Parrot Recipes and Nutrition

Home cooking for our birds can be so healthy and so easy and so many of us do this.  Preparing nutrition and love with a great bird recipe.  Nothing beats a freshly prepared home cooked meal, and nothing beats the great creative food creations of our wonderful customers.

If you have a bird recipe that your bird really likes, we would love for you to share your favorite bird recipe with us.

Sometimes getting our birds to eat good nutritious meals can be a real challenge, but by sharing recipes, we can all have a great resource to draw from to help feeding our birds the right stuff, much easier.

And don't worry if you are someone who doesn't really like to cook, because there is sure to be a recipe for experienced cooks, as well as those who can barely boil water (or prefer not to).

Browse our nutrition and recipe collection by clicking below.

Bird Recipes - Nutrition Info

Summer Fruit Salad

Summer Ambrosia Fruit Salad

Not just for holidays, Ambrosia can be a great summer treat for your bird.

Ingredients needed:
2 medium size oranges(peeled and cut into small pieces)
1 medium size peeled banana cut into slices
20-30 rinsed seedless grapes (green or purple or some of both)
1 cup rinsed strawberries that have been cut in half
1 large size peeled apple cut into bird size pieces

Combine all fruit ingredients into a large bowl and mix together. Once they have been mixed they are ready to serve. If you want more juice in the mixture you can squeeze some extra fresh orange juice or pineapple juice for an additional fruit taste.

This summer fruit treat is so yummy, you may want to share some with your bird.

This fruit mixture can also be frozen and served in smaller amounts daily to your bird. Freeze in small plastic container or freezer bag. You can also freeze in a plastic ice cube tray and once frozen remove and place frozen cubes into a larger plastic freezer bag.

Apple Pumpkin Harvest

This yummy fall bird muffin is healthy and delicious.

Apple Pumpkin Harvest Muffins:

1 package of any Bird Bread Mix
1 large apple chopped into small pieces
**(peel apple & remove seeds before chopping)
1 16 ounce can 100% pure pumpkin
2 large eggs
1 cup water (or can use unsweetened apple juice)
1/2 extra cup water (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil or Red Palm Oil
paper cupcake or muffin liners

In large mixing bowl pour the package of Bird Bread. Add the 2 eggs and oil and stir.

Add can of pumpkin to mixture and mix well.

Chop up the apple into small pieces. We use our food processor for just a few seconds for quick small pieces. You just need to cut apples into smaller pieces so they are distributed through the muffins more evenly.

Add apple pieces to mixture and stir well.

Add water or juice to mix until mixture is blended well. Although the pumpkin will add some moisture to the mixture, the apples will soak up some of moisture. Add enough water to make a cupcake-batter consistency. (The thicker the mixture, the longer it will need to bake).

Pour mixture into mini muffin or cupcake pans and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Oven temperatures can vary so be sure muffins are done.

Thoroughly cool muffins before serving to your bird.

Cooked muffins can be placed into freezer bags and removed daily for a fun treat each day until gone.

Use fall or Halloween cupcake/muffin paper baking cup holders to add extra fun for your bird. Hand your bird the complete muffin and watch him or her peel away the muffin paper and relish the yummy fall muffin inside.

Apple Bran Muffins


Apple Bran Muffins

A yummy fall time recipe. In fact what a tasty treat any time of year.

1/2 cup bran
1/2 cup un-toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup Fruit and Nut Goodies
2 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 and 1/2 cup unsweetened natural apple juice
1 large size apple chopped
**(peel & core apple before chopping - apple seeds are toxic and peels may contain wax and pesticide residues)**

(*A small food processor can make chopping the Fruit and Nut mix and the fresh apple quick and easy. Chop into the size pieces you think your bird(s) will like best. Doesn't matter if it is chunky size, or finely diced.)

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well with large spoon.

Then add eggs, chopped apple, oil, and apple juice into mixture and stir until well blended.

Spoon into cupcake pan or bread loaf pan and bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for approximately 25-30 minutes for muffins, or approximately 50 minutes for a loaf of bread. Ovens vary and bread should be done when toothpick or butter knife is inserted and comes out clean without any batter clinging.

Thoroughly cool before serving. Can be frozen in freezer bags and thawed as need each day.

Makes about 12 large size muffins or one loaf of bread.

Recipe can easily be doubled.

Bird Salad


I like layering my salad to help keep it fresher for longer. I start on the bottom of a large plastic container with some chopped greens such as spinach or collard greens. I vary the greens each time I make a salad up so experiement and see which greens your bird likes best. Some good greens to try are spinach, chard, parsley, dandelion, kale, or collard greens.

For my next layer of foods I add two of the following chopped up foods: zucchini and another summer squash, red or green bell peppers, fresh hot peppers, fresh green beans or peas, cucumber, or celery.

Next comes a layer of finely chopped carrots or sweet potatoes for some vitamin A.
A food processor makes chopping carrots or sweet potatoes much easier.

An optional layer is a cooked bean miture. The beans will make your salad higher in protein which may be good for some birds, and not necessary for others.

Next I add some chopped fruits such as apples, a few grapes, and at least one fruit such as oranages for the acid that helps to keep the salad fresh longer.

Then I cover the top of the salad with fozen mixed vegetables right from the bag and cover with a lid and place immediately into the refrigerator.

Each morning I scoop out a serving size bowl of the salad straight from the container without mixing the original salad up. I then mix up the salad in the smaller serving bowl and it's ready to serve. It takes a while to cup and chop all the vegetables and fruit up when you make the salad, but it is one of my birds' favorite foods. You can also add some cooked pasta or cooked rice to the smaller servings for a change during the week. The salad keeps well in the refriferator for several days.


Bird Slaw


Birdie Cabbage Slaw Salad

1 small head of cabbage
1 pound fresh carrots
1 large bunch of fresh broccoli heads with partial stems
4 summer squash with the ends cut off
1 large green or red bell pepper
Cup of Blueberries (optional)
1 apple chopped (removed apples seeds)
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Remove outer leaves of cabbage and thoroughly rinse all fresh foods to remove any pesticides or other contaminants.

Cut cabbage into sections and finely chop. A food processor helps make this an easy task. Layer cabbage in large plastic container. I use a sheet cake container upside down so that the bottom becomes the lid, and it holds this slaw perfectly.

Next chop broccoli and spread evenly over the cabbage.
Then finely chop the carrots and spread evenly over the broccoli.
Next chop squash and layer on top of the broccoli.
Finely chop the peppers and layer next.

When finished layering the slaw, add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar sprinkled over the top of the slaw.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, take a large serving spoon and scoop out ever how much you need to feed your flock, and place into a bowl. Stir mixture thoroughly and add a fresh chopped apple to the mixture.

This bird cabbage slaw can be fed to all birds, from finches and canaries, to the large macaws.  

A great recipe for adding Vitamin A and calcium to your bird's diet. A great favorite of all my birds..


Blueberry Carrot Cake

Bert's Blueberry-Carrot Bird Bread Cake

This yummy Blueberry Carrot Cake is actually not a cake at all, but instead, bird bread baked in a round cake pan and decorated to look like a scrumptious cake.

Ingredients for a one layer cake:
Harrisons Bird Bread mix
2 eggs
1 tablespoon Sunshine Factor or Olive Oil
1 Pint fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
About 1-1/2 cups of Cauliflower florets (similar sized pieces) rinsed and drained and stems cut very short
2 cups of shredded carrots

In large bowl mix Harrison's Bird Bread mix, 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon oil, 1-1/4 cups of water, and about 1 cup of the blueberries. Mix gently until blended.

Lightly spray pan with non-stick spray and pour mixture into pan. Bake in 350-degree oven approximately 30 minutes. Oven temperatures vary so keep an eye on bread as it bakes. When toothpick comes out clean, bread should be done.

Let cool about 5 minutes, and then placing a serving dish on top of the pan, gently turn over and tap the bottom of the pan gently until baked bread comes loose from pan. Bread should come out onto the plate.

Spread shredded carrots over top of cake as if they were icing, and with fingers gently press extra carrots into the sides of the cake. Then place cauliflower pieces on the cake for decoration tucking any short stems inside the shredded carrot or the cake. Add more of the remaining blueberries in any design you wish on top of the cake.

Pictured is a double layer Blueberry Carrot Cake with a layer of shredded carrots between cake layers. To make the two-layer cake, simply double ingredients above and pour bread mixture into two round cake pans.

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins

July is national blueberry month so why not bake up some yummy blueberry muffins for your bird.

Blueberry Birdie Muffins:

1 package Harrison's Bird Bread
1 package fresh blueberries
2 eggs
1 to 2 cups water
2 T olive oil or Sunshine Factor
paper cupcake or muffin liners

Follow directions on the Harrison's Bird Bread package for preparing your birdie bread. Then gently add the fresh blueberries into the mixture and stir slow and easy until well mixed.

Pour mixture into mini muffin or cupcake paper liners in baking pan (non-teflon only) and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Oven temperatures can vary so be sure muffins are done.

Thoroughly cool muffins before serving to your bird. Cooked muffins can be placed into freezer bags and removed daily for a fun treat each day until gone.

Calcium Foods

Foods high in Calcium

Many of us love putting together a "salad" for our birds. To help you choose good greens, here is a list of some of the greens that are highest in calcium.

Broccoli: A great dark green vegie rich in calcium. Can be given raw, juiced, or lightly steamed.

Cabbage: Cabbage is an inexpensive vegetable very rich in calcium and other alkaline minerals. Small amounts of cabbage can be added to juices, served raw in a birdie slaw salad or even slightly cooked.

Celery: Celery is often thought of as a not so important food but it is very pleasing to the palate, easy to eat raw, and rich in calcium and sodium.

Chinese cabbage (Bok Choy): There are many varieties of Chinese cabbage. Most people are more familiar with bok choy, for example. They are all extremely rich in calcium, and enjoyable to eat raw. Bok choy is especially good chopped in salads.

Collard greens: Collard greens are very rich in minerals, and can be added to juices, lightly steamed, or served raw in a birdie salad.

Kale: Kale is extremely rich in calcium. It can be steamed or served raw in a birdie salad.

Arugula: Arugula, also called roquette, is fairly strong but is a nice addition to fresh salads and is very rich in calcium.

Turnip greens: Turnip greens are extremely rich in calcium. They can be juiced, or added to salads, or steamed.

Mustard greens: This is one of the most alkaline greens. It can be added to salads and juices, or lightly steamed.

Spinach: Spinach is rich in calcium and very enjoyable to eat raw, especially when the leaves are young, juiced, or lightly steamed. However spinach also contains oxalic acid which interferes with calcium being absorbed. For that reason it is not recommended for every day feeding.

Fruity Pineapple Cornbread

Debra's quick and easy fruity cornbread.

6 cups self-rising cornmeal
1 package True Fruit
3 eggs
1 small can crushed pineapple (optional)
Paper Cupcake liners if baking as cupcakes

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl, including the juice of the pineapple. Add water while stirring until mixture is a soupy consistency, and ingredients are well blended.

Fill paper cupcake liners 3/4 full, or pour mixture into cake pan sprayed with non-stick spray.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Ovens may vary so check after 45 minutes. Cornbread is done when inserted toothpick or knife comes out clean.

Cut into small pieces and place in airtight baggies. Can be kept in refrigerator for several days, or can be frozen in smaller baggies and removed when needed.

Cupcakes or cake pieces can be frozen and taken out daily for feeding.

Holiday Fruit Cake

Even if you are not a fruitcake lover, I'm pretty sure your bird will love this wonderful holiday fruit cake with loads of fruity goodness.


1 package Bird Bread such as Harrison's or TOP's Bread (Click Here for a selection of Bird Breads you can use)
One 6 ounce package Zupreem Tropical Rewards Fruit Mix
2 large eggs
1 small size bag of fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons Feather-Glo Organic Palm Oil or olive oil
2 cups water

In large mixing bowl pour in Bird Bread mix and add the 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons of Palm Oil (or olive oil if you do not have Palm Oil), and mix these ingredients well.

