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What Wood is Safe for Birds

Birds love to chew on wood – everything from door frames to actual toys… but what wood is safe for birds to chew on? Below are some bird-safe woods commonly used in perches and toys. These woods are generally listed below by genus/group from softest to hardest but there can also be differences in hardness depending on the species:

  • Yucca
  • Balsa
  • Basswood
  • Cottonwood
  • Willow
  • Poplar
  • Pine (watch out for sap!)
  • Douglas fir
  • Birch
  • Elm
  • Ash
  • Maple
  • Dragonwood
  • Manzanita
  • Java
  • Ribbonwood
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New! Natural Bird Toy Subscription Boxes

Tired of the same old bird subscription boxes? At parrotJOY, we don’t simply reinvent the wheel… we listen to what YOU want and design innovative parrot enrichment. So, we have finally released parrotJOY natural bird toy subscription boxes. We are bringing you great subscription boxes for birds, that don’t simply reinvent the wheel. Each box is curated with toys that provide a NEW type of subscription box offering:

  1. Mixed Flock Natural Toy Subscription Box
  2. Subscription Box for Timid Birds
  3. Foot Toy Subscription Box for Birds

Try it for 1 month, or subscribe and save!

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How to Prevent a Bird’s Beak from Becoming Overgrown

Is your bird’s beak overgrown? A beak trim is a serious procedure that is far too often looked at in the same light as a nail trim. However, if a beak is trimmed too short, it will cause the bird pain, will bleed, and may make it difficult or impossible for a bird to eat. Furthermore, beaks shaped improperly or trimmed to the wrong length can cause jaw malalignment and problems that can persist or exacerbate as the beak grows back. But, don’t fret! For the majority of pet birds, beak trimming should never be needed. Here we discuss the beak growth process and how to prevent a bird’s beak from becoming overgrown.

Photo credit: Del Mar Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Nieve’s patient (Coco) before and after he trimmed her beak.

How does a beak grow?

A parrot’s beak grows from the base growth plate in layers. As it grows, it flakes off at the tip with regular chewing. The beak is constantly growing from both the back and below. Since the beak is continually growing, flaking is normal with visible layers of keratin. In nature, parrots constantly use their beaks for climbing, foraging (breaking open fruits and seeds), and excavating cavities for nesting. In our homes, chew toys and foraging toys must take the place of what the birds would find in nature. So, toys are absolutely essential to the critical beak-wear process. The abrasion from destructible toys shapes and trims the beak with each bite.

What causes an overgrown beak in parrots?

One reason why your bird’s beak is overgrown may have to do with diet. The upper beak or lower beak can grow too long, and/or abnormally. The upper beak overgrows far more often than the lower beak. In fact, some flaking is normal and expected, but too much dryness or brittleness indicate a metabolic problem such as fatty liver disease. According to the Animal House of Chicago veterinary center for birds and exotic pets, an overgrown beak can be an early sign of fatty liver disease… and one of the few outward signals that there may be nutritional issues. As a result, it is important to talk with your vet about what diet is appropriate for your bird.

Finally, there may be underlying causes for an overgrown beak that are not related to diet or toy access. According to the Del Mar Vet Hospital of St. Augustine, Florida, in addition to nutritional imbalances, an overgrown beak can be the result of health problems including trauma, developmental abnormalities, or polyomavirus-like infections. “Beak trimming is not necessary in birds unless the beak is overgrown due to underlying health problems or malocclusion,” states Greg Harrison, DVM, Dipl ABVP-Avian, Dipl ECAMS in Clinical Avian Medicine, Volume I, pg14. Therefore, you should talk to your avian vet about what might be the root cause of your specific bird’s beak overgrowth.

How can I prevent my bird’s beak from overgrowing?

But, don’t lose hope! Talk to your vet to identify what you can do to prevent your bird’s beak from overgrowing. Always provide plenty of natural beak-conditioning toys that your bird can chip away at. Experiment and find a wood block thickness that is satisfying to your bird. Bird toys with mahogany pods are great for exercising smaller beaks. And in the process of play, these fun toys are also chipping away at your bird’s beak and helping to prevent stressful beak trims.

Sources:

https://www.animalhouseofchicago.com/news/birds-fatty-liver

https://www.parrots.org/ask-an-expert/cracking-beak-and-avian-nutrition

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What is the best pellet for my bird’s diet?

When choosing a pellet diet for your bird, please realize some pellets are “complete” and others are “incomplete.” Usually the incomplete pellets lack vitamin D3 (which cannot be found in any naturally-occurring food thus providing fruits/veggies does not fill in the gaps).

