Mirrors and Talking Parrots

Would you like your parrot to learn to talk or whistle, imitate sounds of any kind? If you haven’t been told yet, there is some bad news on that front: there is no guarantee that any bird of any species will ever learn to talk or make sounds. It just isn’t guaranteed. If that is why you are adding a feathered companion to your home, then your motivations are wrong because even those parrots that do not speak add a lot to the lives of their owners — when treated properly and respectfully, they add unconditional love, games, attention, a sense of companionship and well being, not to mention that fact that pets lower our blood pressure and help us live longer. But if all that isn’t enough for you and you just MUST have a talking parrot, provide a home to one that already talks and needs a loving home.


I bred cockatiels for some years and they are known to be rather talented in the talking department. In fact, when I pulled babies for hand feeding at week two or three, I began talking to them even more frequently than I had done while they were being fed by parents. Some of their parents talked to them as well. From those babies, a few spoke to me well before weaning, saying things like, “love” (the first steps of I Love You) and “”yum yum” (my term for good stuff), “hi”, “yes”, “tank you” (h doesn’t come easily to baby birds it seems but does come), and others. Yet, others who had been talked to by parents from day one, talked to by me and my mom, heard the other talking birds in the aviary, and talked to incessantly while being fed never spoke a word.



I saved my already talking babies for buyers who were my friends and I knew would further develop their abilities. If I had excess talking babies, a rare situation, they went to pre-qualified (yes, I qualified homes or you didn’t get a baby from me) homes on a first come, first served basis.


I did find one nearly certain way to ensure a bird did not ever talk. Give the baby a mirror and the chance of talking or even whistling tunes was cut down greatly. Why? The reason is that the bird wants a flock mate and prefers one that looks like himself or herself. Therefore, they become completely bonded to the birdie in the mirror. Once addicted to their reflection, any shiny surface will do — a reflective window, the toaster, the microwave front, a shiny bell — anything will do!


It’s a very difficult thing to break, the need for the birdie in the mirror but you can do it. First, add lots and lots of new toys, especially interactive ones. Then remove the mirror part of each day. Then remove it for good.


A few weeks back someone asked about their bird performing mating behavior on non-birdlike objects. I knew a cockatiel and a budgie, each of which had mirrors and were mirror-bonded. Both of them, in separate homes, would perform mating behavior on inanimate objects to satisfy the urge brought on by the mirror-bird. The cockatiel had a beloved golf ball that he loved — he REALLY REALLY loved, several times per day. The budgie chose a blue bead on a toy as his mate. Truth is often stranger than fiction, but these are both true. I also had a human bonded male sun conure spray my mother’s thumb once.


The best way to encourage talking in your parrots is to talk to them and avoid allowing mirror or shiny object bonding. Talk and talk and talk to them, using the words in content. When you wake up in the morning, say Good Morning. When you put them to bed at night say Good Night. When you ask them if they want a treat and they take it, say Thank You so they will learn to thank you for the treat. If you bird loves to ride in the car, say Go Go or Want to Come With Me? or something to clue the bird in and it may learn to say it wants to come before you offer.


Budgies are highly under rated as pet birds


A short true story about my first sun conure, Mango: She loved to ride in the car above nothing else. She didn’t talk well, but said a few words which began after age 3. Her “I want” was an expressive wing flutter. I was preparing for a job interview or some sort of business meeting and she noticed me getting ready. She began saying “hello” along with expressive wing flutters, clearly wanting to accompany me. It just wasn’t that sort of trip and she couldn’t go along. She continue letting me know she wanted to go and I continued to explain she just couldn’t go this time. When I picked up my keys to leave, she knew she wasn’t coming along. She reached up and grabbed her beak in her foot, her “I’m sorry” pose. She said as clearly as I had ever heard her say “Gooooodbye”. I promised her a ride in the car as soon as I returned which I did.


Yet, I had another sun conure that spoke over 100 words. She just was more talented than SunDance. Go figure. Both were from great bloodlines, both were smart as little Einsteins but one talked much better than the other and sun conures are not known for speaking ability.


If you remove the mirror and overly-shiny objects, talk to your bird in content all the time, there still is simply no guarantee your bird, even an African Grey, known for their talking talents, will ever say a word. But if you can’t love a bird unless it speaks, perhaps you should consider not having a bird in your home. Except your bird to be fun, entertaining, sometimes grumpy, sometimes want to be alone, at times annoy you with too much attention, but do not make demands your parrot can’t meet. He or she may talk well, or may never speak a word or whistle a tune. Love your bird for what and who it is and you’ll have a friend for life.


written by nora caterino

approved by mitch rezman


your zygodactyl footnote


Why has some of my favorite bird food and care products gone missing?

First little housekeeping. 


Popcorn’s off her eggs! Follow her adventures on Twitter


This weekend marks daylight savings time where we set our clocks back one hour.


My former brother-in-law who is from India never understood nor accepted daylight savings time because he could never figure out where the hour went.


Then again living in Chicago he was always confused about subway being a transportation company or sandwich shop.


In any case the continual changing light cycles in North America are hard enough on your birds. Much like my former brother-in-law our birds don’t understand it.


If your bird announces to the world that he or she is up at 6 AM. They will continue to do so at the new 5 AM time – you’ve been warned.


The same holds true to activities they may engage in as the sun goes down. They may want to spend a little extra forging time so be prepared and have something ready like Avicakes so they don’t miss a beat


I’d like to address why some of our most popular bird and parrot food products seem to be elusive. To start at the beginning, Catherine is a sergeant in the “best used by date” category police.


Windy City Parrot bird care


We receive bird food delivery shipments five days a week in order to keep the food we send you as fresh as possible. Because we keep our inventory lean, when manufacturers have out of stocks in their inventory we are one of the first retailers to run out of a particular product – think about that.


Dig from mitchr >> walk into your local pet shop especially the big-box pet shop nearest to you. All that bird food and all those tubes sold in bulk that look so yummy – go ahead and ask the manager what the “use by date” is on the fourth tube from the left. (there are no dates on those tall bulk bird food dispensers)


Then pick up some bags of bird food and look for the “use by dates” on those packages. Corporate pet shops and big box department stores have to buy much larger quantities in order to obtain their deep discounts and reduce delivery frequencies.


corporate bird care


Walmart does not get delivery of bird food five days a week. It gets several pallets every month or two. So look at those use by dates before whipping out the credit card (that hopefully has a chip in it) and then call us and we will tell you what our use by date is on any bird food product under our roof


One of my personal hot buttons is seeing a product, especially a popular product or products for bird care on our site – out of stock. With the onset of winter in North America three of our most popular products for feather care are currently unavailable or soon to be unavailable.


Because we get deliveries of our food five days a week to keep it at its most freshness, it also means we go out-of-stock quickly because we don’t want food getting old on our shelves, and neither do you. The downside is, when our distributors and manufacturers are out of stock – our inventory goes out of stock very quickly. So I wanted to take some time and provide explanations and alternative choices.


These three products from Avix which are produced by Harrison’s bird food have currently ceased production. During our eternal quest for the truth about bird food we received a response from Harrison’s and I quote


“In regard to the HEALx/AVIx products, Harrison’s acquired these lines from their former maker Zoological Education Network (which is now closed). There are a number of logistical hurdles involved in continuing production of these products as we deal with the closure of two of facilities that once packed these products.


Our hopes are that we will find a resource in the near future that make these lines available once again. There are a number of avenues we are pursuing currently. I hope this information helps clarify things. Please let me know if you have further questions


All the best,

Jean (Harrison’s bird food customer service)”



We never feel good about recommending a competitor’s line but in our role of being an advocate for the birds we know you need solutions not excuses. That said here are our alternative recommendations for these three AVIx products.


