|--- Be sure you're caring properly for your bird ---
No myths allowed
|Stay a while - scroll down and explore
Sleep requirements -- Cage needs -- Feeding & Nutrition
Poop! How to read those droppings
Mating Behavior, Egg Laying
Converting from seed to pellets
Biting and Screaming Bird
Why you should NOT buy pet store products for health
** and a lot more **
It surprises a lot of owners to learn that most
birds these days should have a
predominantly pelleted diet.
Pellets are constantly updated to keep with
the current research and science with regard
to ideal nutrition for birds. Today’s formulas
are better than ever.
It’s still necessary to supplement this diet with
fresh foods every day and to decrease seed
feeding until it doesn’t amount to more than
about 15-20% of the overall diet.
Sunflower seeds shouldn’t be allowed at
all. The only reason they’re in all those seed
mixes is because they’re cheap filler and
birds tend to love them.
Children love sugar and fats too, but we don’t
let them eat it all day, every day, right? We
have to be even stricter with our birds
because their systems are more susceptible
to nutritional problems like liver disease,
tumors and a lot more.
********** So, what to feed? ***********
Whole grains, dark leafy vegetables,
fruits and legumes. Include the colors
orange, yellow , green, plus reds too!
Think sweet potatoes/yams, squash,
melons, oranges, peas, chard, beets and
Brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat
couscous and natural, whole grain
pastas are great choices.
Limit fats, especially the kind from
animals. Good fats are most plant fats
like soy, olive and canola oils. No fried
Don’t hesitate to give your companion a
few sips of all natural orange juice or
It’s not a good idea to put it in their regular
water dish, rather, provide a separate dish for
it and don’t leave it for more than an hour or
two at most. You don’t want to chance
introducing a bacterial infection to your bird
while trying to keep them healthy.
-- There are recipes at bottom of page--
|Pet Store Health Products
Just in case you’re wondering about those pet store
Vitamins or medicines to add to a bird’s water?
When it comes to parrots
(any bird with a hooked bill)
--Never use them –
These products can put your bird off their water,
leading to dehydration and multiple associated
As for the antibiotics, they don’t work, have not
been known to work for many years (which is why
they’re available over the counter) and they aren’t
about to start working anytime in the future.
What they will do, however, is kill the good bacteria
in your bird’s system. The bacteria that supports a
healthy immune system.
They may also strengthen the bad bacteria in your
bird as bacteria develop resistance very quickly
When your bird really needs an antibiotic it may be
difficult to find one that works.
Using these products can hurt your bird not only
immediately, but most certainly in the long run.
|Keep scrolling down to find out more about ideal cage set ups, egg laying, behavior and more
|Birds should be weighed once a week.
This way, when you notice weight loss, it
should be in time to head off a very serious
problem. Otherwise, by the time you can
see that your bird has lost weight, the
problem has likely been going on for some
A bird needs to be weighed on a gram
scale. Ounces won’t do it. By the time an
ounce scale registers the loss of an ounce,
it’s more than 28 grams! That’s
significant for a bird.
The average weight for a Grey Cheeked
parakeet is 45-60 grams; a red rumped is
60 grams and Quaker or Monk = 90 to 150
Find out more on various birds’ average
|Cages - a frequent recommendation is to get the biggest you can afford.
That doesn't mean putting a macaw in a cockatiel cage because it's all your budget allows
If you cannot afford the biggest cage for the size bird you want to adopt, then wait!
Birds need a cage that they can turn around in with their wings outstretched and not touching any of the sides, top or
A cage needs at least three different kinds of perches: Natural hard wood like Manzanita, natural soft wood like pine
and a rope perch.
You really should also have a grooming perch like calcium, Manu, concrete or cement, although a cuttle fish bone and
mineral block in the cage are acceptable instead. I have grooming perches, cuttle bone and mineral block for each bird.
|Yes, bird beaks also molt and you might see some layers
coming off, like this
Birds need regular challenges, input
Be sure toys are safe for a human toddler
and double check for bird safety.
