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Your Parrot Questions Answered By Feathered Friends

Your Parrot Questions Answered By Feathered Friends

Posted by Parrot Questions, Feathered Friends Q&A, Parrot Advice on 18/1/2024

We have received a lot of questions from our customers recently, and Sheila and Margaret from Feathered Friends have kindly taken the time to answer some of them for us.

Here are all the questions we’ve received so far.

This first question was from Keltaosa on Twitter.

Q1. How warm weather is warm enough for an Amazon Parrot to go out? (We live in Finland)

A: Birds will acclimatise to the weather around them. I personally don't take my birds out if the temperature is under 10c as my flock prefer it a little warmer. If you are taking your bird out in hot weather always make sure they have a shaded area and have plenty of fluids and fresh fruit to keep the hydrated.

It has been said a Parrot’s comfort temperature is between 65f - 80f but they can withstand temperatures between 40 - 90f. A chance to bath in water is welcomed in warm weather. A shallow bird bath in an aviary is a good addition.

Budgie questions

In cold weather they need shelter from wind. Wind chill should be considered when deciding to take your bird outside. Birds are less able to cope with extreme sudden temperature changes

Our second and third questions were left as comments on our blog. Jill Sullivan asked:

Q2: My Sonny won't step up in the cage, he runs away as soon as my hand goes in. I’ve tried stick training and he still does everything to avoid contact.

He will step up if on the floor but then goes back into his cage on his own as soon as I stand up with him, I can't even get to do the ladder with him. I’ve only had him about 3 months and he came from a very busy noisy house with 3 big dogs who jumped at his cage and 2 cats.

I know he was terrified when I got him. I can now put my hand in the cage and he will take a treat from my hand and he also tries to feed my hand on occasion but I don't let him do that. Any advice on the next step to get him to step up in the cage? He's only 4 and I'm his 4th owner it's a shame for him.

Thank you

A: Sonny has gone through a lot of changes and will need time and patience to adjust. It's important that he is allowed to come to your hand because he wants to and not because he has to. You have made progress by him taking treats from your hand through the cage bars.

The next step I would take is to get him taking them through the open cage door. Never follow him round the cage with your hand or stick If he moves away that means he is uncomfortable with the situation so you must withdraw to a distance he Is happy with , maybe going back to treats through the bars.

If you learn what is his most treasured treat you can keep it only for training sessions that should be kept short and at a time he is receptive , not when he's tired, preening, eating , playing with toys etc.

Once he's comfortable taking treats I would offer a treat with one hand while placing the other hand in front of it so he has to reach over your hand for the treat. Gradually I would increase the distance between hands do he must step on the hand to reach the treat.


You can replace your second hand without the treat with a stick if you wish. All this must be done at his pace with no force and positive reinforcement. I always allow my birds to come out of the cages themselves rather than asking to step up

Our final question was from Gerrard Leow.

Q3: Hi Barbara, recently I changed to a bigger cage for my Grey hoping to giving him a bigger space to play, but since the change, the Grey refuse to come out starts to run around the cage when I approach it with my hand. Look forward to your kind advice.

A: Any change in your bird's environment can bring about change in behaviours. I would allow him to come out of his cage on his own, without asking to step up. Forcing the issue may lead to further problems. A cage should be viewed as his safe space. Simply open his door and go about watching tv, reading, etc.

We’ve got another brilliant batch of questions that Feathered Friends have kindly taken the time to answer.

The first question was asked by Stephen on Twitter.

Q1. Morning, we bought a snuggle from you via Amazon about 3 weeks ago, any tips for getting him to use it? Tried all sorts, he just climbs all over it and pulls it about.

A: Most birds are naturally suspicious, if not afraid, of new objects. It is always important to introduce things gradually. When introducing new objects to my birds I first leave it within sight of them but not close enough to cause them to be alarmed.

After a few days I will move it slightly closer and closely watch for any adverse reaction from them. If I spot any sign of fear I will immediately move the object back to a place they don't feel threatened by it. I may start holding the object while sitting down, letting the birds see I'm at ease with it and making out it’s a really fun object.

With a hideaway I'd then progress to placing treats close to it and as they became comfortable with that I would place treats inside it. It helps if you know what treat your bird values really highly. Once your bird is happy and readily taking treats from inside the hideaway you can then place it in the position you intend it to be used in.


The second question was left as a comment on our blog.

Q2: Just wondering when Hahns stop breeding, thanks.

