Do any of you own a Parrot?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
My son just brought home a parrot that he bought from a family that didn't feel they were home enough to give it the attention it needs (and they didn't like the noise they make). They aren't the original owners but said they took it to a pet store and was told it was healthy. We are planning to take it to a vet to make sure but have some questions we'd like answered quickly and can't seem to find them on the internet and won't be able to get to the library soon. First question is do Parrots moult? It has almost no chest feathers and we are concerned that it might have plucked them which we heard is a habit hard to stop once started. Second question is should he have cracks in his beak? He hangs on his cage all the time because I don't believe they ever even had a perch for him (we just put the right size branch in there a few minutes ago). I absolutely do not want to spread any kind of bird disease as we have all been ill enough this winter. The book they had that came with him is not much help at all. It does say they should bathe but does not give an explanation of what type of container or how. Thanks in advance for any answers you may have.
-- Terry - NW Ohio (email@example.com), March 30, 2001
Have owned several kinds of parrot (allergies, had to part with them) Also worked with many breeds of parrots at several pet shops. Sounds like you might have a bird that likes to pluck, bad habit often started from boredom or nervousness. The beaks of mature birds may have small cracks on the edges, have the vet check it out so it is not overgrown. Speaking of the vet, make sure he/she knows about parrots. If not you can sometimes find a GOOD(not chainstore) pet shop with an experienced person to help you. By the way, we often sprayed our birds with a plant mister. They liked their showers. A large low pan with tepid water placed temporarily in their cage is nice for a bath. What kind of parrot do you have?
-- Nancy Bakke-McGonigle Mn. Sunset (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 30, 2001.
We had a cockatiel for a while. It liked to hang from the top of the cage too. Why not give it a perch (make sure it's the right diameter for it's feet) and something else to peck at. Cuttlefish bone is sold at pet stores for this. Good luck.
-- David C (email@example.com), March 30, 2001.
Used to have a Mexican double yellowhead, then worked for a vet who treated exotics, including parrots. You do need to get a vet check to be sure he is in good health, and have a beak and nail trim, if needed. Have a professional do it! Sounds like the parrot needs stimulation in his environment, might stop the feather picking. If you give a bath or spray shower, be sure the room is warm. The greatest threat to caged birds is cold, especially drafts. Give him lots of time to settle in before expecting much from him. They are notorious pouters, and take awhile to get over changes. Give him a varied diet, not just seed. They like fruits and vegetables, too. Bird Talk magazine is an excellent resource. It can be found at larger bookstores and newsstands. Good luck with your new friend.
-- melina b. (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 30, 2001.
Terry I own several parrots.Yes they do molt but the pattern you describe makes me think this bird is a feather picker.They can go crazy if they are not with people or other birds.sometimes a feather picker can be brought around with love, a good diet and positive stimulation.It is psycological disorder just like human girls that cut or burn themselves.It is hard to break the habit.Be ready for a huge vet bill and relative ignorence on the part of the vet unless he is a recognised specialist.I've had vets kill birds because they did not know how to treat them.They had the vet degree though so I guess it was ok.Look for a book called "The parrot in health and illness" by Bonnie Munro Doane.If you have other birds in the house or ever plan to, have the bird tested for Psistacine beak and feather disease.It is sort of like parrot AIDS you can't get it but it is hell on other birds.Usually they recomend destroying the infected bird but you can keep them alive for years with good care.Sorry to be the bringer of bad news.Sounds like you were sold someones problem bird.e-mail me for more info.sometimes these birds are diamonds in the rough that only need love and care to shine.What species is the bird anyway?
-- greg (email@example.com), March 30, 2001.
