Budgerigars

The Budgie

The proper name for this species of parrot is the Budgerigar but many people just  refer to them as “Parakeets” They ARE considered a parakeet but there are many other species of parakeet as well as the Budgerigar. In the pet bird hobby, most aviculturists just nickname them Budgies.

These cuties are native to Australia, and are extremely popular pets. In fact, they are the most popular bird to own, as 45% of birds kept in aviculture are actually budgies.

You have probably seen them every time that you walk into a pet store. Large chains like Petco and PetSmart almost always have budgies for sale. I am dating myself here, but I remember when Woolworth’s used to carry them, which was a large department store back in the 70s.

In fact, budgies are the third most poplar pet to own after the dog and cat! If you think these charming little birds would make a great pet, it turns out a lot of other people feel the same way.

Similar to lovebirds, it is recommended that you get more than one budgie unless you plan on spending an enormous amount of time with your bird. They travel in flocks like all parrots do and are extremely social.

Unlike the feisty lovebird, however, it is much easier to introduce budgies to one another and more often than not they will get along famously. This would make sense since I always see at least 15 or so budgies together in the pet store and they never seem to be squabbling.

More Facts

There are two types of budgerigar in the pet trade consisting of the Australian Budgie which is the most common, and the English Budgie which is twice as large and considered a show bird.

Pictured above the English Budgie (notice difference in the facial appearance)

Unlike many other parrots, you CAN tell the difference between male and female budgies based on the color of their upper beak called the cere.  At an early age, it is difficult to decipher, but as the bird matures, the male budgie has a distinctly blue or purple cere color and females are primarily brown or beige with white spots on the cere.

The natural coloring of a budgie in the wild is green with  mottled grey along the wings. Pictured  above : an example of a wild Australian Budgie

Breeders have morphed many color mutations for the pet trade and for bird shows, so these birds are now available in a myriad of shades and may be why you see them sometimes sold as “Fancy Parakeets.”

This either means it is an English budgie or it has a rare morph mutation of colors. Many breeders have lightened the grey mottle into pastel shades along the wing area and some are pure white or solid in color

Pictured above: a great example of color morphing and one of my personal favorites!

Although larger than the parrotlet, Australian budgies are smaller than lovebirds coming in at about 7 inches in length. The English budgie, as stated before, is twice as large and has a few distinct differences in appearance mainly in the face and beak area.

Oddly, the lifespan of a budgie is rather short compared to other parrots.  The average is noted to be around 5-8 yrs. Budgies are also popular with  children because they have a  small beak and are not known to be very nippy.

Big Talkers

Another big surprise with these little birds is the talking ability. Females have been known to say a few words, but the males are the superstar talkers. Although some may never say a word, and that’s okay, others are astounding little chatterboxes.

“Puck” is a male budgie who made it to the pages of the Guinness Book of World Records for speaking 1,728 words and phrases.

HAHA. Yup, it’s a fact.

Another famous little budgie was “Disco” who became an internet sensation via YouTube talking up a storm and saying things like “I’m not a crook” and “don’t put baby in a corner” along with lots of other hilarious ramblings.

Be sure to check him out if you want a good laugh!

In Conclusion

The Budgerigar aka Budgie is a popular little parakeet that can posses a large vocabulary and is a great pet for kids and adults alike. They come in a variety of colors and the English Budgie is twice as large as the Australian besides being a beautiful show parakeet.

I recommend you get two of these birds, as they are really not expensive and enjoy other bird’s company. They can be affectionate with people if treated properly and hand- tamed from a young age.

There are lots of books on Amazon and other information all over the internet on these extremely popular birds, so be sure to check them out and if you are interested in owning one, just be sure to do your research and go for it.

 

Cheers and until next time… Happy Fidding!

 

 

 

CHEAP! CHEAP!

Some great jokes

Hey have you heard this one? What did the dog say when he sat on sandpaper? RUFF RUFF. I have another one for ya. What did the birdie say when he saw his new birdcage? CHEAP! CHEAP!

Okay, I realized those are the lamest jokes on the planet but I wanted to start out on a light note. This article is really about how you can save money on bird ownership and maybe have some FUN with your crafting skills in the process. It’s all about being CHEAP! CHEAP!

Some people would really love to own a bird, but can’t afford it or can barely afford it. Perhaps you are just like me, who always loves a bargain and is a self-proclaimed CHEAPSKATE!

Yes, I feel as sense of euphoria at the end of the day when I know that I have beat the retail rip-off game and have gotten a great bargain in my travels.