Add the bag of the fruit mix and stir to mix all ingredients together.

Rinse fresh cranberries well, and then add cranberries to the mixture and stir.

Now add 2 cups of water to the mixture and mix thoroughly.

Lightly spray round aluminum or other cake or bundt pan (or any shape pan you prefer)   NOTE: DO NOT USE ANY COOKING PAN WITH TEFLON OR OTHER PTFE COATING

Pour mixture into one large pan or divide evenly between two round cake pans.  Then smooth top of mixture with a spoon.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for approximately 50 minutes. Ovens vary in cooking time, so check with toothpick or butter knife that inserts and removes cleanly.

If using 2 round cake pans: Cool for approximately 10 minutes and then place a large plate on the top of each cake before removing from pan. Gently flip cake pan and plate upside down, gently tapping the bottom of the pan to help cake slide out onto the plate.  Continue then to layer the 2 round cakes before decorating.

If using a bundt cake pan you can also use the plate method before removing and decorating  If using a single layer sheet cake pan, you will need to place the serving tray on top and flip to transfer the cooked cake onto the serving dish.

Now you are ready to serve and watch your bird thoroughly enjoy all the holiday yummy goodness.

Cake can also be frozen in small serving sizes that can be thawed out as needed for feeding portions to your bird.

NOTE: the holiday decorations of Christmas ornaments, berries and holly leaves shown in the picture above with the fruitcake, were for decoration only, and should be removed before serving the fruitcake to your bird.

Nut Nutrition

Fat Content of Nuts

Nuts have varying amounts of fat and nutrition so here is some helpful information about the nuts you may be serving your bird, or help in deciding which nuts are best.

Pistachio Nuts - contain approximately 44% fat and 20% protein;

Cashew Nuts - contain approximately 46% fat and 15% protein;

Almonds - contain approximately 50% fat and 21% protein;

Hazelnuts or Filberts - contain approximately 61% fat and 15% protein;

Walnuts - contain approximately 65% fat and 15% protein;

Brazil Nuts - contain approximately 67% fat and 14% protein;

Pine Nuts - contain approximately 68% fat and 16% protein;

Pecans contain approximately 71% fat and 10% protein;

Macadamia Nuts - contain approximately 75% fat and 9% protein;

Peanuts - are not actually a nut at all, but rather a legume. Some people consider them as a "good fat". Peanuts do contain approximately 22% fat and 6% protein.

Pumpkin Cake

Halloween Pumpkin Bird Cake

This fun Halloween Pumpkin is a yummy Bird Bread cake.

You will need the following:
1 pkg. any Bird Bread Mix
1 16-ounce can of 100% pure pumpkin
1 cup of water
2 eggs
1 tablespoon Red Palm Oil (Olive Oil can be substituted for Palm Oil if necessary)
1 yellow squash
2 pounds carrots
1 small container of fresh blackberries.
The end stem of one banana

In a large mixing bowl add pre-packaged bread mix, 2 whole eggs, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 can of pure pumpkin, and 1 cup water. Mix all ingredients well.

Pour mixture into one round baking pan that has been lightly sprayed with a non-stick food spray.

Bake in the oven for approximately 1 hour at 350 degrees. Ovens vary, so begin checking for doneness after 45 minutes. Done when a knife or toothpick inserts and comes out clean with no batter. Because of the extra moisture and density of the added pumpkin.

Peel the 2 pounds of carrots and put through a food processor or blender to chop finely. This will be your frosting.

After the cake has cooled, remove from the pan and place on a cake dish or plate for decorating. Once the cake is cool, begin putting the finely chopped carrot all over the top of the cake and then gently mold the carrot frosting along the sides pressing gently into the sides of the cake as needed to hold it in place.

Rinse squash well, and cut two slices for the eyes. Cut a third piece that will be cut in half with a small section cut out for the eyebrows. Take the end of the squash and create the nose.

Rinse blackberries well and drain. Place a blackberry in each eye, and then create the smiling mouth with blackberries.

Remove the stem from a banana to create the pumpkin stem at the top.

You can be as creative as you want with this fun birdie cake. Use other vegetables and fruits for decorating as you wish. The end result is a Halloween bird-cake that is not only creative and fun, but nutritious and yummy as well.

St Patricks Bird Muffins

St. Patrick's Day Bird Muffins

These really easy, yummy and quick St. Patrick's Day bird muffins with broccoli toppings, are a fun healthy green treat for your bird.

1 package Bird Bread Mix
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil or Red Palm Oil
1 and 1/2 cups water
large head of fresh broccoli
St. Patrick Day cupcake paper holders

In medium size mixing bowl add Harrison's bird bread contents, 2 large eggs (no shells), 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 cup water. Stir well. (As mixture thickens you can add the remaining 1/2 cup of water to keep mixture a little thinner.

Place cupcake holders into cupcake pan and fill each about 1/2 full or about 1 tablespoon each. Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 25-30 minutes. Done when inserted toothpick comes out clean.

While muffins bake, wash and rinse broccoli and drain well. Use only broccoli flower tops. Cut finely, or place flowers in food processor for quick fine chopping.

Once cooked muffins have cooled, fill remaining space in cupcake holder with chopped broccoli for a topping.

Makes approximately 18 muffins.

Strawberry Coconut Cake

Valentine Strawberry Coconut Bird Cake

Your parrot is going to be your very special Valentine when you serve up this yummy Valentine Bird Cake.

1 package of your favorite Bird Bread Mix
2 large eggs
1 and 1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil or Red Palm Oil
One 5 ounce size packages of unsweetened flaked coconut
1 large container fresh strawberries

One round, or heart shaped, pan for baking.

Wash strawberries and cut stems and set aside.(Remove leaves before serving to bird)

Remove 1/2 cup coconut from bag and set aside.

In large mixing bowl add package of Bird Bread mix, eggs, oil, and the 1/2 cup coconut, and water, and mix together all ingredients until well blended.

Pour mixture into round lightly sprayed cake pan and bake at 375 for approximately 40 minutes. Ovens vary so check for doneness with toothpick or butter knife that comes out clean when inserted into cake.

Allow cake to cool some on cake rack or plate.

Once cake is only warm to the touch, take remaining coconut and begin applying on the sides and top of cake. Press into sides of cake lightly. Once coconut decorates cake, add whole strawberries or strawberry slices to decorate as you wish.

Makes a yummy fruity bird cake for any size bird or parrot. Cake can also be frozen in serving size baggies or containers for daily use if you wish.

Sunflower Seeds The Facts

Natural Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds have really gotten a bad rap over the years as the evil junk food to not be given to your bird. In reality though, sunflower seeds can be a nutritious snack for many birds.

Sunflower Seeds are a seed full of nutrition and they deliver many powerful nutrients in a naturally small, flavorful morsel. Almost all birds really love them too. Sunflower seeds are the richest source of vitamin E, and unknown to many people, actually also contain calcium. Although some people consider sunflower seeds to be a fattening food for parrots, they are actually no more fattening than safflower seeds.

Any parrot food fed in excess can be fattening. There are parrots who have never eaten a single sunflower in their life, yet they are still overweight. We have even seen parrots who have been fed only pellets, who are are overweight.

So if you are looking for a tasty nutritious snack that your bird is sure to enjoy, try 2 or 3 sunflower seeds for that birdie snack. Sunflower seeds make a great training food reward too.

Vitamin A Deficiency in Birds

Nutrition - Vitamin A Deficiency in Pet Birds

According to many avian veterinarians, Vitamin A deficiency is the most common health problem in pet birds. Vitamin A is one of the essential nutrients for our birds. Vitamin A can be found in red, yellow and green vegetables and fruits. Vitamin A is necessary for the health of tissues such as skin, the digestive system, the respiratory system and all the vital organs. Without sufficient Vitamin A, our pets can develop unhealthy skin and feathers also. They become more susceptible to sinus infections and may suffer from liver and kidney dysfunction. Vitamin A deficiency can cause feather discoloration, motor disturbances, reproductive problems and many other health problems.

A seed only diet is often a poor source of Vitamin A. Adding pellets may help, but then how do you know for sure your bird is eating enough pellets? Some healthy food sources for Vitamin A are carrots, yams and sweet potatoes, peppers, broccoli, mangoes, kale, spinach and dandelion greens.

A recommended blended diet for feeding your bird might consist of a really top-notch seed blend, a good pelleted food, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to round it all out. Our birds need a nutritious healthy diet just as we do.

[Editor's Note: This article is not intended to cure any vitamin related medical problems your bird may have. If unsure about your bird's diet or health, talk with your avian veterinarian.]

Bird Safety and Fun Facts

Safety Tips PTFE

Non-Stick Cookware Poisoning Deadly PTFE

Virtually all "non-stick" cookware and drip-pans which can be purchased under many different manufacturers names contain PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) and are extremely deadly to the lives of our birds. Any brand of cookware you are considering which states "non-stick" should immediately send a warning flag to you as it probably contains the very deadly PTFE. Unless the manufacturer can state in writing it does not and explain exactly how it is non-stick, assume it contains deadly PTFE. Some self-cleaning ovens, clothes dryers, hair dryers, space heaters, irons, ironing board covers, waffle irons, deep fryers, heat lamps and other small appliances or their components may be coated with non-stick surfaces. Unless the manufacturer verifies in writing that the product in question does not contain PTFE producing elements, assume it has them. Overheated, non-stick coatings emit odorless fumes containing PTFE which are lethal to birds and can kill within minutes. Whatever utensils you use, rooms should be well ventilated when cooking is in progress. Ventilate the bird's room or area as well as the kitchen. Fumes will travel within your home. Use a range hood, ventilated to the outdoors when you are cooking. Stainless steel or cast iron cookware is an easily cleaned alternative to pots and pans coated with non-stick surfaces.

Having personally witnessed the death of a friend's birds when she innocently used a new drip pan to broil some steaks in her oven, I can say it is a horrible tragedy to happen. Several budgies in a room off the kitchen with a door shut between all died as well as several cockatiels in an adjoining dining room. The only bird to survive was an amazon in a back bedroom with the door closed. He spent several days in the hospital but did survive the ordeal. Nothing can describe the horror the owner went through losing her beloved birds.


Bird Safe Plants

Bird Safe Plants and Trees

The following plants and trees listed below are considered safe as long as no chemicals or insecticides have been sprayed on them.

Some plants and trees that appear on both safe and unsafe lists, we have chosen to leave off our safe list as some birds may be more sensitive to those plants.

