Sunday, January 15, 2012


Parrot Care and Behavior

Parrots are beautiful and majestic. They can nearly bowl you off your feet with their stunning beauty... but there's more to it than good looks. A bird won't sit in a tweety bird cage all day eating seed saying "Polly want a cracker?". First off, I'll give you a little glimpse of parrot care needs...

Cage size and shape is a big factor here. Parrots, as well as all birds, cannot be housed in a round cage. They need corners to feel secure in. The cage should be kept against a wall or in a corner, not in the middle of a room. The cage should be *at least* 2 times the width of the bird's wing span. Bigger is much better. Those "parakeet cages" and "cockatiel cages" that you see in pet store would not be suffice for a single canary or finch, let alone a budgie or cockatiel. The cage should be on a stand. The cage should not be set on the floor (for small birds). The cage for big parrots have wheels on the bottom and are very tall, and do not need to be on a stand.
Toys and perches are also needed, of course. At least 5 toys would be good. Wooden toys and paper toys are ideal. Plastic toys aren't very fun for birds because they can't really chew on them. My lovebird, my only bird, loves to shred paper and dixie cups. Birds need wood AND rope perches. Different textures for their feet. Wood alone can become hurtful to the bird's feet! You may also choose to give your bird swings and ladders, for even more fun.
Diet... oh diet. A parrot just can't eat seed. They need pellets, good seeds, fresh fruits and veggies, and if you can, cooked foods and sprouts. You can look up toxic food lists for birds on Google. Parrots seem to love eggs, and whole wheat pasta. My lovie loves to eat off of my plate.
Attention! Parrots need attention. Some more than others. That's why, if you work long hours, don't get a large parrot! They need much more attention than the small guys. I mean, hours and hours of attention per day. Not 20 minutes.
Noise, beautiful noise! Not.. Well, birds make noise. It's inevitable. If you have a quiet bird, you have a sick bird. Budgies chirp, macaws scream. Even little Aratinga conures (suns, jendays, cherry heads.. etc) can pack a noise punch. It's amazing how such a loud screech can come from a little bird, really! Even my lovebird can chirp quite loud! And he's only a baby... and I mistakenly taught him the "come here" whistle. Which he uses all the time! The big guys can knock you off your feet with their screams and squawks. I heard a macaw squawk at a bird expo and it nearly stopped my heart! Very, very loud. Cockatoos and macaws especially! Oh, and Amazons! Oh, and.... Well yea, there are a LOT of loud birds.
Now; to the behavior part. Ready for it?
Parrots are mentally confusing animals. They can learn to pluck their feathers and other bad behaviors quite easily. Whether it be a bad diet, not enough attention, or other problems, such as arguments in the household. They can develop screaming problems, too. Whether it be their owner screaming or learning that screaming means attention. A bird can become aggressive and untrustworthy with a mistake from you, like using violence with your bird when he does something wrong. Negative reinforcement does *not* work with parrots. Only positive reinforcement does. Reward them for doing everything you like them to do. And they will learn to please you. But boy, do birds love drama! If your bird bites or lunges, don't pull away or yell. That's a reward! Carefully remove the beak from your hand, place your bird somewhere else, like on a perch, go into the bathroom, tend to your wound and scream if you need to! Let all your anger out! Then you can approach your bird again.
Parrots need new toys every once in a while to keep them stimulated and happy. Whether it be a wad of paper, or a $50 wooden toy, they will be happy. They need plenty of toys, and new toys to be happy and healthy. You should bring the bird out of his cage often and have play sessions, like peak a boo, or maze (Google it). There are plenty of ideas. Birds love to forage for food and treats, so you can try doing things like hiding food and letting your bird find it. Remember, parrot's don't have a sense of smell, so don't make it too hard! (They smell with their tongue. That's why something they gently grab onto your finger and "smell" it!).
Please don't think I'm trying to scare you away from parrot owner ship! The pros can sometimes outweigh the cons, but sometimes they can't, so expect that! Do your research research research, please! There are way to many homeless parrots as it is.

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