There are lots of ways you can save money with aviculture and I am going to list a few that I know. Of course there is a comment section here on my site as well so if you have some ideas I have not covered I would love to hear from you!

 

DIY

One of the best ways to save money on almost any product that is sold, is to replicate the product and make it yourself! Depending on your time restraints or your amount of personal creativity, the sky is the limit.

I personally have quite a few DIY bird supplies that I use. You can refer to my DIY post and I will elaborate here as well. For instance, I was shopping at my favorite bird specialty store, where I bought my Quaker Parrot and found some rather expensive bird play stands.

Now a lot of people will say pet stores are bad places to buy birds. I disagree because if you can find a reputable store that specializes in birds, you are golden.

This particular store had lots of wooden floor standing bird perches that I absolutely love and wanted to buy for my birds. Sadly, they can run anywhere from 250-500 dollars. They did have some used stands for less money and I think it’s great that they do offer this option.

Being cheap, however, I decided that building my own play stand would be more fun and less expensive! A word of caution, however. Always use supplies in your DIY projects that are completely bird safe.

I did my research and learned that some wood is toxic to parrots and others are safe. Make sure you find out what is and what is not. White Birch is safe so that is the wood I chose, plus truth be told, white birch is pretty and goes with the décor in my house!

I then used twine from the Dollar Tree to bind together the branches and created my own bird play stand. You can see it on my DIY post but since then, I have made another perch out of birch as well. My goal is to keep adding to this until I have a large play gym made of birch.

Point being, is that I spent nearly nothing for this perch. The twine cost 1 dollar at the Dollar Tree, the wood was free because I found it hiking and I used a planter that I had around the house to keep the branches standing. So far?

Cost:1 Dollar

Other DIY projects you can try are making your own bird toys from stuff you buy at Dollare Tree. Again, just make sure it’s all bird safe.

Wooden popsicle sticks are a bird favorite. You can dye them with food coloring and string them along with beads and birds love to chew on them. Pinterest have some great DIY bird toy ideas as well so be sure check them out!

Savings

Other ways to save is to browse craigslist for used pet supplies, anything from used cages to carrying cases, or birds themselves. I believe most people charge a re-homing fee but it’s usually less than a breeder or specialty bird store.

Adoption facilities are a great option as well. Remember you with be adopting a bird and sometimes there are issues associated with this. Do your research and find out as much as you can about the birds history.

Making your own bird cage cleaning supplies out of water, baking soda and lemon will save you tons when you are cleaning, and let me tell you, with birds you are cleaning ALOT.

Water and vinegar solution is a good option as well. For quick clean-ups I use a water spray bottle and a rag. Viola! clean and non-toxic. You can check out my CLEANLINESS post as well and all about that hoo haa.

I am a huge fan of Amazon.com. I am also a Prime Member which means I get discounts on shipping and all kinds of stuff. I believe Amazon sells used items as well. (correct me if I am wrong here).

Amazon also has some of the cheapest prices on any item you need and I love to comparison shop on there. Yes, I use the Amazon Affiliate program on this site, but I am also a member because of the low prices and the convenience. They have never screwed up my order and I highly recommend them. Plus their stock is doing well and I play the market.

My main point here, is I hate to see ANYONE get ripped off and I am a self-proclaimed cheapskate so really I want to see you get the same amount of savings.

I personally love DIY projects but if that is not you, just shop the used items and make sure to fully disinfect everything before letting your bird live in the item or play with it. Health and safety are key here.

Good Luck with your projects, bargain hunting  and until next time Happy Parroting!

 

Mirror Mirror

Reflections of..

What is a reflection in the mirror anyway, it can’t be harmful can it? Well in the Avicultural world some bird owners find mirrors to be controversial.

Many believe birds cannot decipher between the reflection of themselves and another bird and therefore will become obsessed and even bond with the reflection. Others feel it is a perfectly acceptable form of entertainment for the bird to play in the mirror. I tend to agree with the latter.

My birds are both very healthy, happy birds with no plucking issues and they love to preen in the mirror. They also concentrate on other activities throughout the day. I will state here that this mirror is NOT inside the cage however, and perhaps that is the key.

My large mirror sits behind the bird’s play area where the perches and toys are. This is where my birds spend the majority of their day. I will even go so far as to say, it used to be my vanity table, however since the birds took over, it has become their play stand.

