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Cost-Saving Tips For Parrots

There's some parrot costs that are unavoidable, but if you can save a buck, we got tips for you.

Jenny Drummey

Follow Jenny Drummey on Twitter at @jennydrummey

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Some parrot care costs are unavoidable, such as vet care and healthy food, and are staples of a bird owner’s budget. But parrots need a safe, fun environment with lots of enrichment that keeps them busy too.

Mike Fabrie of Maryland has one Goffin’s cockatoo, a rose-breasted cockatoo and a timneh African grey and asks that potential parrot owners consider the costs associated with a parrot to thrive as necessary ones. "Are you willing to have the bird become part of the family? Give him a playgym? Will you provide perches in different places around your house? Will you invest in their health and visit the avian vet before there is a sickness or accident?”

The good news is that there are cheap and creative ways to make your bird’s life better. Some of these suggestions build community among parrot owners or require planning ahead. Some of them are so simple, you won’t believe you haven’t thought of them before. But all work with any budget.

Parrot owners from Virginia, Maryland, DC and West Virginia shared many fun, practical ways to keep birds happy without breaking the bank.

Debbie Russell of Maryland, who owns over a dozen birds from cockatiels to macaws, provided these 6 cost-saving tips.

1) Make your own parrot toys and perches. There are tons of websites that sell toy parts. Even things you use every day at home make awesome toys or toy parts for your parrots. For perches, make sure you are using safe wood that has not been treated with chemicals or pesticides.

2) Purchase pellets in bulk. Instead of getting a 1- or 5-pound bag, get the larger 25-pound. bag and freeze them.

3) Purchase fruits and veggies in season and use them in recipes year round. For example, in the fall you can get apples cheap. My parrots love applesauce with cinnamon. Each fall I make and freeze my own applesauce. My birds get it two or three times a month, but it’s a treat for them and they love it! Applesauce can be used in birdy bread in place of oil too.

4) Grow your own veggies. If you don’t have a garden, try planting container gardens.

5) Sign up for different suppliers and watch their sale ads. Some have really good sales for toy parts, toys, perches and other items. One site that I watch every day is Pick Your Plum. Every once in a while, they sell paper items that make wonderful foraging toys.

6) For large parrots, get two-by-four holders and give your parrot a two-by-four perch, which can double as a toy. They are cheap and easy to replace. My husband even rounds the two edges to make it softer for the parrots to stand on.

Get Together With Friends
Jayne Halvorsen of Virginia has 13 macaws and gets together with multiple bird owners to buy nuts. It reduces shipping costs dramatically to make one single order rather than individual orders,” she said. In her last order of 25-pound boxes of nuts, the group bought 15 boxes and paid $1,340. "It kept shipping costs to only 32 cents per pound,” she explained.

She also rarely buys macaw toys. "They are usually upwards of $45 per toy for something that will get chewed to bits in a day or two. I buy two-by-fours and cut them into about 10-inch lengths, then make holes in them with a drill press. I save all heavy chain from any toys I may have purchased previously and re-use it to string up the blocks I've cut. Much more affordable.”

Erin P. Doherty of Washington DC,who has four parakeets, suggests bartering pet-sitting services with a trusted neighbor who also has pets. Larry and Suzanne Cromwell have 11 birds from parakeets to timneh African greys.They have a cost saving tip that every parrot person should embrace: Vinegar and water in a spray bottle as a cleaner. "Use it to clean your cage and any place you find bird droppings,” they said. "Spray, leave it for a while and it will come off easily with a damp cloth. No need for costly products. Vinegar is cheap and totally safe for birds.”

Melissa Kowalski owns Critters & Conservation in Ranson, West Virginia, which provides hands-on animal education programs for all ages. She has six parrots and 23 other animals in her care and suggests:

  • When rope perches are shredded, wash them on delicate cycle in a pillow case, allow to dry, then rewrap with vet wrap
  • Use chemical-free branches from mulberry, lilac, bamboo or butterfly bushes for enrichment and perches
  • Visit thrift stores to find cheap bird toys: gently used, unfinished, glue-free wood blocks, toddler or baby toys or baskets
  • If one parrot doesn't like a toy, try it on another bird
  • Have more than one avian vet so that it's easier to get appointments, or go to the closer and/or cheaper vet for routine visits
  • Join a community (online or otherwise) for sharing ideas about care, cost savings, and creativity

”Parrots are expensive if cared for properly, there's no way around those food and vet costs,” said Ann Brooks, President and founder of Phoenix Landing. "However, you can be creative with the resources for enrichment; and don't forget that spending training time with your parrot is free!”

What are your savings secrets? Share them in the comments.

Love this article? Check out these articles: 

5 DIY Bird Toys
Make Bird Toys Exciting For Your Pet Bird

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Posted: November 5, 2014, 5:15 p.m. PDT

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Cost-Saving Tips For Parrots

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Reader Comments
great article
n, n, TN
Posted: 11/12/2014 5:50:10 AM
Would poplar dowels be safe for bird toys?
Mike, Holbrook, NY
Posted: 11/9/2014 8:29:01 PM
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