Q. Why shouldn't I let my bird up on my
A. A bird up high wants to stay up
high. Ever ask your bird to get off your shoulder and it scoots to your other
shoulder or the middle of your back? Then you try to scrape the bird onto its'
cage or sofa? This bird is training you. When others try and take the bird off
your shoulder does the bird hiss and or snap at them, then they back away? This
bird is training them as well. This is how you end up with a one person bird.
You have much more control of a bird when it's on your hand. I know it's easier
when you have two hands free and it looks really cool to have a bird on your
shoulder and all the green goo that runs down your back and you don't know it's
there until your spouse tells you when you're at the mall ( or sometimes I see
this green goo and ask people if they let their birds on their shoulder and they
say no, ha). Some birds will also snap at people they trust when they feel a
threat approaching, and if the bird is on your shoulder you could have a painful
bite on or near your face. Ever wonder why pirates had a patch on one eye? Many
people tell me that African Greys are one person birds, absolutely not. Greys
are just about the smartest birds I deal with and they train the owners long
before the owners ever get to training their bird. People who tell me that their
bird is a one person bird might just as well say they did a poor job of
training. If a bird never gets on your shoulder you'll have a much better
pet in the long run. When a baby bird goes home, and I've already given my
speech on "no shoulders", I'd bet 90% of the birds are up there the first week,
UGH! This is when they're supposed to be learning some manners. When birds are
young many will be fine on the shoulder and will step off readily when asked,
but why give them the opportunity of getting comfortable up high? In my opinion
I don't believe it's a dominance issue, I think it's a position the bird feels
more comfortable in and would prefer to be on a higher perch, in this case a
shoulder. I don't care if it's a Parrotlet or a Macaw, no shoulders. Now you're
saying to yourself, that guy at the bird store with the unkempt beard and long
hair who looks like he ought to be at a Rolling Stones concert doesn't know what
the heck he's talking about, c'mon, everybody puts their bird on their shoulder.
Then when the bird gets to be a bit older, insists to be on the shoulder, and
more difficult to handle you start to say... man that guy at the bird store with
the unkempt beard, long hair, holely pants, (who actually loves to be at Rolling
Stones concerts)......might actually know what he's talking about. I'm also talking, no letting your bird run around on the top of the cage if it's higher than you, no bird on the back of the sofa if it's higher than your or equal to your shoulder. Don't do it then call me with your behavior problems. Now it's
harder to untrain them, good luck. When I sell a bird I hope it stays in the
home for as long as possible, hopefully its entire life. A well behaved bird has
a better chance of being loved and cared for over a longer period of time than
one with poor manners and bad habits.
Another reason to keep birds off shoulders would
be the possibility of hearing loss. Recently a customer had a Timneh African
Grey on her shoulder and the bird let go with a sound the did nerve damage and
some permanent hearing loss. Imagine if this was a larger bird like a cockatoo
Q. Can't I just buy my birds food
from the grocery store?
A. You could but my guess is that we
have more experience buying and selecting good bird feed for your birds than a
grocery store. We go through between 600 and 800 lbs of food a week here,
so I'm also going to say that it's fresher as well. Every week we hear that
peoples birds will only eat our millet, or seed blends. We don't do anything
special to the food other than to keep it fresh, clean and get the best quality
we can. We also offer more variety than just about anywhere else you'll go.
Q. What types of parrots do you
A. We're basically catering to the pet
market, although many birds are purchased as breeders we like to carry the
species that make better pets. Some species breed seasonally, meaning that we
can't get them except for certain times of the year. Other species are available
throughout the year. We can however get many other species other than the ones
you see either on this web site or in the store, I just can't have all of them
all the time. If you're interested in something that you don't see, just ask us
about that type of bird. It may be available for you.