Avix Rain can be substituted with Feather-in Spray by Avitech

Avix Soother can be substituted with Feather and Skin Conditioner Bird Bath Spray by Natra

Bird Builder by Avix can be substituted with Immune Booster Extra Strength Extract by Avitech


If you see any of the AVIx products in stock on our site we advocate that you purchase them immediately if you are a fan of these products because they are sadly going away for now.


Circling back to the Out of Stock bird food thing, the matrix can be quite complicated. As an example, almonds are used in several of Hagen bird food products. Almonds have become in short supply because of the drought in California.


So they can send an elite contingent of Ninja elves into the Hagen warehouse in Mansfield Connecticut to scratch off by hand the ingredient “almonds” on 1 million bags waiting to be filled (like you see on a lot of Chinese restaurant menus) or they can re-source the almonds and wait until food can be produced to the original specifications so the bags can be used without intervention of ninja elves – as an example.


Dr. Harvey’s is having issues because our government has decided bee pollen is not good for our birds. Clearly the politicians running our country are experts on the matter of bee pollen and birds. It’s also quite obvious our politicians don’t know a gosh darn thing about the birds and the bees but in the meantime Dr. Harvey is up a creek without a pollen paddle until bee pollen is approved again as an ingredient for his fine all natural bird foods. How birds in the wild survived eating flowers with bee pollen must be a mystery to the people running our country.



According to Cindy at LeFebers, “where we’ve experienced no out of stocks whatsoever, regardless of the price of ingredients they get solely from Canada and the US they continue to produce the food without increasing prices”.


Sifting through all of the news about bird food not all of it is bad.


We (Harrison’s bird food) are now officially NON-GMO Project verified! All of our organic pet bird food formulas are now official.


High Potency CoarseHigh Potency Fine & Super FineAdult Lifetime CoarseAdult Lifetime Fine and Super Fine – Pepper Lifetime Coarse and Power Treats


ALL verified to carry the NON-GMO seal alongside the USDA Organic seal. It was a long and very involved process but now all the I’s are dotted T’s are crossed! Thanks to all of our customers and supporters!


Windy City Parrot takes pride in being a retail distributor of Harrison’s bird food.


written by mitch rezman

approved by catherine tobsing

your zygodcatly foot note



How a Magician’s Accessory Caused Mango’s Toenail and Toe Joint to Vanish (and it wasn’t an illusion)

Accidents around the home are far too common when it comes to parrots. I have many years of experience and yet, I want to show you just how easily someone with my skill level can still allow something to happen that shouldn’t. This is how Mango lost a joint from his toe when he was very young.


I have a friend who is a would-be magician. He loves to do flashy tricks with things like magician’s thread. This material is about the same color as — INVISIBLE. Perhaps you might think it looked much like a blonde baby’s hair if you could see it at all. The stretchy fiber is about as visible as a spider’s web thread when in low light. It feels much like an unraveled thread from a ladies hose.


You just can’t see magician’s thread. That’s the whole point. An illusionist can use it to manipulate items like “floating” business cards and make people believe they are levitating them. A very cool trick that turned out to be hazardous to my Mango!


Somehow while showing me a trick, which was quite impressive, a small length — just an inch or less, a fragment really — of this thread got away from him and fell to the floor. Neither of us saw it fall because it just can’t be seen and it fell on a natural stone tile floor which is nearly impossible to locate anything on. I couldn’t see it nor could he so no one noticed.


Mango was only a few months old and still growing rapidly. He seemed healthy and happy and didn’t chew at his toes any more than any normal baby parrot does in order to properly clean and groom their feet. He loved a good toe massage and often spent time enjoying a gentle massage to each toe. Nothing appeared amiss in any way.


Sun conure parrot lying on back in grass


Life continued and days passed by, all too quickly as they do in today’s modern, hectic world. One day I noticed Mango paying quite a lot more attention to one toe than the others so I felt a close examination was in order.


At that early age, Mango would readily lie on his back very calmly and allow me to look at his feet and toes. I could find no reason at all for his excessive attention to that one toe, yet I felt there had to be a reason for the unusual amount to toe grooming. I didn’t happen to have one those nice lighted magnifiers that Mitch wears on his head during bird exams, but I had the next best thing — a lighted craft magnifier, one of those mounted on a swing arm that has a round magnifying lense encircled by a fluorescent light bulb that is very bright.


I was able to see what appeared to be a small hair wrapped around the toe and, with a pair or sterilized tweezers and assistance holding the foot still, carefully unwrapped what appeared to be the entire piece of thread. I checked and double checked that no more remained, but as I said before, the magic accessory is made to be invisible and the small, tightly wrapped piece that remained was totally invisible even under strong magnification. Now my eyes are not the best, but my friend has exceptional eyesight and he could see no remnant under the strong magnification.


Emu feet

Emu feet


Mango seemed perfectly happy to have the threat removed. We both watched him to see if he went back to picking at the toe and he did not do so.


Short science lesson: The reason wild bird’s feet do not freeze in the coldest weather is that the arteries and veins in their feet and toes form a fine network of very tiny vessels, unlike the much larger (comparatively) ones in human’s feet and toes. Because of this genetic adaption, their toes do not turn blue when circulation is seriously reduced. With the scaly appearance of the reptilian-like feet and toes, it becomes be even more difficult to visually see any reduced circulation to a small toe joint. End of science lesson.



2 blue footed booobies

unless of course you’re a “blue footed” booby

Mango continued to ignore his toe other than for normal grooming, using it very effectively for playing, eating, hanging upside down on his cage and toys, grabbing onto clothing to position himself exactly where he desired and for crawling into and out of his Snuggle Hut bed that hung from the top bars of his cage. I fully and completely believed we had successfully removed every tiny bit of this invisible thread that had gotten wrapped around the first joint of one of his back toes. Mango clearly was in no pain, there was no abrasion to his toe and, I thought all was well.


So much for me thinking!! Even with my years of experience caring for, breeding and loving parrots, my best thinking was simply wrong in this case.


We had experienced a rather harsh tropical wave passing through the area, drenching us with rain. The tropical storm winds (sustained wind of 45+ miles per hour qualify as a tropical storm but gusts were frequently much higher) had blown branches and small limbs from the large trees in the back yard, trash from the neighbor’s ill-prepared properly had blow into the yard creating even more mess and to top it all off, the storm drain had stopped up with debris stopping our back yard from draining. I’d spend hours outside cleaning up as much of this havoc as possible and another few hours unstopping the storm drain so the property could drain.


When I returned inside, Mango wanted attention of course, so I picked him up and sat down to play with him. He reached up to take a toy from my hand and suddenly I saw that his nail and the tiny first joint of his rear inside toe were GONE! Disappeared! Vanished! I was baffled at first but began to think of what might have happened. There were other birds in the house but if one of those had bitten off a portion of the toe, there would be evident bleeding at the very least but more likely would have been a toe dangling from a remaining tendon or thread of skin plus blood. That would have been a truly alarming sight.


There was not a drop of blood to be seen anywhere. The end of his toe was smooth, no bone to be seen. In fact, there was a just a little stump where the joint had once been and the skin covered it as if there had never been another portion of toe and a nail there.


Then I recalled the magician’s thread incident from a couple of weeks earlier. It became clear to me what had happened. The circulation had been damaged in his toe so badly that without any evident process, the joint grew new skin and allowed the harmed portion to drop away at some point without being noticed.


