Parrot Toy Angels: September 2010 Angel Wings
Parrot Toy Angels

Angel Wings

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

September 2010
Volume 5, Issue IX

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In this month's issue:
    Fritter, Omelet, Frittata
    Angel Announcements
    Fall Auction
    Did You Know?
    Recycling, Angel Style
    Featured Fid ~ Mousebirds
    Which Wood Is Good?
    To Sex Or Not To Sex
    If We Are What We Eat
    Help Us
    Feathered Funnies
    Rikki Sez
    Let's Party

Angel Toys For Angels

September's Featured Toys
** Footer Frenzy **

Footer Wheels
Footer Wheels
Medium to Large Birds

Fiddler
Fiddler
Large to X-Large Birds

Fiddle de Stiks
Fiddle de Stiks
Small to Medium Birds


Check out all the
Angel Toys for Angels

now!


Fritter, Omelet, Frittata -
Just LIke Tomato, Tomata

By Toni Fortin

It's all the same.
We're talking about an egg casserole with your choice of ingredients added. Whether you bake it in the oven, or cook it on the stop top, it's still the same. Here's one you can share with the birds:

4 eggs beaten
1 tsp. parsley
3 thin fresh asparagus spears, chopped
1 medium potato cooked in the microwave, cooled well and cut into chunks
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
3 TB. fresh grated romano cheese

Spray frying pan (I used an 8" one) with olive oil. Saute vegetables until just starting to get tender. Pour in beaten eggs and parsley. Turn heat to low, cover and cook for 7 minutes. Take off heat and let sit in the pan for 5 minutes to ensure egg is cooked. Slide out onto plate and enjoy with your fids.

Frittata

Variations for birds:
Chopped zucchini, grated sweet potato, fresh chopped greens, jalapenos, crushed red pepper, broccoli - the possibilities are endless.

Variations for parronts:
Try it on a nice crunchy roll with some marinara sauce.
Chopped onion, shredded provolone, a little ricotta cheese, chopped banana peppers, zucchini, carrots, grated cheddar cheese, sausage, chopped arugula.

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

   

ON THE SITE:



♥  Happy Flappers
♥  Footers
♥  Small - Medium Toys
♥  Medium - Large Toys

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LET'S GET STARTED ON OUR FALL AUCTION!!

We are inviting you to, once again, open your huge hearts and donate items or gift certificates for our annual fall auction.

Today's tough economic conditions make it difficult for Parrot Toy Angels to meet the needs of "making a difference, one bird at a time" without the generosity from people like you. Since 2005, with your help, Parrot Toy Angels has provided 14,181 toys to 90 "Angel Projects". Again, this year, Parrot Toy Angels has stepped up in emergency situations to provide toys and food when necessary. All of your generous donations are tax deductible.

For additional donation information, please drop us an e us at:

donations@
parrottoyangels.org

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Did You Know??
The Woodpecker has a tongue that is five times the length of its beak, which means it can probe into holes for food as far as five inches. Where does it keep its tongue? The tongue is a portion of a flexible system of bones and tissues known as the hyoid. It starts at the top of the beak, and is anchored near its right nostril. From there it curls across the top of the woodpecker's skull and down the back of the head, exiting as the tongue through the beak.

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WOW!  Lookie.... a PTA Coupon

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Recycling, Angel Style
Flying Saucer
By Wyspur Kallis

Completed Flying Saucer Toy
Ready for your bird to enjoy!!

Supplies you will need:
At least 6 non-waxed paper plates, 2 non-waxed paper cups, scissors, screwdriver, piece of vegetable tanned leather and 2 clean plastic bottle caps.

Flying Saucer

Tie a knot in one end of the leather string. With screwdriver, punch a hole in one of the bottle caps and one of the paper cups. String them on the leather string.

Flying Saucer

With screwdriver, punch holes in the center of the paper plates. Using scissors, cut the paper plates making 1 to 2 inch cuts all the way around the plates.

