New parrot in the house? You need detailed parrot information to keep it healthy!
By Mary Van Doren
Posted in: Pets
Here‘s some great parrot information on cages, care, and feeding
Parrots, especially the long-lived birds, are becoming more popular every year as household pets. But they’re much different from dogs and cats, and good parrot information can be hard to come by for conscientious owners.
Keeping a parrot happy and healthy requires dedication. Luckily, parrots are lively, social, intelligent pets that will keep you engaged and interested for years.
There are more than 350 types of parrots, including parakeets, macaws, cockatiels, and cockatoos. Larger species such as macaws and cockatoos are known to live 35-50 or even 80 years.
All parrots have a curved beak, with the upper beak having slight mobility in the joint with the skull, a generally erect stance, and feet that are zygodactyl, meaning there are four toes on each foot with two toes that point forward and two that point backward.
There are tiny parrots, measuring just 3.5 inches and giant parrots, up to 40 inches long. Parrots are excellent mimics and can copy sounds they hear. Because they’re so intelligent, they require plenty of interaction with owners or other birds, and lots of activities to prevent boredom.
Parrots are kept as pets, particularly conures, macaws, Amazons, cockatoos, African greys, lovebirds, cockatiels, and budgerigars / parakeets, because of their rich and varied coloration. Sometimes the wings of such birds are clipped, but many people keep flighted pet parrots.
The happy parrot: information on socialization
Your parrot will not roll over or play fetch in an attempt to please you, and because parrots mate for life, it will usually bond with a human if it’s a solo bird in the home. That means you have to be careful about bringing other birds into your home, because jealousy is not uncommon in parrots!
But the good news is that parrots are generally affectionate, happy, curious, playful, and active. They can also be messy, noisy and demanding. Understanding the reasons for negative behaviors is important in keeping your bird or birds happy.
Remember that parrots, unlike cats and dogs, are prey animals, not predators, so they have a healthy fear mechanism, which is made worse when their feathers are clipped or they’re in a cage so they can’t escape perceived danger. It’s important to make sure they feel safe from other pets or from children who aren’t yet able to handle an animal gently.
When frightened and stressed, parrots can resort to biting, loud vocalization and feather pulling. When a JustAnswer customer was concerned about an 18-year-old macaw that had suddenly started pulling on its tail feathers, Dr. Lisa, an Expert on JustAnswer, suggested that the owner take several steps to relieve any stress the bird was feeling.
These included making sure she was in a quiet, darkened room for 12 to 14 hours per night, because parrots can suffer from sleep deprivation, just like we do. Also, Dr. Lisa suggested adding foraging activities to her toys to keep her from “foraging” in her tail.
Parrots require stimulating toys at the ready to provide amusement and exercise, and many good choices are available at pet stores. You should be willing to switch out toys on a regular basis. One excellent choice is a wooden box that contains toys the parrot can retrieve herself – and then chew enthusiastically on the box, because wood chewing is a natural parrot activity!
Providing plenty of toys is especially important if you’re away from home during the day and only have one bird, which will easily become bored by itself.
Also, reliable parrot information suggests that you actually keep branches from shrubs and trees in the cage (as long as they haven’t been treated with chemicals) in different sizes. Not only do parrots love to chew wood, they also need different-sized perches to keep their feet feeling good.
Keep in mind when choosing a bird that as a general rule, the larger the bird, the more destructive it can be to your belongings!
It’s also important to have a large enough cage that your parrot can fly from perch to perch, and to keep the cage in just the right spot in the house. More parrot information on caging is available here.
Whether or not to clip feathers is a decision that depends on the bird. Truly strong flyers should almost always be clipped to keep them from flying straight into windows or even out a door. However, if they’re clipped too short, they can literally fall out of the air and hurt themselves – so it’s best to have a professional take care of this chore.
Finally, claws and beaks need to be regularly trimmed, and again, unless you’re skilled at it, leave this for the vet.
The healthy parrot: Information on diet and disease
A varied diet is not just good physically for your bird, it’s also a form of psychological stimulation. Some veterinarians believe the best parrot food is a cereal style, while others prefer parrot pellets.
In addition, parrots thrive on dark leafy greens, cooked sweet potatoes, yams, squash, pumpkin, and entire fresh carrots. Though pet stores will push seed foods at you, vets recommend against seeds of any kind.
You can also break up the routine by offering treats such as healthy, low-fat high fiber people food, such as whole grain breads and pasta – cooked or not, depending on your parrot’s tastes!
Parrots can also catch viruses and bacterial infections. However, as you’ll learn when you study expert parrot information, because they’re natural prey animals, they strive to hide any weaknesses or illnesses, so you should be familiar with normal behavior and alert to any changes in it.
Which one is your parrot? Information on choosing the right breed
There are as many different temperaments among parrots as there are breeds. Some are laid back, while others are more hyperactive. There are quiet birds and loud ones, shy ones and outgoing ones. Your job is to find one that fits your lifestyle and expectations of a pet.
This website offers guidance in choosing just the right bird. Budgerigars (budgies) or parakeets make great “starter” birds, because they’re smart, vocal and small enough not to require a large commitment of space in your home. They’re also inexpensive because they’re numerous on the market.
For most families, cockatiels or lovebirds, also fairly small, are a good choice. Among larger birds, some cockatoo species are less destructive than others, and some conures are less noisy than other parrots.
Above all, make sure you’re prepared for the commitment that parrots require. They’re pretty much the opposite of cats in the attention–seeking department – but they’ll also reward you commensurately with love, attention and play!
And any time you have a question or need more parrot information, even if it’s the middle of the night, there’s an Expert on JustAnswer who will be happy to help keep your feathered friend in perfect health.
If you own a parrot, please share with us in the comments below some of your bird's favorite activities.