Q. What should I put on the bottom of my
A. Regular old newspaper is the best.
If the bird can get down to it and chew it don't use the colored newsprint,
stick with the black and white. Many of the "bird cage litters" tend to grow a
mold quite rapidly in the hot humid summers we have. Most people don't change
the litters frequently enough as well. You can also tell a bit about a birds
health by the appearance, condition, and taste (just kidding again, don't eat
the poop) of the birds droppings. If you cut a weeks worth or more of paper and
place it in the cage tray, simply pull off the top piece daily and make it easy
to keep the cage clean.
Q. Do you sell used
A. No we don't because I have this
fear of introducing a disease into the store. What happened to the bird that
used to live in the cage? Why are you getting rid of the cage? How many birds
have been in the cage? These are all questions that you should ask if you do
happen to find a used cage that you want to use. Some used cages can be a good
deal but use caution if you want to put your bird in one. Use a 5-10% Chlorox
solution (Chlorox kills viruses, bacteria, fungi...), scrub everything and be
sure to get into all the nooks and crannies, soap and water won't do the trick,
and rinse the cage well. Replace anything porous, perches, toys,
Q. When's my bird gonna be ready to come
home? Why isn't it weaned yet?
A. Every bird weans at its own pace,
we can give you a general idea of when it might be ready but its not up to me.
If someone were to ask your parents when you would be walking, talking and not
poopin' in diapers any longer they could only give an approximate time frame
when all this would happen. Before my birds go home they must not only be eating
on their own,(and not just eating one or two things) but drinking, and climbing
around the cage with coordination. We also like to see birds socialize with
other birds much the same way parents unload their kids at a day care at an
early age. They need to know how to be a bird. I've had cockatoos wean at 13
weeks I've had them wean at 24 weeks. Macaws are usually between 16 and 20
weeks, some have been longer. Smaller birds tend to wean a bit earlier. So
please be patient, I'll send them home when they're ready.
Q. How long will these birds
A. Every day I hear people mention
that they'll have to "will" their bird to their kids because they live so long.
How these reports get started is anyone's guess, there probably were several
parrots that have lived very long lives and over the years the stories have
added a few years etc... but in reality few birds live very long lives. I've
been in business for 23 years and I've had people tell their birds are 26-27 years old because they got them from me when I first opened. Hmmm, the math
doesn't add up. If you go to Parrot Jungle in Florida they had a "Senior
Psittacine Village" where they had older macaws that were raised there years
before. They showed signs of old age, cataracts, holding their wings low,
generally slower mobility... these macaws were only in their forties, not
anywhere close to 80-100 years like many people are lead to believe. Hey, these
are birds with a high metabolism, not alligators or tortoises. If these birds
lived to be 80-100 years there would be a lot more birds in their 50's, 60's and
70's around, when in fact there are few. I groom about 200 birds a month, of
them only one or two are imported, if these birds lived as long as some say they
should I'd still be clipping wings on more imports. They only stopped coming
into the country 22 years ago or so. If people tell me that they've inherited a
bird and it's old, my first guess is that it's an Amazon Parrot, I've seen
several that have made it to 60 years plus, but again these birds look and act
old. I personally don't know any African Greys that are beyond their mid 30's.
I'm sure they're out there, but not many. Averages for most pet birds is
horribly below what it should be. Please don't believe what you read in Bird
Talk or Birds USA or listen to what most other pet stores will tell you. In Greg
Harrison's book, Avian Medicine, he gives average ages of common pet
birds, here are a few. Macaw, Large Cockatoo, Amazon, African Grey, 15 years,
Conure 10 years, Pionus and Cockatiel, 5 years. While these birds are in
captivity they should be living considerably longer as they are protected from
natural predators, and should have all dietary and medical needs taken care of, so what's the reason they don't live longer? Accidents, lack of attention to
medical problems, fly offs, and genetic problems due to poor breeding are some
reasons birds don't live their full lives. Love, appreciate and enjoy them while
you have them but don't be disappointed if they don't make it to 100. Keep in
mind the bird that escapes from its cage and chews up your valuable belongings,
has a nasty disposition, screams constantly, poops every where but where it's
suppose to, chases the cat, ate the remote control, put a hole in your favorite
dress, throws its food thirty feet in all directions, and takes a bath in its
water bowl right after you've cleaned the cage and right before you have guests
coming over, is the bird that will live 80-100 years... or it'll at least seem
Q. Can I leave my child here to look at the
birds while I shop for groceries elsewhere?