No bean-bag toys or you'll have the stuffing
No fluid filled toys like teething rings
And no matter how sure you are about the
toy safety, always check them to see how
they're holding up
|This is a "baby wing trim " - the bird
will still be able to fly, but not have a
lot of lift or distance.
It's a good idea for a bird to have
This is the next stage of wing trimming
for the next big molt. It reduces more
lift and distance
This is the full wing trim. The bird
shouldn't get any real lift or distance,
but is able to gently glide to the floor or
Wing Trimming shows you
If a bird is out of cage a lot,
which is good, there's no
forewarning when someone else
might open a window or door.
I can't begin to count the number
of times I've heard that "It's been
years and years and nothing has
All it takes is once and your bird
can be gone forever
|Birds need toys that they can shred
and destroy. Safe wood on safe
materials are well worth the investment.
Toys are necessities
|All Birds Poop - what should it look like?
All bird droppings are made up of three parts: Faeces
(feces), the solid, central part which can vary in color
depending on the food the bird eats.
Urates, the next layer of the ring, which can be cloudy-
clear or with shades of white, yellows and greens, again
depending on the foods eaten.
Urine is the clear liquid, usually outer layer of the ring.
Depending on the amount of fruits and fluids the bird
eats/drinks, this can be a significant part of the dropping.
Human companions to birds need to learn what’s normal
for their bird. When the bird is healthy, acting fine and
eating a well balanced diet, there’s a general look to the
droppings that may vary depending on the time of day,
but are usually similar looking.
If a bird eats beets one day, the droppings may look
frighteningly reddish. Sometimes when the bird eats
more dark leafy greens (or blueberries), the droppings
can assume a nearly black hue.
When a bird is on a largely seed diet, the feces may be
any shade of bright green; pelleted diets without added
food colorings would produce a dull, brownish-green. If
the bird is eating colored pellets, the droppings may
reflect what colors are most often chosen.
Constipation or pasting of feces at the vent area may be
symptoms of egg binding. Many owners discover that
their ‘male’ is actually a female when this happens,
sometimes after many years and even some vet visits
over that time.
Other causes of what is perceived as constipation is
ingestion of a foreign object (including grit if it’s made
available), toxins or other disease.
If caught very early you might try administering a tiny
drop of olive oil to the side of the beak so the bird
ingests it; setting the bird in a shallow, warm ‘bath’ of
plain water while gently massaging the vent area may
also prompt a movement – or passage of an egg, but
since this is a serious symptom and can become life
threatening in a very short time, I wouldn’t wait or try
Diarrhea is often actually Polyuria. True diarrhea is
when the feces part of the droppings are not well formed
and liquidy. Diarrhea is usually caused by a disease.
Polyuria is when there’s more than usual amounts of the
urine and urates (the feces are still well formed).
Polyuria may be caused by viral infections, allergies to
foods or even a tumor somewhere. There are just so
many possible causes that a vet visit is essential in
order to catch things early.
‘Bubbly’ droppings are also considered abnormal. Some
bacteria produce a gas and this is what may be causing
One day of abnormal droppings (usually appearing too
loose or liquid) is not typically an emergency. As long as
the bird is still eating, drinking and acting normally, there’
s no change in vocalizations, there is no feather fluffing
(looking bigger), staying at the bottom of the cage or
excessive sleeping - sometimes a change in droppings
is little more than something that will last a few hours
and be fine.
If there’s ever red in the droppings and they have
no dietary explanation, blood must be suspected
and it’s prudent to make an appointment with an
If droppings remain abnormal more than 24 hours,
please see a vet or have a mobile vet visit your home. It’
s far better to have a visit and exam find nothing wrong,
than to miss something that with early treatment may
insure the bird lives.
|Eggs ? This is not good
Egg laying is something that every female bird can
do without benefit of male birds. Of course eggs
laid without a male to mate with are not fertile and
will not hatch. Laying, in birds other than chickens
and other food source poultry, is not healthy and
shouldn’t be ignored. All steps you can take to
stop this behavior should be taken and right away.
