Personality is Vital for Male Birds

September 20, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

It seems that it is not only humans who want more than just good looks in a partner, as a recent study revealed that even in the bird kingdom, being handsome does not guarantee the attention of a female companion. Researchers have realized that personality plays a vital role for male birds to catch the attention of a female, so feathers are not the only feature females take into consideration when looking for a mate. The survey was performed by a group of scientists from the Royal Veterinary College, the University of Exeter, Canada and the Carleton University.

Zebra finches were used to conduct the study. Interestingly enough, it was the confident and more adventurous males that drew the attention of the females, regardless of the beak color, size or plumage condition of the males. More than a hundred and fifty birds were used in the program, and the personality of the females was found to play a large role in their selection as well. From the various exercises that were performed, allowing females to show scientists their preferences, it was also obvious that the more out-going females preferred the confident males, while the more shy females were not very particular when it came to choosing a prospective partner. The team leader of the project was Dr Sasha Dall (University of Exeter), who commented that the research proved that personality played a large role in a female’s decision, irrespective of the appearance of the males. It also proved that what would be expected from humans selecting partners, namely the compatibility of personalities, has been overlooked in other species.

To determine the personalities of each bird, the birds were put in a cage to explore. The females were able to view this through a clear window, but unknowingly to them, one male was held back on purpose, and the females therefore viewed him as being less confident as they did not see him exploring the cage. Some birds showed no fear in regard to discovering their new environment, while others were happy remaining in one position watching the others. The more confident birds therefore paired together, while the rest did not show any dominant preferences. Once again it was shown that there is so much about our feathered friends that we don’t know yet, leaving the future open to many possibilities and new discoveries.

The Pacific Parrotlets

August 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Pacific Parrotlets are a somewhat uncommon species. While they are actually the most common of their genera, they are not the everyday pet. The Pacifics are the friendliest of them all, although feisty and occasionally nippy, and make great companions.

They are 5 inches long at full maturity. The males have light blue streaks behind their eyes and darker streaks on the wings and rump. The female is plain green and may or may not have the light blue streak behind the eye. While they are not recommended for young children because their occasional nips can be painful, they are noted for being good at tricks, such as flying to the owner on command, the ‘wave’, and going through a hoop on command. They are also good talkers and may speak in complete sentences, although the voice is not as clear as some other parrots. They are very cute, but are known for eating as much as the larger cockatiels.

They are not recommended for aviaries as they may kill their mate or cagemate. If you put a Pacific in an aviary be sure they have lots of room to fly and do not put them with other birds as they will attack other birds regardless of size. They cannot be housed in a small finch or budgie cage and need a very large cage with about ½ inch bar sizing. They need at least 3 toys and 3-4 perches (more is always better!). Though they are small their nutrition should not be overlooked and they should be fed at least three vegetables and 2 fruits every day. They are good apartment birds because they are relatively quiet.

Pacific Parrotlets come in several color mutations such as blue, white, albino, American yellow, and gray-green. They are rarely obtained at pet stores and usually have to be bought from a professional breeder. They are good show birds as they are generally comfortable with traveling, and like all the attention they will obtain from the attendants and the judge.

Parrotlets may be small, but they are very messy. Just as the large parrots typically do, they will fling fruit and such on everything in their paths, including walls, the cage, cagemates, and the owner! They love to be with you and are very affectionate. They will (somewhat begrudgingly) let you softly stroke them in most cases. Most will gladly step onto your hand if you prompt them. Pacific Parrotlets make great pets. If you would like a parrotlet find a local breeder in your area or check a nearby shelter – you may find the right parrot for you.

Article contributed by: Eliza Kuklinski.

Keeping a Pet Caique

April 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

The Caique is known by a variety of names such as the Seven Color Parrot, Yellow Thighed Caique, Black Headed Caique and the Dancing Parrot. There are, however, two Caiques, namely the Black Headed Caique (Pionites melanocephala) and the White Bellied Caique (Pionites leucogaster). Over the years they have slowly become more popular as pets, as they are known for their playful personalities, curiosity and entertaining talents. Their wonderful coloring is another beautiful feature that they offer, and more bird owners are starting to warm up to the Caique as a pet bird.