Terry. for some good information go to www.upatsix.com also while birds do moult this plucking is more than likly stress related. they need security in their lives it's like living w/a 2 yr. old. they need different size branches diameter for their feet to help keep the muscle control. tell me more about the cracks do they look all the way through or more like mere lines in his beak.? what type of bird is he?continue feeding him whatever diet they were.but also start offering a variety of fruits and veggies. no choc.no avacoda both are toxic to birds. offer cuttle bone and eventually try to wean him off the seeds all together to much fat. you'll need to get him on a pelleted diet. this all takes alot of time and lots, and lots and lots of patience. we have excellent avian vet's at the univ. of mich. or try to contact scott macdonald d.v.m he's one of the best located i think in indiana but travels the great lake states. be absolutly sure the vet you choose is trained avian vet ask for references if necessary. if you have any questions please ask. couple of places you might look on the net are birds n way bigbirdsearch animalnetwork birdtalk i do have avian vet no. for kentucky and penn. if close none currently for ohio. let me know if you need more help
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 30, 2001.
Thank you for all of the responses so far. Before reading these we had just contacted a pet store and spoke with a lady that sounds like she might be quite helpful. She is going to clip the wing feathers, nails and beak (they definately need it) and will be able to tell the general health, checking the feathers and beak but of course can't check for any disease. She wants us to bring in not only the food that has been fed but the leftover food tonight from the dish so she can see what is not being eaten. I just checked the bag that was sent home with my son and it is for attracting wild birds contains roasted peanuts, black oil sunflower seeds, striped sunflower seeds and safflower and flavors of raisins, cherries, apples, strawberries and oranges - anything in this that might hurt the bird? (didn't get a chance to ask the store owner as she was on her way out and can't see her until Sunday). My son said he was told the bird is a Red-masked Conure. Is this actually a parrot or just from the same family? I am having a hard time finding a vet in the area. The closest one found is an 1 1/2 hours away from us. Thank you all for the suggestions too of websites, books and magazines. Changed my plans for today and decided to just head on down to the library and get more info. The bird is not withdrawn and seems happy with us - he is whistling and has talked (said hello several times). He's very active and is eating and drinking well."abcbirds@yahoo" the cracks actually look like parts of the beak have peeled off at some point which is why we are concerned about Psittacine.
-- Terry - NW Ohio (email@example.com), March 30, 2001.
HI... I've had all sorts of large birds, pets and otherwise....
Yup... parrots moult. Usually only once per year, but I had one that would slowly moult over several months. Originally thought there was something wrong with her, but nope... Just her. The skin will be bright pink usually, but watch for scabs. A few might just mean the feathers had a hard time coming out, but if she starts with a couple and there are more and more, then she is plucking.
Most of my birds have had cracks occasionally. I used a homemade cream on the outside if they were cracked because they were dry. Most large pet birds should have their beaks trimmed, though. This is a regular practice and prevents much more than cracking - and can help avoid losing a finger if he gets mad...
I used a dishpan filled with a couple inches of water when I couldn't let them use the bathtub. If using the bathtub, just put enough water so that most of the floor of the tub is still dry - that way he can walk in and out of the water. Close the curtain, though - he will make a BIG mess!! I also used to spray my birds with plain water twice per day. Keeps the dust down in the house. Also is good for them because the mist from a mister bottle feels like a soft rain... Anyway, that is a good way to soothe a bird also.
If you want to let him out, you might think about clipping his wings. I only ever had one bird I had to clip, but he lived up to his name (Rebel) and was very obstinate.
Remember - this bird, depending on breed, can live longer than you... He will need lots of love and attention - always. Parrots, Macaws, Cockatoos (personal favorite) and Minahs almost crave human attention in captivity. They are social, so if ignored he will develop habits that will make you wish parrot was good for dinner!!
-- Sue Diederich (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 30, 2001.
