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!

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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!

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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.

www.amazon.com

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!

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Air Quality

I want to touch on a subject that is of utmost importance to your bird’s health. All parrots and in particular lovebirds, have an extremely sensitive respiratory system and certain fumes can actually be deadly.

I don’t mean to scare you here but it’s very important that you know the facts. Basically, you want to keep the air quality near and around your birdcage fresh, natural and as healthy as possible.

SMOKING

If you are a smoker, I would highly advise that you leave the bird room or any proximity to a bird’s cage and keep the door closed so that you can keep the smoke outside of  the bird room.

Second hand smoke will not kill your bird, but over time it is harmful to their lungs just as a human being would have the same problem. With a small parrot like a lovebird, this is intensified because of the extra sensitive lungs of a bird

This would include cigarettes, cigars and marijuana. Anything that produces an odor and a smoke is just not good, folks. Please be aware and respectful of your birds and don’t smoke around them. Better off, smoke outside the home or on a whole different level of your living situation.

This is pretty simple for me because Lovey lives upstairs and there are no smokers in the house. I also try to keep the windows open with a screen of course on nice days when the temperature allows it.

I do have an air conditioner because it gets hot upstairs, but I make sure that the cold air is not directed anywhere near her, and she has the ability to fly around my room anyways. Believe it or not, too chilly is not as dangerous as too hot for a lovebird.

SCENTED CANDLES

Scented candles and any kind of air diffuser that propels a fragrance through the air is harmful as well. I don’t know about you, but I love scented candles. However, sometimes if they burn for a while I notice a headache so you can imagine how that would affect the extra sensitive respiratory system of a small parrot, or large for that matter.

Potpourri is not as bad, but I would use it in another room aside from your bird room or proximity to the cage. Basically, anything that emits a strong flowery or fruity odor is going to bother your bird’s respiratory tract. Keep the air natural and pure.

BOUQUET

I love a nice bouquet of flowers but I don’t keep them near a bird. Not so much that the respiratory system will be affected, but if your bird free flies around the room like mine does, she could start nibbling.

Many flowers, although not all, are toxic to birds. Please check the list of toxic vs non-toxic flowers as some birds can eat certain flowers and they are very nutritious. Some are just plain poison.

AIR PURIFIERS

I would recommend that you purchase a small air purifier for your bird room. I use a Himalayan Salt Lamp from www.amazon.com and it works wonders. It also happens to be really pretty and I use it as a night light as well. You can adjust the intensity of the light bulb so that it’s very bright during the day, and dimmer at night.

I keep it right near the living quarters of Lovey and I. It’s also natural, in case she decides to peck at it. Although I will state that salt is not good for birds, it won’t kill them either. I have never seen her touch it and chances are your bird won’t either.

CONCLUSION

Keep your windows open on nice days (screened obviously) and the air quality in your bird room as pure as possible. You want to keep them away from any smoke that they could inhale and don’t forget fireplace smoke too.

Anything with a strong scent would include candles, a diffuser, potpourri, perfume, harsh chemicals, that sort of thing. Please refer to the TOXIC! post that I have written because it covers other fumes that are dangerous if not deadly.

Use your common sense but remember if it has a strong odor, whether it’s paint, glue, perfume or some other beauty supply with an aerosol spray, don’t use it near the bird. Just go into the other room and come back later. Fresh, pure and natural is the air quality that you want to attain.

VIP: DO NOT IRON CLOTHES NEAR YOUR BIRD! MANY IRONS HAVE A TEFLON FLAT SURFACE WHICH WILL KILL YOUR BIRD.

Non-stick cookware and any Teflon products are deadly. This goes for all parrots. I would hate to see someone spend 10 thousand dollars on a Blue Macaw only to see it die of Teflon fumes from an iron or sauté pan.

I would also like to add that if you are having any form of construction done to your home, particularly if it’s interior work, I recommend that you remove your bird from the house and let them stay with a friend or boarding facility.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to add them in the comment section below. Cheers!