A. No, we have large cages, we have
padlocks and duct tape. By the time you return they'll be taped up, and locked
up. If I wanted kids I would have had some of my own.
Q. My bird keeps laying eggs, what can I do?
A. Make a tiny, little omelet, just
kidding. It's usually easier to keep your bird from laying eggs than it is to
stop them once they start. Many people feel that finches should have a nest to
sleep in then wonder why the birds start to lay eggs or start a family. You gave
them a nest, birds don't need a nest, and in general birds in the wild don't use
a nest unless they're about to breed. It's a severe strain on a females body to
keep pulling calcium to make egg shell. Nests are also great breeding grounds
for bacteria. Don't give your bird a nest and not expect to see eggs! If
your female has a sleeping tent or one of the many "huts" that are available
these may also be nestlike for a bird. If you've got a single pet bird,
especially a love bird or a cockatiel, (if they're females) may lay an egg or
two or twenty on their own, usually on the bottom of the cage in the corner.
Obviously these eggs won't hatch, but taking them away will only tell their
little bodies to replace the lost eggs with more. Leave the eggs in the cage and
expect the mom to be very defensive about them, they should be, it's their kids,
(I believe my mom however would have given me away in a heartbeat but she
couldn't find any takers). As long as she is paying attention to the eggs leave
them in there, it may be 3-4 weeks but that's fine, it'll keep her from laying
more. When she starts to ignore them remove them and this is when you need to
make some changes to her environment. Move the cage, change the entire interior
of the cage, make it look different. You'll also have to change the birds
schedule. Think what spring is, it gets warmer, longer daylight hours
(photoperiod), more humid, plentiful food supply... If your pet is in an area
that it can tell when it gets light outside and you have artificial light on
until 10 or 11 o'clock that is a long day for a bird and its gonads start to
think reproduce, reproduce, reproduce. If the bird is
happy and healthy you may be blessed with some eggs. Artficial eggs may also
help. When the bird lays an egg, add a second one. This may at least cut down
the number of eggs the hen has to produce. A regular schedule of covering the
cage with a dark cover may also help these birds. Twelve hours dark and twelve
light might do the trick.
Q. My bird won't stay where I put
him, he follows me around. What can I do?
A. In most cases you've trained the bird to do
that. When a bird either flies off its perch or falls and ends up on the floor
it looks for you knowing that you're the one who can help him get back up. Birds
like being up high and are uncomfortable on the floor. When the bird finds you,
you pick the bird up and give it a scratch on the head or carry it around for a
bit. What you've done is to reinforce the behavior of looking for you.
Any behavior that is rewarded is likely to be repeated. Birds on
the floor are often stepped on as you're not always expecting the bird to be
down there. If the bird flies or falls to the floor, put the bird immediately
back on the perch. When the bird has been there for a few minutes, then you can
go get him and play with it. You should be training the bird and dictate when it
steps up and comes to you.
Q. How do I tell if my bird's a male or
A. Shake 'em and hold 'em up to the
light...wait, don't do that I was just kidding, besides they'll only puke
on you. OK, seriously though, few of the pet birds are dimorphic (males look
different than females). Some of the cockatoos, eclectus parrots, cockatiels,
and a few others are easy to "sex" once you know what to look for, (cockatiels
need to go through their first moult to be sexed, usually at about six months).
Most of the parrots are monomorphic (males look the same as females) and need to
have their gender determined by another means, usually by DNA analysis. Simply
getting a drop or two of blood through a clipped toe nail is all it takes for
the bird, pretty simple, sent to a lab, results are usually available in about a
week. There are also other methods of "sexing" your bird, fecal examine, feather
DNA, and chromosome analysis are a few but the blood test is most accurate and
highly recommended. Surgical sexing is rarely done any more as the risk involved
is too great.