Incomplete pellets often have recognizable ingredients lists that make us feel better about what we are feeding our birds. Incomplete pellets rarely mention this in their advertising… So, if you choose one of these pellets, just realize that you must supplement your bird’s diet daily (usually with DAILY natural sunlight or a lamp to provide D3, but check with your avian vet to confirm what vitamins/minerals are lacking in your specific incomplete pellet). Examples of incomplete pellets include TOPS.

Complete pellets provide a base foundation all essential vitamins and minerals. While it is still healthy to provide fresh veggies and natural sunlight on a complete pellet diet, you don’t have to stress if you miss a few days. The ingredients list of complete pellets is often less wholesome-looking with difficult to pronounce ingredients, in order to provide the full vitamin/mineral profile. Examples of complete pellets are Roudybush and Harrison’s.

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Featured Toy Designer: Dani Flanary

parrot toy builder

Dani is one of our long-time toy builders, having put her personal touch on hundreds of parrotJOY bird toys. Dani came to parrotJOY with her own special art – paper origami – and we have been looking for a way to highlight her talent ever since! Although she does not have bird herself, she has learned what it takes to make a safe, exciting parrot toy. Combined with passion for origami, Dani designed and built the Origami Forager natural foraging toy!

When not crafting, you can find Dani out wandering in nature. She loves living in a state that allows her to travel from ocean to mountain in a matter of hours. As a fan of all forms of art, it is paper crafts, in particular, that she really enjoys creating and is very excited to be given this opportunity to showcase some of her work alongside ParrotJOY toys.

We are so lucky to have Dani and many talented artists working with us at parrotJOY! You are always going to see fresh, one-of-a-kind designs originating from parrotJOY. We hope to feature more of our toy builders in the future!

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parrotJOY Trivia Night Recap

parrot trivia night

The October 23rd parrotJOY trivia night was a great success! We had a total of ten participants and raised $200 for All Parrot Rescue in Graham, Washington. During this online trivia night, we used Zoom to unite parrot lovers from all over the country to answer wacky parrot trivia questions with topics including: biology, pop culture, geography, history, and more!

Trivia night was hosted by Ram Papish, wildlife illustrator and parrotJOY. The contestants were challenged with 35 unique and creative parrot related questions, and everyone rose to the occasion.

Our overall trivia night winner was Lauren L., followed by Karen G. in second, and a team of Elizabeth and Zai S. in third. The raffle winners were Kate I. and Elizabeth and Zai. The raffle winners will receive prizes. Kate will receive a custom bird profile logo and Elizabeth and Zai will have three parrotJOY toys shipped their way!

Thank you to everyone that made the parrotJOY trivia night a success!

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Top 5 Parrot Toys for Holiday Gifts

Are you looking for the best Christmas/Hanukkah/Holiday gift for a parrot lover? How about a gift for the parrot owner in your life who already has everything? Here are our top 5 choices of unique parrot gifts for this coming holiday season.

natural parrot foot toys

1. Glass Jar of Foot Toys: This toy is the gift that keeps giving the whole year! For the holidays, our stylish glass jar comes wrapped with a green paper ribbon (parrot-safe, of course!) and filled with many unique natural materials that will provide you parrot with hours of entertainment! A great accent piece for the end table that keeps your parrot’s favorite natural foot toys at arm’s reach. This decorative glass jar is the perfect place to store your parrot’s favorite foot toys.

toy box with parrot toys

2. Parrot Toy Box: This new parrotJOY item is packed with an assortment of natural foot toys, and the natural wood toy box can be used again and again! Foot toys might include cholla wood, loofah, yucca chunks, mahogany pods, pinecones, banana leaf balls, sola balls, and more! Our natural wood toy box has no stain or finish on it – just good old fashion wood! It’s assembled with stainless steel hardware screws and mounting hardware without glue! This allows your bird to safely chew on the box, also! The mounting hardware allows you to affix the box to the side of the cage, or you can easily remove the hardware to sit the box in your bird’s play area. This gorgeous, handmade toy box with its festive all-natural toys is pretty enough to sit on an end table in the living room for the holiday season! The box measures approximately 9″ long x 5″ deep x 3.5″ tall. An awesome gift for parrot lovers!

the best foraging toys for parrots

3. Stainless Steel Baffle Foraging Cage:Our stainless steel baffle cage is perfect for foraging. The top screws off to easily fill it with holiday goodies for your parrot. This is a fantastic toy to encourage your bird to try new foods. Our baffle cage comes pre-filled with the parrotJOY signature shred, ready to hang as a toy. Feel free to stuff nuts or seeds into the shred and your bird will have to forage to get them out! 

