How Windy City Parrot Looks At Our Bird’s Holistically

mitch rezman catherine tobsing peaches the senegal parrot in Windy City Parrot
Read in 20 minutes

 

It’s hard to find precise statistics but if you talk to enough avian veterinarians you’ll learn that almost 50% of pet bird deaths are caused by malnutrition.

 

Feeding the single species of dog is a snap. Dogs will happily eat mostly kibble (aka pellet if you’re feeding “engineered food” to birds).

 

A Congo African grey can crack open a walnut, a cockatiel cannot thus we offer 26 brands of bird food ensuring the nutritional needs of all the bird and parrot species in our niche.

 

DYK – Eclectus parrots have an elongated digestive systems that require food with no vitamin supplementation as vitamins can become toxic whilst sitting too long in said digestive system?

 

If you’re not sure even what to look for or just seeking suggestions on bird food, recommendations – please click here to reach out.

 

Cage(s) environment(s)

4 budgies in bright bird cage

We have no rules for proper cage size. Over time if you have one or more birds you’ll end up with multiple cages for transport and/or sleeping.

 

Beyond allowing a bird to stretch its wings horizontally, we feel the shape size and style of its primary cage is determined by the bird, the room its in and the family’s life style.

 

Today many freelancers and telecommuters working from their home office are also captive bird keepers. This enables their bird(s) to be out of the cage most daylight hours. The cage then serves mainly as a sleeping cage.

 

In this case you can get away with a smaller (day) bird cage. If a bird is held captive in a cage 12 hours a day because of the owner’s family’s “life”, a larger bird cage is in order.

 

Many people get hung up on the specifics of bird cage bar spacing not realizing that some manufacturers measure from between the two bars, others manufacturers measure from outside the two bars and some manufacturers measure from the center of both bars.

 

Which means we make it a priority to look at other areas of the cage that a bird can possibly escape from like around bird food and water dish doors.

 

The top third of your cage should hold a minimum of 10 upwards to however many bird toys work for your bird and the cage.

We don’t think there can ever be enough bird toys in a bird’s cage. Different shapes textures and goals.

Mechanical toys have the goal of getting one or more treats by performing certain (cerebular) tasks.  The goal of shredding toys is to destroy the toy. Other toys (having calcium parts per se – per se? does anyone really still use that?) help with beak trimming duties.

We’ll sell you bird toys AND show you how to make your own bird toys on the cheap.

 

The canopy effect is when bird toys are not only a form of education, foraging and enrichment but they represent the leaves of the trees your bird would be living in the wild providing privacy.

 

Birds are prey animals. In their natural environment they spend 60% of their time searching for food and 40% of the time trying not to be food.

lizzy and dolly senegal parrot in the windy city parrot birdie b

Birds like the privacy a bird cage full of toys much like you have window coverings in your home.

 

Ideally bird cages should be placed against two walls in a corner of a room to allowing the bird to feel less exposed which helps make the bird feel secure.

 

The problem with putting bird cages in front of big picture windows is that birds do not understand the meaning of glass and can be spooked by feral cats or hawks flying by not comprehending the protection the clear glass window affords them which can lead to stress.

 

We remove the grates from our cages and just lay down newspaper. We have a Senegal parrot and 4 budgies all rescues. Yep – we walk the walk.

 

Lighting/light cycles

Budgie perching on ceramic bowl at sunset looking as shadow of self on wall

 

Light affects birds on much deeper levels than mammals. Sunlight passing through a bird’s eye passes to the pineal gland which in conjunction with things like melatonin, enable vibrating cells that keep time like a musicians metronome.

Birds know what time it is as accurately as a Rolex but they just don’t know what day it is.

 

Light cycles control a bird needs to breed, molt or migrate. The problem is that we keep our birds in North America with light cycles that change throughout the year, confusing our birds and disrupting their circadian rhythms.

Most parrots and parakeets are natively found in equatorial regions of earth which have approximately 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness and that’s been for the past 99 million years or so.

To be clear I loosely define equatorial regions to be  between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn each lie at 23.5 degrees latitude.

The Tropic of Cancer is located at 23.5° North of the equator and runs through Mexico, the Bahamas, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, and southern China.

The Tropic of Capricorn lies at 23.5° South of the equator and runs through Australia, Chile, southern Brazil (Brazil is the only country that passes through both the equator and a tropic), and northern South Africa. [More about latitude and longitude here]

……………which is where most parrots hark from.

Do you know what your birds instinctual expectations are?

Newsflash – they don’t necessary align with yours or the internets or “what you’ve heard”.

For 99 million years, parrots have beed feeding themselves, making babies, finding homes in logs, under rocks and in the ground (burrowing parrot aka pategonian conure) without the help of a single human.

Yet ever since the Alexandrine parakeet got named after Al T Great in the mid third century BC we’ve been keeping birds captive.

Feathered factoid. Quaker parrots aka monk parakeets are the only parrots to build nests.

Here we are 24 centuries later. Bird rescues are overflowing because humans learned expectations don’t align with their birds intinctual expections.

burrowing parrot aka pategonian conure DickDaniels (http://carolinabirds.org/)

Negative behaviors like screaming, plucking, prolific egg laying  and other hormonal problems discourage even the most well intentioned pet bird companion.