 

 

 

 

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Cuttlebone and Mineral Block

If you are not aware of the importance of a cuttlebone in your birdcage you should be. Cuttlebone provides the calcium needed for your bird’s optimal health. To be on the safe side, I would provide a cuttlebone and in addition a mineral block as well.

ESPECIALLY FOR FEMALES

Cuttlebones and mineral blocks can be clipped right on to the side of your bird’s cage and neither is that expensive. While recommended for all lovies, they are especially important for a female lovebird who will naturally develop eggs.

If she does not get the proper balance of calcium and other important vitamins and minerals, she could become egg-bound. This can be very painful and dangerous for your bird and an expensive vet visit would be necessary.

To prevent this and keep your birds in optimal health, please provide a cuttlebone and a mineral block at all times. Your LB will naturally chew on them when they need the extra vitamins. Their bodies just seem to know when to peck at the minerals so there is no need to guide them as long as the blocks are readily available at all times.

Amazon sells both products, and because they are so inexpensive, you can probably purchase them as add-ons.

CUTTLEBONE

Higgins Cuttlebone is a great choice. They usually come with up to 5 in a pack and should last you a few months for one bird.

MINERAL BLOCK

I love things that are pretty so I found a really pretty mineral block in yellow that is shaped like a rose and it fits in with my décor for Lovey’s play area. I notice she chomps on that and the cuttlebone several times per day.

Remember that these are essential items for your bird’s optimal health and should not be overlooked. Don’t worry  because they both are relatively inexpensive, unless you go with the designer mineral block like I did.

 Mineral Block

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DIET

Yes, it’s the dreaded D word again, but guess what? This time it’s not about you restricting your calories,  it’s all about your Lovebird’s diet.

There are right and wrong ways to go about this and we will go over a few things to avoid. I encourage anyone who checks out this blog to please look at the TOXIC!  section on my site. There are plenty of dangerous foods that you could be mistaking while feeding your LB and they can be potentially harmful, if not deadly.

Please use caution and do your research; for instance raw beans are toxic to a lovebird and it would seem like a perfectly safe food, but alas, it’s not. I am not referring to green beans here, but black beans and lentils when I say this.

 

SEED MIXES

When shopping for seed mix, most people go straight to the local pet store and buy mixes formulated for Lovebirds, Conures and Cockatiels. Although this isn’t the worst thing to do, it’s really not the best either.

Your lovebird will tend to pick through the mix and only eat the sunflower seeds. Though it won’t kill your bird, sunflower seeds are high in fat and low on nutrition.

For optimal health, most Avian vets will recommend a pelleted diet along with fresh fruits and vegetables. Please be aware that some veggies are toxic, for instance Avocado, so be aware of the right choice of vegetable and fruit . Furthermore, apples are excellent for your bird, but the seeds are dangerous, so please be sure to cut the apple and avoid the core and seeds.

If you are confused about anything to do with your bird’s diet, please talk your Avian vet to be on the safe side. They are the experts, after all.

You may Google any of this information or Amazon.com has great books on proper Lovebird care including diet and toxic food to avoid. Don’t do all of the guess work, but instead do your research……. please.

 

PELLETS

Pellets are the recommended diet due to the fact that all of the vitamins and nutrients are available in a pelleted diet. Unfortunately, many birds don’t like pellets. You may have to wean your bird off of the seeds and slowly incorporate the pellets until they are eating mostly pellets.

Most lovies will go straight for the sunflower seeds but they are the equivalent of French Fries in our diet. Although they are yummy, they are not particularly nutritious and pretty bad for us in the long run. Particularly if your bird is not flighted,  seeds can cause weight problems and other health issues.

PEOPLE FOOD

While you can offer some people food for your lovie, it’s not particularly recommended. Hard boiled eggs are okay and most fruits and vegetables are fine. Heavily salted, sugary or fatty foods are not to be ingested nor chocolate as it could kill your bird. Alcohol is a “no no” as well.