Growing to a length of approximately nine to ten inches, the Caique is a relatively small parrot. The Black Headed Caique has black plumage on its head, with green just below the eyes and orange cheeks. Green plumage covers the upper tail feathers and wings, while its belly is beige, with grey coloring to its beak and legs. The White Headed Caiques feature pink legs, yellow and orange head plumage, white bellies and green on the tails and wings. They can live an estimated twenty years and are very energetic.

Caique parrots crave the attention of owners, so owners need to be very interactive with them. These clever little parrots are able to quickly pick up and mimic tunes whistled to them. They do have the ability to talk, and speak in tiny high pitched voices. They need a lot of activities and toys to keep them stimulated, as they bunny hop, swing and roll to keep themselves entertained. Bells, ropes, swings and hoops are recommended toys for Caiques, as well as toys they can destroy by chewing and biting. They are able to adapt to being alone in a cage, or with a mate, but do not do well in a cage with other bird species, as they are known to become aggressive towards them and can deliver a harsh bite when provoked.

Nutrition wise, the Caique can be fed the same as any other pet parrots, supplemented with fresh fruit and vegetables. If bird owners are searching for a pet bird that they can cuddle, love and play with, the Caique is the ideal bird, as it is interactive, excitable and always ready for attention and love.

The Tale of Winston Perchhill – Part One

January 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

My name is Winston. Winston Perchhill. I am a happy member of a flock of three cockatiels, but it hasn’t always been like this. I would like to take you back to my earliest memories.

I was six months old and had been left in a bird shop by a man who was teaching me to whistle. He had told the owner of the shop to warn everyone to be careful when they came near me, because I was dangerous. It wasn’t clear to me what that meant, except that I probably wouldn’t get to visit with many people or other birds ever again. There I was, alone in my nice, large cage and separated from all of the other birds, some of whom looked to be close relatives of mine. They paid no attention to me at all, and I mostly contented myself by eating the food I was given and watching the controlled commotion around me, keeping an ear poised for any words I might have heard before. I spent the rest of my time whistling my little ditty, putting all of my heart and soul into every syllable and imagining that I was in a great mansion surrounded by birds of all kinds who were spellbound by my song. I determined not to forget even one note, because I felt in my bones that my song would be the key to me finding a new home, my forever home.

One day as I was busy whistling as usual, this strange-looking lady came in, walked past me, and went directly into the back of the shop where I had noticed most customers usually went. In a few minutes, while she was returning to the front with a package filled to the brim with seed, she stopped to listen to me. This was it; I knew it! I whistled with all my might, my nervous little body bending with the song and my swaying head reaching for the sky. I had won her! It was obvious!

“Does every cockatiel whistle that song, or is that unique to that bird?” she asked the owner, who was too busy with another customer to reply.
“Why is that bird here?”
“On consignment,” she was told.
“Male or female?”
“Male.”
“How old is he?”
“Six months.”
“Why is he here?”
“The family couldn’t keep him any longer.”
“How much would he cost?”
“Fifty dollars, and that includes the cage and the toys.”
“I’ll take him! Can I leave him here for a few hours while I do some other errands?”
“Sure.”

I was to have my own home again! A strange lady, granted, but she did know her music! When my lady came back, she was very happy to see me again. She put my cage into the back of our car and nestled me close to her in a small clear box. She talked and whistled to me all the way home, which turned out to be less than a great mansion, much less. My disappointment was tempered, however, the moment we went through the front door and I saw a tidy cage, inside of which were two beautiful yellow birds. They were smaller than I and we differed a lot in appearance; but they turned out to be pretty nice. The brighter one was quite talkative, although I could understand only a few of the things he said.