I made sure that nothing on the vanity was harmful to the birds or toxic if chewed and/or swallowed. This is extremely important and be sure to check out my TOXIC! post along with How to Bird Proof a Room. Both are essential to parrot ownership.

These little cuties love to chew and play with things, knock over stuff, you name it because everything is considered a chew toy as long they can get their little beaks on it!

That includes laptops too so please use caution when leaving your birds unsupervised in a room. ALWAYS make sure the room is bird-safe and I like to supervise my birds as much as possible in any event. If you absolutely have to leave the room, make sure there is nothing they can get in contact with that would be questionable.

I learned my lesson the hard way when my Quaker Parrot thought it was entertaining to pull some of the keys off of my laptop. Luckily, it wasn’t harmful to him, but annoying and expensive for me. Now he is obsessed with my laptop and I have to hide it from him at all times!

Birds have been known to become obsessed with their reflection but I don’t really see this to be true with my birds. My lovebird is enamored with her reflection, but as previously stated, she has other interests as well.

I do notice that she kisses herself in the mirror and sleeps next to her reflection, but she is a happy, healthy and active lovebird so I really do not the see the downside to this.

Any form of entertainment and mental stimulation should be considered a PLUS for your birds. They really need it! Boredom and depression promotes plucking and other issues. I don’t want to deal with an overly needy bird either so the mirror might give you a break if you have an extremely needy bird.

If you feel that your bird is a little TOO into the mirror, try removing it and see what happens. I don’t think there is any harm to this but like I mentioned before, it seems to be a controversial subject in the aviculture hobby similar to clipping your bird’s wings.

The best thing to do is use your own judgment, experiment if you have to, and come to your own conclusion about using mirrors for your bird.

Mine are narcissists but it does not bother me and until one or both become neurotic pluckers, I don’t see the harm in mirrors for my birds. I think it keeps them mentally stimulated and content along with music, toys and the love and interaction I can provide them. Personally, they have great lives and I consider them spoiled rotten babies. I believe they would agree!

Having a mirror for your bird’s entertainment should really be your own choice. I do not think there is a right or wrong way to go about this, just speculation.

Until next time….Cheers and Happy Parroting!

The Parrotlet

Ultimate Pocket Parrot

When people talk about “pocket parrots” quite a few species come to mind. The Parrotlet, the Budgie( proper name Budgerigar) or the  African Lovebird for instance fall into the “pocket parrot” category.

                                Pictured above: Two Pacific Parrotlets

The Ultimate pocket parrot is the parrotlet however, mainly because they are the smallest domestic parrot in the pet trade. There ARE smaller species of parrots in the wild, but they are not kept in Aviculture, which is why Parrotlets are known among the hobby of keeping birds as the smallest parrot you can own.

In my opinion, they are one of the cutest as well. They are a little teacup of a parrot with a hooked bill, beautiful colors, perky and sassy personalities and some can learn up to 100 words and phrases!

Although they are not known for being the best talkers in the parrot trade, many will learn to talk if conditioned properly at a young age. Plus their size and vocal abilities make them great for apartment dwellers or people looking to own a starter parrot and get their feet wet in the aviculture hobby.

Do not misunderstand me however, if you are looking to own a Cockatoo or a Macaw and want to understand aviculture, these little cuties should not be taken for granted or abandoned when you do get your larger birds. These sassy little characters are filled with a big, bold parrot personality and will win your heart over with their adorable appearance as well.

                       Pacific Pied Parrotlet (pictured above)

The Parrotlet’s popularity has been rising among bird keepers and breeders mainly for their adorable demeanor and the convenience of being an apartment dweller and fairly easy to keep. These birds, although small ARE very active so they will need a lot of out-of-cage time in the form of exercise and mental stimulation.

Their care is VERY similar to a lovebird so if you have any questions or concerns about cage size, diet or accessories you will need, just follow the same principles I have applied to lovebird care. They are all in the same category of pocket parrot care but I will specify that parrotlets love swings more than other breeds, so make sure you provide a SWING for  little Tweety.

FACTS

There are many sub-species of Parrotlet however the Pacific Parrotlet and Green-Rumped are the most prevalent in the pet trade.These are the two species I will be referring to in this post, and mainly the Pacific Parrotlet as more times than not, that is the species you will come across in the domestic pet trade.

These little cuties hail from Mexico and other parts of South America mainly in tropical or sub-tropical climates. They like a wide variety of food as well, but if you just stick with millet, a vet-approved pellet and seed mix along with fruits and veggies you should be fine. As stated before, their care and diet needs are very similar to lovebirds.