Flying Saucer

String the paper plates onto the leather string, inverting every other plate until you have all the plates strung on the leather string. You may use as many plates as you want.

Flying Saucer

When you have all the paper plates strung on the leather, use the screwdriver to punch a hole in the second paper cup and string onto the leather. String the remaining bottle cap onto the leather string and tie the cups and plates securely.

Flying Saucer

Make a small loop in the leather string. Cut off any extra leather.

Flying Saucer

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Featured Fid ~ Mousebirds
By George Goulding

Many exotic bird lovers have never seen nor heard of a mousebird, and, if asked, could certainly not describe one. The name suggests a smallish bird with the appearance of a mouse, but what really gives this creature its name is more about how it appears when moving through tree branches. They are grey or brown in color, small enough to hold in the palm of an adult hand, and have a long slender tail approximately 10 cm in length. Total body weight averages around 50 grams. Mousebirds are arboreal and tend to scamper or hop through trees in search of their favorite foods such as berries and nuts. It is this movement along with the grey-brown coloration that makes them resemble a mouse.

Mousebirds are not members of the parrot family (Psittaciformes), but may actually be closer to them than to other bird groups. They are unique in that they are the only bird in the family Coliidae and the order Coliiformes. They are often referred to as Colies.

Mousebirds are found in the wild only in Sub-Saharan Africa (that part of Africa mainly south of the Sahara Desert). They are the only bird order confined entirely to the African continent. They are an ancient species dating back to the late Paleogene period (about 65 million years ago). There is evidence that during prehistoric times, these birds evolved in Europe. They inhabit a variety of habitats from grasslands to forest edge, but interestingly they are not found within the true forest.

There are 6 species of Mousebirds existing today as shown below:
White-headed Mousebird -- Colius leucocephalus
Chestnut-backed Mousebird -- Colius castronatus
White-backed Mousebird -- Colius colius
Blue-naped Mousebird -- Colius macrourus
Bar-breasted or Speckled Mousebird -- Colius striatus ( Colius striatus has at least 14 sub-species)
Red-faced Mousebird -- Colius indicus

The Speckled Mousebird (pictured below) is the most widespread of the six:

Mousebird

Mousebirds typically live in small to medium sized flocks. Each flock has a leader. They are non-migratory, and their diet consists mainly of fruit, buds, and leaves of a variety of vegetation. As such, they are considered pests in some parts of Africa due to damage they cause to fruit crops.

They are very agile. When feeding, they often hang upside down, but can feed in any position. They are considered "softbills" with stubby, finchlike bills. Their reversible outer toe compliments strong, curved claws which aid in tree climbing and acrobatics such as hanging by the feet and swinging beneath a branch.

Mousebird pairs build nests in dense vegetation close to the ground. A female will lay between 2 and 5 eggs and may actually share a single nest with another laying female. Males assist in nest building, incubating eggs, and raising young. The young hatch in two weeks, after which they are fed partially digested, regurgitated food.

It is reported that Mousebirds, while not easily obtainable, can rival parrots in terms of pet quality and desirability. When hand-raised, their curious, playful nature, coupled with their small stature, makes them easy to care for and a pleasure to keep as pets.

If you are interested in learning more about these playful birds, there is information available on the web and there is a book, Mousebirds in Aviculture written by Kateri J. Davis and published by Bird House Publications.

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Which Wood Is Good?
By Kim Perez

Bird safe toy parts are easy to find, but not always found on every toy. I say this because I want everyone to know that when you are shopping for toys, please inspect them carefully for what is safe and what will be fun for your bird at the same time. Know that you need to check all toys, not just ones you buy from private sellers. Name brand toys have been found to contain unsafe materials.