Those days we didn’t have much company, probably because in our house there also was a very old gentleman whom my lady was taking care of. So, although it was quiet, I had my birds, and my lady whistled to me all the while she worked and periodically reviewed my whole vocabulary. Then suddenly the old man was gone, and for two years my lady left our house before breakfast and returned after dark, until one day she came home for good, bringing with her two very tiny birds. We were together and had many visitors, and there was absolutely nothing to complain about.

The tiny birds seemed to enjoy being with the rest of us and my lady kept busy teaching me more things to say. We had settled on what I came to know as “The Marine Corps Hymn” to be “my” song. It fit me like a glove and I could whistle it perfectly within a couple of weeks. Every time strangers came into the house, I treated them to multiple renditions of it, to great acclaim.

The months drifted along uneventfully, and then a crisis came upon us. There were tears, and many people coming and going, measuring and removing furniture, and packing clothes and all the pictures and the pretty little china things that had decorated our house. My birds and I were put into the car and driven down the road for a few minutes, taken out, and carried into… a mansion. I was finally going to live in a great mansion! I stretched my neck to see what we were passing along the way inside and it was beyond my wildest dreams. There were birds in the bushes, birds in the trees, birds on the roof. They greeted us as we were carried inside, me whistling, of course, my Marine Hymn. It was bird heaven and I could have died right then and there and been satisfied!

We were placed in what was described as “our bedroom.” From our cages, we could look outside through a huge picture window, and my lady would put food on the porch for the outdoor birds to eat. They would fly in as one and land on the stone railing, impatiently waiting until the food was ready and my lady was gone, and then they would descend on the food, eating ravenously. This happened twice a day like clockwork and all of us birds, inside and out, would begin to get excited about the routine at least half an hour before feeding time. We were one big flock: the five of us inside watching our members on the other side of the window – little brown birds that chirped and huge mostly gray birds that had a very pleasant way of cooing. In the warm weather, we were joined by birds with red faces and little ones who were brown on the back and white on the front, while black-and-red birds ate down on the grass and noisy blue birds ate up in the trees. Once in a while some enormous black birds would soar overhead and in the evening ugly little birds dove around the porch eating right in the air.

On those warm days, my lady would put my cage in a small alcove on the porch, and I would whistle and talk to my friends from morning until evening, when I would be gently carried into my bedroom to rejoin my indoor birds for sleep. It was a wonderful time. My lady visited me throughout the day and often prompted me to say a few words, but mischievously I would say them only when I wanted to. On cold days, she would sit in a nearby room and talk to the five of us indoor birds, and I in turn would treat her to several choruses of my song. My indoor brothers and sisters would glance at each other in amazement and sit very quietly, listening to us. Life went on like that, and then death came.

First my original birds died, then one of the smaller ones. That left just one tiny gray bird and me in our bedroom. We did our best to keep each other company when the house was quiet and the outdoor birds had gone to their nests. My lady kept constant vigil, and the three of us had our hour together every evening just before sleep. Then one day I was all by myself inside with no tiny bedtime companion at all. I comforted myself with my whistling and of course I had my outdoor flock. I became content to sit in my cage and watch them bustle about and descend as one when hungry and fly away as one when scared or when their stomachs were full. Every year there were new members of the flock and every year I would find that some of those whom I had known in the past were missing. A strange big brown bird began to come regularly and perch on the stone railing, and my lady would hustle out and carry me inside when she saw him! I thus learned that not all birds were my friends, and I began to call a warning when he would arrive.

The Tale of Winston Perchhill – Part Two

Article written by Mary Anne Little

The Tale of Winston Perchhill – Part Two

January 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

The Tale of Winston Perchhill – Part One

After the passage of many years, this mostly tranquil, comfortable life was snatched away from me when my lady and I left our great mansion. I had done my best to get her to stay, greeting every stranger and telling them, in my own words, that we were very happy there and did not want to go, to no avail. Again I was in the car, but this time it was not just a short ride. We went through whole neighborhoods, over rough roads and roads that went through great red rocks, and into places completely covered with trees. We parked in front of a little blue house surrounded by snow, and there was not another bird in sight! I had barely had time to say goodbye to my outdoor friends at the mansion and now I had no one, except my lady. I was miserable and she knew it.

