Fido and Polly?

August 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

Apologies for the late post; I was too busy procrastinating. Today’s post is on an interesting, rather controversal topic in the birdy world – can birds and other pets mingle? The common sense answer, of course, is no.

Parrots are prey and cats and dogs are predators; add in the fact that dogs and cats’ saliva can kill parrots and you’ve got a disaster waiting to happen. Unfortunately, we can’t seem to resist introducing Polly to Fido or Mittens, and they can get along surprisingly well. However, there is still the risk that Fido/Mittens might decide Polly looks mighty tasty – accidents happen, and they seem to happen with alarming frequency whenever animals are involved.

The family dog and my birds are not going to be introduced to each other. It might work sometimes, but I’ll remember Murphy’s law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Counting Parrots

June 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s a well-known fact that in the majority of cases, owning pets is like eating potato chips – once you have one, you can’t help but get another. And another. And another. Parrots are no different; for the particularly “bird crazy,” it’s not uncommon to have a group of oh, six Macaws wandering around the house, or an aviary of brightly colored, numerous Budgies. I’m no exception to the rule; I’ve just welcomed my first foster parrots, Sweetie Pie and Tumble Bumble.

Owning more than one parrot is sometimes a slippery slope. Some parrots can become jealous of the other parrot, similar to the rivalry between siblings for Mom and Dad’s attention. Parrots like to chat back and forth, and the noise can double. You have to worry about quarantine (more on that below). And, of course, the costs will double. But despite all this (and more), bird lovers continue to adopt or buy more parrots – because just like the cost, noise, and time spent, the enjoyment doubles too.

But stay in the bounds of reason – for most beginners, three is the limit. Even if you’re advanced, it’s usually unwise to let your parrot count pass seven – and seven is only for the experienced (this rule, however, does except situations such as a cage of ten finches, or an aviary with twenty Budgies). If you tell someone “I know a lady who has X birds,” replacing X with how many birds you have, you should not get the response “What, is she a hoarder?”

But if you keep your wits about you, and don’t impulse buy, owning more than one or two parrots can be – well, pretty awesome. :)

A Note on Quarantine 

Quarantine is necessary for any new parrots, regardless of the situation you took them from. Imagine the heartache if not only your new parrot died, but infected the rest of your parrots too – definitely not something you want to experience. So be safe, and keep your parrot in quarantine for six weeks. Quarantine should be:

  • The parrot should stay in a closed room, separate from your other parrots.
  • There should be no sharing – food, toys, etc. should not be shared.
  • Wash your hands whenever you interact with either parrot. Really, wash your hands all the time.
  • If you play with one parrot, don’t wear the same clothes when interacting with another. (And wash your hands.)

Snlecspa, or How to Choose the Parrot for You

April 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

As you may have noticed, there are a many, many, many parrot types out there. There’s also about as similar as a mouse and an elephant. So how are you going to choose? Well, which parrot is right for you depends on several factors: Size, Noise Level, Ease of Care, Life Span, and Appearance, also known as Snlecspa. Let’s take a look at them!

Size

This is simple enough, but remember that generally the larger the parrot, the more difficult it is to care for. For example, if you get a Budgie, you’ll need a $25-$50 cage. If you get a Macaw, that cage is going to cost hundreds. A larger parrot will also be louder and live longer. And never, ever get a parrot that scares you: If your boyfriend wants an Amazon, but secretly you’re a little bit afraid of them, your boyfriend shouldn’t get one.

Noise Level

Parrots can SCREAM. And because in the wild it is natural behavior for the parrot, it’s difficult to stop. A large type of Cockatoo (for example, an Umbrella) is going to be extremely loud! Budgies have more of a pleasant chirping thing going on, but smaller size doesn’t necessarily mean quieter – Sun Conures are equipped with a brain-numbing scream that they’ll test out at least once every day, every week, for the rest of his/her life.

Ease of Care

Simply put, an Amazon is going to need more attention, toys, supervision, mess-cleaning, etc than a Cockatiel. If you’re a neat freak, stick with a few Zebra Finches. If you can’t bear the thought of having $30 toys destroyed in two days, a Macaw isn’t for you.

Life Span

With dogs, this is pretty simple. “This dog will live for sixteen years, but this dog will only live for eight.” With parrots, however, it’s more like: “This parrot will live for twenty years, but you’ll have to put this one in your will.” Of course, a finch probably won’t live twenty years, but a well-cared-for Budgie (and possibly finch) will. Large Cockatoos and Macaws can reach the mind-blowing age of nearly a hundred, so obviously they’re not very good pets for an old granny with no family or friends to take the parrot in when she dies well before him.

Appearance

Appearance is both the least important and most sought-after trait in parrots. Often a blissfully ignorant shopper has come across a gorgeous Scarlet Macaw and brought him home – even if the average gray Cockatiel would have made a much better pet. The most important thing to remember when choosing a parrot is never choose a parrot because she’ll match your furniture.

