Are Cassowaries Smarter than Emus?

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Cassowaries are rarities, very large flightless birds in the genus Casuarius native to the tropical forests of New Guinea, nearby islands and northeastern Australia.There are three extant species recognized today.

Joe Krathwohl (Facebook)

Both of ours are tame and perform in our bird shows.

My ringneck parakeets are biting me one day after I bought them – help

Read in 8 minutes

You may have noticed the “live help” tab at the bottom of the site coming on now and then: Here’s a “fly on the wall” look

Chatting with Guest (Egypt)

Mitch: Hello, how can I help?

Visitor: I brought 2 Indian parrots 6 months old yesterday.

Visitor: Yesterday they were nice but today they tend to bite so hard.

Continue reading “My ringneck parakeets are biting me one day after I bought them – help” »

5 Ways to reduce hormonal bird behavior before you see the avian vet

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Hypothetical – a 21st century genie sits down next you on a park bench. He looks pretty normal and explains that the whole genie thing has evolved along with modern society.

The dapper young lad named Gene (really?) goes on to say;

“The new rules are that you still get three wishes but “me” the genie decides what they are? It’ll be fun.

Wish number one is from this point forward you will have the ability to fly.

It gets better.

Continue reading “5 Ways to reduce hormonal bird behavior before you see the avian vet” »

When sun conures attack!

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Good morning and thanks for your time,

I enjoy reading your newsletters every Sunday, and I just knew yesterday, Sunday, I had to contact you. In short, my sweet female, 1.5 year old, sun conure decided to attack her sitter yesterday when she entered our home. Here is the scenario:

  1. We had three other people present whom she ignored.
  1. The Super Bowl was on. The constant annoying cheering of the tv fans.

Now, she did not attack her right away. Perhaps it was not intended to be attack mode. Once the sitter passed me and my bird Sofia, Sofia immediately flew towards her, the sitter, not expecting it, flailed her arms.

Continue reading “When sun conures attack!” »

Why 4 roommates 2 feathered and 2 human need to work things out.

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Jan 9, 6:36pm

Hello, I have two Caiques. The first we have had for 6 years and is sweet mostly. The second, we introduced about 2 years ago. At first, the two about killed each other, but now they are friends.

However, the second caique does have an issue with wanting to be super nice to me and then all of the sudden out for blood. It goes for fingers, almost always. I am fairly sure it had a bad childhood and feel awful for it. It has some great times, but then sometimes will revert and attack. It goes in phases.

I am curious if you have any ideas of how to break this? Currently, to hold the bird or get it, most times I need to have a towel, which it is so smart to hold it’s wings out so I cannot wrap it up. It flips out from the towel also so I cannot grab it, always going for fingers and biting. Thank you for any information! Sometimes I’m at my wits end with this bird, but have been trying and trying to make it have a great life.

Continue reading “Why 4 roommates 2 feathered and 2 human need to work things out.” »

Hormonal changes are coming to your bird this spring what’s your plan?

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Americans have the ACLU – Captive birds in America have us.

Part of a call from Hawaii at the Birdie Boutique

“I suggest72 hours of constant light, meaning the bird would be in its cage for 3 days, with the lights on”.

Cage birdkeepers response “she’ll never go for something like that

My email response

As an advocate for pet birds, I wanted to follow up on your lovebird’s reproductive issues.

If a child is sick, he or she does not determine whether or not to accept care.

Although you state your bird would “have nothing to do with it” – she can easily be locked in a cage for three days for her own good so as to extend her life.

Continue reading “Hormonal changes are coming to your bird this spring what’s your plan?” »

Why cage timeouts will not solve your birds biting problem

Read in 6 minutes

A little bit about Facebook private groups. Because they are private groups, I cannot share the content that the members post nor any of the photos or videos from that group because they are “private“.

That said, the subjects themselves are well worth sharing so the only content from the group discussion will be that of mine with just a synopsis of how the problem was related to the Facebook group.

The conversation started about what the gentleman had referred to as a “hard tip” feather that was annoying the bird. Not surprisingly he got bit when he tried to pull the feather out. Not understanding the impact of what we call a broken blood feather as innocuous as it sounds can be responsible for the death of a pet bird.

Continue reading “Why cage timeouts will not solve your birds biting problem” »

Clicker training videos for birds – from tricks to flight

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It is opaque to me as to why cage bird keepers refuse to embrace clicker training. We spend hundreds (thousands) of dollars on birds, equipment, toys, accessories and food (thank you very much) but we spend so little time actually “training” these incredibly smart animals.

Much like those taking their dogs for a “drag” in the morning on my way to work – I see no control exerted by the humans.

Isn’t having a pet that responds positively to your behavior requests infinity more enjoyable?