A: The Hahns Macaw or red shouldered Macaw originates from Eastern Venezuela , northern Brazil and South America.

They have an average lifespan of 25+ years. Known as a mini Macaw, they are easier size wise to keep as companion birds.

Hahns Macaws reach sexual maturity at around two and a half to three years old. The optimum breeding age is five plus years. The maximum breeding age I'd say depends on the individual bird but breeding into the late teens to early twenty wouldn't be unusual.

This final question was sent in via our Facebook page.

Q3: Hi, do you know where I can find an accurate diet sheet for a Kakariki?

A: Kakarikis are good, all round eaters.

Seeds including millet, canary seed, niger, hemp, linseed and safflower are all enjoyed as well as, sweetcorn and pine nuts.

Millet sprays are enjoyed as a treat along with sprouted seeds.

Fruits and vegetables enjoyed include apples, oranges, kiwi, berries, spinach, kale and carrots. They will also take greens such as dandelion leaves and cabbage

A good way to get an all round diet is a vegetable chop and mix in things like grains and pulses, sprouted seed along with a good quality seed mix.

Read more in our Kakariki feeding guide.

We’ve received more fantastic questions from you, and once again Feathered Friends have kindly taken the time to answer them. Here is the latest batch of questions for you.

This first question was left as a comment on our blog by Lynda Lempriere.

Q1: I have a 2 year old Umbrella Cockatoo. He has an excellent diet toys etc to keep him amused, a harness to take him outside on yet he keeps putting his wing either through the bars of his cage or round a certain toy thus damaging the wing feathers. I cannot work out why or what to do, have you any ideas please?

A: Hi. It's really difficult to say what's happening without seeing but from your description I'd say this is some sort of mating/hormonal behaviour. I personally would remove the toy he is too attached to and keep him busy.

Regarding the cage bars I'd ensure they are the correct spacing so as to eliminate as far as possible the risk of a wing getting caught in them. I would also be aware of how you handle him, avoid touching him under his wings/ his back and tail area. Hopefully his damaged feathers will be replaced when he moults.


This second question was left as a post on our Facebook page.

Q2: Hello all. My hubby bought me an Amazon Red Lored Parrot called Joey three weeks ago and he is 6 years old. He is all for me.....well was. He used to come on my arm all the time when I went to him and used to sit with me on the settee. My brother in law came around and now he seems all for him. If I now go over to him he moves away all the time as if he doesn't want to be near me. Any one got any ideas? I've read a bird can change his temperament when you change his environment. Do I just keep doing what I am doing or do some good different? TIA Kerri and Joey

A: Hi, Parrots often form a close bond with one person. This special person may be the only one allowed privileges such as giving head scratches, stepping up and hanging out with. Parrots can also change who this special person is. Often these changes happen as the bird matures. In the wild as youngsters they will be bonded to parents and at maturity that bond will change to someone they perceive as a mate.

To help prevent this happening it's important the bird is socialised with all family members and everyone takes part in the care and everyday tasks including play time. Joey is still settling into his new home and things will still be strange to him. It's important at this time to develop a routine and let Joey get familiar with all family members at his own pace. This is a link to a note we have written on one person birds on Feathered Friends.

The next two questions were left as comments on our Facebook post:

Q3: Is it ok to give my Indian Ringneck kale if she can’t digest cellulose from vegetables? According to Mishele Piachion, the author of the book, you can’t take the rain forest out of the bird.

A: Cellulose is the chemical name for fibre, an important part of most diets and is found in the majority of whole foods such as fruit and vegetables. Birds do not secrete the enzymes for the breakdown of cellulose but, like many mammals, at the end of their small intestine they have small blind ended pockets called caeca. These caeca contain bacteria which breakdown the cellulose and allow the bird to digest it in turn.

Fruit and vegetables are important for the health of Parrots and are more nutritious given raw as this allows the vitamins to stay intact, minerals will survive cooking. Cooking does breakdown cellulose if this is a major concern to you, however I would recommend you continue to give vegetables such as kale raw as the cellulose won't cause any harm and will allow more nutrients to be taken on board by your Ringneck.

Q4: How can I get my Amazon to stop chewing picture frames? I've tried distraction tactics, plenty of chewable alternative toys and destructibles, telling her off, giving her time-out, and removing her with the minimum of fuss and reaction - and nothing works....

A: Amazons and all Parrots instinctively chew. Chewing keeps the beak in trim and I'm certain provides great pleasure. Telling her off could reinforce the chewing as she will see that attention as reward.

