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African Grey Parrot Centre ™ Articles

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African Grey Parrot Centre ™ Articles

10 Home Hazards For African Greys

June 11th, 2011

Home Hazards

1. Water

Water can be a big hazard also such as an open toilet, washing up bowl/sink, saucepan full of food/water, bath tubs, fish tanks…An African grey that is allowed to fly around the house could easily fall into any of these and can drown as they can not swim treat them as a toddler and keep all hazards out of the way so they don’t get hurt or die.

2. Household Plants

Household plants can also be very toxic to your African Grey that are found about the house these include Daffodil and Iris bulbs ,Poison ivy, Dieffenbachia, Tulip, Philodendron, Sanseveria (or Mother-in-law-tongue),Christmas cactus, Poinsettia, Oleander a couple to look out for around Christmas that you may bring into your home are Holly berries and Mistletoe. Safe plants that are very common in the house are Spider plants also most ferns are safe for parrots, best rule to follow is if your unsure do not let your parrot near the plant better to be safe than sorry! .This is just a very small list of toxic and safe plants and you will find many more on the lists.

3. Chemical Pesticides / Insecticides

Chemical pesticides / Insecticides such as Flea Bombs, Fertilizers, Fungicides. Cleaning solvents, Aerosol Sprays of any kind, Air Fresheners, Carpet Fresheners, Oven Cleaners, Furniture Polish, Tub & Tile Cleaners, Cleaning Supplies, Bleach and Ammonia fumes, Oil-based Paint and paint product fumes If you are re-painting a room make sure you take the parrot out of the room and don’t bring them back in until the room has been aired and the smell of the fumes has gone completely. The same applies to Spray-on Deodorants, Hair Spray, Perfumes/aftershaves, do not have your parrot in the bathroom if you are spraying any product and anything that gives off fumes can cause problems for your parrot and sometimes can even kill your parrot so keep everything away from your parrot and keep rooms well aired that you are using sprays or bleach in and your parrot as far away as possible.

4. Cigarette, Cigar, and Pipe Smoke

Cigarette, Cigar, and Pipe smoke, Marijuana smoke, Nicotine on hands and clothing, any smoke and fumes can be dangerous to parrots. If you have Nicotine on hands this can cause contact dermatitis, especially foot problems which would get the most contact with the nicotine on your clothes/hands also Ingesting tobacco products or Marijuana can make birds sick so if you have to smoke makes sure you do it outside or in a well ventilated room as far away from the parrot as possible.

5. Plug-in Air Fresheners

Plug-in Air Fresheners can be toxic to your parrot as they give off vapours from the oils which can be toxic to your parrot or even fatal Scented Candles, Incense, Potpourri also have the same effect and best avoided.

6. Burning rubber or Plastic

Burning rubber or plastic and non-stick cooking utensils are all dangerous to parrots as they give off deadly fumes.

7. Non Stick Pans

Non stick pans like Teflon T-fall and other non-stick coating used in Cookware, Bread Makers, Stove Drip Pans, Irons, Ironing Board Covers and other household appliances like hair dryers, irons/curlers all become deadly to parrots when the get over heated as they can give off fumes which are toxic and can be fatal to birds. You best to stick to the normal non stick cookware might mean a little more work cleaning them but much safer for your feathered friend.

8. Electrical Cords

Electrical cords need to be away from parrots as they love to chew everything in there reach and a cable is just as much fun as one of there toys in your parrots cage, they can kill your bird if it chews the cable so best kept away from them.

9. Other Pets In The House

Other pets in the house such as Cat?s and Dogs should be watched with your parrot and NOT left alone with your parrot at any time as they could cause your parrot serious injury or even death.

10. Windows / Patio Doors

Windows, patio doors are dangerous in two ways your parrot could fly into them and do themselves serious injury and it can even be fatal as they do not see them and think they can fly through them, also if they are left open your parrot can fly away and be at all sorts of danger from the big outside world, i lost my family pet grey Reggie this way but was very lucky to have him returned by a very honest lady who lived 25 miles away! Keep windows and doors closed or your parrot away when they are open.