Please refer to my article on DIET needs if you have any questions or concerns.

These birds can become very affectionate toward their favorite person but will need consistent interaction, as they will become independent without it. This can be a plus if you are not looking for a particularly NEEDY bird. They are capable of being independent and entertaining themselves– similar to lovebirds.

The average lifespan of a well cared for Parrotlet is 15 to 25 yrs and they can be somewhat cage territorial. Keep in mind a bite can hurt but they are rather small so certainly not a dangerous bite.

Because they are completely fearless, they will sometimes aggressively go after dogs and larger birds getting themselves in trouble so be aware of this aggressive, feisty nature and take caution. Again, they are similar to the lovebird in that spunky, sassy temperament and should be regarded as similar in nature and care- giving needs.

In Conclusion

Gaining in popularity, these quintessential POCKET PARROTS are absolutely adorable, can learn to talk and make great starter parrots or pet birds for apartment dwellers.

They can be very affectionate but do need to have consistent interaction. They are also very bold and feisty for a small bird so don’t be fooled by the small size, as they can pack quite a punch with attitude and personality.

They love to snuggle in your hair or inside a pocket of your coat. Just be careful not to sit or step on them because they are so tiny. They also come in a myriad of colors and will win your heart over with their comical demeanor and adorable teacup parrot appearance.

For more information on Parrotlets and their care click HERE

Until next time, CHEERS and Happy Parroting!

 

FLOCK TALK

Say What?

Most of as are aware by now that some parrots can talk to us. When I say SOME that is exactly what I mean. I believe a lot of us, perhaps as children, went to an exotic bird show where the birds were doing clever tricks and talking to the trainers/owners.

I personally remember falling in love with this one white Cockatoo while watching a show in Florida as a kid. I think it was those adorable eyes and of course whenever I would see a Macaw I automatically assumed it would talk to me.

Sadly, some people buy a parrot in the hopes that it will mimic or carry on a conversation with the owner and other members of the household. The truth is, not ALL parrots will talk.

When I started out with this blog, we focused on lovebird care, and while some lovebirds do learn to mimic and talk, most do not. It is essential if you buy or adopt a bird, that you love the bird for who it is, not it’s talking ability.

Some folks have bought expensive breeds of parrots to find out that they never learned to talk and thus decide to give the bird  away. I think people need to understand that a talker is only a PLUS in bird ownership, but certainly should not be the main reason that you acquire one.

Having stated that, there are ways you can improve the chances that you will get your bird to say a few words, or perhaps a lot more than a few.

Certainly, some breeds are known for being excellent talkers and you will learn this from doing your research, but even owning an African Grey or Indian Ringneck does not guarantee that the bird will talk. These are two breeds that are considered great talkers!

Where I bought my second bird, a Blue Quaker parrot, one member of their very knowledgeable staff told me she owns two African Greys and neither of them talk. This can happen but she loves them anyway.

Of course if you adopt a bird, there is pretty much a guarantee that you will know if the bird talks, however in some cases due to stress or shyness, they may stop talking altogether.

Work with Me

Spending quality time with your bird and teaching them words obviously increases the chances of your bird responding. There have been scientific experiments done with African Grey parrots that prove they are competitive and tend to obey and work better when they have a third party to compete with.

If you have someone in your family that you can converse with in front of your bird, they may start to compete for your attention and try to talk to you.

I have been showing my new Quaker Parrot every YouTube video I can find of owners talking to their Quakers and of course the Quaker talking back to them. I have noticed, first and foremost, that my Quaker seems to love watching (or at least he is mesmerized) and then tries to attempt talking. After all, he doesn’t want to get shown up by a YouTube parrot does he? HAHA not!

Just work with your bird and remember they have a rather short attention span, so training sessions should be kept to a 15-20 minute interval and use treats and positive reinforcement to reward them. For instance  a –GOOD BIRDIE— works well or whatever they happen to like. Positive reinforcement is the key here.

In Conclusion

The main idea here is that if your parrot talks, that is fantastic! You can show him off to your friends or just have laughs with the bird and your family. However, do not buy a parrot for the sole reason that they will talk to you. Not only will you be disappointed, but it’s not fair to the bird either. These are wild animals that we are bringing into our world.

Yes I realize most are bred in captivity at this point in time, but their instincts are still primitive and they were not born to speak our language. They do it because they are social by nature and most love bonding with their favorite people.

