Almost everybody heard or seen beautiful Aras or amazing Amazons, parrots from south America, then intelligent but not so colorful Grey Africans, lovebirds (family Agapornis) from Africa, extravagant Cockatoos, Lory parrots with magical colors from eastern Asia, Indonesia and Australia, and parrots from New Zealand, curious Red-fronted Parakeets and New Zealand mountain parrot Kea. All together they represent one big ornithology family which counts 326 species and incredible 816 subspecies, from the 1 m big Ara to the smallest one Pygmyan parrot size only 5 to 10 cm. If now you add several hundred genetic diversity to this number you can be sure that this is the biggest bird family with the most various shape, size and color.
WHERE DO PARROTS LIVE?
For the most of parrot species natural habitat is tropical and subtropical land of southern regions of America , Africa and Australia . Few of them come from Asia and New Zealand , so only Europe is, unfortunately, without this fascinating creatures. However, in past few years migration of Asian Alexanders to England has been noticed so, in future, maybe we could expect these beauties in our regions. Than, we could enjoy in their colors and grace, but in their freedom, too. For now we can find them either on the very north or south in every continent except in Europe . Many of parrot species live in specific conditions and regions like mountains, deserts, grassy parts of prairies, mountain woods, eucaliptus bushes, rocks, long riverbed and canyons, sometimes near civilization and even in province of big cities. In short, they are almost every where.
TYPICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF ALL PARROTS
- all parrots can be described as dumpy animals. Their size depends on size of their tail. The best example is Ara, because for these parrots tail gives them beauty and richness and ensures the first place in elegancy, which isn't a case with those species that have short tail. Short tail parrots thus look chubby, clumsy and aren't that elegant.
- most parrots have powerful beaks. The upper part is like a funnel and bends down, lover part has the same shape and it bends up to meet upper part. This shape of beak helps them to husk seed. Depending on the type of food, some species have very large beak, while others (like cockatoos) have proportional beak to their body, which is best seen if you look their portraits. Basic beak operation is feeding, but they are using it as the best arms for self defense, as well as good leg replacement in climbing. In the period of mating, beak is prior instrument for all reckless actions in attempt to impress a female.
- all parrots have four, long toes, two in front and two in the back of the foot. This toe position, which is natural, enables perfection in movement during hanging and climbing in all environments. Many species are using toes in the same purpose as humans use their hands, for eating. It is easier to eat when food is strongly tighten between toes, than when it's on the ground. Toes ends with strong down-bended claws, which can be colored from pale rose to black, just as human fingers.
- most species have very complex feather colors, and Aras are dominant in this. Some other species, as Amazons, have specific shades of green that make perfect aestetic match with blue, yellow and red parts of the body. But, in the case of African greys this shading goes from white, down to all undertones of grey and in the end becomes very dark, almost black, while the under tail coverts are bright reded. Anyhow, there are numerous examples, and that is perfectly normal as it is a word about the most colored birds.
- in comparison to other birds, when eating, parrots are very like spendthrift person. Their clumsy movements and arogancy with food became original characteristic in natural habitats. They mostly eat only crumbles which are the most delicios over variouse menu. This "Roman arrogancy" is mainly spoted at those parrot species that eat seedish fruit (strawberry, blackberry, raspberry), from which they take only soft seed full of vitamins and minerals, while the rest they just scatter around.
- Loyalty - parrots are very loyal animals. When living in nature their mate is one and only trough out their lives. Once they bond in early childhood they don't separate until they die. If one of them dies, the other one, no matter the sex, goes through a period of grief, which can take them to psyhofizical trauma, and sometimes even death. In this case, the one that stays alone is usually leaving its nest and stops eating, and eventually dies.
- Life span -unfortunatelly there is no precise statistics about life span of some parrot species, even though this sphere was briefly researched for a long time, in the nature as well as in captivety ( zoos and home petting). For instance Amazons and African greys live up to 50 years, while Cockatoos can live more than 80 years, and most of medium species live from 20 to 35 years. Life span of small species is 18 years maximum.
- Behavior and character - aside from their personal charm and arrogance, parrots do have a good side, especially when it comes to ability to accomodate to a new enviromant by showing their temperamente and character in all situations. They are known as friendly birds who easely bond with people, sometimes even with other pets, which clearly shows their need for company and capability for relationship.
- parrots are, for sure, the most inteligante birds on Earth.. There are lots of examples showing their excellant memory. With a lot of patiance and work their memory can develope and grow, day after day. They also have good logical judgement, allways learning something new, and they are very witted . Their love game in matig period, stubbornness in demonstrating strength, intelligence and unselfishness in friendship makes them irresistible and the most common bird pet.
- Imitating skill (mimics) - as they belong to a whistlers, the most common sounds that parrots are imitating are various whistles. Most of them can make master sound and some of them can imitate movements, authentically to perfection. Parrots react to crying and shouting, trying to out shout this noise. They can quickly learn to imitate sounds like bottle opening, car sirens, alarms, barking or mewing. Imitating these sounds is early stage, and if they have proper training they can easily learn to imitate some of the inmate (often the one who spends most of the time with parrot). First, parrot is just making similar sounds, then starts pronouncing simple words, and after some time simple words become logical sentences. Some specious are able to memories several hundreds of words, which is quite normal regarding their life span.