me personally i would hold off on taking the bird anywhere. first stress is usually the factorfor feather plucking while he may seem happy even small variances can bring it on. improper diet is next i would go out and get a cockatiel mix look for one w/all the goodies. plus fresh fruits and veggies. he may not eat these at first but give him lots of time 6 months is not unusualyou also want to get started on weaning it from seed tio a pelleted diet, again this takes time you'll want to add all small amount to his seed till he gets usedto it slowly increasing pellets decreasing seed. pick up a mineral block and cuttle bone. he needs various sze perches and toys to occupie his time i buy hard plastic baby toys they're cheaper. the reason i wouldn't take him to the pet shop is one the stress of traveling, 2 the stress of having his nails clipped3 almost nothing can be told by looking at the bird visibly except a healthy bird will have clear eyes and nothing dripping from his nose or crust build up. he doesn't need his wings clipped currently unless theres even the slightest possibilty of escape he needs to fully adjust to his surrondings also i would never take my birds anywhere there are other birds the chances are to great for psittacosis. your not allowedto handle my birds until you've washed your hands. this can be contracted by humans i would leave all this to a certified vet. he also needs the largest cage you can afford him. another cause for feather loss could be mites that could cause bare spots even large thouroghly clean his cage and purchase a mite spray for birds. when birds moult there is a notice of feathers on the floor and in the cage but they will never moult so much that you'll see bare spots in a molt new feathers are pushing out the old.if you need more help feel free to e-mail me. 2 words of caution pet stores are in the business of selling pet products not pet health and advice from folks that say well i had lots a birds you can feed wild birdseed or i have a home remedy they would be vets because it's a lot more profitable then distributing their advise. and where are their birds now?? the lowly budgie has a life expectancy of 15 yrs well taken care of conures 25 yrs. and up.
-- (email@example.com), March 30, 2001.
Terry - I agree with not taking the conure anywhere right now, especially into a petshop. This little bird sounds like it was stressed enough for a while. Lots of variety in food, toys, perches etc. will most likely do a world of good for it. My parrot is moulting right now, heavily a couple of weeks ago, lighter now. But never to the point of being bare. Your conure's bare spots were probably caused by stress (feather plucking). Also, tree branches are great perches. Apple trees are wonderful, thicker limbs for climbing and thin ones for perching. And my bird keeps his beak in excellent shape by using his tree branches. Just be careful of what kind you get, I'm sure there are some that could be toxic. (they love to chew) I would just watch him closely and let him settle in before I attempt to take him anywhere. Please keep us bird lovers posted on progress.
-- Dianne (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 30, 2001.
Terry, I've tamed/trained a wide variety of parrots for folks, pet shops and the zoo. I've had my Greenwing macaw since he left the nest 13 years ago. I trained my bird when he was a baby not to scream in the house. The door of his rather large cage has rarely been shut, even when I've left town for a few days. He has never chewed/destroyed anything in the house, and he is surrounded by oak furniture. (Yeah, I know, this is not common!)
My bird has a 4 foot tray on top of his cage that holds a lumber yard and toys. The beak grows all their lives and they need to chew to keep it trimmed. The birds like the same chew toys that dogs do ~ cow hooves, pig ears, any of the rawhide chews and WOOD! Not all birds like the same things, of course! Do not give the bird any treated wood, it could kill him. Any tree branches or limbs used as a perch or for chewing, should be free of sprays. Since I can't see your bird, I don't know if the cracks are natural from growth or from injury. If he can eat/drink, it's probably nothing to worry about.
Birds do not live by seeds alone. Mine always has in his area, a seed mixture, nuts in the shell and crumbles. Birds eat fruits, veggies, dairy, meat....whatever you eat. NO RHUBARB, NO CHOCOLATE, NO AVACADO. Toxic to the birds. Too much salt or sugar can kill them. I rarely eat fruits/veggies and there was so much waste with fresh, that I went to frozen fruits and veggies for the birds. He gets about 20-25 different kinds each day. No, he doesn't get fed like he's at the Sizzler! It's like one broccoli head, couple of little pieces of yellow squash, couple of cherries, blackberries, a piece of strawberry, etc. I've got about 1/2 dozen frozen fruits. I buy the 4-5 pound of mixed veggies (lasts quite a while). One of the bird's favorites is a mix I buy that has broccoli florets, snap peas, julienne carrots, red peppers, yellow squash, water chestnuts, straw mushrooms, onions, whole baby corn and bamboo shoots. I warm his portion just to get the ice off; don't cook it. He also loves cheese, eggs, just about anything I'm eating. Canned veggies are loaded with sodium; stay away from them. My bird will kill to get at a pizza box coming into the house!