And before Spell Check crashes because of my refusal to correct my horrible spelling of what is clearly meant to be “cocktail,” goodbye.


Polly Wanna Cracker?

April 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ask any random kid on the street what parrots eat, and you’ll probably get the prompt reply of “Seeds!” Unfortunately, most pet stores – and even worse, many parrot owners – seem to have followed the kids’ lead. After all, parrots’ beaks are specially designed to break open seed shells, and they love them; isn’t it obvious that parrots were meant to eat seeds?

Imagine you’re a wild parrot. No cage, no provided food, absolutely free. You’re busily picking at the ground with the rest of your flock at plump, yummy seeds scattered on the ground. After a few minutes, a person notices you and approaches. The flock flies off. Here’s the critical point – the flock flies off. You’d probably be flying across miles every day, eating healthy vegetables and fruits you came across. Of course there’s nothing wrong with eating seeds!

Now imagine you’re a pet parrot. You’re chewing on your provided diet of seeds, talking to yourself. After a few minutes, you get bored and – don’t fly off. You climb onto your perch and swing for a while, and then go back to the seeds. Your owner hasn’t yet convinced you to eat vegetables, meaning seeds and pomegranate seeds are all you eat for the day. Now, there’s a problem.

Seeds are fine for wild parrots, and even for some pet parrots. But parrot pellets are incredibly less fatty and much healthier, so anyone who wants the best for their parrot will go with pellets. My preferred type is Roudybush, which you can get in most pet stores.

I know this is terrible for your blood pressure, but it’s time for me to break the news to you: Pellets alone aren’t good for parrots, either. The best diet is mostly (70% or so) pellets, but also includes vegetables, fruit, and treats. Here’s the rundown:

Vegetables

Remember when you were a kid, and your mom was always telling you “Eat your veggies”? Parrots need them too! The best are green, leafy vegetables (types of lettuce other than iceberg, kale, the leafy parts of carrots, parsley, etc).

Fruit

Fruit should, technically, be counted as a treat, but there’s so many I made them their own section. Parrots love fruit! Tomatoes, grapes, pomegranate seeds, bananas . . . the list is endless. However, many fruits are toxic for parrots, so check before you feed!

Treats

Treats include seeds, nuts, spray millet, birdy bread, and people food – food that’s okay in moderation, but fatty enough that you shouldn’t feed it often. A special note on people food: only feed healthy foods! If it’s bad for you (chips, wine, fast food, etc), you shouldn’t give it to your parrot.

Toxic Foods

Avocado immediately springs to mind, but there’s plenty of food that’s bad for your parrot. Parrots are lactose intolerant, so even though tiny-tiny-tiny pieces of dairy are all right, anything more is toxic. Cooked beans and pomegranate seeds are great for parrots, but uncooked beans and pomegranate skins are toxic. Chocolate is toxic (even tiny-tiny-tiny pieces!), and so is certain fruits’ seeds/pits (apples, cherries, peaches, and so on), tomato leaves, too much salt, and caffeine. I could go on, but I’ll leave the full list to the rest of the internet. Again, check before you feed!

Here are the basics once again:

  • Feed your parrot pellets, not seeds
  • Give your parrot at least one piece of a vegetable a day
  • Fruits and treats are good in moderation
  • Many foods are toxic to parrots, so check before you feed!

Introducing Parrots, Part I: Mr. Hyde

April 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Single Lovebird is ready for its first “serious” post, and what better way to begin than to celebrate the good parts of parrots?

Parrots are, for starters, incredibly beautiful animals – one of the first reasons why people are attracted to them. Some of the most beautiful ones are found in the bold, striking marking of the Scarlet Macaw and the Sun Conure, but the soft colors of Lutino Cockatiels and Peach Faced Lovebirds are gorgeous too. In fact, parrots appeal to people so much that advertisers sometimes put pictures of them in ads, even if the advertisement has nothing to do with parrots at all!

Amazon

An Amazon at The Bird Shop*

Though some people keep parrots for appearance alone in aviaries, the more popular approach of keeping them as pets takes advantage of parrots’ wonderful, clownish personalities. Parrots kept singly will create deep bonds with their human “mate,” and will happily perch on your shoulder as you go about your day. And there will never be a dull moment in your day if you choose the adventurous parrot to be your companion – they’ll constantly surprise you with their new discoveries and antics.

Most parrots can easily be trained simple tricks through the use of clicker training (more on that later), and many can learn to say words and phrases, an ability that enthralls us. Imagine the surprise when your parrot tells you “Hi!” They’re also fairly hardy animals, and live longer lives than dogs and cats.

If a parrot joins your family, you’re opening the door to beauty, love, surprises, cheeriness, humor, intelligence, and the sheer pleasure of living with a parrot (and making your friends jealous).  Parrots are truly incredible pets.

“So,” you say, “why not get one right away?” To put it delicately, parrots have their shortcomings, too. But you’ll have to wait until Introducing Parrots, Part II before we get started on that story.

*Visit The Bird Shop!

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