- Home conditions
- if you want to have loyal parrot then you have to dedicate your parrot several hours a day. When a relationship is established, this is also caused by parrots matures, your pet will feel like a member of the family and it should stay that way. Parrots will always choose one member of the family as a partner. When deciding on buying this kind of pet the main criteria is the parrot to be young and healthy, and my opinion is always to by in breeder's houses. If you want a pair or more, you should by them altogether, because adding new birds can cause rivality and fight between old and new ones.
- They do irritating things:
- Loud noises
one is often trying to out shout people by bursting out various tunes, but one is doing that because it loves you. The loudest noise parrot will make when it feels ignored. This mostly happens when you are talking to someone else, and their loudness proves how much your parrot has adapted to the new environment.
- Always in the center -
parrots are egocentric, maybe it's strong word, but they are similar to monkeys, always wanting to be where the action is, that's why they will do what ever it takes to disturb you and make you aware of their presence.
- Mess - molting, seeds scattered everywhere, extreme curiosity, trying to get out from their cage in all possible (and sometimes impossible) ways just to be near you, are the real characteristics of this kind of pet. Once your parrot is out from the cage you'll be witness of its creativeness perfectly matched with curiosity. Your pet will show you everything it can do, like nibbling your visit-cards and books, opening garbage can, fumbling and hiding all things it can move, and sometimes even by tripping them down. Remember, all this is part of who they are, and it makes them specific and amazing pets.
- Getting dirty out of the cage
- if, in his exploring, your parrot get in some liquid that is not poisonous, just dry him with paper towel, but never with hair dryer or by putting him in front of the calefactor. In case you need to wash him, do it with water going down the feathers and then dry him. And if he foul him self with something else than coffee or tea, like ink, let him naturally dry and than wash him with soap. When washing your parrot with soap you have to be very careful and make sure bubbles are not near his eyes or beak.
- what parrots like the most is to nibble, breakdown, turn up side down, move anything they can and if they have opportunity to do it. In other words, all your breakable things, paintings, books, urn, and decorations are in danger. My advice is to leave him in cage when you are not in the room, because the biggest damage they are making is when they are alone.
- Puerility never ends
- Beside their intelligence, predisposition to imitate and learn, you have to constantly have in mind that their mentally age is preschool child level. This refers mostly on trained parrots like African Greys and Cockatoos, however all species have their needs and you have to be aware of their importance. Never the less your parrot will always be like a restless child, which makes them more adorable.
- Vacation (leaving bird alone for some time) - if you consider every day food, seedish and fresh one, when leaving on vacation make sure that someone replaces you. My advice is to put your parrot in his cage and give him to a person who is he familiar to, also give all the necessaries for your parrot. This should be enough to insure that your parrot won't be sad for leaving him and that he would eat regularly.
IS PARROT A RIGHT PET FOR YOU?
- Are you and your family ready and able to be responsible for the parrot as long as he lives?
- Can you provide your parrot basic needs in the means of space, fresh air and specific temperature?
- Do you have enough free time to spend with your feathery pet?
- Can you undergo the mess parrot can make?
- How will you react if you parrot never get talking?
- What if you aren't at home for several days?
- Do you have small children? If so, think again do you really want a parrot, because they have very powerful beaks and they could harm your youngsters.
- Do you already have some pet? Dog is OK, but cat isn't. If you want to get a big parrot your cat, believe it or not, can become a victim. For smaller parrots there's no need to explain who will be a victim. Big parrots can be a danger for other small birds and for aquarium, too.
- Parrot spends money (food, vitamins, minerals, etc).
- If you are taking small parrot, like budgerigar, make sure no one is allergic to feathers and feather-dust.
Parrot should NEVER
be in the kitchen. Cooking steam and frequent temperature changes can harm your parrot!
PRACTICAL ADVICES ON SETTLING UP CAGES AND VOLIERS
- Maintenance of the floor
- putting a thin layer of send is the best way to keep the floor of cages or voliers clean, so that all dirt (dregs, husks and feathers) can fall through that send. If you have a cage with lifted strings, than you can put absorption paper on the floor, but in that case you will have to replace it more often than send.
- Branches, bars and perches
- all artificial (plastic, metal) branches and necessaries you should replace with wooden. It's very important to know that you shouldn't place branches horizontally, except for one, because in nature, there are no branches that grow horizontally. You should also put ladder and swing in cage because parrot need to exercise its legs and toes, but make sure to leave enough free space. Branches should be different thickness, one from another.
Important:- parrots have a habit to nibble wood, so once a while give them thin branches of soft tree (cherry tree, sour cherry tree, plum tree).
- Number of bars
it's important to put one bar in the same level with feeder cup, so that your parrot can enjoy while eating. You should, also, put one bar very high in cage to provide your pet a good place to sleep, straighten up and spread wings. Never put too much bars or any kind of necessaries in the cage, because bird need enough free space.