Some birds like their food diced in small pieces; some like larger pieces; some like it whole. Experiment.
Unless a vet has his own birds, they don't know much about them. An avian vet is best if needed. Pulling feathers is a difficult habit to break and comes from boredom, but you should check the bird for mites to make sure that isn't the problem. If there are mites, you can safely dust him with food grade Diatomaceous Earth or 5% Sevin. If no mites, hopefully you can cure the picking by spending time with the bird. They can't just be left in the cage all the time. Handle him often; carry him around on your arm/shoulder; let him sit on you while you watch tv or are on the 'puter. Hopefully, he's already tame and can be handled; if not, that should be a project.
-- ~Rogo (email@example.com), March 30, 2001.
well i've never heard of a red masked. but the mitered conure does have red on the crown, and sometimes along the cheeks. here are a few more places to look http://www.ddc.com/petplace/conurelist/ or try the international conure ass. p.o. box 70123 las vegas,nv.89170 as far as showers try a shallow bowl of room temp.water something he won't tip climbing on. or buying a plant mister wally world usually has em for a buck. never leave your bird unattended in the tub. you could put him in w/water barely dribbling from shower head. but before i did this i'd make sure he was totally comfortable in the house. birds are very suceptable to drafts. also you might purchase him a concrete perch between that and the branches he'll eventually keep claws and beak trimmed on his own. it is not normal to have to trim a birds beak. limit his sunflower intake to occasional treat they are very high in fat. he also needs natural sunlight or a full spectrum light. an egg boiled say 45 min. is good crush shell and all finely. baked and crushed egg shell is also good. never feed gravel found in pet sections lot's of folks claim they need it for digestion but this is untrue hookbills shell their food and are quite capable of digesting w/out it.please i can't stress this enough never leave your bird wander around the house unattended. i've heard countless stories of people stepping o n their birds killing them or i was only out of the room for a little while i didn't think he chew that electric cord. we usually put the lid down on the toilet i didn't think he'd fall in. the dog and him played together all the time. we don't know what happened we came home found him lying under the window on the floor i think his neck was broke to. no responsible bird owner would leave their bird unattended sorry for preaching:( sept 2000 birdtalk is dedicated to confessions of a conure convert lots of interestin info. back orders can be purchased. let me know if you still have trouble finding a avian vet in your area. i know some vets don't like to refer to others even at the cost of a pet
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 31, 2001.
Terry, You are in for a very pleasant surprise! Parrots are great little pets! Two years ago I bought a gold crown parrot. I didn't know then what fun we were going to have! RITA loves to be cuddled,scratched, talked to,even seems to enjoy when we yell at her for squawking too loud too long. She crawls into hubby's pocket and will sleep in the top of his bib overalls for hours. She drinks my coffee and eats my toast. She's protective when strangers visit, fluffs up two sizes bigger and gets that Snoopy being the vulture- look. She's not afraid of the other pets and has even snipped at our 85lb boxer. A subscription to BirdTalk magazine might be a help. Enjoy!
-- sindy (email@example.com), March 31, 2001.
Wonderful advice so far. I didn't see if anyone recommended switching the bird to a pellet diet...I would suggest it. The woman who is doing the groming for you sounds very knowledgeable, she can probably explain the process of gradually converting birdie to pellets. I have an African Gray, an Eclectus, and a sun conure. You may have read my posts about the loss of our lovebird. Some safety tips: never, ever leave birdie alone with a dog...train the family to shut the toilet seat EVERY TIME...get in the habit of putting lids on all cooking pots on the stove...GET RID OF ALL THE TEFLON IN THE HOUSE...leave no sinks full of water, nor glasses of liquid on the table...learn about poisonous houseplants...clip his wings...don't let him play on the floor. I have personal experience with losing birds to tragedy (the dog, the glass of water, the playing on the floor & being stepped upon.) A good friend lost a bird to an open toilet, another lost 4 birds in an hour to Teflon poisoning, another lost a bird to a poisonous houseplant. And we are all very caring, cautious bird owners. Thing is, these are little tiny critters with the curiosity of a two year old child, and no common sense and fragile little bodies. Be exceedingly careful & he should live for many years...let your guard down once, and you could lose him. Sorry to be a downer, but I've lost birds & had to console friends who've lost birds, and if you can learn from our mistakes, do!
