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Parrot Care

Home Made Baby Parrot Play Gym!

October 1st, 2010

Ok We made this a while ago after Michelle one of our forum members gave us the idea so i asked Rick to make me one that we could sit the babies on and that fitted perfect on out fireplace so here it is! Rick built the frame and perches and i got to work making it pretty 🙂

The base

With wooden perches

Me wrapping sisal rope round the dowel perches

Mai trying it for size

2 Baby grey’s and JK giving it a go!

A plain swing i made a little more interesting!

They all seem to love it and enjoy the different toys i put on week by week so it is a little more interesting, very cheap too!!!

Learning to Read Your Parrots Body Language In 2 Steps.

January 15th, 2010

Reading Your Parrots Body Language

Learning to read your parrots body language will help you to see your bird in a whole new light. It can help you understand when he is feeling under the weather, happy, wants attention and can also save you from receiving a nasty bite.

Once you have learned the main characteristics of your parrots body language it is easy to distinguish if your parrot is happy, sad, terrified or excited just by his stance.

By learning to understand how your bird is feeling at any particular time can greatly improve the relationship you have with your bird and help you understand what it is he is communicating to you at any given time.

1. Vocalizations

In the wild, birds use various vocalizations to warn others of danger, attract mates, protect their territory, and maintain social contacts. Most birds are highly vocal and many times may be trying to communicate with you.

  • Singing, talking, and whistling: These vocalizations are often signs of a happy, healthy, content bird. Some birds love an audience and sing, talk, and whistle the most when others are around. Other birds will remain quiet when others are watching.
  • Chattering: Chattering can be very soft or very loud. Soft chatter can be a sign of contentment or can be the practice of a bird learning to talk. Loud chatter can be an attention-getter, reminding you that she is there. In the wild, birds often chatter in the evening before going to sleep to connect with other flock members.
  • Purring: Not the same as a cat’s purr, a bird’s purr is more like a soft growl that can be a sign of contentment or a sign of annoyance. When purring, the bird’s environment and other body language should be taken into consideration to determine what the bird is expressing.
  • Tongue-clicking: By clicking her tongue against her beak, your bird may be entertaining herself or asking to be petted or picked up.
  • Growling: Not heard in all pet birds, growling is an aggressive vocalization. If your bird is growling, examine her environment and remove anything that may be bothering her. Growling birds should not be handled as they do not want to be touched.

2. Wings and Body Gestures

  • Fluffing and ruffling: Parrots will perform a quick feather ruffle to release tension, much like when humans take a quick moment to lean back and stretch before we go on to the next task. Parrots also fluff their feathers after a preening session so that all of the particles of dirt they have just removed will fall away. You may notice a fine dust of powder emanating from your bird after he does this, especially if you have a grey, a cockatoo, or a cockatiel. A parrot that stays fluffed for a longer period of time may be chilled or not feeling well.
  • The “please” dance: A parrot that wants attention will clamber around the cage near the door and may sit right in front of the door, moving his head back and forth. This means he wants out. If he does the please dance while he’s out, he wants your attention or something you have.
  • Head down: If your bird is used to being scratched on the head or neck, she may put her head down and ruffle her feathers, giving you the perfect spot to scratch.
  • The attack stance: Displays of aggression can be normal at times for a companion parrot, though they can be unpleasant. Many aggressive displays are merely posturing. A bird would much rather fly from a fight than actually engage in one, unless it’s defending its nest. Unfortunately for the companion parrot, there is often no place to escape, and the aggression must be acted upon. Aggressive postures include fanning of the tail; crouching or standing tall and swaying from side to side with the crest held tightly back; hissing and spitting; fluffing the back feathers; and crouching with the beak open, ready to pounce and bite (as shown in the following photo).

Parrots Body Language
This African grey is in “attack” stance. Avoid putting your fingers in his face at this time.