Now, the morale of this story is not that I had been careless because I really hadn’t and it isn’t that I didn’t carefully remove the known constriction when it was seen. The point is that at any time a thread that is very difficult for you to see can get wrapped around your parrot’s body at some point and cause damage that could end up with lost of a toe — or much worse. It could as easily have been wrapped around his neck or wing or entire leg. It could have cost not just a small toe joint but an entire wing or his life.


Sun conure parrot in happy hut

are you watching for loose threads?


It is critical as parrot owners that we be vigilant about anything in the house that can wrap around our feathered kids and cause them harm. This means you must examine all toys containing thread or rope to be sure there are no pieces that could capture a body part or be ingested. You must be aware of clothing you wear that your bird climbs on that may inadvertently become a similar hazard. If your parrot sleeps in a birdie bed of any type, it should be examined for beak customization that may have left an area that could constrict your bird in any way and appropriate trimming should be done right away. That blanket you and your parrot love to snuggle under while watching movies together has to be examined also; while snuggled with you, that little beak may be very busy pulling loose threads that can wrap around your bird’s appendages. If you sew or do needlecraft, then you have to watch your supplies because they could offer an interesting place for your bird to explore, a very risky proposition. Fishing tackle can provide thin, clear line that can be nearly impossible to spot on your parrot’s foot or leg. The sources of potential threads or items that can twist around a toe, leg or other anatomical part is virtually endless.


Of course, if the thread that had captured Mango’s toe had been bright red or at least not made to be invisible, it would have been easier to see on his toe. But any color thread or fiber in his brightly colored feathers could have been just as impossible to locate.


For the sake of your parrot or small companion bird, be extremely cautious about anything it can wrap around any part of its body. You might not be as lucky as Mango and I were. He simply lost a toenail and small piece of toe and I will always carry a feeling of guilt for having allowed that to happen. I can only imagine how much worse that would be had he died and I’d lost my feathered baby. The feeling of guilt would be overwhelming.


So the real morale of this story is: be vigilant and prevent the loss of your beloved bird and the lifelong feeling of guilt that would go it with.


the 100 safest bird toys made today


On a lighter note, Mango does not seem to miss his toenail and tiny bit of missing toe. He gets around just fine and doesn’t appear to notice in any way that something is a little different about that one rear toe. He uses the remaining toe to grasp just as effectively as with the other rear toes except that he can’t hang upside down by just that toename as he would be able to had this event not happened.


No amount of careful housekeeping can ensure that one piece of human hair, a cat or dog hair or a bit of other fiber won’t escape your best efforts. Do examine your parrot’s feet and toes and, while petting your bird, be sure that no other areas feel constrained. Observe him or her grooming and notice if particular and repeated attention is paid of one area and, if you do notice such behavior, examine the area carefully or take your parrot to your avian vet to check that nothing is wrong with the area that appears to be getting too much grooming.


It seems to make common sense to me to believe that overgrooming an area because of a situation of a wrapped around thread or fiber could potentially become a habit and result in breaking feathers or even plucking that area. The habit of over-grooming can develop into full-blown plucking which is a really difficult habit to break, even when it develops simply as habit. Just ask anyone who smokes cigarettes; one test puff was enough for many to lead to a lifelong habit that people find very difficult to successfully break forever. Nail biting in humans is another example of a habit that can easily be formed but hard to break.


Parrots are similar in that once they learn a behavior over some annoyance such as a thread in the wrong place they can become habitual toe chewers or feather chewers. Be safe rather than sorry and make sure there are no loose fibers lying around your house. Regularly examine your little feathered pal for any unusual items on its body.


Psychology 101 lesson: Any behavior repeated for seven days in a row becomes a habit. This can apply to good things such as exercising seven days in a row or eating a better diet for a week — just as easily as it applies to bad behaviors. So, during the period from filling up on this Sunday Brunch until you fill up again next Sunday, why not use those seven days to develop a good behavior for you and your bird; perhaps by spending an extra 30 minutes together first thing in the morning or sharing healthy dinners together? This is a habit that can enrich both your life and your parrot’s life. End of psych 101 lesson.

Science lesson #2: A parrot is defined as any bird with a hook shaped beak that also has feet on which two toes point forward and two toes point backward. This allows the parrot to grasp food as it eats or cracks nuts and seeds. Birds that are no parrots generally have soft, more pointed bills and do not use their feet for grasping food. Another type of foot found on water birds is the webbed foot used for swimming, perhaps the most interesting of which is the Blue Footed Boody.

Bird Accidents & Medical Emergencies Happen – How prepared are you?

So we were about to leave the Birdie Boutique the other night. Five minutes before close and we get a call. “Would you mind staying a little late – I know you’re closing but I need to come over so you can help me learn how to put a harness on my bird, I want to take the bird to the park tomorrow because it’s going to be nice”? Long story short – our answer was – no. Anyone who has ever done business with us knows that we will bend over backwards to perform the highest level of customer service. This was a much bigger issue than simply helping the customer. Which leads me into the subject of this week’s topic. Having an exotic bird or parrot means being prepared. Much more so than most pets. You can take a young and dumb puppy, put a leash on him and take him for a walk outside and he or she will be plenty happy to get out there. The problem I had with the customer seeking help installing the harness on his bird was multi-fold. Why would anybody want to take the bird to a park on any sort of tether? Call me crazy but the only thing I see in my minds eye is an appetizer on a string for all the dogs in the park. The only difference between a pet bird and a wild bird in the park is the string – that’s why wild birds get away and the bird with an anchor won’t. Waiting to the last minute to introduce almost any new bird accessory to an exotic bird is problematic at the very least. We offer a video on our http://www.WindyCityParrot.com on how to install the harness. But we can’t guarantee that your bird will readily accept it. Best practices dictate that because of the weary natures of birds it’s important that you let them get accustomed to anything new. There are a variety of ways to do this but it starts with putting the item like a harness somewhere where the bird can simply see it for a few days. The next step would be to take a piece of the harness and gently pull it across the bird’s body allowing them to feel and get used to the feel. The touchy-feely process might take a week or two before you even begin to try to get your bird slip on the device – and so it goes.BTW, after we explained all this he was happy to take thr bird to the park in a carrier. the Avistraint It’s safe, and humane, developed by Dr Greg Burkett a board certified Avian vet. It’s useful for grooming and other procedures performed on parrots and even small birds. The Avistrainst is great for restraining your parrot at the vet’s for an exam. Starting at only $17.95 they are a great accessory to have in your bird care tool box.
Step 1 – Open Wing Pockets Step 2 – Slip Over Wings
Avistraint Avian Restraint Jacket Step 1 - Open Wing Pockets Avistraint Avian Restraint Jacket Step 2 - Slip Over Wings
Step 3 – Adjust for Comfort Fit Step 4 – Attach Velcro Strap to Back
Avistraint Avian Restraint Jacket Step 3 - Adjust for Comfort Fit Avistraint Avian Restraint Jacket Step 4 - Attach Velcro Strap to Back
Rear View Ready for the Vet!
Avistraint Avian Restraint Jacket Rear view Avistraint Avian Restraint Jacket Ready for the Vet!

Find all avistraints by dr greg burkett here Button-avistraint-7

Circling back to the topic at hand, the Avistraint as great as the device is, waiting until you need it is not a good plan. Much like the tether, it is something that should be introduced slowly to your bird. After your bird gets used to it, it should be put on your bird once or twice a week for couple of weeks so your bird knows what to expect. This will make your life much easier when the need to use it arrives. It’s available in seven sizes each of which is a solid “poplin” clinical color.
Blood Feathers

Some people freak out at the sight of blood, others do much better. In any case the probability is high that your bird will experience a broken blood feather or two in its long lifetime.

