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.)

To, Too, Two, and ‘Too

June 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

Sorry for the extended break . . . I vacationed and then procrastinated. To make up for my absence, I’ll do a post on something interesting – namely Cockatoos.

Cockatoos, also known as ‘Toos, are a group of various parrots who have crests on their heads – Moluccans, Umbrellas, Goffins, Cockatiels, etc. In this group, there are varying personality types: As usual, I’ll go over these.

WHAT PEOPLE IMAGINE

Cuddly, sweet, loving, best bud, friends 4 ever. Cockatoos have built up *quite* the reputation as cuddly birds – and though it’s certainly deserved, this reputation doesn’t include the other personality types.

THE CUDDLY SCREAMER

Moluccans and Umbrellas are quite possibly the two most difficult parrots to care for. They’re known for a cuddly personality, extremely loud screams, a clingy love of one person, and hard, sometimes frequent, bites. Moluccans and Umbrellas are difficult to care for, and should only be purchased by experienced parrot owners.

THE HYPERACTIVE ESCAPE ARTIST

That’s the Goffin, along with the Bare-Eyed. These guys are personality with a capital P, and are, though easier than Moluccans and Umbrellas, still quite difficult to care for. They’re noted for a Houdini-like ability to escape their cages and a mischievous and active personality.

THE BEGINNER’S BIRD

Cockatiels, the smallest of the Cockatoos, are first-class beginner’s birds. They, unlike the other Cockatoos, have small beaks that aren’t always attracted to biting you, and are known for amiable, friendly personalities.

That’s as much as I can handle today – back to procrastination. 😉

 

Can I Have a Parrot? Pleeease?

April 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Whether kids should be able to own parrots is a rather controversial topic. Some say kids ten and up should, some say all kids should, some say no kids should. I might as well put in my two cents, which are these:

Age is important.

Children 1 – 7 years old should not own parrots. When you buy a parrot for your child, you’re accepting that the child will get bitten. There’s no “maybe,” and children under eight certainly shouldn’t be bitten. However, pigeons and doves (which I’ll go into more detail about later) are wonderful alternatives for children over five.

Children 8 – 13 years old can have a easy beginner’s parrot. Budgies and Cockatiels are good choices; other parrots are probably not acceptable. However, if you buy your child a parrot, realize that you will be the primary caretaker. It’s unrealistic and unfair to assume that your child will be the primary caretaker.

Children 14 – 15 years old can have more difficult parrots. Conures, some larger species of Parakeets, and other medium-sized parrots are probably acceptable. However, remember that the acceptability for a parrot can depend on your child’s maturity, and not every child is the same.

Children 16 – 18 can have most any parrot. Remember, however, that as parrots live for many years, you will probably have to care for him while your child is at college.

Your child’s personality and maturity level is just as necessary to consider. 

If your child is energetic, rather immature, and/or tends to jump into things, a parrot isn’t right for him or her. Parrots are very cautious animals, and won’t trust a kid who isn’t prepared to take their time while playing with his/her parrot. And “playing” isn’t necessarily what you’ll do with a parrot; dogs, for example, are predators, which means they’ll enjoy predatorial activities including playing tug-of-war, fetch, running with their owner, etc. Parrots will not do any of these things, which can disappoint many children.

Children must be committed, thoroughly research parrots and understand what they’re getting themselves into, prepared to be cautious, aware that bites will happen, and ready to take all the special measures parrot owners must to have a happy, healthy, and friendly parrot.

In short, whether your child is ready for a parrot is up for you to decide. Children and parrots can be best friends, as long as you understand the following:

  1. If your child owns a parrot, he/she will be bitten.
  2. You will be the primary caretaker, and responsible for feeding, cleaning the cage, veterinary care, etc. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect your child to do certain chores, but be ready in case (s)he grows bored of his/her parrot.
  3. It’s up to you to decide if a parrot is right for your child, based on his/her responsibility, maturity, and personality.
  4. You will probably have to care for the parrot while your child is at college.
  5. You are responsible for overseeing that the parrot’s needs are being met, and that he/she is not being neglected, mistreated, or abused in any way.