- Where to get natural branches
in western countries, where people have pet bird breeding tradition, all pet shops have wooden perches on sale. However, here you can buy only plastic ones. That's why my advice is to make them yourself. It's the best to get branches of soft trees (sour cherry, cherry, plum or peach). Before you put them into the cage make sure you wash and dry them first, because they are polluted emission gases, pesticide, and even acid rains.
before you buy a parrot, you should first get an appropriate cage. Wash and dry the cage and make sure you put enough cups for seed, minerals, vitamins and water, and also put a rack for fresh vegetables and fruit:
- Put several cups for several kinds of seed.
- Fill the feeding cups and change water from the watering kit every day. If you are not buying bottled water, than leave water for few days so the chloral gets out.
- In a fruit rack make a mix of apples, bananas, etc.
In a vegetable rack put dandelion leaf, spinach, parsley leaf etc. The vegetable rack settle at external side of cage so your parrot can take the fresh salad either with beak or leg, and this way the salad can't be messed up. You should avoid vegetables like kale, cauliflower and cabbage, because parrots have trouble digesting it and they can end up with dysentery or laxity, and eventually die.
- As I already said, parrots are like children, and as every child they need fun and toys. If you don't provide them enough fun they can easily become nervous and edgy. The main toy is swing, which should be hanging near a bar so the bird can get on or off of it with no problem. You can also hang a thick rope in the cage, with several knobs. That way the bid will have fun and exercise in the same time. Few thin willow branches can do the trick. You'll be surprised. On e thing you should avoid, mirrors. Never put them in the cage because what we see in the mirror is not what birds see. They can see either a potential partner or a rival, neither way is good for them.
LIFE WITH A PARROT
The right time to let your parrot spread the wings out of the cage is when he comes over his fears of new environment. The time is right when the bird, when opening the door of the cage doesn't run to the corner or flap wings. The contact is established.
- Preparation for the first time out
The cage must be at the same place all the time, so that your parrot can accommodate to his new environment. All members of the house should be in the room when opening the door, that way the bird will have clear view of all familiar persons.
- Secure the room
Before letting the bird out you should secure the room by removing all sharp and shiny objects. Also remove small and light things that could easily be tripped down (piece, dolls, frames, etc.), that way your parrot will not get injured or scared away when first flying and exploring the room.
- Close all doors and windows
Make sure all the doors and windows are closed before opening the cage door, because even slightly opened door or window are enough for the bird to get out. It is incredible how little space does the pretty big bird need to slide out.
- Pull the curtains on the windows
You should pull curtains on every window because parrots can't distinguish glass from outer space, so insure your pet doesn't crash into the window glass and injure himself. In case you're not a curtain person, point the light to the windows and the bird will be repulsed. And even if your parrot does bump to the window, after few times he'll learn that there's no way of going trough the glass.
- First flight
First time you open the cage door, go few steps away and just give a little space to the bird. In case the bird doesn't want to come out, try to take her out and put it on the top of the cage. This can insure you that your parrot will haw safe soar and landing. If the parrot returns to the cage, which is very rare, try once again. At the first flight the bird will, for sure, end up on some high and safe place in the room. When that happens don't chase, just have patient and let it be.
- Back to the cage
Take some millet seed in your hand and slowly approach your parrot, have patience. Hunger is always bigger than fear, parrot will come to your hand, and when that happens slowly return him to the cage. However, if you have a shy parrot, leave him to stay at the place he feels most comfortable, if necessary, over the night. Tomorrow, try again. If the bird still doesn't want to go back to the cage, just leave it because there is no stronger instinct, in this kind of situations, than hunger. And as parrots have very good memory, your pet will remember where the food is.
Important: If you don't have time or patience to wait your pet gets comfortable to land on your hand, try with the bar from the cage. Take the one that your pet most stands on, and when he gets on it quickly return the bird back to the cage.
- Biggest danger –escaping
- With all safety precautions, it takes just a moment of your inattention for your parrot to escape (when he's out of the cage), to leave the house. Every parrot kept in captivity, is extremely endangered in nature. It's just a matter of the season for how long these birds can survive. Lack of usual food and a number of predators certainly won't be of any help for the survival, moreover it's vice versa. Yet if you do see him at some nearby tree or building, one of the ways to get him back on safe ground is to put his cage so that he could see it. If he spots the cage there are good chances for returning, because parrot knows that is their real home. If that doesn't work out, and if you can get close to him try swilling his feathers with a bucket of water, because that will unable him to fly away. These methods aren't guaranteed, but you have nothing to lose.
My advice for preventing the escape is:
At least one window, in the room where your parrot is, should be pasted with wired net (size of the perforations 15x15mm). That way you can open the window anytime of day and in the same time you can be sure that your pet will be safe.
- after a full adaptation to all members of family and new environment, meaning when you and your parrot make a bond, it is the right time to begin with training. It' very similar to the dog trainings. The most important thing your parrot must learn is to stay away from certain things (wires, books, important documents and papers, decorations, paintings, photos etc.). If the bird starts nibbling those kind of things the best way to teach not to do that is to repeat word 'NO' for few times with shortly and risen voice. If it doesn't work straightway, be patient for ten minutes. If it still doesn't work get your bird back to the cage. Of course that doesn't mean you should never let your pet out of the cage again, it just means that you will have to be very patient. If you are headstrong and persist, your parrot will learn warning words, as well as your call, and many other things. You must be prepared on parrot train you as well as you do him. My parrot pet has a habit to ring his bell in the cage while I and my family have dinner. That is his way to remind me he wants something to eat. So, you see they have their habits, and you have to respect them.