Make sure you provide fresh cuttlebone to this bird
at all times to help maintain calcium in their over-
stressed body. Other good sources of calcium are
in fresh foods such as kale, broccoli, chard tops,
spinach and collard greens.
You might want to increase her nighttime hours to
13 sleep instead of 12+12.
Another option is to move things around inside the
cage. Change out her toys, switch perches,
rearrange feeding and water cups - make it look
'new' to her. Even moving the actual location a little
bit can help.
Other precautions are to not pet her under her
wings or touch consistently from the mid-back down
(this can trigger egg laying).
No feeding her from your mouth, which is just a
good idea anyway since we have far too much
bacteria there to be safe for a bird.
No feeding soft foods from your fingers which may
be perceived as regurgitation, another mating
Leaving the eggs in with your bird may help
curb the behavior as well. If you notice any cracks
or breaks, the egg must be removed.
I prefer to replace them with fake eggs of a similar
size and shape, available at many craft stores.
Just be sure they are bird safe - no flaking paint for
Some cockatiels, parakeets and other smaller birds
will accept regular marbles as their eggs.
If egg laying continues or becomes chronic, you
must consult with an avian vet or other vet who is
well experienced with birds.
Chances of severe health complications exist in
Here are some more links to help stop egg laying
T. Lightfoot, DVM
Cockatiel Egg Laying
|Out of Cage Time
Your bird needs to leave their cage just like you
need to leave your bedroom or house.
The average bird owner has their parrot out of
cage for at least 4 hours every day
No less than 2 hours a day is recommended
Our birds are out of cage for 7 hours every day
Finches, canaries and some other smaller
species that are in nearly constant motion would
be the exceptions
|Rev. Dr. S. August Abbott
- Certified Avian Specialist -
-Pet Industry Joint Advisory
-Int. Assoc. of Animal Behavior
When your bird screams and you react, even when you're obviously unhappy,
red in the face, yelling and flailing your arms in the air, the bird is getting a
reward for the scream - your attention.
The worst thing you can do to a bird is deny them your attention. So, when
there's screaming going on, stop and silence everything. Put the t.v. on mute,
put the kids on mute and everybody freeze, turning your back to the bird or
even leaving the room.
Sure, this is an effort on your part, but think about it. If it stops the
screaming, isn't a few days of effort going to be worth it? There are
no quick solutions, no magic or secret tricks.
Once the bird stops screaming - and your timing needs to be impeccable to
catch them during those few seconds as they catch their breath - turn or re
enter the room, face them, quietly praise them and interact. The moment they
start again, turn your back and hit all those mute buttons again.
Set aside a couple times a day for the bird to be a bird. Usually in the morning
and just before going to roost in the evening most birds will chatter and call out
to touch base with everyone else in their flock, which under domestic conditions
is you and your family. Prepare the neighborhood and remind them that at
least it's not loud music, annoying boom-cars, screaming
children, barking dogs or fighting spouses (although you want to be careful
about what you say and to whom) - this is just a few minutes a couple times a
day of a bird exercising their vocal chords.
Another method of curbing the incessant screaming is a simple water bottle set
on stream. When the bird begins at the wrong time, firmly say "no" (which will
quickly be learned and repeated back to you by most parrots) and squirt at
their tail feathers or feet, just once or twice.
Always plain, clean water; never - ever at their body or head and do not do this
repeatedly. You want it to be a surprise that distracts them from the screaming,
not something that terrifies them of the bottle, the water or you!
This is far more effective if done just once - when the screaming seems out of
control and there is no calming your bird with other measures such as silence,
leaving the room or whispering. A squirt should be used just to break the
Very shortly you'll find you don't need to squirt at all, just point the bottle in their
direction., or in some cases, just aim your finger - it works with ours sometimes.
