Tonawanda News

October 21, 2013

CRITTER COMPANIONS: Treats could help acclimate birds to new home

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — With the number and variety of critter companions I care for, I have long since decided apartment living isn’t for me.

After one year of dwelling at an apartment in Florida, I made the move once again to home ownership. Earlier this week I pack up the apartment and moved to my own place. This house has more than one acre of property, providing my pets lots of room to romp, and provides me the possibility of getting a few more acres.

After moving all of my belongings to the new place I slept there one night without any pets. No glow of the lizard’s heat lap, no screeching of the cockatoo, and no waking up at 3:30 a.m. to my cat Princeton purring kneading my pillow, made it quite lonely. I didn’t want to relocate them at night time so I waited the next full day, so they could acclimate easier. I prepared the kennels for the 5-mile trip.

Buddy the cockatoo was easy to kennel. After showing her a peanut she was more than eager to kennel. With the extra rewards she received as the journey progressed, I bet she will kennel in the future quite easily.

Eartha the savannah monitor and Gilligan the hermit crab were ready to go, and they commuted without needing to leave their enclosure. The cats were the trickiest but still overall easy. Princeton was picked up and went in willingly and Julian investigated the kennels as we were packing. He eventually went inside by himself so we closed the door on him and gave him a treat. 

We packed the three kennels on top of each other on a cart and the small journey from the apartment to the car was a noisy one. I’m sure the residents at the apartment were intrigued as they heard meowing coming from the top and bottom kennels and “Pretty birds, whatcha doing,” over and over again from the middle kennel.

Starting at a new place is always exciting. To turn a house into a home is a long, winding road of adventures that are created by many u-turns and speed bumps. I have always found, whether in a new apartment, condo or house, smells bring back fond memories of a once-distant home.

The tastiest and easiest way to make your house a home is by baking. Baking Aunt Denise’s funeral potato casserole with hash browns and cream of mushroom soup or cousin Chrissy’s new Hungarian pepper cheese dip will surely bring back memories quickly for me. However I can guarantee you that these are unhealthy — to say the least — for our critter companions. 

Being at the new house, is difficult too, with the new orientation of dishes, stove, refrigerator and pantry. Taking all of this in consideration, plus the fact that I can almost hear the backyard calling my name, I do not have time to bake treats for my pets.

So I cheated. Oven Fresh Bites, a company that sells baked bird treats and diets online and at two Western New York stores, offers a variety of flavors for your avian critter companions. My parrot, Buddy, my coworkers’ conure and some birds at work have all tried their products. 

I started Buddy with their baked birdie munchies. These are a nutritionally complete food item that my bird ate, but did not appear to be smitten with. She ate them as if she were eating her normal diet. 

We then tried the cran-blueberry, veggie delight and tropi-fruit medley cookies. I broke them in half because they are on the larger side. Buddy ate them both quickly and seemed to prefer these too many other food options. The best part about these cookies is that I can easily pronounce all of the ingredients and it is a short list. 

Neither the nutritionally complete baked goods and the treats are not shaped into clever letters or shapes and do not contain artificial coloring. Everything is natural and you can even see real pieces of fruits or vegetables in the cookies. 

Oven Fresh Bites was developed by veterinarians and research has shown that using larger grain particles may improve nutrient retention and digestion for your pet bird. I have also heard that some food dyes may be reasonable for medical problems in birds, another reason to go natural. When you open your package of birdie munchies you will be greeted by a splendid smell of fresh fruit, vegetables and grains. It will be as if you baked all day. Buddy the bird recommends these birdie munchies, particularly the tropi-fruit medley with real mango, papaya and kiwis.

Kenny Coogan has a B.S. in animal behavior. Please email your questions to, or search for “Critter Companions by Kenny Coogan” on Facebook.