The Money Pit

My husband calls Jazz “The Money Pit” and of course, he’s not far wrong. In the dog game, we always said that the purchase price of a pup was nothing compared to the upkeep. Birds apparently are no different. While the purchase price is higher than most dogs, the bird’s life expectancy is generally longer and therefore the upkeep (health care) will be far greater, even if they remain healthy.And then one has to add in the equipment. Every bird needs an adequately sized cage. We purchased one that is 19 long, 25 inches wide, and 36 inches high. Beneath the floor grate is another 6 inches for the removable tray that is filled with newspaper and a mess-catcher flange, and beneath that is another 15 inches with a shelf and casters. I consider it adequate for Jazz and his array of toys, considering that he spends only half a normal day in its confines.

The rest of the day is he out and about. We chose for a play-gym a four-foot tall ribbonwood tree firmly anchored on a heavy platform and equipped with a large mess-catcher flange (powder coated in vertigre to match his cage) and casters. Not only did we think the natural wood would be better for the bird, the tree fit our living room decor better than white PVC pipe. The tree comes with food and water cups and numerous places to hang toys. The size of the perches was a question for Connie Bacon since the supplier wasn’t as familiar with Eclectus as he thought he was. With Connie’s advice, we settled on one to one and a half inches in diameter (for Solomon Island, larger for the bigger species) and informed the seller before shipping. Jazz is slowly exploring its many possibilities, prompted by food tidbits which we tuck in various crevices.

We also purchased a travel cage, since we plan to take Jazz on months long jaunts in our motor home. This purchase was a worry since it had to be big enough for him to live in and small enough for us to live with in the confines of our travel home. We settled on one 17L x 25W x 20H with bars spaced at one inch. Happily the cage also fits in the back of the extended cab of our pickup and Jazz merrily goes to town with us. He chatters, mutters, and squawks through the twists and turns of our mountain roads, apparently singing his own version of the country songs on the radio.

We discovered that the company which makes Booda Bones for dogs also makes wonderful cotton rope perches with plastic ends that screw tight to cage bars. These are fabulous for traveling, providing Jazz with a non-slip perch. I’m sure his first words will be “Hang on” as these are the ones he hears most often as we go over bumps and bank around corners. While I have yet to try it, the perches are supposed to be machine washable. Food particles brush off easily with a stiff bottle brush.

Our most versatile purchase is also our cheapest. A simple, unpainted basket about 16 inches across with a big (one inch diameter), arching handle. To preserve the handle, I wrapped it with heavy duty nylon string (50 feet of string needed to cover) and incorporated a couple of small quick links in the wrap for attaching toys. The basket itself is lined with a stack of cut newspapers which catch poop and food scraps. Jazz loves it. The very word “basket” has him scurrying to whichever perch is closest to the person who utters the word. He swings down from the handle to circle the basket rim, sample the toys located there, then flaps up the other side of the handle. He loves that basket because it goes from room to room with us. He knows he’ll be included as I’m already working on a smaller version (with a heavy base) for use in the motor home.

I haven’t purchased a shower perch yet because Jazz thinks kitchen sink showers are just barely tolerable. He much prefers the drying phase on his basket handle in the sun. I’m about to investigate the usablitity of a kitchen scale that weighs in grams. They should be much cheaper than the bird scales and just as accurate. Having finished the weaning process, Jazz is developing the appetite for which young Eclectus are famous. I want to be sure he doesn’t turn into the legendary 500 pound canary