Q. Your bird pooped on me, can I have a
A. Sure you can have a towel, but if
you're interested in a bird... get used to it! Poop happens. I've seen the
Q. My bird is a feather chewer, what causes
it, what can be done?
A. There is no single reason birds
chew, pluck, or overpreen their feathers. It could be viral, bacterial, fungal,
nutritional, environmental, sexual, behavioral... or it could be a combination
of any of these. First I'd suggest that you go to the veterinarian to
rule out any disease and give the bird a general exam. One thing that is
starting to show up as a possible reason that birds have poor feathering is high
amounts of heavy metals in the birds system. Zinc seems to be the common culprit
and can be detected by a blood panel. Birds that live in an environment that is
heavy in cigarette smoke may also develop feather problems. From my experience
feather abnormalities are a fairly common problem in some species of pet bird,
with Eclectus Parrots, Cockatoos, and African Grey Parrots leading the way. Poor
feathering in Budgies (parakeets), and Cockatiels may have an underlying problem
of a protozoan called giardia. A fecal test can rule this out and it can be
treated accordingly. Certainly not all of the high risk species will develop
into feather problem birds, but extra care should be taken to avoid certain
pitfalls that may lead to a problem. Unfortunately it's too easy to fall into
the routine of sitting on the couch and cuddle with your baby Cockatoo or
African Grey, both very smart and emotional birds, for hours at a time, but this
may be one of the worst things you can do with a baby bird. Keeping up this
schedule every day will be tough to do for the next 20-30 years. Finishing off
the hand feeding of a baby bird can also pose a problem as the baby bonds so
strongly with the feeder that it doesn't understand when you're not spending as
much "quality time" with it. Your bird doesn't understand that you have other
things to do and if it doesn't get your attention by screaming, throwing its
toys and food it may start to chew its feathers. When you acquired a bird you
also acquired the responsibility to keep that bird stimulated. Bored
birds are more likely to be chewers or pluckers. To differentiate a chewer from
a plucker would go like this... a chewer would be a bird that shreds its
feathers, leaving the shaft or quill still in the skin, a plucker will pull the
feather out shaft and all. A bird can be both a plucker and a chewer. Common
areas that birds start on, African Greys seem to be the upper breast area,
Cockatoos, flight feathers and the legs, Eclectus can pick anywhere, Conures
tend to pick their breast, Love Birds, and Quakers on their neck and breast. In
short, just about species can develop a behavioral chewing or picking problem.
Low risk birds would be Pionus, Lories, Cockatiels, and Amazons. I wish I could
remember how many times I've heard that someone who had just bought a bird and
it looks bad but the seller told them that it was just going through a "heavy
moult". Oops, probably a feather picker. Many birds that are pickers or chewers
tend to not chew as much during the summer months, my guess is that it's a bit
more humid and the birds prefer that. When you turn your furnace on in the fall
to heat your homes, your house dries out and we see a lot of people coming by
saying "my bird is chewing his feathers again, he looked so nice for the past
few months". Short of growing moss on your living room walls you probably can't
get the humidity to where your bird may like it.
Most birds tend to pluck/ chew when the owners
are away, some will do it right in front of you. When a bird picks in front of
you try to put yourself in its position, is there something new in the vicinity
of the cage, has something changed, new people around, another new
pet...something that may be stressful. Try not to react to the picking, a
reward, in this case your attention may only create more of a problem. Certainly
don't give the bird something to eat or chew on in place of the feather
it may have just removed. Don't reward a negative behavior. You're in a
position that you want the bird to chew on anything but itself. Offer it clothes
pins, popsicle sticks, fresh green twigs off of maple, willow, or unsprayed
apple trees. Keep these birds entertained. Move the cage to different locations,
leave the radio or television on, keep them stimulated. I'd also suggest that
you make sure the bird gets a bath at least twice weekly to stimulate normal
preening. To be continued....
