Of all the things I have ever done with my parrots, introducing them to my son was one of the most exciting. In many ways, this introduction was the culmination of years of socialization and training. It brought together skills that they were taught, many times not knowing the end purpose, to accomplish a wonderful outcome.
My boy Steven was born in October of 2020, but it wasn't until January of 2021 that he first encountered my parrots.
As always, I need to remind that parrots are wild animals. They are smart, free willed, flighty, and at times bitey. It is important to be careful between people and parrots, but much more so when it involved a baby. The damage a beak can do to an infant is just too great. Knowing this, Marianna and I deliberately delayed the first introduction.
At first, the baby was just too small and delicate to even consider it. Not only is it about preventing a bite, but it is also best not to take any chances with any kind of infection. Normally we test for and consider zoonotic diseases such as Psittacosis. That is an illness that can even affect an adult. However, there is always the possibility of the birds carrying some kind of bacteria, parasites, mites, or fungus that we are not even aware of. For a immune restricted baby, that can be overwhelming. For this reason, we wanted to keep the baby and birds apart for a few months to give him a chance to be exposed to more usual germs first.
Even at 2 months old, there did not appear to be any value for that baby's sake to meet the parrots. We could tell he could hear and see, but at the same time he would stare blankly. It was hard to tell how much he was really taking in. However, at 2.5 months old, suddenly things changed. In the span of just a few days he started following objects with his eyes, reacting, smiling, and showing interest in toys. With this new found awareness, a baby-bird introduction would be not only beneficial for the parrots but for the baby as well.
Steven has been exposed to birds his entire existence. While in mommy's tummy, he got to hear parrot sounds while she was cleaning cages. From the day he came home, Steven would wake up every day to the painting of our parrots expecting a baby. Steven slept under a wall mural of a tree with songbirds chirping in the canopy. He had numerous owl toys in his room that he would see and we would read stories about birds and Owls to him. All these bird related experiences prepared Steven for the day that he would finally get to see a real live bird up close and personal! And that day has come.
Some precautions were taken when introducing the birds. We took care to make sure a bird could not fly at and attack the baby, but mostly the concern was to make sure the birds have a favorable impression. The best way to prevent making a bad impression accidentally is to make a good one deliberately. Since the birds will be living with this new family member for many years to come, a good first impression would be the start to a lifelong friendship.
We had Marianna bottle feed Steven while I brought out Rachel the Blue and Gold Macaw. We had the birds out just one at a time in order to have the best control over the bird and the situation. By having one parent attending to the baby and one to the bird, ensured that each person could watch and make things good. Also, as a worst case scenario, the bird would have to get past two people if it somehow became possessed and tried to fly at the baby to attack. Ensuring the baby's safety is still paramount.
I carried Rachel straight to her prepared Training Perch using my body to block her view of Steven. I wanted to start her far away with little view and gradually work our way closer and to slowly increase her visibility. It worked out well. Rachel was focused on me, earning treats for targeting. Meanwhile Steven was focused on mommy and feeding. Little by little, I revealed the baby more to Rachel by standing less in the way. While allowing her to see the baby, I diverted her focus to targeting so that she could earn treats for inadvertently leaving the baby alone.
Now I had virtually no concern about Rachel attacking the baby. Although she is my biggest parrot and could do the most harm, this Macaw is a big chicken! Rachel was far more likely to get scared of the baby and try to fly away than to deliberately attack. Theoretically if I were to stick the baby right up to Rachel suddenly, all bets are off. However, she is not the kind of bird that would seek out a fight. But, since Rachel is known to be timid, it was important for Rachel's sake to make sure that she had a very peaceful and rewarding introduction to the baby. We worked our way closer and closer. Eventually Steven finished his milk and was gazing at the big blue bird with amazement. With everything calm, I was able to bring Rachel really close. Just never close enough to touch. The introduction went splendidly and both Steven and Rachel enjoyed.
Rachel earned the best and tastiest treats she had in a long time simply by demonstrating "good behavior" rather than getting worked up over the baby. Using the Training Perch technique, I was able to ensure that the macaw was never overwhelmed and that it was easy for her to be successful. After the uneventful meeting, Rachel went away and Marianna and I switched roles. I held Steven while she brought out Truman the Cape Parrot.
