Why you don’t need a professional to trim your birds nails

There are a lot of tough guy actors. Mickey Rourke is like a train wreck you want to look away but you just can’t.

fyi he was nominated for an Oscar , Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role The Wrestler (2008) – he’s also an animal lover

When Rourke won the 2009 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in The Wrestler, he famously gave a special shout-out to “all my dogs” in his acceptance speech: “The ones that are here, that aren’t here anymore, because sometimes when a man’s alone, that’s all you got is your dog. And they meant the world to me.”

Apparently during the shooting of Iron Man 2 (haven’t seen it) He thought his character should have a bird not a dog, you know for that “tough guy” look.

what helps the tough guy look more?

the cockatoo on the shoulder or the hanging bodies (behind Rourke).

While I’m not Mickey Rourke I’m very happy to have a white cockatiel on my shoulder. Popcorn is fun and entertaining. She doesn’t talk she whistles but we get each other.


Mickey & I share 2 traits

white parrots on right shoulders and we’re both weird looking


But you say cockatiels are not really parrots. I say you have not done your fact checking. She has a curved hookbill and zygodactyl feet (two toes pointing forward and two pointing backward). Cockatiels are parrots.

We are believers in allowing our birds to be flighted. Wings go beyond flight they provide balance as well. We also try to avoid trimming our bird’s nails because of our concern about her losing the grip on a perch high in the cage.

But they’re not always in the cage, sometimes they are walking around our homes. We have wood floors throughout our apartment but we also have lots of area rugs. When you see your bird walking across the rug like they’re walking on top of Velcro – It might be time to trim their nails. Let us show you how.

You will need a nail clipper or a Rotary trimmer. We prefer the rotary trimmer because it lessens the chance of making your bird bleed which can happen when trimming their nails with the clipper. We will cover that in a future video.


This is a two-part video. We’ve had many requests to make this video so that not only do you understand how to trim your birds own nails but we can’t assume that everybody knows how to properly assemble and operate a cordless Rotary trimmer. Thus the first part of the video covers the mechanics of the trimmer Part 2 is me and Catherine using guerrilla tactics to safely restrain our cockatiel then give her a minor nail trim. Believe it or not this was all done in one take.

For safely trimming your birds nail you will need


important note->You will probably not be surprised that many caged bird keepers prefer to have their bird’s nails trimmed at the vet’s office or by a professional caged bird keeper. This begs the question –


What are you going to do in an emergency which may come up over the next 30 years. What if you need to restrain your bird for first aid or a quick evacuation? If your bird is not used to being restrained by you a bad situation can get worse. Nail trimming offers “practice” toweling sessions. It doesn’t have to be perfect – as seen in our ‘splainer video.

Why go to all this bother? As caged bird keepers it’s up to us to make judgment calls about the health and conditions of our birds. A flighted bird could endure an injury on takeoff if a nail got stuck carpeting. A bird whose wings have been clipped may have a problem escaping from another pet in the household or a young child because it’s nail is stuck on the carpet.


Make sure when you put your bird back in the cage for the first time after any nail trimming, we advocate that you spend 10 or 20 minutes watching your bird navigate it’s cage. Some wood perches and some plastic perches can be tough to grip and more so without the nail tips which are kind of like climbing spikes a hunter might use to climb a tree. You are looking for any potential instability in a particular perch.


the quickest fix is to wrap any “slippery” perch with vet wrap  which will instantly provide the necessary friction needed to comfortably navigate said perch.


This is especially true if your birds wings are clipped. A bird with clipped wings has a lessened sense of balance. A short fall with frantically flapping wings in a crowded cage can cause any number of injuries and will trigger stress.


You’ve been warned.


written by mitch rezman

approved by catherine tobsing


your zygodactyl footnote

My Bird / Your Bird – Break Up Decisions and Creating the Blended Family With Parrots

I started making my way across the earth in the middle of the last century. I traveled terrestrially and airborne (my father Norman was a vagabond pilot – sure, Id love to have a coffee and chat about that with some time).


If you are a baby boomer you may remember probably what was one of the first chain stores – Woolworths


Woolworths pet bird supply ad


Parakeets, Budgies as we know them – three bucks. Today I see budgies (and for those of you who don’t know, we do not sell any birds and only have one bird ourselves, as that’s all that time allows for) for $15 maybe $20. Budgies, much like turtles and especially hermit crabs with those adorable NFL football licensed shells are considered by and large, disposable pet in todays society. And that is a shame because Ive related a story (from an avian veterinarians) here about a budgie that was still going strong at 26.


The customer pool of caged bird keepers that have had a bird(s) in their life 20 and 30 and 40 years is not a very deep pool. We bring theses animals into our lives and find they are much more complicated than we ever imagined.


I have a relationship with a fluffy pure white cockatiel. Popcorn will spend time with Catherine and demand some sort of attention but I am clearly her (well both Popcorn AND Catherines now that I think about it) chosen mate. I have related our morning routine on many occasions.




I traverse our 70 foot long Chicago apartment. Bedroom, bathroom, other bedroom, kitchen, desk. Wherever I go I hear the very subtle woosh-woosh-woosh of an incoming cockatiel alighting on the dozens of landing zones we have agreed upon.


For those of you counting, its been about 40 days since she laid her last egg. Her apartment migration activity keeps her mind off being a mommy. She still thinks that I dont see her go in behind the towels in the bathroom but I dont give her an inch and a bring her out immediately so shes not too comfortable back there – thinking mommy thoughts.


And we chat. I use the English language. She whistles. I do not know how it works but we both know what each others talking about and many of you know exactly what I mean.


