A parakeet that wants nothing to do with me

Yellow & green parakeet on small skateboard
Hi WindyCityParrot;
My sister has a green cheek conure and has been sending me your bird self help articles and I thought I would give it a try (if you have time).
We’ve had birds our whole lives, our cockatiel is somewhere around 20years (he was a rescue) and we’ve gone through two parakeets in about 24 years.
My problem, we recently bought the cutest parakeet and have had her for about a year and she wants absolutely nothing to do with any of us. She lets out distress chirps if we even open the cage and she hops to the back.
We can’t get her to eat that much (although we have changed both their diets, the cockatiel is a lot more alert since starting his veggie/fruit pellet diet with healthier poops) and she likes the cockatiel but he’s pretty much antisocial (except for about 30 mins. in the morning when he whistles in the morning).
When he’s out, we usually bring her out and place her on the play gym (she has her own) across from him and she just sits. She DOES NOT like fingers but I can get close to her and give her beak-nose kisses. I’ve brought her up a few times, to study with me, but she just doesn’t want anything to do with me. I have had her with me a few times and she’s preened and taken a nap (so I know she’s not always wary). We also have a window suction cup pearch, and she seems to like that as well.
Is there anything that you can think of that could help. I’d love to be hands on with her but respect her space at the same time. I’m at a loss of what to do and where to start. Sorry for the information packed note.
Thanks for listening.

Dear Nick
Your parakeet may never come around. It is at least a year old and is not progressing as a pet well.
A baby parakeet is best for training as a pet, (they have the stripes that come down low on the face, which go away as they age)
You may do it best by getting it a fellow parakeet in its cage (or a larger one) If a female, I recommend you remove her, rearrange the cage, then put in the boy and then the girl. Otherwise the female will be territorial and could abuse the new male. Another female would be fine too.
Or if you don’t want any more birds. You may consider a plastic parakeet, lonely parakeets really enjoy them.You can find them here. http://goo.gl/iJ4uF
If you wish to continue to try, I suggest you trim its wings (even just once), and it will be forced to depend on you to pick it up, put it on its perch, or cage, or stand and look forward to seeing you. Right now it can fly away if it wants to. That makes for a very hard time at bonding.
If you have any more questions, please let us know.
Thank you

Can Homeopathic Remedies Solve Your Bird’s Ills?

Rose breasted cockatoo flying from human hand
Following a recent thread on a LinkedIn group regarding behavioral issues with an African Grey I got more, well upset reading that people are giving their birds “all natural homeopathic remedies” with no thought as to the potential short or long term consequences.
I questioned how this individual knew a certain Bach Flower Remedy was bird safe. Her answer was “I visited the website that sold it and the site stated “safe for all animals”
Begin rant
Here’s the thing Susan. I visited the site and there is no mention of “safe for birds” I’d just like to point out that birds digestive systems are far different than mammals and any chemical you put into a bird’s body via its mouth sits unprocessed – undigested in their crop for 4 to 6 hours.
My first question is what is the impact do any of these homeopathic remedies while it literally “waits” to be digested? Advocates of homeopathic remedies are doing in home calculations on dosages based upon human body weights. I saw above that a formula was given to a bird by by determining the bird was 1/130th of your body weight. Did you take into account that your standing heart rate is 80 your bird standing heart rate is 200? Do homeopathic remedies get absorbed more quickly in birds after they pass the crop than in humans?
Because homeopathic ingredients are not regulated by any governmental agency how do you know your Bach Flower has the same concentration as another manufacturer? How were the oils extracted what process was used – Enfleurage, Expressed Oils, Steam Distillation, Solvent Extraction, Fractional Distillation and Percolation, Carbon Dioxide Extraction, Phytonic Process? It’s all a guessing game.
I also put the question out there – why don’t high end bird food manufacturers like Harrisons, Goldenfeast or Hagen offer ANY homeopathic remedies. They have the distribution so it would be very easy for retailers like me to sell. The short answer is no research has been done on the impact of any of these homeopathic remedies on birds. It’s all anecdotal and no one wants the liability including me (I sell more than 10,000 pounds of bird food monthly) .
I work with both psittacine and raptors. My falconry trainer is licensed at both the state and federal level and has been working with raptors for almost half a century he’s never once used a homeopathic remedy of any of his birds
Based on my experience I feel there are better solutions to behavior and health issues than homeopathic remedies for birds. Last year a very long thread on Facebook holistic bird care group relating to birds that got car sick. Dozens of homeopathic remedies were offered all with the preface “you should try this…..” My simple answer which was ignored was don’t feed the bird for six hours prior to travel which will empty the birds crop thereby eliminating any chance of your bird regurgitating during a car trip. A simple solution to a problem with absolutely no guesswork and guaranteed 100% safe.
So as you can guess I’m pretty anti-homeopathic anything for birds. I look at parrots in this way – in the wild they spend 60% of their time seeking food and 40% of their time trying not to be food. We bring them into our home and where in the wild they will spend 4 to 6 hours a day seeking (foraging) food whereas we offer them unlimited amounts of food in the bowls and the feeding is accomplished in 10 or 15 min. and then we wonder why they exhibit self-destructive issues like feather plucking.
Birds are extraordinarily different than any other animals on the planet in so many ways be it intelligence, the respiratory system, the digestive system and the fact that they can fly an ability most bird keepers today immediately steal away from a bird by clipping their wings rather than taking the time to teach them how to fly properly.
So circling back to the original issue I’ll just ask one question rhetorically. Can you tell me with absolute certainty that by using these homeopathic remedies on your birds you’re not cutting their lifespan by 50%?
End rant

