Parrot Care Articles
|Parrot Care Articles|
|Feeding Your Parrot|
|Five Tips for Solving Behavior Problems|
|The Quickest Way to Train Parrots|
|Coloring Bird Toys|
|Acrylic Cages - The Cons|
|How Loud Is That Bird?|
Welcome to our collection of information on parrot care. Information about avian behavior, health and welfare is constantly evolving, the information provided here is for educational purposes only. Always discuss your parrots care with your avian vet when you have concerns. The following pages contain information and links to articles about parrot care. If you'd like to skip the information and go straight to a list of all articles in PDF format click here.
Species names are often abbreviated, you can view a list of "bird slang" here.
Most veterinarians recommend that newly acquired birds are quarantined separate from your existing flock, be sure to familiarize yourself with our quarantine procedure.
Are you aware that owning parrots can pose certain risks to human health? Now is the time to find out what those risks are and what you can do to protect yourself and your human family.
Do you know what determines a birds color? Click here to find a guide to color in birds. Learn how to tell the difference between normal feathers, abnormal feathers, dirty or damaged feathers and normal molting.
Parrot enrichment, the idea that our birds need more than good food, veterinary care and companionship has become a new consideration in avian care. For some ideas on creating an enriching environment for your birds read our parrot enrichment article.
Proper nutrition is of the most controversial topics among parrot owners. Beak n Wings recommends that all parrots be fed a diet that consists of 60% high quality pellets, 25% vegetables and fruits, 10% high quality seeds or nuts, 3% healthy table foods, and 2% treats. Always discuss dietary changes with your avian vet.
If you'd like to try cooking for your birds, check out our Bird Mash recipe.
Converting a bird that is used to eating seeds over to pellets can be a challenge. Parrots don't always welcome change and they need to learn to identify their food visually before they will eat it. For help converting a parrot to pellets try reading this article from the Zupreem company.
What plants and woods are safe for your birds? Read About Wood. These plants are believed to be safe for birds, Safe Plants 1 and Safe Plants 2. Please remember that plants and wood treated with pesticides, fertilizer or other chemicals or those that are contaminated with wild bird droppings or molds/fungus are NOT safe for birds.
Five Tips for Solving Behavior Problems
Parrots can provide us with great joy in our lives. However, at times their behavior seems completely inappropriate for the home. Sometimes these unwanted behaviors can lead to desperate efforts to find a new home for a beloved parrot. While some unwanted behavior may be too difficult to modify without help, many behaviors can be addressed by applying the following simple principles.
1. Learn how to read and interpret your bird’s body language: This is how your bird communicates to you. Notice how your bird holds his feathers, how his eyes appear, what he is doing with his mouth, etc. during different times of the day. Decide by what you see if your bird is comfortable, relaxed, showing a fear response, or aggressive behavior, etc. Try to remember what body postures go with what "state of mind". Use this information when you interact with your bird. Try to avoid doing things that cause your bird to display behavior that indicates he is scared, nervous or aggressive. Focus on interactions that seem to promote a relaxed and comfy bird. For example, if you try to pick up your bird and his body language shows that he might bite, respect what he just told you with his body language and try again later. You can also try to persuade your bird to look forward to stepping up by using a treat or reward.
2. Find a treat that works: Having a food treat that your bird really likes to use to reward good behavior is an excellent tool for modifying behavior. The treat is your way of communicating to your bird that what he just did was “good”. An easy way to identify a good treat for your bird is to feed your bird his normal diet in the morning. Notice what food item your bird eats first. That is probably his favorite food. Take that item out of the regular morning feeding and use it to reward your bird for good behavior throughout the day. Many parrots also enjoy sunflower seeds, peanuts, nuts, grapes, etc. Make sure to break big items into smaller pieces for more opportunities to reward your bird and to help avoid feeding your bird too many treats.
3. Don’t make your bird do anything he doesn’t want to do: This may seem like common sense, but it is often easily overlooked. Reading your bird’s body language is very important when trying to do this. Recognize when your bird is telling you “no” with his body language. Instead of continuing to force the issue, try to find a way to get your bird to do what you want using positive methods, like using treats and rewards for steps in the right direction. This will help build a positive and trusting relationship between you and your bird.