  • Stretching: Parrots stretch for the same reasons people do, to lubricate our joints, to release tension, and primarily because stretching feels good. You may notice your parrot stretching one wing and one leg on the same side of his body at the same time. This classic birdie stretch that resembles something from yoga called mantling.
  • Bowing and bobbing: Bowing and bobbing is an attention-getting technique used by tame parrots. It can become a neurotic behaviour for a constantly caged parrot. Also, ill parrots bow and bob, so you’ll have to watch your bird carefully to distinguish an attention-getting strategy from illness.
  • Head shaking: Some parrots, particularly African greys, shake their heads as if there’s water in the ears. No one really knows why they do this, and it seems to be normal. If your bird is doing this a lot, it may be a sign of an ear or nasal infection.
  • Leaning forward, wings shaking: If the wings are quivering, and the bird is staring at you, it’s about to launch itself at you. This is typical “I’m going to fly!” posture.
  • Quivering wings: A parrot that’s shivering or has quivering wings may be frightened, overly excited, or in breeding mode.
  • Beak language: An open beak, crouched posture, and hissing or yelling is prime biting posture. This is a frightened or displaying parrot.
  • Potty language: Backing up a step or two or crouching on the perch, lifting tail, and even making a little noise. You can catch “poop posture” before the poop happens and move the parrot to another place if you want him to poop elsewhere.
  • Chicken scratching: African greys and sometimes other parrots will “chicken scratch” at the bottom of their cage or on the carpet. Greys in particular do this because digging is part of their natural wild behaviour. If you don’t mind the mess, you can give your grey a sandbox (or litter box) to play in, using clean sand from the toy store.
  • Eye pinning (dilate/contract pupils): A parrot whose pupils are pinning in and out is excited and may be in bite mode. Some parrots do this when they’re excited about something they like, such as a new toy or good food.
  • Wing drooping: Wing drooping can be part of a mating dance, but in a listless bird, it can indicate illness.
  • Wing flipping: A parrot will flip its wings up and down to indicate frustration, get attention, or indicate aggression. It may also happen during moulting, when it’s trying to align new feathers or get rid of old ones that may be hanging or ready to fall out.

Posted by Toria

African Grey Biting – Does Your Grey Hate You?

October 30th, 2009

Q: African Grey biting

I have a baby Congo just about 5 months old who has been the sweetest baby this whole time until just recently. I know these types of parrots are known to be a one person bird but at 5 months he is starting to ruffle his feathers and try to bite anyone but me. Is that a little young to start taking to only 1 person. What can I do to try and get him used to others wanting to pet him or handle him?

A: African Grey biting – Expert Answer

Welcome to the beginning of sexual maturity. You can look forward to periods of this behavior throughout his life. Hormones will do this.

No, he’s not too young to start taking to only one person, and you can’t stop him from liking one person better than others.
However, that is no reason that he should not at least tolerating handling by other people.

If others are backing off when he threatens to bite, they are teaching him that he can get his way by being aggressive.
That has to stop. Now.

Attaching general biting info; some of the links and books would be very helpful in your situation.

From my Bird FAQ:

Birds don’t bite for no reason, and they don’t bite because they personally ”hate” you. One of the biggest mistakes owners make is to take their bird’s behavior personally. Birds are not human, no matter how much we’d like them to be.

Birds will not bite unprovked and always give other body language clues before a bite; if you fail to read their cues, you will get a well deserved bite.

A bird cannot say ”I’d rather not be petted or held right now.” or ”Stop that! I don’t like it!”. They can only communicate with their body language, and as a last resort, a bite to get the point across.

Birds will also become more nippy when hormonal. There is nothing you can do about that, it’s just part of owning a parrot.

The problem of biting parrots doesn’t lie with the bird, it lies with the owner.

I’m not saying that to be rude, it’s just plain true: You need to do some reading up on parrot body language & learn to recognize his moods by his body language AND learn to respect that there will be times when he will not want to be handled or pet by anyone, including you.

I recommend you first go out and buy the books Guide to a Well Behaved Parrot by Mattie Sue Athan and The Beak Book by Sally Blanchard (A biting & aggression specific book). Both books help you out a lot.
You can find them both on amazon.com.

