually identical in appearance, though hens have darker faces and more gray scattered throughout their body. The male Bourke has a blue band of feathers above his nostrils and hens are generally smaller in size.

The Bourkes expected lifespan is 10 or more years.

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...Happily Ever After...
By Susan Kesler

Bird's Nest

As long as Z'ana can remember, every spring there has been a bird's nest in the hallway of the first floor of her aunt's house in Macedonia. As soon as the winter thaw arrives, the door to that hallway is always open so when the birds arrive they can come and go as they please.

Since his stroke several years ago, her uncle has been unable to walk up the stairs easily. So, they moved her uncle's bedroom to the first floor, across from the nest.

The previous year when the bird's nest got too crowded, the bird parents lost one baby bird when it fell from the nest. This year when she went to visit the family vineyards, Z'ana noticed something different about the nest. Determined that no baby birds were going to fall from the nest on his watch this year, her uncle had built them a patio!!

Not only did the patio ease the crowded conditions this spring, it also made landing easier for the birds, and the papa bird slept there when the nest got crowded again...and all the baby birds made it.

Another happy ending to help restore your faith in the kindness of people.

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Still Nutty About Nuts
By Sue Christie-Cox

As we continue on our way through the alphabet of nuts, I hope your birds are enjoying some different tastes which are not only tasty but healthful for them.

Hickory nut: Be on the lookout for these in September and October. Because the trees are very tall, we often wait until near Christmas for the nuts to fall. The nuts often fall out of the shells while on the trees, so there is little hulling to be done by hand. For flavor and quality the Shagbark Hickory is possibly the choicest of native hickories with the Pecan and Shellbark Hickory running a close second. These nuts have an extremely hard shell that most parrots cannot crack, so they are mainly for the big beaked birds. You can of course crack them for your smaller birds. The nuts themselves are small and have a rich flavor due to their high fat content. They usually are sold unshelled and contain good amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. Hickory nuts contain 187 calories and 3 grams of protein per ounce.

Macadamia nut: These plants are native in parts of Australia, growing mainly in the rainforest regions of south eastern Queensland and the north coast of New South Wales. Macadamias have been eaten by the indigenous tribes for centuries. While grown in other parts of the world, including Hawaii, Australia remains the largest grower and exporter of Macadamias. The trees are evergreens, reaching from six to forty feet in height. These nuts are little powerhouses of energy! The oil extracted from macadamias contains approximately 82 per cent mono-unsaturated fatty acids, better even than olive oil (73 per cent) and canola (63 per cent). The nuts are believed to contain the highest level of palmitoleic acid of any known oil and do not contain any cholesterol. In fact, studies have indicated that a diet enriched with macadamia nuts lowered blood cholesterol by 7 per cent. The same tests indicated that a macadamia-enriched diet may have potential benefits in reducing the likelihood of coronary heart disease. While these studies are on humans, the health benefits of Macadamias are obvious for the birds.

Peanuts: Although the peanut is not really a nut, (this nut-like seed is a member of the legume family, related to peas, lentils, chickpeas and other beans) it is treated like a nut by many. They do get a bad rap because peanuts are particularly susceptible to contamination during growth and storage. Poor storage of peanuts can lead to an infection by the mold fungus Aspergillus flavus, releasing the toxic substance aflatoxin. With industry standards in place now, the incidence has decreased.

Peanuts do have good health benefits and are nutrient rich, providing over 30 essential nutrients and phytonutrients. Peanuts are a good source of niacin, folate, fiber, magnesium, vitamin E, manganese and phosphorus. They also are naturally trans fat, sodium free and provide seven grams of protein per serving, the most protein of any nut.

While peanuts are considered high in fat, they primarily contain "good" fats also known as unsaturated fats. One serving of peanuts contains 11.5 g unsaturated fat and 2 g of saturated fat. In fact, peanuts have been linked well enough to their heart healthy benefits that in 2003, the Food and Drug Administration released a health claim recognizing peanuts in helping maintain cholesterol levels. Recent research on peanuts and nuts in general has found antioxidants and other chemicals that may provide health benefits. New research shows peanuts rival the antioxidant content of many fruits. Roasted peanuts rival the antioxidant content of blackberries and strawberries, and are far richer in antioxidants than apples, carrots or beets.