4. Ignore undesired behavior, reward desired behavior: It is easy to react to undesired behavior when we see it. However, this isn’t always an effective way to modify that behavior. For example, if your parrot screams for attention, walking over to his cage to yell at him can actually be the attention your bird was looking for. This can teach your bird to scream to get you to come over to his cage. If instead you wait until the bird stops screaming, or does something else, and then go over to your bird, you will teach him “quiet” or other behaviors will get the desired attention.
5. Teach your bird to do what you want by rewarding little steps of progress towards the desired behavior: It may take longer to teach your bird to do something using positive methods, but in the long run both you and your bird will be happier. Instead of forcing your bird to do whatever you would like him to do, break the behavior down into little steps in your mind. After your bird performs each step, give him a treat. Eventually you can get to the desired behavior and the entire process will have been positive and fun for your bird. For example you can teach your bird to step up by rewarding him for taking a step towards your hand, for lifting a foot, for putting a foot on your hand, for putting both feet on your hand, for allowing you to move your hand and so on. By doing this, you can create a bird that looks forward to doing what you ask him to do. Applying these basic principles can help shape your birds behavior. This can lead to a long, happy and harmonious relationship with your bird. Give it a try!
By Barbara Heidenreich
The Quickest Way To Train Parrots
Parrots are intelligent animals. Some studies have proven that certain species of parrots have intelligence levels comparable to that of a four year old child! Yet it's glaringly obvious that people have no idea how to harness a parrot's ability to learn. So I thought Id shed a little light on how I've adopted some dog training techniques to get parrots to respond to training much quicker than traditional methods.
This technique is called shaping. Shaping is a training method that trains parrots to think. It doesn't lure them with food, or punish parrots for doing a behavior incorrectly. Instead it works on this principal?
Parrots will continue to do behaviors that bring them pleasure, with greater and greater frequency and continue to do so until the behavior no longer brings them pleasure?
When I'm training one of my parrots to learn to step up onto my hand, I don't just shove my hand in front of them and force them off their perch. After all, the parrot might not want to step up. The parrot might be sleepy, upset, not want to be taken away from his food bowl, or a whole host of other reasons.
So instead, I like to reward parrots for coming to me on their own free will. I like to let the parrot train himself that coming to me brings him pleasure. Here's what I mean.
Let's say that our parrot is happily playing on the top of his cage, and you want him to train him to step up onto your hand. To do this place your hand about 12-24 inches from your parrot, and observe what he does. Does he back away even further? If so you should back up also, until you're far enough away that your parrot is showing relaxed body language.
Then start watching for tiny movements your parrot starts to make towards your hand. At first, parrots will usually do nothing. But be patient and start small. Look for your parrot to look at your hand. When he does say good?, and reward with a favorite treat of his.
Parrots will catch on pretty quick and realize that all they have to do to get a treat is look at your hand. When your parrot gets to this stage, demand more from your parrot for a treat. Make your parrot take a step towards your hand? even a small step, tell him ?good? and reward him again.
Continue to slowly demand your parrot get closer and closer to your hand before giving him his treats, until he's actually stepping onto your hand. But be careful, parrots can tend to not trust you. So the first time your parrot steps on your hand, don't think the training is done. Parrots will feel betrayed if you coax them onto your hand and them pick them up fast.
Instead let your parrot step on your hand without picking him up, and gradually work on rewarding your parrot for letting you pick him an inch of the ground, then two, three, four etc. Until every time you walk over to his cage, he'll run over to you expecting that he can step up onto your hand to get his treat.
Training parrots in this way teaches parrots to problem solve. It teaches them to figure out what you want them to do, and makes training other behaviors in the future much easier.
Copyright 2006 Womach Brother Productions. This article was written by Chet Womach a parrot trainer who's helped thousands of people owners overcome behavior problems in their parrots, by using positive reinforcement training techniques.
Many bird owners are interested in coloring wood and rope themselves. Here are a couple options for dyeing toys.
Cake Food Color (Paste or Gel)
You can purchase cake food color gel or paste where cake decorating supplies are sold. Add a one-ounce jar of color to one quart of hot water.
Natural Food and Vegetable Coloring
Many foods can also be used to color or dye toy parts, they’re messier and harder to use than the cake food color. Make sure any food item you use is clean, fresh, and stored properly to avoid contamination by bacteria or mold.
Red - beet juice
Blue - juice from canned blueberries
Yellow - boil onion skins (brown paper portion) in a small pan with water and a teaspoon of white vinegar. Let stand (cold) overnight.
