If you let your bird spend a lot of time outside of its cage, like I do with my goffins cockatoo, Boo, you will need a few things to keep your sanity. I use the term “free range cockatoo” because Boo spends most of his time outside of the cage and is practically a “house bird” (except that he enters his cage when I am away for an extended period of time or when he is in his cage. sleeping cage at bedtime). The phrase also makes me LOL. The items on my list seem to fall into the categories of home cleaning and maintenance.
Here are some products that I own and use, or wish I had:
- A good vacuum cleaner, for carpeted areas. Right now, I am using a Eureka that clogs every five minutes. Somehow it gets the job done. I’m thinking the Hoover F5918-900 SteamVac Spinscrub Pet is going to be my next purchase, although Dyson is without a doubt the leader in pet vacuum cleaners. In the past, I was very lucky with a shop vacuum, but they are pretty ugly … and if you’re anything like me, then you don’t want to put the vacuum down because you’re only going to use it. again in a few hours.
- A good floor cleaner, not carpets! I only use a regular $ 10 mop from Walmart with a scrubbed thing.
- When it comes to cleaners, it’s important that they’re non-toxic, especially if your bird is likely to put its mouth where you cleaned (unless you’re deep cleaning and scrubbing the most intact corners of your home, and even then, it’s Prevention is better than cure). I’m a huge fan of Poop Off, especially the one with the nifty brush top. I find it works great on carpets and floors, and the brush cap bottle is always out in case of a quick clean, which was needed roughly every 20 minutes until Boo decided to potty-train.
- Pet digging! Boo is afraid of random inanimate objects, so placing a “scare Boo” where I don’t want him to chew always works … for at least 20 minutes. Boo is quite stubborn and quickly realizes that NOTHING in the house will eat or hurt him (the downside of raising him so well) so this doesn’t work that well. The best way to avoid damage to my home is to not have what I don’t want to chew out of reach. This was VERY difficult to do when he was a baby going through his cord chewing stage, and that was one of the rare misbehaviors that I actively punished him for (as he could die if he found a live wire). Unfortunately I made the mistake of punishing him with a spray bottle and to this day he hates being fogged / sprayed (but at least he learned pretty quick not to chew on my electronic wires!). I haven’t found a commercially available parrot deterrent that works yet, but I just found Bitter Apple for Birds and am going to give it a try. Pepper solutions don’t work and do the opposite of making you chew MORE, because you love spicy flavors. Oh, and the aluminum foil worked for about a day, until he discovered that he could find the tasty door frame by ripping it off.
- Newspaper. I put this under where Boo likes to sit a lot. It’s free, if you get the local community newspapers in the cafeteria. If you’re concerned that the newspaper on the floor might look like your house is a bird cage, use clear plastic (to make it look like you’re one of those weird people who keeps everything preserved) or carpet scraps (which can look white trash, so especially do not use it if you are in a mobile home). It seems to me that putting old bills and mail where Boo likes to poop may seem like they are “accidentally” there (which gives the impression that I am atotalsluggard). Unfortunately, there is no cosmetically pleasing solution to bird poop.
- A Parrot Playstand is essential. Currently, I am using a pendant that I cut from a wire curtain hanger, a rope hanger, and a rope swing. After being scared of the wire hanger for an entire day, Boo decided it was the place to perch, and now he sits in the most uncomfortable spot and chews on the bumps on my textured ceiling. Hanging stands are NOT recommended for aggressive or fearful birds. I’m really dying for a Manzanita activity tree. Being able to carry the play stand around the house is almost a necessity and will help control the screaming, the amount of poop you have to clean up, and the destruction your domestic bird can cause. Of course, it is important to train your bird to stay in the game stall, otherwise it will have wasted a lot of time and possibly money. What has worked for me and Boo: Make it the ONLY place you give your bird “yummies” (except his cage), and give your bird a LOT of attention when playing on the play stand. Having a game stand, even an extra cool and expensive one, is no excuse for paying less attention to your bird; it is only a preventive measure of destruction of homes.
- Things that are “OK” for your bird to destroy, possibly disguised as household items. Commercially available bird toys are great, but can be expensive to replace. Parrots are supposed to destroy toys, and it’s just as good for your sanity as crossword puzzles are for people, so don’t complain about the price! If you noticed the toilet paper roll on Boo’s hanging hanger … it’s a very cheap fun toy. Boo also likes cat balls and take-home paper boxes with treats inside. Anything that is fun to pierce or grind food is usually a hit around my house. One of Boo’s pet store favorite toys is a parrot piñata – he loves to chew on this relatively affordable toy!
- Treats are essential too, especially if you want your bird to stay at its play stand or not chew on other things in your home. Boo loves pasta, pizza, and eggs. I’m something of a health freak, which is why I often eat from my bowl of soy milk and whole grains. Since the vet recently reprimanded me for having him on a 70% parrot diet (for good reason, as there has been a ton of recent research on the dietary needs of parrots and cockatoos), I have been buying more than their yummies. from the pet section instead of the human section. Lafebers’ Avi-Cakes for Parrots are Boo’s all-time favorites, and they’re good to stash in paper towel tubes and elsewhere to encourage foraging and keep him entertained. Treats are also often doubled as toys.
- … that’s it, as for the actual products I use or want to use with my goffins cockatoo! The last essential to having a house bird is bonding with your companion and giving it a lot of attention so that it thinks that you are the guru in what is fun and popular. Taking the time to redirect destructive behavior to more acceptable objects is a must, as is convincing your bird that their toys and treats are MUCH cooler than the boring pens, computers, and electronics you have elsewhere in the house.