Continue reading “Clicker training videos for birds – from tricks to flight” »

Short Circuit from love to attack behavior with my rainbow lory recently

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On Sun, Oct 9, 2016 at 4:29 PM UTC, Connie S wrote:

I looked at the anatomy of a bird’s brain that you had on a recent email. I would like to know more about the portion that says: Short Circuit from love to attack behavior! That is happening with my rainbow lory recently.

anatomy of a bird brain

He is 18 years old and has suddenly started attacking my hand when I reach to have him climb on my finger. Otherwise, he hangs out with me with no problem – when I’m sitting in a chair or lying on the bed.

Continue reading “Short Circuit from love to attack behavior with my rainbow lory recently” »

Why Is My Bird Suddenly Biting Me?

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Aug 01, 2016 11:39 am

Joanne (

I am so torn by my birds recent behavior. While I was cleaning his cage this morning, I let him roam. He was well behaved. He started pecking at the carpet and I said “No” in a stern voice. Of course he fluffed up and waddled around.

When I finished, I gave him his bath which he loved. He just goes to the top of his cage and I spray and sing to him. After that, I got the cape I usually wear when holding him. He got all excited and came right up to my shoulder. He nuzzled and kiss my ear many times.

Then I sat down and just moved a charging cable away so he wouldn’t be tempted to chew on it. Well, as soon as I did that he lunged at my forearm! He didn’t break skin but it hurt. Last week for no reason, I went to pick him up from the floor just to bring him higher on a chair by me, and he latched onto my left index finger and bit hard. Still healing from that incident.

I am really concerned about this behavior. I inherited Banjo back in 2012. after his owner passed. He was 8 years old at the time. I would hate to surrender him but I just can’t trust him. Oh, he also bit clear through my right ear about a year ago. That time he did’t want to go back to his cage.

Hope you can give me some advice.

Joanne 🙁


Hi Joanne,

Thanks for contacting us and I’m sorry to hear your bird has been behaving badly.

First, let me say I feel badly that I didn’t get back to you faster. As you may know, we have just launched the new improved (or will be very soon) Windy City Parrot website and I have to admit that in the press to finish I wasn’t as rapid with responses as normal. I do apologize to both you and your bird.

I see several possibilities as to exactly why you were bitten. But I could probably help you better if I knew more about the bird and you. Would you mind answering a few questions to help me help you??

Here we go…..

  • The first question of course is his species, so what type of parrot is he?
  • Has the bird seen an avian vet since you inherited him?
  • Did he come to you with any records of hatch date, preferred foods, normal schedule?
  • Did he go through a period of mourning for the person he lost during the first months he was with you?
  • What was the family composition from which he came? Include how many people lived in house with him, other pets etc. What is the family composition in your home including other pets?
  • How would you rate his level of tameness, desire to play with and interact with humans? Has he been trained to respond to any “manners” commands.

Step-up is a basic “manners” command

  • Tell me about the average daily schedule. When does he wake up? How many hours does he get out of cage time and how many hours does he get quality time with you outside the cage? When is bedtime? Is he covered at night? How do you make him feel secure during his sleep? How many hours of nighttime sleep does he get UNDISTURBED? Does he exhibit any sleep issues such as night frights? I want to learn his habits.
  • Tell me about his cage, size, perches (number and TYPE), playtop if an, any play stand, outdoor cage, etc. Where is the cage located in your home? Is it directly in front of a large window or sliding glass door? Is it in the center of family activity or isolated in a corner?
  • Where does he like to spend his in cage time and where in the cage does he like to sleep.Does he have a spot in the cage where he can “hide” when he wants privacy, perhaps behind a grouping of toys?  
  • Does he have a “bed” like a pet tent or snuggle hut (some species love these, others don’t) I want to learn all about how many toys he has in the cage, perches, as much as possible about what his personal home is like.

Some birds like the security of a Snuggle Hut


Find All Birdie Bed Time Products Here

  • What does he eat during an average day? Please be specific as to food or pellet type, human foods, supplements, eating with people or only in cage. What about snacks and treats?  The more info the better.
  • How does he react to new toys? Does he accept new toys quickly or wait 2 weeks or more to accept a new one?
  • Does he actively play, exercise, flap his wings sometimes, wander around on the floor a while perhaps following you? How much quality one-on-one time does he spend with you in an average day and when does this usually happen.

Does he accept new toys like this Amazon?

  • If there are other family members, how does he react around them? What about strangers entering the home? Does he accept them or become aggressive and perhaps nippy?
  • You refer to him in the “masculine” voice. How do you know he is male? Has he been DNA tested at some time? At his age (young adult), it could be critical to know the gender for absolute certain but I’ll explain why and how to inexpensively learn gender when I reply to you after learning more about you and him.

