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.


A Pet Store Introduction to Lovebirds

April 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Today you will be subjected to learning all about Lovebirds, which I’m sure you’re very eager to do after meeting Mango and Kiwi. To do this, we’ll take a trip to an imaginary pet store which is completely uninformed on correct parrot care, and where a shopper is considering buying a Lovebird.

Shopper: “Aww, aren’t they cute! What type of bird are they?”

Pet store employee: “Oh, those are Lovebirds. They’re like miniature parrots.”

Actually, Lovebirds are parrots, just like Budgerigars (popularly known in the US as Parakeets) and Cockatiels.

Shopper: “You know, I think I might want one of those.”

Pet store employee: “You should get two – they don’t do well alone.”

As you already know, this is a myth. In fact, Lovebirds are generally better pets when they are kept singly, because they will consider you their mate and spend their time with you. If you keep a pair, they’ll make fine pets, but expect them to mostly ignore you.

Shopper: “All right. So, what’s their personality?”

Pet store employee: “They’re very loving! Just little cuddle bugs!”

Lovebirds are certainly loving, but they’re just as likely to bite as any other parrot. As their beak is one of the largest, if not the largest, of all parrots (relative to size, of course), this bite is also going to be quite the pinch. Other behavior issues they can have includes making big messes and chronic tweeting. ūüôā

Shopper: “I was thinking of getting a Cockatiel. Do you think I could keep them together?”

Pet store employee: “That would be fine. The Cockatiels are right over there. . .”

Lovebirds are known for being extremely aggressive toward other parrots. If housed with a Cockatiel, or any other type of parrot (including large types!), they would probably attack – with the result of either a Cockatiel missing toes, or a severely injured or even killed Lovebird.

Because now our pet store employee is telling the customer incorrect facts about Cockatiels, we’ll continue on without his help. Lovebirds are known for forming strong bonds when paired, hence the name and myth, and for having a fascination with small, dark places like pockets. Mango and Kiwi, for example, grind their beaks (in parrot language, this is a sign of contentment) whenever they tuck themselves into places like this.

There are many different kinds of Lovebirds, but the most common is the Peach Faced. You’ll probably have figured out that they have peach-colored faces, and these are paired with a green body and bright blue tail feathers.¬† The color mutation Lutino is thought to be the most beautiful kind, with peach faces and bright yellow feathers.

Lovebirds have super-sized personalities tucked into a tiny package, and if you’re looking for a loving, energetic, whimsical companion, and don’t mind bites, messes, and excessive tweeting, a Lovie is for you. Look for a hand-fed baby at a responsible breeder, or adopt one or two from a rescue!

 

 

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!

For Goodness’ Sake, Stop with the Myths Already {A Guest Post}

April 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Hi! Today’s our first guest post day, and guess who’s doing it? Here, I’ll give you a hint.

Mango and Kiwi

I’m Kiwi, and – Mango, what are you doing?

Uh . . . nothing.

Mango, seriously. You need to act professionally.

But –

Now, we’re going to be talking about some common parrot myths, and why they’re, well, myths. Mango, you can start.

Myth #1: “Parrots should be fed seeds.”

I hate to break it to those of you with seed junkie parrots, but frankly seeds are like M&Ms for us. Sure, they’re fine for a special treat, but c’mon people, are you going to feed your¬†parrot¬†M&Ms? For more on all that nutrition stuff, you’ll have to wait for a post in the near future. Kiwi, your turn.

Myth #2: “Parrots¬†are easy to care for.”

We aren’t necessarily hard to care for, but certainly¬†we’re not that easy to. You learned all about that in yesterday’s post, but here are the generals again: We’re time-consuming (and live¬†for up to 100 years, depending on species), can scream and¬†be¬†extremely messy,¬†bite, and¬†can become “one-person”¬†bird easily.¬†Your turn, Mango.

Myth #3: “If your parrot misbehaves, you¬†should get him a mate.”

Hey, I love Kiwi, but that doesn’t make me not bite Z. Seriously, I don’t even know how this myth¬†started. You have a badly behaved parrot, so you get another one? Off you go, Kiwi.

Myth #4: “Cockatoos are always sweet and cuddly.”

Certain species of Cockatoos (such as the Umbrellas) are cuddly. Other species, like the Goffin’s, are better described as¬†hyperactive escape artists. However, all Cockatoos, cuddly or not, do have some behavior issues. We’ll explain those later in our Cockatoo post. Mango, you’re up.

Myth #5: “Lovebirds will die of loneliness if kept alone.”

As we’ve already explained over at the About page of The Single Lovebird, this is complete –

Mango! Mind your language.

– er, this is completely incorrect. Now, maybe you should get another Lovie friend for your Lovebird if her mate just died, but I doubt she’ll die if you don’t. And many a Lovebird lives happily alone, as you can see here. Off you go, Kiwi.

Myth #6: “Sunflowers are addictive to parrots.”

Though I haven’t had them yet, numerous parrots have informed me that sunflowers do indeed taste wonderful. However, they are not necessarily addictive; they’re more like ice cream than drugs. Go on, Mango.

Myth #6: “Mature parrots are unpredictable and dangerous.”

Let’s say your lil’ baby parrot is a fluffy ball of love. And then, she grows up. So she goes through the “teenager” stage, which means that she’s more likely to be irritable. So, your teenager parrot is stalking around her cage in a hissy fit, when suddenly you poke your hand into there. This is about as dangerous as poking your hand into a 16-year-old girl’s bedroom, or poking your hand into a shark’s mouth. (No offense, 16-year-old girls.) So, naturally, she bites you. This doesn’t mean she’s unpredictable and dangerous – you just didn’t recognize the signs of a parrot “hissy fit.”

Actually, now we’re running out of myths, so it’s time to wrap up this post. If some parrot expert happens to wander over, please comment and add any myth you’d like to be mentioned. Thanks and hallelujah!

What Mango¬†meant to say, I’m sure, was goodbye.

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for April, 2011 at The Single Lovebird.