Above are just some of the things i can think of that may help you, but that is no way a full complete list and should only be referred to as a small guide to dangerous items, you will find many more in books and on websites, you should always have to hand the number of a local Avian vet to you and directions on how to get there and a small towel, a pet carrier to take your parrot there in should you have to rush your bird to the vets, having these to hand means you can get there much quicker.

About the Author

Written by Paula Dansie of the African Grey Parrot Centre ™

This article may be duplicated in its full state but the above link must be retained, if this article is found duplicated anywhere on the web without the link preserved then legal action will be taken and your ISP will be contacted.

5 Hints And Tips For Your Parrot Cage

May 14th, 2011

african grey parrot cage

There is a mass abundance of information out there about parrot cages, their shapes, size’s, colours and styles, I thought I would put this article together to offer a few hints and tips and the basic’s I have learnt over the years to help you to decide which cage is best suited to you, your parrot and your home.

1. Size Counts

Firstly the most important factor is the size of the cage the best rule to go by is the bigger the better, and where you are planning on keeping your parrot to ensure you have enough space for it. The cage needs to be big enough for your parrot to be able to freely spread it’s wings have a flap about for exercise, on the other hand if the cage is too big it could cause a problem to smaller parrots, for instance if you had a cage big enough to house a macaw the bar spacing will be far too big for a smaller parrot such as a Timneh Grey meaning there’s a high possibility its feet and head are caught and panic could cause untold damage, any good pet shop that sells cages can help you with information on the size of the cage you should be buying to suit your parrot.

2. Maintenance

Also to consider when buying a cage is it easy to keep clean and maintain. The best type to look for are the ones with a pull out tray to make cleaning the bottom of the cage a lot easier. Also another great feature which make life a lot easier are food and water bowls that are replaced without opening the main door of the cage with the possibility of letting your parrot out, they are cheeky things and often take advantage of an open door, this type of water bowls have their own small doors and as I say really is a neat feature.

3. Positioning your Cage

The cage should be kept in a position where your parrot will feel safe which is away from drafts such as windows which can make your parrot too hot if left in direct sunlight, another really important factor to think about is if you put your parrot cage in front of the window you could be leaving yourself wide open to being broken into and having your beloved parrot stolen which unfortunately really does happen a lot. Your parrot is worth lots of money and thieves often target parrots these days and would rather steal your parrot than a big heavy appliance like a TV, you may think that it would be hard to steal a parrot but once covered over with something a parrot becomes quiet and still.

Also consider placing your parrot cage somewhere that you and your family will pass and visit a fair number of times a day, parrots are social animals and love to be part of the action and have contact with you and the family so the living room would make a great place, ideally your cage should be placed in a corner of the room that is well lit so your parrot has some security of knowing that it can’t be approached from the back of it’s cage and/or one side which gives it the feeling of safety.

4. Toys & Amusements

You need to think about what toys you are going to put inside the cage for your parrot’s amusement, African greys love playing with toys and can amuse themselves with toys for a long time, simple things like a rope can keep them happy for many hours or something as simple as a wooden toy that they can chew with a bell which rattles when moved (Make sure it’s not so noisy that it irritates you). There are so many toys out there you just need to make sure that they are safe and can’t get caught round you birds neck or have tiny bits that can be swallowed (just like a small child), check any toy you buy carefully and if your not 100% sure it is safe DON’T buy it. Once you have some toys you can always rotate them around in the cage to keep them amused and as soon as one becomes too damaged such as a rope being shredded into bits remove it, our African grey Reggie must have been shredding his rope toy when we were out as when we came home he had it all tied round his feet and was sat on the bottom of his cage, for this reason we now remove any toys that get a little tatty.

5. Perches

You really need to consider the type of perches you use in your cage, the perches that usually come with a cage as standar are not really ideal and should be replaced with something more appropriate as soon as possible, something like java branches or branches from fruit trees such as pear, apple, hazelnut or even willow tress can all be used as long as you wash them down first and let them dry before placing the in the cage. This will provide your parrot with different thickness of perches, I also highly recommend a placing a concrete perch in the cage near the food or water bowls to ensure your parrot uses them, this will help to keep your parrots nails trim and beak under control as they like to rub it on the perch, I use more than one in the cage near the bowls as I mentioned, you can even get them in different colours and sizes, these are sold at most pet shops and each pack should have what size bird it is most suited too, just use your intuition to work out what size is best.

