Pet Bird Species: Lovebirds

March 28, 2015 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Active, curious and playful, lovebirds are very entertaining and often recommended as pets. Measuring only 15 cm in length on average, lovebirds are among the smallest of parrots, but are big in personality and have many of the traits of larger species. They thrive on social interaction and can put on quite a show for their human caretakers with very little encouragement.

As their name suggests, lovebirds crave affection, so if owners are not able to give their pet lovebird plenty of attention or are out most of the day, it’s generally a good idea to get a pair. A reputable lovebird breeder should be able to provide a well matched pair of birds, which is important as they can be aggressive if they don’t get along. It’s never a good idea to put a lovebird with another bird species. Pairs of lovebirds are a delight to watch as they play with and groom one another. Breeding pairs of lovebirds even feed one another, carefully transferring food from one beak to the other. It is an erroneous assumption that pairs of lovebirds will not bond with their human handlers. They may bond more with one member of the family more than others, but a lot depends on how they are handled from the start and they will more often than not respond to positive attention from anyone. They appear to enjoy grooming their favored humans with the same degree of affection shown to one another.

The minimum size of a cage for a lovebird should be 1m x 1m x 1m – but bigger is better. They need a variety of safe (preferably wooden) toys, swings and perches to play on and to chew. Providing a cuttlebone is important as this helps to trim their beaks, which grow continuously, and is also a source of calcium and minerals. They enjoy bathing and sunning themselves as part of their daily routine. It is good to remember that lovebirds that are not getting sufficient stimulation and companionship may exhibit behavioral problems such as aggression and feather plucking. Their immune systems may also become suppressed leading to ill health. But, in general, they are easy to care for.

Your pet lovebird’s diet should consist of a good seed, grain and nut mix, along with fresh fruit and vegetables. They also enjoy edible flowers and green weeds, such as dandelion and chickweed. Among the foods to completely avoid are avocado, rhubarb, mushrooms, onions and potatoes.

So, if you’re considering getting a pet bird (or two), lovebirds are a good choice. Just bear in mind that their lifespan is 15 years on average, and they bond for life, so be sure that you want to make a bird part of your household.

Pet Bird Species: Budgerigars

April 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

First recorded in 1805, the budgerigar, more commonly referred to simply as the budgie, is thought to be the third most popular pet in the world – and for good reason. These lively little birds have many of the lovable characteristics of parrots, but in a smaller package, making them ideal as pets for just about anyone as they require less space and less food, but as with all pet birds, thrive on loads of attention. Available in a wide range of colors and varieties, budgies are very intelligent, are easily tamed and can even be trained to talk.

Originating from Australia, where they are still found in the wild, budgies have a preference for grassland areas where they feed mainly on seeds. They are by nature sociable birds and in the wild they live in flocks of varying sizes. They breed according to the availability of food and in times of plenty may produce clutches of seven to eight chicks, while when drought conditions strike (as they are prone to do in the outback of Australia), budgies will not breed at all as they conserve resources for the existing flock.

Wild budgies have light green bodies and yellow heads, with yellow and black rippled stripes from their foreheads down their wings. They have long blue tails and dark purple cheek patches. Selective breeding over the years has produced a wide variety of colors, body shapes and sizes in pet budgies. The hobby of ‘showing’ budgies has led to the breeding of birds with physical traits that are considered desirable by judges, but are far different from the original Australian wild budgie that has survived in often harsh conditions for millions of years.

Pet budgies are happiest and healthiest when they have a diet as close to that of their ancestors as possible, so a variety of good quality seeds is essential. These should include a high percentage of a variety of millet seed, canary seed and a small amount of whole oats. There are commercial mixes made specifically for budgies, or you can mix your own. Make sure that the seed mix you offer your canary is free from dust and mold. To boost the immune system of your budgie, try sprouting some of the seed. This will also be a good indicator of whether the seed you are using is fresh. Soak some seed overnight in water, tip it into a sieve and leave it there until a white tip starts emerging (24-48 hours). At this stage you can mix this in with some dry seed and give it to your budgie. Remove the remaining mix at the end of the day, as it could make your bird ill if left for too long.

Budgies also need some fresh fruit and veggies. They are fond of chickweed, which is very nutritious, and they enjoy dandelion, carrots, broccoli, apples and a variety of other fresh foods. It should go without saying that all fresh foods should be free of pesticides and other toxins, such as car exhaust fumes, so don’t buy from roadside vendors. It is also a good idea to provide them with a cuttlefish, which they will use as and when they need it. If you feed your pet budgie a well-rounded diet as described, with seeds as its mainstay, it should not need additional vitamin supplements.

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.

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