African Violet
Apple Trees
Asparagus Fern

Baby's Tears
Birdnest Fern
Boston Fern
Butterfly Bush

Christmas Cactus
Cissus/Kangaroo Vine
Citrus treest
Corn Plant
Crape Myrtle - (NOTE: not the same as the broadleaf evergreen myrtle which is NOT safe)

Donkey Tail
Dracena Varieties

Elm tree

Fiddle Leaf Fig

Grape Ivy

Hens and Chickens

Jade Plant


Maidenhair Fern
Monkey Plant
Mother-in-Law's Tongue

Natal Plum
Norfolk Island Pine


Palms (areca, date,fan, lady, sago) Papaya
Pear Tree
Prayer Plant
Purple Passion


Sensitive Plant
Silk Tree
Snake Plant
Spider Plant
Swedish Ivy


Wandering Jew
Weeping Willow
White Clover


Zebra Plant

Top Ten Dangers

Top Ten Bird & Parrot Dangers

1. Dehydration - This most commonly happens when a water bottle malfunctions. If the tube's ball or bearing sticks, or if a bird stuffs an object into the tube (toy pieces, food items and such), the bird may block the tube and no longer have access to it’s water. If an owner doesn't check that all water bottles are working properly every day it may be days before anyone recognizes a problem. If a bird's water bowl goes unfilled for days, or the bird empties the bowl, especially a bird who likes to bathe a lot, and the empty dish goes unnoticed, fatal dehydration can result. Birds can become critically ill within 24 hours of not having water and may die within 24 hours after that. Water in a bottle or bowl should be checked daily

2. Unclipped Wings - If a bird is to be allowed freedom outside of its cage, it is very important the flight feathers be properly clipped. They should be clipped so that the bird can still glide gracefully and safely to the ground. If the feathers are not clipped correctly, or if several primary wing feathers have grown back after a molt, an alarmed bird may end up flying erratically around the house and possibly flying through an open doorway and ending up in the top of a tree! If a bird becomes frightened it may mistake a window or mirror for open spaces, and end up with a concussion. Although birds rarely break their necks with such an injury, often compression fractures in neck vertebrae result from flying into objects. Birds can develop concussions, bleeding inside the brain, fractures, lacerations, ruptured air sacs and other serious and potentially deadly injuries. It is amazing to hear people say that their bird is fully flighted and it “never” flies away from them and then we receive a call from that very same person telling us how their bird has escaped and flown away and they are heartbroken. The horrible dangers of a pet bird alone and unprotected outdoors are too numerous to even imagine. Birds indoors have flown into pots of boiling water, open commodes and drowned, windows, mirrors, fondue pots and lighted fireplaces, to name just a few more household hazards.

3. Toxic Fumes - There are quite a few dangers under this heading to be aware of.

Non-stick cookware and other household items possessing a non-stick surface made from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) are toxic to birds. The gas released is extremely dangerous to birds and can result in death within minutes. It does not have to be overheated either, even with normal usage, some fumes may also be released and you will never smell anything. Anything with a PTFE coating should never be used around birds period. Remember virtually "ALL" non-stick cookware, indoor cooking grills, drip pans, self-cleaning ovens, clothes dryers, new hair dryers, space heaters, irons, ironing board covers, waffle irons, deep fryers, heat lamps and other small appliances or their components may be coated with PTFE. If anything says “non-stick” be aware and leery. Unless the manufacturer can verify, in writing, that the product in question does not contain PTFE producing elements, assume it has them.

Passive inhalation of cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke by birds can cause chronic eye problems, skin irritation and respiratory disease. Birds that live in homes with smokers may develop coughing, sneezing, sinusitis and conjunctivitis which often goes away when the bird is removed from the home. Birds exposed to chronic second-hand smoke can also develop secondary bacterial infections which can prove fatal. Second-hand smoke from marijuana can also cause severe depression and regurgitation in birds.

Many common disinfectants and household cleaning agents release fumes that can be toxic or fatal to birds. Chlorine bleach, phenols and ammonia can all have dangerous vapors that can cause irritation, toxicosis and even death in pet birds. Common household aerosol products, such as perfume, deodorant and hairspray, can cause respiratory problems in birds as well. This may cause severe inflammation and difficulty breathing, and after large or direct exposure, death can occur. Cleaning products such as carpet cleaners or fresheners, upholstery cleaners or fresheners, or any similar cleaning product can be quite deadly to your bird.

New products such as new carpets can contain Formaldehyde in their glue and can be deadly. Paint and varnish can also emit deadly fumes.

Natural gas leaks can cause sudden death in birds. Any type of heater, used improperly or with inadequate ventilation can be deadly to birds. Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas, can also be fatal to birds and anyone with pet birds should have a working carbon monoxide monitoring device in their home and preferably in the room where the bird is kept. NEVER use Kerosene heaters if you have birds

Burning foods, overheated cooking oils and smoke from a fireplace can also cause fatal inhalations.

Scented candles, potpourri, incense, plug-ins, as well as other products containing a high concentration of volatile oils (essential oils) can cause either stimulation or depression of the central nervous system, as well as possible irritation to the eyes, nose and upper respiratory tract, depending on the oil and concentration used. Birds are very susceptible to the effects of inhaled volatile toxins, including essential oils. Any volatile oil (fragrance) has the potential for causing illness and possible death in birds. Obviously the concentration in a product and the length of exposure are factors to be considered. Many manufacturers have started making their cleaning products more pleasing to the senses by including these essential oils also. Products containing a high concentration of volatile oils should be avoided completely if you own a bird. Usually the more "perfumey" the smell, the more toxic the product.

Bug sprays, whether it's something an owner buys at the local hardware store, or even the local pest control company, can be very deadly to your bird. If your local pest control company claims their product is perfectly safe, ask them put it in writing. You may be surprised at how fast they will back off their claim of "perfectly safe". Birds should be removed from the home for at least 24 hours whenever pest control measure are used.

Never clean your bird’s cage with anything other than approved bird-safe products purchased at your bird store, plain soap and water or a diluted mixture of household vinegar and water. All other cleaners can be toxic to your bird.

Contrary to what many people still believe, those metal round Protective Mite Killers you hang on the side of a bird's cage are toxic. They do in fact contain an insecticide, however it is very doubtful they would kill any mites. They just might kill your bird however.

Any product that states it is "safe" for animals, does NOT mean it is necessarily safe for birds. Birds are very different from dogs and cats.

4. Other Household Accidents - Some birds develop the "cute" habit of climbing down off of their cage to seek out favorite family members. A bird walking on the floor, especially a small one, may be easily injured by people who don't see it. Very few survive being stepped on. They can also be killed by being closed accidentally in doorways, vacuumed up, squished by recliners and foldout beds and also by owners sitting on them when they have crawled under cushions. Birds can also be electrocuted by chewing through electrical cords.

5. Other Pets in the Home - Birds should never be left unsupervised outside of the cage, never ever. If other pets, including other birds, share the same house and are unsupervised, it's an accident waiting to happen. Even if a pet dog or cat has acted completely trustworthy around the bird, it should not be trusted 100%. Many birds have died as a result of another housepet either "playing" too exuberantly with a bird, or from the pet biting or stepping on the bird. Birds may also injure each other. Toes are often the most commonly injured body part but bleeding may be serious, and can be even fatal. Larger birds may kill smaller birds and it can happen in an instant. Any animal bite should be considered extremely serious, possibly life-threatening. The bacteria found in the saliva and the mouth of a mammal can cause fatal septicemia (infection in the bloodstream) of a bird in very short order. Cat bites should be considered the most dangerous, as the Pasteurella bacteria commonly found in the feline mouth, are extremely hazardous to birds. Even a simple puncture by a tooth can result in a fatal infection. Scratches from claws are also extremely dangerous, as the risk of infection is very real.

6. Toxic Foods or Plants - There are some foods which can be very toxic to our birds. Chocolate, metabolite theobromide, is very toxic to both animals and birds. Although baker's chocolate and dark chocolate are the most toxic, milk chocolate is still a forbidden food for birds. Caffeine is metabolized differently in birds which also results in toxic compounds so caffeine drinks such as coffee, tea and sodas should not be given to our birds. Avocados are toxic to birds, with perhaps the skin and pit being the most dangerous parts. Raw onions should never be fed either. Many indoor and outdoor plants and trees can be toxic, even fatal, to birds. So when in doubt, throw it out.

7. Hand-Feeding Mistakes - It is our feeling unweaned baby birds should not be sold or given to inexperienced hand-feeders as many babies die needlessly because of handfeeding mistakes. It is not necessary for a baby bird to be hand-fed by the family purchasing it in order for it to become "bonded" to them. We have plenty of older rescued birds who are sweet and loving and were not hanfed by us. There are so many things that can go wrong during the handfeeding process such as feeding too hot or or too cold, mixing it incorrectly, storing it incorrectly, delivering the food improperly, forcing food into the baby resulting in aspiration pneumonia or injuring the mouth or crop with feeding equipment. The most common mistake is probably keeping the baby at the incorrect temperature. Food that is fed at too low of a temperature can result in a slowed down gastrointestinal tract which can be fatal if not corrected in time. Babies who are forced to eat may struggle and end up inhaling the formula which results in aspiration pneumonia. If a large amount of food is inhaled, the baby will die immediately, but if a small amount of food ends up in the respiratory tract, the airway can be compromised and the possibility of pneumonia is strong..

8.  Open water containers - Sometimes we forget how deadly even common household items can be for our birds.  Bathroom commodes and toilets should always have lids down for safety.  Birds can very easily fall in and drown.  Once they fall in and get wet, they are often unable to fly out.  Also be aware of other open water containers such as drinking cups and glasses,  other pet water dishes, fish aquariums, sinks containing water, and especially any heated open containers on the stove.  

9. Ceiling Fans - Too many flighted birds have been injured or killed by ceiling fans.  No, it's really not cute for your bird to sit on a fan blade when the fan is not in use, because once your bird has leaned it is a perching place, they may automatically try to land there even when the fan is on and those dangerous blades are in motion.  

 10. Human Medications - Almost all medications for humans and many medications for other pets can be toxic and deadly to your bird.  Always keep medication bottles closed and out of reach of curious beaks.  

Although not mentioned above, two additional dangers that should be mentioned are:

  • (1) Common household pest control traps such as snap mouse traps, sticky traps, and poison pellets and baits.  
  • (2) Sleeping with your bird.  Please just don't do it, not even for a short afternoon nap. 

Emergency Kit DIY

How to Prepare an Emergency First Aid Kit

Always be prepared. That's a great motto for every pet and bird owner. You should always have a basic bird first aid kit on hand as well as a small carrier or cage for emergency situations. Whether you purchase a bird first aid kit that has already been assembled, or make one yourself, here are some items every first aid kit should include: 

Blunt ended Scissors
These can also come in handy if your bird becomes entangled in a toy or other material.
Styptic Powder, or other blood clotting agent
Use on bleeding nails or beaks in an emergency.
Avoid using directly on skin as some styptic powders can burn skin
A Carrier or small Cage
A small cage or carrier can also be used as a hospital area for an injured bird.
Locking Forceps, Hemostat, or good Tweezers
These can be used to remove a broken blood feather
First Aid Book
Latex Gloves
Gauze Bandages and pads
Cotton swabs and Q-tips
A list of emergency phone numbers

Avian Veterinarian or closest emergency clinic and the Poison control phone number
Flashlight and batteries
Syringes for medicating or giving fluids
Nail clippers
 antibiotic ointment or spray
(optional) fluids for rehydrating
(optional) heating pad
Warm (not hot) heat can often mean the difference between
life and death to a seriously injured bird.

Along with accidental household emergencies, you will want to be prepared for natural disasters as well. Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Floods, Wild Fires, Blizzards or acts of Terrorism are all emergency situations most of us might have to deal with at one time or another. To help us be more prepared in extreme times, we have gathered a few links listed below to help prepare ourselves better before the emergency arrives.

Pets and Disasters - Be PreparedThe Humane Society of the United States in cooperation with the American Red Cross off advice on emergency preparedness for your pets.

HSUS Diaster Preparedness Center How you and your animals can be prepared for natural disasters or other emergencies.

ASPCA Poison Control Center

The Humane Society of the United States Poison Control

Emergency Preparedness

How to Prepare for an Emergency

Always be prepared. An important motto we teach our young ones, and something we should always remember ourselves.

Whether you live in an area that must deal with hurricanes, tornados, floods, fires, earthquakes, or severe thunderstorms with deadly lightening, it is important to always be prepared for a natural emergency for everyone, including your pets. Being prepared before a disaster hits, can mean the difference between life and death sometimes.

How to Prepare BEFORE the Disaster occurs:
Know ahead of time if there are any local shelters that will also take your pets in the event you need to leave your home. Unfortunately these are usually few and far between as most shelters only allow humans, so it is important that you also check with local animal shelters or veternarians to see if any of those offer a shelter for animals during these disasters. Also check ahead of time for motel/hotels that will allow pets if you need to evacuate the area.