All birds have a blood feather (a.k.a. pin feather) for every feather molted out. Once the others (feathers) have blood circulating through the quill, the area close to the base of the feather they will typically have a dark blue/purplish color in the quill (area). The dark color is the blood. Because blood recedes as the feathers grow, the mature feathers are opaque (losing their color). 

The problem is that a bird can bleed profusely when blood feathers are broken so the feather really has come out quickly from the skin to stop the bleeding. Some people choose not to pull the blood feather if there is not a lot of bleeding. If there is not a lot of bleeding you could use flour or Synergy Labs Super Clot Fast Acting Blood Stop Gel Coagulant.

At the same time it’s important to keep in mind that bird’s blood does not clot well compared to other mammals. If you choose not to pull the blood feather you really have to monitor the bird closely because if it bumps into an object, the bleeding can begin again which can cause serious illness or even death.

We feel it’s best to pull the blood feather out. Once a feather has been removed the follicle area on the skin heals up. Soon after the bleeding stops you’ll see new feather growth

Blood Feather

white bird feather with drop of blood at base

Generally it is not necessary to take a trip to the vet to remove the blood feather, it’s not all that difficult if you get through your own queasiness. It’s best for two people to pull a blood feather. One to restrain the bird using a towel. The second person should remove the blood feather with a needle nose pliers. Tweezers don’t have the pulling strength necessary.

You want to place the tip of the needle nose pliers at the base of the quill, which is the part adjacent to the skin. A single firm smooth pulling action in the direction of the feather growth will remove it easily. After the feather’s been removed, 

use flour or Synergy Labs Super Clot Fast Acting Blood Stop Gel Coagulant. The benefit of the gel coagulant is that it not only stops the the pain but it disinfects as well. It also has a syringe type applicator giving you more precise control of the application.

Lastly but certainly very important, make sure the entire feather shaft is removed from the follicle or the bleeding will not stop. Before you pull a blood feather you want to make sure you know the exact spot where the feather goes directly into the skin on your bird’s wing. You’ll know that you got the entire feather out when you see a small round bulb at the tip of the feather. 

If you’re not up to the task by all means see a vet. If the accident happened outside office hours (which is usually the case) make sure you apply flour or a gel coagulant with your bird’s wings spread. Use a sterile gauze pad to apply pressure and wait until the bleeding stops.

There are a number of reasons birds get blood feathers. Sometimes they fall during a night fright. Blood feathers can be broken in a flight accident, when your bird is preening or just frightened and flapping about. Clipping flight feathers too short may not offer the right amount of protection for new feathers that are just coming in. What happens is the short trimmed feathers break on impact because the longer primary flight feathers (which are now cut) are not there to take the brunt of the impact. 

Stick training –

Having your bird ready to jump on a “familiar” stick which could be a perch, a dowel rod or even a broomstick should be an essential part of your repertoire. Some people say “my bird can “step up” on my hand and never bites me, I really don’t need to worry about stick training”.

Which is all well and good until something happens to frighten your bird and your bird ends up behind a piece of furniture or a kitchen appliance neither of which can easily be moved. If you can’t reach the bird you are going to have to use something and ina 

situation like that your bird is already freaked out. It’s times like that you’ll thank me for having this conversation with you because you’ll have that “familiar” long stick that your bird will be happy to jump up on so as to be extricated as quickly as possible.

There’s a lot more to talk about when it comes to being prepared like parrot travel carriers and bird first aid kits, but we’ll save that for another time

Zygodactyl Footnotes from October 2015

Hello Windy City Parrot


i am visiting friends in Puerto Rico and they have a 2 year old Moluccan Cockatoo. He is very needy.. loves to be petted and is a little neurotic.


The past few months he has been pulling the feathers out to bloody skin and pecking at it around his neck to the point where the Vet put a collar on him to stop more damage. he still tries. he eats well.


They can’t find any allergies or anything medically wrong although this is not America. they don’t have really good vets. it sounds like it may be an easy common problem. but no one knows.. can you help?




Hi Helen


Feather picking and destruction is a common problem, but not always an easy one. Moluccan Cockatoos are a handful, a big one. They are extremely demanding of attention and can yell loud enough to get it.


There are too many variables for me to ask and to get answers for to even steer them toward a solution. The bird is likely hormonal and or bored, a bird like that needs a huge cage at least 40″ wide or larger, plus loads of toys and things to bang around and some to just destroy.


If the bird is tame enough to handle they should only pet from the neck up to avoid hormonal activity. If they can get on a schedule, same time for food, same time for play, same time for sleep, etc, it will be easier for the bird to know what to expect daily and in its life.


How is its diet? Is it getting more than just a seed diet? It should have besides it seeds or pellets a daily dish of veggies, some fruit, pasta. Eggs are good, a piece of chicken on the bone (the drummette) is good.


Variety is healthy and stimulating. If the bird needs a collar to protect some places that are getting chewed up, try a piece of flat fleece, about a foot square or round. Cut a small hole in the top and put over the birds head like a poncho. It will help give the bird something to pick at instead of its feathers, no it won’t like it but it won’t hurt it.


Flat fleece, looks like felt, it is a bonded fabric the bird can’t get any toes caught in, it holds up well to beaks. A cheap thing to try. I wish you, them, the best with their bird.

all the best – Catherine



attn customer service:

I have a few heated perches in my shopping cart – I wanted to be sure that they are not smooth but sand as my birds prefer that. Thank you so much! Also – am I choosing correct size for canary winged bee-bee and Congo African Grey. small and med




Dear Catherine


We do not carry the sand heated perches. We feel that it encourages birds to spend too much time sitting and possibly sleeping on an abrasive perch that encourages callouses, bumble foot or pressure sores.



We carry the grey plastic thermo perches which have a textured surface that allows the birds to be able to sit on them safely. We do have the sanded ones available to us if you cannot locate them and really want them we can get them for you, but they are not as low priced as the grey ones we feature. Sizes. You would choose the small for the canary wing, and the medium size for the grey.


Thank you – Catherine



Hello Windy City Parrot,


I have a female Peach Face Lovebird whom I would love to take out & about with me, but the flight suit I bought for her is far too bulky for her. After doing a bit of research, I saw a picture of a green Lovebird wearing one of your harness’.


peach faced lovebird eating apple


I’m wondering if the petite harness is adjustable since your sizing chart says a typical female Peachy is 55 grams & your petite harness is made for birds 75 grams & above. I am more than willing to purchase the harness with they guarantee that I will be able to put it on my Lovebird. I hope to hear from you soon.


Thank you, Britni Burkett


Dear Britni


The Aviator Harness is not made in a size small enough for a lovebird. They start sized for a bird at least as large as a cockatiel or conure. There is no guarantee that any bird will allow you to put a harness on it, you may have better luck with a very young bird than with a mature bird.


The safest option to taking your lovebird out with you would be in a small carrier. We do have a nice small carrier that would suit a love bird just fine. It can be found at this link. http://goo.gl/SxejYj.


Thank you Catherine



Hi Windy city


I have a yellow-naped amazon parrot that has a health issue that is very difficult to watch. If he exerts himself, (like try to run across the floor to bite my feet) he ends up wobbling around and sometimes falling over, then breathing very rapidly.


Yellow Nape Amazon Parrot taking off


The breathing appears difficult. I have taken him to an avian vet several times with no answers. The condition is getting worse, now he becomes wobbly when simply climbing from his inside perch to perching on the door. The friend that owned the bird has passed away and I don’t know where to turn for help.