I know how smart animals are. I have been up close and personal with dressage horses (and falconry). I have bred standard poodles – one of the smartest breeds of dogs that I have ever encountered. I actually in met a likable and smart cat or two. But can any of those species make and then use a tool?




and can dogs fly? Sure but they need a little help




Birds are pets that occupy all three dimensions, they can be anywhere in your home which is both a good and a bad thing (caged bird keeper’s rule number 54 – always know where your bird is in the home, flighted or not ). I find it an enchanting way to engage a pet. I love when her feet scrape my ragged scalp as she flies to meet me in the kitchen from the living room


Memo to yuppies: I see you in our neighborhood with a dog tethered to a human pushing an aerodynamic projectile a.k.a. jogging stroller with an infant strapped in. You are not only not cool – but I hope for your sake and more so for your childs sake (because you are a dumbass) that your 70 pound dog doesnt like chasing squirrels.


Now this – this is cool!




And do not take my word for it. If you want to know if birds are special – just ask this guy


Pope releasing 2 doves


Yeah we know all about the Pope does 2 doves incident – Hey sh#t happens.


There are shells and scales – there are fins and fur. For us, the caged bird keepers – well it can best be said by Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain.


She was not quite what you would call refined. She was not quite what you would call unrefined. She was the kind of person that keeps a parrot – it is all about the feathers.


I am big on plans. I take a plan and stick to the plan until it stops working. Then I create a new and better plan.


You have got the bird. Forget the expensive cage and the bird food you tossed in the garbage because your bird does not like banana shaped Zupreem. You are able to bite your lip (until it bleeds) when your sweet bundle of feathers punches a hole in the left boot of your $200 Uggs.


But have you given thought to the unthinkable? When things go nuclear? A shift with your – relationship – job – housing? In other words – whats your plan when life takes a left turn?


Nora explores that starting now.


Man and woman back to back on white couch arguing there is a cockatoo at the end of the couch


Sometimes our lives change drastically, sometimes suddenly or sometimes slowly. A divorce happens or a new partner comes into the picture. How do we help our parrots deal with this transition? And what if you are both parrot parents? Will the birds get along? Will they get along with the new people in their lives? What about children transitioning? And in the case of a break up, what is best for the parrot(s)? Who should get the bird(s)? That can be a really hard decision and cause much stress for both the humans and parrots.


I just had the second case happen. When I got Mango the sun conure, he was only 4 weeks old and I was totally single. I finished hand feeding him and he was bonded to me. He was also well socialized and would interact with people of either gender. As he grew up, however, he developed a bit of preference for men.


Then I entered a relationship and the first time Kevin met my sun conure, Mango went nuts for him. It was a case of love at first sight. Later Kiwi came into the family. But then last week some issues that had been brewing for some time came to a head and I left the relationship.


woman holding sun conure parrot-in hand


I suddenly had to make a really hard decision. While I knew that if I took the birds, Mango would interact with me but he would seriously miss Kevin. Additionally, my life was in a transitional phase. I came to the decision that Mango and Kiwi were better off and would be less stressed by leaving them with Kevin, even though they had started out as MY birds. I will still make myself available to clip wings, give advice, help the birds in any way I can but I cant say I am happy about leaving them. However, sometimes we have to do what is best for ourselves and I know Kevin really loves those two birds and will care for them. Once things settle down, I will open my home to a parrot that needs love and a home.


I am glad that it didnt come to a situation like those Ive seen in far too many break ups where birds are involved. Some people use the birds as tools to hurt the person the birds love best and it is always the parrots that suffer in these situations. I knew a beautiful Quaker that had become a cage bound feather plucker because a person had taken the bird from its best loved human and then failed to provide it a quality life for years before rehoming it to someone that cared about birds. That was really sad and the person that accepted the Quaker for rehoming was working hard with the bird to get it to trust humans again.


On the other hand, people have the opposite happen and enter a relationship (this happened with Bell). One party may own a parrot(s) or they both may have birds. Creating a blended family can be challenging for both the people and bird(s.)


Monk parakeet on handle


First of all, the bird(s) have to get to know and (hopefully) trust the new person, and if children are added in the blended family there may be several new people in the birds life. The new person or people may have to be taught about parrots if they are not already experienced parrot people. Sure, youve shown the person pictures of your beloved parrot, but unless youve lived with the parrot, you really dont know how to deal with it. Every parrot is somewhat unique and every person is unique.


Hopefully before blending a family, a great deal of time has been spent in the process of allowing everyone, birds included, to get to know one another and the bird wont become too stressed. If it happens to be you and the parrot moving to a new location to create the blended family, youll want to provide a calm transition person for the bird(s) so that they can adjust to their new environment. The birds may be leery of the massive changes that are occurring and need time to realize they are still loved and cared for.


Young girl kissing blue and gold macaw parrot on for head


It is important to develop a proper interaction between the new people and the birds to prevent jealousy on the part of the parrot(s). If a bird is strongly bonded to one person rather than being a very social bird, the parrot may view the new partner as a rival rather than an added caregiver that will love them. Of course, you might end up in the same situation I did where the bird bonds really strongly with the new person, virtually abandoning its original owner. We cant just decide what person or people a parrot will bond with. I really think that Mango had experienced a bit of separation anxiety when I was repeatedly hospitalized for a major health issue when he was young, resulting in his ability to rebond so strongly. But I will write about that in another post.


My point is that if your life suddenly changes, whether due to a break up, death, or new people entering the birds life in a situation expected to be permanent, the welfare of the parrot should be considered as it is a member of the family too. Every situation and every parrot is unique, so I cant tell you exactly what to do in your unique situation, but dont expect the parrot to adjust immediately. Allow it time to be quiet and adjust if it indicates it needs it. Consider ways you can allow the bird to make the transition smoothly and slowly. Pressuring a parrot to accept a new situation suddenly, although sometimes that cant be avoided, can cause the bird to begin bad behaviors such as feather plucking or over grooming.