There are some great books on Amazon  that cover parrot training and YouTube videos as well to teach your  bird to respond to certain cues including talking.

www.amazon.com

And until next time …Cheers and Happy Parroting!

Feather Plucking

Causes

Let me just start out by saying there are usually multiples reasons for your bird to start plucking it’s own feathers. Many people will say it is a sign of stress or that your bird is depressed, bored, etc. Certainly they could be right, but diseases like CYST, parasites externally or internally  (for instance ringworm) could also be the cause.

If your bird is a plucker, the first thing you want to do is bring it to a good Avian vet. Your vet can take tests and determine if the cause of the problem is physical, emotional or both.

There are several successful treatment plans that you may implement and go from there to determine the best remedies. Many very well cared for birds can become pluckers so do not assume it has to do with your style of husbandry.

Numerous other causes for plucking could be  an allergic reaction to certain foods your bird is eating, liver disease, cancer, poisoning from heavy metals, metabolic disorders, dryness in the skin and light/darkness sensitivity.

Because I am NOT a veterinarian, I would never try to diagnose the cause of your bird-over preening and pulling out their feathers aka “PLUCKING”

As stated before, please see a reputable Avian vet or if the bird is a rescue perhaps the facility or former owner can shed some light on the problem and the bird’s history. As a new rescue I would still suggest a vet visit to diagnose the problem further.

Aside from physical ailments, the bird may be suffering from anxiety, stress, depression or boredom. Many times it is a result of your bird being re-homed or becoming less than an only child after many years. You and your vet will need to determine the issues and the good news is, there are treatments available.

 

Treatments

Omega Fatty acids in the diet have been known to slow down plucking and in some cases cure it all together. There are also special neck rings that your bird can wear to prevent them from plucking in the physical manner.

Providing your bird with mental stimulation in the way of toys, interaction, love and good vibes may in some cases be the solution. Keeping a plucker busy with beads and other bird-safe toys is always an idea. Besides, it can’t hurt because as we all know, birds love mental stimulation in all forms.

Sweaters and other bird clothing can be worn to prevent the bird from plucking and keep it warm as well. I personally think they are adorable and reminds me of the story of little Rhea, who became an internet sensation. Rhea was a rescued lovebird who was suffering from a rare disease known as PBFD. (Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease).

One of the symptoms of PBFD was that all of Rhea’s feathers fell out and she was completely bald. Her owner found her in a rescue facility in this condition and could not resist her spunky and sweet demeanor.

Rhea later went on to become internet famous due to her situation. People from ALL OVER THE WORLD were knitting her sweaters and making her various other outfits.

Please keep in mind that Rhea was NOT a plucker, but a great example of a bird with some great outfits. Sadly, Rhea passed away but you can read all about her here:

Rhea’s Story

And remember bald is beautiful!

In Conclusion

There are usually several reasons that your bird could become a plucker. Seeing a good Avian vet is your best option and proceeding with a treatment plan from there. Many birds have kicked the habit so to speak and turned them selves around full force.

Do not assume it is a cause of poor husbandry because many times it is not. Keep in mind, if you are seeing a reputable vet and trying all the treatments available then you are ALREADY an excellent bird keeper.

Doing the best you can is the key. In some cases, it is a physical ailment and after tests and  a treatment plan, your bird may turn out just fine. Plucking is also not fatal although if done aggressively,it could turn fatal so please keep on top of your bird’s health and do the very best you can to help them.

I consider my birds just as important as children and that may seem odd to some people, but I have always been an AVID animal lover.

There are some preventative options available on Amazon.com right here:

Remedies

and until next time..Happy Parroting!

Branching Out

Parrots

As most of you know that have been following along, this site is dedicated to lovebird ownership. However, since lovebirds are small parrots and there are so many other species of parrots to own, I thought I would start broadening the subjects covered in this blog to all pet parrots. We will be discussing basic care of lovebirds and other pocket parrots and even talking about the care of the larger species.

Pictured above: Blue Pied Pacific Parrotlet

There isn’t that much difference when it comes to the basics like caging, food, acquiring a good Avian vet, making sure that you can afford a parrot, and if it will fit into your family situation. However, on the other hand, there are some HUGE  differences between owning a Parrotlet and, say, a Macaw.

We will be covering the different types of species and their specific personalities, care and cage requirements. Noise level is very important to understand also, as some birds can be too noisy for apartment living, or if someone in your household is sensitive to a lot of noise.

The last thing you want to do is acquire a bird and then have to give them away over something as trivial as noise level without planning ahead first.