 

One of the easiest ways to help prevent the aforementioned unfavorable behaviors and help your bird make more sense of life by keeping its circadian clock in tune can be done simply with artificial light connected to a timer placed directly over the bird cage.

 

By setting the timer for 12 hours on and 12 hours off (not respecting daylight savings time) your bird will know when the day begins and when it ends in a time more closely related to its equatorial instinctive expectations see as discussed above.

 

Out of the cage environment

 

What is your plan when you remove the bird from the cage? Where do you put the bird?

 

We know that all birds need to chew and most parrots poop about every 15 minutes. Do you have the apparatus to handle those two main criteria, i.e. a bird play stand and/or a play top bird cage.

 

Your bird doesn’t know the difference between a $100 table top bird stand and your $250 kitchen chair.

 

Because your bird doesn’t have access to the Internet it doesn’t know the proper perch size or diameter. It’s best to have at least three types of perches, hardwood, softwood and a soft rope perch for sleeping on.

 

Grooming perches is are okay but they should be kept near low traffic areas like food dish is where they are active for five or 10 minutes and then get off the grooming perch so it is not too abrasive on their feet

 

Clipped or flighted 

yellow cockatiel wearing old fashioned flight helmet standing on a cloud

 

We are advocates for keeping birds flighted. A flighted bird is a happier healthier bird. A flighted bird gets exercise and is less hormonal because the energy burn.

 

A flighted bird can more easily balance on perches especially at night in the dark, meaning there is less likelihood of them falling.

 

Keeping all the flight feathers on a bird can avoid feather plucking as birds tend to over preen the rough edges on flight feathers left by even the most smoothest of surgical scissors.

 

If other animals are in the house, flight allows the bird to escape.

 

In that birds are prey animals they have a flight or bite mentality. They can’t fly away when they sense danger They can and will, lash out and bite because they can’t fly away fleeing the danger.

Wing clipping reduces the chances of humans being bit by birds – which is never acceptable.

If you elect to clip your birds wings, we will work with you to understand how to properly trim flight feathers so as to keep your bird safe.

Remember, even with clipped wings your bird can fly across the state in a heartbeat with the right wind, out of doors.

 

Feathers

 

Small parrots have 2000 to 5000 feathers. Larger parrots can have 7000 or 8000 feathers. Depending upon the species all of these feathers are replaced from every year or over a number of years.

 

Feathers are everything to a bird. It keeps them warm in the cold. They keep water from touching it’s skin. Feathers enable flight.

 

Also known as an integumentary system (skin, fur, scales depending upon the species are all integumentary systems) takes quite a lot of work keeping all the feathers properly oiled (oil from its preening gland applied by its beak) and zippered.

 

Feathered factoid: Amazon parrots have no preening gland thus must be bathed more than other parrots.

 

Training

 

Five minutes of clicker training five days a week will change the relationship with your bird. If you have a screamer or a biter that’s hard to handle, start with clicker training. You will be amazed at its effectiveness.

Man training a green wing macaw parrot

Sex

 

We have these birds for years and assume that they are of a certain sex because we were told that at some point with no verification.

 

It is opaque to me why, a pet bird companion will not spend $20 and get its bird DNA sexed? A bird that is not laying eggs proves nothing. Eggs can slip out the fallopian tube and get caught in folds of fat.

Lack of egg production does only implies male but proves nothing.

 

Knowing if a bird is a female is especially helpful when a bird molts. Molting challenges all the birds systems but primarily the digestive system gets severely taxed  as the system converts proteins into amino acids necessary to replace those thousands of feathers.

 

If a bird should come into a brooding mode during the molt there is even more demand for calories, vitamins and other biologically neccessary chemicals and compounds (as much as a 30% bump in caloric demand is made during a brooding period by the body).

 

Brooding females can have a totally different personality when they are in the mommy mode. You may not even recognize your bird during these periods. 

Look for it and know how to deal with your birds potential different personalities.

 

Many people say that alpha males are a myth when it comes to pets. Try convincing someone who’s had to “pry” a moody Green wing macaw off the top of a 7 foot tall parrot cage.

 

Species

 

As mentioned before we provide to care solution for an enormous number of bird species. Not all pet birds are created equal. They may be similar within a given flock species, but bird species traits can be remarkably different.

 

As an example, we rescued our Senegal, Peaches. She had spent literally seven years in a cage 22 hours a day and her only caregiver was a woman. We naturally assumed Peaches would bond with Catherine.

 

We knew Senegal’s were basically a one person bird but surprisingly the only human that she will positively interact with is me – a man. She will demonstrate outright defiance with anyone else including Catherine.

 

Now take the African grey parrot (both Congos and timnehs). An African grey will bond from a young fledgling until its four or five with a single person.

 

And then it may re-bond with another person in the family at the age of 5 or 6 if available. In the wild this keeps the species clean by reducing inbreeding.

 

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Author:

He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they would visit their monthly birdie brunch in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.

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