It’s a great way to bond with your bird by sharing a plate, but not the healthiest or the most sanitary. Personally, I don’t want to share my plate with my bird for cleanliness purposes alone and furthermore human saliva is not good for a LB.

HEALTHY STUFF

Cooked beans are an excellent choice but as I firmly state COOKED. Corn on the cob is great too, as well as popcorn. Pretty much anything you see in a salad is fine and remember if it’s healthy for you, its generally healthy for your lovie. To avoid all confusion, just try to wean them on commercial pellets.

Birds love to forage, so I prefer the LAFEBER’s Nutri-berries. They are vitamin fortified and give your bird a reason to work for it’s food given the hard ball-like shape that they come in.

For foraging toys that are healthy you could try hollowing out a green pepper, get rid of all the seeds and stuff it with millet spray or other goodies, hang the pepper in your birds cage, and they will be in heaven. Plain old corn on the cob works great too!

CONCLUSION

Although a seed mix won’t necessarily hurt your bird, over time it does not provide the proper vitamins and minerals your bird needs either. A fully seeded diet is the equivalent of a junk food diet for us, lots of fun to eat but not so good in the long run. Non flighted birds can develop health problems and obesity.

Providing lots of millet sprigs are great because birds love the taste and it’s healthy, A real win/win for your LB and you. Try to wean your bird on a mainly pelleted diet and I especially recommend LAFEBER’S Nutri-Berries. They are great for foraging and super healthy for your bird. Most Avian vets will agree with me on this.

It may take time to switch your bird from seeds to pellets but well worth it in the long run. If you have the time to cook for your bird, broccoli and cooked beans are excellent as well. Just remember to do your research and talk to your Avian vet.

RECOMMENDED:

MILLET SPRAY    

www.amazon.com

LAFEBER’S NUTRI-BERRIES

www.amazon.com

 

 

 

 

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To Clip or Not to Clip

To Clip or Not to Clip….. that is the question. What I am referring to here are your bird’s wings. My Lovey is fully flighted because I prefer it this way, but there are drawbacks to a fully flighted bird and we will go over the pros and cons.

If you do decide to have your bird’s wings clipped please leave this to a professional. Avian vets offer this service as do most bird specialty stores. Perhaps your bird’s wings are already clipped as many pet stores and breeders do clip the wings before selling a bird.

FULLY FLIGHTED

As previously mentioned, I prefer a fully flighted bird. Namely because the bird gets it’s proper exercise by having the ability to fly and it’s just more natural for the bird. Also, it may be a better option if you have other pets in the house or small children who could unintentionally hurt the bird. With the bird’s natural ability to fly, it can easily get out of harm’s way from a dog, cat or other predator trying to hurt or hunt it down.

Having a fully flighted bird will require you to keep him/her caged or at least in a bird safe room. Absolutely no fans, ceiling fans in particular, open windows or large glass windows as they can fly straight into them and seriously hurt themselves or die.

Rosy-faced Lovebird flying, Agapornis roseicollis

Yes, you do run the risk of your bird flying away if they get out through a door or window. Very rarely will a small parrot like a lovebird fly back home. Once they are gone, they are gone for good so use caution and make sure that they are in a safe area to fly freely without escaping

My lovebird is not tame, nor has she ever been tame because sadly, I bought her from a large chain pet store and I am almost certain she came from a bird mill. These birds have been roughly shuffled around the pet trade and are generally frightened of human hands.

I have considered having her wings clipped for this reason alone, so she will be more familiar with human hands but have not done so thus far.

CLIPPED WINGS

The major advantages to clipped wings is obviously that they cannot fly away and you have more control over taming your bird.

They will have no choice but to be handled with the inability to fly and you will be able to hold your bird, cuddle with your bird and teach it more tricks and head scratches will be more prevalent. Head scratches are a great way to bond with your lovebird. Just beware of bites, and yes a lovie’s bite can hurt.