Make sure you have a well stocked first aid kit for both humans and pets and keep it handy so it can be quickly loaded into your car if you need to evacuate, or if an accident happens while still in your home.

Make sure you have at least 7 days worth of food and water for people and animals, especially for your bird. Some small birds can dehydrate in as little as 24 hours and can die. Keep extra dry bird foods such as seeds and pellets in air tight plastic containers to keep the food dry. Spray millet is an excellent emergency food to keep on hand as a bird under stress may benefit from this high carbohydrate food.

Stress on birds during these times can be deadly, so having a familiar travel carrier or cage, with cover, can help your bird(s) feel more secure. They will pick up on your own tensions and anxiety, and birds always seem to know beforehand something bad is about to happen, so everything you can do to help them stay calm, will help you handle things better as well.

Check with your local Chamber of Commerce for an Emergency Preparedness Handbook for your city that will provide important helpful tips to keep you, your family, and your pets as safe as possible during any natural disaster.

Here are some links to help provide information in case of an emergency:

Pet Friendly Hotels and Travel

Pets Welcome

Pets and Disasters - Be PreparedThe Humane Society of the United States in cooperation with the American Red Cross off advice on emergency preparedness for your pets.

Beautiful Parrot Eyes

Click to enlarge     

Health Tips - Those Beautiful Eyes

Those Beautiful Bird Eyes

Remarkable might describe the eyesight of our pet birds. Birds are intensely visual. Of the five senses, sight is the most acute. The eyes of birds have reached perfection superior to any other animal. Birds obtain more information about their environment through their eyesight than available to any other living thing. The eyes collect data about the direction, distance, size, shape, color, three-dimensional depth and motion of an object. This gives our birds a great advantage in the wild. Their incredible range of vision is due to the placement of the eyes on the sides of the head. This fact coupled with the shape of the cornea allows for wide-angle vision. Birds focus straight forward with both eyes but also see sideways just as effectively. Their peripheral vision is extremely keen especially related to moving objects. Although a bird's eyes seem small, proportionately they are much larger than ours. The only visible portion of a bird's eye is the cornea. The largest part remains hidden. The eyelashes are small feathers, not hairs. If you are very observant of your bird, you will notice the head does not always point to the object the bird may be looking at. If he tilts his head at you, he is just looking at you from another angle. Birds have three eyelids - an outer, upper and lower lid and the third eyelid just inside the others. The third eyelid performs the job of cleaning and moistening the cornea. Pet birds blink their eyelid 30-60 times a minute even though you may not see it. Birds see detail better than mammals and are able to detect color. You may have noticed your bird prefers certain colored toys or foods. They need that super vision to find food, avoid predators, select a mate and choose a great nesting site. A bird's eyes are wide-set and has amazing mobility in his neck and head. He can see what's happening behind him by swiveling his head 180 degrees.

We would like to thank "Libby", a Yellow Sided Green Cheek, whose eye is shown above, for such a great picture of a birdie eye and our Cosmo Macaw for her eye modeling.

So now you know, a bird's eye view is quite a view indeed.

How Well Does a Parrot Hear

How Well Does a Parrot Hear?

Hearing is well developed in all birds. Your bird uses his ears for hearing and balance just as you do.

Your bird's ears are hidden though. The ears are just little openings covered with tiny contour feathers. If you want to find your bird's ears, check the area just behind and below his eyes. The feathers in that area should look just a little different. If you part the feathers gently there you will see the small opening that begins your bird's ear canal.

Birds distinguish between sounds much faster than human do and this often makes us think they hear much better than us. Their ability to determine where sound is coming from is similar to ours also.

Beak Grinding

Beak Grinding in Parrots

My bird makes a funny noise sometimes that sounds like he is grinding something in his beak. Is that normal?

Yes, what you are describing is very normal indeed. Most people, in fact, refer to it as "beak grinding". Birds often make this noise as they are settling down for the night. Often it occurs after the bird's cage has been covered and he or she is tucked in for the night. Sometimes this even occurs while the bird is perched on you perhaps taking a little nap. One theory I have heard is that the bird is in fact actually grinding his or her beak in preparation for the next meal, but most people believe this is a sign of contentment by a bird. Whatever the reason, beak grinding is a normal activity for any healthy bird.

Biting Birds

My bird bites me whenever someone gets near me?

Is this normal behavior? Or, a question of My bird has suddenly started biting, what can I do?

Many bird people have problems with biting birds every once in a while.

In the first case above, it would seem that perhaps your bird obviously loves you very much. Even though that may not sound very logical to you, it probably makes perfect sense to your feathered friend.

Below are a few of the reasons why your bird may be biting the one he loves.

1. In the wild, many parrot species warn away mates and young birds when they perceive danger. In our human world you can't fly away, so perhaps your bird is trying to give you the strongest warning he knows to make to you move to safety.

2. Your bird may not feel like sharing you right now so he could be telling you to move away from the intruder.

3. Your bird may just plain not like the person coming near, and since he can't bite that person, he bites the easy target, YOU!

If the biting is not out of love, then there are some questions that should be answered such as:

How old is your bird? Young birds can go through a 'beaking' phase and will need to learn how much pressure they can use without hurting their humans. Older birds may have arthritis, or other health issues affecting how you pick them up. Birds most definitely bite if in pain.

Also, the time of year can play a big part in some parrot's grumpy personality. Hormonal birds can be overly protective, even seeming quite aggressive, around their favorite people, their toys, or cages. Patience and a sometimes even a safe 'hands-off' approach until the breeding season has passed, works quite well.

When is the last time your bird visited an avian vet? Birds with even mild low-grade health problems can become very grumpy and bitey.

Has something changed in your bird's environment? Moving furniture, bringing in plants, painting the color of a room, or moving your bird even slightly, can all seem a little bit scary to a bird sometimes. Changing hairstyles, hair colors, or growing a beard, can change your appearance and make you look like a stranger sometimes as well.

A stressful environment can also make a parrot become a biter. Fights, new babies, divorces, new people, new pets, and similar changes in the home front, can be easily picked up on by a bird and exhibited in sudden biting.

Does your bird get enough sleep? Not just covered up time with televisions still going, but truly quiet restful sleep.

Pay close attention the next time you are bitten, and with some careful thought and observance, chances are you will understand where and why the biting is occurring. Just try and look at life from your bird's point of view.

Bugs bugging you?

Bugs in the Bird Food?
Found some bugs in your bird food? Don't panic, doesn't mean the food is bad, spoiled, or can't still be given to your parrot. Freeze, freeze, freeze! Freeze the food to kill any extra living protein in there and everything should be just fine.

Sometimes no matter what you do, you find those pesky pests that invade our homes, your bird's cage. and sometimes even the bird food.

Anyone who owns birds is sure to come face to face with a few moths, the occasional little black seed bug, also known as seed weevils, or some other uninvited insect critter.

Since manufacturers cannot use seeds and grains that have been sprayed with large doses of pesticides, nor would we want them to for the safety of our birds, it is just a fact of life that you will one day come face to face with a bug problem.

Although manufacturers overall do a good job of trying to clean their food mixes of those stowaway insects, even the best of methods can not usually guarantee 100% bug free (even though a few manufacturers claim they can).

Finding a few moths or seed bugs in bird and parrot food does not mean the food is bad, expired, or spoiled, or that your local bird or pet store is a bad place.

Unless the bugs have actually been there long enough to hatch out, and produce webs in the food, freezing your bird and parrot food will eliminate most of the insect problem.

However, for some of those stubborn insects (like the weevils), actually freezing the food for at least 48 hours, removing from freezer for a couple of days and then refreezing for another 48 hours should do the job. Those little ant-like seed bugs are sometimes a littler harder to kill, and a second freezing usually gets any the first freeze missed.

If your bird food has insect webs in it, you will probably want to remove any webs as they look pretty yucky, and if bad enough you should probably ask the store you bought the food from if they will see if the manufacturer will replace it for you.

There are some natural remedies that can be tried to see if they can control your buggy problem if they make it out of the bird food, or for those intruders who come in from the outdoors. In general ants, roaches, and many other pests just plain don't like catnip. So placing some small bags of catnip throughout areas of your home or aviary might be of help. Remember however, if you own a cat, this might backfire on your.

There are two categories of moths, the ones who invade your closet and chew holes in your clothing, and the ones that come from grain foods such as bird seed as well as many other foods you even bring home from the grocery store.

Be sure to vacuum well the ceilings because they like to set up housekeeping in high places and you might even find a worm or two just hanging around waiting to become a moth. The natural pheromone moth traps are very effective at catching the moths that have hatched out. Totally non-toxic around your birds, just make sure your bird cannot reach the traps as they do have sticky inside that traps the moths.

Some people have had success with homemade moth-repelling sachets made up of some of the following: bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cloves, eucalyptus leaves, lavender, pepper corns, or dried lemon peels. We find these remedies seem to work better for the closet moths, more than for help with the kitchen/aviary type moths.

Summertime especially brings all those wonderfully fresh fruits and vegetables and if you are sharing these with your birds, as you probably should be, then you are most likely going to sooner or later have a problem with ants. Having lories can especially be worse due to the increased amount of fruits available for your bird. Try keeping a small spray bottle of some soapy water handy to spritzing those ants with. We have also recently discovered that ants seem to have a natural aversion to cucumbers, so try setting out some cucumber peels or slices in the kitchen or at the ants' point of entry.

Also recommended are leaving a few tea bags of mint tea near areas where the ants seem most active, some dry crushed mint leaves, or cloves can also work as deterrents for ants. If you can trace the ants back to their point of entry, try setting out some cayenne pepper, lemon juice, cinnamon, coffee grounds, or cut up a couple of cloves of garlic and stuff into any cracks the ants are coming through.

**A little tip for ant control that we have personally found very effective is using mite spray sold in pet stores for birds. Although we totally do not believe in using mite control on a bird, mite spray is very effective at killing ants and can be used in the room with your bird safely. Remember use only on the ants. Spraying cage legs with mite spray will help keep ants from climbing into cages. The spray does not last long so you may need to lightly spray every few days to keep ants under control.

Fruit Flies/Gnats:
Now these really can be some pesky pests. Annoying little buggers flying around your bird's home, or your kitchen area. A few natural remedies include putting a small amount of wine, or apple cider vinegar, in a shallow dish and covering it with plastic wrap. Poke a few holes in the plastic and flies go in but can't get out. Change dish as needed. There are also Fruit Fly Traps available which are very helpful in eliminating these flying nuisances.

We hope you find some of these suggestions helpful in your fight against the insect world this summer.

Feather Clipping

Flight Feather Clipping

Whether to clip your bird's flight feathers or not, is a very much argued and talked about subject in the pet bird world.

Every bird owner has their preference whether they think their bird should be clipped or not. Although many of us have seen the devastation of flighted birds flying into windows, mirrors, out open windows or doors and into dangerous situations more often than not, many bird owners believe it's unfair to clip those wings as they believe birds were mean to fly.

In the wild, yes parrots are meant to be free flighted to go wherever they want whenever they want. Parrots as pets though, live in our man-made environments which contain many danagers for flighted birds. Free flighted birds fly into mirrors and windows which can cause injury or even death. Free flighted birds have been known to fly into ceiling fans causing injury and death. Free flighted parrots have flown into pots or pans cooking on the stove and been severely burned, sometimes not able to recover. Free flighted parrots have flown and drowned in open toliets, open containers of water, or even pots on the stove. It does not take long for a bird to drown in those situations.

Free flighted birds also fly out open windows or door ways and many, if not almost all, are not recovered. Most parrots are not going to be able to make it safely in the wilds as they were probably not raised in the wild and have no idea how to find food and shelter, not to mention what a tasty meal they can make for hawks, falcons, foxes, and other wild predators out there just waiting on the inexperienced prey. Also many fall victim to area cats and dogs as some parrots are not afraid of them, having been used to living with these other pets many times.