Problem Hatching Cockatiel Eggs

close up girl kissing head of cockatiel
I have a question I have 2 cockatiel male & female they lay ton’s of eggs
But I’ve only been able to hatch one and I had to take it and hatch it in my incubator but I’ve never been able to hatch any more I’ve tried to let her hatch the eggs on her own, it doesn’t look like my Male is fertilizing them any more
I don’t know what to do ?? could U offer some advise I’d appreciate any help U can give

Read moreProblem Hatching Cockatiel Eggs

Lovebird Feather Color Loss Question


My name is Dylen T. and am 13 years old. I’m doing a 4-H project with a bird I have named Dani. Her father is a Peachface Lovebird and her mother is a Fischer Lovebird. She is 5 1/2 years old. Dani was all green with a red/orange face when she hatched.

About a year and a half ago she started losing the blue pigment in her feathers, now she looks almost exactly like her sister, Honey, the Lutino that was hatched in the brood after hers. Dani is doing everything she would normally do like play, eat, drink and bathe. Do you know what could make this happen in a lovebird? I would appreciate any help you can give me with this.

Thank you,

Dylen T

Hi Dylen

Thank you for your interesting question – Just as an FYI in my capacity with the International Heritage Conservancy we recently worked with a local 4-H group. We brought them together with Falconry and horses at McCrea Farm home to French Classical Dressage . It was a very productive session.

First some background. When most people outside the world of parrots think of parrots, they think of green parrots. The reality is there are no green pigments whatsoever in parrots. The only two pigments in parrot feathers are red and yellow. When you mix melanin into the feather structure you create the rainbow of colors most of us know parrots exhibit.

The reason we see different colors in feathers is due to the light scattering and reflecting off the the structure much like the reason the sky is blue because blue is the shortest color wave in the visible spectrum and so it gets scattered across the (blue) sky. In science we call this the Tyndall effect.

Don’t get me wrong, parrots do have pigments in their feathers which are called psittacin pigments also known as carotenoids. Carotenoids are the things that make carrots orange and squash yellow. Birds, unlike vegetables can have the color influenced by say, the foods they eat. A great example are flamingos who are born white but become the pinkish color of the shrimp they eat. 

If we introduce a supplement likeHiggins Snack Attack Color Egg Food Canary Proteen Red we can help maintain the rich plumage of red factor canaries. Circling back to the Tyndal effect it’s important to note here that a healthy bird whose feather sheen is improved will reflect light better than if we actually seek a change in color.

The amount of yellow and red psittacin is one part of the puzzle that determines the overall color of the bird. A blue mutation lovebird as you described, is a bird that has no red nor yellow psittacin. If the bird doesn’t have a healthy sheen to it the appearance of blue light-scattering is diminished thus the blue may look muted. 