Q. My bird screams a lot, what can I
A. I hate to tell you this, but you
probably trained your bird to scream. Yup, that's right. Making noise is the
nature of this beast and when they're happy, and some times they're really
happy, I mean really, really happy, they get really loud. When
they're making noise when you come home and you rush to the cage to say hello,
think what just happened, put yourself in the birds position. "I make noise and
people come right over to give me attention and a scratch on the head. Some
times when I scream they give me food to shut me up and it works as long as I
have something to eat. Boy those people trained easily". Just like I said above,
any behavior that is rewarded is likely to be repeated. Food and
attention are some very strong rewards. Don't encourage it.
Let's say you know your bird screams every day
at 5:00, try giving the bird something to do before it gets into the
screaming stage. Keep it busy, change the routine, throw the bird off its
schedule. Here's one possible negative reward... Does your bird like a spray
bath? If it doesn't, it probably knows that the spray bottle is something to
avoid. You can use this to your advantage simply by showing the bird the spray
bottle as it starts to scream. A stuffed animal, a ball or a balloon can work as
well. You're simply showing the bird something new, something it doesn't know
and it probably will be more into checking out that new thing than going into
the screaming mode. Keep in mind that if the bird likes a bath from the spray
bottle this will be a reward and again you'd be encouraging the behavior. Many
birds will scream when you're on the phone and you have to be heard, so to shut
the bird up you'll reward the bird with food to eat, a toy to play with or let
it out of its cage. You'd be better off getting a cordless phone. Think of what
the bird is doing any time you might be offering a reward and think if it is
something you what to encourage.
Q. How do you train a bird to
A. Repetition and enthusiasm are the
keys. When teaching a bird to speak, work with just a word or two, like hello
and the birds name. I also suggest that you speak to your bird like women speak
to little children, raise your voice and speak in an excited way. Birds pick up
what is interesting to them. Talking in a normal voice isn't very interesting to
a bird, but the sounds of the buttons on the microwave oven, a cell phone ring,
or the dogs squeaky toy, may be what they learn because that is what catches
their attention. Birds learn expletives quickly (they cuss well) because they're
regularly associated with an attention getting incident, you dropped a plate,
your neighbor backed into your car, your dog puked on the carpet... and you made
it dramatic by stomping around, waving your hands, yelling,... basically getting
the birds attention. You have put emotion in your voice. When a bird has learned
a word or two and repeats them regularly this is where many people make a
mistake. The bird will say "Hi Tweety" and most people will repeat back to the
bird "Hi Tweety". Listen, the bird already knows "Hi Tweety" he probably thinks
he's training you to talk. He says something and you repeat it? Instead, say
something that will fit in with it, like "how are you?","aren't you a stupid
human", "what a pretty bird", or "what's for dinner?". Keeping a list of what
the bird can say is helpful as well. Regularly go over the list to keep it fresh
in the birds head. Most birds will repeat what they hear most frequently.
Associating words with a treat works well, too. Offer the bird a peanut and say
"want a peanut?" Keep in mind that like people, some birds are smarter than
others and are only capable of learning a certain amount (like many people I
know). Birds will generally speak for their own enjoyment, not yours, sorry.
They need to be happy, healthy, and at ease in their environment. Many birds
especially African Greys are known for talking only while you're out of the
room. While nearly all birds are capable of speech most will never learn. The
best chance that you will have a bird that speaks is to buy one that already is
speaking well. A lot of people ask me if parakeets and cockatiels will speak, in
these two species it is a male trait, very few females will learn to mimic (wow,
just the opposite of humans). In all other species it is not gender
specific. A pretty good book to pick up is "Teaching Your Bird To Talk" by Diane
Grindol and Tom Roudybush, about $22.00, we've got it here. If your bird is
already speaking a bit some of the available training tapes and cd's will
sometimes help. My list of top talkers...