However because this topic is such a controversial one, we have decided to provide some links where you can learn why you might want to consider clipping those flight feathers and how to clip if you do in fact decide to do so.

Properly clipped by someone who knows what they are doing is painless and very safe. Properly clipping flight feathers should not in any way prevent your bird from safely gliding from lower perches or cages onto the floor, nor should your bird ever be off balance causing an uneven landing ability. Clips are very different for different species of parrots. Heavy bodies parrots to tend to land "hard" should never be given a short severe clip so that they can always safely land. More streamlined light weighted parrots may require a much shorter clip to prevent them from gaining great altitude to help keep them safe. Young parrots need a more gradual incremented clipping to keep them safest. We refer to this type of clipping as "junior clipping".

On a personal note, our aviary has parrots that are fully flighted, parrots who have junior clips, as well as parrots who are fully clipped. It all depends on the individual bird, the housing for the bird, and always number one priority for safely of each bird.

Wingclipping 101

Feather Picking Parrots

10 Reasons your bird may have a feather issue

Feather Picking and Over Preening

Feather Plucking, chewing, picking and over preening birds bring to mind a horrible picture of bald spots, broken feathers, and sometimes what we think of as really "ratty" looking birds.

What is the cure? Simple question, but often not a simple answer.

There may not be one particular thing that solves the problem of a bird with feather issues, especially if the bird has chronic feather destruction problems. Sadly there are the rare cases when there might not be a complete cure at all.

"Why does my bird pick its feathers?" An all too common question we hear from customers. There rarely is a simple answer, and if someone tells you there is, well maybe the person who tells you that, does not really understand feather problems at all, or even parrots for that matter.

Birds who chew, pick, pluck, break, or otherwise destroy their beautiful feathers, are a puzzle that will need to be pieced together and worked out. It is a process of elimination many times. Very seldom is the answer evident at first glance, so you may need to be very patient as you solve the mystery.

First, let us explore the occasional cases where the answer may be more easily identified. If your bird has suddenly started destroying feathers, when the bird has never done this before, one of the following might be the trigger for this new behavior:

1. A drier environment such as during the winter when heat is turned on and the air becomes much drier. Just as humans can get dry itchy skin, so can birds. Humidity is very important to parrots especially during the drier winter months.

2. A family's recent move from one home to another.

3. A recent move from one family to new family.

4. The death of a person or animal the bird was strongly bonded with.

5. The departure of a favorite person the bird was bonded to such as a student going away to college or moving away from home, or in a divorce situation where one family member is no longer living in the household, or other situations where a family member may no longer living in the household.

6. A new bird, or other new pet, a new person, or the arrival of a new baby, now living in the household.

7. New furniture in the room the bird stays in, or the bird being moved to a different room in the home that it is not familiar with.

8. A big change in diet such as changing from one brand of food to another, or withholding seeds to attempt a change to a totally pelleted diet, or a new food introduced into the diet that the bird may have a sensitivity to or food allergy.

9. A recent feather clip that may have resulted in a clip too short causing irritation against the area under the wings.

10. Schedule changes such as when an owner begins a new job or work shift change that may interfere with sufficient quality sleep time for your bird.

If any of the above has occurred, then you may have the insight you need to help your bird change it's newly acquired bad behavior. We'll discuss more on the above situations a little later.

If your bird has been destroying, or even just overpreening it's feathers for quite some time and the problem seems to be escalating, or if you have recently acquired a bird that is chewing or removing it's own feathers, the first, and we mean absolutely the first thing, you should do is take your bird to a qualified Avian Veterinarian to rule out any medical reason for the feather problems. Yes, going to the Vet can be expensive, and for something as elusive as feather picking, it might involve blood work as well to rule out specific health related problems. Your bird may be checked for common bacterial infections, possible yeast infection, giardia and/or other parasites, and other health problems that very well might cause the feather picking. Depending on your locality, a full office work up could cost anywhere from $100 to $300, so call ahead and ask if you need to, and don't be afraid to discuss the tests and costs with your Avian Veterinarian. It's the most important thing you can do to begin the journey of understanding completely the behavior, the cause, and hopefully the cure of your bird's feather problems.

If after your vet visit, it is determined that there is no physical or health reason for the feather destruction, then you begin the time consuming process of elimination to try and get to the bottom of the problem. In our opinion there is no "you have to start here" place to begin (other than the vet visit). The main areas you do want to investigate and rule out are - Diet - Stress - Breeding Hormones - Learned Behaviors - and, possible Boredom.

Diet - You will need to pick apart your bird's diet and decide if your bird is getting everything he or she needs. Every bird is an individual and we believe there is not a "one diet fits all" recipe out there. Most birds do well on the diets they are on, but sometimes a bird just needs that something extra, or in the reverse may be bothered by ingredients in many of the commercial diets available. Your vet visit should tell you if your bird is possibly lacking a particular nutrient which your vet will have discussed in detail with you. In the case of a vitamin or nutrient missing in the diet, you can begin reading labels on seed mixes, pellets, and cooked diets to find the best ingredients necessary for your particular bird.

If however, the lab work showed no particular deficiency in your bird's diet, then you may want to consider food allergies. This is sometimes controversy among vegetarians, but our personal Avian Veterinarian has always believed birds can be and are in many cases sensitive to certain foods or food additives. This is a good discussion to have with your vet to get their view on what foods you may want to eliminate from your bird's diet temporarily to see if your bird ceases the feather destruction. Most seed mixes and pellets are corn based and if you have a bird that is sensitive to corn, well you have just eliminated about 95% of the commercial products out there.

Thankfully, manufacturers are listening to concerns of bird owners and are responding with more and more diets made for birds with food sensitivities. These new diets may be rice based instead of corn based, or may be organic in nature and contain no corn or rice. You may have to search around to find some of these, and be prepared to pay more for these special diets even if it's only for a trial period to see how your bird responds. Any new change in diet should be implemented for at least 6 weeks to see whether the change has been effective. There are some really good books out that can also help you choose the best diet for your bird. If your bird is on an all seed diet, you may need to add a good vitamin to the diet to ensure the bird is getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals it needs, or add a good manufacture red pellet to the diet.

If your bird is on all pellets you may want to eliminate pellets for a short time, or change to a rice based one to see if the pellets are the problem. Pellets vary in the amount of proteins and fats, so read the labels when choosing.

Birds can even be sensitive to people foods. We know of an African Grey Parrot who is very allergic to rice. We were the ones to find this out as the bird was boarding with us a few years ago and we were serving a cooked food one day that included rice. Unknown to us or the owner, this bird had never had rice before and within hours of pigging out on the meal which he truly enjoyed, he began chewing at his feet. His feet began swelling and he continued chewing. A vet visit revealed after some tests and treatment that this African Grey is very allergic to rice products.

We also know of a little Sun Conure who cannot eat dried packaged papaya as it upsets his tummy and if fed enough will end up a very sick bird. It may actually be the preservatives used in the papaya brand the owner was purchasing, but his owner feeds no papaya now, fresh or packaged.

Diet is a subject we could write pages and pages on, and still barely touch the surface. Our advice, read labels, choose carefully and wisely, and always be ready to learn new things concerning the diets of your birds. If you have eliminated foods from your bird's diet and there has been improvement in the feather picking, then very slowly begin to add foods back one at a time, about a week apart, to see if you can pinpoint the foods that are triggers for feather destruction.

Holiday Hazards

In hopes that your holiday season will be the safest, happiest time of the year, we have listed a few things to help keep everyone safe during this hectic time.

Plants & Trees: Your bird should not be allowed to chew on the Christmas tree whether it is a live tree or artificial. Unless you know FOR SURE that your live tree has not been treated with any chemical or pesticide it's best to keep your bird at a safe distance. Also be aware that mistletoe berries, holly berries and Poinsettias are generally considered highly toxic plants.

Decorations: Although tinsel of today does not contain any lead, don't let your bird chew on it. Also be aware it can tangle around tiny toes, legs or other body parts. Beware also of fake snow or tree flocking, tree ornaments and garlands. Be sure all electrical cords for holiday lights as well as extension cords to hold all the extra goodies, are safely out of your bird's reach.

Aromas: Most candles contain essential oils which can be very toxic to birds when burned. Usually, the better the candle smells, the more dangerous it is. Better to simply enjoy the look of holiday candles scattered around, rather than burning them anywhere near your bird. Also be aware of the dangers of potpourri and pine scented sprays to make your home smell like the outdoors. You can make our own wonderful holiday smells by simply adding some cloves and cinnamon to water in a simmering pot. Just be sure the simmering pot does not boil dry and always unplug it when you leave the house.

Fireplaces: Although your bird may have his own Christmas stocking hanging by the fireplace, make sure the wood you burn is safe. Some Yule logs and holiday fire starters may contain heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and such. Make sure the room is well ventilated if you warm up your home with a nice holiday fire.

Gifts: Every bird just loves Christmas presents. Be sure to wrap your bird's presents only in plain paper and not fancy Christmas wrappings which may contain toxic substances. Or better yet just place his new goodies in a plain lunch bag, fold down the top and let him have fun tearing into the bag.

Edible Goodies: First and foremost, be sure to keep your bird away from all the kitchen fumes. Remember Teflon-coated or any nonstick cookware should never, never, never be used in a home with birds. This type of cookware contain polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) which is lethal to birds often causing death within only minutes. Many self-cleaning ovens are coated in PTFE also. Share only the healthy foods you prepare and keep the extra goodies at a minimum. No matter how much your bird begs, he really doesn't need any of the extra sweet or salty holiday goodies. Do not give your bird (or allow anyone else either) alcoholic beverages, coffee or chocolate. Keep some birdie treats on hand to help your bird feel included with all the family.

The Others: If you entertain a lot during this festive time, you may want to designate a quiet place in a bedroom where your bird can be moved while there are lots of family and friends visiting. This can be the stress-free zone (and you might want to take a break there occasionally yourself). Also remember cigarette smoke can cause respiratory problems in birds.

We hope you and all your feathered friends enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.

More than one Bird

Is My Bird Lonely?

Birds are indeed very social. They are flock creatures, so you (and any other household members) become their flock. Remember, birds are prey for other animals in the wild and that instinct is very much still there in our pet birds. There is always safety in numbers. If you are home all day, your bird may call out to you when you leave the room. He is probably just checking to make sure you are still around. After all, he would not want you to get lost. Answering back "I'll be right back" is not silly at all. You are just reassuring him you are still there.

If no one is home during the day, you can do a few simple things to lessen his stress of being all alone. You can leave a television set on. If he can see it, that's even better. Most birds enjoy the cartoon channel. The animal channel is off limits. After all, there may be some of those predators flying around the screen while you are gone. Even a radio will help. Even if he can't see anyone, he will hear them and that alone can be comforting. Some people get creative and make a recording of their voice to leave playing while they are gone. Your bird may even learn a word or two you have been trying to teach him this way.

Beyond comforting noises, make sure your bird has lots of entertaining toys to play with and change them often, and a large enough cage so he can get this daily exercise.

Some people believe they need another bird to keep the first one company. If you really want another bird, get one because the second bird is welcome and wanted for itself. Remember more than one bird is more work, more demand on attention, more noise and not all birds get along. Another bird should be also a buddy to you. The exception might be if you just don't have time to spend with your bird; then a second bird might, in this case, be a real comfort to your first bird.

Give your bird lots of love and attention when you are there and you will find most birds do just fine on their own when you are not around. After all, would you want to sit in a small room all day without any other sounds, nothing to do and no one to talk to?

Talking Parrots

Teaching Your Parrot to Talk

We are often asked by customers for the best way to teach a bird to talk. Everyone thinks a talking parrot is just the coolest thing. It is great if your parrot talks, but the reality is that not all parrots talk. Some parrots speak a few words, some clearly and some not so clear, and some parrots talk a lot, even making up their own songs and sentences. However, it is very important to realize that even if your bird never says one word, that doesn't mean your bird is anything less than absolutely wonderful!