I reached out to Phoenix Landing, a rescue group nearby. Unfortunately, I don’t have a way to video this happening, and don’t know if there are other specialists I could ask. The vet offered high cholesterol as a possibility. Have you ever encountered something like this? Or know someone I could ask? The bird had an open band (vet removed it, was catching on cage), so he is around 40-45 the vet guessed. He is a wonderful friend and I want to help him.


Hi Miss Roni


I would advocate that you reach out to http://www.thebirdvet.com/


Would a Medium Size Parrot from Brazil Adopt a Small Parrot from Oz, the Land Down Under?

How a Lonely Little Understimulated Budgie is Learning to be a Bird


As many of our loyal Sunday Brunch readers know, Kiwi is a beautiful little yellow and chartreuse budgie who needed a good home and found me through Craigslist. My first parrot — yes budgies are small parrots — was a normal green female budgie named Sydney and since falling in love with her and spending every day of her 11 year life with her, I’ve always loved these tenacious little parrots. I even bred them for a while when I lived on the mainland where an outdoor aviary was practical.


I wanted another budgie but was unable to locate a breeder in the area so that I could get a baby that was young enough to be either already tame or easy to tamed. Basically, parent reared budgies that are handled daily by humans become perfectly tame pets whereas parent reared budgies who have little social contact growing up and after weaning are left to themselves in cages with other budgies are sometimes quite difficult to tame without a lot of time and patience, seldom becoming as sweet and totally trusting as socialized babies without a large investment of time and tons of patience. I was at a busy point in my life and wanted to bond with a budgie but with a reasonably short training period.


One day while browsing Craigslist was a photo of this gorgeous little bird and a message that he needed a good home because the teens he lived with were leaving for college. I called and explained about my knowledge and experience with budgies and asked if the little guy were still available. I was told that he was; in fact I appeared to be the first serious caller. I expressed surprise and then the lady asked me a strange question: “If you are selected to take him, what do you plan to do with him?”


six various color budgies on a branch


Now I was a bit confused. I understood why she would want to know what type of home he would be living in but I had already explained why I would be a responsible budgie owner. Yet the very direct inquiry regarding what was I going to do with him I felt was a strange thing to ask. I quickly understood once the lady explained to me that she had been called by several people who wanted to feed the bird to their large snakes. I was TOTALLY APPALLED!! How horrible!


She then went on to tell me that numerous people had called asking for the bird and when asked about his future learned that they only wanted to sell him to another home from pure simple greed. Money isn’t the root of all evil but the love of money is that root. I could not believe how people were willing to prey upon this lovely little life in horrible or greedy ways. How very sadly this speaks of human beings. Thankfully, the Windy City Parrot team and you, our loyal readers and customers, are not among these mean, greedy people but truly feel compassion, love and a desire to provide the best for the feathered lives over which we have taken responsibility.


I assured her that he would have a safe and happy home shared with another parrot, Mango but would be kept safe and secure. He would not be food for any creature and would not be used for profit. I explained I really had no intention of even breeding him unless he clearly showed me that he had a strong desire for a girlfriend and a single clutch (group of eggs) as a family. Because of the number of unwanted parrots already in this country I didn’t want to potentially contribute to the problem of unwanted parrots by breeding more unless I knew in advance that all babies had good, loving homes waiting anxiously before mating occurred. She told me that she would be glad to let me have Kiwi.


I then asked about his background. I learned he had been obtained from a breeder as a pet for her twin high school sophomores. I was told he was tame, would step up on command, ate some human foods and was a very happy budgie. The kids had now completed high school and were going away to college in another area and would be living in dorms where pets were not permitted. I asked if Kiwi would have his own cage provided with him and was assured I would receive his regular cage when he was delivered.


sun conure eating


Avian Science Lesson:


Many people do not think budgies are parrots at all and others believe finches and canaries are parrots. Let’s learn exactly what a parrot really is in order to fully understand why Kiwi is a parrot, albeit a small one.


Parrots have hooked upper bills designed for cracking seed, but their feet are a dead give away. All parrots have feet with two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backward, designed for grasping perches and holding food while opening seed, using the foot as a hand.


Non-parrots such as soft-billed finches and canaries as well as birds of prey all have feet with three toes pointing forward and one toe pointing backward. While still effective for perching, their feet are also better designed for walking and not so much for grasping food much like a hand.


Other birds such as ducks and water birds have webbed feet where all the toes point forward and are attached by webbing to improve swimming ability and walking on wet, marshy swampland. Perhaps one of the most beautiful and interesting examples of webbed feet belong to the Blue Footed Booby (gee, I wonder how they ever thought of that name for this species).


End of today’s avian science lesson.



Because the people lived nearly an hour away in the far northern end of our long, thin county, they were planning to be just a few miles from where I lived and would call me to meet them in a close by public plaza for transfer of the budgie. I agreed and when the time arrived, my friend and I drove to meet Kiwi and his soon-to-be former humans. The lady I had spoken to on the phone turned out to be the mother and her twin teens were with her. I asked them questions about Kiwi and was told a slightly different story. They said he’d step up once in a great while, didn’t really like people, human food, fruits or vegetables, only pizza crust and seed.


The beautiful little parakeet was in a very small cage, about 10 inches square. There was a single toy hanging from the center of the cage, two plastic perches, a seed dish and a water dish. There was also a mirror hanging on the side bars of the cage. I asked about his larger cage only to learn there wasn’t one at all. The bird was just over two years old.


I took Kiwi home and allowed him some quiet time to adjust from the travel stress and strangeness of a new place. I fed him fresh seed and water, gave him a small piece of millet which he went nuts for right away, possibly never having had any before.


I have a large, very nice cage available for him but Kiwi was terrified of it. I soon concluded that he had never (or rarely) been offered the chance to get outside this little 10 inch square prison. He was addicted to the bird in the mirror, the only love and companionship he’d know, at least so it appeared.


budgie in small cage


The beautiful little budgie was silent. Silent budgies are a concern because they love to sing and twitter all day or at least a few hours of the day, often singing themselves to sleep or even twittering in their sleep.


After a few days of fear, Kiwi noticed the sun conure that was coming and going into and out of his cage at will when anyone was home — almost all the time since I work from home. He watched this larger bird closely but still didn’t make a move or any real noise. Mango did not try to go too near Kiwi, as if he understood the emotional upheaval of being offered the choice to exit his cage if desired.


It was a full two weeks before Kiwi came to the door of his cage and looked out of it. He didn’t yet dare step over the threshold, but at least he was coming closer. When Mango got his fresh fruits and veggies, Kiwi got a share also of tiny pieces chopped to the smaller size he could manage. But he would not touch them.


After a few weeks, Kiwi finally took that huge first step — the one out the door of his cage and onto the top of his larger but too-scary cage. He began to walk about the tops of the two cages (his and Mango’s) and explore a little bit. At first it was only for a minute or two per day before he’d run back to safety, but as the days passed his ventures took him out longer and longer each visit out.


Kiwi even began to walk closer to Mango. Don’t get me wrong; he didn’t approach him but he did come closer to him as if testing the waters of a possible friendship. Mango didn’t back off but he did not agress toward Kiwi either, seeming to accept the new neighbor just fine.


The first time Kiwi tasted fruit, Mango had grabbed a rather large bite of apple in his beak and was munching on the end inside his beak. Kiwi bravely walked up and took a bite from the other end of the same piece of apple! What a brave little bird to take such a huge step forward. Plus, Kiwi clearly liked the apple and began experimenting with the non-seed food choices placed in his own food dish. Larger items, such as a piece of vegetable corkscrew pasta, he still likes to eat from one end while Mango eats the other.