If additional birds enter your birds life during a transition, you should first allow all the birds a calm adjustment period where they are allowed to get to know the new people and birds. Once theyve all had time to get through the stress of adding new birds, you can slowly allow the birds to interact with each other, but only with supervision. If the birds get to know and love each other, like Kiwi and Mango did, they can eventually be allowed to interact without supervision. But not all parrots accept other birds as friends. You have to monitor the birds when they interact and base any decisions on how well they get along. If they do not get along, you may have to schedule quality time out of cage so that the birds do not harm each other.


written by nora caterino approved by mitch rezman


your zygodactly foot note

Ring Neck parrot talking, laughing and playing peekaboo


A Coral Billed Pionus that Thinks He’s a Turkey and a Look at All 8 Pionus Parrots

Windy City Parrot is on Western Avenue and as I’ve mentioned in the past, this is the longest continuous street in the world. During the course of any given day thousands of vehicles pass by us on this four-lane arterial corridor. Hundreds of pedestrians walk by to and from busy bus routes and stores that can be reached on foot – take that suburbia.

A day doesn’t go by that somebody doesn’t walk in and ask “do you sell birds?” To which we reply “no” which instantly reroutes the foot traveler. Our 800-number is seen by thousands of people daily on the web. Many of these web visitors will call and ask if we sell “parrots.”


That sentence in and of itself is a red flag. Why? 50% of the people who asked that question will hang up when we tell them “no.” The other 50% will ask the follow-up question – “do you know where I can buy a parrot?”


My response is typically “what kind of parrot are you looking for” not surprisingly many of the responses are similar to “one that talks.”




Then there’s the callers that ask “do you know where I can buy a macaw?”

Bronze Winged Pionus Parrot

Bronze Winged Pionus

My patented response will always be “what kind of macaw?”


This is where I always get the moment of uncomfortable silence and then a response of something like “one of those blue ones.”




I have a dozen patented responses none of which are customer service friendly.


If you’re into macaws you know what I’m talking about. If you’re just lurking and trying to learn something you’ll find out there’s something like 24 species of macaws ranging from the noble macaw which is about 12 inches long and a 100 g to 150 g, to the Hyacinth macaw which is about 4 feet long and can weigh as much as 2200 g.


So now you know that if you call here with some vague specifications, I am not going to help you. You’re not serious and my spidey sense will guide me through our conversation.


Not many retailers will admit this but although we care about you, we care less about you and more about your bird which is who we are an advocate for.

Dusky Pionus Parrot

Dusky Pionus

It’s a rare thing that somebody will call up and ask for some very species specific information as was the case today with a woman who asked to be placed on our email list. She was seeking information on a Blue headed Pionus.


That got my attention so I googled “Blue headed Pionus Windy City Parrot” and didn’t get a whole lot.


So guess what we can talk about for the next few minutes?


Although Pionus Parrots are about the same shape and size as Amazon parrots, they just don’t get the same respect.


They’re not big parrots, they are not small parrots they are very nice midsized birds and compared to other species, relatively quiet.

Harley the Coral Billed Pionus that Thinks He’s a Turkey!


They’re great family pets. We don’t offer proposed psychological profiles of species like “they are quiet and standoffish” (until there’s several children in the home playing loudly and then the bird gets noisy and aggressive) or something like that.


Digression-> The outcome your bird is expecting is not necessarily the outcome you are expecting. It’s the holidays. In the aforementioned scenario, knowing that say, visiting nieces and nephews for the holidays were anticipated and could possibly agitate a bird who’s not used to small people with high voices. Different unkown flock.


Do you have a travel/evac/sleep cage you can move move the bird into a quiet room and then perhaps integrate him or her into the festivities slowly. Do you know the outcomes your bird is expecting like?


  • roughly 10-12 hours of daylight 12 months year

  • flying in real “miles” daily

  • having dozens of square miles to explore

  • thinking that food acquisition is hard work


Before we returned to our regularly scheduled programming here’s one of those reminders like “remember to keep a blanket in your car in the winter”.

Maximillian aka Scaly Pionus Parrot

Maximilian aka Scaly-headed Pionus


Common sense would dictate we’re going to keep our birds away from things like foil tinsel, Christmas light wires and chocolate cookies. Personally I think one of the greatest threats to our pet birds this time of year is a lowly piece of – scotch tape.


It’s the rather odd duck that won’t be wrapping gifts for somebody this season. Besides paper and ribbon, gifts typically require scotch tape and scissors. Most of us were brought up to know how to hold the scissors and never run with one. But scotch tape? Evil?

From Lafeber4 thanksgiving foods you can share with your birds


Adhesives of any sort are a birds kryptonite. A benign looking piece of scotch tape that a bird brushes against can instantly restrict the feather system leading to fright resulting in stress.


And you know exactly what to do when your bird is freaking out right? And you know how to remove scotch tape from feathers right? Now you’re hyperventilating over scotch-freakin’ tape – I hope.

Whte headed Pionus Parrot

White headed Pionus – photo courtesy of Vinicuio Perez


Being prepared for a disaster will always result in a better outcome. At the very least you should know and practice the zombie death grip on your bird. Your bird should know what a towel is and how it’s going to be used to restrain him or her, and you know (smirk) that the best solution to remove an adhesive object from your bird’s feathers is personal lubricant <-family friendly link – because you read this blog. Fine, You still don’t want to click on the link because your (fill in the blank) is in the room and you do not want to give him/her any ideas.