Avian vets and specialty bird stores offer wing clipping services. There are instructional videos on YouTube that show you how to clip your bird’s wings but I do not recommend it. If you happen to cut too low, draw blood or clip a blood feather, the bird could easily bleed to death. I don’t think you would want to take that risk and neither do I

Fear not, as a wing-clipping is similar to a hair cut, it’s not permanent! If you decide you would prefer your LB to be fully flighted just wait about 6 months and her wings will be grown back to normal. Having said that, you will also have to keep the clipping up every 5-6 months if you want to keep it non-flighted

IN CONCLUSION

As you can surmise, to clip or not to clip is purely your choice. Take into consideration your living conditions and the safety of your bird. These are the most important determining factors.

I prefer a flighted bird, but I have the rare living situation in that no other pets or small children are around.  She also lives upstairs and NEVER leaves her bird-safe room. There are no open windows, doors, dogs or cats that can pose a risk to her well-being. I have bird-proofed her room and she never leaves the vicinity of this area. In some ways she is trained, but not enough to let me cuddle with her.

Who knows, maybe in time

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Play Stands

First of all let me just state that the play stand is of UTMOST importance when owning a lovebird.  As I have mentioned in other posts, I am not a huge advocate  of keeping your birds in cages all day long.

I realize most people work for a living or have to be away from home the better part of the day, but when you ARE  home and have the time to devote to your bird, you should be letting them out of the cage as often as possible. It is healthier for the bird’s mental well-being to feel less trapped in a cage. They simply want to be with you and to be part of the flock . In doing so, they feel happier on the outside of the bars, please trust me on this.

Some and many cages will come with a play stand type of gym for your bird on the top of the cage and that is fine. Once the bird is comfortable with their stand or gym, they will gravitate to that particular spot and favor it. They are creatures of habit very similar to us.

Once your bird is trained, mainly they will listen to you and stay where they are supposed to be. Not always, however (as lovebirds especially) can be bossy and willful particularly if you own a female. Yup  it’s true as I own a female lovie. As long as there are toys, shredders or food near the stand they don’t readily feel the need to look for other perches. This is usually after they have flown around the room to exercise.

Be sure to check out my post concerning  HOW TO BIRD PROOF A ROOM. …it is very important that you do this

www.amazon.com has some great bird stands made of natural wood (which is much better IMO) than plastic or metal. Remember, you want your bird to feel that they are as close to their natural habitat as possible.

If you happen to purchase a cage that already has a perch/play gym on top that is fine. As stated before, I recommend real wood mainly Manzanita wood, Cholla wood and Grapevine wood (I highly recommend Grapevine wood ) Java wood stands are advertised a lot, and they are excellent for larger parrots but they are super expensive and quite honestly, I think Java wood is too slippery for a lovebird grip.

Whatever you do, don’t go with plastic as your bird could develop BUMBLEFOOT which is a disorder that affects the feet and can cause lesions and deformity in severe cases. Always opt for a natural wood perch inside and outside the cage for optimal health concerning your bird’s feet. VIP

IN CONCLUSION:

www.amazon.com feature some great wooden bird play/gym stands for lower prices than most retailers. Try to go with a natural wood as opposed to plastic or metal as it will be safer for your bird’s feet in the long run.

 

 

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Bird-Proofing a Room

As I have mentioned in other posts, I am not a huge advocate of leaving your bird(s) in cages 24/7. At some point–and as far as my opinion goes–as OFTEN as possible—- you should be letting your bird out of the cage.

Your first consideration should be bird-proofing the room in which to let your bird fly free. I am going to assume in this post that your LB is flighted. What I mean by this is that your bird’s wings are NOT clipped and he/she is able to fly around a room with ease.

Before letting little precious out, there are some extremely important things you need to do in order for the room to be safe. Most birds will quickly become accustomed to navigating the room but the first time around (and especially if you have a new bird) they can become panic stricken.

 

NEVER should you have any type of fan on while your bird is flying free and in particular ceiling fans. They are deadly!        