We expected Truman to be the easiest. Not just because he is unable to fly, but also because he's the most easy going of the birds. However, he has been known to hold grudges so it was still important to avoid getting off on the wrong foot with him. Instead of targeting, Marianna focused on doing cued talking with Truman. Truman is more of a talker and personality bird so this appealed most to him. The goal was the same as with Rachel, get the bird distracted doing something it loves so that the bird can be rewarded for not misbehaving around the baby.
It wasn't just attacking the baby we were trying to prevent. We really just wanted to avoid the birds having any sort of unpleasant feelings toward the child. Whether getting defensive or just giving a stink eye, it was best avoided. By eliciting positive responses through training and treats, it was easy to get the birds feeling happy in the presence of someone they had not met before.
Not only did Truman do great, Steven did too. Steven showed a lot of interest in the birds. He followed them with his eyes and got really smiley. At one moment, Steven let out a laugh and Truman responded by laughing as well! The first mutual communication between baby and parrot! Success!
I saved Kili for last because she had potential to be the most trouble. We figured it is best to see how it goes with Truman and Rachel who would not deliberately attack before introducing Kili. Kili is a super smart, super trained, super well-behaved bird. However, being a Senegal she also has a sinister side deep within. Through years of bonding and training we have it largely hidden away. However, if left unchecked it could still rear it's ugly head. Senegal Parrots are notoriously one-person-birds. That is where they bond strongly to one person and then terrorize everybody else. Through years of socialization, I have kept this under control. In fact, I got Kili to accept Marianna right from the beginning. But, knowing that this potential still exists, it was most important to make sure it does not apply to the baby!
I brought Kili out and just like with Rachel started her out on the Training Perch. After a little targeting we switched to tricks because Kili gets really focused during trick training. Being a smaller/lighter bird, Kili is also the most flighty. It was important to keep her focused so that she would not fly and scare the baby or worse yet fly at the baby. I kept her attention on me the entire time and slowly worked our way closer. I made Kili understand how she should behave around the baby and she quickly caught on. It did not take long for her to get happy performing tricks around baby Steven.
The introduction could not have gone better. All 3 parrots were in a good mood, cooperative, and calm. Steven was curious and involved. Nobody good hurt, scared, spooked, or upset. Just great all around. Could things have gone as well without any deliberate training and effort during the introduction? Maybe. But, it was not worth finding out that perhaps things would not have went well if we did not set up the introduction for success. Saving half an hour to make a spontaneous/uncontrolled introduction would simply not be worth potentially setting a bad first impression for the baby or birds for a relationship that will last for years to come! Playing it safe is the way to go.
Keep in mind that the 30 minutes spent on the introduction were just the icing on the cake. These parrots have been trained for years to develop basic training skills, socialize with people, and have the basis for being successfully introduced to a new family member. You can't just overnight decide that you want to introduce a wild biting parrot with no training background to a baby. Take the time to learn and apply parrot training to your parrotnow so that when you experience life changes, your bird will have the skills to adapt to what is yet to come!
Having parrots as pets is challenging. Having pet parrots while expecting a baby takes things to another level. This article is about being pregnant with parrots or while expecting a baby as well as tips and personal stories from my experience.
Hopefully this article and videos will help answer questions like is it ok to get a parrot while pregnant or having a baby? Should I rehome my parrots because I am having a baby? What can I do to make it easier to keep my parrot while having a baby? And how to prepare parrots for challenging times?
Parrots can be wonderful pets, but they can also be quite a handful at times. During pregnancy, it may be difficult or impossible to provide them with the same amount of attention as usual. The first thing I want to point out is that this is totally normal. This happens for most people. Do not feel guilty if you are overwhelmed with being pregnant or having a baby and cannot give your parrot as much attention as before. Here are my top 6 suggestions to help get through pregnancy, having a baby born, or even just going through a personally challenging time while having parrots as pets.
1) Do not get a parrot while pregnant. It is not unusual that people fall in love with a parrot and feel compelled to bring it home while pregnant or expecting a baby. A combination of hormones, expectations, and possibly additional time on their hands (while taking leave from work) may create a drive to want to take care of someone or something.
Seeing a baby parrot at a store or even an adult bird at a rescue could pull on your heart strings more than ever. However, it is very important to resist this temptation. I would argue that this is about the worst time to be bringing in a new parrot into your home whether it is your first or an additional one.