Now you have three more nuts to add as treats or small parts of your birds' diets.

Bibliography:
www.thenutfactory.com/kitchen/facts/facts-hickory-nuts.html
www.realage.com/srch/RASearch.aspx?catno=-1&m=1&query=nuts
www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=101
www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/macadamia.html
www.macadamianuts.com.au
www.goldmac.com.au

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Touched By An Angel
By RuthAnn La Rue

My husband, Tom, and I were very delightfully surprised in early December when the mailman delivered two packages to the Parrots of Chez La Rue. I want to take a few minutes to thank you all for your gracious and generous donation of toys for use by our Foster Birds.

For more than ten years, Tom and I have offered our home in the Phoenix area of Arizona as a foster care home for a variety of parrots who call The Oasis Sanctuary home. Our first foster parrot is still with us. She is Fred, the Mexican Redheaded Amazon parrot. Every human in Fred's life thought she would be dead by November, 1999. She came to foster care with Tom and me to die, but she took a detour and is still traveling life's amazing highway.

Since Fred, we have fostered more than 200 Oasis parrots for various periods of time. While Fred has been with us the longest, it has not been unusual for us to have a foster bird for 2 or 3 or more years before he or she is able to return to the large flock at the Oasis. Currently we have 6 macaws in long term foster care along with 3 Moluccan Cockatoos, a Rose-breasted Cockatoo, a Meyer's Parrot, the African Grey I have reported on before, Velcro, and our sweet Fred. The short term fosters number 6 right now but 30 more small birds, primarily budgies and cockatiels, may be coming any time.

So, one can see that toys are a precious commodity to Tom and me. We usually foster birds because of medical emergencies or self-mutilation problems that require constant vet care or hands on human interaction. Toys enrich the life of any caged parrot, so the work of the Parrot Toy Angels is precious to ANY recipient. I am so honored to be included in the number of homes you have rewarded with toys. I am so humbled it is hard to find the words to adequately express my gratitude. I suppose any one of you needs only to see the expression on a parrot's face after a satisfying attack of a toy to know what gratitude is.

So, thank you all so much for including Chez La Rue in your toy gifts. Each and every toy has been enjoyed to its fullest.

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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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Play Ball
By Jan Lewis

Play Ball!
Or whatever your bird enjoys playing!

Spring will soon be here, so why not maximize your winter indoor time together by spending time playing new games.

My birds all enjoy playing new games and learning new "tricks". It is one of our methods of building our human/avian relationship. To me, my birds are my feathered family and I not only enjoy shopping for toys for their cages so they can entertain themselves, but also for toys for us to play with together. My Tory (Moluccan Cockatoo) is a typical male teenager. He turned thirteen last year. He loves to play basketball, roller skate, ride his scooter and now he is learning to bowl! I found a great plastic bowling set in the toy department at my local Walmart that is just perfect for my avian athlete.

Even smaller birds can learn to enjoy playing games or learning tricks to interact with their human family members. My Quaker loves to play "fetch". He will pick up a cardboard coaster on the end table beside the couch and give it to me so that I replace it. Then he again "fetches" it. He is also learning to bank his wooden nickels like his bigger avian brothers. I recently found a small basketball set for him, which we are still getting used to, but it won't be long before I will have a Quaker on the family basketball team.

Keep an eye out at your local favorite toy departments. You may be surprised to find some toys that are great for you and your birds to play with together. I'm building a Quaker "bowling alley" from a toy bowling set. Be sure to check toys for suitability and safety for YOUR birds. Also, I recommend that you keep a close eye on your birds until you see how they play with these items. What can seem safe and be sold as a bird toy may not be safe for YOUR bird. Watch and learn how your birds play with toys and do not leave them unsupervised until you are sure they can play safely with them.

I love teaching my birds and they love to learn to play games with me! Keep it fun and you will be rewarded with a bird that can't wait to come out to play with you. It will also add to your enjoyment together. It helps with birdie (and human) boredom. Teaching and playing games and tricks stimulates bird's minds, adds to their confidence and makes the parrot/human bond stronger. So play ball or whatever you and your bird enjoy playing, but have fun together!