I know this sounds like a lot of info to provide but if you just answer each one, perhaps including a photo of the cage with toys, the bird, and write a sentence or two about each question I’ll have enough information to really help you.

But we aren’t quite finished just yet….. I’d like you to think back to the time he bit your ear. What time of year did it happen and was he perhaps molting at the time? What happened IMMEDIATELY before the bite? Think not just of you and him but outside noises, activities by others in the home, a car backfiring nearby, anything you can recall happening in the 60 seconds before the bite. Also did you notice a warning of any type.

Think of the recent nip and provide me the same information.

I truly look forward to hearing from you with detailed info so that I can provide you a response that is accurate and helpful.

I promise that upon receiving your reply you will get a rapid response either in a personal email, or in the next Sunday Birdie Brunch — or both. I didn’t find an account for you on our website so you want to be sure to signup for our opt-in weekly Sunday Birdie Brunch.

Create an account (I noticed you don’t have one currently) and you’ll get 100 points just for creating your account as a new customer. You can spend points just like money on things your parrot will love.

Then login to the website and on the homepage you’ll learn how you can earn points for having created a new customer account, or earn points just for logging in and other things. It’s a limited time offer and points can be used just like money to pay for items you want or need from our website.

You’ll get an opportunity to sign up for Sunday Birdie Brunch through the screen you will encounter that invites you to sign up.

We plan to provide a truly awesome website learning and shopping experience once we get these technical bugs caused by the website migration. We want to help you with your problem with you parrot and also enjoy a long happy relationship providing you with a knowledge base, blog and other tools to help you learn to make living with a companion parrot safe, fun and easy for both you and your bird.

Nora, Feature Writer, Website Admin Asst.

Unfortunately, I have not learned the answers to these questions from Joanne but I do hope to hear from her soon.

This is a great example for others who need assistance from Windy City Parrot regarding their parrot-related problems to use as a guide to providing the info we need to best help you. 

written by nora caterino
approved by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

Banjo, the African Grey

Read in 4 minutes

I have an African Grey who simply loves only me. However, when I let him out of his cage to wonder around, he insists on biting my woodwork! Is there anything I can do to stop this behavior? When he does this, I put him back in his cage. He really doesn’t want to go, and ruffles his feathers.



Dear Catherine,

Thanks so very much for your quick response.

I don’t let Banjo out of his cage everyday. Usually once or twice a week. I have a cat, too and simply can’t trust them unsupervised. He doesn’t care for my significant other either. He really only like women, especially me. I am surprised that he took to me so well. I inherited him at age 8, and that was 4 years ago. He’s bitten me a couple of times, but only because I had the cell phone up to my ear and him on the other shoulder. He’s so very jealous I guess of anything else near my ear except him. He calls me “mommy”, too. So sweet!

I’m gonna try the nutri berry & cracker idea. I do have a large plastic peanut that I can hide huts in. He has toys in his cage which he plays with ofter. Love to come out of cage for a bath once a week, too. I just spray him with luke warm water. He always goes to the top of his cage for that and flaps & flaps his wings. He doesn’t know that he can frly. His wings have never been clipped. He just waddles around like a little old man.

The woodwork is by the refrigerator. No he really doesn’t have to go that far if I can divert him. I’ll try. He wonders around and usually end up there. Now today I had him out but sat on the floor with him, and he just stayed close to me. He scraps his feet on the floor like he’s playing a banjo, hence his name. Not once id he try to go for the woodwork. I also put 2 new toys in his cage. Let’s see. I’ll give it a try. Thanks again.


Dear Joanne

Sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your Grey. And you want to keep it that way. Putting the bird back in the cage after it tries to chew your woodwork or does something else that you don’t want him to is not the best response.

Your bird does not understand the relation between the two events. All he knows is he has come out and while he is doing so, gets grabbed and caged. I can understand his frustration. And yours.

Where is the cage in relation to the woodwork? Does he have to pass it to get to you or his stand, toys? If so, can you rearrange the room so he bypasses the woodwork?

Is he out a bit and then wanders over to the woodwork? Does he comes out and zero in on the woodwork?

What does he have to do when he is out of the cage? Ideally you should have something set up for him to go right to when he is out. A stand with toys, a special toy box filed with surprises? Like a small child a parrot will look for something interesting. You need to provide that.

When he is let out pick him up and set him on a stand with something fun to nibble or play with. By pass the woodwork. He should everytime he comes out be diverted to a stand or play area with fun stuff, not just the way it was left the day before and the day before that. Wrap a nutra-berrie in paper and leave in a food dish, leave a paper towel wrapped cracker.