Things change rapidly during pregnancy. One moment you may feel good and have plenty of time on your hands and another moment you may even have a hard time taking care of yourself. The added stress and challenge of a new pet may not be ideal during such quickly changing times. However, this is even more so with parrots. Parrots are wild animals and require extensive training and bonding to come around as good pets. The first year you spend with them will greatly shape their place in your heart and in your home. During pregnancy and after having a baby, you will be unlikely to have the time to really get to know this new pet and teach it how to behave properly as a pet in your home. It is best to leave the introduction of a new pet parrot to either well before or well after the pregnancy and baby stages.
While having pet parrots can be difficult while pregnant, it also has its up sides. Enjoying your familiar, well-behaved, trained, loving parrots can also help cope with difficulties of being pregnant as well. Here's Marianna's story:
2) Keep the bird(s) you already have. Although I would strongly discourage anyone from getting started with a new parrot while pregnant, this does not mean you should get rid of the one(s) you have. Parrots live for a very long time and it is inevitable that in any home they will experience challenging times. The pregnant stage only lasts 9 months and even during those 9 months there will be less chaotic and nearly normal periods. After the baby is born, things may be super hectic for a while, but even then things will eventually settle. There's always daycare or preschool when you may find plenty of time for your feathered family all over again.
If you are entirely unable to cope with having a pet parrot, unable to provide the most basic care, then of course by all means find the bird a new home that can. However, do not feel guilty if you cannot spend as much time with the bird as you did in the past. Don't think that rehoming the bird just because you temporarily cannot be as involved is a good idea. Inevitably any household can run into busy times. Someone else might fall ill, move out to college, have children of their own, move for a job, or have their own busy life changes just the same. Parrots do not need a full time home-attendant, they need a loving/understanding home.
Make sure your parrot's basic needs are met and use the following tips to help make the time you are unable to provide the usual amount of attention go more smoothly.
3) Get an Avian Vet check in advance. It is important to have your parrot checked out by an Avian Veterinarian before having a baby for two reasons. First off, you want to make sure your bird is in good health or address any health concerns before things become too hectic. Secondly, you should get the bird checked for any zoonotic diseases that may impact you or your baby's health. Zoonotic illnesses are those which can be transmitted from animal to human.
Mainly you should have your parrot tested for psittacosis as it can be quite dangerous to babies or even pregnant mothers. However, there can be a few other things birds can carry so consult your vet if there is any suspicion.
4) Train your parrot ahead of time. Don't wait until you are eight and a half month's pregnant to realize that the parrot bites and does not go back into the cage! Solve behavioral problems and train your parrot up front. Ideally, do the training before even becoming pregnant. If you aren't even expecting a baby any time soon, still do the training now! Having a trained parrot makes you so much more ready to tackle any life challenge and manage your bird while overcoming it.
Make sure your parrot is reliably trained to step up, come out of the cage, and go back into the cage at minimum. Better yet, teach the parrot tricks and flight recall so that the bird is well exercised and good at learning new things. You can learn my complete approach to parrot training from my book, The Parrot Wizard's Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots.
Even if you are already well into your pregnancy, work on some parrot training at any chance you can find. Things will only get harder once the baby is born. So, having a developed routine and basic behavior will make caring for that parrot so much simpler while caring for an infant.
Practice spending varying degrees of time with your parrot from early on. Don't spoil your parrot with more attention than you can typically give. On the other hand, occasionally practice giving a minimal amount of attention while teaching your bird to cope and stay independently busy. My birds have had plenty of practice throughout their lives whether it was because I left them (with someone to feed them) to go on a vacation or even while going through short stressful times. Sometimes you will spend lots of time with your parrot and sometimes very little. As long as they are adapted and familiar with this gradually throughout their lives, parrots can cope just fine.
5) Simplify your parrot care and feeding as much as possible. Don't make things unnecessarily difficult on yourself by holding parrot care to the highest standards. Pregnancy won't last that long and soon enough things will go back to normal. But, in order to get through the challenging times and not feel like giving up, simplify the parrot care as much as you can.
Cut out complexity in the bird's diet. This is not the time to be cooking for the bird and making elaborate meals. You can save a lot of time and difficulty by putting the bird on a simple commercial diet such as pellets or even a seed diet of need be. You can always go back to a more elaborate diet when time allows, but a short time on a simple diet won't harm your bird.