We have found some species are known to be more talkative than others. Our top five species would be several amazon species, some African Greys, Quakers, Ringnecks, and Budgies. That does not mean if you buy one of the above you are guaranteed to have a talker. Every parrot has the capability to talk, but not every parrot talks.

Our Yellow Nape Amazons all talk and love to sing. Our Blue Fronts Amazons only say a few words. A couple of Double Yellow Head Amazons that board with us also talk very well. So those three would be our top talking Amazon suggestions.

If you are lucky enough to have an African Grey that talks, then without a doubt we believe Greys are the most perfectly pitched human sounding parrots around. However, not all Greys ever speak at all. Some prefer whistles and other noises than human speech.

Quakers and Ringnecks almost always say at least a few words, and some can become quite accomplished talkers. Their voices can be very clear and easy to understand.

Budgies are often the under-valued talkers of the bird world. Because they are small, and sometimes their voices are quieter than their large parrot family members, people don't see the great little talker right in front of them. Budgies have actually had some of the largest vocabularies of all talking parrot species.

Now how to get that bundle of feathers to actually begin talking is the challenge. Some birds begin quite naturally on their own by repeating the things their humans say. Often first words can be "step up", "NO!", "don't bite", "hello", "time for bed", mainly because they hear them daily.

Because birds generally love drama, repeating a word or phrase you want your bird to say in a very dramatic voice, sometimes helps. This is why quite often birds love to repeat those naughty words that sometimes slip out. Humans say those words usually when very irritated or angry, and that's real human drama and very interesting to the parrot who hears it.

To help speed things along you can try one or several of the training tapes that are produced especially to help your bird learn words, or even record your own voice and play it back.

The main tip to remember is be patient and try and make talk-training fun for the bird.

Screaming Parrots

Why does my bird scream?

A common question asked by many many bird owners. Why does my parrot scream so much? A good question, but usually there is not a one size fits all answer.

First, you will need to establish whether your bird is really 'screaming' or whether your parrot is simply vocalizing. A very excited happy parrot can vocalize in a way that may seem like screaming to humans, but in bird terms, is merely sounding like a parrot should.

A bird's environment also has a lot to do with how vocal they are. Sun conures have a reputation of being very loud birds. Although a lot of them are, we have one little sun who boards with us and he has the quietest, softest voice I have ever heard from a sun. He lives in a home with two older adults who are rather quiet themselves. So keep in mind if your household is a rather busy noisey one, then your parrot will mirror this. Kids playing and running around, lots of conversations going on, loud tv or music, all tend to make a parrot want to join in on all the excitement. So if you want to quiet your bird, try quieting it's environment first.

Many parrots are rather noisy first thing in the morning as they greet the day, and often in late afternoon or early evening as they also end their day. These types of noise sessions usually only last 15-30 minutes, but as the owner of amazons, I can personally testify that my amazons seem sometimes to end their day with an hour long yelling session.

Although this type of 'screaming' may be very annoying to the humans, it is natural for the birds, and you will probably never completely remove these sessions. Sometimes they can be shortened by encouraging the bird to sing or whistle instead of using the loud parrot yell, or even a treat might help shorten the session. Just be careful not to let the bird know yell=treat every time or you will only train the bird to train you better.

Speaking of which, if your bird screams every time it sees you eating something it also wants, well then you are probably well trained. To retrain, it is good to only give the treat before the scream can begin. So if you intend to get yourself a little snack within view of your bird, you might do better to give your bird his or her own treat, before you go and get yours. Be sure to also verbally reward your bird with lots of praise for being so good and not screaming for the treat.

Some birds seem to scream and yell every time their owners gets out of view. As flock birds, parrots want to make sure you are still somewhere near and haven't been abducted leaving them all alone. Sometimes just letting them know you are still near in a calm voice will help. You may have to gently shout back to them every few minutes some days, and others maybe only once or twice. One of my cockatoos is this type of yeller. At times she sounds very pitiful and whinney in her yells, and then there are the days when she sounds downright mad as heck because I'm missing in action and she just KNOWS I'm somewhere within screaming distance. The sad yells I answer back and try to reassure her I'm still around. The angry screams I try really hard to ignore and walk away. Yelling back angrily at this type of screaming only gives the bird your full attention and usually angry humans are rather amusing to our parrots so it can be quite fun for the parrot. Most parrots will eventually quiet down and then you can go and praise him or her for being such a good bird. Sometimes it works, and sometimes those cockatoo screams can be quite unnerving requiring super-human strength, or at least a good set of earplugs, to outlast.

There is also the warning 'scream' that many conures and quakers are very good at. I often tell people who purchase a conure, that if they put the bird in front of a nice window, their sweet little bird is pretty much guaranteed to let them know (and very loudly) every time a squirrel crosses the yard, a flock of birds pass by, or a neighborhood stray dog or cat intrudes into the yard. Conures especially are very accurate watch birds. So, if your bird screams a lot in front of the window, then duh, maybe you should consider relocating the bird somewhere else for at least part of the day.

Birds also can scream or yell because something frightens them. If your bird appears to be yelling for no apparent reason, then you should closely inspect the surroundings to see if something is out of place. The other day I accidentally dropped the lid off a container of bird food. Since no birds yelled out the "invasion scream", I didn't immediately pick it up. About a 5 full minutes later however, there was such a ruckus of conure screams to deafen the whole house, and that's putting it mildly. So even if you don't find the scary item right away, keep looking and trying to figure out the warning message. Even moving a piece of furniture or a plant across the room can do it. Sometimes we humans are a little slow to the show according to our birds.

If you have a bird that screams when someone they don't know enters the room, you probably have a very nervous bird who is screaming out a warning. You will need to work carefully to help your bird become less afraid. Keeping strangers away from the cage can help, making sure the newcomer puts their hands behind their back when approaching the bird may also help. If the bird has an unknown background, then there may have been mental or physical abuse by someone in it's past, and it may take a very long time before the bird begins to become more at ease with other people. Depending on the abuse, there is also the possibly that your bird may never feel at ease with most people, and you would be best to not try and force it. Respecting the bird's fear and keeping people it is not comfortable with away from the bird is probably the best thing to do. Some birds simply never overcome the trauma of the past 100%.

If your bird screams at only one family member, then there is something about that particular person that frightens the bird. If the person is a child, then the quick movements of a young person may be the cause. If that is the case then explaining to the child why the bird is upset, and the best way for the child to act around the bird, can often turn the dislike into curriousity by the bird of the little human in it's world. Person aversion can also sometimes turn out to be something as simple as a hat or cap they wear, eye glasses, certain colors they like to wear, or something that can easily be changed once you figure out the cause.

Also, always rule out a health issue or pain from an injury if your bird begin screaming when he has not done so before. Blood feathers, overgrown toenails, and such can cause pain that the person may not notice at first glance.

Some people believe in "time-outs" for birds who scream and will cover the bird's cage until the bird calms down. I have decided not to really go into this type of therapy as in some cases it might work for a bird, and in other cases it might actually cause more harm than good. I have seen cases where people think it is ok to cover the bird and then they walk away and just forget about the bird. In these cases the bird probably thought it was bedtime and after a while went to sleep. There was no real link in the bird's mind between the action and the reaction by the human. If you do decide to cover your bird for being out of control, do so for only a few minutes and then uncover and praise the bird.

One last screaming scenario I'd like to mention is the bird who screams after it is put to bed. If the bird is uncovered then it would be logical to try covering the bird to see if that improves the sleep time. Some birds really want a dark environment to rest best. There is covering the cage, and then there is 'really covering the cage'. I once had a bird owner with the screaming at night problem who swore they completely covered the bird's cage and it still screamed and screamed. After several months of trying to work with this owner to figure out why the bird was even now beginning to scream during the day, they finally reached their limit and begged me to take the bird. The situation was causing a problem between the couple as the bird was also becoming aggressive. The bird arrives with it's cage, and it's cage cover. The cover turned out to be a towel that the owners threw over the cage at night. The towel cover only covered the top and maybe 2/3 of the sides of the cage. In other words the bird was not really fully covered at night. The first night with me I changed the cover to a large dark sheet that completely covered the top and all 4 sides of the cage. I never heard a peep from the bird after the cover went on. Because the bird was now properly covered and sleeping much better at night, she was now a well rested happy little bird and has never bitten anyone since.

Trying to quiet a noisy bird can be quite a challenge in some cases. Begin by deciding whether you truly have a screaming bird or just a very happy vocalizing bird. If you do truly have a screamer, then move on to working the problem out as best you can. It is never ever ok to strike a bird for any reason and you may do great physical harm, or even unrepairable mental damage. Trying to out-scream your bird, well that's just a silly new game for your parrot to enjoy. Just remember that some birds are not the quiet type and you might just have to learn to live with a little noise now and then.

Traveling with your Bird

Traveling With Your Pet Bird or Parrot

Whether your are planning a summer vacation trip with your bird, or a wintry holiday visit, it's a good idea to plan well in advance of the travel.

If you have someone responsible to care for your bird, you may decide to vacation without your feathered friend. However, if you wish to take your feathered buddy along following some simple guidelines can make a happy and safe vacation for humans and birds.

If you are traveling by airplane, be sure and contact the airline company well in advance of your travel dates. Due to new federal regulations many airlines are refusing to allow any kind of animal on board. If you plan to place your bird in the cargo hold, you may find no airline will allow travel during hot summer months or very cold winter months. If at all possible try to take your bird inside the cabin with you. Make sure your bird has a reservation just as you do and confirm this with the airline 24 hours before you plan to leave. Find out what type of carrier your particular airline requires and familiarize your bird with its travel carrier beforehand. Always book nonstop flights if at all possible. The exception would be on trips over six hours. For these try and book one stop-over so you can service your bird during the trip. Most airlines require a health certificate issued within 10 days of flight so be sure and bring all documentation with you as well as extra supplies for your bird. The bird's carrier should be well marked and tagged with all pertinent information such as flight number, destination, owner's name and address, home phone number, bird's name and schedule for food and water. You can use a permanent marker to write all information on the carrier.

Whether traveling by plane or car here are a few tips to make your bird's travel a little easier.

Be sure and bring a cover for the carrier or travel cage. This will allow your bird a sense of security if necessary when traveling and a night cover in the hotel room.

If traveling by car, be sure and strap your bird's cage or carrier into a seat belt away from air bags in a car.

Bring a small play gym or attach-a-perch for the top of his cage or carrier for out time in your hotel room (under supervision only).

When traveling be sure there are not any toys that can swing and hit your bird as you travel. If necessary remove such toys until you are checked safely into your hotel room.

Just as some people birds can become airsick or suffer from motion sickness. Fresh ginger root can help prevent motion sickness in most birds. Be sure your bird is familiar with ginger before the trip.

Place a few moist foods such as sliced orange pieces, grapes or apple inside the carrier for your bird rather than an open dish of water.

If you make your hotel reservations before leaving on your trip, be sure they allow pets. Take extra newspapers or a sheet to place under your bird's cage at the hotel. Bring paper towels for cleaning up any messes and even a small hand held vacuum will help you keep your hotel room nice and clean.

Don't forget a bird first aid kit and a list of avian vets in the area you will be staying.

Bring your own drinking water for your bird from home or bottled water your bird is used to.

Pack all the bird's food together. Baby wipes are great to have along. Bring a spray bottle for cleanup and at least one cleanup cloth. Don't forget a supply of plastic garbage bags also. Don't pour your bird's water dish into hotel sinks if there is food or seed in the water. Dump them into your garbage bags instead.