-- Shannon at Grateful Acres Animal Sanctuary (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 31, 2001.
I was owned by a red-masked (also called cherry headed) conure until she passed away from old age last January. She had been through MANY homes including Wal-Mart and abused by a man before I rescued her. She had a feather plucking problem but with lots of love, attention and the proper diet she flourished. I was able to slowly transfer her from a seed only diet to a pelleted one. As far as a brand, I had the best luck with Pretty Bird pellets. The other brands are fine too, but my conure loved these. Other brands include Lafeber (our cockateils liked Lafeber), Zupreem, KayTee and Hartz (this isn't a complete list, only what I can come up with off the top of my head). After your conure has settled in, begin offering pellets along with seed. As you see the pellets being eaten, decrease the amount of seed given. Be patient, however! It took my conure 6 months to switch. All our other birds switched in a much shorter amount of time. ALWAYS clip your bird's wings. A bird that is capable of flying can die or be disabled in a terrible way ....I have heard of them flying into ceiling fans, windows (out of them too), etc. Some people say they are careful but it only takes forgetting to turn off a fan, etc. once and they are gone. Enjoy your new addition! I have such fond memories of my baby.
-- Madalon in Ky (email@example.com), March 31, 2001.
In addition to the help given, here are three sites with very useful information for inexperienced bird owners--
Proper diet (many good suggestions above) and bird-proofing your house are high priority items. The things that can happen to birds are almost without number. Make sure your cat and dog are not around your bird for safety's sake (put locks on doors if neccessary). I agree about getting rid of anything with a non-stick surface (Teflon being only one brand that is toxic) including pans, drip catchers under range burners in kitchen, etc.
Get rid of ALL cleaning products that are unsafe (Febreeze is killing a lot of birds for instance, but also any oven cleaners, air deodorizer sprays -- or plug-ins -- carpet cleaners, shoe sprays, water proofing sprays, bug sprays, hair sprays, etc. can all kill your birds faster than you would believe possible. ) Even spraying these items in an attached garage can leak enough fumes to kill your bird (and if it's killing your bird, what's it doing to you?).
I would avoid rawhide or pigs ears as chew toys for parrots. While many consume healthy meat happily, those aren't very safe, usually being treated with febricides for long shelf life. My birds loved to chew up prunings off of my apple trees, stripping leaves, buds, and bark as healthy chewing excercise, and offering such diversions (there is also a sterilized bundle of peacock feathers available commercially that many feather pluckers like and which reduces mutilation of their own feathers. Likewise sisal fiber toys.) An improved diet as many have outlined will help to reduce the feather problems hopefully, as can full-spectrum light (I really like Ott Lights, they screw into most household fixtures).
I also have sprouted seed mixtures for my birds, as this changes the starch in the seeds into useable protein, and increases the vital amino acids available to your bird. I think that one of those sites has advice on such.
-- julie f. (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 31, 2001.
The above advice is great. Be sure to get a number of entertaining toys and change them out every few days so the bird doesn't get bored with them. This can help quite a bit with the feather picking also.
-- Laura Jensen (email@example.com), March 31, 2001.
== I didn't see if anyone recommended switching the bird to a pellet diet. ==
Feeding just pellets isn't a healthy well balanced diet. My bird always has the pellets (we call them crumbles!), a good seed mixture, and nuts in the shell in his area. But the bird also needs fruits, veggies, etc. to be well balanced.
-- ~Rogo (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 03, 2001.
I am absolutely astounded how many people here have or had parrots. You never said anything! Of course, none of you knew I have two parrots and a flock of smaller birds, did you? ;-)
Pretty good advice and resources. I completely agree with Rogo that pellets/crumbles are not a complete diet. They definitely need other foods as well. Parrot nutrition is not well understood, new information is being discovered all the time.
