The Caged Bird Keepers Myths – Myth

Imagine a world where you spend every day looking at, reading about or having conversations with other caged bird keepers. File this under “be careful what you wish for.” That said I will tell anyone up front, I’m not an expert on caged bird keeping. I don’t have a degree – in anything. I haven’t written a book – yet.


My expressed opinions about caged bird keeping come from interactions and providing solutions to hundreds of thousands of caged bird keepers over the past dozen years (and Catherine’s 21 years) It’s a simple formula. We sell you the supplies necessary to create acceptable (as can be) environments for caged bird keeping, and you tell us why stuff works and why it doesn’t. It’s made our caged bird keeping knowledge base quite robust. From our learning center to the content in almost every category and the 2000 pages on this website that share with you what we’ve learned like How Nail Trimming Can Cause a Broken Wing


When I read content on the internet (so it must be true:-) the “Alpha male macaw” is a myth. ‘Your bird’’s hormonal issues can easily be fixed and aren’t really a problem”. “Your bird needs to be obedient”. UVA and UVB will aid in the production of vitamin D in your bird” The list is endless. My response to this is BLACKFISH!


From Blackfish (the movie) traces a 39-year history of killer whales in captivity leading up to the 2010 killing of Sea World trainer Dawn Brancheau by the 12,000-pound orca, Tilikum, a whale previously associated with the death of two other people. Blackfish chillingly shows that this incident of violence is hardly an isolated one, along the way exploring the extraordinary nature of orcas, thought to be one of the most intelligent species in the animal kingdom.


To this point we’re finding captive…any species with high intelligence from killer whales to caged parrots, “captivity” literally changes the nature of the beast. Why anyone was so surprised when an animal called a “killer” whale killed someone is truly macabre comedy. So before I go too far off field, my point is “captivity of wild animals” is a not so nice way of saying “caged bird keeping” and can change the animal in unpredictable ways.


So I ask the bird behaviorists and avian veterinarians, if these “myths” are to be countermanded with absolute truths, when does the self mutilation (feather plucking) issue get resolved? Why can’t we just declare it an errant behavior and end it? If, “Your bird’’s hormonal issues can easily be fixed” why not screaming or toe tapping?


Why haven’t we developed the perfect bird food? “Feed your parrot this Mrs Williams and your bird will live to be 100, guaranteed.” Why can’t we say something like that with certainty? The answer is simple – Blackfish.


As the head of the Santa Barbara bird rescue responded (in the documentary Parrot Confidential – the name eludes me) to the question how big a cage does my bird need? “35 square miles” was his response. Your bird instinctively expects a 35 square mile environment but gets 200 square feet if it’s lucky.



So what happens? Therein lies the rub. How your bird is going to react to anything in your home is anyone’s guess. Because of it’s instinctive expectation of having a bird will help my home feel like a Walt Disney movie against the reality of 23 hour days in a 6 square foot wrought iron jail that makes it impossible to predict the actions of any species once their freedom is severely restricted. 


We’ve seen plucking triggered by the placement of new artwork in the same room as a Moluccan Cockatoo who obsessed on the “intrusion” with no human’s awareness of their parrot’s phobic reaction, for days – until the plucking started “for no reason”. That took some detective work but the new painting was THE trigger and when the painting was removed from the room, the bird’s demeanor changed entirely for the better. You won’t read about that in a doctoral thesis on psitticine behavior.


And yes I do think your bird, your dog, your horse should obey you explicitly. It’s much to their advantage. Obedience helps avoid flying into walls or mirrors or (dogs) running in front of moving automobiles. If you’ve ever seen a dressage horse demonstration, you’ll be moved beyond words when you realize horses can do a lot more than “giddy up.”


Tying all these thoughts together, let’s at least agree that regardless of the author’s resume or the letters after a veterinarian’s name, it’s impossible to predict with certainty, the behavior of any animal removed from it’s natural environment. Take nothing that you read, see or hear about caged bird keeping as an absolute truth – even from me, as there aren’t any.


written by mitch rezman

cmo windy city parrot, inc.

approved by catherine tobsing

president windy city parrot, inc


How Nail Trimming Can Cause a Broken Wing

Parrot Feet. Macaw

How many times have you watched in awe as a flighted bird hops off the top of it’s cage – flap flap flap then lands on an inch wide piece of ceiling crown molding or a computer monitor and in bird speak says “What’s up?”

Never giving a thought to that gravity thing that keeps the rest of us tethered to Mother Earth. These are special creatures indeed.


It’s been my observation that most caged bird keepers fail (sell, re-home or give to a rescue) because the birds are unable to adapt to the keepers expectations.