You may want to do your own cleaning of your hotel room to avoid any cleaning fumes if you will be staying awhile. Be aware also that some hotels in humid, hot vacation areas spray for bugs on a regular basis. Ask beforehand if your hotel does this. You may need to air out your room once you arrive to make it bird safe. If you take care to keep your hotel room clean from bird debris you will leave a positive message with the management for the next bird traveler.

Never, never leave your bird unattended in a car for even a few minutes. Someone should stay in the car with the bird any time you must stop or if necessary take the bird with you. Try to leave your bird alone in your hotel room as little as possible. Use the "DO NOT DISTURB" sign at all times your bird is in your room alone and don't forget to have your bird feather clipped before your trip.

Most of all enjoy your vacation and enjoy having your feathered friend along.

You may want to check out some of the following links which will help you find motels and hotels that are pet friendly.



Species Focus - Learn More

Species Focus Amazons



An Introduction to Amazon Parrots</h1></center>
Amazons inhabit both Central and South America. Dieter Hoppe's <I>The World of Amazon Parrots</I> and Joseph M.Forshaw's <I>Parrots of the World</I> each list a total of 27 species of Amazons. Both books then go on to list anywhere from one sub-species to many sub-species of each. The <I>Lexicon of Parrots</I> lists a few different species and other experts believe there are even more bringing the total number of Amazons even higher. For our purposes, however, we are going to concentrate on the 10 species most commonly found if you are thinking of adding an Amazon to your household.

Orange-winged Amazon (<I>Amazona amazonica</I> - 3 subspecies) - Length 12 ½ inches with a basic plumage color of green. The brow and crown coloring are an irregular blue and yellow and their cheeks are yellow. The outer edges of their wings are yellow-green with red. Their beak is mainly horn-colored and darker at the tip. The Orange Wing Amazon is often considered a family amazon with a good-natured personality and fun-loving attitude. Orange Wings are quite capable of becoming good talkers. Sometimes confused with Blue Fronts, prospective buyers should learn the differences between the two species.

Blue-Fronted Amazon (<I>Amazona aestiva</I> - 2 subspecies) - Length 14 inches with a basic body color of green. The forehead contains a bright blue and yellow crown and the front edge of their wings is red and may contain some yellow. There is some red at the base of the tail feathers and their beaks are black. On the sub-species <I>Amazona aestiva xanthopteryx</I>, the bend of the wing is yellow sometimes mixed with red. Blue Fronts can be very good talkers and are usually even-tempered and friendly with all their humans if socialized early on.

Mealy Amazon (<I>Amazona farinosa</I> - 5 subspecies) - Length 15 ½ inches of basically green coloration dusted with gray. Some feathering on the crown is yellow and their wing edges are red with a yellow-green band at the end of the tail. The beak is a dark horn color. <I>Amazona farinosa inornata</I> lacks the yellow on the crown and another subspecies has a bluish colored neck and crown. Although not quite as common as some of the other Amazons, Mealies are often considered one of the gentlest Amazons. Although also considered a little on the loud side, they make up for it in the easygoing dispositions and can be great family additions.

White-fronted, White-browed or Spectacled Amazon (<I>Amazona albifrons</I> - 3 subspecies) - About 10 inches in length with a white forehead and a blue-green crown. The feathering around the eye areas is red and the wing edges are red. The beak is a yellowish color. These Amazons are considered fair talkers also.

Green-Cheeked, Red-Crowned or Mexican Red-headed Amazon (<I>Amazona viridigenalis</I>) - Length 13 inches with a bright red crown, forehead and lores, a half-moon shaped blue-violet band extends into the cheek area. Primary coverts are blue and red with a yellow colored beak. I consider these Amazons somewhat on the loud side, but fair talkers and very sweet natured birds. The babies I have raised have been very gentle and exhibited good talking ability. Bonnie our 60+ year old Green-Cheek Amazon does very little talking herself, but she definitely makes up for it with her very, very sweet and gentle nature. Even our male breeders show very little aggression during breeding seasons. Immature Green-cheeks are often confused with Lilac-crowned Amazons so prospective buyers should make sure they know the difference before purchasing.

Lilac-crowned or Finsch Amazon (<I>Amazona finschi</I> - 2 subspecies) - Length of 13 inches with forehead reddish-brown and crown with a bluish/lilac colored half-moon shaped band. These Amazons have a fair talking ability with good temperaments.

Red-lored Amazon (<I>Amazona autumnalis</I> - 4 subspecies) - Length 13 inches with a forehead of scarlet red. Their crown and some neck feathers are bright blue and their cheeks are yellow and have some red and blue-black coloring on the wings. Their beak is dark horn-colored. There are some color variations in the subspecies with one lacking the yellow cheek coloring. These beautiful, often shy Amazons exhibit a mild-mannered personality and a fair potential for talking making them a good choice.

Yellow-Crowned Amazon (<I>Amazona ochrocephala</I> - 9 subspecies) - Average length of 13 ½ inches with bright red wing edging. The underside of the tail is a yellow-green with a red spot at the base of each tail feather. The beak is a dark gray color and the base and a portion of the upper mandible is a pink color. One subspecies has a forehead of yellow and a horn-colored darker pointed beak. Two of the subspecies have yellow necks and horn-colored beaks and are larger than the nominate at 15 and 16 inches in size. Yellow Crowns can become very good talkers.

Two subspecies of the above Yellow-crowned are two of the most well known of all Amazons. First is the Yellow-naped Amazon (<I>Amazona ochrocephala auropalliata</I>) and second is the Double Yellow-headed Amazon (<I>Amazona ochrocephala oratrix</I>). Males of both these groups have a reputation for being the "bad boys". Adult Yellow Napes and Double Yellow Heads in full hormonal season of breeding would be Amazons to pay attention to because they can in fact become quite hard to handle at times. Females in these groups can be slightly less aggressive during breeding season, although one should not be lulled into a sense of get a female, never have a problem. As a breeder of Yellow Napes, I find them to be the most enjoyable fun loving clowns of all the Amazons I know. Not all male Yellow Napes and Double Yellow Heads become aggressive maniacs, not all females stay sweet. Each bird is an individual. I also find these Amazons unsurpassed in talking ability among Amazons. My 4 year old Nape Shasta, has a vocabulary of around 400 words. She sings full verses of 6 songs and can sing them perfectly word for word, or often loves to mix them up and sing silly songs like "We wish you a Merry Jingle Bell" or "Old MacDonald had a doggie in the window, arf arf" and then looks around to see if anyone heard her new song. She's a big show off and loves being the center of attention.

Amazons vary in size from about 10 inches to 16 inches and can be very long-lived, with reports of Amazons living to be 100 years old or more. As noted above, some species have more than one common name and sometimes it can get a little confusing trying to figure out what kind of Amazon you are looking at. Although each Amazon is an individual, some species are known for certain mannerisms, abilities or problems and anyone interested in adding an Amazon to their family should read and research as much as possible before purchasing a bird. Amazons are fun loving clowns who tend to go with the flow enabling them to become great members of a family. They like to be where the action is and will require nice roomy cages and lots of toys to beat up, chew on, seek and destroy, preen and just bully sometimes. Amazons can be quite vocal each morning and evening as they announce their joy at life and are not considered quiet birds; although they seldom become screamers if provided with lots of playful activity during the day. They should be well socialized from an early age to help them remain handeable by more than one person. My 18 year old male Blue Front P.J has never exhibited any aggression during any season of the year. He does become more vocal and more destructive towards his toys during springtime, but not aggressive towards his humans. On the other hand, Ronnie, our 22 year old Yellow Nape, can display a bad temper without any provocation during certain times of the year. Amazons are often considered the honest parrot as once you learn their body language, they will always warn you when they are in a bad mood. You just need to be paying attention. Amazons have a tendency to become a little overweight with age, so not only is play important, their diet should be varied and structured to prevent obesity. Amazons can have a very strong personality and when they want something, they want what they want when they want it. They are very intelligent parrots and can be demanding, loud, destructive, loving, silly, playful, full of songs and conversations and definitely an expressive individual. Although Amazons are not for everyone, if you choose to share your life with one, it can be the most rewarding experience ever.
<font size="1">
<I>Amazona amazonica</I> - Orange-winged Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona aestiva</I> - Blue-fronted Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona ochrocephala</I> - Yellow-crowned Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona barbadensis</I> - Yellow-shouldered Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona farinosa</I> - Mealy Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona mercenaria</I> - Scaly-naped Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona finschi</I> - Lilac-crowned Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona viridigenalis</I> - Green-cheeked Amazon (Mexican Red-headed Amazon)<BR>
<I>Amazona diadema</I> - Diademed Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona festiva</I> - Festive Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona brasiliensis</I> - Red-tailed Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona rhodocorytha</I> - Red-browed Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona dufresniana</I> - Blue-cheeded Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona vinacea</I> - Vinaceous Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona pretrei</I> - Red-spectacled Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona albifrons</I> - White-fronted Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona leucocephala</I> - Cuban Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona ventralis</I> - Hispaniolan Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona collaria</I> - Yellow-billed Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona vittata</I> - Puerto Rican Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona agilis</I> - Black-billed Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona arausiaca</I> - Red-necked Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona versicolor</I> - St.Lucia Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona imperialis</I> - Imperial Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona guildingii</I> - St. Vincent Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona xanthops</I> - Yellow-faced Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona xantholora</I> - Yellow-lored Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona autumnalis</I> - Red-lored Amazons<BR>
<I>Amazona kawalli</I> - Kawall's Amazon<BR>
<I>Amazona tucumana</I> - Tucuman Amazon<BR>

Copywrite 2018 The Nature Chest - All rights reserved - No part of this article may be reprinted without the author's permission

<B>Would you like to read more about Amazons?</B><P>
<A HREF="" target="_blank"><I>Lexicon of Parrots - Amazons</I><P>
<A HREF="" target="_blank"><I>Amazona Society</I>

Species Focus Budgies - Parakeets

Budgies and Parakeets, proper name Budgerigar,  Melopsittacus undulatus, are sometimes called Parakeets by some pet store personnel.  Truly one of the best known of all parrot species. Yes, that’s right, little Budgies are just as much a parrot as any of the big guys. Although they are only about 7 inches in length (and almost half that length is in their long tails), there is super parrot personality packed into these little birds. Budgies are native to Australia and in the wild live in huge flocks that might consist of a thousand birds or more. In the wild, Budgies are primarily green, but the selection you will find as a pet is truly a bird of many colors. Be prepared to choose from blues, greens, yellows, white, violets and other beautiful colorations. In their wild habitat they are often seen visiting grasslands and enjoying thoroughly the young tender seed grasses, and often in our homes they enjoy foods such as carrot tops and other dark green leafy vegetables.

Budgies are nothing short of fun loving gregarious little birds who will keep you entertained for hours with their acrobatic play. They may be small, but there is also great talking potential in every little Budgie. Some of these very talented talkers have been known to rival African Greys in the size of their vocabularies. Just remember these little birds will have a much smaller voice than the larger parrots, but they can be quite clear and distinct in their pronunciations.

Many people choose a Budgie as their first bird because Budgie beaks are much less threatening to them than the larger parrots. Budgies are often chosen as a first bird for children as well due to their smaller size. As a child’s first bird they can be great as long as the child is old enough to take some responsibility for taking care of the bird and is old enough to know all birds must be handled with care to prevent injury to both the bird and the child. Although sweet hand-fed Budgies seldom bite, if provoked or injured they can inflict quite a painful pinch.

Housing for a Budgie will include a nice roomy cage to play in. Please do not fall for the horrible sales pitch of many uneducated personnel at pet stores who recommend a very small cage because it’s a very small bird. I can’t imagine any human wanting to be shut up in a closet all day, so why would a bird want to be kept in a cage too small to move around and play in. Buy a nice roomy cage and make sure the cage bar spacing is close enough to keep your Budgie safe. The bird should not be able to put its head through the bars of the cage to prevent injuries. Then be prepared to buy some fun toys for your Budgie to keep your bird happy. Toys are not a luxury, toys are a necessity to keep your bird happy and healthy. Budgies often love swings, rings, and moving toys they can swing on and perform those acrobats on.