If your planning on letting your parrot out of the cage a lot (which you should!) you can consider buying your parrot a play gym, there are many good play gyms out there on the market, the one we use is the Java parrot tower which is great as it is on castors and has a big tray that catches all the dropped food and droppings, best of all the java branches can all be taken off to be cleaned, also you can move them about and add rope and sandy perches to help keep the parrots nails down. Our African grey Reggie sometimes stay out for days on end, he is very good and will just sit and play on his parrot tower, have a fly about from time to time but always returns back to his tower, he hates being in his cage though I would not recommend leaving your African grey out when you’re not around unless your 100% sure it will not get into trouble or fly down and chew things (Read the home hazards for Greys article), I am home all day long so am never far away in such cases, if we go out at all and no one is at home then we put him away. Reggie has been trained over the 12 years we have had him and even now sometimes gets over excited and flies down when he wants some extra attention!

Cage Hints and Tips Summary

  • Get the biggest but most appropriate cage for your parrot that you can fit into your home
  • Choose a cage that is easy to maintain, check the bowls can be changed in their own doors and their are pull out trays, make sure you clean your cage regularly
  • Position your cage in a safe position away from drafts, hot/cold areas and always ensure it’s not on show to the outside world in case of theft
  • Always fill your cage with toys to keep your parrot amused but always ensure they are in good condition to keep your parrot safe
  • Dump those standard perches, replace with Java or safe tree branches and concrete perches near their bowls for ongoing nail/beak maintenance

About the Author

Written by Paula Dansie of the African Grey Parrot Centre ™

This article may be duplicated in its full state but the above link must be retained, if this article is found duplicated anywhere on the web without the link preserved then legal action will be taken and your ISP will be contacted.

Does Sex Matter? Male Or Female That Is …

April 17th, 2011

Male & Female Sex Symbols

So quite often we get asked,

“I’m male/female, is it better to choose a male african grey or a female, which one will take to me best”

Quite often you will hear people telling you if you’re a female then a male bird would bond with you better, sometimes you hear a female will and visa versa if you are male.

Controversially my stance is a little different on this topic, we’ve had many birds come and go through our doors what with the increasing quantities of rescue parrots we are taking on, and the occasional bird we have bred, truly and honestly the answer to the question is that I really don’t think it matters what sex your parrot is, they both have extremely similar personalities, are amiable and just as easy to bond with, given the right conditions.

When I say the right conditions what I mean to say is if you think of it in human terms, just because you’re a female/male does that mean that you can and will only bond with one sex, whether that sex be a male or a female …. I’d say no … right?

Well as we know African Greys are highly intellectual animals with the brain power of a small child, well when you see kids at school (please don’t go hanging around school playgrounds to verify this, but trust me as a parent to 5 children) that kids do not just hang/play with one sex and neither for that case will your African Grey.

So when people contact us asking to buy an African Grey parrot, it astounds me the amount of people that also have strong tendencies to want to buy a specific sex, purely on the basis of all this hearsay that parrots are more likely to prefer you if you are the “right sex”, seriously from my experience, and I don’ care if the scientists want to argue the point, the sex of your parrot really doesn’t matter.

What really matters is the amount of time you are going to spend with the bird, quite often you hear that people say my bird is a one person bird, but why is that I hear you ask, is it your sex or is it that the person your grey likes the most is the one that gives it the most attention and feels less negative towards.

These animals are seriously clever and really do pick up on negativity and if you feel negative about a bird liking you well don’t be surprised if your bird doesn’t pick up on that fact, and lets just say, not be your best friend, just like kids at school there’s always some kid that is difficult to get on with and naturally what do you do if you don’t seem to be able to connect with someone, you tend to keep clear of them, but in the grand scale of things is that the best policy or should you perhaps just work a little harder on that relationship to make it work.

So to conclude sex really doesn’t matter, the most important thing is time, persistence, having an open mind and most importantly give and take and your parrot whether it’s male or female will learn to take to you, something we can talk about in more depth another time!