Be sure to cover all mirrors and windows with a sheet or towel until the bird becomes comfortable and acquainted with the room. They can easily fly straight into a mirror or window knocking themselves out,  getting a serious

concussion and in many cases will die immediately. This happened to a friend of mine who was nursing a wild bird. The bird panicked, flew straight into the sliding glass door and was instantly killed.

 

Be certain there is nothing toxic in the room that the bird could get into. I have made a list of toxins in my TOXIC!  post so be sure to check that out. Many live plants can be toxic to LBs as well so if you have any doubt, just remove them from the room, and by all means I would expect you to close the door to this said room.

 

WATER HAZARDS

If you happen to be in a  bathroom be sure to close the lid on the toilet seat, birds can drown in any water that is deeper than 7in (beware of a filled bathtub or sink for that matter) and once again cover any mirrors.

 

 

NON-STICK COOKWARE

I do NOT recommend that you ever keep a bird near the kitchen including when they are caged. Non-stick cookware fumes are deadly to a bird not to mention hot burners and just stuff in general hanging around. Keep your birdcage and birds AWAY FROM THE KITCHEN. Period. End of Story.

I cannot stress this enough…

 

Burning candles and a lit fireplace is a huge “no no” as well. A panicking bird can do all kinds of crazy things including flying into or near an open flame.

 

 

 

 

FREEBIRD

When you first introduce your bird to free flying around a room it should always be supervised. Never leave a  flighted bird alone in a room until they are comfortable with the navigation and even then, use your best judgement and always be cautious.

 

 

Another danger to birds are electric cords. LBs love to chew, as any parrot does, and if they start chewing on a lamp cord or any electric cord, well I don’t really have to explain this one do I? Unplug your cords or just keep a watchful eye on what your bird is doing.

More often than not, the bird will instinctively look for a high perch area in the room, i.e. curtain rods, the top of a mirror, top of a bookshelf; that sort of thing, but there are always exceptions.  For instance you could have a cord on a high bookshelf which would be tempting for the bird to start chewing on.

If it’s evening and you must have the lights on, just be sure the cords are low to the ground and away from the bird.

 

 

Lead paint and toxic metals are dangers to be aware of also. Just don’t let them start chewing on anything you would deem as questionable.

Some woods are toxic also so be sure to do your research on the types of wood that are safe for birds. Clearly, no matter what type of wood you have concerning furniture or baseboards you wouldn’t let them chew on it anyway.

Once your bird gets comfortable in the room, 9 out of 10 times they will head to their favorite perch which is almost always a LB approved play stand and will usually stay on or close to that. Especially if there are toys and food on the stand because like us, they are creatures of habit and comfort thus getting used to their favorite spot and “hanging out” there.

IN CONCLUSION

Be sure to understand and learn all toxins and anything questionable in the room that the bird could get into. Supervise your bird especially the first time around when they can be panicky and by all means use common sense.

 

 

 

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Is LB ownership right for me?

Often people will make an impulsive decision when adopting or purchasing a pet and regret their choice later for whatever reason. Let’s focus on lovebird ownership on this site and suppose you are thinking of getting one…

Is lovebird ownership right for me? It’s a great question to ask yourself and I would highly recommend that you do a lot of research before taking the plunge.

www.amazon.com has some great books available

 

START OUT SMALL

I am the first to tell people if you really want to own a parrot, start out small. Budgies, Lovebirds and Parrotlets are a great starter parrot and since this site is dedicated to lovebirds, we will talk about the pros and cons of owning one.

CAN I AFFORD IT?

First off, lovebirds will cost something to own. Obviously they are not as expensive as a Macaw or Eclectus parrot but don’t forget the price of supplies and vet visits. Sit down and crunch the numbers of costs pertaining to cages, toys, play stands, food, etc. While certainly you can find bargains via Craigslist and other sources, Avian vet visits can add up. Please do your research…

DO I HAVE TIME?