1. African Greys, both Congo and Timneh 2.
Yellow Naped Amazon 3. Blue Fronted Amazon 4. Ringnecks (moustache, Indian,
Alexandrian...) 5. Mexican Double Yellow Head Amazon
Q. My canary just stopped singing, what's
A. When a canary that was previously a
good singer suddenly stops singing you need to find the reason why, some causes
are easy to take care of, others may require a visit to your vet. The most
common cause of a canary to stop singing would be that the bird forgot the words
to the song, HA just kidding, the reason is moulting, (the periodic loss and
replacement of feathers). Generally a bird moults after the breeding season
which is usually the spring and summer. The normal moult time is about 6-8 weeks
starting at the end of summer. If the bird is either losing feathers or is in
the process of growing any in, it may not sing. The bird should be singing again
by Halloween but may take as long as Thanksgiving before it regains its full
song. Sometimes it'll help to play some music, get a cd or tape of other
canaries singing and that will regularly get them going again as well. Another
common reason that canaries stop singing is that the bird you bought as a young
male (only males sing) has gone through its first moult and stopped singing may
be that the bird is a female. Young females may sing quite well for a while then
clam up after their first moult. Sometimes the bird may not feel 100% and a sick
canary will not sing. This should be a warning that you need to pay close
attention, and that the bird may need to get to your avian vet.
Too much light or too much heat may put/keep
your canary in a constant moult and therefore keep it from singing as well.
Twelve hours of light and twelve hours of dark should keep them singing most of
Hummingbirds hum because they forgot the words,
really, would I kid you...
Q. Do I need to give my birds grit or gravel, I used to when I had birds before?
A. No grit should be given unless you have doves or pigeons. Other birds shell their seed and it's digestible without having grit. Some birds will overeat the grit and it may cause a digestive blockage. If you've ever given your bird grit, it probably has enough still in it to last a lifetime as it usually doesn't pass very well. A cuttlebone would be a better source of calcium and breaks down much easier in a bird, and would probably work like grit if you still think you need to offer some.
Q. Why do you keep the babies in
A. We keep the babies in the aquariums because
they'd still be in the nest in the wild at this stage of development. They're
too young to perch, they still sleep laying down, and they're not fully
feathered which means they can't totally control their body temperature. On top
of some of the aquariums there is a heating pad that warms the air that warms
the baby. It's not until the baby sleeps upright and has a bit of coordination
that it moves into a cage.
Q. We see a lot of "sold" signs on these
birds. If they're sold, how come they're still here?
A. All the birds stay here until they're weaned,
or eating on their own. There's no set time table as to when any baby bird can
go to its new home. We know that people get anxious but until we feel
comfortable that the baby will do well in the new environment, it stays here.
That includes eating and drinking, climbing around the cage, staying put on a
playpen... Trust me, I have no reason to keep a bird any longer than I need
Q. Why should my birds wings be
A. I feel it's the owners responsibility to keep
the birds wings trimmed for the birds own safety and well being. It's an
accident waiting to happen if the wings aren't trimmed. I know "the doors are
always shut", "the windows are never opened", "my bird likes me too much to fly
away","everyone knows when the bird is loose" blah blah blah... Every year we
get more calls that a bird got loose with some comment like, "I didn't think he
could fly","he doesn't fly in the house""he'll come back , he knows where we
live". Listen, BIRDS FLY! Even with clipped wings birds will try to fly, get a
little wind under them and they'll go farther and faster than you can. Don't
be stupid and take your bird outside without it being in a cage. It's too
easy to avoid losing your pet, clip the wings!!
With clipped wings birds also depend more on you.
They need you to get them from one point to another. You also won't be chasing
them from door jams and curtain rods just to get them back in a cage. They are
much less independent with clipped wings.
Do I clip my birds wings? Yes.
Q. How often does my bird need
A. Generally speaking most birds need
grooming, the periodic clipping of wing feathers and toe nails, two to three
times a year. This should keep them grounded and also comfortable to hold.
We suggest that you keep the birds "trimmed " for safety, and behavioral
reasons. Birds that allowed to fly freely are at risk of injury from flying into
things or out the door or window. Don't use the excuse that you have other pets
and you want the bird to be able to escape from them by flying away. A flying
bird is of more interest to a dog or cat than a stationary one. Birds are also a
bit more assertive and independent when they're fully flighted thus making them
a bit harder to handle. You can tell when a bird needs to be clipped when it
starts to get lift, or flies up. A properly clipped bird should still be able to
fly a short distance and not drop like a load of cement, straight down. Nails
should be trimmed when they start to pose a hazard by getting caught in
carpet, fabric or on cage wires.
