Living with the Happy Bird

October 30, 2013 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Birds lovers know how much time and care feathered friends require. Ensuring their happiness is a lot of responsibility. In my quest to keep my quaker parrot Dahlia entertained, I’ve discovered ways to incorporate her in my daily routine.

Most birds are very social creatures getting lonely, bored, and even distressed when left alone. Looking for opportunities each day to include Dahlia keeps her close as I go about my day. Activities especially suited for a bird on the shoulder or nearby include personal grooming, light housekeeping, working on the computer, and running errands. When you have time, playing and allowing them to fly freely can be both physically and mentally stimulating.

Games and Activities

Taking time for focused attention will make all the difference in your bird’s quality of life. There are many ways to interact that will promote bonding and stimulate brain activity. Many birds love toothpicks. Try putting one in your mouth and turning your head to one side. The movement and stick-like object hits the bird’s nest-building instinct. Dahlia and I play keep-away for a couple of minutes several times each week. After she takes the toothpick, she expertly shuttles it to the other side of her mouth to keep it from me. I position her so I can take it back. Knowing I want the toothpick stimulates her interest in it while providing greater eye/beak coordination. Although she has little interest in toys, most birds do. It’s important to buy new toys regularly.

Around the House

There’s no reason your bird can’t help you while you’re working on a computer, doing light housekeeping, opening the mail, and doing bike and car repair. Several bird friends have marveled at how much their birds enjoy watching them do dishes. Since most birds have the developmental ability of a toddler, seeing dishes moving from one place to another provides enough interest for most birds. Having a perch or playstand makes hanging out with you a snap.

In the Bathroom

Bathroom time is an opportunity to keep your bird company. People have showered with birds for decades if not centuries. Dahlia wasn’t up for the shower at first and now she won’t let me bathe without her. If your bird doesn’t is reluctant at first, don’t give up. The steam is especially good for tropical birds. My parrot never tires of my morning routine. The motion of the toothbrush is one of her favorite things. She bobs up and down with the brush every time. The dental floss never makes it to the finish line as I rush to use it as she chases it between my fingers.

On the Road

Dahlia goes with me to run errands daily. Whether she stays in the car or goes in, we spend more time together and she enjoys the changing scenery as a result. Running errands with a bird can be a great bonding time. I put a towel, paper towels, or paper diaper changing pads on the dashboard above the steering wheel. Dahlia stands on the edge of the dash, on the steering wheel, on my shoulder, and on her cage in the passenger seat. I keep snacks in the glove compartment and bring fresh food such as one grape cut in half, a cucumber slice, and a very small container of bird seed is usually in my purse.

At the Pet Store

If you have time, stop in a pet store for a brief walk through. Dahlia enjoys going to the pet store about once each week. She stares at the rabbits and cats, marvels at the fish, and postures for the parrots. The stress relief I get from so much animal cuteness makes the trip well worth it. Seeing my own little bird react to the menagerie of animals is a delight, but the main benefit is making her day a bit more interesting.

Flying Free

Since Dahlia spends much of her time on my shoulder, she is mainly a free bird. She often flies ahead to the car, flies to me from across the room, and regularly flies both in and outdoors. Since this was not something I planned, I did not train Dahlia to fly or to return to me as is customary. She will not be flying again until spring and then only in parks far from traffic.

Caution; free flying should only be done with birds bonded to you. Since there is no one else Dahlia would rather be with, she always comes down from the tree sooner or later.

Article contributed by: Lisa Kendall

Finding a Reputable Bird Breeder

October 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

You are looking to add a new baby bird to your family. You have chosen the best species for your family. You pick up the newspaper and find an ad for someone who breeds this species. But their advertisement seems a little suspicious. Still, you give them a call. But, once you talk to the breeder, you become even more concerned. They refuse to send photos, and they want you to send them a check before they give you the bird. This article will help you avoid this situation & help you find a reputable breeder you can trust.

First off- check this person’s website. Normally, but not always, a reputable breeder will have a website with contact information, prices, and photos of the babies and their parents. It’s also good if they give a little information about themselves and their birds. If a breeder is committed enough to put up an informative website with photos, they are likely experienced, well-informed breeders. If you find advertisements for breeders with only emails and no websites, it may mean that they are inexperienced or un-reputable breeders.

Try to find reviews for this breeder. Can you find any bird owners that have purchased birds from this breeder? Ask them some questions. Are their birds healthy, active, socialized, friendly birds? When they bought the bird, was it hand-tamed, or did they have to work with the bird for a while? Did the bird have any health problems when they purchased it? Does it have health problems now? Did they get to meet the parents of their bird? You may not always be able to find customers of the breeder, but if you do, be sure to get some information from them.

Ask your breeder what the name of their avian vet is. If they cannot seem to give you the name of the vet or the veterinary practice that they work at, this is a bad sign. Ask the breeder for the veterinary records of your potential new baby. If they are unable to provide them, you may want to consider getting a bird from another breeder. If they are able to give you the name of the veterinarian, ask the vet some questions. Make sure that your bird’s parents are healthy and in good condition.

Although this may not always be the case, if the breeder refuses to let you into their home or breeding facility, it is a reason to be suspicious. How do you know that the birds are kept in sanitary conditions? If the breeder wants you to meet him/her in a parking lot, at a store or gas station, or at any location other than where he keeps the bird, it is a little unusual, and you should be cautious. If the person has no website, doesn’t appear to have a vet, his/her reviews are negative, and asks you to meet them at an unusual location, you should probably go to another breeder. The person may have a ‘bird mill’ where his/her birds are kept in unsanitary conditions, are kept in tiny cages, and are not provided fresh food and clean water.