Parrots have characteristic vocal system of communication. While we have trouble imitating some sounds, and some we even find impossible to imitate, parrots are able to reproduce almost every sound they hear. Don't be surprised to hear your parrot barking or mewing. When they are relaxed, especially when eating, you can hear them making similar sounds as people do when laughing, whispering or crying. Generally, these natural sounds are mixed tones that parrot hear in his environment. Besides imitating sounds of almost everything they hear, they learn to pronounce words. At first they learn to say simple words, and no long after that, those simple words will become simple sentences. The first thing your parrot will learn to say is his name and that's why you should give him short name. When your bird learns words you taught him, he will rapidly start learning those words we use the most in common conversation. So, if you swear, don't be surprised when your parrot plainly does the same. I think that the swears are the words that all parrots learn to pronounce faster then any other word. Swears from parrot can be very funny, but believe me it can be very embarrassing for the owner. For more intelligent specious it is common thing to hear word 'hallo' after phone ring, or to wish you 'good morning' in the morning, or 'good night' when you go to sleep. Their sentences are always logical, they can distinguish all inmates by name and they can often make jokes with you. For instance, every morning when I go out from the house I tell my parrot that I'll come back soon, and in the very moment when I open the door he answers me: 'Do come soon'. Of course not every parrot specious has this high intelligence and speech qualities, but the one that do have need training. How much will your parrot improve his talk depends on you, your patient and persistence. Always have on your mind, humans are the most intelligent beings on planet, but still every child hear 'mum' or 'dad' for thousand times before it says those words for the first time.
HOW TO IMPROVE THEIR TALK?
If you want your parrot to 'talk' you must talk to him with understanding- often and slowly with the same tone. Don't be nervous and don't raise your voice. The best way to teach your pet is to repeat words and short fraises when you feed him, or when you leaving or coming back to the house. Always end conversation with the same tone, shortly and clearly. Naturally, your pet will pay most attention when nothing disturbs him. If you think your pet doesn't have talent for talking, you can make him slowly learn by whistling and singing. This way he'll be interested in new tones and hopefully he will try to repeat them. This is because most of the parrots listen very carefully all the sounds and instinctively try to imitate, and they give an accent to the last tones they hear.
BUYING ANOTHER PARROT
One decides to buy another parrot when wants to change a parrot species, when the parrot escapes, or in extreme situations when parrot dies either because old age or illness. However, there is one more possible reason for buying another parrot. If you notice that the parrot you already have starts ignoring and becomes a stranger to you, even though you two always had good friendship, it is time to get your pet a mate. This will make your bird happy, and it will spend the rest of the life in its natural company.
1. What to do? - You should buy the same specious but the opposite sex, because your pet will not get along with other specious or the same sex. Sometimes, it happens that the old parrot becomes choosy, so when buying a new one ask salesman if you can replace it.
2. Arrival of another parrot to the house - First you must have another cage for the new parrot. The cage of your old parrot and the new one place next to each other, so that birds can realize their first contact. Doors of the cages must be closed, because the safeties way for their first contact is through the cage bars and with their beaks. This way the contact can be constant, but it doesn't have to be if one of the birds doesn't want it. You should leave the cages placed like this for few days, and then leave both birds out of their cages to fly across the room, so that you can be positive of the old bird's reaction. He can be either friendly, ignorant and in some cases even aggressive to the new one. If you are in the situation like the last one, then put the birds back to the cages and try again after few days, but only if you see them becoming friendly. You must follow all the steps because of the safety of the birds.
PROPERLY FEEDING \ NUTRITION
The most important segment of having a parrot as a pet is feeding. Proper nutrition is assurance for good, healthy life, shape and general look of the bird. In further text you can find basic rules of proper feeding.
- What do parrots eat?
- In natural habitat parrot food is various. Depending on specious and environment parrots are eating all sorts of seed, berries, nuts, fruit, vegetables, various herbs and leaves. Some specious have on their menu pollen, nectar, insects and maggots, flowers, water maggots and even animals big as sheep ( this regards to Kea parrots). Every specious is adapted to its natural environment. Feeding captured parrot isn't easy, because domesticate food is new and strange for the bird. It can happen that the parrot refuse to it eat for a very long time. It really can be tricky feeding captured parrot. However, the birds we buy are born in captivity so don't worry. The salesman will instruct you about the proper food and the age of the parrot you bought. Advice: non- proper feeding can cause psychological and physical disorders because the lack of vitamins and minerals. Do consult the breeder.