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Safety Today
By Susan Kesler
Safety Committee Chairwoman

I was recently out and about running errands, foraging for food and generally looking for excuses not to go home, when I spied a large well known pet store. It has been eons since I've been in one so I decided to stop and see what they had in the way of bird toys.

All I can say is "amazing". There is a veritable rainbow of colors and a myriad of textures! My birds would have been on cloud nine if they could see them all.

Upon closer inspection though, all was not rosy. I found some very disturbing safety issues with a lot of these wonderful looking toys. Some of the toys were made with zinc hardware which any bird owner knows is very dangerous for a bird to chew on. I also found long dangling lengths of rope which present a strangulation hazard a new bird owner may not be aware of. There were painted blocks, synthetic rope, and chrome bells. I saw brass bells and chains, tiny bells on huge toys. I feel all of these items present a danger to my birds. Not all of the toys were unsafe, but plenty of them were.

It sure was an eye opener for me. I thought that since it was a large pet store I could be assured that what they sold would be safe. Not true. I am sure that the store is not consciously selling inferior toys. They just buy from different vendors and are in business to make a profit. My point here is that we, as bird owners, owe it to our birds not to assume toys are safe just because they are purchased from a well known store. We need to inspect everything we buy to make reasonably sure they are as safe as can be.

So please play it safe and look closely at the toys you buy.

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Rikki Sez

Rikki will try and answer frequently asked questions here.

Rikki, My toes are cold. Do they make socks for my toes like Mommy has on her toes? I know I could sleep better at night if my toes weren't cold.
Signed, Cold Toes

Dear Cold Toes, Sorry, no parrot socks, but you can tell Mommy she has some options. One is a teflon-free space heater for your room. A heater will warm the ole tootsie's up. I don't advise it for parrots that can fly wherever they want to though. The space heater should have no coils exposed (wouldn't want those flying birdies to accidentally get hurt). Another idea would be an oil filled radiator. The heating element is inside and fully sealed and they don't produce any fumes. Also ask your Mommy to buy a fleece snuggly from PTA. They're cozy and will help keep you warm.

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Rikki, My mom keeps insisting that I get wet! She keeps trying to get me to swim in a pan of water or she sprays water all over me or even takes me in the shower with her. How can I tell mom I am a parrot and not a duck? I don't like water! Why do I need to get wet when I don't like it? Help!!!
Signed, Drowning in SC

Dear Drowning, Your mom is trying to give you a bath or a shower. While it may take some getting used to, it is good for you and the health of your feathers. Tell Mom if she puts some music on and sings and dances and makes this a fun time maybe you'll be more accepting of this getting wet all over. Before you know it, you'll be looking forward to these times.

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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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Nuts 2 U and Flaxseed 2
By Lori M. Nelsen

Nuts are a good source of essential oils, such as the polyunsaturated omega 3s and 6s. These essential fatty acids are important to maintain a healthy heart and benefit the cardiovascular system. Most nuts contain more omega 6 than omega 3 oils. However, walnuts are a good source of both. Nuts also provide vitamins, protein, fiber and minerals. While most nuts provide a similar amount of calories per ounce, the nutritional makeup varies widely. Some nuts, such as cashews, are high in minerals, while others, such as macadamia nuts, tend to be higher in vitamins. A 1 oz. serving of most nuts contains between 157 and 204 calories, less than 10 carbohydrate grams, contain between 6 and 7 g of protein and vary significantly in fat.

Depending on the demand of each species, a variation of several different types of EFAs (essential fatty acids), using both nuts and seeds, can be brought together each day to cover all the bases.

Daily EFA recommendations from Feeding Feathers:
This is meant as a guideline for those who wish to know how to supplement EFA's, but please - we don't expect you to sit there counting out seeds every day! Try to alternate your choices. That way you will know that your bird is receiving a good amount of EFA's overall in his diet.