Break Out the Popcorn: Rio

April 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

Recently I watched the movie Rio, and my overall impression was that it was funny, charming, and offered a nice lesson on why you should not purchase wild-caught parrots. It wasn’t exactly true to parrot nature – Blu, our parrot hero, has never bit his owner and eats chocolate chip cookies with hot chocolate (as chocolate is toxic to parrots, this was hardly a healthy snack) – but it was enjoyable nonetheless. The general plot went something like this:

Blu is a happy wild-caught pet “Blue Macaw” owned by a book lover called Linda. Shortly after the movie begins, Tulio, a parrot expert/scientist randomly passes by Linda’s book shop (yes, it isn’t exactly “realistic”) and realizes that Blu is a Blue Macaw, and the last male of his species. Blu is whisked off to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to repopulate the species with the last female of his species, a lovely and independent wild-caught parrot called Jewel. From there, they’re stolen by a parrot smuggler, who plans to sell them for the thousands of dollars they’re worth. With the help of a menagerie of interesting characters, ranging from the tiny rappers Nico and Pedro (Jamie Foxx and Will i Am) to the philosophical toucan Rafael (George Lopez), they set off to find Linda. I won’t tell you how the movie ends, but I will tell you it’s cute!

Rio calls attention to the problems of catching wild parrots, but unfortunately falls short in showcasing the true parrot nature. If I were to believe Rio, parrots are reasonable, non-biting, cute babies that eat chocolate. Despite this, they offered a few real treasures: At the beginning of the movie, for example, they showcased a line of pictures that pictured Blu’s owner, Linda, growing progressively older with Blu at her side – effectively demonstrating the fact that parrots (especially large species such as Macaws) will be with you for a large chunk of your life.

There’s been some worries that Rio will encourage viewers to buy parrots, but hopefully the rather vapid cheerfulness of the movie will help them realize that Blu is the sort of fantasy parrot that exists in parrot lovers’ dreams. Unfortunately, judging from other movies such as Finding Nemo, this might not be the case.

In short, Rio is unrealistic but hugely enjoyable, and a great choice for Friday movie night!

Noming on People {Another Guest Post}

April 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s Guest Post Day again, and that means we’re back! I’m Mango, and today, we’re going to be talking about a very serious issue: Noming on people – also known as biting. Now, biting is a perfectly normal thing; most of us do it. But funnily enough, people don’t seem to care if it’s perfectly normal when their Macaw decides they should have more earrings. So today we’re going to explore the different types of biting, and how to stop it.

First of all, there’s “exploring” biting. If you had no arms, what would you use to explore? We use our feet and our beaks. Now let’s say you’re asking Polly to step up. What you see is a perfectly stable perch (your arm) for her to step up on. What Polly sees is a possibly unstable perch. So of course she’s going to explore: Feet won’t work, of course, so she uses her beak. What’s happening here is not biting, so much as checking. But most humans will jerk back at the apparent “bite” – and now Polly is going to bite! The important thing to remember when exploring happens is to keep perfectly still and stable. This will encourage your parrot to step up, not bite. Kiwi’s going to describe the next biting behavior.

Many of us, including Mango, are protective of our cage – just like people are protective of their houses. Let’s say a man comes barging into your house; you would probably protect yourself in whatever way you could. Our way is biting. Usually, protecting a cage isn’t something you can stop. Instead, you can use the simple safety measure of having your parrot step up onto a perch, and then (once the cage is out of sight) onto you. Another cage-related biting behavior is biting when being put back into the cage. Again, you can simply have your parrot step up onto a perch when putting him back into his cage.

“Beaking” is a stage during which a young parrot experiments with biting. Parrots’ beaks are filled with encapsulated nerve endings used to experience sensation, texture, etc. (Information found here.) Young parrots should be given appropriate things to bite, such as toys. Mango’s up.

Imagine that you were fired by your insane boss. When you get home, you’re impatient with the kids and snappy with your husband. This is “displaced aggression,” and we have it too. If your parrot really wants to bite something or someone, but you’re the only available option, she’ll bite you. There isn’t an easy way to fix this, but mostly you should simply not pick up your parrot when she’s in a bad mood or someone/something she doesn’t like in near.

If your parrot has decided you’re his mate, you’ll be subjected to plenty of biting. For example, if your husband attempts to hug/etc you when your parrot’s on you, your parrot will quickly bite you to prevent an “affair.” Or if he thinks your sister is dangerous, he’ll bite you to encourage you to “fly” away. Most of us won’t take no for an answer when it comes to the safety of our mate, and so the only fool-proof way to the prevent this is simply not to handle your parrot and interact with someone he deems unsafe at the same time.

If you’d like us to include another type of biting, please leave a comment. Arrivederci!

English, Mango, not Italian. Goodbye!

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.