Pictured above: Female Eclectus Parrot

 

Size

Starting out, we will cover the three types of pocket parrots, which are Budgies, Parrotlets and Lovebirds. The medium-sized parrots are Conures, Cockatiels, Quaker Parrots, Caiques and so on.

Lastly, we will discuss larger and more challenging birds such as Cockatoos, Macaws and Eclectus Parrots. Every bird has something special to offer it’s owner and remember even within the same species, every bird has it’s own unique personality.

There are factors we can control to ensure that your parrot is well socialized but other things like hormones and health problems can change that, so it’s important to understand both the good AND bad traits within each species.

I would never want to sugarcoat parrot ownership. As enjoyable and fun as owning a parrot is, there are plenty of challenges and downsides. The most important thing to do is take your time, do your research and don’t make an uneducated or impulsive decisions no matter how cute that little birdie in the window is!

Don’t forget some species of parrots can live to be almost 80 yrs old so this is a huge commitment and in many cases, the bird will out live YOU. A responsible bird owner would want to make plans for the future care of the bird and many other considerations.

Pictured above: Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo

Parrots mate for life and are extremely sensitive. They can and will bond very strongly to a member of the family and this is nothing to take lightly. Yes, they can love again and attach to another bird or person, but you don’t want to treat bird ownership carelessly from the start. Birds can become heartbroken and self-destructive, it’s a fact.

 

Hazards

Certain species come with hazards of ownership that are important to understand. For instance a Macaw has an extremely large beak and a bite could be potentially dangerous. If you have small children in your household, this is something to consider.

While many Macaws are very sweet if socialized properly, most birds go through a hormonal change and their personalities can drastically change along with the hormones.

Birds can become very jealous of the attention that their favorite owner is getting and could potentially attack another person due to this jealousy. It is a known fact that this happens quite often and could prove to be very dangerous if your bird is large and has a strong bite.

I would never recommend that anyone start off owning a Macaw or Cockatoo without prior bird ownership and education along with experience working with large parrots. There is just too much that can go wrong.

Stay tuned and Happy Parroting!

 

 

CLEANLINESS

Godliness

 

Well you know the old saying; Cleanliness is next to Godliness, and I could NOT agree more. Some of us have different ideas of what cleanliness means, but I would  like to think you can never be too clean or too neat.

The problem with parrot ownership is that birds are messy. Yes, that’s right and if messes bother you, and you hate cleaning all the time, as in EVERYDAY  you probably should not own a bird.

I certainly don’t mean to sound negative or that I am trying to scare you off. Bird ownership is lots of fun and they are comical little characters, but they love to make messes and I like to keep it real.

Not just the obvious droppings that you have to deal with, but feathers everywhere, especially in molting season. Bird food will be thrown about because they LOVE to play with their food; not to mention  other stuff like shredded paper, toys, cardboard, etc. you get the picture.

Pretty much whatever they can get their little beaks on. But, hey that’s all part of pet ownership, right? AND I am here to tell you there is an upside to all of this as well!

For instance, you can train your bird to go potty in the cage or designated area. Yes, they are intelligent enough to learn potty training. The other huge positive in my opinion, is they that really don’t smell bad. In fact, they smell GOOD.

My birds smell like a combination of walnuts and salted caramel all the time and even the droppings are odorless. When I walk into the room where I keep them I smell walnuts and salted caramel and personally… I love it!

 

Cleaning Products

It is essential that when you are cleaning your bird’s cage, play area, bird room or any area within the vicinity of your bird, that you use natural, bird-safe products.

As I have talked about before, any harsh or toxic chemicals cannot be used around your bird. Windex, Comet ,straight bleach, basically anything with a strong chemical odor should be avoided. VIP

Pet supply stores will sell bird-safe cleaning products. Most come in either bottle/spray form or wipes. If the product claims to be bird-safe for your pet, generally you can trust it.

Unfortunately, many of these products are pricey so if you want to go the cheap route just use vinegar and water. It will clean your bird cages, perches, play stands, etc. very well and vinegar is safe for your bird.

You CAN use hot soapy water to clean off the perches and cages just be sure to rinse thoroughly with water and leave no soapy residue. I will sometimes soak my perches in hot, slightly soapy water just using an old toothbrush or any other old, soft brush to get into crevices. I then make sure to THOUROUGHLY rinse with hot water and soak the perches in straight, hot water to remove any soap or residue.