- Main food –seedish food
- Parrot salesmen and breeders recommend mix of seed. Mixes are OK as long as the seed isn't old and mix isn't packed in plastic bags. All seed has some percent of humidity, so when it is in plastic bags, seed makes condense. This condense can cause diarrhea, and often death. From the personal experience (I've been breeding parrots for quite a long time and I have more than forty specious) I recommend to put in the cage at least two feeding cups for different seeds. Of course number of feeding cups will vary over the number of parrots, and this way you can have under control quantity and sort of seed your parrot likes most. Watch carefully, if the bird is eating voraciously, then you gave it the right seed. Parrots enjoy in food as well as we are. Bigger and middle sized parrots should eat, along with usual seeds (millet, oat, bright seed, sorghum, sunflower, common millet, oat, pearl millet. bright seed, hemp, corn etc). However, it is very common that parrots aren't use to eat corn, because it is hard to crack it with its beak. The only way to get it use to eat corn is to boil the corn, but no longer than couple of hours. If you are making food mixes on your own, which is on my opinion the best, it would be good to add, from time to time, some kind seed new to your parrot. If your parrot eats the new seed, it would be the best to put that kind of seed in everyday mix. Important:
If you are his food chief, pay attention on the portion, it shouldn't be big. Small parrots have faster metabolism, and because of that they eat several times a day and their portions should be bigger, while bigger parrots should get only 10 to 20 kernels (sounds like a paradox, right?). No matter the size, or species, every parrot should get its food every day and in the same time,
this way it will make food habits and you will get closer with it. Non-proper feeding and always the same food can cause avitaminoses, witch can be fatal for your pet.
- Wetted the seeds as fresh food
- It's not good to feed your parrot every day with hard seeds. From time to time, you could make a break from this k ind of food, and for two or three days make mix of wetted seeds. All seeds, after being for 24 hours in the water, go through some chemical reactions, and loose more then 50 % of the vitamins from the core. Preparation:
place the seed in the bowl and pour the water, cover the bowl with the lid, but make sure that the air can circulate in and out of the bowl. Leave it for 24 hours near natural light (window, or a balcony).
strain the seed and wash it with lukewarm water, because this way seeds are getting free from all toxic materials that could harm your pet. Wash the seeds several times. After you washed seeds, place them back in the bowl for the next 24 hours. Again, near daylight and covered in such a way that it can 'breathe', but not in the water.
Day 3 - strain and wash the seed several times and it is ready for your pet to eat it. If it is warm in the room where you keep your pet, don't leave this food more than two hours in its eating cup.
ADVICES ON FRESH FOOD
As the winter gets behind, spring and summer are the right time for your pet to refill his energy and get all the vitamins from fresh fruit and vegetables. Let me, as an old and experienced breeder, advice you. Parrots are very fond of fresh food, and like their food to be colorful. And what is more colorful and have more vitamins then fruit and vegetables? You can't get wrong as long as you give them the food they can digest. Off course there are more reasons for giving your pet fresh food. Spring is almost for every species mating period and the period when the female is hatching the eggs. And the first food chicks are getting is fresh food, believe it or not. Let's just say nature took care of everything and gave the opportunity for every chick to have good and healthy start. That's why you should provide your parrot/s fresh fruit and vegetables aside from the seedish food. The basic thing you should now is that fresh food should be served in as small parts as your parrot can handle it, especially because some species are eating fresh food using their legs, just like we use our hands in the same purpose. Always have in mind that your pet is from pet shop or breeder's house, and that you can never be sure on what kind of food your parrot grew up. If your pet refuses to eat some kind of fresh food (the same problem can occur with seedish food) that's because it didn't use to it. Anyway I will try to give you few practical advices how to make them eat healthy food. It's almost the same problem we have with children. Every parrot, just like a child, is very curious and it learns through the game, so maybe this will help you: if your parrot doesn't want to eat greens, place one forked branch in the cage and put the greens on the branch; if it doesn't want to eat paprika, bind the paprika with elastic rope or rubber band on the top of the cage; if parrot refuses to eat fruit, chop the fruit on several peaces and place them on the cage so that it looks like it is on the branch, just like it is in the nature. All big parrots, and several middle species eat fruit and vegetables using their legs, so it would be the best to give them this kind of food in peaces not bigger than 3 or 4 cm. For the smaller ones you can put vegetables and fruit in colorful cup, various colors should do the trick. Off course, all this isn't 100 % sure, but you will never know unless you try. One more thing- parrots have character and you can't force them to anything if they don't want it. If the parrot doesn't like something, be sure he will never change up his mind, but it is also very often that the parrot will not eat his food if it's not served in the proper way. This sound like parrots are some spoiled rich people, but it's just that they have their own habits and they will not replace them because of you. Think about it, his habits, his needs and his demands are what he is, those are basics of his character, his ego. Leave him to be what he is. Some species like to prepare their food on their own, for example they put the seeds in the water, and eat it when the seeds swollen up. Those kinds of parrot should have bigger. One more thing about seedish food, it has to be fresh, meaning not rancid. To avoid seeds become rancid, keep it in paper bags, cardboards or barrels, in dark places. Let the seed breath from time to time. Keeping basic food fresh is very important especially for the breeders, because fresh food is primary for condition and health of the main mating pairs, and the youngsters.