Many people will recommend cooking oil like peanut oil or olive oil to release an adhesive object from a bird, which does in fact work but then you have to remove the oil from the bird with soapy water. Dawn is the dish soap used by environmentalists dealing with oil covered birds from oil spills. For a single freaked out parrot, we recommend personal lubricant because it’s water-soluble. Meaning you only have to clean the bird once not twice cutting the stress level in half.

Back to outcomes – Contrary to what your bird’s expecting – what it gets is


  • darkness at 4:30 in the afternoon in November

  • its wings lopped off

  • it’s lucky if it has a 6 ft.² cage to explore

  • a cage filled with food and water 24/7 because you love your bird


The two of you should get together and discuss some common outcomes that you can both live with without becoming crazy.


Pionus is a species of parrot. Recently I was having a discussion about how many species of parrots are there in last weeks blog post in and went something like this


“…..you mention there are about 370 species of parakeets, not at all. There are only about 350 species of parrots.


And yes Birds Unlimited – there are about 350 species of parrots AND 372 species of parakeets

here’s a “blended list” of parrots & parakeets

 Plum head aka Speckle-faced Pionus at La Merced Zoo by JESUS JOSE CAJACURI TACURI on Windy City Parrot

Plum head aka Speckle-faced Pionus (sorry for the quality of the pic)

This is one of the “hard-to-find” Pionus parrots

Feathered factoid: The Plum-crowned Parrot is also called the Restless Parrot, due to its flighty, nervous behavior.


At some point I’ll pluck out the keets leaving only parrots on that list then create a parakeet only list. Now here’s a top level species list of parakeets and some don’t appear on the parrot list.”

And I left it at that. This is clearly a long-term project but hopefully within the next year I will have two distinct lists of parrots and parakeets along with I guess a third list of crossovers and I imagine it to be somewhere in the mid 700’s (number of species of parrots and parakeets) – stay tuned.


I promised you Pionus parrots and now it’s time to deliver. There are eight species of Pionus’ without splitting hairs. Apparently there some old guys sitting in big leather chairs with patches on their sweater elbows smoking pipes discussing things like “should the Blue-headed parrot (or blue-headed pionus), be subdivided into two additional species – Paler blue-headed parrot (or paler blue-headed pionus), Reichenow’s blue-headed parrot (or Reichenow’s blue-headed pionus)? I voted – we don’t care we’re sticking with eight.


Many people confuse Pionus with Amazons (which we’ll save for another day)

White fronted amazon parrot

White fronted amazon


Pionus range from about 10 inches long and 180 g (white capped) to a blue headed which can be 12 inches long and 260 g. What’s common to all the species are the red feathers underneath (under tail-coverts) their square short tails . Some old schoolers will refer to them as Red-vented parrots because of this.


They all have a naked eye ring (which can vary in color) and a naked cere (nose). If you really don’t know a lot about Pionus you might think their beaks look overgrown but that’s the way they are.

White capped Pionus parrot

White capped Pionus


Personally I think they have one of the most complex shading of feather colors of any parrot. Misting them can bring that out and we will have to do some research to see if there’s additional ultraviolet colors that only the birds themselves can see on one another.


By the way boys and girls all look the same so you’d have to get them DNA sexed to find out what you have, should you acquire one. Where can you get one – I haven’t the faintest idea and some are harder to obtain than others I’m told. But then again anything can be gotten with perseverance (and money).


A Pionus parrot can live up to 40 years

written by mitch rezman

approved by catherine tobsing

zygodactyl footnote


Birds, gout, arthritic feet and winter respiratory issues. Forewarned is forarmed

Cooler days and colder nights


Ready to have the whole fam damily sit in front of the fireplace for the first time this year and watch a movie on Netflix?


It would only be right to have your precious little bundle of feathers in the room to enjoy the family bonding time too.


So before you fire things up, did you poke your head inside the fireplace and look up the chimney to make sure that the vent is open?

Did you look for any creosote or soot buildup that may prevent, oh I don’t know, stuff that’s poisonous to your bird from getting blown out of your chimney?


Cheapskate that you are, you finally give in to the Mrs. to “kick up the heat a couple of degrees” for the first time this year.


That first blast of warm air coming out of your furnace ducts has a possibility of spewing all sorts of mold and dust spores which I’m going to go out on a limb and say could possibly negatively impact your bird’s respiratory system – you’ve been warned.

So take a look and get it done now.


Don’t get me started on how the changing light cycle will impact your birds hormones. I’m going to advocate that you learn a little about birds and full spectrum lighting.


Costco and bird play stands


So we close the shop, drop Popcorn off at the apartment and begin the arduous journey north on Western Avenue (the street that the Birdie Boutique is on which is the longest continuous street in the world if you’re new to the blog) on our way to Costco to get a plush blanket I had my eye on. There was one for $16 but we upgraded to a better quality one for $25 and it’s to die for or so Catherine says.


Oh and my point? What does a married couple talk about in the car while stuck in city traffic? Apparently bird play stands became the subject in play. Catherine with laser focused clarity spoke of why you really don’t need any feeder dishes on a play stand.


Wait – memo to self, please reply to all of the caged bird keepers that have written seeking a bird play stand that will keep a bird from getting to the floor, with the following “they’re birds, get over it.”


The primary purpose of a bird play stand is to have a place to put the bird when out of the cage.


Place an umbrella cockatoo on the back of a chair regardless of the material including Superman’s cape, it will get destroyed. Who’s fault is that? Not the bird’s.

It’s only OK to put a macaw on a chair if you have a monkey to distract it from chewing the chair into slivers

scarlet macaw parrot and monkey standing on red out door chair

Why then do you ask that I advocate being mean by not granting your bird instant access to a never ending supply of food and water on their play stand?

That’s because you want them to go back to the bird cage at some point where the food and water are. Are you really seeking to expand your vacuuming radius across the room?