Read moreHow Nail Trimming Can Cause a Broken Wing

Thoughts on Parrot Ownership in the UK

From a Facebook thread Hi as I don’t have a Facebook page I would like to comment on your article about keeping parrots in the uk.It is true that some people are horrified that I have five parrots. I have a orange winged amazon an African grey,a greenwing macaw,a Ducorps cockatoo and a galah.
My first bird was a rescue that I persuaded a friend to give me as he had bought it in a pet store. He was given no information about caring for this bird and the store sold him a cage that wasn’t even big enough for a budgie let alone an amazon.
I then contacted a wonderful woman who breeds and takes in unwanted birds,she helped me by giving me info and suggested websites and books for me to do the necessary research so that we could care for our bird. That was 8 years ago.
Since then I have never stopped learning about my babies.They live in London and I have found some great suppliers of cages toys and food for them but it is true that most pet stores in the uk no longer sell bird supplies.I have even resorted to buying products from the USA as you have a much greater range of parrot products. 
We have just had the very first parrot show in the south of England and there were seminars retailers and rescue centres present,I was amazed at the amount of people at the show as I have only ever met a couple of people who keep parrots, there are only 2 avian vets in London which I think tells it’s own story.
15% off your 1st bird supply order on
I sometimes take a couple of my birds to the park on sunny days “rare in the uk I might add” and many people are fascinated by my birds, some people say they would love a parrot and we have invited a couple of the more serious ones to our home so that they can see what it takes to really own one of these incredible creatures.
Most are put off by the mess noise and expense but the true animal lovers usually want to know more,these are the ones we encourage to do more research before they make an informed decision.
There will always be those that look at us like we have 2 heads, there was a “parrot behaviourist ” at the show who we spoke to, when I said I had a cockatoo he asked if the problems had started yet,I asked what he was talking about and he shook his head and said “you wait and see “
My cockatoo is five years old, fully flighted and as happy as any bird I’ve ever seen I told him, I had to bite my tongue when he said that the problems would definitely come sooner or later .
So no more rambling,education is the key,parrots make incredible companions for those who are willing to give the time and love to them, I am really lucky in as much as I have met a wonderful young couple who run their own business training parrots, they have their own flock and their gentle loving approach to their birds is something I have never witnessed before,they have agreed that should anything happen to us they will take my babies so I rest easy that even though my flock will outlive me they will be loved and cared for for the rest of their lives.
I think windy city parrots should open a uk store so that people like me can spend lots of money on our birds.
Keep up the good work.
head shots 4 sunconure parrots
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Jo Young I also live in the UK and so far no-one has ever been horrified that I have 3 African Greys and many often say they would love one, but I do explain that with a parrot comes a lot of responsibility, that as intelligent free spirited creatures they are …See More I hope your fellow country people read this Jo
Vee Maino Miller My friend has an AG, Samantha (Sam), and I can vouch for the amount of care it takes if you do it properly. She will cook certain foods for Sam, has fresh veggies all the time; Sam gets special Pizza, chicken, fruits, etc. 
Daily cleaning out bottom of cage, etc. frequent showers in the kit sink. Sam engages in conversations, as you say, a 4-6 year old – she protests her showers sometimes – squawking and pressing herself against the bars of her cage. She has a daytime cage (huge) and a nighttime sleeping cage. My friend spends as much time with that bird as she would a child – and in my friend’s will, Sam will go back to the bird specialist and his family from whom she bought her – because that bird will outlive her.

Some Birdie Factoids You May Not know


Normal Values for a Small Bird


  • Temperature: 108 – 112 Fahrenheit
  • Pulse Rate: 600 – 800 bpm
  • Respiration: 75 – 100 respirations per minute


Normal Values for a Large Bird


  • Temperature: 108 – 112 Fahrenheit
  • Pulse Rate: 200 – 300 bpm
  • Respiration: 30 – 50 respirations per minute
Impress your friends at the next bird club meeting with these tidbits



  • Amazon parrots lack a preening or uropygial gland.
  • African Gray parrots Iris color is black for the first 4 months of age, but changes fully to yellow by 4 years.
  • The pressure exerted by a large macaw beak can be greater than 350 psi so they can access the meat of walnuts, macadamia nuts, or coconuts,
  • The edges of the beak squeezing your finger making you go white and break out in a cold sweat are called “tomias”.
  • Brush-like, papillae-tipped tongues allow lories and lorikeets to eat nectar and pollen. These nectarivores possess a weakly muscled crop, proventriculus, and ventriculus or gizzard.
  • The Quaker Parrot gets their name from their unusual behavior which looks like they’re quaking and shaking. In reality this head bobbing and shaking behavior is quite normal.
That was fun!
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Is Newspaper Print Safe for My Bird?

African grey parrot standing on stack of newspaper
Is Newspaper Print Safe for My Bird?
We loving your Sunday morning birdie brunches. Wonderful info, but I do have a question about one of the suggestions.
I have a “teil”. Is it really SAFE to put newspaper on TOP of the grate???
My Merlin would chew the newspaper and maybe eat it. But if it’s safe, this sounds like a great idea.
Also, if I put his food dish on the newspaper, then won’t I wind up with poop in the dish? Thanks for all your info and a great website.
Linda W 

Read moreIs Newspaper Print Safe for My Bird?

Blue Front Amazon with Yeast Infection in Beak

I have a question for you. I know you are not a veterinarian but I want to ask if you have had any experiences with your birds having a yeast infection (thrush) in the area of their beak? I have what I consider to be the absolute best avian vet in this part of the country and she had made great progress with helping my 50 year old + Blue Front regain his health but we are still fighting this issue with thrush located in the inside top part of his beak. Just curious if you might have encountered this issue at some time and if so what was the cure so I might discuss with her?
Off The Record and Thank You,
Carl Bryant
Hi Carl
Start here:
and please consider
Hope that helps
Mr Rezman,
Thank you for the information. I believe we are on the right track as I have seen vast improvements with Sambo’s health, energy levels, reduced discharge from his nostrils and apatite during the past 3 months. I will discuss the two products with my vet for consideration for his long term care and health. I’ve had this guy for over 35 years, know him to be over 50 years old and darn it, I want to keep him around until after I am gone.
I really appreciate the information and it is great to have a source from which to acquire such needed information. You folks at Windy City are GREAT.
Thank You and Have a Great Week,
Carl Bryant
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