Providing lots of suitable chewing opportunities such as phone books, catalogues and safe wood as well as suitable shredding and chewing toys and perhaps introducing foraging into her daily activities may help. Some birds most definitely develop destructive behaviour due to boredom and as a way of seeking attention, keeping her busy and increasing your interaction with her may also help.

Yet again, we’ve received more brilliant questions from you, and Sheila from Feathered Friends has answered more of them.

This first question was left on the Lineolated Parakeet species guide blog by David Whittle:

Q1: Will Lineolated Parakeets mix with Mountain Parakeets?

A: Although there is no guarantee that individual birds will get along Linnies are generally well suited to a mix bird environment when housed with other similar gentle species such as Mountain Parakeets.

The key to this is to provide multiple food and water dishes and plenty of perches, this helps keep squabbles to a minimum.

African Grey questions

These two questions were left as comments on our Facebook page by Chantella Venter and Charle Delmore respectively.

Q2: I have a 3 year old male green Ringneck Parrot and for the past couple of months he has been feeding everything, both the inside and outside of his night and day cages, his fruit the table the counter the floor everything. The screeching has minimised in the last few weeks so what is going on and how long will it last. He is also scratching his beak on anything he can. Please help.

A: Hi. At three years old he is maturing. This behaviour is likely due to hormone changes. Regurgitating is usually something they do with something or someone they are bonded with. You can take some steps to reduce the behaviour. Make sure he has 10/12 hours undisturbed sleep of a night.

Remove any items he could perceive as a nest such as happy huts, boxes or any dark cozy place. Don't feed excessive amounts of food. Occupy him with basic training sessions. If he seems fixated with a certain toy or object, remove it. Limit petting to head scratching only, don't pet under his wings, his back or vent area. If he starts to regurgitate on you calmly put him down and let him settle.

Regarding the screaming, be extremely careful you aren't reinforcing the behaviour by reacting in any way, don't even look at him when he screams. When he's quiet or making a sound you like reinforce it with a head scratch, a treat and praise.

Q3: On going problem...CAG. 6 years old. Saw Avian Vet in August. Blood work good. Underweight.

Has been offered pellets, natural and fruit flavoured, every fresh fruit and vegetable in season, quinoa, oatmeal, rice, pasta, cooked dried beans of several varieties, and greens of all varieties. Along with peppers of many varieties.

He eats, but mostly wastes, NutriBerries and unsalted crackers with almond butter, almonds, occasionally grapes, apple, black, blue and strawberries, honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon.

He is only confined to his cage at night and spends days with me. Since I am home all the time he has quit playing with any toys..I think I'm his toy. I am stressed knowing he isn't eating properly and not being able to find a solution.

Any help would most appreciated.

A: Sometimes feeding too many new foods in a short period of time can be overwhelming. Pick a few and work on giving those on a daily basis alongside something you know will be eaten well. This should still include a variety, so something sweet like apple, different coloured vegetables so maybe bell pepper and the dark green vegetables are good too so kale?

Seeds are ok once in a while but shouldn't really be a large part of the diet - especially sunflower seeds as they are high in cholesterol. Pellets are good for encompassing 'everything' that is needed into the diet. I'd recommend Harrison's pellets. Try giving a few a day alongside the meal.

For weight gain I use nuts as they are high in protein, but avoid peanuts as they can carry bacteria. But walnuts for example are fine.

These two questions were tweeted to us.

Q4: What is the best way to limit egg production in a single 5yr female Senegal Parrot? I have tried most methods.

A: Excessive egg production is a very common problem Parrot owners face. To limit egg production I suggest the following, do not allow access to dark cozy areas your bird may perceive as a nest box, including boxes and sleep huts. Be aware of how you pet your bird, never touch the back, tail, under wings or vent area. Limit petting to head scratches.

Reduce the amount of daylight hours the bird is exposed too, 12 hrs straight sleep in a dark quiet room is recommended. Limit any soft warm food. In extreme cases a vet can prescribe hormone injections or implants, I would use these only as a very last resort in cases that are causing serious health problems such as egg binding and calcium deficiency. Ensure any bird who is laying has plenty of calcium rich food.

Q5: Do Parrots live as long in the wild as they do in captivity?

Generally parrots in captivity live longer than Parrots in the wild. In the wild they face more dangers from predators, food shortage, possible water shortage, habitat diminishing and obviously don't receive veterinary care if ill or injured. Our companion Parrots have a far easier life although a very limited one

Thanks to everyone who has submitted questions to Feathered Friends. Find out if your question has been answered below.

