Wondering if you can guide me with the care of my umbrella. Her vet is away on sick leave for a few months. I am her third owner.
I live in a two-room 35 ft camper trailer with six dogs and the bird. She likes to be around them – in her cage – and when they get treats she expects ( and gets) her own. They are her flock.
She has been a feather shredder since long before she came to me, about three years ago. She is also very indifferent to food. Her owner before me cared for her well and tried her hardest to get her to fresh fruit and veg. Her primary diet is Zupreem fruit blend, though specific preference is the pink. But she isn’t even very interested in eating.
Why are those feathers in the cage floor? Is it plucking, molting or over-preening?
We recently received an email from a subscribe of Sunday Brunch that I am sharing with you below:
I recently adopted a 15 year old Severe Macaw whose previous owner had a terminal illness. I could tell the Macaw had been taken care of meticulously from the written records of her care from Hatch Papers to recent complete blood panels however I never had the opportunity to question the previous owner concerning details of ‘Bandit”. I knew the moment I saw her that I wanted her as I owned a Severe 30+ years ago and have known several over the years but none as sweet as this little girl.
We spend at least an hour each day cuddled up and grooming each other, over the last month I finished
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.
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.
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.
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
There are many reasons that a parrot may become self-destructive. Until recently there has been very little information to help us along with our feathered friends. Feather destruction can be a difficult behavior to deal with and not all birds are able to recover from this bad habit. There are many ways however to help make your parrot happier and feel safer in their environment simply by adjusting their surroundings and improving stimuli.
If you have a parrot that is self destructive to his feathers start by taking a good look at his environment from a bird’s point of view. Is he located in front of a window? If so you should place the bird where it still has a view but not directly in front of the window. Parrots do not understand that they are in a home where the predators cannot get to them, so things they see outside are very frightening for them. You will also want to cover the back half of the cage (say against a wall) to give the bird a sense of security when perched toward the back of the cage.
This also provides much needed privacy for preening, napping and masturbation. It is important for your parrot to have privacy at his choice. Being on display twenty-four hours a day is very stressful and may cause feather destruction habits. You also want to place a perch high up in a back corner of the cage with several toys around and in front of the perch, so that when the parrot is back there he can watch his surrounding undetected as he would in the wild.
Working toys are also important. Your parrot should have at least three toys in the cage that make them work for their food. Toy manufacturers have come out with several wonderful working toys, plus you can make some right from home such as using an old pill bottle, washed, and filled with food. Fill a cotton sock and hang in cage or a small cardboard box or egg carton filled. Working toys should be rotated with other working toys so the parrot does not become bored.
Some birds will only bother their feathers during spring time because this a time of year when they would be building a nest and raising babies, so we need to increase the amount of things for them to chew during these times. If you know that your parrot picks badly once the weather gets warmer then start preparing the cage prior to the warm months by packing it with different shapes and textures for your parrot to explore and shred.
This will deter the parrot from chewing on himself. Use several different types of household items such as; adding machine tape, corn husks, paper towels, cotton socks, willow tree branches, grape vines wreaths, card board, TV guide, newspaper, tissue paper, Dixie cups, wooden spoons, whisk broom, raffia, Popsicle sticks, tongue depressors, shoe laces, straws, and also weave their leafy greens into the cage bars instead of just placing them in a bowl in front of them. Place the greens all around the cage, not worrying whether or not there is a perch in front of them.
Many parrots come from areas close to the equator and they receive twelve hours of both night and day. Some parrots are a little more nocturnal, with a parrot such as an African gray you would want to give them ten hours opposed to twelve. Where a cockatoo requires a good twelve hours of quiet uninterrupted darkness each night. If your parrot’s cage is located in a family area I suggest buying a smaller sleeping cage that you can place in a quiet area for nighttime.
Sitting on a play gym is not exercise. We need to take a better look at our birds’ daily habits and incorporate more exercise into their routines. You can have your bird go up and down stairs in your home, you can gently swing them around to make them flap their wings, or you can even toss them in the air (with proper wing clips, if the cut is too short I do not recommend this) and let them fly gently down, doing this several times in a row. You can also run around with the bird above your head allowing them to flap their wings vigorously. You can take them outside and let them climb a small tree up and down, or run in the yard, supervised of course.
There is also the option of allowing your bird flight, although this can be dangerous and you need to weigh the benefits and dangers of having a flighted parrot. When a parrot is properly exercised each day they are less likely to be problematic in the household. So sit down with the family and discuss an exercise routine for the parrot that will fit into the family’s routines. Children can be included even if the parrot does not care for them. You can have your children work with the bird inside the cage by playing music loudly and having the kids dance with the parrot. This is great exercise for both the kids and the bird. Always supervise small children with parrots.
Your parrot should receive at least two to four hours of “out of cage time” a day with at least one hour of one-on-one time with you. This is time that you spend directly with your parrot each day. This time can be broken up throughout the day it need not be all at once. You will want to be careful not to give this attention when the bird is feather picking, you will want to give this attention when the bird is being good.
If the bird is picking, distract his attentions away from his feathers before you go and give attention to him. This is very important as we tend to want to tell the bird no or go over and stop them. Instead make a noise by either knocking or clapping to distract, then praise the bird the moment it stops, and give attention. Lengthen the time between the praise and attention each time. Eventually, the destruction will be less and less if you are consistent.
Okay let’s recap; Evaluate cage location and move cage if necessary, sleep 10-12 hours depending on breed, shower daily even several times a day, working for food, toys that are easily shredded with different textures, and of course EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE!!!!!!