Mynahs as Pet Birds

May 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous

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 Miscellaneous

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 Miscellaneous

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.

Pet Birds: Budgies

February 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous

Budgies are extremely popular little birds, having been around for decades. They come in many different colors; including green, white, blue, yellow, and mixtures of different colors. Although they are small, they should be fed at least two different kinds of fruits every day, three different kinds of vegetables, and a mixture of pellets and seeds. Budgies are relatively good talkers, and over a long period of time can learn a number of words.

Although many people do not know it, there are two different kinds of budgies. They are not different species; they are the first parrot to particularly have ‘breeds’. The more common of the two is the American budgie; more commonly known as a parakeet. These little birds are commonly seen in pet shops and are extremely popular, especially with breeders and first-time bird owners. They usually live around 15 to 20 years – not including birds with diseases or injuries.

English budgies are a bit larger than American budgies and are bred for bird shows, rather than as pets. However, this does not mean they make bad pets; they are still nice birds. However, they have a shorter lifespan, and usually live around seven years.

Although their names do not suggest it, budgies are actually from Australia. They are ground feeders and mainly eat grasses and seeds. However, this does not mean they need a seed-based diet in captivity – they do not fly for miles as wild budgies would, so the fat from the seeds would build up quickly.

They have complex emotions like larger parrots and need to be treated with respect. Budgies cannot be taught tricks with negative reinforcement and need to always be treated kindly. They are still capable of biting, as sweet as they may be, and cannot be squeezed.

Budgies are easy to find at shelters and pet shops, even breeders. If you take interest in one of these special pets, make sure you are able to take care of them properly. If you are, and you think they are the right pet for you, invest in a large cage, a good pelleted diet, perches and toys. If you have decided, good luck on your new bird!

Article contributed by: Eliza Kuklinski.

Pet Birds: Cockatiels

February 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous

Cockatiels are well known little birds. They are popular with first-time bird owners and master aviculturists alike. They are fairly quiet little guys, but if they do not have enough time out-of-cage, they may begin a screaming habit. They are good in aviaries and can be kept with other cockatiels, doves, finches, and canaries.

Cockatiels are prone to Giardis infections, so take them to the vet yearly for a well-bird visit. They are small, but need a good diet – feed two different kinds of fruit and three different kinds of veggies every day, along with a teaspoon of seeds and a tablespoon of pellets.

Cockatiel males are good talkers, but females do not usually talk. They can be potty trained, taught step up, and can be taught many other tricks. They are friendly and are usually good with children, as long as the children are gentle enough.

Keep them in a fairly large cage with appropriate bar spacing- around ½ inch. Provide them with around three perches and four toys at minimum. While they enjoy toys, their favorite toy is you, so let them have time out-of-cage with you. If you cannot spend lots of time with your cockatiel everyday, get a larger cage and have it share it with a cagemate. They will not usually fight, but introduce them slowly so nothing happens. If you will let the cockatiel out of its cage, but won’t have time to interact (you should interact for at least around ten minutes a day), get a playstand, even a small one, so your cockatiel is not bored.

Now that you know all this, if you are interested in a ‘tiel, visit your local bird rescue or pet store. There are always birds in need of a home and love.

Article contributed by: Eliza Kuklinski.

Parrotlet Color Mutations

January 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous

Parrotlets are sweet, feisty little birds with a love for life. These little guys come in a range of colors. Hopefully after reading this you will have a better idea of these mutations and will appreciate them.

Blue
The blue mutation is one of the more popular and common color. As the name implies, these parrotlets are an attractive light blue. Sometimes referred to as ‘Mountain Blues’, these little guys are easy to find and beautiful.

Dilute Blue
These parrotlets are less common and are commonly mistaken for white parrotlets. They are mostly white; however, they have a tiny hint of extremely pale blue around their eyes, which you can use to differentiate between the two types. They are less common, so you may need to go to a breeder to get one.

White
As the name implies, these parrotlets are pure white. They are much like the Dilutes – but without the blue. They are uncommon, but can be found in some breeders’ aviaries. Males, when placed under ultraviolet light, have blue edges on their wings.

Albino
Albino parrotlets are almost exactly the same as the White, but they have red eyes due to lack of pigmentation. These parrotlets are semi-rare so you may need to do some searching for them.
Their wings do not turn blue under ultraviolet light.

American Yellow
These parrotlets are some of the few colors to be developed in the Americas and not in Europe. A bright yellow, they have black eyes. There is a variation of these with red eyes referred to as Lutinos. Both of these are somewhat uncommon.

Dilute
Dilute is a darker version of the normal green found on parrotlets. It has a gray hue and is actually a very attractive color on them. It is extremely rare and only found on Green-Rumped parrotlets.

Fallow
Fallow is a beautiful color mutation. These birds look much like normal parrotlets but with a yellow face and red eyes. These are extremely rare, and you may not be able to currently obtain one.

Dark Factor
Dark Factor parrotlets are the newest color mutation. These birds are a brown-green color with black flight feathers. Since these have just been discovered, they are still very rare and hard to find.

European Yellows
These birds are the cousin of the American Yellows, but look different – having spots of greenish feathering, not ha consistent yellow like the Americans. These are hard to find without a little searching.

Hopefully this article has cleared up your understanding of parrotlet colors. If you would like one, contact a breeder. Mutations are not commonly found at rescues or shelters.

