When a friend brought her hyacinth macaw home, it was the culmination of a year of waiting to see if the egg was fertile, waiting to see if it would hatch successfully, and then visiting the young bird at the breeder’s home for months until he was fully weaned. Her friends and bird club buddies got together and gave her a "birdie shower” where she was presented with almost everything a young macaw could wish for.
Anticipating the arrival of a new pet bird is always exciting, whether it’s your own or that of a friend. Preparations must be made, supplies purchased and furniture moved to make room for the new resident. It’s fun to shop for shiny new cages, cute new toys and other avian accoutrements, and it’s even more enjoyable to create a special gift basket for the newcomer.
Be Creative With Your Bird Gift Basket
Gift baskets come in all shapes, sizes and materials. A travel cage, carrier, large crock-style dish or even a big plastic container for bird food can serve as a basket. Filled with bird supplies, wrapped in cellophane and trimmed with colorful ribbons, this type of basket becomes a usable part of the gift. An unpainted, untreated wicker basket might even become the pet bird’s idea of the ultimate toy!
Color-coordinated gifts make a thoughtful statement. My friend received a lot of royal blue and yellow toys and accessories for her macaw. Coordinate your gift basket to echo the colors of the bird’s plumage, its new cage or to compliment the recipient’s home décor.
New pet bird owners often lack resources for avian services. Contact a local bird club, and ask if you can have a copy of its latest newsletter to include in the basket. It may also be able to provide you with free educational pamphlets. Gather business cards for avian veterinarians, groomers, bird supply stores and competent bird sitters. If you have a catalog from a favorite mail order source, include that as well, and don’t forget to include a copy of BIRD TALK!
Create A Themed Bird Basket
Think about some of the different aspects of the avian lifestyle: learning, cooking, cleaning, playing, enrichment, health, eating or household management, and create a basket around one of those themes. Tailor the basket to the size and species of the bird, and you’ll have a winner!
Healthy Bird Basket
This basket might feature items packed inside a travel carrier, with the idea being that the carrier will be useful for taking the bird to the vet for check-ups and perhaps to a groomer for wing feather and nail maintenance. Inside the carrier, include a fluffy hand towel for the vet or groomer to wrap the bird in during examinations. Sanitary hand towelettes, grooming implements and an avian First Aid kit might also be included. A drinking water bottle (and a bottle brush to clean it!) to assure a constant supply of clean water in the carrier or cage fits in with this theme, as do some healthy treats and a cookbook of recipes for birds or a book on avian nutrition.
An up-to-date book on general or species-specific bird care is also a great addition to this basket. Don’t forget a new spray bottle for bathing — regular misting with water is essential for good feather condition. A gift certificate for a well-bird visit with an avian veterinarian would really get this basket off to a great start! (If you have a slimmer budget, just include business cards for local avian veterinarians.)
"Life’s Messy" Bird Basket
Fill a laundry basket, dish pan or lidded trash can (every bird owner needs one!) with items to make the chores associated with bird stewardship a little more streamlined. Start with a couple of rolls of paper towels, bird poop cleaner, a perch scraper and a stack of dish cloths. Get the inexpensive kind that you can buy in bulk at wholesale stores. I prefer dish cloths to cellulose sponges because they don’t disintegrate when soaked with a solution of bleach and water. They’re also less likely than sponges to harbor bacteria because we can simply toss them into the washer and dryer for a thorough cleaning.
Nylon bristled brushes for scrubbing cages, bottle brushes for cleaning drinking water bottles and pre-cut paper cage tray liners all fit nicely into this theme. Visit your local bird store, veterinarian’s office or favorite avian website for some safe cleaning products to use around birds. If you’re feeling especially generous, include a hand-held vacuum or steam cleaner in the assortment of cleaning items. Add a flexible desk chair mat to a big basket. These are great for placing under a cage to protect surrounding carpeting. If the bird will eventually be visiting friends or attending bird club meetings (after an appropriate quarantine period!), include some disposable plastic tablecloths from a party store to keep the area beneath the bird clean during these visits.
Kitchen Bird Basket
Avian food preparation is a daily chore, so consider a special kitchen basket to ease chores associated with the new arrival. Fruit and vegetables must be washed prior to use, so a colander would make an ideal basket for this theme. Add a bottle of vegetable wash and a brush for scrubbing root vegetables. A vegetable peeler and a cutting board exclusively for use with the pet bird’s fresh foods are useful items as well. Choose a board that can be washed and effectively disinfected, such as glass or acrylic. Plastic storage containers, extra bird dishes, paper towels and a book of recipes for birds fit this category. Don’t forget to include a poster (make it yourself!) warning against the use of non-stick cookware and appliances in homes where birds are present. Fumes emitted from overheating these products can kill birds quickly.
Gourmet Bird Basket
Many of us have received beautiful gourmet fruit and treat baskets for holidays and other special occasions. Now it’s time to celebrate the arrival of a new pet bird! There are so many things to choose from in this category that you’ll be tempted to really splurge! Ready-to-cook bird food, dried fruit, packaged treats and premium seed or pellet mixes all make wonderful gifts. Add a sprouting kit, millet spray, a pine cone treat, toys featuring nuts or other treats and some bird biscuits or birdie bread mix. Extra dishes, a cookbook featuring recipes for avian meals and perhaps some fresh produce can complete the basket.
Small Bird Basket
The small birds need gifts too! Fill a small bird carrier or plastic bucket that can be used for storing bird supplies with an assortment of goodies for cockatiels and smaller birds. Millet spray, cuttlebone and small treat items are good choices. Make sure to include some clips for attaching millet and produce to cage bars. Small pet birds love to gnaw on firm produce and often ignore fruit and vegetables offered in a dish.
Add some accessories, such as a mirror perch, a swing, ladder or bath dish to the assortment, along with a small spray bottle for misting the bird. Appropriately sized toys, a fabric or acrylic seed catcher and pre-cut cage tray paper can round out the selection. Include a species-specific bird care book, and you’ve got a great gift!
Creating a special avian gift basket is so much fun, you’ll want to make one for all your birdie friends! It’s a great bird club fund-raising project too. Ask members to donate new bird items, divide them up according to species or a theme, and you’ll have some beautiful raffle or auction baskets!
Gift Baskets For Bird Owners
Shower a new bird owner with a gift basket of his or her own with these items:
• Species-specific book
• T-shirt with print of the new bird’s species
• Decorative items pertaining to the new bird: glassware, calendar, sun visor, mouse pad, art print, figurine, etc.
• Dark-colored cage cover so the new bird owner can get a little more sleep in the morning! Birds tend to stay quiet longer when their cages are covered with black, navy blue or dark green covers.