Pine, maple, and birch are commonly found wood parts which are safe for your birds. Pine is a fairly easy-to-chew wood for most birds, depending upon the thickness of the part. For most birds, thinly sliced pine is a delicacy! Even my macaws love the thin slices of pine on their toys. It's easy to chew up into little colorful bits and the birds enjoy the busy work. Yucca is a softer wood alternative for birds who don't like to chew on wood. This is again for almost any size of bird, as we use it with small birds like linnies and cockatiels, but we also have a macaw that prefers yucca over any other toy part.

For toys that you would like to last longer, try harder woods such as birch or maple. These woods work perfectly for swing perches. They are also commonly used in small wood shapes that you can purchase from most toy part stores. It makes the shapes harder to destroy and the toys last longer. A drawback to using hard woods for parts is that some birds will not play with or chew on a toy that is too hard to easily destroy.

Manzanita is a very hard wood which is used for perches and on some toys for big birds. But my biggest birds don't care for Manzanita. Since they cannot easily chew it up, they do not play with those toys. So what is the value in a toy that lasts because a bird won't play with it?

There are many other wood types which are safe, but many which are not, which you can easily find by doing a quick web search. The above few wood choices are the most common ones found. If you are looking for toy parts, but they are a different wood, please be responsible and look it up prior to using with your birds.

Which of the safe wood parts do you buy for your bird? I like to try a variety of shapes and textures to see what each of my birds likes. Thin slices of pine are, hands down, everyone's favorite wood part in my house. With birds who can too quickly and easily shred them, I use thicker or bulkier pieces of pine. It still has the same texture, but takes longer for the birds to get through. The larger the part, though, the less attention the bird gives it. They just want to chew it up quickly!

If you are looking at maple parts, the ones my birds like the best are, again, the thin ones. I use a lot of shapes, but the stars are a favorite. Stars that are only about 1/4" thick are a hot commodity in my bird room. Along with being thin, the points are easily chipped away, so most birds do like this shape.

Once you have several wood shapes, try alternating them on your wire, rope, or leather. I like to alternate by "direction". I use a horizontal oriented piece, then a vertical piece, horizontal, etc. When you stack a bunch of horizontal pieces together, the birds can't get their beaks around the individual pieces of wood, so they can't chew on them. Experiment and see what your bird likes the best and then look for those qualities when you are toy shopping. You will make your birds very happy!

When you are looking at bird toys in a store, how do you know what the wood is on them? Once you become familiar with parts, you should be able to tell fairly easily. And if you cannot, one of the biggest signs of unsafe wood on a toy is if it is red in color (the wood itself, not just colored wood). Typically, red woods contain toxic oils. You can also call the manufacturing company (phone numbers easily found online) of any toy and ask about the components. They will be able to tell you what each part is made from.

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To Sex Or Not To Sex
By Angel Savannah

A question we ask our vet clinic customers is "What sex is your bird?" It amazes me how many people do not know, including the owners of dimorphic birds! And then they ask why we need to know.

There are bodily functions related to the reproductive systems, which are completely different in males and females. For example, if your bird is sitting lethargically on the bottom of the cage, and you don't know that it is a female, it is possible that an egg binding diagnosis would be overlooked.

How do you know for sure the gender of your bird? First, I recommend researching to see if your bird is sexually dimorphic. If you can visually tell, you will know for sure. Mature Moustache Parakeets are dimorphic. The females have black beaks and the males have orange beaks. Eclectus are easily distinguished - the males are green birds and the females are red birds. Some birds are dimorphic when mature, but not as babies. Ringnecks, for example, will grow a beautifully colored series of rings around their necks if they are males, and a muted version of these as a female. (And the albino form of ringneck does not get a ring - neither males nor females.)

There are a lot of old wives' tales out there about how to tell some birds apart. They are really just that - old wives' tales! When you are accurate as often as when purely guessing, it's not much of a system.

How do you sex a bird? You can DNA sex them or surgically sex them.

DNA sexing involves snipping a toenail or pulling a blood feather and collecting a few drops of blood in a glass tube. You place the tube in a vial provided by the DNA company and mail it to them for analysis. It can take 2 or more weeks to get the DNA results. And, although they are more accurate today than they were even five years ago, this method is not 100% accurate. My family has 5 birds who were inaccurately DNA sexed.

