Sun Conures

August 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Sun conures are a medium-sized parrot. They are green with a yellow head and breast. They look similar to Jenday Conures and the now extinct Carolina Parakeets. Sun conures are known for having moderate talking ability and being very good at tricks. They are very loud so they are not recommended for apartment-dwelling bird owners. However, they are not usually aggressive so they are good for a multi-bird household, and are actually generally bossed around by smaller birds! They can be kept in an aviary with other sun conures or other similar parrots. The loud shrieks they emit may bother neighbors, so make sure to tell them in advance you have outdoor parrots. You may want to invite your neighbor to meet the bird as the bright coloring and intelligence generally wins them over.

These parrots can still pack a powerful and painful bite, even though they are not known for nipping, so be careful as you would with any other bird. They will generally not bite, however, so they are good for families with slightly older children. Their cheery whistles even win over teens. If you are worried about biting, teach your bird to step onto a wooden dowel instead of your finger or hand. The birds are known for making bigger messes than small birds like parrotlets and budgies, so if you like things nice and tidy they may not be for you.

These birds can easily be occupied by a foraging toy or in-shell almond, but even so, remember to let them have at least an hour a day with you, their flockmate, otherwise they may begin screaming throughout the day for you. Sun conures are very intelligent birds and need stimulating activities so they do not get bored. You may want to get a very large cage and house them with other non-aggressive conures, lovebirds, or even cockatiels. Do not house them with other Aratinga conures besides other sun conures that are not the same sex, as they may mate and have a fertile egg which will hatch a hybridized baby. These contaminate the gene pool of the few captive birds we have and the baby may have health problems due to the odd genes. Even though they are very loud, do not cover the cage during the day in an effort to stop screaming. While it does work, it is cruel to the parrot. Even if they are loud, sun conures are great pets and are lovely birds.

Article contributed by: Eliza Kuklinski.

Pet Bird Beak Health and Trimming

February 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

The practice of beak trimming is somewhat controversial, and in making up your mind as to whether or not to trim your bird’s beak, it may be helpful to look at why a bird’s beak may need to be trimmed. The beak of a bird is made up of the jaw bone, which is covered by a sheath of keratin known as rhamphotheca. Keratin is the substance that our fingernails are made up of, and just as our fingernails continue to grow, a bird’s beak continues to grow throughout its lifetime. In the wild, this growth is worn down through the bird foraging for food, eating a hard diet, using its beak to climb, grooming activities and rubbing its beak on abrasive surfaces.

To ensure a healthy beak, provide your pet bird with a range of toys to chew, preferably something with different textures, such as a rope with pieces of wood, mineral blocks, pieces of leather and tough fabric attached to it. Most pet stores have these types of toys for sale, or you could make your own. Providing a cuttlefish is always a good idea. While some may advocate the use of sandpaper perch covers, others are against them as they may be too rough for the bird’s feet and cause problems. Rather see if you can find a cement perch, which is made specifically to ensure beak and nail health. Be sure to house your bird in a sturdy cage appropriate to its size, as biting through flimsy bars of a cage can cause damage to your bird’s beak. However, despite taking all these measures, at times a bird may develop problems with its beak overgrowing, and when this happens, it is imperative to go to an avian vet for an assessment and treatment, as there are some medical problems which can cause beak overgrowth.

Bearing in mind that the beak is used for climbing and playing, as well as for eating and obtaining nutrients for overall health, if a bird is developing beak problems, the quicker it is dealt with, the better. It is a good idea to check your bird’s beak on a daily basis, taking note of any cracks, discoloration, flaking or overgrowth. If your bird’s beak appears to be growing unevenly it could be an indication of an imbalance of nutrients in its diet, or even an underlying problem such as a liver disease. Even if the overgrowth has no medical cause, trimming a bird’s beak is best left to an expert to ensure a minimum of discomfort to your bird.

Should you be concerned about any aspect of your pet bird’s health, including beak overgrowth and abnormalities, nothing can substitute for the care and advice provided by a qualified avian veterinarian.