For quick clean-ups, just use a spray bottle of plain water and an old rag, wipe clean and you should be fine. Strong, flowery odors and essential oils should avoided as well. Keep things natural and fresh. Vinegar, hot water, baking soda, real lemon juice and bird-safe cleaning supplies should be your only options.

 

FLOORS

I always keep a broom, dustpan or small, inexpensive vacuum cleaner handy. You absolutely will be vacuuming every day with a bird. There is no way around it.

Within a 6 hr period of time I have seen a room go from clean and tidy to YUK just from feathers, seeds and bird droppings so please remember, you will need a cloth and/or wipes and lots of vacuuming as a result of feathers and bird seed strewn around frequently.

If you are lazy like me and don’t want to run down to the store all the time, just get a bottle sprayer that you would use for your plants, fill it with water and clean your bird stuff as you go.

Water is free last time I checked and if you feel that’s not sanitary enough, add some vinegar to the water, spray down your bird cages, perches and floors using a old rag and voila! A clean and bird-safe non toxic area.

Your other option is to just buy some bird-safe cleaner in the form of sprays or wipes downs. Whatever works for your lifestyle as long as it’s NOT TOXIC!

www.amazon.com have some bird-safe  products for sale here

Lemon Juice and Baking Soda work really well too for a natural cleaning source if you feel that straight hot water is not enough.

Cheers and until next time….Happy Parroting!

Taming/ Training

As most of you know by now, parrots of ALL species (including lovebirds) are highly intelligent, and because of this, need a lot of mental stimulation from us in many forms. This could come in the way of shredding toys, playing with your bird, letting your bird listen to music and dance, talking to the bird, or teaching them new tricks.

Taming a lovebird can be challenging for some bird owners depending on the bird’s background, or easier if you are experienced with bird ownership and have the time and patience dedicated to the art of taming/training.

Having said that, let’s focus on a few different aspects of training. If your bird is already “people friendly” then your task will be lighter. If you have a wild, untamed and/or timid bird things could get a bit more challenging.

I believe EVERY parrot has the ability to learn new things from their human owners, whether it’s talking, doing small tasks in the form of tricks or just listening and obeying commands.

So Let’s Do this!

 

TAMING

Now don’t forget, some birds are not even TAMED, let alone trained, so let’s discuss what can happen if your bird does not trust you and the possibilities of these circumstances.

My lovebird is not tamed, meaning that when I got her, she came from a bird mill and was grabbed at, thrown into cages with other birds, sold and shuffled around with no patience, love or care for her handling situation. As a result, she became scared of people.

Sadly, she is very skittish of human hands as they posed nothing but a threat to her well-being. Now depending on the bird’s age, this can be very difficult to correct.

I still believe EVERY bird has the ability to trust and love again with enough patience and time. PATIENCE is a huge factor in this equation and with the proper training techniques and a loving approach, your bird will react in the same positive way.

Getting to know your bird and establishing trust is a work in progress. They remember everything and if you continue to perpetrate that same hostile or aggressive way of handling or approaching of your bird you will get nowhere.

Birds do not respond to negative reinforcement so it’s very important to ignore negative actions and praise positive actions with things like saying “good bird'” and displaying positive vibes.

I know it sounds weird but honestly, it works. I taught my lovebird (who was afraid of everything) to love music because I started playing the music and giving her praise as she flipped around on her disco ball.

I established a positive vibe and said nice things to her all the while the music was playing. She associated the music with fun, happy and good times and now she demands that I play the music for her.

Her memory is reinforced that music is a fun, non-threatening time and a way to bond with me. Trust me it works! It’s also a known fact that birds love music. Please see my  SONGBIRDS  article for further reference as it gets into birds and their love of song.

Food is also a great way to reinforce a positive bond with your bird. In the wild, birds live in flocks and feed each other daily. They will only trust the quality of the food if they see another flock member eating it.

The same goes for your influence on the “FLOCK” so to speak. Offer food to your bird by the way of a slow and gentle hand motion or talk softly to your bird while you are offering the food.

Another way to get them interested and trusting of food that you offer is to eat it yourself and make sure that they SEE YOU EATING IT.

Obviously, you would only do this with treats like apple slices or cooked carrots etc., but you get the picture. The more you can convince your bird that you are a member of the flock and not a predator the better off you will be.

YOU NEED TO THINK AND ACT LIKE YOUR BIRD AND /OR A MEMBER OF IT’S FLOCK! This is very important in establishing  trust.