The greens that parrots should get,
(off course not all the species should get all the greens): annual meadow-grass (Poa Annua), smooth meadow-grass (Poa Pratensis), perennial ryegrass (Lolium Perenne), yorkshire fog (Holcus Lanatus), chickweed (Stellaria Media), common sorel (Rumex Acetosa), common dandelion (Taraxacum Officinare), shepard's purse (Capsell Bursa-Pastoris), as well as knotted kind of grass like: barnyard grass (Echinocholoa Crusgalli), redhair crabgrass-sort of proso (Panicum Sanguir), green foxtail (Setaria Viridis), hog millet (Panicum Milaceum), knotgrass (Polygonum Aviculare), then berries and wild fruit, like firethorn (Pyracantha), dog rose etc. All these plants you can put in freezer so that your pet can have various food over the year.
WARNING: Never collect wild plants near roads or fields, those plants are full of car gases and pesticides so you could poison your pet. Anyway, always rinse and dry wild plants before giving it to your parrot.
Fruit and vegetables:
If your parrot, beside seedish food, eats fruit and vegetables on everyday basis it is certain he would be healthy, vital and will have high quality feather color. Fruit and vegetables make parrots have enough energy for every day activities but also keep them fit, which is very important. Always have in mind that fat parrots live less than fit ones. Off course, all these advices are in general, so if you can, do consult with any parrot breeder. When it comes to fresh vegetables parrots can eat spinach, eggplant, peas, early corn, carrot, tomato, paprika, branches of celery, zucchini, bulb of the wild dill, etc. Vegetables your parrot shouldn't eat are: cabbage family (kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower etc.), raw and green potato, raw and green beans lettuce. These vegetables are either very hard to digest or even can' be digested by your parrot. He can get diarrhea and eventually die, and you wouldn't want that to happen.
Fresh fruits your parrot can eat are: pineapple, apricot, apple, banana, pear, blackberry, fresh fig, raspberry, sour cherry, peeled kiwi and peeled mango, tangerine, orange, melon, peach, papaya. Fruit your parrot shouldn't eat are: grapefruit, lemon, plum, avocado, because they are hard to digest.
Important nutritious components: beside everyday needs for vitamins and minerals, there are times when your parrot should get bigger dosage. For example molting period in spring, lack of sunlight (sunlight plays important role because it helps pro-vitamin D to turn into vitamin D), changing the environment, these are all stressing situations for your parrot and it would be the best to give him bigger dose of vitamins and minerals so that he can get through these periods and stress. Also provide him cuttlefish bone because it is rich in minerals like calcium and carbon and have more than a dozen amino acids. My personal experience is that manufacturer 2 Vitamineral 2 from Belgium , have the best quality of minerals. For bigger parrots, it would be good to put some Chilean clay even in the most quality minerals. Minerals from this Chilean clay are something bigger parrots have on their menu every day in natural habitat. Believe it or not big parrots sometimes fly more than 100 km just to find this clay. So you see it is very important for them to get it. All who are interested please contact me. These minerals (Vitamineral) contain all that your parrot really need for a good health and long life, but you shouldn't mix them with other food. Minerals should always be in the cage and in the separate cup. Parrot knows when he needs them, and when he does he'll just take it. Don't worry about expiration date, these minerals are good as long as you have them. There are also manufactures of multivitamin seeds like 2 Vitacraft 2 (from Germany ), that I also use in my aviary. When buying vitamins, check expiration date. One more thing left to say, parrots need complex of B vitamin as well as A and C. These vitamin complexes are given as liquid, by purring into the water. The best are from ''Quiko''- Germany , and are also available in may aviary.
Pet wouldn't be a pet if we can't share food with it, right? Aside from fresh seeds, fruit, vegetables, all the minerals and vitamins your parrot should get everyday, you can give him from time to time something from your plate. From my experience it can't harm your parrot to eat something we do, and I thing that all those texts about how harmful it can be, are wrong. Well just look at human plate, how many bad things do we eat and still we are healthy. Anyhow, on the next page you can find out what kind of food you can share with your parrot. The list of the non-parrot's food on the next page I made from my personal experience.
THE LIST OF THE NON-PARROT'S FOOD THAT YOUR PARROT CAN GET FROM YOUR PLATES
In the previous page I wrote what is proper food for your parrot and what you should avoid giving him. But, there are some things in which you and your parrot can both enjoy eating. This only stays for pet parrots, don't mix your food with parrots food if you want to breed your birds. However, pet parrots sometimes are really into our food, and sometimes our food can really be good for their health. But some foods are strictly banded for your pet no matter how much it wants it.
- Things they can eat:
- once or twice a week you can give your pet a half of the soup spoon of white cheese made of defatted cow's milk, mixed with carrot, greens and hard boiled yolk;
- small peace of hard cheese;
- one soup spoon of fresh milled wheat that firstly was in mixture of half milk and half water. Wheat germs are also good for parrots because they are rich with vitamins. They are available in healthy food stores;
- when it's not fresh food season, your parrot can have cooked dumpling, I recommend wheat dumplings, or a peace of cooked potato, but make sure everything is cold;
- slice of toast, dry cracker, cornflakes, or hard white bread (the bread must stay for a while in the mixture of half milk and half water);
- bigger and medium sized parrots, which eat their food using the legs, you can give smaller chicken bone, or cooked chicken leg to nibble a bit. Just like the dogs, they will eat meat that was left on the bones as well as cartilages. This way parrot will make up all needed proteins;
- also from time to time you can give them smaller peaces of cooked chicken breasts or peaces of cooked beef.