Surgical sexing, or laparoscopic sexing, is performed by an experienced avian vet who will put the bird under anesthesia, make a tiny incision on the bird's side, and place the laparoscope inside the bird and look directly at the bird's reproductive organs. This is an accurate method as long as the bird is not malformed inside. Birds can be surgically sexed when they are fully feathered. They do not need to be mature. They do not even need to be weaned.

Cons: ANY surgery involves risk. Any time you put any pet under anesthesia, there is a risk that they may not come out of it. Likewise, if you cut a toenail too short and make it bleed, the bird could make it bleed after you attend to him/her. So there are risks both ways. Another con in DNA sexing is that it is not 100% accurate. It is also not instant, as surgical sexing results are.

Pros: When you DNA sex, you can also have birds tested for diseases. With surgical sexing, each bird owner can, if the vet is accommodating like mine, look inside your own bird and see their reproductive organs yourself! The male's organs look like kidney beans and the females ovaries look like cottage cheese! Also, when you see the reproductive organs, you know the results are accurate 100%.

Lesson learned: As recently as a week ago, my family attended a bird clinic. I brought a macaw that I acquired a few months ago and had been told it was a female. When the vet looked at her, he noted there were no tattoos, and wanted to know if I wanted her sexed. My Mom talked me into it for all of the same reasons that my vet clinic's clients should know for sure, and I am so glad she did. My "Shania" is a boy! So the lesson is: Unless you have a DNA certificate or a tattoo under the wings from surgical sexing, you do not know for sure!

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If We Are What We Eat, We Could Be In Trouble
By Lori M. Nelsen

In a recently released 2004 study, scientists compared the nutritional content in 43 common fruits and vegetables tracked by the USDA from 1950 to 1999. All of the produce studied showed significant (between 5 and 40%) declines in nutrition. The scientists selected foods that were included in the USDA's Nutrient Database in both 1950 and 1999. The nutrient data was carefully adjusted for factors such as differences in water content and dry matter before the analysis. The studied nutrients included ascorbic acid (vitamin C), riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, vitamin A, iron, phosphorus, calcium, carbohydrate, fat, protein, ash content (a reliable measure of major minerals), and fiber along with water content.

Changes shown in nutrients from foods grown in 1950 to those grown in 1999 include:
    ♥ A 38% decrease in riboflavin
    ♥ A 15% decrease in ascorbic acids
    ♥ A 16% decrease in calcium
    ♥ A 9% decrease in phosphorus
    ♥ A 15% decrease in iron
    ♥ A 6% decrease in protein content
    ♥ A slight increase (0.6%) in water content
There were no statistically significant differences in vitamin A, thiamin, niacin, fat, or carbohydrate content.

In similar studies, in the U. K. and Canada, the results were almost identical. The biggest loser was broccoli, having all seven of its measurable nutrients declined. The most noted was calcium, which fell 63 percent, and iron, which dropped 34 percent. Broccoli is often named as an excellent source of calcium and iron, but it is now questionable.

Evidently, the primary cause of the decline in nutrition is when plants are made to grow bigger and faster. This means they don't have time to absorb and draw as many nutrients from the sun or the soil.

In 2006, the USDA revised the food pyramid to nearly tripling the daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Chief scientist Charles Benbrook of The Organic Center says the food pyramid revision is directly related to the decline in the nutritional content of fresh food. Tim Lang, a professor at the Centre for Food Policy in London, England, states "We think of an orange as a constant, but the reality is, it isn't." In fact, you would have to eat eight oranges today to get the same amount of vitamin A your grandparents got from a single orange. And you would need to eat five to get the same level of iron. However, the amount of vitamin C has increased slightly. Dr. Lang said declining nutrient levels may prove to be a health issue because we are only beginning to understand how important micro nutrients are to disease prevention. "The argument that it doesn't matter because we overconsume is complacent... Nutrient density might also be important."