Distract, distract, distract. You may also want to try Clicker Training. You devise fun little games and tricks for your bird that he will soon look forward to being rewarded for and not give the woodwork a second look.

Also keep in mind, that a pet that wants attention will do things that make you react to them and that you do react by coming over and picking up the bird, so it then becomes the bird training you.

We wish you the best


your zygodactyl footnote

How do I stop my Indian ringneck parrot from biting me?

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From: Sharon McArdle 

Date: Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 7:06 PM

Subject: two separate advises needed: ringneck parrot-biting and unsalted sunflower seeds

To: “” <>

Sunnie- not sure if a male/female (DOB=4/27, took him/her home 6/27) and is a little over 3 mos. old now. I held her a few times @ the owner’s shop starting @1 1/2 mos. old while she was still being hand-fed.I brought her home when she began to eat (pellets) on her own. She was cuddly, would snuggle in my hands and sit on my shoulder at length.

Recently,when I approach her cage, put my finger out and say “step up”, Sunnie lunges at me and BITES my finger a few times (and draws blood). WHY? When I give her (all are raw)a sugar snap pea, a slice of a baby carrot or a kernal of corn -she takes it and eats it in my hand. Why is she biting? Are ring necks territorial?

Also, I give him/her a “treat” (unsalted sunflower seed)-maybe 5-10 throughout the day, which she loves. The owner of the pet shop said sunflower seeds are “no good because they have a high fat content.” Is that true and are they a no-no?

Please give me your advice on both of the above.

I have another 4 mos. old male ring neck who never did/does the biting. They’re both in separate cages, with their doors open. They “socialize” with each other; the male chases Sunnie on the living room rug- no attacks, hurts, etc. while they “play”.

Please respond when you can. I will surely appreciate your wisdom and advice.


A well bitten….Sharon

Hi Sharon, Thanks for contacting Windy City Parrot with your questions. Mitch has been tied up with an important project and asked me to help you.

You have several dynamics going on with your two ringnecks. If you are reaching into Sunnie’s cage when you get bit, then s/he is just protecting her territory. Let Sunnie come out on her/his own and then request the “step up”. Training a behavior like “step up” is best done away from the cage to prevent territory issues. You can teach Sunie to step up onto a spare perch when inside the cage to prevent bites.


Also at about 3-6 months parrots tend to go through a stage of testing how hard they can nip before it is a “no-no”. Wait until Sunnie comes out of the cage by her/himself and then ask Sunnie to step up. My African Grey was taught “gentle” because when he takes my finger in his beak, if he gets a bit rough, I simply say “gentle” and he releases the pressure.

When you get nipped hard, remove yourself Sunnie’s sight immediately for 2 minutes or so. The only discipline birds understand if removal of the attention. Soon Sunnie will learn not to bite as much, but when you enter the cage with your hand, the bird is frightened or someone is paying you too much attention, you will likely get bitten. Nips are simply normal behavior in these situations, so avoid picking Sunnie up or take her/him back to the cage if already on you if one of these situations is about to arise. Learn Sunnie’s body language and you’ll soon be able to notice clues that a nip is coming and can avoid the blood loss.

Sunnie may be considering the other ring neck as a flock member and as a result has begun to consider you an outsider. This often happens when there are two birds of the same specie in a home.

You mentioned not knowing Sunnie’s sex. With two birds of the same species in your home, I strongly suggest you learn the gender with a simple home DIY mail-in DNA test kit. You can find the inexpensive kit here: DNA Kit. If the two birds are a potential pair, you may experience some real challenges during breeding season next year or so.


You mentioned you are only feeding Sunnie raw veggies to supplement the pellets. You may find s/he also enjoys them lightly steamed. Birds enjoy the different textures.


Let’s address the question about whether sunflower seeds are a “no-no”. Yes, sunflower seeds are high in fat and if mixed into some birds’ food on seed and supplement diets they will pick out just the sunflower seeds, refusing to eat all the other nutritious food in their dish, even the fruits and veggies. The addiction to sunflower seeds is quite common and has resulted in improvements in quality bird food lines that have added blends like Safflower Gold No Sunflower choices.


However, you mentioned Sunnie eats a pellet diet and you are giving her sunflowers only as treats. Sunflowers are great for treats and perfect for training sessions while in the “perform for food” stage of training a new behavior. A lot of sunflower seeds is a “no-no” but a limited amount as a treat is just fine. I’d suggest limiting it to 5-6 on a normal basis and never more than your limit of 10. You might consider skipping a day and using other treats as well. Young birds of all species love a bit of millet spray as a treat or give her a bit of fruit such as a grape cut in half, a small slice of apple or some banana.


I hope this helps, Sharon. If we can help you in any other way, please let us know.

Nora Caterino

your zygodactyl footnote