- Food that is dangerous for your parrot's health and that must be absolutely avoided:
if you let your parrot come on the table, be careful, your pet can burn his tongue or throat on hot food. Cold food can cause stomachache and bad digesting.
- all cold food directly from refrigerator;
- warm and hot food;
- spoiled food, even if you cut of spoiled parts, the germs stay on the food even if you can't see them.
- Always bear in your mind that parrots have sensitive stomach; salty and spicy food;
- sweet food, chocolate, creams, cookies and all sorts of sweets;
- fat and fat food;
- alcohol drinks including beer;
- coffee, Coca-cola and all gassed drinks.
- Drinking water:
Parrot should always have fresh water, and his water cup should always be in the cage. If you give your pet water from the sink it should be for the best that you leave that water to stay for some time before giving it to your parrot. Pure the water in any clean dish and leave it so that chloral from the water can expire and at least some of the water stone can attach to the walls of the dish. Water should be replaced once a day, every day. In summer and hot seasons water should be replaced several times in a day because of the seaweed that grounds on the walls of the water cup. If the water becomes green or yellow wash the water cup and pure fresh water. Beside the water cup for drinking, parrot should have a water cup for bathing. When the parrot finishes its bathing take that cup out so the parrot can't drink water from it. Off course different sized parrots should have different sized and shaped water cups. Partial closed water cups aren't adequate for all parrot species. I recommend you to give your pet non-gassed mineral water. If you can't afford bottled water than do what I wrote above with water from the sink. If your parrot is ill give him mixture of boiled water and weak black tea, or weak herb tea. Seaweed tea give if and only if a vet tells you so.
FEW MORE THINGS TO LEARN ABOUT PARROTS
Having in mind all that is written in previous pages, there are some details that are more or less the same for all species, even though every species have its own specific characteristics. Now, I would like to tell you about these basic characteristics so that you can get closer and become a friend with your parrot. This can help you to learn a pattern for understanding your parrots wishes and needs.
Some parrot species, for example cockatiels, like to sleep like bets, hanging up side down from the top of the cage or branches. If you have parrot who likes to sleep in this position, afford him a good night sleep by replacing the plastic stands with branches, and make sure the branches are thick enough for his legs. This way your parrot will keep its natural habit.
- Specific movements
- Flying and climbing: species whose natural habitat are prairies and open wide plains generally have good flying abilities. On the other hand, forest parrots are the best climbers from all parrot species. Their food is mostly fruit, so climbing is necessity. Prairie parrots are good climbers, too, because exploring the trees is vital for finding a good place for nesting.
- Running on the ground: this characteristic is common for those species who find their food on the ground, like cockatoo or red-fronted parakeet from New Zealand . For these species it is said that they are better runners than jumpers. Climber parrots, when on the ground look very clumsy, because of their anatomy. Nature made their legs, toes and claws very powerful and strong so that they could do the tree-walking, and not for ground running.
- Stretching the legs: after a long period of standing your parrot will start stretching its legs. While stretching one leg parrot stretches the wing on the same side. Don't worry, if your parrot clench his toes into the fist and withdraw it into the feathers on the belly, that's just their way of resting and relaxing. This is very common, and most often it happens just before going to sleep.
- Putting the beak into the mantle: this behavior is, also, a part of sleeping ritual for almost every species. However, if you see your parrot doing it in the middle of the day, don't panic because parrots like to rest. Warning: putting the beak into the mantle can also be behavior of an ill bird, but in that case the bird is either standing with both of its legs on the branch or in the corner and on the bottom of the cage, with its feathers bristled.
- Shrugging the shoulders: when shrugging its shoulders bird's wings aren't above the body, but more relaxed aside the body. This shrugging thing is characteristic for the non-flying bird that doesn't move a lot. But if the shrugging comes with weight lost and beak movement that look like biting the air, it indicates illness. Biting the air indicates that the bird is in pain and fear.
- Raising the wings: parrots often raise one or both wings like they will start flying, however still staying on foot. Raising the wings is the way to cool themselves in hot summer days, or just a movement to show how happy they are.
- Common behavior
- Cleaning: of all activities, you can be wrong if you say that the cleaning is the most important when it comes to parrots. Cleaning is primary and can last even for several hours per day. First that is cleaned are the longest feathers, the one on the wings and tail. Second to do is to munch on and comb every single little feather on the belly and on the back, so that all damaged ones can be found and removed. Head feathers can really be pain, because they are the only feathers unavailable for cleaning up. One possible way to clean those feathers is by using the legs or just by rubbing its head on the branch. In nature birds don't have this problem, because the cleaning is sometimes a part of courting, sometimes is the bond between two birds and sometimes even a very intimate moment.
- Shaking the feathers: almost always, cleaning ends by shaking the whole body and feathers. Shaking the feathers is the way to return cleaned feathers in their normal position, and it's also a good way to remove all the dust from the body. Sometimes it can be the sign that the bird is under a stress. For example, if the bird is scared, ashamed or feels insecure it will shake its feathers to calm itself down, as long as the situation that cause these feeling is on.
