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Thursday, April 22, 2010
What A Fine Mess I've Gotten Into

By Linda Costello
Explore the diaries of daily life with large birds.

African grey with vacuum Photos courtesy of Linda Costello
Small vacuums get a workout at LInda's house.

Green-winged macaws with sweeper 
Green-winged macaws leave a mess but try to clean up.

African grey with toy vacuum 
Linda says she should buy stock in a vacuum cleaner company.

With 14 pet parrots, cleaning, for me, is a 24-hour-a-day necessity. Over the years, I've learned how to work in little ways throughout each day to keep up with the mess before it gets out of hand.

I keep a couple of cordless Shark vacuums charged up and ready to go at all times for quick sweeps in between getting the big vacuum out for a more thorough daily job. I find the best time for the main vacuuming is right after the parrots' morning feeding time.

Our day begins anytime between 8-10 a.m. by changing water, feeding and changing the cage papers. Then out with the big Dirt Devil vacuum for a thorough sweeping.

Then it's on to shower time. Each pet bird goes into the shower, where they have a PVC stand ready for perching on while I spray them with a fine mist from the hand-held shower nozzle. After drying off, it's on to playtime out on their cage tops, stands or swings. Soon they're ready for a little in-cage time to rest, followed by a water change, a treat to eat, perhaps some fruit and veggies and/or a nice chunk of Birdie Bread. All this is followed by another cordless vac sweep! (Did I mention birds are messy eaters? Well, I'm sure anyone reading this already knows that!)

I keep a spray bottle with a mixture of white distilled vinegar and water handy to spritz cage bars and wipe them down where they wipe their beaks clean after eating. This mixture also works well to spot clean the droppings from carpeting or hard floors.

It's not long before the birds come back out onto their play areas to watch TV with us in the family room. Hence ... another run through with the cordless Shark vac after they go back to their cages. It is a never-ending job!

Even with all this cleaning, it never fails, someone knocks at the door or rings the doorbell as soon as the pet parrots have shoveled more food from their bowls out all over the floor! My pet scarlet macaw, Renee, makes it her sole mission to shovel more food out onto the floor as soon as she sees I've vacuumed it up. I believe she thinks she is helping because the floor is clean and I have nothing to sweep up!
I had to add some "big guns" to my cleaning itinerary, like the Shark Steam Pocket Cleaner. (I just realized I should own stock in the Shark company!) Actually, any steam cleaner would probably do. I use the steamer for more heavy duty cleaning of their cages, some of which are way too big to roll outside to hose down and clean, without first having to dismantle them.

Another necessary item is my Bissel rug scrubber (I like the upright kind). With this many birds in the house, I have to run it frequently.

Oh, I can't forget to mention the air cleaners. I have two right now but the more the better, especially if you have dusty birds like pet cockatoos or pet African greys. Even with the air cleaners running, I have to use the swiffer duster every day.

These are just some of the things in a list of many that I do every day because I love my parrots. It's part of the package, and you can't get around it unless you want to wade through mounds of toys, food crumbs, down and molted feathers — not to mention droppings on the floor!

Now if only I could get the birds to use the vacuums ... Oh well, the writing was on the wall. I knew what I was in for with each bird I took into our home. If I had it to do all over again, I would definitely have my birds. How about you? On days when things seem to get just a little overwhelming, a little support from other bird lovers can be a good thing!

Please leave your thoughts below in the comments section.

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What A Fine Mess I've Gotten Into

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Reader Comments
OMG Linda, I know what you mean!! I keep the vacuum near the cage area so it's always handy! But Linda, you have sooooo many more birds than me...I only have my Hahn's Yoda who seems to enjoy making LOTS of mess. I have a BIG plastic sheet (like they have in some Chinese food restaurants as tablecloths) and throw the sheets out daily. I have a HUGE case of them which I got from my friend who owns a Chinese food restaurant! Yoda thinks it's funny to throw EVERYTHING he can on the floor!!!! lol

I have to tell you Linda that the pics of your birds helping REALLY made me smile!!
Patti, Montreal, QC
Posted: 5/10/2010 3:34:34 PM
Yeppers, that's about the way it is around my house. Constant cleaning is a must here, but I wouldn't have it any other way!
Brian, McAllen, TX
Posted: 5/9/2010 10:15:37 PM
Linda, such a great article! I love your use of vinegar/water in a spray bottle to wipe down their steel bar "napkins."

That picture of your helpful green-wings is a riot! ;-)
M.T., Mamaroneck, NY
Posted: 5/4/2010 12:17:43 AM
Oh my! Now I feel really guilty about my lack of a regular cleaning routine! LOL! I will definitely check out those Shark vacuum cleaners (and the stock price). Mine never seem quite up to the job. Thanks for a fun column to which we can all realte!
Carol, Silver Spring, MD
Posted: 4/27/2010 7:02:48 AM
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