One day Mango got into his bath, an oval repurposed part from a vegetable / rice steamer that isn’t too deep for him. Kiwi watched interestedly. He wasn’t brave enough to attempt the large bowl, even though I had mounted a wooden perch into it in such a way that Kiwi would never have any difficulty walking up the oak branch and getting out of the bath, but so far he has only decided that Mango’s water dish is safe enough to bathe in.


Kiwi became happy enough that he began to whistle, twitter and sing. He even agreed a few times to step up onto a human hand. He moved into Mango’s cage so I added tons of new toys in smaller sizes in addition to those appropriately sized for Mango. Kiwi chooses to use some of the large toys and many of the smaller ones. Mango does the same thing, both of them sharing everything.



to protect the identities of Kiwi and Mango

we hired actors to show how loving the relationship has become


At last, I decided that Kiwi’s need for the mirror friend he’s used as a crutch to feel less lonely for his time stuck in the tiny cage had passed and removed the mirror. For the first day he sadly searched for it, but then completely accepted that little bird that looked like him had left and became even closer to Mango.


Mango sleeps in a Snuggle Hut inside his cage. Kiwi has now taken up the guard position just outside Mango’s entrance door; I suppose he wants to be sure nothing happens to his new friend. Just a couple of days ago, Mango was sitting on his Manzanita perch which is rather short. Kiwi proudly walked up and sat on the outside edge of the same perch. He didn’t exactly snuggle up next to Mango, but there was only an inch or two between their chest feathers and both appeared to be perfectly happy.


It does appear that Mango, the sun conure who has ancestors that long generations ago were taken from the rain forests in Brazil or the jungles nearby can enjoy being friends with the little yellow and green pied budgie whose ancestry hails from the Land of Oz, Down Under.


I believe that at last Kiwi has begun to learn to be a parrot, a healthy pretty well adjusted little parrot with a wide choice of foods to enjoy, toys to play with, songs to compose and sing and a lot to live for now. I believe Mango enjoys a better quality of life having the companionship of his little yellow and green Ozzie friend who whistles, sings, chatters, and I have even heard him secretly practicing a few sounds that might become words soon.


I am so sorry that Kiwi did not have the best quality of life during the first two years of his life. High school age teens have so much going on in their lives and with no ill intention on the part of the kids, he was simply ignored as they went through two of the most important and fun years of their lives. No longer will Kiwi ever be locked up in a too small, far too boring enclosure that offers nothing to do. He will enjoy chances to learn new things, see new things, have his toys moved around often and new ones added frequently. He can continue to learn from Mango until he is ready to begin to learn one-on-one from humans — a time that could take quite some time yet. Depending on his past treatment, perhaps he will never fully trust the human hand. But he clearly loves human attention, responding when whistled to with similar whistled of his own.


I know that Mango has taught Kiwi a lot. So have Kiwi’s human contacts. While he has a lot left to experience and learn in coming months and years, the joyful sounds he now makes for hours on end tell me that he now loves his little life rather than merely surviving life.


If you have small or medium small birds in your life and you encounter a little budgie or, as they are also called, parakeet in need of a good home, ask a few questions. You may find that you, too, can rescue a precious bundle of fun from a boring jail-like situation. If that happens for you, I do hope you will allow yourself to relax and enjoy watching the blossoming of a shy, ignored little bundle of beautiful feathers blossom into the true flower of life it was intended to be.


I’ll never regret taking Kiwi from his situation and hope he lives a long, long healthy life. I think in his past situation he would have eventually wasted away from simple boredom.


Remember, give your parrot, large or small, the best quality of life you possibly can. You will never regret sharing you life with one of these small birds with their truly huge hearts. Just remember, if you also have larger parrots, you will need to supervise the two species when they are enjoying out of cage time at the same time. Should the larger parrot become annoyed with the smaller one, feathers could fly and a bigger bird is stronger than a little budgie, although budgies are fast moving, one hard bite from a macaw could be a disaster.

The original question posed in the title of this article “Will a Medium Size Parrot from Brazil Adopt to a Small Parrot from Oz, the Land Down Under?” I can now answer with a resounding YES! And YES, Kiwi is learning how to be a bird. I’ll keep you all posted on his progress and his humorous, loving little spirit as it comes out more and more to the delight of so many.
written by nora caterino
approved by mitch rezman

your zygodactyl footnote




I want my freakin bird back but she’s held hostage by her eggs

Mark Hagen is to Parrot Knowledge as Dennis Yu is to social media or as Michael Jordan is to basketball. His knowledge base of parrot breeding is second to none. He’s got a Masters Degree in agriculture and runs the largest single parrot research Institute on the planet – HARI. He IS the engineer of Hagen bird food.

chicago catherine tobsing mark hagen mitch rezman @ ditkas in Chicago Illinois great meeting with Mark Hagen  great food @ Mike Ditka’s restaraunt

 We love being your destination for exploring the behavior of the birds we keep in cages for decades. But in order to triangulate caged bird keeping best practices we cannot be your only authority site destination.

 If you have a bird(s) or thinking of getting a bird, put visit HARI (Hagen Avicultural Research Institute) on your todo list. Their new site is visually stunning and the information offered within is second to none when it comes to caged bird keeping.

This is a facility that partners with veterinarians at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) as well is other institutions of higher learning in Canada. Hagen understands how to view the care of parrots holistically. Their contributions go beyond just creating a better bird food. As an example:

A recent donation from Mark Hagen, on behalf of the Hagen Avicultural Research Institute (HARI) and Rolf C. Hagen Inc., has equipped the Ontario Veterinary College’s (OVC) Avian and Exotic Service with minimally invasive equipment to perform endosurgical procedures on parrots.

The instruments are tiny – 2 mm forceps – and are essentially the same instruments used for neonatal surgery in human medicine.

The instruments are tiny – 2 mm forceps – and are essentially the same instruments used for neonatal surgery in human medicine. 

I have a lot of voices chatting in my head just about 24/7. At the end of the day I do ask them to come up with some sort of consensus and then be quiet so I can enjoy a sip of Jameson’s and some silence for a few minutes. 

The building of our blog posts is not a structured activity. Some fact checking here, research information there – I start laying it out and wire framing it on Monday night then work on it every day till as late as midnight Friday. What you get is what I’ve coined reduction content leading to create what we feel are the best practices for caged bird keeping in the 21st century.

I use the term “reduction content” as an analogy to reduction cooking. From Wikipedia – In cooking, reduction is the process of thickening and intensifying the flavor of a liquid mixture such as a soup, sauce, wine, or juice by simmering or boiling. The words we produce for you providing information about caged bird keeping are arrived at using 1 part science 1 part art and then we allowed it all to simmer during the week, tasting as we go.

drifting>>>> growing up in the Jewish neighborhood of West Rogers Park in the 50s and 60s. Although living in a reformed household I couldn’t avoid eating Cholent which is a traditional Jewish stew. It is usually simmered overnight, for 12 hours or more, and eaten for lunch on Shabbat. Really good stuff!

No one ever made it in our family. I’ve always ate it in a Jewish Deli. Some of the best comfort food ever.

<<<<moving off the highway rumble strips 

I’m going to go out on the limb here here and say that the Internet has become the biggest pile of digital trash in the universe when it comes to “reliable” information.

 Mitchism 246 – information on many Facebook bird groups is exponentially worse than general information found on the Internet. I’m here if you want to debate me.