- Waving the wings: these movements are characteristic for young birds in the period of the first flight. The youngsters are holding tight to a branch and wave with their wins so they could gat stronger. One can say they are practicing their flying skills. For mature birds, if kept in captivity and have no free space for flying this is the way to limber up. When waving small and middle sized parrots are holding with their legs, but big parrots are holding with their beak.
- Beak cleaning: after almost every meal the bird is cleaning its beak by rubbing it on the branch. Sometimes the bird is making these movements even if it didn't eat. The thing is that their beak is more or less made of similar material as our nails. To keep its beak sharp and smooth it needs to file it or let's say 2 manicures 2 it. For some parrots rubbing the beak is the way to say hello to its mate or if it is a pet parrot to its owner and friend. This is mostly seen in Amazon parrot species behavior and n behavior of African grey parrot.
- Leg cleaning: as it is with the feathers it is with the legs, too. Legs are cleaned with the beak, by removing dead skin cells. The same movement, but a bit more aggressive, is repeated for cleaning the claws.
- Yawning: all parrots yawn and for the same reasons that we, the humans, yawn. Firstly they yawn because of the lack of air and oxygen, and it is similar to people. So if your pet starts yawning maybe you need to open the window and let fresh air come in. Sometimes while yawning, birds stretch up their neck, and this is just another way of relaxing.
- Sneezing: sneezing has, also double meaning. If the bird is sneezing and have nostril secretion than the bird is ill, in another words the bird caught the cold. If this happens the parrot needs to be treated with some of the respiration medicaments and antibiotics. Never treat your parrot on you own, always consult with vet or someone who has experience. If the bird is just sneezing and doesn't have nostril secretion, don't worry. Sneezing is good way to get rid of dust, but sometimes it can also be caused by sudden change of the room temperature.
- Parrot's senses
- Sight: the world is more colorful for parrots than for people. The reason is that they are always in the search for the food. Moreover, they can recognize members of the same species just on their color. The eyes position (eyes are placed on the sides of the head) makes their sight prefect, and it helps them to spot the trouble and react on time. Their whole view of both eyes is a bit smaller then the view of the people. But they can register faster and more than the human's eye will ever be able to. Human's eye can register around 16 pictures per sec, while parrot's eye can register hundred times more. Good and fast light perception during the flight is vital for all birds, and so for the parrots too.
- Hearing: it is certain that parrots have excellent hearing abilities. They communicate between themselves, sometimes even at the long distance. They use different frequencies and different tones, making the communication in the big flocks possible. When there is a pair, one can recognize its mate just by the tones the other is producing. The most interesting thing about hearing is that when the female is brooding she can hear tones produced by the chickens that are still inside the eggs, when this happens female almost always changes her mood. If you have a pet parrot than there is no need for me to tell you how sensitive they are on every sound and murmur.
- Taste: seeds are their basic food, so their taste isn't that good as it is for those birds whose daily menu is full of fruits and nectar. In captivity parrots become more or less choosy, they make difference between food they like and dislike. This is caused by the food they used to get in the breeder houses. So, parrots do have sense for taste, and can show it very clearly.
- Touch: parrot's sense of touch doesn't differ much from other beings. Off course, some parts of the body are more sensual on touch then others, like for example belly and breasts. In brooding period, sense of touch is very important, because it prevents the female to crack the eggs. Beside, lots of birds have a sense for vibrations. This sense helps them to feel even the smallest vibrations (with this sense birds can feel earthquake before people) and to imitate them. The best proof for this sense is imitating human's talk, which is a characteristic of almost every parrot species.
Parrots are social birds. They choose a mate in the adolescence and stay loyal to its partner for the rest of the life. Some parrots become sexual mature after a few years. Lost of the mate causes grief and sadness, and harms bird's mentally health. In the nature it is possible for the new couple to get formed, but it is very rare. On the other hand, in the captivity, when a parrot loses its mate it will never accept new bird (never mind the gender). The lost of a partner can change the bird, it will refuse all kind of contact with other birds, as well as with the owner. Grief can be so powerful that the bird refuse food and water and eventually dies. If this happens, my advice is to y another parrot and to leave it in the separate cage for some time. Both cages should be closed up near each other so the birds can get know each other. When both birds start singing and cleaning up for each other place the new bird into the cage of an old bird.
- Forming a couple
In a flock, every sexually mature male that didn't mate is trying to impress the first female he spots. If the female shows that she saw the male and if she accepts him, the male will start coming forward to the female and in the same time hi will knock the branch with his beak. The male will try to get the closest he can to the female and when he reaches her he will touch her with his beak or wing. If the girl doesn't refuse the boy, after a couple of days they will become a couple. If you want to be absolutely positive that that pair is good, you will see that both of the birds are doing the same things in the same time. Searching for the food together, or resting together. Parrots like contact, and it is very important for the formed couple to have body contact, because in that way they are showing love to each other. If they really in love they will imitate each other, for example if one of them start stretching for the food, the other will do the same movements in the same time.
In nature, parrots have bigger freedom in choosing the partner, what is not the case in captivity. In captivity is not so rare to people get for its pet a partner of the same gender. In that case it can happen (if you have two boys) that one of the birds start acting like the opposite gender. If you are having parrots just for pets and not for breeding, I don't think this will be a problem.