And remember- if you cannot find a reputable breeder in your area (which is highly unlikely), check out a shelter or parrot rescue. You may find that your best friend doesn’t have to come from a breeder after all.

Article submitted by: Eliza Kuklinski

Mynahs as Pet Birds

May 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Mynah’s make fascinating pets and are the best mimics in the world of birds. Categorized amongst the softbills, these playful birds require special care, especially when it comes to diet. It is also important to note that they are very active birds and require a lot of space. If you think a mynah is the bird for you, then read on.

It is important that you obtain your mynah bird from a reputable domestic mynah breeder, so as to avoid supporting wildlife smugglers, who are responsible for the deaths of vast numbers of birds captured in the wild. Because mynahs can, and should, only be obtained through domestic breeders, it may be a challenge to obtain one; however, there are a number of online resources that will assist you in locating a good breeder.

The most popular pet mynah species are the Greater Indian Hill mynah and the Java Hill mynah. Java Hill mynah’s are the larger of the two and are notable for having a clearer, more human-like voice. On the other-hand Greater Indian Hill mynahs are known to be easier to handle. Mynah’s do well on their own, but a pair is also acceptable. They tend to make more noise when there are two, and do better in an outdoor aviary.

It is advisable to house your mynah in a large cage with a few perches made of natural branches, as they do not climb but only fly and hop. A cage with a grated floor is best as it allows for easy cleaning of the newspaper lined catch tray. A shelf and a nest box will make your mynah feel right at home. The mynah’s cage should be put in a busy part of the home as they are gregarious and enjoy company. Avoid drafty spots and direct sunlight. Include a bathing dish in the cage, along with a water bottle or dish. Be sure to keep both sources of water clean. Supply your very active bird with toys such as mirrors, bells, swings, bottle caps, paper and so forth. Be careful of rope toys as these may catch the tongue of your mynah.

Mynah’s require a specialized diet as hemochromatosis is common. This is a disease that causes too much iron to collect in the bird’s liver, resulting in the bird being poisoned. As such, the mynah must be fed a low iron diet, preferably softbill food that has been formulated to meet their needs. Avoid things such as parrot food, red meat, acidic fruits, seeds and live foods. Recommended fruits to accompany the pelleted diet include apple, banana, melon and grapes, with the seeds removed. Keep the food dishes clean and the cage free of uneaten food items that may spoil. You may wish to give your mynah distilled water if you are concerned about the iron content in your water.

While there are number of considerations to take into account before bringing a pet mynah into your home, if you do decide to do so you will find it a truly rewarding experience.

Pet Birds: Green-Rumped Parrotlets

April 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Green-rumped parrotlets are the second most popular species of parrotlets. Green-rumps (Forpus passerinus) are a bright, beautiful emerald green. They are shy birds, a contrast to the Pacific parrotlets. However, if they are cared for properly and have time spent with them daily, they will eventually come out of their shell. Green-rumps are not known for talking but may pick up a few words and are capable of learning tricks. Green-rumps are available in several color mutations, such as Green-Gray and Turquoise.

Green-rumped parrotlets are not known for being aggressive or biting, and very rarely bite or nip. Green-rumps need at least three toys in their cage and a playgym, as they are very active birds and love to climb. Green-rumps need at least thirty minutes a day with you, as they will become lonely and develop anxiety and possibly pluck their feathers without one-on-one playtime daily.

Green-rumps also need at least 3 veggies and two fruits daily to keep them in top condition. They also need about four teaspoons of a ¾ seeds, ¼ pellet mix. Feed color mutations this except the pellets. Don’t feed pellets to color mutations. Parrotlets should also have a cuttlebone, mineral block, or both in the cage at all times.

Green-rumps aren’t for everyone, but are lovely birds and are loving, sweet, and friendly. If you’’re interested in a Green-rump parrotlet, check out a local parrot rescue society or contact a breeder. Green-rumps are a serious commitment as they live for 20 years or more, so think things over before you get a new bird. Parrotlets can’t just be given up, as they bond with their owner very strongly, so think things through before making serious decisions.

Article contributed by: Eliza Kuklinski.

Pet Birds: Yellow-Faced Parrotlets

April 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Yellow-faced parrotlets (Forpus xanthops) are beautiful birds. They are green with gray and bright, beautiful, sunny yellow faces. Although they are small, they are smart and may learn to do tricks or talk.

Yellow-faced parrotlets, like all parrots, need a quality seed mix and fruit and vegetables daily. They need at least 30 minutes to an hour of attention daily or they get very lonely. Yellow-faces are very active birds and need at least three to four toys in their cage. They also need a play-gym and love one-on-one snuggling. Yellow-Faces should not be kept in an aviary unless it is very large or they may attack other parrotlets.

Yellow-faces, as mentioned before, are good talkers. While it is not guaranteed that they will learn words, they can learn whistles, words, and short sentences. Yellow-faced parrotlets generally aren’t huge fans of petting, but may enjoy the occasional “scratchie.”However, they are still very social and love attention, especially having their owners talk to them. In general they are very sweet, loving birds.

These parrotlets have many different subspecies. There is also a Pacific parrotlet color mutation, Fallow, which makes those birds appear similar to Yellow-faces; however, they don’t have the dark spots on the beak like Yellow-faces. Yellow-faced parrotlets are rare in the U.S. and may be hard to find.

Yellow-faced parrotlets can live over 20 years, so they’re a lifelong commitment. These parrotlets aren’t easy and need a serious dedication. Don’t buy a bird on a whim; take your birds seriously.

Article contributed by: Eliza Kuklinski.

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