What people need to do is look at things not from a human point of view, which
makes perfect sense to us since we're human; but, look at things from the
parrot's point of view. This is really much harder because we're not parrots.
Once you understand why they do something it's much, much easier to be
understanding and patient. Give them time, let them learn at their own pace
and never be harsh. You see, since most of them have many, many years to
live, they don't see what the hurry is. If you keep in mind that this bird will
probably be around to see you go through significant life changes, it helps put it
in perspective for you too.
Parrots love our company, despite
how it may seem otherwise. Their
biting is quite often actually
‘beaking’, a way that they show of
attention, an interaction that's
normal for them and would be well
received by another bird of their
In order to teach them that it’s not
acceptable for us, when the
‘beaking’ becomes ‘biting’, stop
everything. Remove the bird from
your presence, be very quiet about
it and give them 1 to 5 minutes of
silence, no eye contact, no
Then start over again.
You have to be consistent with this
method. You can tell them "no
biting" or "don't bite" in a firm voice
(not yelling) immediately after it
happens and as you're about to
"shun" them for the 1-5 minutes
(any longer than this is ineffective).
|For caged birds who chew, it is not recommended these days to put a dowel in their habitat. Much of today’s lumber
has been treated with chemicals and unless you can know for sure that it’s untreated wood, your bird could slowly
poison itself by nibbling away at this dowel.
Better choices are three different perches:
1. A rope perch available through many pet supply stores, appropriate for the bird you have. Be sure to keep the
perch trimmed of frayed rope (and discard it when it’s too frayed) and always make sure it’s clean. Rope perches
are easy to rinse off in a sink, bathtub, with a garden hose or even on the gentle cycle of a wash (no fabric softener
in the rinse please).
A rope perch is often chosen by the bird to sleep on.
2. A soft wood perch, like pine or many fruit trees is another necessity.
Never avocado branches or Oleander
See here for more safe and unsafe woods
3. A grooming perch, usually made from manu (a calcium/clay type material) or even some of the concrete perches
available are good choices. You still must provide a cuttlebone for your bird and scrape it regularly to be sure it’s
got a clean, fresh surface available.
Another good perch and very popular is manzanita wood. This would be considered a medium-hard perch, but they
come in such natural shapes with great variations from one end to another that they are just plain good exercise for
those feet and legs!
The sizes should vary so that one allows the foot to wrap around just ¼ of the way; another should allow the foot to
wrap around about ½ way and the third perch should fit the foot around ¾ of it. The rope perch should probably
be the one that allows a ½ way around grip.
For a more detailed list of safe and not safe plants and perches,
|Perch on this
|"She was not what you
would call refined. She was
not what you would call
unrefined. She was the sort
of person who kept a parrot"
(Mark Twain, 'Following the
Serves two macaws and a human
½ cup natural oats (regular, not instant)
Approx. 1 tablespoon each: Raisins + dried
pineapple + mango and whatever else you
can find, preferably without sulfites
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ to 1 teaspoon natural brown sugar
Toss everything together in a bowl and add 1
cup of water (doesn’t have to be hot). Mix it
up and let it sit about 10 minutes or so until
the water is absorbed.
In order to get some birds interested in this
at first I’ll top with a sprinkling of chopped
nuts like cashews, almonds, walnuts, etc.
Sometimes I’ll add chopped apple, banana
or a little applesauce instead of the brown
sugar. I prefer not to put both in because the
sugar content is already a little high with the
For the human serving you can add a little
cream, milk, soy milk, whatever you might
like. I’ve learned to like it just the way I serve
it to the birds.
The best part is that it’s fat free and whole
grain, plus fruits. It’s one of the best
breakfasts there is for birdy and buddies.
Chicken soup for the winged and wingless
6 cups water in large saucepan on medium
1 rounded tablespoon natural chicken paste
(or one can broth) preferably low sodium/no
1 rounded teaspoon fresh crushed ginger (not
powder). Most grocery stores carry jars of
crushed ginger these days and it lasts several
months in the refrigerator
½ package each of frozen peas + corn +
chopped spinach (or collard greens)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh or
1 cup pasta shells
Bring water with the chicken paste/broth and
ginger to a boil and add the pasta.
