1.1.1 - Coops

"I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do." - Leonardo da Vinci
Dylan is narcoleptic 

I've had Danny Cooper my English Budgie for almost 2 years now. We got Dylan on her first birthday (He just turned 1) and then got three parakeets soon after - all in an attempt to have babies with the assumption being that the more you have the more likely at least two of them will be the right sexes and hook up. Hasn't exactly worked out that way so we'll have to wait and see.

Danny and Dylan used to have a little area they would hang out in and didn't move around much or fly. Then I got the parakeets and things got loud, and lets just say they are a lot more active. They could fly but Danny and Dylan couldn't - so I would have to put them back up every time they flew down. The little Grey one Luca, chases the other ones around and pushes them off. She wants to be #1. 

One of my 'hobbies' I guess you cold say is to design 'cages' for them. I would always dream up cool condo high rise ideas with lights and speakers but didn't have any experience in building anything. So I started to play around with different ideas all the while building up to the 'ultimate cage'. 

It's been a great example of having to do and start something before you can actually finish it - which seems obvious but isn't. Necessarily - until you gain experience - which you can't until you actually build something - and then implement it. You can have what seems like an awesome idea - but until you do it you can't know for sure. There are always things you can't anticipate or things you didn't think about. Or circumstances change or you can't find a part or or or or 

So I started out with these cheap plastic shelving and it worked pretty well exept Danny and Dylan couldn't move up and down levels and couldn't get back up if they fell.

Then I actually needed them to store things on so I set them up on a table. 

 That was working out pretty well, especially since they could fly around, but again Danny and Dylan would end up on the floor and they would chew up the bamboo that was used to hold things up and decorate. That along with their used seeds and feathers would end up on the floor and it became a bitch to clean up not to mention very dusty to be breathing in all the time. It also wasn't move-able and wasn't even technically a cage but some sticks on a table.

 So I decided to build my first attempt at a true 'cage' and it came out nice considering that I had never really built a wooden structure with sticks and screws before.

 Before I was even done I was, mentally, working on the next version. It was an improvement on what it was replacing but still lacked the features for it to be fully functional.

 You'll also notice that this one doesn't close and didn't fix any of the problems that I had - them falling to the floor, keeping the food and feathers in etc. I also realized that they proffered to stay at the top and made more sense to be more high than wide.

 Here's a mobile version that I haven't finished yet but doubles as a fort.

On to version 2? This time I was going to fix the problems and add additional features. Luca was still tormenting the others and bossing them around - that combined with the anticipation that they would someday mate and have babies-

  • I wanted to make it double layered so that they could be kept separate. With the breeding pair on one level and the others on the other level. 
  • I wanted to add wheels to the bottom so I could move it around. 
  • I wanted to add a 'see in but can't see out' mirror. 
  • A storage level that could hold all of their stuff so that it acted like a totally self contained unit - mobile and kept the mess inside. 
  • Have a door that would open and close so they couldn't get out or fall to the floor if I was away. 

Top layers for everyone to hang out in. Middle layer for the breeding pair, and the bottom for storage. 

Since I was getting better with working with wood I realized that when I had an idea - I could now actually build it. 

I also had a bunch of building material I had been collecting in anticipation for actually building this thing. Some bungie cords tied to a wooden square made a perfect perch that acted as both an additional level and a shape that would prevent them from fighting since they could all fit and wouldn't be in beak's length. It would also bounce a little which I thought they would find fun - I would. 

They love mirrors so a while mirrored wall worked great and kept the dust in. 

The mirrored wall seemed like a good idea but it was too distorted to see clearly and too dense to actually see though - making it so I couldn't even see in at all.I didn't want to keep them in a box!

I also added two doors that could close and could be kept close with magnets. 

I used clear shower curtain plastic for the new walls. I used the bamboo over normal plywood for them to climb on and up and down the enclosure since Danny and Dylan still wouldn't fly and needed  a way to get around. 

I got a battery powered light that I could put on the top so they wouldn't get scared at night and so they could see to get back up if they fell. 

So we're caught up to today! You'll notice that I ended up taking out the divider between the upper two levels. They started to get along more after adjusting to the cage and I don't know which ones to segregate and that would breed anyways. 

Unfortunately the wheels I used were too small and are difficult to roll over carpet and the materials and how I attached the plastic walls allowed for seed and feathers to come out the bottom - dropping through all the levels. 

I also just switched/ combined my 'office' and my 'bedroom' together into one room which also meant that the birds who would stay in the 'bedroom' now accompany me day and night in the same room. They are loud and can be really annoying. I get used to it and am actually encouraging for them to communicate - but iv'e been working on voice recordings and speech to text stuff and they always have to talk when I talk - so it's impossible to make any recordings with them in the background. The solution for which is to either cover their cage or wheel them out to another room - not that big of a problem except for the rough riding wheels. 

Today's modifications were to cut the entire 'coop' in half so that I could keep the bottom as a move-able stand - (and eventual second cage) and to remove the plastic and replace it with screen. That and to make sure that the seeds/ feathers/ -whatever wouldn't fall out. 

The bottom half, which is just going to act as a stand for the top half to rest on for now. One of the best things about this cage is it's height -it's perfect to walk up to and have them at eye level. 

Another reason I separated the two levels - which seems like they are losing "square footage" is that they would never use the lower levels anyways. They all fight for who gets to be at the top and didn't want to be at the bottom levels at all. 

The flooring (the bottom part of the top cage) is actually the clear plastic shower curtain material with paper over it. They like to walk over it and look down and it keeps the seed and feathers in, and is easy to clean! That's one of the best things in designing for little birds - they are light enough that they can stand on almost anything. So nothing has to be particularly sturdy. 

The cage itself is a little over-kill in terms of the building material. But again, this was just a proto-type to work through the various design ideas. I also would have to figure out where to source plastic in the correct shape, or whatever other material I would ideally use to make it lighter.

So this is where we are at tonight. 

  • It's been re-decorated and I added more of their toys and fake plants. 
  • You'll also notice how I wrap some of their perches with a soft blanket so their little footies don't get sore from hard wood. 
  • There are also these black rubber covered wires that can bend into any shape that work perfect for making and adjusting any shaped perch. 
  • The top portion can be lifted and placed else-where if they get too loud. I can also remove it temporarily- roll the bottom portion where i want it and place it back on - a lot easier than rolling the whole thing since it makes it not-top heavy. 

It can be difficult and takes a lot of time but it's a very cool feeling when they get to jump in and explore - they really do seem to appreciate it. I'll see how this version works for a while but the next model will be modular and probably be made of PVC pipe.

Moral of the story - you gotta have something to work with to work on. It's not far off from my original idea(s) of what it would be like but in another way it's still a very rough - yet a finally functional draft. Now when I design the 'real deal' i'll have not only experience in construction but learned so many different things that I didn't and couldn't envision before I started. The same theme applies to my book and other projects. I've learned you can't expect something to be perfect - or really even that good if you have no experience and there is only so much you can do in the planning stage. At some point - and the sooner the better - you gotta put it into action.

"I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."

That was exhausting! 

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