By filling the feeder cups on a playstand with food, you may be offering your bird the equivalent of a daily Starbucks Venti White Chocolate Blended Creme Frappuccino (without whipped cream) that’s 630 calories and 9g of fat. Hold it here for a moment. You weighed your bird recently right?

You know it is in perfect health because it’s weight hasn’t changed significantly in the past 30 days right?



Please don’t tell me you are relying on the last well visit to your vet, 10 months ago? It’s such a simple and easy tool for caged bird care.


When your bird is out of the cage it’s time to be active. Do things, explore things, interact with its environment and humans around it. Do I hear whining about those really cool colored dishes on the play stand and how they shouldn’t go unused?


Alternative to filling cups with food and treats


You’re right – so as Catherine said, “Fill the bird cage feeder dishes with bird toys. Your bird will thank you for that”.





I’m a little perplexed. My boyfriend raised Bell. For the first 14 years of his life, Bell really didn’t get any attention, learn to speak, toys, etc. Steve isn’t mean, he was just clueless. So was I.


When Steve started working longer hours, I took over Bell because I work at home.


It took me 3 months for Bell to get connected to me – and another year for us to really get close.


That was 4 years ago. We always thought Bell was just a low key, chill bird. He liked his one toy. I wanted to keep him happy, so I was careful to keep everything the same. Then I started reading your newsletter.



Since then I’ve introduced a bunch of new stuff a bit at a time. He is really really afraid of new things.


And his cages – one at my house, one at Steve’s needs more hanging stuff. But even though I introduce them slowly, with positive feedback, put avi-cake on them, etc, he still stays wary.


We used to think he doesn’t like toys; now, I know he doesn’t KNOW toys. Or bird behavior.


Mango learns from kiwi – but who will show Bell? And he doesn’t like baths because he used to only take one once a month. I mist him saying good boy! You’re a pretty bird while I do it, but he still hates it.


Here’s the issue – he has seriously severe arthritis (I go to an avian vet – actually Dr. Thielen who’s on that reality TV show – Dr K’s exotic vets in FL, but Dr Thielen actually is in a practice in Bedford Hills, NY) and she saw him walk and diagnosed him, confirmed with an ex-ray. I feed him a bit of “birdie Aleve” in a syringe every day.


Apparently it’s a catch-22. Sitting causes it, but the pain (plus unfamiliarity with how to be a bird) doesn’t exactly foster movement.


I belong to the Quaker Parrots group on Facebook and am fascinated by the huge set ups some of them have and have begun plans to slowly build something like that in the corner of my small apt, starting with bringing some driftwood home from SC this week when I visit there.


I’d send you pics of his cage, but I don’t have an iPhone. But I’m sure you wouldn’t like them now.


Lots of perches, but very few toys. I really don’t have a treatment plan or a clue how to help Bell. Is it as simple as one toy at a time, keeping it by the cage, playing with it to show it’s safe, introduce it into the cage and then start over with a new one?



I don’t want to freak him out, but he needs to stop sitting on his same perch all the time with his one toy. It’s terribly important to me that he be a safe, happy, healthy bird.


And I’m so glad I started reading your newsletter, or I’d never have known – I’d just have kept doing the same thing with the right intent, but the wrong action. Thank you. Judi


Hey Judi


Thank you for being an advocate for Bell.


First please remember “The less change a bird experiences in its environment the more resistant to change a bird is going to be”.


Your vet’s diagnosis is of no surprise. The organic knowledge base we’ve developed from interactions with tens (hundreds?) of thousands of caged bird keepers over two decades has convinced us that we have raised a generation of caged birds with arthritic feet.


You don’t give me a lot to go on. Do we know for certain Bell is a boy? it’s always good information and can be solved for 20 bucks with a DNA test.


Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Many caged bird keepers in spite of the length of relationships they have with their bird don’t understand how a bird’s foot works. This is really important because unless in flight, birds are on their feet 24/7.


Most people are surprised to learn that birds have no muscles in their legs nor their feet just a pair of tendons called Flexor tendons that run basically from the hips to the toes. It’s an extraordinarily elegant and efficient system and you can read more about that here,


We’ve done the math. A bird who sleeps 12 hours a night on the same perch for 15 years will spend 50,000 hours on that perch – this 50,000 hours gripping the same perch – yikes!


Not knowing how severe his arthritis is I’m going to error on the side of caution and tell you to make some radical changes to Bell’s cage. it’s important to note that a birds strongest defense is not to allow the world to see that they are physically compromised in any way.


It may be that Bell has learned to live with this pain and although the medication you are giving him daily will be reducing it, we will try to improve his quality of life.


We performed this drill ourselves when our fat little Cockatiel Popcorn injured her leg from bouncing around the cage too much while being overweight. She actually ended up being put in a cast by our vet.


Her cage went from this


white cockatiel inside top of bird cage filled with bird toys


to this in the time it took for me to drive home from the vet’s office.

bird cage with all toys and accessories moved to lower portion of cage


At the end of the day lowering everything to the floor of the cage proved to be effective therapy to help her help herself heal her injuries. You want to discourage climbing up cage walls. Think about using flat ladders as gateways


Something else you might want to consider for your quaker is getting a gazillion coffee stir sticks and give him a corner of your apartment to build this.


Who knows it might take his mind off the pain.

And then take a look at this category (yep it comes to sales pitch) there’s a reason that we offer a number of flat perches with our offerings growing we can find new products.


Our single most popular perches is becoming our Manzanita flat perch. Bell would love one

BTW – We don’t recommend driftwood for birds as it can contain toxins, heavy metals, excess salt and who knows what from floating around in the ocean for a long time.


Do bird’s feet hurt?