Reduce heat slightly so it doesn’t boil again
and stir occasionally for 10 minutes.
Add the vegetables, lemon and simmer
another 10 minutes or until pasta is done
I’ll toss in some cubed (boneless, skinless)
chicken or turkey that I might have on hand in
My in house birds can’t get enough of this soup
and even though I’m a huge fan of garlic and
spice, this is a very good and healthy meal.
By the way, it’s called ‘Cookie soup’ because
my Severe Macaw, Cookie, will almost throw
herself into it in order to get more.
A variation of an old southern dish
called Hoppin’ John
1 package frozen, chopped spinach or
collard greens, thaw and squeeze dry
1 can black eyed peas, about ½
drained (retain some of that liquid)
½ cup whole wheat couscous
¼ cup lemon juice (fresh or
Put the couscous in a casserole dish
and cover with 1 cup plain water. I’ve
used low or no sodium chicken broth
on occasion instead of the water, so
you can consider this for a variation.
Add the spinach, black eyed peas,
lemon juice and a couple tablespoons
of olive oil - toss well until mixed.
Cover lightly. I use an inverted plate
over the top rather than plastic wrap; a
paper plate will work (not Styrofoam).
Microwave about 3 minutes, stir and
microwave another 2 minutes.
I let this stand a good 20 minutes
before giving it to my birds and am sure
to test it myself to be certain there are
no hot spots.
|Baby Food for Baby Parrots:
(Human) baby rice cereal mixed as directed
Add (also from the baby food aisle) ½ to 1
teaspoon each of:
Peas or Green beans
This can be fed as a supplement or
in an emergency, but should not be fed as
their only baby food.
Please choose a professional formula
|Hand feeding guideline - scroll down
|Pulling a chick for hand feeding should be done after they've spent about 2 weeks with their
parents. Depending on the species of bird, some may be pulled sooner, some later. A bird that
typically weans at about 6 months old for example can be with their parents for a month and still
successfully pulled for hand feeding by a human. Birds that wean at 4-6 weeks old can be pulled at
7 to 10 days old.
Weaning ages vary depending on the type of bird.
Carefully place the baby (chick) on a towel and gently cup your hand around the body for support.
You can use an eyedropper or small syringe available at all bird shops and many pet stores
specifically for this task. As you approach the baby with the food, they will often instinctively open their
mouths for feeding - their crop is going to be to their right side of the throat, so angle the
dropper/syringe to be sure it goes there.
As the instrument touches the inside of their mouth, they will typically start pumping at it (they are
doing their part to help you through this), slowly, but steadily dispense the formula.
When the formula is emptied, take a look at the crop. It’s going to look like a pouch at their right side
of the throat area. It’s supposed to bulge.
Depending on how much the eyedropper or syringe holds and the type of bird (and the age), you may
have to offer another feeding right away. If the bird has a full crop, both of you will know it and the bird
won’t be so anxious to accept the device.
It usually doesn’t take too long before you become comfortable with feedings and they can be done
relatively quickly; however, I prefer to not go too fast and enjoy the bonding. This isn’t to say make it
such a slow process that the chick becomes stressed or overly anxious, but not treating it like an
assembly line job (to just get it over with) may be nicer for both of you.
As the chick gets older and begins eating a bit on their own, many owners like to supplement their
diet with spoon feedings of a thicker mix of the formula. At first, this means holding the spoon to their
beaks much in the same way as the dropper or syringe was and letting the mixture just fall into their
mouths. It’s messy for sure, but pretty soon they’ll start bending their head down to take the mixture off
the spoon themselves.
It’s important to not offer formula for too long since it’s high in fat and can cause health problems
when fed to weaned birds. In sick, older and special needs birds there are exceptions. It’s
something that needs to at least be discussed with an avian professional.
|For more about hand
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