I want to suggest Pet Bird Report magazine as a resource. Their website is: http://www.petbirdreport.com/ They have lots of information about behavior and nutrition.
I also think wing clipping should wait, although you have to be hypervigilant not to let the bird escape. If the bird is used to flying, you probably will want to have the wings clipped in stages, a few feathers at a time. Otherwise, the bird is likely to try to fly as "usual" and can really hurt itself badly that way. I am leery of pet shop bird grooming. Of course, there are some that do it right, but all too often, the person doing it has little experience and/or training. Different species need different clips, because of differences in body weight and "style" of flying. Unfortunately, many vets haven't a clue either, and all too many of them don't like to admit their lack of experience or training.
Sister had a parakeet who was prescribed Panalog ointment. The bird died. We later discovered Panalog is toxic to birds. And any kind of grease should be kept off birds -- it gets spread around by their grooming and destroys the insulative properties of their feathers.
When you're getting rid of your non-stick (including Teflon), look in places you wouldn't think of. They're putting it on everything these days. Hair curling wands are one. Ironing board covers are another (any of those metallic looking ones probably have Teflon in them), and the sole plates of some irons. Did anyone mention that scented candles and Fabreeze (despite claims to the contrary) seem to be implicated in bird deaths. Better to be safe than sorry!
If you can find a bird club in the area, they probably can help you a lot. Check the library, they often have subscriptions to Bird Talk and you can read the back issues.
-- Joy F (So.Central Wisconsin) (CatFlunky@excite.com), April 03, 2001.
Oh rats, I forgot to mention feather chewing/picking/plucking. There is no one cause for all instances, and many birds possibly have multiple causes. The first thing to do is rule out things like disease, parasites, etc. Almost all agree that "sexual frustration" is NOT the cause, therefore "putting the bird into a breeding program" will not solve the problem. Also, most of the evidence shows that Prozac and the like really do nothing for parrots -- nothing good anyway.
It can be a long, confusing, and frustrating route to understanding why your bird plucks and then more of the same trying to change the behavior. The very best of luck to you. Please keep us posted!
-- Joy F (So.Central Wisconsin) (CatFlunky@excite.com), April 03, 2001.
Just an update on our parrot and a big thank you to all the helpful responses. We decided to hold off on taking him anywhere to be checked out for the moment due to that stress on him and because now that we know more about parrots he looks very alert and healthy (just those missing feathers - but we don't see him plucking any now) and is very active. His eyes are bright, he eats well (we added fresh fruits and veggies to his seed and nut feed and are buying pellets. His beak seems ok for now and he never trys to fly - just climbs out onto the cage door when we open it and sits on top. Evidently the very first owners did work with him because when we point to his cage door and tell him to go back in he usually does. He has been a lot of fun. Only does the screeching when someone is not in the room with him (doesn't do this always though - thank goodness) but when we are around he is active but not realy noisey. Another thing he does when he wants attention, and none of us seem to be around, is he starts his talking and whistling. He says hello, pretty bird, peek-a-boo (and puts his head down to play peek-a-boo also), makes a wolf whistle and another type of whistle, imitates my laugh and when we walk into the room he does the funniest little dance. If we lay our arm on top of the cage when he is sitting on it he climbs up onto our arm and walks up onto our shoulder. He's a pretty big hit with our family - we are already very much attached.
-- Terry - NW Ohio (email@example.com), April 04, 2001.
That bird sounds like a lot of fun, Terry! I have a Sun Conure. Except for when she is screaming, she is a wonderful bird. She'll go in her cage too, when I tell her to (well, MOST the time). She doesn't scream a lot anymore, but it is pretty earsplitting when she does it! I'm glad you're able to tolerate it so that this engaging bird can have a good home.
Do check out Pet Bird Report. I see on their website that they will send you a free copy of the magazine if you fill out their survey. I have met the woman who started it, Sally Blanchard, and her main concern in life is the well being of parrots.
-- Joy F (So.Central Wisconsin) (CatFlunky@excite.com), April 04, 2001.