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Articles concerning owning pet birds as pets as a whole.

Feeding Finches – Tips and Special Considerations – Part 1

Gold Finch

Many popular finches will live for years on relatively simple diets composed of a few types of seed.  However, studies of wild finches have revealed that most consume a wide range of other foods.  The following suggestions will help you to maintain your finches in peak health, color and breeding condition… a bit more work than simply filling a feed cup with seeds each day, but well-worthwhile. Read More »

Lessons Learned – Larger Bird Cages Can Cause Problems – Part 2

White crested Laughing ThrushWhile providing one’s birds with more space is always a good idea, certain precautions must be taken.  Please see Part 1 of this article to read about an ugly surprise I was handed by a pair of White-Crested Laughing Jay-Thrushes, Garrulax leucolophus.  Today we’ll learn a bit more about these captivating little songsters.

Natural History

White Crested Laughing Jay-Thrushes range throughout much of South and Southeast Asia, and may be encountered from the Eastern slopes of the Himalayas to Vietnam.  They frequent forest edges and overgrown scrub, where their flashy plumage and “maniacal”, laughing calls render them among the most conspicuous of all avian residents.

Jay-Thrushes and some related species (please see photo of White-Collared Yunia) live in extended family groups and have complex social behaviors.  Youngsters usually stay within their parent’s range for quite some time, and help in rearing subsequent broods.

Zoo Antics

Both wild and captive individuals are playful and curious in the extreme, and never fail to entertain observers (at least when they are not stealing keys or other items…please see Part 1 for some amusing stories).  More than one keeper has compared their intelligence and sociability to that of parrots.

Those I cared for occupied a ½ acre exhibit at the Bronx Zoo.  They followed me from feeding station to feeding station and, had I not tossed them treats, would have stolen all the tastiest food items from each pan before the exhibit’s other birds had a chance to feed.  In the course of putting out the bird pans I had to leave one part of the exhibit, go outside and re-enter by another door, far removed from where I have exited. Yet the Jay Thrushes always predicted my movements – meeting me as I re-entered the exhibit required them to fly off in the opposite direction from where I had been, but this never confused the birds in the least.

Jay Thrushes as Pets

Laughing Jay Thrushes make wonderful, long-lived pets and will bond strongly with their owners.  They are not, however, suited to life in even the largest of parrot cages, and must instead be housed in outdoor aviaries or room-sized enclosures.

Not much in the way of food is rejected, but without a great deal of dietary variety they will fail to thrive.  Commercial insectivorous bird diet, into which has been added Softbill Select, hard-boiled eggs, chop meat and a variety of fruits, can form the basis of the diet.

Jay Thrushes have carnivorous leanings, and should be provided with live and canned locusts, crickets, mealworms, earthworms, snails, silk worms and other invertebrates, along with an occasional chopped pink mouse.  Steak or other bones bearing a bit of meat are great favorites.  Their intense reactions to wild-caught moths and other insects will leave no doubt as to the value of these food items.

Further Reading

The Bird Room – a Treat for Birds and Bird Owners

Great video of a pet Jay Thrush trying out his amazing voice



White-crested Laughing Thrush image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Robert Lawton
White-naped Yuhina image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Duncan Wright

Parrot Nutrition – Pellets Re-visited

I read an interesting parrot nutrition article recently and was inspired to expand on a few points that I made in an earlier post on parrot pellets (please see below for both articles).

Pellet Pros and Cons

Great progress has been made in the development of pelleted parrot foods in recent years, and they now play an important role in both zoo and pet parrot care.  However, the convenience offered by pellets may lead one into poor bird-keeping habits.  Ideally, as mentioned in the articles below, a species-appropriate combination of natural and pelleted foods should be provided. Read More »

Advanced Parrot Enrichment – a Bird-Controlled Computer Game and Robot!

Alex the Parrot with blocksFrom Budgies to Scarlet Macaws, parrots must be provided with interesting environments if they are to remain healthy, and their owners sane (bored parrots may scream, pluck their feathers, etc.).  Indeed, behavioral enrichment (basically, “keeping animals busy”) is now mandated for parrots by most reputable zoos.  Thousands of useful ideas and products help to serve this cause, but few have gone as far as a parrot computer game first conceived at New York’s Binghamton University. Read More »

Lessons Learned – Larger Bird Cages Can Cause Problems – Part 1

White-crested ThrushWith very few exceptions, providing one’s birds (or any other animal) with more space is beneficial on many levels.  However, while keeping White-Crested Laughing Jay-Thrushes, Garrulax leucolophus, I learned that nasty surprises may be in store.

White Crested Laughing Jay-Thrushes are among the most amusing and curious birds one can imagine, and they are often star attractions in both private and public collections.  Unfortunately, due to their size (10-12 inches), insatiable curiosity and high level of activity, they are suitable only for an outdoor aviary or room-sized indoor enclosure…but as pets or study subjects they have few rivals. Read More »

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