Aglae Wrote :

Does the wire platform on the bottom of the cage hurt my bird? It seems uncomfortable to me. Should I throw it out? Maybe you
can explain why all the cages have them. Thank you, Aglae

Aglae, Unless in flight, birds are their feet 24/7. Actually it’s the best surface for a parrots foot.

Water birds like seagulls have web or flat feet which is why you’ll see seagulls on the top of street lamps and not on phone wires.

Birds like parrots or pigeons need to wrap they feet “around” branches perches or cage grates (or phone lines) so as to get a better grip.

Birds have very few nerves in their feet enabling them to stand on even thorny or rough objects except when they are in flight.

A tendon on the side of a bird leg locks a birds foot around a perch enabling them to sleep standing up. Because of the lack of nerves in their feet, they feel little or no discomfort.

The grate in a cage lets the refuse a bird leaves, fall though to bottom where a tray can be removed for easy cleaning. Regards,


Food/water bowls for my cockatiels?


Hi! Could you please send me recommendations for food/water bowls for my cockatiels?

I would like to purchase some that have holders that won’t rust. Due to my vet’s advice, I have to add cherry juice to one of my tiel’s water because she has high uric acids levels << gout.


It is rusting her bowl holder.


I’m not sure how long I may have to continue this so I need some good, sturdy bowls. I love your products & enjoy shopping at your store! Want to let you know also that I adore your Sunday Birdie Brunch that send through email! 🙂 Love your store! 🙂 Thanks so much for your help!!! 🙂 Lyn

Hi Lyn



Any of the stainless steel dishes on this page should suffice it’s difficult to recommend a particular one without seeing your cage set up. We also have a good selection of plastic dishes and crocks that won’t have any issues with the acidic nature of the cherry juice.


I hope your vet recommended some diet changes – Gout, much like feather plucking is all but nonexistent in the wild. The lack of understanding what causes gout can put your pet bird at risk.


I’m not even going to try to wing it. Ron Hines DVM PhD wrote an exceptional article entitled What Is Gout In Birds?

Some takeaways you’ll get are:

  • Gout occurs in birds when uric acid levels become too high in their blood stream. All birds form uric acid and urate salts as a way of cleansing their bodies of the nitrogen-containing wastes that accumulate as they utilize the proteins in their foods.
  • Any kind of pet bird can develop gout. Traditionally, veterinarians saw the problem, most often in budgies, cockatiels and canaries – birds that consume little water. But as larger pet hook-bills have become more commonplace, we see more gout in them as well.
  • Many informed parrot owners encourage their pets to consume fruit. That is good. But market fruits tend to be much higher in fructose sugar than jungle fruit. Vegetables are more important than fruit in most birds diets.

This article is about 8000 words which is approximately four times the length of this article. I highly advocate that you read it through over time to help develop a more positive outcome nutritionally for your bird. What Is Gout In Birds?



Best of luck with your Tiel




What food do you recommend for a derbyan parakeet?


editor’s note: To those outside of caged bird keeping the term parakeet inevitably conjures up the picture of a budgie. We know there are actually about 370 species of parakeets. I love exploring them all…..mitch


Medium parrot food? Or should I feed more grain and seed since the derbyan is a type of parakeet and not a tropical parrot?


they are sexually dimorphic – Male Derbyans have a red upper mandible

with a yellow tip, while the lower mandible is black. The females have an all-black beak.


Hi Myra

Not all parrots are parakeets but all parakeets are parrots. A Derbyan (aka Lord Derby’s Parakeet) is called a Parakeet because of its long tail, like an Indian Ringneck parakeet.


A large Parakeet like a Derbyan would likely enjoy a medium to small bird food. Small meaning like for conures, caiques. Not real small like Budgerigars or Cockatiels. The Derbyn may also enjoy some larger chunks of food in some medium bird food mixes as well like for small greys, small amazons, etc.


Is your bird eating pellets or a seed mix? If pellets the Hagen Parrot Granules are a nice size.


The Higgins Intune pellets in either the Conure size or the larger Parrot size, it all depends on what size pellets your bird enjoys. I would recommend trying the smaller Conure variety first.


The Intune pellets are in all of the Higgins seed mixes. I would recommend the Sunburst Conure mix to start.


I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have further questions.


Thank you, Catherine

Ten things to consider before getting a first bird or adding another parrot to your life

Taking care of a parrot is a lot of responsibility. Most of you already know this but a few may not. Your friends that don’t own parrots probably look at yours and think they want one too, so please pass these points along to them so they can make a wise decision.

Whether you are buying your first parrot or 10th, you need to think these things through as well.

Sharing life with a parrot is very much like living with a poorly mannered undisciplined 3 year old who will not grow up and go away to college.

Read moreTen things to consider before getting a first bird or adding another parrot to your life

Are your birds happy or sad when you’re not there?

When you are not with your bird, what quality of life do you provide it?

I’m lucky, I work from home and can spend more time with my birds than most people, but I also find that Mango, my tame, trusting conure, doesn’t want to be with me all the time. And I have a rehomed budgie, Kiwi, that isn’t trusting due to his early life and Mango is teaching him how to be a bird at two years of age, things he should have been taught as a just weaned baby.

When I got Kiwi, I was told he had been tame but I found he didn’t trust anyone or anything and as far as I can learn, he was in a tiny cage with one hanging toy and two perches. In other words, he hadn’t had enough to interact with to learn to be a bird. He survived, but that’s about it.

