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Articles concerning owning pet birds as pets as a whole.

Mate Aggression in Parrots – Why Parrots Fight with their Partners

Blue-Steaked LoryIn the wild, the pair-bond between mated parrots often lasts a lifetime.  Captive pairs, however, face unique “relationship challenges” that often complicate the mating process.  Owners may find it difficult to find two birds that get along, and even long-established pairs may suddenly begin to fight.

Mate Choice

Parrot breeding is rarely as simple as putting 2 birds of the opposite sex together…both males and females can be quite choosy when it comes to selecting a mate.  Coloration, behavior, vigor and a host of factors that we do not fully understand all come into play, with the ultimate goal being the production healthy offspring.  The process has evolved over millions of years, and works fine in natural situations, where the birds can choose from numerous potential mates.

Captives face an entirely different situation.  Even in large breeding groups, they are limited to a fraction of the potential mates that would be available in the wild.  Being naturally social, many parrots “give in” and accept whatever mate, or same sex friend, presents itself; parrots that live alone often transfer their need for companionship to human owners.  Read More »

The Natural History and Captive Care of the Bronze-Winged Parrot

Bronze-winged ParrotAlso known as the Bronze-Winged Pionus, Pionus chalcopterus, this delightful little bird has been somewhat ignored by US parrot keepers until recently.  However, it has many fine pet qualities and boasts a beautiful “color scheme” that is not common among its relatives.


The 11-inch-long Bronze-Wing’s beauty lies not in bright, “screaming” plumage but rather in a subtle blend of colors.  It may at first appear somewhat dull, but closer inspection will reveal that the body plumage is dark purple to navy blue, and overlain with a bronze tint…quite attractive and ever-changing with light levels.  The pink eye ring and pink-edged head feathers add to its unique appearance, and red coverlets decorate the tail. Read More »

Weaning Canaries – Encouraging Fledglings to Accept the Adult Diet

Canary NestingWhether they are hand or parent-reared, young Canaries usually need some encouragement to switch from the nestling to adult diet.  This change-over period can be quite stressful, but there are a number of steps you can take to ease the transition.

The Transition Period

Pet Canaries feed their chicks largely upon sprouts, soaked seeds and Egg Food or hard boiled eggs.  Once the young fledge, which usually occurs at age 16-20 days, they will be fed by their parents for an additional 2 -3 weeks.  During this time, they will also begin to pick at food and eventually learn to eat on their own.  Fledglings benefit from watching their parents and siblings…chicks that are hand-reared are at a disadvantage in this respect, but will also respond to the ideas and foods mentioned below.

Hard seeds are a novel food for young Canaries, and acquiring the skill needed to open them takes practice.  A high protein diet remains important right through the first molt (which usually begins within 2 months of fledging), but eventually seeds should replace egg-based foods as their staple.  Read More »

During Hard Times, Eclectus Parrot Moms Kill Male Chicks and Raise Females

Eclectus pairThe Eclectus Parrot is well known for an unusual degree of sexual dimorphism (males are emerald green, females bright red) and a breeding strategy wherein several males mate with a single female.  But no one expected the results of a recent study: under certain circumstances, mothers will kill their male chicks and raise only females.  Other than humans, Eclectus Parrots are the only species known to kill offspring based solely upon gender.

Harsh Conditions and Drastic Adaptations

The study, published in the journal Current Biology (October, 2011), was conducted by researchers based at the Australian National University.  The study site was at Cape York, Queensland, in Australia’s tropical northeast (Eclectus Parrots are also found on New Guinea and many Indonesian islands).  Read More »

Understanding Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD)

PFBD Infected CockatooAlso known as Psittacine Circovirus Disease, PBFD, which is incurable, has been identified in over 60 species of wild and captive parrots. It has been much in the news lately, and the questions I’ve received indicate that some of the coverage has been confusing to bird owners. Today I’d like to summarize what we know, and what remains to be done in the battle against PBFD.

PBFD Natural History

The virus that causes PBFD was first described in 1987, when it was discovered in a captive group Orange-Bellied Parrots, a highly endangered species.  Further study revealed that the virus occurred naturally in Australia, and likely was endemic there (found nowhere else). The disease is now established worldwide, apparently having been spread by the legal and illegal trade in parrots.

The PBFD virus is an extremely hardy organism, and likely survives for many years in nest hollows and roosting/feeding areas. To date, only one disinfectant, Virkon S, has proven able to kill it.  The virus has been found in feather dust, feces and the crop lining of infected birds.  Transmission seems to occur in several ways – direct contact with sick birds, inhalation of the virus from dust and feces and via food passed to chicks by parents. Read More »

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