Green - mix blue and yellow
Purple - mix red and blue
These colors have sugar in them. Store and use carefully to avoid spoilage. Allow the wood to dry completely before storing. From: www.birdsjustwannahavefun.com
What to Know about Parrot Enrichment:
Parrot enrichment is a key strategy the process of creating a more involving, pleasant life for these pet birds. Like all wild creatures, birds come into this world with innate instincts, and are compelled to survive through notions not necessarily understandable at a conscious level. Instinct is not repressed easily, so when birds are kept in captivity as pets, no matter how many generations have passed in domestication, those instincts still kick in. A small cage with little room to move and having food and water supplied to you at all necessary times creates a life of the doldrums, filled with boredom and little reason to draw the willpower to continue acting as birds are supposed to act. By using parrot enrichment, a pet bird can be given the chance to explore more of his/her natural instincts and mannerisms, to keep life from regressing to a sleep-eat-and-you know what kind of existence.
A very simple and highly effective way to keep a bird active is to change up its meal times. Parrots, like dogs and cats and even human beings, can become desensitized to the notions of eating and hunger when meal times become too familiar. If you begin to alter the daily times you feed the birds, the birds will respond with surprise and actually begin to feel suspense at the prospect of eating again, making for a much more natural cycle. After all, birds are supposed to hunt, and well-timed food is never a guarantee in the wild.
Parrots are known for hanging from branches, but humans often underestimate the capabilities of birds and just toss a toy in as near as possible to the bird. By placing toys just out of reach, or by situating them where they will have to stretch their capacities to reach them, you’re providing some challenges that motivate these beautiful birds to react accordingly in order to achieve a goal (playing with the toy). It may sound too obvious, but many pet caretakers miss out on this entirely. Just like a dog would be bored playing fetch if you only tossed the stick a couple of feet, just placing a toy a few inches from a bird will elicit a ‘yawn.’
If you’re lucky enough to be able to provide your pet parrot with a large, open space in which he can maneuver, then all the better. Birds are built to fly and scurry around, and cages with narrow dimensions inhibit their ability to be themselves. Large spaces allow the birds to use the full range of their physical capabilities, and allow them to stay fit by being more active. This makes large bird cages or aviaries ideal home environments in which to raise a parrot. Enriching a lifestyle isn’t all about the physical things a bird receives, but also the environment in which it is raised.
Acrylic Cages - The Cons
Particularly as the economy worsens, pet owners need to find any way possible to cut costs while being able to keep their loved ones close and provide them with the highest quality care. Some parrot owners feel they can save money by using an acrylic cage, rather than the traditional parrot cage made of metal. While some acrylic parrot cages are high quality, it is important for owners to understand the many disadvantages of acrylic parrot cages when compared to the traditional variety. These disadvantages include durability, overheating, ventilation, and maintenance. This article will discuss some of the disadvantages of acrylic bird cages.
An Acrylic Cage
Metal cages are easier to clean, since you only need to wipe down the bars and change bedding. Acrylic cages require considerably more work as well as being harder to properly disinfect. Metal cages are more durable and over the long term are usually more cost effective. Acrylic cages have issues with proper ventilation unless you buy a separate ventilating fan. Acrylic cages can overheat and if the pet is kept in a trailer or your home is in a hot climate, such a cage can lead to health issues for the bird.
Acrylic parrot cages are prone to scratching. While this may not be a problem with smaller birds, parrots and larger birds have stronger feet and beaks. Scratches will make the cage appear worn as well as creating cracks for dirt and bacteria to accumulate.
Parrot owners enjoy the curiosity, playfulness and activity particularly of this breed. All birds need proper exercise and if they are in a cage, climbing is very necessary. Acrylic cages are slippery and don’t provide the traction metal cages do.
A parrot being able to climb a metal cage provides much needed exercise.
As mentioned above, most mid-level metal cages will outlast even high quality acrylics. Many owners report that acrylic bird cages sometimes have problems with the seams coming unglued.
Proper ventilation also presents a problem. Metal wire cages never have problems with ventilation because they're so open. Acrylic bird cages are closed, so the air is unable to circulate properly. This will give various organisms a condition to grow in, and could cause health problems with your bird. Purchasing an additional ventilating fan is a possibility but constant wind is not so good for your pet. Also, when it gets cold, a fan may cause sickness.
Overall, it is more desirable to purchase a high quality metal parrot cage, rather than an acrylic for the health and safety of your bird and also in consideration of your home’s appearance and your costs as a pet owner.
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