Feeding your pet Budgie will depend on the bird’s age, health and environment and your Avian Veterinarian can provide valuable information for your particular bird. For our healthy young birds we feed a high quality parakeet seed mix. As these birds are grass seed eaters in the wild, we feel seed should make up a portion of their diet. Our diets also include a high quality pellet or extruded food which will provided the vitamins, minerals and nutrients necessary and lacking in an all seed diet. We also feed lots of fresh greens, vegetables and some fruit. Budgies can become overweight with age, so their diet can play a major role in keeping your bird healthy. Budgies are sometimes prone to tumors as well, and any lump noted on your bird should be checked by an avian veterinarian for treatment as soon as you notice it. Your Budgie should always have access to fresh clean water. Don’t be surprised if you find your little bird splashing around one day in his water bowl thoroughly enjoying a bath. Some Budgies really love to bathe.

No matter what color Budgie you choose, you can be assured a Budgie is a little bird with a big loving personality who will enrich your life for many years.

Copywrite 2003 The Nature Chest - All Rights Reserved - No part of this article may be reproduced without the permission of the author.

[Editor's Note: The above focus is based on personal experiences and opinions raising and keeping Budgies for over 40 years.]

Species Focus Cockatiels


Sweet adorable and loving Cockatiels for sale. These descriptive words fit a Cocktiel to a "T". Cockatiels are often the first bird for many people. Although slim and trim compared to some of the other parrots, Cockatiels are as much a parrot as all the rest. Handfed Cockatiels are sweet, loving, fun companions and can often be the perfect choice for responsible children as their first bird. Cockatiels are excellent flyers and even clipped birds can fly quite well if frightened so safety should always be thought of. Although they can, females very seldom do the talking but make up for it with being some of the sweetest little birds around. Males often do some talking and usually make excellent whistlers sometimes whistling out complete songs with gusto as only a Cockatiel can do. Both males and females who have been raised with lots of love by their human handfeeder make great family additions. Cockatiels do however put out quite a bit of feather dust and if someone in the household has severe allergies or ashtma, a Cockatiel might not be the best choice. Talking with your doctor before buying a Cockatiel is recommended if you are someone else in your home suffers with severe allergies.

The more common normal gray colored Cockatiels are usually less expensive than many other parrot species so often they fit the budget as well as the heart. However there are many color mutations and some beautiful patterns from Pieds to the very lacy Pearls and some may feel the White Faced mutations are magnificient. Lutinos will vary from almost a lemon yellow to white in color and are very popular choices. Whichever color combination you choose, a Cockatiel will brighten your world with unbound love and devotion if given the same by their humans.

Choose a large size cage to give your cockatiel lots of room to play in. A minimum size would be 18x18 inches in size. Remember size does matter as cockatiels have long tails and wide wing spans and flapping is great exercise. Make sure the cage bar spacing though is only 1/2 inch or less, as even a 1 inch size space can become a head trap for some cockatiels. With their feather crests, they will push their heads through an opening, but when they try to pull their head back through the bars, the crest may open and the bird may believe it is stuck which can cause a bird to panic and can possibly cause injury. So you either want the bar spacing so small the head cannot go through it, or make sure it is wide enough so that the head can never get caught causing the bird to panic.

Make sure your bird's cage has more than one kind of perch, and more than one size, so your bird can flex his or her feet and toes and get good foot exercise. Providing some type of small platform perch can also allow your bird to occasionally sit flat footed if they desire.

If you are a new bird owner, we recommend starting your bird on a high quality small seed mix, some pellets, small amounts of spray millet as a treat, and introduce some fresh fruits and vegetables to widen your bird's food interests.

Start with several cockatiel appropriate toys, and then add new ones so you can rotate toys every couple of weeks to help keep your bird interested in playing. Choose lots of different textures of toys, and soft woods which will help your bird also keep it's beak in shape. Cockatiels generally love small beads and bells, and cotton rope, sisal, and leather. They often enjoy untying leather knots and preening fleece. Some birds also enjoy cuttlebones which can provide some calcium as well as a beak aid.

Contrary to some very old outdated beliefs, pet parrots such as cockatiels, do not require grit or charcoal to be healthy. These items can actually be harmful for your bird because if overeaten they can impact crops causing illness and even death in rare occasions.

If you need additional help, a really good book is our Cockatiel Handbook with lots of information to get your started on the right track with your new bird.

Species Focus Jenday Conures

Aratinga jandaya, or Jenday Conures are pictured. These twelve-inch bundles of brilliant orange and green feathers are great birds. Conures have gotten a bad rap as being very loud, but actually, most owners contribute to their loudness without even realizing it. Conures are usually some of the best watch birds you will find alerting you to anything they feel should not be there. If your household is quiet, Jendays most often are too. If your household is a busy one with children, other pets and lots of activity, your Jenday is definitely going to join in with all the noise. If you place them in front of a window, they will scream out an alert at any suspected danger (real or not) such as the passing squirrel, flock of wild birds, a stray cat, etc.

The coloring of Jendays is just a step below the Sun Conure. The head is bright yellow and gold with vibrant orange blending around the eyes and cere. The yellow and lighter orange of the head and neck area blend to a rich orange on the underbelly. There is a deep blue on their flight feathers and some on the tails. Their backs and outer wings are a deep rich green in color. Though not known for their talking ability, these beautiful birds will usually speak a few words. They are very playful whether they are playing by themselves in their cage with their toys, or playing with their humans. They love to cuddle and will often snuggle under your chin and stay there as long as you will let them. They love to play with toys while laying on their backs as well as sleeping that way also. Jendays love to chew on things and should be given lots of toys of different textures to keep them happy and a large cage to accommodate them. They also love to make "birdie soup" in their water dishes so you may have to change their water often or add a water bottle to their cages. Jendays love to bathe. Most love spray baths but they will splash happily in their water dishes also. If weaned onto a wide variety of fruits and vegetables when they are babies they will be good eaters throughout their lives.

[Editors Note: The above focus is based on our personal experiences and opinions raising and keeping Jenday Conures for over 10 years, as well as information shared by our customers who have adopted our babies.

Species Focus Peach Front Conures

Species Specific on Peach Front Conures

Aratinga aurea, or PeachFronted Conure (also sometimes called the Golden-Crowned Conure) is pictured above. These ten inch bundles of feathers are great additions to a bird family. They are not as loud as some conures, but don't think they are not noisy at all. Like most conures, they are wonderful watch birds alerting you to anything they feel should not be there. They have almost iridescent green feathers on most of their body, grayish-green feathering around the cheeks and under the neck area and almost lime green feathers on the underbelly. They wear an orange cap on the front of their heads with a band of blue to blue-green behind the cap. Their beaks are black on adults and more horn-colored on young birds. They have white eye rings with orange around their eyes which varies from bird to bird and is not fully colored until about two years of age. They also have long tapered tails.

Peach Front Conures are still found in a large area of Brazil, mainly south of the Amazon, and southwards into Paraguay and into Argentina

These gregarious little birds can be very good talkers with males and females being equally talented. When they get excited, their eyes seem to dance and the feathers on their cheeks puff up. They seem to do this whether they are mad or just plain happy about something.

Peach Fronts can vary greatly in personality regardless of whether they are male or female. Some can be sweet and loving. Others seem to be more independent, wanting to be cuddled only when they want it. They do like to chew on things and should be given lots of toys to keep them happy. Like most conures, Peach Fronts love to bathe. Some prefer their water dishes, others learn to love spray baths. If weaned onto a wide variety of fruits and vegetables when they are babies they will be good eaters throughout their lives.

I highly recommend Peach Front Conures as a great addition to any household

[Editors Note: The above focus is based on our personal experiences and opinions raising and keeping Peach Front Conures for many years, as well as information shared by our customers who have adopted our babies.]

Species Focus Quaker Parrots

<I>Myiopsitta monachus</I>

Quaker Parrots

Myiopsitta monachus, also known as Quaker Parakeet, Quaker Parrot or Monk Parakeet, four week old babies are pictured. Quakers are found in southeastern South America from central Bolivia and southern Brazil to central Argentina. Quakers are the only parrots considered true nest builders. They live in colonies in the wild building a bulky nest consisting of many nest chambers. Quakers are approximately 11 inches in length with a long tapered tail and are green in color with gray starting at the top of their head, down their faces, lighter gray cheeks and gray scalloped markings on the chest and underbelly. Their long tails cause some people to think they are a member of the conure family and some of the older outdated books still on the market claim they are conures. Quakers are not conures however. They have a genus all to themselves with four subspecies.

Quaker babies have a unique mannerism. They appear to "quake" when they are being handfed and this mannerism stays with many of them the first year of life when they are excited about something. Most Quakers love to cuddle and seem to like being scooped up in your hands rather than stepping up at times. Quakers can be very territorial about their cages with a definite view of where everything in their cage should be. If you move a toy you may be put in your place with a string of "birdie verbal abuse". Mattie Sue Athan in her book "Guide to the Quaker Parrot" states Quakers seem to have the theory "if you run, I'll chase you!" which I also agree with. Quakers will chase away anything they find disturbing and owners will often run with the fear of being bitten. Removing them from their cages during cleaning and rearranging often prevents a few nips and your bird's sanity as well.

Socialization is the key to keeping your Quaker nice to everyone. Quakers can be sweet, loving birds, but they can also be little terrors if not trained properly. They can become exceptional talkers rivaling Amazons and African Greys in the size of their vocabularies. They dearly love their toys and should have lots of toys rotated on a regular basis to keep them happy. They are not as destructive as many other parrots preferring to really play with everything they own. Young Quakers will often roll around in play with small balls and hand held toys. Most Quakers love bathing in their water dishes with some learning to like spray baths. I provide large stainless steel dishes for bathing and water bottles for drinking. Of course the bathing bowl will need to be removed after the bath or changed often to keep it clean. Quakers should be offered a varied diet from an early age. They can very easily become seed junkies if allowed to and can become overweight later in life. Feather picking or in severe cases "Quaker Mutilation Syndrome" can be a problem with some Quakers. I personally have only seen severe cases in birds who were abused, neglected or have gone through great stresses in their lives. Overall, a healthy, loved bird should have no more problem than any other species of bird.

I would highly recommend Quakers as a great family pet bird who will delight anyone who meets them.

Copywrite 2003 The Nature Chest - All Rights Reserved - No part of this article may be reproduced without the permission of the author.

[Editor's Note: The above focus is based on personal experiences and opinions raising and keeping Quakers, as well as information shared by our customers who have adopted our babies.]

Unfortunately Quakers are not welcome in every state in The United States. Here is a current list of information by state as to whether a Quaker is considered "legal" or not. State Laws for Quaker Parrots

Species Focus Sun Conures


Sun Conures are very sweet cuddly birds to have. They are very affectionate and loving to their humans. Sun Conures will usually do a little talking, but we don't rate them as great talkers. Vocabulary is usually from 6-12 words. As with most Conures, Suns can be very vocal. They are great "watch birds" and will let you know whenever anything is out of place or when something new enters the area. If you place them in front of a window, they may scream a warning to let you know when the neighborhood cat crosses the yards, a flock of birds lands in their yard, or even when the local squirrel is out and about. Understanding what motivates their screams often helps to modify the loudness somewhat. However, do not expect a Sun Conure to be a quiet bird so they may not be appropriate for apartments or households where noise is a concern especially if someone works night shifts and needs daytime sleep time. Although they can be loud at times, there is not a more loving fun loving little bird around in our opinion. Hanging from a toe and twirling around in circles is a fun past time for many Suns and hanging upside down, well that's just a normal way to view the world in Sun Land. If you don't mind a little noise, a brilliantly sun of gold is a perfect choice for many people