Secondly, do you have the time to devote to a pocket parrot aka lovebird? Many people prefer to buy them in bonded pairs hence not worrying so much about the LB being bored, depressed or self-destructive. A bonded pair will still need your attention and love! Water and food MUST be changed daily and cages cleaned at least once per week to keep these birds in optimal health.

TRAVEL

Do you go on vacation a lot? It is not recommended that you travel with birds as it can be very stressful on the bird’s health. Finding a good boarding facility is a must! Many local vets offer this service or you may find a specialty bird store that offers boarding services. This can add up as well.

YOUR ENVIRONMENT

What is your living situation like? Do you have other birds? Dogs and/or cats? Snakes or rats? ….but seriously, you need to decide if a lovebird will fit in well with your family and living situation in general. I don’t think lovebirds are great for small children because they can and will bite—it HURTS! 

NOISE LEVEL

They are fine for apartment living and close quarters but they are by no means a quiet bird. They have a loud, shrill voice and they chatter and sing constantly . My recommendation would be to listen to the sounds of a lovie either on YouTube or visit a local aviary, pet store… or maybe your friend owns one?

See if you can tolerate the noise level, and more importantly, will people that you live with be able to tolerate the noise level? Luckily these little gems are quiet at night or as soon as the lights go out; but by early morning and pretty much all day long they are extremely vocal.

OUT OF CAGE

What about room for your birdie? Pet parrots of ALL types need a lot of out-of-cage time. It is simply abusive to lock a bird in a cage all day long. They absolutely need to be free for many hours of the day. Would YOU want to be in a small cage all day long? Imagine if you had the natural ability to fly and someone stuck you in a small cage 24 hrs a day? Hopefully you see my point.

I am very passionate about the subject of giving your bird as much free out-of-cage time as possible. My living situation is unique in the sense that I don’t have any other pets and I am home for the better part of the day. My lovie is  NEVER in her cage but as I stated, I realize this is a rare situation.

LIFESPAN

Are you aware that lovebirds live an average lifespan of 15 years? Some captive LBs have been known to live up to 25-30 years. They may very well outlive YOU.

Are you willing and able to take on  the responsibility for that amount of time?

 

COMPATIBILITY

Another important consideration is that these birds tend to very feisty and don’t get along well with other birds as a rule. There is a fine line between love and hate as they say.

For instance you cannot just play matchmaker with these birds. They are very particular about how they feel towards other lovebirds and some will fight to the death. That’s right I said it. Particularly, two different species of lovebirds will almost always clash.

They will bully smaller birds such as Budgies and can severely injure them–often to the death. A Fischer’s lovebird cannot be housed with a Peach-faced lovebird or you will have serious problems.

As stated before, two lovebirds of the same species have to bond on their own, it cannot be forced. These are very intelligent creatures and they make their own decisions similar to us humans.

MESSY MARVIN

Lovebirds are MESSY! Yes they are small but I keep a vacuum cleaner handy at all times because when they eat, they tend to throw their food around.  You will almost inevitably find feathers here and there even when they are not molting.

HEALTH ISSUES

Female lovies can have issues with egg-binding. There are also many other diseases that these birds can develop or possibly have already, especially if you are adopting one ( I will be touching on the various diseases in another post)

Allergies tend to be low with lovebirds mainly because they do not posses a dander similar to a Cockatiel or Cockatoo, but if you are prone to allergies you may want to ask your doctor about this. As I am NOT a medical professional, I would never give advice either way on this subject. Just as I am not a veterinarian, I would not be able to diagnose problems with your bird either.

If you have a new lovie, whether you have adopted it or purchased it, I advise you have a full check-up through your Avian vet starting out. This way, you can decide if you want to clip your bird’s wings or keep him/her flighted. I have my own views on this subject in a later post.

 

IN CONCLUSION

Take the time and do your research on lovebird ownership. There are plenty of websites, blogs and literature all over the internet. Visit an aviary, pet store or talk to a breeder. Figure out if your lovebird will fit in well with your living situation and in particular others living with you.

They are little joys to have around IF and only IF they are a good fit for you and your household.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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