A different story is playing out with organic produce. "By avoiding synthetic fertilizers, organic farmers put more stress on plants, and when plants experience stress, they protect themselves by producing phytochemicals," explains Alyson Mitchell, PhD, a professor of nutrition science at the University of California, Davis. Her 10-year study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that organic tomatoes can have as much as 30 percent more phytochemicals than conventional ones.

How does this all relate to your avian and your human family? Some thoughts:
    ♥ You are not getting the nutrition you are paying for
    ♥ Organic may not be as expensive as you think
    ♥ Maybe a family garden would be both nutritious and economically smart
    ♥ The lack of nutrition in our food may be contributing to an increase in diseases.

References:
USDA Nutrient Database
Davis D, Epp M, Riordan H. Changes in USDA food composition data for 43 garden crops, 1950 to 1999
Charles Benbrook of The Organic Center
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

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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.

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FEATHERED FUNNIES

One day, a Cockatoo walks into an antique shop. The owner walks over and says to the Cockatoo: "Hello there, can I help you with anything?"
The Cockatoo points his wing at a chair and says to the shopkeeper: "What can you tell me about this chair?"
The shopkeeper smiles at the bird and launches into his best sales speech: "I must say, you've got an eye for exceptional furniture. This chair is executed in the Louis XIV style, we estimate the manufacturing date to be around 1880 and the fantastic patina of the wood shows that it's been exceptionally well cared for..."
The Cockatoo interrupts the sales pitch and says..."Yes, yes, that is all well and good, but what I really wanted to know is -- how does it taste?"

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Rikki Sez

Rikki will try and answer frequently asked questions here.

Rikki, Why is my Mom mad at me? She won't talk to me and says she is giving me a time out. I don't even know what a "time out" is. I didn't want to step up on her finger. I wanted to take a nap. So I bit her. Now she is mad at me. What did I do and what is a time out?
Signed, Confused and sleepy in my happy hut

Dear Confused, Your Mommy loves you very much. Sometimes parronts forget to respect and understand body language that most birds display. A time out is sometimes given to let the situation calm down. It gives both of you a chance to get past what behavior has occurred. I'm sure your parronts will be back to your cage soon to give you lots of hugs and kisses and a treat that says, "I love you best."

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Rikki, I love my parront so much that I regurgitate my seeds to give them to her. My parront always says "YUCK! I don't want that." Why doesn't my parront want my gift? Doesn't my parront love me back?
Signed, Head over heels in love

Dear In Love, Your parront knows that this is your way of showing them how much you love them. But humans sometimes can't help but give that "yuck" reaction. Humans are kind of funny that way. I'm sure they do love you. Humans just don't know how to appreciate our way of showing our great love. Hopefully, they will soon appreciate your gift of love and not have this reaction. In the meantime, don't take it personally or parrotally! It's just their automatic humnan reaction and sometimes they say things without thinking.

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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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Let's Party...
By Jan Lewis

Are you and your birds ready for a party? Planning ahead for any party is required, but even more so when you have birds. Parties are great fun with lots of great food and things to drink. Unfortunately most party foods/drinks are not safe for our feathered friends. Here are a few tips to help you and your birds have a happy & safe party:

Before party considerations:
Decorations: Check for safety with your birds. Your birds may be attracted to the shiny decorations, or they may be frightened of all of the decorations such as balloons.

Foods: Will guests be around your birds with their food/drink? Many people do not think anything of "feeding" other people's "pets." Also, it may be difficult for some of the guests to ignore your bird asking for some of what they are eating. So keep in mind bird safe foods while making your preparations. Guacamole is a favorite dip for parties but it is not safe for our birds because it is made from avocados. Chocolate is also deadly to our companion birds. Potato chips and other foods contain salt which our birds do not need (It is already in the pellets in the proper amount for their nutritional needs.). So research and be sure that the foods you will be serving your guests will be safe should they feed some to your birds. For more information on safe/toxic foods go to:
http://qp-society.com/RAPPmain/RAPPmaintext/safetoxfoods.html.