She kept me by her side all day and took me with her whenever she went anywhere in the car. Although I had a big window to look out, there was nothing to see except those awful green trees and that snow on the ground. Oh, the occasional group of four-legged animals would go by; but I did miss my birds. I was so unhappy, I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t even whistle. I just sat on the bottom of my cage and dreamed of my lost flock. Nothing could make me forget and I got weaker and weaker. I could hear my lady talking about me to someone I could not see and one day she left me alone in the house for several hours. When she came home, she was carrying a huge new cage that held the two most beautiful birds I ever saw! They looked somewhat like me; but I’m just a couple of shades of gray, and they were pure white! I knew I was in love with one of them the moment I saw her, and immediately I stretched and got myself off the bottom of my cage.

When my lady let me out, I strolled right over to the white birds and began to whistle as I had never whistled before. I belted out “The Marine Corps Hymn” over and over, slightly spreading my wings and bowing to my new love. I did not feel the sting I should have felt from the incredulous looks I received from the white birds and I began to tell them in my own words how I felt about her: “I love you, pretty bird!” When my love turned her back on me and hurried away, I asked her “What’s the matter?” Even though my appetite was returning, I forgot to eat very much. It had been a long day, but I was still serenading. When we were put to bed, they were in their cage and I in mine. It didn’t seem fair that that other bird got to be near my love all night and I had to sleep by myself! I thought about her until I fell asleep; and when I awoke the next morning, a few hours earlier than usual, I began my serenade all over again.

When we were finally allowed out and she majestically ascended my hanging perch, I stood beneath her looking up, and whistled. I quickly learned that she had a hard heart, but I was determined to win her over. During the daytime, the white birds and I were always free to go out of our cages. I noticed they had a bit of a waddle that I didn’t have, but it was quite endearing. When we ate, they pecked away incessantly until they got their fill and I would choose each seed carefully and munch on it slowly, giving my lady a glance after my every bite, just to make sure that she could see I was really part of my new flock. My muscles were very weak, so I had to watch from a distance as my white birds climbed between cages and flew up to the highest bookshelves and ventured throughout the house. I was, however, able to explore their cage, which was a wonder, filled with toys of every sort. At first, the white birds would pair up against me, not willing to share; and my love would call to him in her coy little way, while I would wander around alone, sometimes letting my competition know that I was serious about turning the head of my newfound love.

I don’t recall exactly when I succeeded in that, but succeed I did, in a big way! I had suddenly become irresistible to her and she was coyly calling to me! My lady began referring to the other white bird as “my dear little orphan boy” and I could totally empathize with him, but this was love and I wasn’t going to miss out on a second of it! I was an old bird—sixteen and counting – and didn’t have much time left, but I was beginning to feel great.

I don’t miss the mansion anymore and I have begun to think about my old flock less and less. The warm weather has returned and there are dozens of birds outside, along with many more of those four-legged animals, some with their babies, and many other types of animals who weren’t here in the cold. I have my pure white love and our mutual white friend, and a comfortable, cozy cottage, and my lady. That’s a lot of things to whistle about and I whistle periodically from morning until sleep. I have taken up the chirp of the white birds that is much more musical than a simpler one I borrowed years ago. I have truly become one of them: we share our cages and we eat and sleep together, and we are happy. Would you believe it, I can fly now – mostly, however, in a downward trajectory; but my wings are getting stronger and I glide farther every day! My lady smiles a lot as she watches over us. She and I still review my words and my song every day; and I have gotten used to sitting on her shoulder while we have good, long talks. You know, I never once let my lady touch my back until I saw how much my white birds enjoy it; but now I can sit for hours letting my lady stroke my feathers and rub my face, and kiss me – right on the beak! It is, in fact, a very good life!

Article written by Mary Anne Little

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