2 conure parrot friends

Best Bird Friends come in all shapes and sizes

Suddenly he found himself with a large cage with lots of perches of all sizes and quite a few toys. He was totally intimidated, looked at Mango and his cage and his perches and toys. Mango knew what to do with things so Kiwi dared to enter Mango’s domain and, I guess realizing the lack of development in Kiwi, Mango tolerated this intrusion. Kiwi has watched and after a few days dared to test a piece of apple Mango was eating. Why he took food from Mango’s mouth (not removing it but biting the other end) rather than test a piece in his own food dish is beyond me. But now he eats whatever he sees Mango eating except the larger seed and nuts Mango eats. Kiwi has his own appropriate food and all the fruits, veggies, pasta, and other healthy nibbles Mango gets but in smaller pieces.

It was over a month of watching Mango bathe before Kiwi dared to try that. I had tried spraying him but he didn’t seem to like it at all. I got a shallow dish in his size to put beside Mango’s larger bath dish. Now they both splash when they want to, often at the same time. Just last week I caught them sitting together on a perch, so they are clearly bonding.

Bunie and Budgie nose to nose

Once in a while fur replaces feathers for friendship

Kiwi may never become really tame, especially if he was mistreated in the past. I tried to contact his former owners to learn more about his past, but they never called back. I guess they didn’t want to tell me anymore information; perhaps they knew his life had not been full. Well, it is now.

Think about your companion bird and the time you are away from him or her. If you work outside the home, you probably get up, feed and clean, and spend as much time as you can with your bird before leaving for work, but how long is that really? A half hour? Less? And then, with commute time, you are away 8-12 hours and that’s if you aren’t working overtime. Part of the year days are short and your bird is in bed when you finally come home. Even if you work part time or don’t work outside the home but have to clean, shop, care for children, and live life, how much time does your bird have to entertain itself?

MOnk parakeet riding on top of a pig

bacon & eggs forever?

Does your bird’s house provide an environment that is large enough and varied enough to give the bird something to do with all those hours? Sure, birds wake up, poop and eat, but then they play a while before that first nap time. They repeat this cycle all day long. But they are only having fun if are things that are fulfilling and fun to do.

All Our Interactive Toys

Shop all bird toy partsBirds love puzzles, especially the large parrots. Do you provide foraging or puzzle toys for your bird? Does he have problems to solve and think about? Are they toys to swing and climb on? Does he have plenty of chewing opportunities? Are his food choices interesting and served in interesting ways like kebobs? Are there perches of various types, sizes and textures? Does he have a place to hide and feel safe when he naps or goes to sleep at night? Does he have the chance to bathe when he wants? Is his cage big enough to fully stretch his wings and still turn around and move freely?

Amazon parrot on piano that a monkey is playing black and white image from Life magazine it’s just best to partner up now and then

If the answer to any of these questions – and I could think of many more – is “no” then you are not providing enough quality of life for your bird when you are not directly interacting with him or her. Even if you have all these things and never change them out for new choices or move them around, he’ll still get bored with his home. At least once a month, add a new toy or two and move several others around, perhaps leaving his most favorite in place all the time. If he sleeps in a bed, don’t move his bed that is sacred to him.

Time is elastic to birds. We are out rushing around at today’s society’s fast pace while your companion parrot sits home and just waits. Time passes for him like it did for you when you were a child. Remember when waiting for Christmas took forever, with the period from Thanksgiving to Christmas school break being soooo incredibly long? That is much more the pace at which your parrot’s time passes. They don’t rush, ever, except when they see a treat coming; then they rush to grab a high-value treat. Otherwise, time moves slowly for birds.

parrot sitting on dogs nose

Bird’s Best Freind?

A parrot that doesn’t have things to keep busy with ends up experiencing time at an even slower pace. In the wild, parrots wake up, poop, forage for food (not just going to a full cup), perhaps traveling far away to reach the food they need, rest, continue the task of finding food, socialize with their flock and locate a mate to reproduce with. Their days are filled. You need to consider this when designing your bird’s environment. A cage isn’t enough – they need an environment to live in.

You don’t want to get the cage so cluttered that the bird can’t move without knocking itself with objects, but it still needs lots of things to play with, especially if another parrot isn’t in the home that it interacts with while you are away.

monkey leaning on white dove sometimes you just need a feather to cry on

Be creative; make toys from pieces you can buy so that you can change those pieces around into new toys. These pieces can be one toy one month and create something entirely different and fun the next month.

Be sure to buy objects for interaction in the right size for your parrot. Consider your bird’s personality and introduce new toys slowly if you have a timid parrot. Sometimes it takes two weeks for a parrot to accept some new toys but don’t give up, the bird will get curious once it sees the object won’t eat it for lunch.

Mango is especially leery of new objects. While he took to his new bed, he also go a new swing with lots of sisal and hemp strings on it in various colors and a bell on bottom. He is still in the stage of watching it on top of his cage. Once I see him touch it – I play with it every day in front of him to show him it is safe — he’ll soon decide to check it out and then I can hang it in his cage and he’ll play with it for hours and likely Kiwi will insist on time on it also.

monkey on macaw parrots back

occasionally a lot is asked of you

Kiwi got a new swing that replaces an old chewed one he’d been playing on. He thought that was just fine after only a day. But it was much like his old perch, just not customized to near breaking by Mango’s beak. The two birds shared the old perch but Mango, being the leery one of the two, let Kiwi test drive the new swing a few days before trying it out. I realize that the time Mango spends watching and thinking about the new toys does add to his life because it makes him use his brain, just as toys do.

I finally realized Kiwi didn’t want a big cage of his own, so now they sit side by side and both bird go back and forth from cage to cage, doubling their environment. And yes, doubling my space to clean, but it’s worth it.

Thankfully my friend got a new Dyson vacuum and passed his lightweight Shark to me, so cleaning up the seed is fast and easy. But I still have to change the floor protector and mop in places I never reached before as well as wipe up poop from all over the place, but that too is worth it to create a place where I can go away for a few days and know that even though Kevin may by working 8 or 9 hours, the birds will still be happy and live a good quality of life.

