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Advice For New Parrot Owners

Posted by Buying a Parrot, Buying a Parrot Advice, First Parrot, Parrot Tips, Parrot Owners on 3/11/2020

Here’s 10 nuggets of knowledge and invaluable info for any new Parrot owner from avian expert Rosemary Low.

I was recently asked ‘What would you say to today’s Parrot owners?’ The short answer…

You need time, commitment, sensitivity, and security.

1. Below are my top ten1.Start in the right way and for the right reasons.The right way is a SMALL Parrot, Cockatiel, Parrotlet, Lovebirds, or even a Budgerigar. Don’t disdain the idea of keeping one of these delightful little yet charming birds! The right reasons are because you love birds and you would like one as a companion or several to grace an aviary. This might sound like stating the obvious – and it might sound condescending!

2.Understand that owning a bird or any animal, is a huge COMMITMENT.This is especially the case with a Parrot because it is potentially very long lived and it has a high degree of intelligence and sentience found in few – or no -- other companion animals. Even the smaller species such as Cockatiels and the smaller Parakeets, such as Green-cheeked Conures, can live into their late twenties or early thirties, if well cared for. Please carefully consider if you can be committed to one bird for so many years. Don’t think that, if not, rehoming is an easy option. Rescue centres are overloaded and change of ownership is seldom easy for a bird that has had a close relationship with a human carer.

3.Decide from the outset whether you would like to keep ONE BIRD as a companion, or two.If your bird is closely bonded to you, the arrival of a second is very likely to cause jealousy to the original and a lot of stress to the newcomer. The advantages of starting with two young birds are that if they grow up together, they are likely to be compatible and they will never be lonely. Does this mean they will not be friendly or able to be handled by the person caring for them? Not if they are young and hand-reared.

4.Do you have the TIME?

Parrots are highly social creatures, members of a flock or with a tight pair bond. Solitude makes them anxious and stressed. A Parrot is not the right companion for you if it will be left alone for several hours on most days. And even when you are at home, it needs a lot of focused attention: out of the cage with you. If you cannot provide a high level of attention, buy two young birds at the outset.

5.Does my Parrot need A PARTNER? (Sometimes this is prompted by the appearance of an egg.)

A Parrot usually lays an egg because it has been stimulated by the presence of an artificial nest. Commonly when a box has been provided for enrichment, destruction, and entertainment, the Parrot see it as a nest site.

6.How can I stop my bird LAYING EGGS?

This question is frequently asked.

As mentioned above, given an ideal environment hens will lay eggs. However, there are actions we can take to help minimize egg laying, such as…

-Avoiding stroking a female on her back. This is never advisable because it is a similar sensation to the first stage of copulation when the male mounts the female. This alone could stimulate egg-laying.

-Limit the hours of artificial light, if necessary, by placing a thick cover over the cage or moving the cage into an unlit room in the early evening.

Many eggs being laid in a short time, can have serious health implications for the female). If the female does lay, do not remove the egg, or eggs, as this will encourage her to lay more. Try to make a small comfortable area in the cage, where she can incubate the egg. If she does lay; it is important to add a calcium supplement to the diet. This will restore her calcium reserves that can be diminished by egg-laying.

7.Train your Parrot so they will readily accept supplements or medication.

If you obtain your Parrot as a young, hand-reared bird, it should be easy to persuade them to take food from a spoon, even if it was syringe-fed. My advice would be to continue to spoon-feed once a day, then moving on to once a week, from a teaspoon, throughout their life. You can offer either rearing food or, as I do with my Conure, her favourite food. You can then add any supplement – or even medication – to this, as necessary. Adding supplements to soft foods might work but can be wasteful, with no certainty that all the supplement was eaten.

8.Never underestimate the SENSITIVITY of your Parrot.

By this I mean that if kept in a stressful environment, perhaps you have a busy or lively house, this can affect your bird. The result could be feather plucking or other undesirable behaviours.

9.In a home environment, SECURITY is of extreme importance and must be considered before a bird is acquired. By this I mean, if you have children can you trust them not to open the cage door or to leave a door or window open when your bird is enjoying time outside the cage? It makes me very sad to read about the unnecessary losses of escaped Parrots and other birds. For the occasional happy ending, where a Parrot is reunited with its owner, the sad truth is many never return. Falling victim to predators (hawks and other larger wild birds, or to the elements.

10.Be very aware of DANGERS in the home and aviary.

These can include toxic substances, such as fumes from over-heated Teflon / Non-stick pans, which can kill in minutes, toxic food such as avocado, and various types of sprays used for cleaning our homes, and controlling weeds or pests around outdoor aviaries. Carelessness kills! <read our blog on household dangers HERE>

We must never forget that when we bring a Parrot into our lives, we are responsible for everything that happens to them. Take care of them and enjoy the joys they bring.