Hot Dishes: Will you be using crock pots, warming trays, hot coffee makers, or fondue pots? They are hazards for loose birds.

Drinks and cups: Most party drinks are not safe for birds even the non-alcoholic drinks are not good for our birds. Alcohol, even in small amounts, can harm a bird's delicate body. They are small with little body fat so just a small amount of alcohol is bad for them. You cannot judge how much is too much alcohol for a bird and they can easily die from alcohol toxicity. Even carbonated drinks are bad for our birds as their bodies are not designed to process the gas produced in the body by the carbonation. Coffee and cocoa contain theobromine which is toxic to our birds as well. Don't forget the hazards of the drink cups. A friend, home alone with her bird, had a glass of water she was drinking. She went to answer the phone leaving her glass of water on the table. Her cockatiel seeing the glass of water decided she wanted a drink and slipped into the glass and could not get out.

Birds:
    ♥ I personally prefer my birds to be in a room that is off-limits to guests. Even though people mean the best, they will often offer unsafe foods or drinks or even insist on sticking their fingers in the birds' cages, and sometimes just being too close to the cage can scare some birds. Also, some friends are still smokers so I like to make sure they KNOW smoking in my house is OFF-LIMITS around me and my birds. Smoke from cigarettes is not only hazardous to the smoker's health, but second hand smoke is hazardous to children and especially to our birds.

Depending on the party guests, I may bring my birds out one at a time to introduce them to my friends. While my bird is out meeting and greeting my guests, I keep hold of the bird and watch for any signs that the bird is uncomfortable or getting overexcited. This way I have control over the bird and the situation as best I can while the bird is out.

    ♥ If you can't have a separate off-limits room for the birds or you really want your birds to be a part of your party, I suggest that they be in cages for their safety for several reasons. A loose bird can easily fly or flutter to the floor where guests are busy eating, drinking and chatting, and they may accidentally step on the bird. Also, should they fly into or onto a hot crock pot or other warming cookware, it could result in burns or other injuries. The bird may get on a couch, chair, or other piece of furniture where guests do not notice and be injured or killed. Recently, a friend had her bird out while she was busy. She sat down and did not notice anything until she got up. She had accidentally sat on her beloved companion bird. It still breaks my heart to think about it. There was no party, but with so many people around partying and not paying attention it would be very easy for something like that to happen.

    ♥ Also, if your birds are going to be caged and around the party I suggest that you keep them as far away as possible from the food and drinks tables. Put healthy treats for your birds in party bowls around their cages and tell everyone that those treats are for the birds and should they want to give the birds a treat, they should give them one of the birdy treats and not share their party food or drink.

After Party considerations/Clean-up:
Ovens: Please be aware that most newer ovens have a self-cleaning setting. This self-cleaning is done using very high heat which causes the food to be released from the non-stick coating that is used to provide the self-cleaning. When the high heat reacts with the non-stick coating during the self-clean cycle, it releases toxic fumes which have been known to kill birds. "A paste of baking soda & water, painted in the oven and on oven racks, works as an alternative to store bought oven cleaners. The paste can be left on in a cool oven before it is wiped away." Quoted from Quaker Parakeet Society.

Be sure all hazards are cleaned up and disposed of immediately after the party. Cigarettes and their ashes are still a danger to our birds. I had a bird that loved to grab cigarettes and carry them around. It was funny but it could have resulted in serious consequences. So make sure you dispose of them as soon as possible. Make sure that all drinking glasses are emptied and away so that a loose bird does not get to it to either drink the contents or fall into the glass. Do not leave dishes in a sink soaking over night as once again should a bird get out it could get into the dish water and drown. These are just a few of the possible hazards so please think and research to make sure you have a safe as well as fun party for all.

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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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