Another factor in determining how birds appear to us is something called Melanin. Melanin is the stuff that makes a fair skinned person appear tan after spending time under bright sunlight. Although birds don’t “tan”, how dark or light the feathers are is controlled by Melanin.

Melanin pigments are protein granules colored black and brown within the structure of feathers. They help establish the main color of the feather of the bird by making it a little darker or a little lighter. So you may have what’s called a “dilute blue” which means there’s less Melanin as opposed to a dark blue bird with more Melanin in his feathers. 

In “Pied” birds (in birds Pied acts by removing Melanin) plumage has contrasting colors like Pied Cockatiels the pied portion (the yellow to white portion) comprises about 25% of the bird and the rest of the bird is gray. It also may differ in various parts of the feathers giving the bird a variegated look. In “ino” mutations such as Lutino or Albino there’s a complete absence of Melanin.

The actual structure of the feather can affect the color of the bird as well. Changes in feather structure will affect how light reflects off the feather giving the viewer a different color interrpretation. Dark factors will change the actual structure of the feather bar which also changes your perception of the birds colors, as the feathers will reflect light differently. 

So getting back to your original question, I wish I can give you a single answer. It could be a nutritional issue or it could be something in the bloodline. We’ve seen pearl Cockatiels lose their “pearls” over time. The first place to start is with your veterinarian to make sure there’s no health issues. I would also examine the the ingredients of the food your’re using to make sure your birds are getting the best nutritionally balanced diet available.

Mitch Rezman
Windy City Parrot

Why Fans and Feathers Don’t Mix Even in the Cage

Macaw parrot on beach chair
As summer slowly creeps back into our lives we find ourselves breaking out the box fans, reversing the direction on the ceiling fans and putting air-conditioners back in the windows. Many people ask us how I do know if my birds comfortable temperature wise? Simply stated – if you’re comfortable, you’re birds comfortable.
My guess is more of us are using fans to save money over the use of air conditioning in today’s economy. Fans are great for moving air. Unfortunately rotating ceiling fans can be deadly for birds that are flighted but there’s another issue to fan use is often overlooked.
We’ve seen people over the years move bird cages so as to be directly under the downdraft of the ceiling fan thinking the bird was safe while in the cage but because of a birds intricate feather system it’s best not to have any sort of airflow be it a from a ceiling fan, a box fan or window air conditioner.
First a little perspective. Birds can have from 10,000 to as many as 25,000 individual feathers and one of a bird’s daily jobs is to keep those feathers clean, neat and organized. Preening is how they clean their feathers removing dust, dirt and parasites while at the same time making sure each feather lines up in the best position as they line up to the adjacent feather.
There’s a gland found near the base the tail called the preen gland or uropygial gland and produces a slippery substance that the birds put on their beak as they are preening their feathers. The oil helps keep the bird’s feathers strong and water resistant.
Not all birds have the uropygial glands like owls, pigeons and hawks. These birds compensate for the lack of oil by having feathers that disintegrate into basically a powder which serves the same purpose as preening oil. 
Believe it or not some wild birds will even lay on top of an anthill while the preening in this case the process is called anting. The purpose is to distributeformic acid romance bodies on the birds feathers which aids in keeping parasites at bay.
Ever watch your bird stretch its wings as it’s on the perch much like you or I might stretch our arms when we get up in the morning? By stretching your bird is providing space between each of its feathers so the whole feather can be properly trained. Fluffing as well as stretching is another method birds used to align the feathers.
Circling back to the theme of this blog post – fans. Now that we know the how’s and why’s to preening it’s easier to understand how disruptive the air movement coming from a fan or a window air conditioner can mess up a perfectly preened feather structure. It’s kind of like raking leaves in a strong – it seems as though you are never done. The potential damage to the bird is over preening As they rush to keep putting ruffled feathers in place, which may even lead to feather destruction. So this summer we want you and your bird to be comfortable. We just don’t want your bird in front of a bunch of moving air
Birds not only preen themselves but often preen a mate with a mutual preening process called allopreening as seen in the video below.
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