It’s coming up to a day of the year that bird lovers need to know about, National Bird Day on Thursday 5th January.
The day celebrates all the species of birds we have in the world (including our Parrots) as well as raising awareness of the issues surrounding them, such as illegal trade, conservation, welfare and diseases.
Although we have a ban on the trade of wild Parrots in the EU, and the USA has a similar act, the illegal trade of Parrots is still a threat to Parrot survival in other parts of the world, like South America and West Africa.
Under UK legislations owners must be able to positively identify their Parrot in a court of law. This could be through DNA fingerprinting, close rings (either a split or solid ring that has a unique identification number on it), photographs, feather stamping and micro chipping. Each has their own advantages and drawbacks, and we’d encourage you to visit The Parrot Society website to learn more.
Before buying a Parrot there are a few things to bear in mind. Firstly ask if the bird is captive bred, has been hand-reared and is now fully weaned. If the seller has cared for the Parrot since birth they should know about their personality, what they like to eat and any other characteristics they have. If they don’t, your suspicions should be aroused.
Any trustworthy breeder should give you a money back guarantee after you’ve bought your Parrot, just in case they develops an illness or the Parrot isn’t exactly what you were looking for.
Always go and see the Parrot before you buy so you can look at exactly where they have come from. The Parrot Society has a list of Parrots for sale with reputable breeders. Although there are no guarantees that a Parrot bought from a pet shop has been bred using the right channels, it's much better than buying from somewhere like a market stall.
Conservation is vital to preserve Parrot species for generations to come. Our bloggers Rosemary Low, Dot Schwarz and Barbara Heidenreich have been fortunate enough to visit conservation projects all over the world.
Barbara has supported projects in New Zealand, Rosemary observed Parrots in Brazil, Dot volunteered in the Philippines, and here at Northern Parrots we have sponsored a number of volunteers helping out in conservation projects. Read some of Dot’s thoughts on conservation here.
You may not realise that bird and Parrot numbers reflect the wider ecological health of our planet. Over 10% of bird species could be at risk in the next 100 years, although with so much good work going on across the globe, things are looking positive.
Our blog about World Wildlife Conservation Day talks about some of the work going on in more detail and also on our blog pages you can learn about the efforts of The Bird Endowment Charity to increase the population of Blue-Throated Macaws in Bolivia.
For details of other projects around the world visit The World Parrot Trust website.
In the UK, the Animal Welfare Act protects the rights of domesticated animals. An owner is committing an offence if they cause unnecessary suffering to an animal, if they carry out a prohibited procedure on an animal, knowingly gives an animal poison or cause an animal fight to take place.
An owner must always protect the welfare of their animal and provide them with a suitable environment, diet and housing, stop it experiencing suffering and encourage their animal to exhibit normal behaviour.
Parrots are intelligent creatures and need plenty of toys, nutritious food and a roomy cage to help live a happy and healthy life. They are used to foraging for food across vast terrains in the wild, and are social animals, enjoying the company of others.
Many Parrots have the mental capacity similar to a 5 year old child, therefore they can understand a lot of what is said to them and need plenty of enrichment to stop them becoming bored. Providing toys that make them work for their food is a great way of replicating natural behaviours, and keeps them occupied.
You can also buy chewable toys, something Parrots love to do to keep their beaks healthy and trim, preening toys, so Parrots stay clean and refreshed and toys made from many different textures so your feathered friends always have something new to explore.
Parrots need lots of physical stimulation too, along with a healthy diet, to stop them becoming overweight. Foot toys encourage Parrots to move around whilst chewing and walking. Rope and climbing toys let your Parrot go up high in a safe and controlled way. And of course, letting your Parrot fly is one of the most enjoyable things you can do for your bird, as Mike Simmons explains in his blog.
Before buying a Parrot, bear in mind that they can be challenging creatures to care for, and only buy a Parrot if you’re prepared for the commitment involved. You need to allocate time to interacting with your Parrot every day, cleaning their cage and training your bird.
All Parrots make lots of noise, even the species that aren’t renowned for their speaking ability. They wake up early, and want the world to know they’re no longer asleep too!
Psittacosis, otherwise known as Parrot Fever, can affect birds and their owners. Birds can hold it in their bodies for a long time and then present it later. Although a potentially serious condition, it can be treated with antibiotics in mild to medium cases.
The symptoms of the disease vary between Parrot species, but in general they are ruffled feathers, nasal discharge, sneezing, depression, weight loss, loss of appetite, diarrhoea and respiratory problems. The Parrot Society has a more detailed article discussing the disease in more depth.
Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease is a devastating disease that causes Parrots to develop abnormal feathers and beaks. It is a small virus with massive effects on birds and Parrots, and to date there is no cure for it. Read this useful link from The Birdcare Company (courtesy of The Parrot Society) for more information.
Proventricular Dilation Disease (PDD) causes a part of a bird’s stomach to increase in size. It is a virus that attacks the intestines or the brain and nervous system, or both. Parrots suffering from this disease appear thin, lose their appetite and pass abnormal stools. Other less common symptoms of PDD are paralysis in the legs, difficulty walking and perching, tremors and occasionally seizures.
PDD is difficult to treat, but providing your Parrot with easily digestible foods and anti-inflammatory drugs may delay the progress of the disease.
Parrots being a natural prey animal are very good at hiding any signs of illness. Keep a careful watch for any changes in your Parrot’s behaviour, like going off their favourite foods, not being as interested in their toys and not making as much noise as usual.
Weighing your Parrot regularly is a good way of spotting any health complaints your Parrot has, as sudden weight increases and diseases could be the sign of something more serious. Supplements can help your Parrots stay fit and healthy.
Parrots need Vitamin D to synthesise calcium for healthy bones. For many Parrots who are housed in our homes using a special UVA Bird Light can really help your Parrot gets this vital vitamin.
You should always seek the advice of an avian vet if your Parrot is unwell.
So let’s use National Bird Day to remind us how special our Parrots are, and the joy they bring to our lives each and every day!
There is also a great resource about bird-watching written by our customer Jonny here
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