Get precut cage papers that are sold to fit your cage. These may be expensive but save you a lot of time. Just stack a bunch of sheets and pull the top sheet every few days as needed. Take advantage of all time saving parrot supplies and keep things as simple as possible. It is better to coast through challenging times and still have your parrot when things brighten up than to become overwhelmed and feel the need to rehome your bird.
I can say from personal experience that my wife Marianna had varying levels of difficulty throughout the pregnancy. Some months she wanted little to do with the bird or I entirely cared for them myself while other months she was nearly herself and highly involved. Don't think based on a single week or month that the entire pregnancy will go that way. Things change a lot and your involvement with your pet will have to adapt.
This brings me to the final point about simplifying your parrot care and that's to make use of bird toys.
6) Overload on bird toys. Parrots should have lots of toys in general, but especially while you are pregnant, having a baby, or just going through an unusually busy time in your life. Generally, I recommend 8-12 toys in the parrot cage at any time. Aim for the upper quantity of 12-15 bird toys when super busy. A greater variety of toys is more likely to capture your parrot's attention and engagement more frequently throughout the day. They are unlikely to find any single toy interesting enough to stay busy all day.
Quantity of toys alone isn't enough though. You have to provide quality toys. And, by quality, I do not necessarily mean quality of workmanship. Quality bird toys are toys that will effectively keep your parrot engaged for long periods of time. Generally speaking, parrot toys need to be easy enough to destroy that your parrot will not give up on them. Quality toys will be fully or nearly fully destroyed within a few weeks by your bird. There will be nothing left. All the time your parrot spent chewing that toy up into splinters will be quality time that your parrot was occupied and coped well without your attention.
Focus more on destructible toys rather than play toys. A few play toys such as bells, acrylic toys, ropes, or toys that can be moved around are great. However, your main emphasis needs to be on toys that can be chewed, shredded, or destroyed. You can't beat wood. Parrots love chewing wood. Just make sure the thickness of the wood pieces on the toy is appropriate for the size of your parrot's beak and experience level.
Here is a video of Marianna at 8+ months pregnant loading up the parrots with a bunch of exciting new toys:
Being creative, making your own toys, letting your parrot roam your home, and spending one on one time is great. However, when you are barely able to cope, keep things simple. Put your parrot on a simple pellet (or seed diet), use supplies like precut cage papers to simplify cleaning, keep your parrot busy on its own in the cage with an abundance of quality toys, train your parrot basic behaviors to make the limited time you are able to spend be easy and fun. Following this approach helped Marianna and I get through the challenge of pregnancy and we look forward to seeing how things play out with raising a baby around parrots. I will update you with any further tips I discover about having a baby with parrots.
Everyone knows that bird stores sell birds, toys, food, etc., but here are some things you didn't know! Here are 8 bird store secrets that bird stores won't tell you exposed.
At the end of the article is a video of these bird store secrets being revealed at Bird Paradise in Burlington, NJ. But for those who prefer to read rather than watch, this article goes over those secrets in text form.
So here are 8 bird store secrets that bird stores won't tell you:
Secret #1 - Rugs have disinfectant on them
At least at Bird Paradise, they moisten the floor mats at the entrance down with a disinfectant solution to prevent avian diseases from hitching a ride into the store on the bottom of people's shoes. Who knows if those people have a sick bird at home or stepped in some wild bird poop on the way? Best to keep those shoes clean and disinfected before exposing the immune suppressed baby birds!
Different bird stores will have different measures or policies when it comes to preventing diseases. Not a bad idea to look into a bird store's policies and health guarantee on baby birds.
Secret #2 - Stores don't recommend bird shampoos
Bird shampoos don't serve a purpose. Unlike people and dogs, birds don't have hair so they don't need shampoo. In fact parrot's secret their own oils to serve as a conditioner for their feathers naturally so no shampoo needed. Stores sell those products only because customers keep asking for them.
Secret #3 - Food in bulk bins may be fresher than in packages
Some bird stores have a very high turn around on their bulk bin foods. Sometimes the food in the factory packaging is sitting around longer than the food in the dispensers or bins. On the other hand, at smaller stores it may be the other way around. Learn about package shelf life and keep an eye on what is being bought more at the cashier to ensure that you are getting the freshest food for your parrot.
