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Green-Cheeked Conures – Captive Care and Natural History

Uroko viviThe decision to purchase or adopt a parrot requires careful consideration. For all their wonderful qualities, these intelligent, social birds are very demanding of one’s time and finances, and not suited to all homes. One species, however, stands out as an “almost” safe bet.  The Green-Cheeked Conure (Pyrrhura molinae) adapts well to many different situations, and is less likely to display the behaviors that frustrate so many parrot owners. Although not trouble-free, it may well be the best choice for many parrot enthusiasts.

Pet Qualities

The word “fun” invariably arises when Green-Cheeked Conure owners speak about their pets. Even by parrot standards, they are curious and playful. Their affectionate nature and willingness to be coddled is often compared to that of a well-socialized cockatoo. These qualities, along with their small size, have skyrocketed Green-Cheeks into prominence in the pet trade. When I first began working for NYC bird importers in the 1970’s, they were unknown, and were uncommon as recently as 20 years ago. Read More »

Meyer’s Lorikeet – Natural History and Captive Care

MaleoMost parrot aficionados know of the Meyer’s Parrot, but the beautiful green lorikeet bearing the same “first name” is relatively unstudied in the wild, and not commonly kept here in the USA. The Meyer’s Lorikeet (Trichoglossus flavoviridus mayeri), a subspecies of the Yellow-and-Green Lorikeet, differs from many related species in both coloration and social behavior.  A forest-dweller confined to a single island, this unique bird deserves the attention of aviculturists now, while wild populations are still relatively stable.


Three shades of green color the plumage of the 8-inch-long Meyer’s Lorikeet. The breast feathers and those behind the eye are tipped with yellow, and the bill is bright orange.  While lacking the “flamboyant” reds and blues often associated with lorikeets, it is quite spectacular in appearance. Read More »

The Natural History and Captive Care of the Red-Headed Finch or Paradise Sparrow

Red-headed FinchThe Red-Headed Finch (Amadina erythrocephala) somewhat resembles its more familiar cousin, the Cutthroat Finch, but is a bit larger and, in my opinion, even more striking in appearance.  It is also a more reliable breeder than the Cutthroat and, if properly cared for, may live for over a decade.  Many keepers report that their Red-Headed Finches mimic sounds, and the songs of other birds, quite well.


In place of the Cutthroat Finch’s attractive splash of color (please see photo), the male has a bright red or crimson head, and his breast is beautifully marked with black-rimmed white spots.  Females lack the red head and are more somberly-colored in general.

The alternate common name, Paradise Sparrow, is apt – in part due to the brilliant plumage but also because this 5 ¼ inch-long bird is stoutly built, and puts one more in mind of a sparrow than a typical finch. Read More »

Holiday Season Treats and Cautions for Parrot and Finch Owners

Yellow Naped AmazonHoliday visits and celebrations, pleasurable as they are, can also bring some nasty surprises to both people and pets.  A bit of planning now can help make the upcoming season safe and enjoyable for you and your birds.

Stress, Noise and Late Nights

Responsible bird owners know that certain holiday treats and, of course, alcohol, are bad for birds.  But many overlook the important role that sleep plays in bird health (please see article below). If you entertain late, or will be out often during the holidays, keep in mind that most birds need 10-12 hours of sleep in a dark, quiet environment. If necessary, move your pet’s cage to an area that is off-limits to guests, and shut the room lights via a timer if the rest of your house will be lit after the usual “lights-out” time.  Maintaining a stable day/night cycle is good for your birds mental and physical health.

Holiday parties can mean a house stocked with loud, tipsy guests, excited children and unfamiliar dogs. Each of these “creatures” (especially, those influenced by alcohol!) may take liberties with your pets that they otherwise would not. If it will be difficult for you to monitor all that is going on, consider keeping your birds in a locked room while parties are in progress (or “raging”, as the case may be!). Read More »

Winter Bird Feeding – Rare Bird Update and Some Useful Products

Mountian BluebirdWinter brings with it unique bird-watching opportunities, as cold weather forces otherwise-shy species to visit feeders in search of food.  Rare visitors driven south by severe weather and others blown off course during migration also brighten birders’ days.  Today I’d like to alert you to several new (and standard) bird feeding products, and highlight some ways to see the unusual avian visitors to your neighborhood.

Birding Surprises

Wherever you are located, winter birding is an exciting prospect.  Often, unexpected birds tend to stay put for quite awhile, due to disorientation and the need to remain near a newfound food source.  Checking with the many on-line and telephone services (yes, phone-based reports still exist, check here!) is a great way to remain aware of what’s going on nearby; if luck is with you, you can then go out and see the bird that has been reported. Read More »

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