I had to be gone for a few months a while back and Kevin had to work 6 days a week, overtime every day. Mango got bored due to lack of changes and human time. There is now a 3 foot by 3 foot hole in the drywall where he opened the wall out of boredom behind the window curtain. When he had quality of life through changes, new toys, and some quality human time every day, he isn’t tempted to be destructive like that. It wasn’t a nest; he never wanted to go inside. It was just an activity to keep busy. My problem now is that Kevin has always been a drywall worker and, as every mechanic or handyman’s wife knows, the home car or the house gets fixed last, so the hole remains. I’ll probably fix it myself one day when I decide to change to shorter curtains. That will give the birds something interesting to watch! I’ll have to buy new toys again then so they don’t decide to re-customize the house after watching me get on my hands and knees and fix the hole.

Sun Conure Parrot Doing a Happy Dance on bird perch

Does your bird do a happy dance when you walk in the door?

Here’s an aside everyone should know, especially if you live alone with your birds: What if something happens to you while you are away from home? Do you have a contact in your cell phone listed as ICE (it stands for In Case of Emergency) followed by the person’s name and every possible number they could be reached through listed? It should be someone that can make decisions for you and know to go into your house and care for your birds. If you are in an accident and can’t respond, all First Responders are taught to look for your cell phone, open contacts and search for ICE, calling the person you want contacted. You can have ICE2 or even ICE3 if you want. They’ll try to reach them in order. Since you own birds, chose people who either know where you have a key to your home or give them one because if you were in the hospital in a coma, you don’t want your birds to suffer. Too few people know this, so pass it along to your non-bird owner friends so they will use this in their phones too.

written by nora caterino
approved by mitch rezman


Finches Small, Enchanting Birds that are Easy to Keep and Care For

Put a cage full of finches in a room if you want to breathe life into it. In reality the term “Finch” kinda sorta describes hundreds of “passerines.” You can tell a passerine because they have three toes facing forward and one facing back which helps in perching on a lot of different surfaces and tiny perches.
If we had all the time in the world, passerines form a huge and diverse terrestrial group of vertebrates having over 5000 identified species. Interestingly enough most passerines lay colored eggs – it’s a camouflage thing.
Finches are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere, South America and the Hawaiian islands. They can be found in mountains and deserts. The Hawaiian honey creepers will actually eat nectar the wild.
Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu finch
This is not going to be a discussion about finch care and breeding because the subject is so very broad and complex. Although we do carry a broad selection of finch supplies we don’t consider ourselves experts in all the many species of finches mentioned below.
I like to think of finches as “benign birds” as in other than basic care, food water and cleanliness you don’t have the challenge of keeping the equivalent of an autistic two-year-old in a feather suit entertained for half a century. It’s not to say that they’re dumb little birds. In fact house finches like those in Mexico have determined that using nicotine saturated cigarette butts to line their nests will protect their young from parasites.
As we see in this video finches can be trained.
Finches range in size from a little under 4 inches and 8-1/2 grams (0.3 ounces) – Andean Siskin – from Columbia to the Collared Grosbeak which is nearly 9 inches long and 80 g (3.0 ounces). Finches live for 4 – 7 years so it’s best to get them when they are young so you can enjoy them as long as possible.
Red-throated Parrotfinch
Larger species can become aggressive towards smaller ones, because of that we recommend a larger cage. We also don’t recommend the combining of finches with any other species that tend to be aggressive. it’s important to watch for signs of aggression or fighting.
The beautiful thing about finches is they are easy to care for and quiet so you can have them in an apartment. They’re fine with children and other pets. They socialize on their own. Because finches prefer to be left alone and are actually stressed when they become handled, they’re ideal for people who want birds don’t have a lot of time to spend with them.
Determined finches can even go on to become rock stars
They are primarily seed eaters. In the wild they also eat sprouts and insects which make up for what seeds don’t offer nutritionally. Unless given a balanced diet by their owners finches left to their own devices would eat nothing but seed. Fresh foods should always be introduced as well
Find all centurion cages & aviaries hereBuy bird aviaries on WindyCityParrot.com
Finches like lots of room so larger aviary style cages are most appropriate. It’s important to put sprigs of branches or other materials in a cage to allow finches to retreat for some privacy now and then. They don’t care for fancy bird toys like parrots do. They may enjoy small bell toys and a few tiny preening toys.The best kind of perches are hardwood and natural branch perches as dowel perches can cause foot problems by not challenging the bird feet.
How many species & mutations of finches are there?
Here’s little more than four dozen that we were able to come up with
Gray Chestnut
Flanked White
Fawns Lightback
Black Cheek
Black Breasted
Florida Fancy
Orange Breasted
Recessive Silver
Black Face
Fawn/Gray Cheek
Dominant Silver
Pearl-Headed Mannikin
Zebra Finches
Society Finches
Society Finch (Bengalese)
White Rumped Mannikin
Gray Crown Mannikin
Chestnut Breasted Mannikin
Spice Finch
White Headed Munia
Black Headed Munia
Moluccan Mannikin
Grand Mannikin
Tricolor Munia
Pallid Nun
White-Spotted Mannikin
Black Throated Munia
Five-colored Munia
Black & White Mannikin
Rufous-Backed Mannikin
Madagascar Mannikin Magpie
Mannikin Australian Finches
Star Finch
Gouldian Finch
Masked Grassfinch
Shaftail Finch (Longtail)
Painted Firetail
Plum Headed
Diamond Firetail
Other Finches
Red Headed Finch
Cutthroat Finch
Chinese Grossbeak
Yellow Beak
written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

your zygodactyl footnote
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