Birds are wild animals so don’t expect them to think like a civilized human being, it’s not going to happen. You have to meet them halfway and establish a trusting bond by trying to duplicate the natural instincts of the species. Be a FLOCK MEMBER not a human superior or potential predator- type of threat.

 

MONKEY SEE MONKEY DO

You have heard this expression before as I am sure. Well Birdie see Birdie Do applies here as well. Birds as I have mentioned before, live in flocks and tend to copy each other in a sense of safety.

They are attracted to a strong leader, which will be YOU and that’s where you will establish the trust and RESPECT that you will attain with your relationship. You ideally want to bond with your bird, but you also want them to respect you and therefore listen to you. Don’t forge that you are the boss.

Once you have established the trust of your bird, you can begin to command the respect you deserve and get them to listen to you and do tricks for you. Do not feel that this is cruel because truly, especially with lovebirds, they really enjoy it.

This is a way of bonding with your bird and if you can make it fun, they will love it as much as you do. Just remember to make it fun! Birds will remember and associate certain things with the memory  that they have.

Dr. Irene Pepperberg knew this and used the Monkey See Monkey Do technique with training Alex. She used a third party that Alex competed with to prompt him to step up and compete with this third party and do the tasks that were required of him.

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It’s all part of the flock mentality. The third party was a member of Dr. Pepperberg’s staff who would answer Dr. Pepperberg’s questions and Alex would answer the questions in the Monkey See Monkey Do fashion as he was competing for her attention and admiration/respect.

 

PLAY THE GAME

Don’t forget to think like a bird in it’s flock but be the strong leader. The game is to earn the birds trust but at the same time, it’s respect. Once you establish this relationship, you can start to train you bird to do many things. Ring a bell, push a cart, run though a toilet roll tunnel, you name it. YouTube.com has plenty of videos on tricks that lovebirds are capable of, and although their talking ability is limited, some DO talk.

Establish positive reinforcement only as birds do not react well to scolding or any other type of negative reinforcement. Keep it fun for the bird and most of all BE PATIENT. This is not a dog or cat, this is a wild animal and needs to feel safe within a flock mentality and not until then, will it be willing and able to listen and learn from you.

GOOD LUCK and Happy Parroting!

FIDS

FEATHERED KIDS

Okay so as everyone knows, this site is dedicated to Lovebirds. However, I would like to broaden this subject as time goes on to all pet parrots, otherwise known as FIDS. FIDS you ask? Yes that stands for “Feathered Kids” aka  FIDS. Of course that could refer to your canaries and finches, but I would rather concentrate on parrots for the time being.

I find parrots to be a very interesting species of bird, not just for the plumage, hooked bill and ability to talk, but rather the intelligence and general joy that they bring to their owners.

They are funny for one thing!

Yes, I realize I am biased because I love animals of all kinds and find humor in most all of God’s creatures. What is life without a little bit of laughter? You do remember laughter don’t you? Just kidding, as  I was thinking about a Led Zeppelin song with that last bit of jargon. Does anybody remember LAUGHTER?

Now back to FIDS yes it stands for feathered kids, or in this case, your pet birds namely parrots. Lovebirds are parrots, by the way, in case you are just tuning in. They are considered one of the smaller species; but a parrot nonetheless. Pocket Parrots consist of Parrotlets, Lovebirds, Budgies and maybe a few other small species that I am forgetting at the moment

A step up the ladder and we can talk about Conures, Cockatiels and Quaker Parrots or “Monk Parakeets” as some refer to them as. The confusing part is that there are many different names for the same species. For instance, you have Sun Conures, Green Cheek Conures, Blue Headed Conures and so on. Bird enthusiasts know the difference, but many other people really don’t.

FIDS

So I guess by now you have gathered that FIDS stands for feathered kids. If I refer to your birds as FIDS in the future, just know that is what I mean. Many people in the bird hobby understand the term but just so we are on the same page..

Hopefully if you have more than one FID, they are getting along alright and if not, well I guess try to keep them in separate cages and monitor the interactions as much as possible.

Birds can and will squabble and sometimes it’s not pretty. On the other hand, they could fall in love or become friends for life, so all is not lost in the world of introducing FIDS to each other and hopefully playtime turns into a positive thing!

I always like to see birds forming some kind of positive bond because it’s nice to know that they have each other when you are not around and let’s face it, they have more in common with each other than they have with us. (Although we have the ability to spoil them like what happens in my aviary)

Happy FIDDING or PARROTING and until next time…

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