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!

 

 

Advertisements

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.

Introducing Parrots, Part II: Dr. Jekyll

April 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ah, parrots. Those wonderful, wonderful animals. Now, prepare yourself for all of this, because it’s going to be quite the shock after yesterday’s post.

Well, parrots do make great pets. There’s no denying that. However, they are also very picky animals. For example, before you will be befriended, you must undergo a stringent test involving . . . bites. As¬†a person once said, “If you have a dog and it bites, you have a serious problem. If you have a parrot and it bites… congratulations. You have a parrot.” Parrots are not like dogs and cats, who have hundreds of years of domestication behind them. Your parrot might be only a few generations away from the wild, or even less.

To get back to the pickiness, there is a very unfortunate occurance that happens sometimes with parrots. Let’s say there’s a family of three. Milly’s the wife, John’s the husband, and Aidan’s the son. Milly decides she’d like to get a parrot, and so she does her research and decides on a Amazon. (Bad choice anyway, as you’ll find out when we talk about Amazons.) So she brings home her new parrot, and guess what? Little Polly decides she likes John most, and that she must “protect” her “mate” from Milly. Now Polly’s devoted to John, who doesn’t even like parrots, and she’s aggressive toward Milly, who wanted a parrot, and now she’s starting to aggress toward Aidan. Polly’s off to the pound.

Parrots also have the unfortunate habit of screaming. Of course, this isn’t necessarily true to all parrots. Mango and Kiwi have more of a “excessive tweeting” issue. But if you get a parrot mid- to large-sized, you’re going to get screaming. One of the best known examples of this is the Sun Conure. Sun Conures are popular pets due to their beautiful colors and clownish personalities, but they’re also very commonly abandoned because of this behavior:

Now let us return to¬†. . . the biting. This is one of the reasons why parrots are not acceptable pets for children under ten years, and one of the most common reasons that parrots are abandoned. Parrots are going to bite. No getting around it. We’ll explore biting in more detail later, but for now: Realize that the larger the parrot is, the more it’s going to hurt when (when, not if) it bites you. Certainly,¬†I’m not saying they’re going to rip you apart (most biting is really just exploring, and doesn’t hurt at all) but I am saying that they will do it to some extent.

Hmm, what next. Aha! The pooping. “Oh, come on,” you say. “It can’t be that bad. You’ve been spinning horror stories here.” Well, you are partly right. If you have a Budgie, Parrotlet, Lovebird, or similar sized bird, it won’t be “that” bad. But if you have a larger parrot, you will have problems. You’ll watch your bird experience the joys of making soup with his food and water . . . and then throwing it all out. You’ll watch your birds have “poo-shooting” contests with each other. And even though Mango and Kiwi are tiny Lovebirds, whenever they have a “bath” in the water dish, they splatter water all over the place.

Okay, okay, okay. Maybe I need to get a rein on myself. After all, remember all the awesome stuff in Part I? All that’s still true! You’re parrot will be a mixture of Part I and Part II . . . Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in effect. What I want you to do (if you’re considering getting a parrot) is to look through Part II and consider: “Is there something in there that, if my parrot started doing it, would get him in the pound?” If your African Grey didn’t talk (yes, it happens), would he be abandoned? If your Budgie started biting your son, would he be abandoned? Think about it.

And in the meantime, eat lunch. ūüėČ

Bitin'

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!

The Usual Pleasantries

April 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Hi, Person! Nice to see you over at The Single Lovebird, my new blog. If you love parrots, or are considering adding one to your home, you’re in the right place! Or at least you will be, once I finish my fiddling around. Right now it’s going to take a few days before The Single Lovebird gets on it’s feet, but check back! I’ve got to get working on my “About” page now, so see you soon!