Secret #4 - Don't feed sunflower seeds
Even though bird stores sell them, I have not been to a single bird store in recent years that actually recommends that anyone feeds them to parrots. Everyone with any experience in the bird world will tell you that sunflower seeds are not a suitable diet and in fact unhealthy for pet parrots. Why do stores still sell them? Some customers have older birds that were fed sunflower seeds their whole life and are set in their ways. Other times there are younger birds with older owners that are too set in their ways. If you're going to give sunflower seeds to your parrot, only use them as training treats in extreme moderation (hint if you don't have enough fingers to count them, it's too much).
Secret #5 - Save money by making your own toys
Your parrot needs a lot of toys and activities to prevent boredom, screaming, and self-mutilating behavior while in the cage. This is an important part of parrot ownership and you shouldn't short change the highly intelligent parrot on these activities. However, this can also get quite costly. You can save money by making your own bird toys whether you buy bird toy parts at the bird store or find your own (bird safe, non-toxic) alternatives. But, there's nothing like letting your feathered friend indulge in a nice retail toy every now and then!
Secret #6 - Boarding can be hazardous to your bird's health
Boarding your bird when you go away can be challenging. Options may be limited and it can get pretty costly. However, take caution because many bird stores that offer boarding have no precautions or health requirements and your bird could pick up an illness from another bird boarding there. Even with a treatable illness, the vet costs are astronomical and many diseases are only preventable but not treatable. Only consider boarding at stores or vet clinics that have health testing requirements. While it may seem like a costly burden to get your bird tested to be able to board, using a facility that mandates this from every bird will help keep yours safe.
Secret #7 - Out of season parrots are "leftovers"
There are specific breeding seasons that vary by species. Although some like conures and greys will breed year round, most parrots will breed a certain time of year. If you come at the right time of year for the specific species, you will be met with the biggest selection of babies and get to choose the one for you. However, if you come out of season you may not be able to find the species you are looking for. But, if you do find the species, it may be a leftover baby that was passed over by others for one reason or another. Sometimes it is because it has a nastier personality, poor feathering, or a physical abnormality. Other times it could be nothing wrong with the bird at all and just excessive supply and insufficient demand. But whatever the reason, if you take your time and start looking for your baby in the right season, you will have the best chance of finding the one for you.
Secret #8 - Don't get a bird on the spot, plan ahead
Getting a bird from a store shouldn't be a spontaneous decision. You want to take your time and plan ahead. If you start your search early, you will be there when the new batch of baby birds arrives and you will have the best chance to get to know them and pick the one for you. You will get first "dibs" and get to choose the one you want instead of being left getting one only because it is the last one remaining. Put a deposit down early to hold your spot in the line and get first choice on the baby that is right for you.
So there's 8 bird store secrets revealed. Feel free to share your bird store secrets in the comments. And watch this video of these bird store secrets exposed at Bird Paradise:
Come out to Bird Paradise October 12/13 2019 for the Bird Paradise Parrot Palooza and come to my free presentations, book signings, and Q&A.
I often receive questions about age for training parrots. People still have trouble believing that you can just as well train older parrots as younger ones. When I'm asked what kind of parrot can't you train? My response is "a dead one." All kidding aside though, age plays a far smaller role on training than people believe. Technique has far more to do with it than age. The right technique on an older rescue parrot is far more likely to be successful than poor technique on a younger hand raised one.
But given good training technique, there is one age of parrot that to me stands out as potentially the hardest to work with: young babies! Young weanlings with a poor upbringing have got to be the hardest parrots to keep (at least for the time being). Well raised babies can be a pleasure to deal with and almost too easy to be true (that doesn't mean you should assume they won't need training down the line to maintain that easy nature). However, a poorly raised baby that bites, doesn't step up, and is all around difficult puts the owner in a bind. The bird is too young to motivate with food/attention, too frail to food manage, too inattentive, and too inexperienced to know what to do.
For hand tame baby parrots, my best suggestion is to treat them like a baby. Instead of focusing on formal training, work more on exposing the parrot to anything and everything. Show it objects, take it around the house, let it try foods, let it feel different materials, etc. This will help it develop and make it more aware of its surroundings as it becomes older. The formal training that most of my blog covers is ineffective for wearnling parrots and even unnecessary. They are programmed to watch, mimic, and learn from their surroundings more so than adult parrots. This is your one opportunity to teach good habits and behavior without having to work too much for it.
