Especially in this economy, everyone is looking to save a little cash where they can. As we all know, owning birds can get expensive! We’ve done some research and gathered what we dubbed as the ‘top 10’ ways to cut back on spending and make your dollar go a little further.
- DIY Toys – you don’t have to be an ‘expert’ in the toy making field to come up with a design your bird will love. Some projects require no tools at all, and can save you big bucks, especially if your bird goes through toys quickly. Simple toy ideas include turning leftover items from around the house- bottle caps, washed out pill bottles, paper towel rolls, and cardboard boxes, into an almost birdie Disneyland. My birds love nothing more than a good paper towel roll to wrestle with, or a cardboard box to explore.
- Buy in Bulk – if you have more than one bird, it can drastically cut down expenses if you buy your food and other items in bulk. Instead of buying those 5 pound bags of food at 10 dollars a pop, buy the 25 pound bag for $50! Of course, prices will vary depending on the vendor, but buying in bulk has been proven to be easier on the wallet. Don’t think you’ll go through all that food anytime soon? Parrot food can be frozen for maximum freshness- just repackage in air tight containers or bags, and throw in the freezer.
- This is not only true for food, but for toys, too. Many online vendors offer toys at a discount if you purchase a certain quantity or more. One of my birds goes through preening toys like no one’s business, so I purchase online through a popular vendor and get 5 at a time, and save some serious cash in the meantime.
- Make your own food. You know its true, they say you can make food in your kitchen for cheaper then eating out. For birds that’s true too. Instead of buying premade birdie bread mixes, for example, you can easily go out and purchase the basic necessities for lower than the cost of a bread mix. Plus you end up with double the amount of mix then you would normally buy, effectively cutting your costs in half.
- Recycle old toy parts. Some toys have a lifetime of mere minutes. Many birds though will get bored with a toy before its thoroughly demolished. Removing aforementioned toy once the bird is bored, and disassembling it to re-use in other toys is a great way to save. Most toys, even ones meant for destruction, have reusable parts, anything from plastic chain to the metal quick link. I have a ‘scrap bin’ I have going, so whenever my birds chew through a toy, I remove the toy from the cage, take it apart, and throw the reusable parts into the bin. When I want to make a toy, I dig through the bin to find the parts I need.
- Shop around. Take advantage of the wonder that is the world wide web, and check out multiple stores before making your grand purchase. You’ll often find products online cheaper than your local store, and you can take advantage of free shipping offers to stretch your dollar even further.
- Cage liner. What do you use to line the cage? If you use any sort of pre-cut, purchased cage liner, consider switching to newspaper. Don’t get the newspaper? I bet one of your neighbors does. People will gladly donate their old newspaper once they’ve finished reading it. Better yet, if you have a large flock, call your local newspaper and ask them if you can go ‘dumpster diving’ in their recycle bins. Oftentimes newspapers will print and have several stacks of newspapers that contain errors, so they simply toss the papers out for recycle. Take advantage of those ‘mistakes’ and line the cage, for free!
- Learn from others. You don’t have to go out and buy a stack of bird books to gain knowledge. Take advantage of the many online resources available. You can access web forums to chat with other bird owners, informational websites to learn about anything from species to nutrition, and even e-books. If you heard about a great book but don’t want to buy, head on down to your local library. Oftentimes libraries will have a vast amount of books available for you through inter-library loan.
- Barter. If you know other bird owners, strike up a friendship and take advantage of what others have to offer. Going on vacation and need a bird sitter? See a trusted bird friend will care for your birds while you are gone, in exchange for future bird sitting services from you. Bird owners are eager to help and always willing to lend a hand. Birds of a feather must stick together, you know.
- Your bird does not need 3 of everything. Remember when you find that new product you just ‘have to have’, sit and evaluate it. How does this new and improved toy differ from the toys sitting in storage, or hanging in your birds cage? Will this item really improve your birds quality of life, or make things easier on you in the long run? What items is this object made of, and can it be replicated by you at a lower cost?
Consider the source. Just because an item is marketed specifically for ‘birds’ doesn’t mean you can’t purchase that item elsewhere and at a cheaper cost, simply because its on the dog isle! I’ve found many a toy wandering the cat isle of my local pet store. You can even find toy parts at a cheaper rate at your local craft store such as Michaels, then they often are sold in pet stores.