Then check these links; Liz Wilson is the author, and she is a recognized expert in parrort behavior and behavior modification:


Shoulder rides can also be a potential hazard, and cause dominance related problems. Shoulder riding is not a ”right”, and not every bird can be allowed to have shoulder rides. For more information on why shoulder rides are not a good idea for owners who are experiencing a biting problem or dominance problem in their birds see:


Train Your Parrot To Stop Biting

Answered by Tviokh, courtesy of http://www.practical-pet-care.com

African Grey Parrot Diet

October 4th, 2009

For many many years a diet of a basic mixture of sunflower seeds, peanuts and some chilli peppers has been considered an adequate basis for the diet of African Greys. We now know it is a completely wrong approach. In the wild, African Greys feed mainly on nuts, including red palm nuts, fruit and leafy matter, like tree buds, flower buds and a small amount of seed. We can’t replicate their diet completely but we can do our best to provide a varied and nutritious diet for our companion parrots.

There is a number of formulated diet, otherwise known as pellets, present on the market. They are marketed as “complete” diets, which is a very misleading term. Most pellet manufacturers suggest the amount of pellets fed to be around 80% of the whole diet. This notion has been disapproved and argued with by many aviculturists. For a start, there are no pellets which would  differ in the composition depending on the bird§. So an african grey will receive just the same amount of every nutrient found in a pellet as would a budgie. However these two birds come from two completely different parts of the world and have quite different nutritional requirements. For example, African Greys are know to be calcium deficient more often than other parrot species, however budgies require a much smaller amount of calcium, as do cockatiels.

However, the pellets do provide a balanced complete protein, a wide range of vitamins and minerals. To balance out any possible overdosing or “underdosing” of the nutrients, it is suggested to feed pellets in the amounts of about 50% of the overall diet. Pellets also supply vitamin D to the diet, which is not found in other foods.

The brands of pellets to consider are: Hagen Tropical Granules, Harrisons Organic pellets, Zupreem pellets.

So what should the other 50% be made up of?

The greatest part of it should be made up of vegetables. The vegetables can make up to 40% of the whole diet. All vegetables and fruit have to be thoroughly washed before serving. It is best to buy organic and seasonal produce.

Recommended vegetables:
Sweet Potatoe
Chili Peppers
Brussel Sprouts

Leafy Greens (at least one of these should be given every day):
Broccoli with leaves and stalks
Cavolo Nero
Savoy Cabbage
White or Red Cabbage (best served lightly steamed, however fresh one is ok to give)
Spinach (no more than one or two times a week)
Dark-leaf lettuce
Dandelion Greens

Herbs (should be given just as for humans – as garnish, i.e in small amounts as they are too high in essential oils):

Berries (Make an excellent addition to a diet, but best used when in season, and organic.):

Of the wild ones:
Rowan Berries
Hawthorn Berries (consider limiting to about 5-6 a day)
Sloes (no pips)
Rose hips

Fruit (should be given as a treat for one simple reason – the fruit we buy are very far from their wild ancestors, and contain too much sugar and not much of anything else.):
The best fruit to offer are:
Grapes (limit to one or two grapes a day)

Papaya and Mango can be offered but have to be thoroughly peeled first. The skin of unripe Mango and Papaya contain toxins, but those papaya and mango we buy are usually picked unripe, so a care should be taken when and if feeding this fruit.

What you should aim for is to provide a large variety of fresh produce. Don’t concentrate on just one type of vegetable, offer as many as possible. To avoid picking, try blending all sorts of vegetables and greens in a food-processor, mixing with a few seeds and a chopped nut and serving it as a mash. Other ingredients can be added too. And here we move on to the next group of foods which should be included in the diet.

Grains and Pulses
These are the primary source of protein for the parrots. Parrots are vegetarians and should not be fed animal protein including eggs. The only time when parrots were ever observed consuming insects is during breeding. Unless you want to bring your parrot into hormonal state, avoid feeding any animals foods, like eggs, meat, fish etc.

Grains and pulses will provide a great source of protein and other nutrients.

Grains list:
Wholemeal Cous Cous
Wheat grain
Hulled Millet

Dried Peas
Mung Beans
Aduki Beans

Any other beans can be fed only after 8 hour soak, thorough rinse, and then 40-min rapid boil.