African Grey Eye Pinning

March 6th, 2011

African Grey Eye

Eye Pinning

Parrots have a fascinating ability to give us a little insight into how they feel at a given moment. This is achieved through a process termed “eye pinning.” The pupils of the parrot’s eyes will dilate to show excitement, or joy, anxiety or fear. It is up to us to understand our feathered friend to learn what he is saying to us, through his expressive eyes.

African Greys and other birds are able to control their irises and you can see their pupils rapidly enlarging and shrinking. Eye pinning goes along with what is happening in the immediate environment and body posture. If your African Grey’s body is relaxed and its eyes are pinning it usually means they are interested in or concentrating on something. However, if your African Grey’s feathers are puffed out and their eyes are narrowed and pinning – watch out! They are angry or frightened, and if bothered will probably bite.

How Their Eyes Help Them

In the visual world, birds are gifted with the greatest acuity, seeing extremely well, even at great distances. As prey animals, parrots have eyes positioned on the sides of their head, providing them with a tremendous range of vision, nearly three hundred and sixty degrees, that they use for both protection and food retrieval. Parrots see in color, helping them discern predator from prey. It is also believed this ability to see in color assists parrots in the mating ritual.

Layers Of A Greys Eye

Layers of the Eye

The avian eye can be described as having three distinct layers. These layers, called ‘coats’ each house specific components of the eye. The outer coat maintains the shape of the eye, protects the eye and is the attachment site for the muscles of the eye. It is called the sclera. Like reptiles, the sclera is protected by the sclera ossicles. The second coat, referred to as the vascular tunic houses the iris, ciliary body and choroid. It is here, within the iris, where the amount of light permitted into the eye is controlled. The innermost layer, or third coat is called the retina. This is where the rods and cones are contained. Unlike mammals, the avian retina contains no blood vessels.

Third Lid

The avian eye is equipped with a third eyelid, or nictictating membrane. Located in the corner of the eye, this retractable lid is a kind of windshield wiper for the eye, allowing the bird to blink, lubricating the eye, without compromising their vision.

Eye Pinning

Simply Amazing

With respect to the size of their head, the avian eye is huge. Anatomically however, each component of the avian eye is not without specific purpose, allowing the parrot to survey his environment, secure a mate, and even express emotion. The parrot eye is truly a fascinating part of the wondrous parrot.

Hideaway Boxes For Your Parrot

February 27th, 2011

Since I’ve started providing Digby with a box, a hideaway of some sort I’ve noticed that his behavior improved a lot and he behaves a lot more hormonal and destructive when he doesn’t have a box to hide in.

In fact, this is how I found out that he loves to have a box to hide in: he used to try and get in every dark nook and cranny when he just moved in with us. That was of course a sign of hormonal behavior as I thought and I tried to discourage it as much as I could but nothing helped. Tirelessly he would seek the corners, chew the walls and sometimes even go to sleep under the sofa! Until I found the solution – I gave him a box, he loved it, he calmed down and he has been happy ever since.

His hideaways are not always boxes, sometimes they are baskets or even a paper bag (given only under supervision). I never place them in his cage as he just doesn’t seem to be interested or brave enough to go in them when in the cage. They always rest on his part of the windowsill.

It works for Digby, but I am safe in knowledge that he is a boy and not going to lay an egg. I would not advise giving boxes to female parrots. Egg laying is a dangerous thing and can deplete the bird’s calcium storage and cause egg binding.

These are just some of the hideaways he had over the year:

Hideaway Box     Hideaway Box

I enjoy providing Digby, and Dudley the rabbit too, with large boxes. I usually put something inside as well, like a phone book or old toys for shredding. Then I watch them work, chew, shred, shaping their own habitat. They make the doors where they want them to be, Digby shreds the paper and toys to create perfect soft, finely shredded base of the box. With having a box he has something to work on, daily. Once I see there is nothing left to work on and the box is starting to look old and sad I throw it away and replace with a new clean one.

Hideaway Box     Hideaway Box

This is not strictly a hideaway but a pine shelf of his, but it does provide some sort of shelter and he enjoyed sitting on it, shaping it up, moving things around, trimming the wood.

Hideaway Box     Hideaway Box

Hideaway Box     Hideaway Box

Courtesy of Irina from Parrot Comforts

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