Crows Know How

February 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

Researchers and scientists have been studying the New Caledonian crow for a number of years now. It has proven to be a bird with extraordinary capabilities, able to solve problems and use tools to gain access to food. This remarkable talent has led to numerous papers being published in regard to the intelligence of the crow. It seems that researchers wanted more and believed that the crows’ problem solving skills could be pushed a little further, and they were right. New tests have shown that crows are able to devise plans and show extreme caution in unfamiliar circumstances.

The first round of research was done to see how crows make use of tools to forage. Researchers gave the crows a three phase puzzle which was solved successfully. They first used a short stick to retrieve a longer stick, which they then had to use to get to their food which was placed in a hole. This test already stunned researchers, but the crows have now shown that they use tools for various other actions as well.

Over and above using sticks to find food, it seems that New Caledonian crows also use sticks to look at objects they deem to be potentially dangerous. Instead of inspecting it closely, they make use of their sticks to take a look around first before approaching something they are unfamiliar with. Dr. Joanna Wimpenny, a research zoologist on the team is very excited about the new findings, saying: “Evidence is building up that they’re able to plan their actions in advance, which is very interesting from a cognition point of view. It isn’t just that they’re responding in a pre-programmed sort of way. It seems possible they may potentially view a problem and know what the answer is.”

To test this, a rubber snake was used in one instance. The crow moved a little closer, but showed signs of being hesitant. He then used a tool to prod the snake a few times and after seeing no movement, he quickly pulled on the tail while jumping backwards. Once he was sure that the rubber snake posed no danger, he approached completely and began pecking on it. These tests and research prove that crows have an intricate thought process. Further behavioral studies are underway to find out more about these fascinating birds and their intelligent problem solving abilities.

Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapilla)

February 9, 2009 by  
Filed under

The Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapilla) is one of the most popular bird species in North America. This cute little bird with its cheerful hop can be seen frequenting bird feeders throughout the year. A marvelous little bird, the Black-Capped Chickadee has a number of fascinating behaviors and is a delight in any garden. Living throughout Canada, the range of the Black-Capped Chickadee extends from Newfoundland through to British Columbia and up to Yukon all across the North-west Territories. Be sure to look out for this lively bird when in those areas.

The Black-Capped Chickadee is a small bird species measuring about 5 inches, or 12 cm. They have a short bill and distinctive black crown and bib with bright white cheeks. The upper parts of the bird are gray whilst the wing coverts are edged in white. A rusty color marks the flanks whilst the underparts are gray-white. Black-Capped Chickadees have complex calls, forming their own language. Chickadees travel in small flocks and have a distinctive hierarchy. The more aggressive the bird, the higher the bird’s rank. High ranking birds receive privileges such as the best food, safest areas and they tend to have greater survival rates. Pairing also takes place according to rank.

Foraging begins at sunrise for Black-Capped Chickadees. Hopping along through the trees the little birds seek out tasty creatures in all the little cracks and holes. Their diet includes insect eggs, larvae, weevils, sawflies and other little creatures. During summer and fall, the Black-Capped Chickadees begin storing food, hiding it under bark, in lichen patches and so forth. These remarkable birds are able to remember thousands of hiding spots. In colder times they will dine on seeds which provide more energy.

Black-Capped Chickadee courtship begins in February and March. Slowly the flock pairs off in search of a nesting place. Males rigorously defend the area against intruders. The nest is made in a hole that the pair dig in a dead stump or rotting wood. The female chickadee will lay 5 to 10 eggs. Incubation lasts 13 to 14 days, and within 16 to 17 days, the young Black-Capped Chickadees can leave the nest, while being fed by their parents for another 2 to 3 weeks.

Black-Capped Chickadees are great garden pest controllers and friendly creatures to have around, so why not make efforts to protect this hardy bird species.

Foraging Birds Keep Guard

April 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

Researchers have recently discovered that certain bird species make use of a sentry when searching for food. This remarkable finding gives us fascinating insight into the survival tactics used by certain bird species.

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