To prepare a good nutritious mix, containing a good amount of complete protein combine two parts of grains and one part of pulses. Cook according to the instructions on the package, mix altogether and freeze in portions. Defrost as needed.

Sprouted grains and pulses is another valuable component – more about it read herehttp://www.african-grey-parrots.co.uk/parrot-forum/index.php?topic=1635.0

Red Palm Nuts – give one, maximum 2 nuts a day
Red Palm Oil or Extract – no more than 1 teaspoon a day, or less if fed Red Palm Nuts

Regular nuts – limit to about 3-4 (depending on size) nuts a day.

Suggested Nuts:
Pistachios (unsalted!)

Avoid feeding peanuts.

Seed mix – try to get the best seed mix possible and give it as a treat, in the amount of about 1 teaspoon a day, best given in foraging toys.

Food Supplements:

There are a few natural supplements you can consider adding to promote the good condition of your parrot:

Flax seed – grind up about 1/2 teaspoon of flax seed and sprinkle it on food. This will provide valuable essential fatty acids

Spirulina – sprinkle food with just a light dusting (a tiny pinch) of spirulina. Spirulina is an algae extremely rich in protein and other beneficial compounds. It should be given in minute amounts and it will still be very effective. Excessive amounts can lead to health problems.

Kale – this is another algae which is a good source of iron. It can also be added in a minute amount (a tiny pinch) as a light sprinkling on food.

Bee pollen – rich in enzymes and amino acids, can be added to food in the amount of about 1/4 of a teaspoon a couple of times a week

Echinacea – this herb is a natural antibiotic and immune stimulant, which can help birds with chronic conditions and those recovering from illnesses.

Probiotics – probiotics promote the growth of beneficial bactera in the gut, reducing the amount of bad bacteria, and consequently the likelihood of illness. All birds who have been on antibiotics should be given a course of avian probiotics. Feather-pluckers and those recovering from illnes will also benefit from a course of probiotics.

Never feed any foods containing salt or sugar. Salt toxicity in parrots can be fatal. A small amount of salt can lead to toxicity. For this reason avoid feeding table foods.
Parrots are flock animals and enjoy eating with their flock – you. If you want your parrot to be at the table when you are having dinner provide him with his own dish and fill it up with healthy foods, cooked especially for him. This could be a good time to give a treat too.

High-fat foods, like chips or any other deep-fried foods or fatty foods, like butter and high-fat cheese are very harmful too. Just as humans, parrots suffer from high-cholesterol, heart attacks, clogged up arteries, and enlarged liver (which has to to process all that fat!).

To make your parrot’s life just a bit more exciting, consider baking some birdie bread, cooking something like a special birdie pizza or pasta (wholemeal) with tomatoe sauce (a pureed tomatoe with a sprinkle of basil)  Big Grin
For more recipes see here:

Written by Irina of Parrot Comforts your number one source for affordable safe parrot toys.

Help Please, My Parrot has flown away..

August 11th, 2009

Its summer time again, which means increased danger of escape for our feathered friends..I have noticed an increase accross the forums and societies i belong to in the instances of missing birds during the summer months. Its lovely hot sunny weather. People are out enjoying the weather. A front door is left open by children running in and out to play, we leave our own doors and windows open for fresh air, we forget and the bird simply flies through..people leave the cage outside to let their feathered friend have some much needed and appreciated sunlight and the cage door is opened by accident.. Suddenly our cherished bird is off and fluttering away.leaving broken hearts behind it..

If this happens to you don’t panic..There are many devoted people accross forums such as ours, operating a lost and found bird system..headed by John Haywood at the Parrot Society. If you contact John in the very first instance he will add your details and those of your missing bird to the lost and found birds register..this is by no means exclusive to African grey..any bird you loose can be included. Let him know all about it, the area lost, any distinctive markings or phrases the bird can say, whether or not it is chipped etc.

John Hayward runs the National Theft Register telephone 01869 325699. He is a Council Member of The Parrot Society UK. John works full time for the Register and has developed an expertise in this very important area. John also acts as a security advisor.
As a former Detective Inspector and Wildlife Liaison Officer he is very well qualified for this role and has had considerable success since taking on this responsibility in 1996.