This first question was left by Janette Preston on our Facebook page:

Q1: We have a CAG that will be 1yr end of this month, my query is that she has never been able to fly properly. at first we thought it was her age as got her at 18 weeks. Her wings are not clipped and are all intact, she launches herself off her cage etc but only ever manages to land on the floor never fly to another perch, chair etc. Our last CAG we had for 26 yrs so are used to this breed of bird and neither of us can see any reason for the flying problem, should we be concerned?

A: A one year old fully flighted CAG should be energetic and flying well. First I recommend a vet check to rule out any physical issues.

Providing the vet finds your bird healthy it may be a matter of literally teaching her to fly. I'm wondering if as a chick she was not allowed to fledge properly and flight and chest muscles have not developed enough. If this is the case you will need to build up her muscles and cardio strength. One little game you can do to help this is the bed game.

Holding her over a bed (only just above it) very gently encourage her to fly down to the bed, you can increase the distance and height as she gains strength. Please only do this though if she is happy to do it and given a clean bill of health by a vet. You can then progress to another person at the other side of the bed with a treat and encourage her to fly to them. You should also encourage her to be as active as possible, playing with toys, climbing etc.


The following questions were tweeted to us.

Q2: Why does my Meyer's, Abe, like to dunk his pellets into water before he eats them? Is it to make them soft?

A: This is normal behaviour in birds, to soften food - especially foods that are harder like pellets. Some birds are dunkers, and some aren't. I have a Cockatoo who dunks everything. Check the bird’s beak and make sure it's not too long or cracked though, as this could be a reason they dunk too. (My bird had a scissor beak for a while and I think that's why he may have gotten into the habit.) If the beak is normal, then it's just the bird’s preference, like people who dunk cookies in milk. Some do, and some don't. It's just a matter of taste.

Q3: What temperature is good for Parrots living in the home? Is it different for different species? I have Lovebirds.

A: Most pet birds’ comfort range is between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They can cope with a much broader range, however, of 40 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit depending on a number of factors, how acclimatised to the conditions which are wind chill factor, breeze, shade, shelter, availability of water, food and general health. What birds don't tolerate as well is sudden changes in temperature and conditions.

A bird living indoors would not do well if put in an exposed aviary in winter for example. In a home situation the main temperature issued would be if a bird was in a south facing conservatory in hot sun or directly in front of a window. This could cause over heating rapidly. In winter in a house they would normally be fine with normal heating and not exposed to very bad draughty areas, again such as an unheated conservatory.

Q4: Do female CAGs lay eggs without a male. If so approximately when does this happen?

A: Yes, a female CAG or any female Parrot can lay eggs without a male being present. The eggs will obviously be infertile and never produce chicks. They most often lay in early spring although in captivity if the hen perceives conditions to be right they can lay anytime.

We’ve been checking through our blog and found loads more questions that you’ve submitted to us, and Feathered Friends and us at Northern Parrots have kindly taken the time to answer them.

Q1: My CAG is now 35, and appears perfectly healthy with full plumage, but over the last few years he has grown quite a few pink/red feathers over his front and under his tail and also many of his tail feathers are turning part grey, some all grey. Is this normal for his age, or is he lacking something in his diet?

A: Red feathers can be a sign of illness but not always so don't worry. They also can show a problem with a particular feather coming through or some damage to the feather follicle. Some Greys in later life develop red feathers and nothing is wrong. With regard to his tail feathers turning grey I have never actually experienced this before. It could be that the feathers were damaged also and are coming through as Grey ? Some of my CAG’s tail feathers are grey tipped but not entirely Grey


If it were me I would be visiting an avian vet and asked by them to check him over and do a full blood count just to make sure all is well. If nothing comes back at least you know he's healthy and is just unique

Q2: I would like to know when a Grey-Headed Cape Parrot matures to adulthood. There is very little information on them that I can find.

A: Cape Parrots are one of the Parrot species that can be told apart by sight as the male has a red crown. They have a reputation for being quite gentle birds, even in a breeding situation. They become mature at about 3-5 years old

Q3: What type nest/breeding boxes are suitable for Patagonian Conures?

A: A suitable nest box would generally consist of one inch thick plywood and can be reinforced with “bird friendly” sheet metal. The ideal size would be approximately 2 foot high and around 9 inches square inside. Finely shredded paper will make good nest litter, plus any chewed wood from the nest box.

If you have a question for our Parrot experts please leave them in the comments below.