Now when it comes to the dilemma of the untame baby parrot, things are tough. The bird won't work for food in training because it doesn't have to. You don't want to withhold or manage food because the baby is still growing. Heck, it is barely accustomed to eating hard food and it is important to let it eat and grow. On the other hand, since the untame baby bites, doesn't step up, and doesn't trust people, you won't be able to handle it the way you would like.
When it comes to the untame baby, patience is going to be your best tool. Waiting until the baby is old enough to become more interested in food - and when you can begin to manage the good to an extent - is when you can put a greater emphasis on formal training. Until then, work on building trust hands off by spending time around the bird and not forcing it to be handled. Since you cannot use food, attention, or pretty much anything else at this point as positive reinforcement, any handling you do will most likely result in punishment and only make the bird distrust further. Take things easy for a few months and wait for the bird to become more interested in food before beginning a target training based approach for building trust and teaching step up.
During the waiting period, work toward the bird accepting treats from you. Learn what its favorite treats are and begin to withhold them. Don't forget that the baby bird likely does not yet know what its favorite treats are so exposing it to a variety of foods to try is very important. As you begin to see which foods it prefers, stop giving them in the bowl and instead see if it will come over to you to take it. If it does, you can move on to target training (but keep in mind that the attention span of a young baby may be very limited so don't expect the kind of results you can get with an adult). If not, try laying foods down in places and removing your hand and seeing if the bird will at least eat the treat near your hand or in your presence. Keep working on trust so that the bird is comfortable eating around you and from you. With the untame baby parrot, it mostly comes down to waiting things out and then applying a formal training approach once the bird is of suitable training age. What that exact age is will depend on species and maturation process. Wait until the bird is at least a few months older and taking food from your hand.
Do not expect to be able to solve nipping, biting, and other issues with the baby parrot. A lot of people complain about nippy and even aggressive behavior in baby parrots but there just isn't a way around it. Those young birds don't know any better, are curious, and want try everything with their beaks. Punishment cannot be applied as it will cause major detriment to your relationship that has not even yet been established. The only thing you can do is avoid putting the baby in a position to be able to bite/nip and wait until it is old enough to apply a well-behaved parrot approach for the long term. Just one thing I want to assure you of is that the baby nippinesss usually wears off on its own or can later be solved. Don't feel that by not punishing it now that it will persist. Once you can begin formal training, it can fairly easily be solved.
I had plenty of trouble with Kili & Truman as babies. I wanted to teach them things but they just wanted to play or do something else. It was just a matter of patience and working through it in small amounts that eventually lead to the awesome pets they are now. But I've gotta say the two toughest times to work through are a parrot's adolescence and babyhood. Working with an adult parrot is much more consistent and predictable. This is why I often recommend an adult rescue parrot over a baby for many people. I think (despite common prejudice) that you can have quicker success with an average rescue parrot (merely in need of a new home) than a baby parrot that is too young to train.
In conclusion, since it is nearly impossible to train an untame baby parrot during that age, the best approach is to find a source for a mature rescue parrot or an already tame baby. This gives you the advantage of being able to start your bonding and training processes immediately. Given the amount of training you can have in the first few months you keep a rescue parrot, you may well find yourself ahead of where you'd be with an untame baby that forced you to wait until you can begin training. Keep these things in mind when looking for a parrot and try to avoid getting a baby parrot that isn't already accustomed to handling.
Sometimes I buy baby (human) toys and supplies for my parrots to play with. Often these can be cheaper than the ones made for parrots as they are mass produced. If you look for baby toys on clearance or at bargain stores, you may be surprised how much stuff you can get for your parrots to play with for the same money you spend on parrot specific toys. Human grade baby toys go through higher standards and will generally be safe for parrots. However, it is the owner's responsibility to make sure that the toy is safe. Our parrots can find ways to destroy these toys in ways never conceived by the original designers.
For about $5, I got a whole bag full of baby toys for Kili and Truman at a dollar store. Truman really took to the plastic fork and proceeded to chew it up. Kili took up a greater fascination with the rubber duckies which came in a pack of three for a dollar. I wouldn't leave these toys in the birds' cages but they make for some great foot toys to keep them busy when they are out. This way they can have something different to play with than the usual wood and plastic bird toys and it doesn't cost me too much.