parrot toy necklace

4. Corky Parrot Necklace:Does the parrot lover in your life want some bling this holiday season? This parrot-friendly necklace is the perfect jewelry gift for the holidays. Sola, unfinished wood, natural cork (not agglomerated), and mahogany pod slices strung on parrot-safe soft hemp cord. Truly stylish entertainment as your parrot rides on your shoulder. Tie it shut at your preferred length with a bow, or tie a permanent knot and slip it on and off over your head – we left plenty of tails for you to size it to suit your outfit.

platform for arthritic bird

5. Perch-N-Play Platform: Our Perch-N-Play Platform is a perching ledge and crunchable toy all in one! A live-edge platform adorned with every bird’s favorite… mahogany pods, twig shreds, and mahogany carpels. The basswood ledge is a lightweight wood similar to balsa, with a bit more durability and less prone to warping. A great platform for birds with arthritis and foot conditions, to offer an alternative perching option! Approximately 5″ deep by 12″ long x 1″ thick (some natural variation). Stainless steel mounting hardware is included.

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adult synchronized skating

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Is Cork Safe for Parrots?

is cork safe for parrots

We are often asked, “Is cork safe for birds?” At parrotJOY, we love natural cork because cork is at the top of the list among safe sustainable, eco-friendly parrot toy materials. The cork trees are never cut down – and harvesting the cork is actually good for the trees and the environment.

However, I have learned that many people have strong misconceptions about cork. I get questions like,  “Isn’t there glue in cork?”, “Aren’t cork trees endangered?”, “Isn’t there a cork shortage?” and “Doesn’t harvesting cork kill trees?” Let’s take a look at these questions and answers…

is cork safe for parrots
parrotJOY cork beads are punched from natural cork bark. No glue – ever!

(1) Is cork safe for parrots? Is there glue in cork?

Just like in the world of wood, there can be glue in cork products. If you are building a desk, let’s say, you can buy a piece of wood that was milled (cut) directly from the tree. For example, your standard 2 x 4 at Home Depot contains nothing but pure tree. However, you can also buy particle board, plywood, or Medium-density fiberboard (MDF), which are not pure wood and instead are compressed panels created from gluing together small sawdust or thin sheets of wood. The sawdust is mixed with an adhesive. Under high heat and intense pressure, the panels become rigid with a hard shell. 

Cork can be made similarly and this is called agglomerated cork. Agglomerated corks contain synthetic binding agents, which although food-safe and frequently used for wine stoppers, we do not use in parrotJOY parrot toys. We use only natural cork.

The two cork stoppers on the left are agglomerated (glued) stoppers while the cork on the far right is a solid piece of natural cork.

You can pretty easily spot the agglomerated cork stoppers (the two on the left) vs. the natural cork which is clearly a solid piece.

(2) Is there a cork shortage?

Cork is a fully sustainable and renewable natural resource, unlike other types of products sourced from trees. Living up to 300 years, the cork oak is the gift that keeps on giving; its bark is harvested without causing damage to the tree, and grows back to be harvested again after nine years. So, while demand for cork bark products can temporarily outstrip supply, it will not lead to a shortage of cork.

In fact, such a situation can only lead to an increase in cork, as more cork oak trees are planted and harvested to meet demand.

Harvesting cork bark does not kill the tree. The tree regrows the bark, making it a great sustainable product!

(3) Does harvesting cork kill the tree?

Cork is harvested on a sustainable basis and the stripping of the bark does not harm the tree in any way. The bark grows back completely, taking on a smoother texture after each harvest. A cork oak tree can be safely harvested up to 20 times during its life cycle, making cork a truly inexhaustible natural resource.

Portugal, which produces more than 50% of the world’s cork, has been particularly careful to safeguard this valuable resource. The first Portuguese laws protecting cork oak trees date back to the 14th century. Then, in the beginning of the 20th century, it became illegal to cut down cork oak trees, except for essential thinning or the removal of old, non-productive trees.

Harvesting cork, not only doesn’t harm the tree, it’s actually good for the trees. Stripping a cork oak of its bark also enhances its ability to absorb carbon dioxide; the seven million acres of cork forest around the Mediterranean offset 20 million tons of CO2 each year.

The cork forests of Portugal, the world’s leading supplier of cork, feature some of the greatest biodiversity in the world. According to the World Wildlife Fund, these forests contain the highest levels of plant diversity found anywhere in the world—reaching levels of 135 species per square meter—while also providing a habitat for endangered animal species like the Iberian lynx and Barbary deer.

Demand for cork products, especially wine stoppers, helps preserve the cork forests, which would otherwise be neglected or replaced with non-native trees.