The Black Pope's Craft Corner

(as requested by NerdyGirl...)
As many of you know, I have an animal companion, Ajax.

Ajax is a handsome male African Grey of the Cameroon subspecies. He is a very hard chewer, and plays quite rambunctiously if he thinks no one is watching. He gets pretty rowdy with his toys, banging the bells against the side of his cage and reducing the wooden parts to matchsticks in short order. He love peanuts and almonds, and is developing a taste for people food slowly (yesterday he ate a whole tater tot!). He's a sagittarius who is looking for a special someone to share candle-lit dinners and long walks by the beach... but I digress.

To keep him in top shape he needs as much time out of his cage as possible. I used to just leave his door open when I was home so he could climb on top of his cage and hang out. This worked for a while but there was really nothing fun to do on the top of his cage so he began to sneak off of it and go exploring in my room. This was ok until he discovered that the shelves of my ghetto-fabulous wall unit are made of the same soft pine as most of his toys. When he started chewing on the shelf that holds my shrine to Speed Racer (Blessed Be His Shiny Helmet) I had to put a stop to it. I decided to build him a play stand.

Four sticks of PVC pipe and about 36 elbow and tee joints later we have this:

The tray is the spare from his cage, so the basic footprint of the thing is about the same as that of his cage minus the seed guards. It stands a bit over 6 feet tall, but it still fits through doorways comfortably. I use zip ties to attach toys to it, and that way I can put them anywhere I want - I'm not tied to specific toy locations. I plan to add casters to it at some point, but for now it just rests on the floor. The perches are wrapped for grip - some with jute, some with sisal (we had both lying around). The jute is softer, but it is less durable when he starts chewing on it.

Click to enlage - this is the one he uses for his Tickle profile...

I think he really likes it. It is by the window and I put a suction cup feeder on the outside to attract wild birds. He spends much of his time on the top perches, talking to them - he even imitates some of their calls. He is also placed strategically near the full length mirror on the closet door because he loves to see himself. He stops occassionally to check himself out and do a bit of territorial dancing - maybe he thinks his reflection is a rival bird?

Plenty of sunshine

There is food and water on the lower perches so he can spend hours there without needing to go back to his cage. When he is ready for bed he will complain until I put him back in his cage (that high-pitched whistle that sounds like a smoke alarm is his way of saying he is sleepy) but the rest of the day he is happy to stay out and play.

Conveniently located by the sock drawer...

If you want to build a play stand for your bird, here are a few things I learned.
- Buy a PVC pipe cutter.

If I had tried to build this with just a hand saw, it never would have gotten done. My cutter cost me about $11.00, and it probably saved me several hours and a case of tendonitis. Each cut is completed in about three squeezes of the handles, and each cut is clean - no piles of PVC shavings on the floor.

- No need for glue.
Although I bought both primer and the glue for this project, I used neither. PVC pipe and fittings press together very well, and unless your bird is an ostrich there is little chance of it popping apart under its weight. When it is time to move (very soon actually) I will just take a sharpie and label each part with its location as I put it into a box for shipping. It should pack down pretty small.

- Build around the tray.
In other words, start with the hardest part to acquire. I had an extra tray for his cage so it was easy, but finding a good tray can be an issue. The best substitues are found in the Rubbermaid section of your local godless megastore - the underbed storage bins looked promising. These are usually unnecessarily deep, but that also kind of helps keep the mess contained. You could also just purchase a lid (they are sometimes priced independently) and that would make a nice tray - unless your bird is a serious chewer. Whatever you choose to use, start with the dimensions of that as the footprint of the finished product.

- Think of portability.
This kind of stand is best when you can move it around the house easily. Birds love to watch the rest of their flock doing stuff, so being able to move the playstand to the kitchen, living room, or laundry room can give your birds a great way to interact with you. I really wish I had though of putting casters on mine initially. It would have been very handy to do that at an early point in the buiilding process, but now it's a bit more difficult.

Naturally, the highest perch is the best perch.

I don't know exactly how much I spent on materials, but I know for certain that this was cheaper than the commercially available stands. I have seen similarly sized manzanita stands going for over $200, and PVC stands going for $150-$180. I probably have about $45 in this one.

If anyone in the Flock actually has an ostrich as a pet, I want pictures...


Nerdygirl said...

Awesome. Thanks for the tips and pics--totally different from the usual "one pole in the middle with branches radiating out from it" design. And who knew there was such a thing as a pvc cutter?

This does just go to show that you are entirely too dedicated to your geekyness--which is of course why the Flock loves you.

Ajax is just lucky to have such a loving (read: obsessive) owner. ;)

Levi said...

Your bird is challenging my manliness. And winning.

PS - too good for class, oh Prince of Douche?

His Sinfulness said...

Too tired for class. Besides, it's Willa Cather - what could I possibly have missed?

Levi said...


Clayton said...

Linus made me cognizant of the bird-owners branch of the nerd world long ago...
but where do they fit on the hierarchy, these bird nerds? I think the tree of nerdvolution would be a good entry for you to make.

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