Article contributed by: Eliza Kuklinski.

Parrotlet or Parakeet- What Is the Difference?

January 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous

When you go to buy your first parrot at the pet store, you notice the tags on the cages: Parrotlet. Parakeet. You wrinkle your brow. Huh? They look similar to each other. What is the difference? A more experienced aviculturist will know immediately that you are dealing with two very different birds.

Parrotlets

Parrotlets are small, feisty birds. The ways they differ from parakeets can actually be quite obvious, if you look. For example, by general rule, parrotlets have short tails – while parakeets (also called budgies) lave long ones. Second, they have larger beaks (compared to body size) and they are usually a lighter color than a budgie. They also do not have the stripes that budgies do along their feathers. Parrotlets have a very large appetite, sometimes eating as much as a cockatiel daily.

Parakeets

Parakeets are the quieter, more calm of the two parrots, but that isn’t all. They also have different colored ceres (nostrils) from parrotlets. Females usually have a slightly deeper pink than parrotlets, or a light gray, and the males have a bright blue cere. While the two are both ground foragers, they forage in two different places. Budgies, or parakeets, live in Australia, whereas parrotlets usually live in South America. Parakeets can also be kept in flocks; however, parrotlets are not great aviary birds and tend to fight with cagemates. Parakeets are also much more common as they have been bred for a much longer period of time. Also, they are cheaper – Parrotlets can cost hundreds of dollars, while parakeets can be found at pet stores costing around twenty five dollars.

While these parrots may be similar, hopefully you have picked up some tips on telling them apart. Remember, both of these species can be found at local pet stores, so if you are interested in a bird, they are worth considering.

Article contributed by: Eliza Kuklinski.

Top Three Parrots for Kids

January 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous

Most people purchase their child a parrot without realizing the full responsibility of caring for these creatures. While this does not mean parrots make poor pets, they are a challenge to care for, especially the larger ones, who easily feel neglected, bite hard, and can scream loudly. There are a few birds that can be considered suitable as a first time bird, however.

Budgies

These little parrots have been pets for a long time, and great ones at that. The small birds easily learn to step up and will love spending time with you. However, they need to have their cage washed every two months, have the papers changed every day, and such. If you would like an easy-to-work-with little friend, these are the right birds for you. English budgies live for about 7 years, while American budgies usually live about 15/20 years.

Cockatiels

Cockatiels are another favorite with young bird owners. These friendly birds are not as colorful as other parrots, but they learn to talk more readily than budgies (well, males talk; a talking female is rare) and are very sweet. They are also good at tricks and can learn step up, wave, and can be potty trained. They usually live at least 15-17 years, but more commonly live about twenty years.

Parrotlets

Parrotlets are small – but they make it up with huge personalities. These little guys are feisty and can have a big bite, but are great pets – usually for slightly older kids. They are energetic little green machines and are sure to charm anyone. They are good at talking, especially males, but can learn tricks too. They are fine pets, and once you get to know them you are sure to adore them. They live 20+ years – the oldest on record was thirty years old.

Explore what would be right for you and your child’s lifestyle. Always be sure the parrot is getting adequate care from your child. If you would like a parrot for your child, go to a local parrot shelter or a breeder. There will always be a right one for you.

Article contributed by: Eliza Kuklinski.

Sigurgeirs Bird Museum in Iceland

October 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous

Surrounded by volcanic landforms and wetlands, Lake Mývatn, located near the Krafla volcano in the north of Iceland, is home to a wide range of birdlife, particularly waterfowl. Its rich biodiversity and intriguing geology continues to attract biologists, naturalists, geologists and bird watchers from around the world. It was in these beautiful surroundings that Sigurgeir Stefánsson was raised, and his love for birds became evident. The results of his life-long interest in birds can be viewed in the fascinating Sigurgeirs Bird Museum where his collection of more than 300 birds, representing around 180 species, is displayed.

Sigurgeir Stefánsson was born and raised on the Ytri-Neslönd farm, and spent his youth exploring his surroundings and collecting birds’ eggs. Soon he had specimens of all the indigenous Icelandic birds’ eggs, which he used to create a small natural history museum. At the age of 14 years, Stefánsson was given a bird that had been preserved by the process of taxidermy. This was the beginning of his bird collection, and any dead birds he, or his friends and neighbors found, were taken to the taxidermist for preservation.

Stefánsson’s collection grew until it had taken over his family’s house. It was later moved to a nearby shack and continued to grow, with other bird-lovers showing an interest in his work. While focusing on creating a complete collection of the birds of Iceland, Stefánsson also communicated and traded with ornithologists in other parts of the world, and his collection includes some exotic birds. He was often consulted by visiting researchers, as he had an intimate knowledge of the area and its feathered residents. He had expressed the desire to build a museum to properly display his collection for others to enjoy, but had no funds to make his dream a reality.

Tragically, in 1999 during a storm Stefánsson and his two companions drowned in Lake Mývatn as they attempted to repair an underwater cable – he was only 37 years old. To honor his memory and his accomplishments in the field of ornithology, the Aurora Charity Fund, together with members of his family, established the Sigurgeirs Bird Museum, which opened on 17 August 2008. In addition to viewing the extensive collection of birds on display in the museum, visitors can make use of the binoculars provided to spot local birds in the surroundings and on the lake, which is known for having the most species of duck to be found in one location.

Sun Conures

August 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous

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.

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