Flaxseed is best offered freshly ground (delivering more guaranteed omega 3's) rather than cold pressed (a week's worth can be ground at one time in a dedicated coffee grinder, stored refrigerated), or whole if your birds will crack and eat them. All seeds and oils mentioned here should be organic and oils should be unrefined/cold pressed. The suggested amounts listed are conservative. Research your bird's species and individual needs to decide if you want to add a little more or less oil than suggested. Be sure to monitor your birds' weight if you add oils to the diet in order to know if you are adding too much (bird's weight gain).

All seeds and oils mentioned here should be organic and unrefined/cold pressed
Note: suggested amounts are the same for Flax and Chia

Flax seed: 55% of flax oil content is omega 3.
Flaxseed is better ground.
Suggested approximate amounts for ground seed or whole seed (if your bird will crack them):
1/8 teaspoon or little more for birds 100g or under
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon up to 500g
1/2 teaspoon or more over 500g
Suggested approximate amounts for cold pressed human grade oil:
1 - 2 drops up to 100g
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon up to 500g
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon over 500g up to 1,500g

Chia seed: contains over 60% omega 3.
Freshly ground seeds are preferred.
Suggested approximate amounts for ground seed:
1/8 teaspoon for birds 100g or under
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon up to 500g
1/2 teaspoon or more over 500g
Suggested approximate amounts for Chia seed oil:
1 - 2 drops up to 100g
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon up to 500g
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon over 500g

Some foods also supply a small amount of omega 3: collards, spinach, dandelion greens, kale, and pecans, pistachio, pumpkin seed, sesame, trace amounts: green, red and Boston leaf lettuce; turnip greens, beet greens and mustard greens.

Hemp oil contains both omega 3 and omega 6 and is said to be the perfect balance. Seeds and nuts also contain omega 6 so if the diet contains these foods you may want to take that into consideration and choose higher omega 3 oil such as flax or chia. If the diet is mostly pellets then hemp may be a good choice.

Hemp seed oil contains a 1:3 ratio of omega 3 to 6:
1 - 2 drops for birds up to 100g
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon up to 500g
1/4 -1/2 teaspoon over 500g
Whole hemp seeds:
1/4 teaspoon for smaller birds
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon up to 500g
1/2 teaspoon or more over 500g

Seeds to consider in moderation:
Walnuts - source of omega 3 and 6, GOOD nut source of omega 6
Pumpkin seeds, sprouted - a little omega 3, omega 6
Sesame seeds, sprouted - a little omega 3, omega 6
Sunflower seeds, sprouted - a little omega 3, omega 6

Red Palm oil: does not supply efa's (essential fatty acids) This is a saturated vegetable fat that contains vitamin E and carotenes. Carotene's as well as vitamin E can also be found in vegetables and fruit. Red Palm oil and Palm kernel oil are two vastly different things - please note which you are buying.

Good combinations for skin conditions/pluckers to try may be flaxseed/hemp, and hemp/chia. Use these combinations twice a week, and other combinations, on the other days.

Warning: Please do not include more than 2% flax or chia in a SPROUTING mix, as too much of these seeds will make your mix mucilaginous. Flaxseed is better ground.

Many parrot mixes contain more peanuts (which are not a nut at all, but a legume) than other healthy nuts. The unshelled peanuts in avian seed mixes are often damaged and do not necessarily meet the standards required for human consumption. Peanuts can harbor harmful aflatoxins. Aflatoxin is a potent carcinogen. It is a naturally occurring toxic metabolite produced by certain fungi (Aspergillus flavis), a mold found on food products such as corn and peanuts and in peanut butter. It acts as a potent liver carcinogen in rodents (and, presumably, humans). Aflatoxins have been associated with various diseases, such as aflatoxicosis, in livestock, domestic animals and humans throughout the world. As with all other nuts, they should be organic and/or human grade. Poor quality unshelled peanuts are also a known carrier of Aspergillus species.

Overview:
Nuts are not taboo. Know the fat and EFA requirements of your species. Purchase only human grade or organic. Be careful of parrot mixes with peanuts - know your food source. Feed shelled raw nuts quickly or freeze. Peanuts need to be human grade AND roasted. Watch your parrots weight when feeding nuts. Nuts in the shell are a great foraging opportunity. They are a treat you both can share for both your humans and feathers.

For more information on feeding and nutrition, please check out the Feeding Feathers Group

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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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