Quick swerve >>>> if you’ve been reading me for a while you know I get “drifty.” The former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt made the observation that Every 2 Days We Create As Much Information As We Did from the beginning of time until 2003.

I was at a geek marketing event (SEMPO) sponsored by Website Magazine. Besides talking about how to get all of you to find us and no one else in search, a couple of the attendees were current and/or former caged bird keepers.

Networking events are cool because you can walk up to total strangers introduce yourself and be in a conversation about something you have in common related to the event. Because WindyCityParrot.com was placed on the big screen in front of the audience for analysis and criticisms, I found some caged bird keepers in the group.

I randomly approached a table and one of the women at the at the table said that she had a mating pair of cockatiel for the past 17 years but wasn’t seeing any eggs.

This created two streams of conversation. My conversation with the women who had the cockatiels elicited the fact that her birds had a light on all night after everyone else went to sleep. She did not cognize the relationship between 24/7 lighting and the loss of egg production (we talk about that in depth – below).

A gentleman at the same table, someone who’s never had birds was confused about how a female bird can produce eggs without the presence of a male. I can see where this would befuddle (non-bird) people.

white cockatiel in bird cage denying she laid egg

the main attraction is about to begin

 Chronic egg laying as in “I want my freakin’ bird back”. I’m tired of her snarling at me if I want to change her cage paper. I want her out of the cage annoying me with her head butting up against my fingers requesting perpetual scritching.

This is a serious health issue. Heard on the street and in social media:

“my cockatiel laid eggs for eight months, before she died” “My budgie laid lots of eggs for about a year and then she died” “I loved my green cheek conure who laid eggs for about six months and then passed away”

With Popcorn being a chronic egg layer we made the decision to try to terminate this chronic egg laying cycle with some procedures that we’ve talked amongst our selves and with you but never thought about deploying for our own bird.

 Until now we’ve tolerated the random eggs, and have tried to help her be near the eggs by transporting the egg every time we transported her which was five or six days a week days a week – she goes with us everywhere.

 But you know birds, they’re like ADD children they’re easily distracted, eggs break (before you say something read about what we’re now doing with fake eggs) so she’s never really been “on the eggs” until now – for 14 days.

We found 72 hours of light to break a birds circadian time clock and their hormonal need to consistently reproduce from Harrison’s – the most vocal advocate of this procedure.

More about controling your bird
using the zombie death grip for birds

My issue was with Harrison’s recommendations that the light be 1000 lumens – and I’m sure by now you’re probably tired of my whole inverse square properties of light rant.

I called Harrison’s and spoke to customer service where I posed my question regarding the inverse square conundrum – this was their comprehensive email response.

 Thank you for your phone call earlier today.

 In regard to the light cycle therapy based off of Dr. Kevin Wright’s (an avian veterinarian) experience, it is not the actual amount of lumens the bird is exposed to but the continued exposure to light, in an enclosure without dark zones offered consistently for 72 hours should be sufficient to break the hormonal cycle (that triggers egg laying). 

The amount of lumens is not the critical factor – but that the light within the enclosure or room is consistently bright enough to break the “night cycle”.


Why do you recommend 72 hours of continuous light for cases of chronic egg laying?

 The 72 hours of light is used to reset the circadian rhythm. This is ONLY needed for chronic egg layers. All other animals with suspected hormonal issues may just have  

I am concerned with how the continuous light will affect my bird. Will it be able to sleep? Won’t it stress my bird?

Your bird will be able to sleep in the light. Continuous light is much less stressful than chronic egg laying or egg binding.

 Can the lights be dimmed during the night or does the light need to be bright the entire 72 hours?

 The same light without variation (brightness) must be used for the entire duration (3 days = 72 hours) for this to be effective.

 If I am unable to remove the bird from the same room as my other pets, how will 72 hours of continuous light affect pets that do not have any issues?

 The light will not harm the other animals in the room.


The time frame for results varies depending on the animal and the severity of each individual case.
In the process of trying to recover our cockatiel as a pet we been interacting with many of you seeking the same solutions that you are. Our panning for gold nuggets of content about chronic egg laying from our content gold-mining hopper has yielded some of these answers

I purchased dummy eggs about 3 months ago. Prior to getting the dummy eggs, I tried numerous things (re-arranged the cage, moved cage location, totally changed cage to different cage, gave longer night hours, limited food to just pellets, removed all toys from cage).

Nothing worked. Dummy eggs did the trick!!! It says in the brochure that your hen might lay 2 more eggs & stop. My hen did just that! 🙂 I have found though if I remove the dummy eggs, she will start laying again.

I left them in for 30 days, and took them out of the cage & she started laying again. So now dummy eggs are a permanent fixture in my cockatiel’s cage. I have made an appointment with an avian vet to see her also. Good luck with your little hen! 🙂

interesting. I only had one, but I got it stopped by shortening the day, reducing fresh foods and bathing opportunities since these are all keys to tell the bird to a breed — enough sun to forage for self and babies, enough available food, plenty of water. It only took about two and a half weeks of this situation to get her to stop.

 Fortunately she stopped and was eventually given a mate and allowed to raise one clutch of babies, never again laying without proper triggers like the nest box, summer’s long days, and lots of extra fresh foods and a big bath bowl. Since I was concerned she might go back to egg laying, I put the mated pair in the “retired” aviary and they enjoyed a good long life together.

This method, however, makes sense. I know that when we change time [daylight savings], it helps me if I stay up longer by several hours for a few days after. It does allow my body to adjust a bit to the new daylight length. Sounds like a good topic for sometime in the future, like springtime when this behavior is most likely to appear, at least in budgies and tiels, at least from my experience and discussions with other parrot parents.

 That said, I miss Popcorn. The Popcorn who would fly to my shoulder the moment I got home and opened her cage door.

The Popcorn that loved flying to the kitchen while we were making salads and fly back into our living room to munch on our salads while we watched TV.

 I’m not ashamed to admit I’m desperate for her company. Here’s what we are doing to recover our bird from that nefarious cult of chronic egg laying cockatiels.

 Because of my responsibilities during the day at the Birdie boutique it is difficult to produce much fresh content.

 For those of you who don’t know I write most of my content between 10 PM and 4 AM Central standard Time during the week.

 That means I usually do not arise until 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock. Typically upon awaking, I would open up Popcorn’s cage door and turn on her overhead full-spectrum light.

 While she is on the eggs I am now turning the light on when I leave home which is 11 or 12 o’clock.

We usually get home from the shop around five or six and I now immediately turn her light off.

 Every morning I would prepare a fresh square of Lafeber’s Avicakes with the light dusting of Avitech multivitamin supplement and calcium supplement combined in a seasoning salt shaker.

 She no longer gets that. We are also removing her tidy seed feeder when we go to bed at night and reintroducing it into the birdcage in the morning. She also has a very large cuttlebone which she has been taking advantage.

She started sitting on the eggs October 8 so 21 days would make it October 29. We may even go to 30 days before we expose her to 72 hours of full spectrum lighting.

 We have ordered and received six fake cockatiel eggs. After some debate we decided to not introduce the eggs at this time because if we are fortunate enough to stop the egg laying cycle we won’t know if it’s the eggs or the light cycle therapy that did it

 The best news we have is soince she’s been sitting on two eggs, the count has remained at two. Prior to this we were seeing two and three eggs every week So far so good.

get ready Popcorn – it’ll be a bright 3 days and nights

 For those of you who think that withholding the Avicakes and removing the tidy seed feeder at night are a bit draconian. We feel that these procedures will not harm her in any way. Were doing this because if the bird feels as though food is plentiful, she may be more inclined to reproduce because she is able to care for her “expected” babies.