If you or a friend has lost, found or had a parrot species stolen please contact John as a matter of urgency, his telephone number is as above or you can e-mail him on jh@ntr.supanet.com The service John provides to all bird keepers is invaluable and as he has nationwide contacts especially with most police forces he is able obtain some exceptional results. The Council of The Parrot Society UK thank him most sincerely for his dedication to lost, found and stolen birds.

Once you have contacted John you may want to follow some of the other advice offered here..I haven’t written it as such it is advice i have gathered from other societies and forums..but its all worth following..

If you belong to a bird club, please ask your newsletter editor to publish about your missing bird. . If your club holds a bird fair, please distribute any details. . If you know of someone who has lost a bird, please send the details along. If you are a member of any bird forums please use your birds lost and found section there to advertise the loss of your bird (you can also include details of any found birds here). Your forum moderators and many of the members will spend time making sure your details are published accross as many different forums and groups as possible, and may be able to marry your details with a found bird in your area advertised on another forum or message board.

Additional information from an author called Scott Lewis..

“Birds can live for days-weeks months, and even years after an escape. Never give up.

Always look for a grey BEFORE sun-up while it is still dark, and AFTER sundown. They are the most vocal then, and the most active.

Day 3 is when they get hungry and try to come in for food, they will go to just about any one at that time if they are tame.

ALWAYS have a recording of your grey when he is playing and having the most fun. Play this recording intermittently as you look for him.

Throw food on rooftops. Place a small cage on the roof of your house, or anyone’s where they grey has been seen.

Tell people to put him in a pillow case, and have friends carrying pillowcases while looking, or small cages.
Sometimes greys are caught by inexperienced holders and they don’t know what to do with them.

Water hoses do work if you can spray him shortly after his escape. Hit him with as much water as you can all at once. He is heavy from not having exercise, and the water throws him off enough to ground him for a bit. Do not drench just before dark unless you are sure you can get him.

If possible contact organizations 50 miles away. Sometimes people find them while traveling and go home with them. Greys can also get that far just flying.

Have someone watch the bird at all times if he is spotted and you need to go for help.
If you try to climb the tree, it often scares them up. A long branch may be better to coax him onto. Use your head here. Raise his cage to where he is.

Have friends and family miles away in other cities watch the lost and found ads.

If he is roosted near dark, wait until dark before trying to retrieve him. They don’t fly well at night, and they don’t want to fly, but make sure you don’t miss. And have your torch ready!

If sighted, keep people away, and let the owner try and coax him down. Have your helping friends in tall trees or on roof tops to watch where he goes if he takes off. You NEED spotters prepared and willing.

Finally, a hose does work, but don’t be shy. The idea is to totally soak the bird in a big hurry to the extent that it can’t fly. If you’re shy with the hose, you will simply watch a damp bird fly away.!!!”

Some interesting tips there to help retrieve your lost bird.

I was reading my parrot society magazine this morning.the august 2009 issue. In it, the Bomben family from Northamptonshire have written a letter of thanks to John Hayward for helping them recover their lost grey, Jack.

He flew away on July 26th this year, and the family were given John’s contact details from a bird sanctuary. John advised them to go outside and call for Jack at dusk and dawn when greys are most vocal, and to whistle his favourite tunes. The bird was short tailed so the family were advised he probably wouldn’t fly away too far. At about 7.30pm that evening they continued searching for Jack and to their amazment he whistled back from only metres away in a neighbour’s garden..happly sitting in a tree singing away! When approached by the Dad of the family the bird flew straight down into his arms! All of this happened within a day. The family wanted to share this story with other peple who have lost a much loved bird in this way..and to tell them to never give up hope.

Maybe you are reading this as someone who has lost a bird.. I hope I have been able to ease your mind and offer some helpful hints and tips.
Good luck and I hope you find your baby soon..

And for the rest of us..close the doors and windows when birdy is out!!

Thanks for reading, regards Mandy Taylor..African Grey Parrot Centre. x.x.x

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