By Lynn Galbreath
My husband and I have a Maximillian Pionus. We acquired her from a person who found her in his yard, kept her for 5 years, then put her on Craigslist. The entire 5 years he believed she was a conure and fed her a diet with almonds and Goldfish crackers as the basic foods, with dried fruit as a treat. Amazingly enough our Avian vet said with a good diet and exercise she would be healthy, and she is. Although veggies are not yet her favorite food she is slowly learning they are not instant death. She eats the Phoenix Landing Mash fairly well; the fruit and veggie topping not so much but even throwing pieces to the floor gives her a taste. She will happily and easily Step-Up. We also recently adopted a Venezuelan Brown Necked Conure from Phoenix Landing. He will eat anything but is in Step-Up training. So the two birds complement each other in those respects.
At any rate- back to the unintentional Jungle Gym.
A few months after acquiring Sydney the Pionus, I enthusiastically purchased a LOT of ½ x ½ square dowels with the intent of cutting them into short lengths for her to chew up. She was power chewing through wood sticks from Etsy parrot supply sellers and, being cheap, I was planning to save money. So I bought $69.72 worth of 1/2″ x 1/2″ x 36″ Square Poplar Wood Dowels! Made in USA! This amounts to 80 three foot dowels. The little detail of “POPLAR” escaped my notice… and so after they arrived I discovered that Pionus really can’t chew hard poplar wood with their usual enthusiasm. OK, now what to do….
These 80 dowels lived under my bed and in the back of the closet for months. I tried selling them on Craigslist and had zero response. I gave some to a friend with a chinchilla; with the same lack of interest from her chinchilla as from my Pionus.
Then lighting (so to speak) struck. I spend too much time poking around Etsy looking for extra good deals (as I said I can be cheap) on parrot chew supplies. I somehow stumbled on a site selling 3D printed plastic connectors — 3D123 owned by Ken O.
The Etsy samples shown were for round dowels and the satisfied customer pictures were all using round dowels. I clicked that magic button called Message Seller and asked if it was possible to use square dowels. Ooohhh…Ken was intrigued, never having made connectors for square dowels. He knew it was possible and asked for time to figure it out. He made an earnest attempt to figure out exactly what I needed which was somewhat difficult because I didn’t know what I needed. Since the wood dowels were still living under my bed where they had been for months, I was not in a hurry whatsoever. To my surprise Ken messaged back in a couple of days with the configurations and sizing figured out. SO fast! On the Etsy site 3D123 he has multiple types of connectors you can choose from; square corners, 4-way corners, things with different angles, ones shaped like a Y and so on. Having no idea what I was going to do I asked for 6 of each type, and said not only did I not care about the color choice but I was pretty sure my parrot didn’t care about the color choice also. Within a few days I had 36 multi-colored connectors in 9 different configurations in my mailbox. Plus a few extra ones for good measure.
I am neither an architect nor an engineer so my construction method tended to consist of See-What-Happens-If-This-Gets-Connected-Here. I happily made a Jungle Gym. Sydney loves it. I love that she wanders all over it poking at things and doesn’t merely sit on the highest dowel. The Gym measures approximately 40 x 58 x 20 inches (it is not exactly rectangular) with the highest stick another 12 inches but that one is only vertical so I hang toys on it and my husband uses it to attach clamp on food bowls.. The pieces are intentionally at odd angles and it wobbles a small amount but we are all fine with that. The connectors are holding every dowel securely so it’s not in danger of tipping or coming apart. I did use some screws and glue in the construction after I ran out of connectors and wanted to finish the project the same day. My husband says that the connectors are more sturdy than my screws and glue.
Having lots and lots of remaining dowels I later bought a few more connectors and built three smaller perches/playstands plus a small one to sit on the kitchen counter or a side table. The three play stands are gorilla glued to 12×18 floor tiles. This gives them stability when a flying parrot lands with a thump but they are extremely portable also. Normally one sits in front of a kitchen window, and two are in the home office. When I fold clothes or are cleaning the bedroom I bring one of them in the bedroom with me and Sydney supervises until I finish.
This spring we are screening in our little back deck and moving the Jungle Gym outside with the intention of leaving the door to the deck open as much as possible so that the birds can choose whether to be inside or out. They love being outside in their travel cages so I expect the freedom to fly outside to the Gym will be a wonderful addition to their daily routine. They will be able to happily yell at the crows and the squirrels while sitting in the sun.
The upshot is that I highly highly recommend Etsy site 3D123. Ken will design connectors to your specifications. He even lets you pick your colors. He responds quickly, the connectors are cheap and Ken is a pleasure to work with.
And may your parrots love your creations as much as mine love their Gym and Playstands.