 By making less food available, she may intuitively question food availability and reduce the production of future eggs because she’s thinking that not enough food will be available to help future offsprings survive.

 The real downside is with all we’ve done for our little white fluffy ball of feathers Popcorn is treating us like strangers. Our morning routine mentioned above – is gone..

 She would happily follow me around the apartment. If I was at the bathroom sink she would be on the shower bar – chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp and I would answer her as though she was another human being. Going to the kitchen she likes being on her stand on the table or on top of the refrigerator or the crown molding.

 She would follow me with her eyes knowing that the kitchen was where the food was made. I started working on coaxing her to fly to me with a half of thimbleful of millet which she would do anything for.

She would help me make the bed by standing on top of the comforter and I would gently float it out and bounce her up and down and she would just nonchalantly move to another part of the bed with three or four wing flaps but I think she was having fun on the ocean of fabric.

 This morning was the first morning where she had been without food all night and no supplemental anything. I opened the cage door went to the bathroom for something and was about to get her tidy seed from the kitchen but there she is on the Buddha perch on the top of her cage chirp chirp chirp chirp – clearly being “where’s my food – where’s my food” chirp.

I reinstalled the tidy seed feeder containing Higgins Sunburst this morning and took a step back. Totally ignoring me she climbed down from the booda perch on top of her cage, stuck her head into tidy seed – pigged out for two minutes then went back the eggs. I was hurt – did I mention I want my freakin’ bird back. 

All of you will be kept in the loop of this attempt to break our cockatiel’s chronic egg laying cycle. Please keep your comments flowing.

 So I’m ready for another cup of coffee and a bagel with a shmear – how about you?

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing


Parrotlets – Big Birds in Small Bird Bodies

Parrotlets – although appearing to be about the size of a parakeet, is not how they see themselves. They definitely have a big bird mentality and an abundance of energy. Because they had not been in captivity for all that long nobody really knows their average lifespan which is generally expected to be around 15 to 20 years, some say even 30. With proper care these little birds can be quite durable pets.

In spite of their size these little birds possess all the intelligence and the attitude of the biggest of Macaws. Unlike the big Macaws, Parrotlets are easily suited for apartment dwellers as they cannot scream and are actually one of the quieter parrots you can have. They can learn talk and can even whistle songs. With enough work like any bird, they can be taught simple tricks providing hours of entertainment for you and themselves.

The most popular species of Parrotlet is the Pacific or Celestial Parrotlet. One of the larger ones coming in at almost 5 inches long with an average weight of about 30 g (28 g = 1 ounce). Parrotlets are dimorphic meaning that you can tell the males from females by certain coloration. Notably the Pacific males have this cool streak of feathers, kind of a cobalt blue extending from their eye. You’ll see the same color on their butt and their wings. Females have an emerald green streak by their eye. Their backs and wings are olive green with a tinge of yellow green feathers about their face.

Green Rump Parrotlets are the smallest weighing in about 22 g and are not much longer than 4 to 4-1/2 inches. Their tapered body is accentuated by their relatively small beak for the size of their head. They’re basically apple green with the males having very bright cobalt blue splashed on their wing feathers and a little turquoise of the secondaries. A patch of bright yellow feathers just above their nostrils help designate the female

Parrotlet Species

The most popular Parrotlets kept as pets are the Mexican Parrotlet, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Turquoise-rumped Parrotlet, Spectacled Parrotlet, Dusky-billed Parrotlet or Sclater’s Parrotlet, Pacific Parrotlet or Celestial Parrotlet, Yellow-faced Parrotlet.

Other Parrotlet species indigenous to South America but rarely if ever seen as pets are the Lilac-tailed Parrotlet, Red-fronted Parrotlet, Blue-fronted Parrotlet or Red-winged Parrotlet, Sapphire-rumped Parrotlets, Brown-backed Parrotlet, Spot-winged Parrotlet, Tepui Parrotlet, Manu Parrotlet or Amazonian Parrotlet, Tepui Parrotlet, Manu Parrotlet or Amazonian Parrotlet

Parrotlet Housing

Once again housing is a paradox with Parrotlets. Small bird, big cage is recommended. We suggest something no smaller than 24 inches wide by 20 inches deep with half-inch bar spacing. This will give your small energetic bird lots of room to perform acrobatic feats. Be sure to include a ladder or two climbing ropes to give them plenty of exercise. A minimum of three perches of different textures are recommended for all bird cages but Parrotlets really enjoy swings and at least one should be introduced to complement the other perches.

Toys should be size appropriate, in other words toys that a parakeet or cocktail may play with. They love bells, vine and wiffle balls and with enough toys can keep themselves entertained until they are able to enjoy your attention. Leather and rope should be introduced as separate pieces or incorporated into the bird toys hanging in a cage

Video – Adorable Three Peas In A Pod Parrotlets

Parrotlet Nutrition
Although feedback from our customers indicate that they do feed their Parrotlets pellets, some breeders will tell you that if you have color mutation Parrotlets, pellets should be avoided altogether. The problem seems to be (especially with the “red eyed” birds) developing kidney problems from high uric acid levels resulting in calcification of the kidneys.

One theory is that because seed-based diets are higher in fat then pellet diets, the fat helps store water in the body. Many parrots that migrate from pellets to seeds begin drinking a lot more water than when they were on the seed diet. Parrotlets don’t normally drink a lot of water even when on pellet diets thereby possibly resulting in kidney problems. Unfortunately there’s really no hard and fast rules here but to be in the safe side we did not iclude any pellets in the Parrotlet bird supply category.

Parrotlets are herbivores so they should be encouraged to enjoy the same vegetables we eat when choosing healthy foods such as bok-choi, broccoli, cauliflower leaves, cabbage leaves, collard greens, dandelion leaves, kelp, mustard leaves, seaweeds, spirulina water cress. Occasionally amaranth leaves, beet leaves, carambola (starfruit), chard, parsley, spinach & turnip leaves served cleaned or in a chop.

Fruits (excepting avocados of course) like figs both dried and fresh are encouraged. Just about all the citrus like grapes, mangoes, melons, nectarines, peaches, pears and plums although you do have to be careful about separating the pits and the seeds as they can be mildly toxic. Ironically the tiny seeds from fruits like bananas, blueberries elderberries, egg plants, persimmons, pomegranates raspberries and strawberries and even tomatoes are all acceptable.

Sprouts are always good whether they come from alfalfa or buckwheat. Almonds, lentils, pinto beans are fine but be careful if you feed any red kidney beans as they must be cooked thoroughly because uncooked red kidney beans are toxic.

Eggs either hard-boiled or scrambled are a healthy source of animal protein. Too much animal protein is unhealthy for Parrotlets as well as most parrots. We use to scramble up one whole egg and keep it in a small dish in the refrigerator for Sunshine, our Ringneck. The one scrambled egg would last three days. 10 -15 seconds in the microwave made them “nummy”.

Video – Baby Parrotlet on Hamster Wheel

And remember because of their intelligence they need a lot of mental stimulation and companionship. Without engaging your Parrotlet for a reasonable period of time daily you could very well end up caring for a pair of sewing shears – with the wings.

Please let us know if you would like to add to this information or if you have any questions.

Until next time
Mitch Rezman
Vice President
Windy City Parrot, Inc

button Button_Parrotlet_Supplies

Page 1 of 2
1 2
Click to email me when this item is back in stock We will inform you when the product arrives in stock. Just leave your valid email address below.
Email Quantity We won't share your address with anybody else.