Q. Why are birds so expensive? I thought
they used to be much cheaper.
A. They used to be, they also used to be sicker
and meaner and came from all over the world. Now all the birds sold in New York
State are to be raised in captivity. This came into effect in 1986. If parrots
bred like chickens they'd be $3.00 / lb too. However some species don't breed
very well in captivity, some take years to mature, some just don't like the mate
we've picked out for them. Keep in mind raising baby parrots properly is very
labor intensive and time consuming. All the babies you see in the store have
traveled home with me for the first few weeks or months that I have them. Yup,
every night. At times I may be loading 30-40 babies into my car at night. They
need to be fed overnight and first thing in the morning. So when you're sleeping
at 3 am, I'm feeding baby birds, (when you're awake, I'm awake, when you're
asleep, I'm awake). Then I update this web page.
Q. Other stores will tell me how to hand
feed a bird, why don't you? I want to take it home and bond with
A. You can come in and "bond" with your bird, we
have a sitting area just for that. There is also a risk involved with hand
feeding. Even if you've hand fed a few birds, that doesn't make you a seasoned
hand feeder. Other problems can arise that we feel we could address better than
the owner, such as the cockatoo owners that hand feed their "baby" for one to
two years because they can't wean them. African Greys and Cockatoos are
very emotional birds and you can easily overdo the bonding at an early age thus
creating problems later on as they mature. If I honestly thought it would be
better for the bird to send it home at a young age, I'd do it. The store or
breeder that shows you how to hand feed and sends you on your way just took your
money and left you with all the responsibility. That stinks!
Q. I was told I should buy a bird from a
breeder not a store.
A. If you buy from Birds Unlimited you
are buying from a breeder. I've bred many species of birds over the last 30
years, including macaws, cockatoos, amazons, rosellas, doves, african greys,
canaries, hornbills, turacos, conures... We don't breed all the babies in the
store, not even close, some come from local breeders and many of the larger
species come up from sunny Florida. Buying from us also allows
you a greater choice of species. Few breeders have the selection we do, you also
should feel comfortable knowing we'll be here in the future.
Q. What temperature should I keep my bird
A. Whatever is comfortable for you should be fine
for your bird. I think birds are most comfortable between 65 and 85 degrees,
most healthy birds should be able to tolerate temperature extremes of 45 to 100
without much worry. I raise cockatiels in an area that gets down to low to mid
50's the eggs hatch and the babies do just fine. During our recent ice storms
and we lost power, the temperature was as low as mid 30's and all the birds
acted like nothing was different at all. Many breeders in Florida keep their
birds outdoors all year and the birds are subjected to frost or even freezing
temperatures and they do fine too.
Q. Do you recommend feeding pellets or seed,
what's the difference?
A. Nutrition wise, pellets or an extruded diet is
superior to an all seed diet. Relatively speaking avian pellets and the research
is still in its infancy. If all you gave to your bird was a formulated diet,
(pellets) and water the birds nutrition requirements would probably be met.
However, in my opinion it would be quite boring. I'd suggest that you give a
pinch of seed a few times a week and also give plenty of table food as well.
Feeding an all seed diet needs to monitered as to how thouroughly the bird eats
it. Consuming just the peanuts and sunflower might be comparable to a human
eating just cheesburgers and fries, while it might taste ok you know that it
would be too high in fat and would be lacking certain nutritional elements.
You'd need to supplement with a great variety of table food, and possibly a
vitamin / mineral compound. I always recommend that people feed anything people
food wise, the wider the selection the better. Remember always to avoid
chocolate and avocado as these may be toxic. My own birds receive pellets
and seed and plenty of fresh foods. A diet of 50% seed and 50% pellets would
work well for most birds in my opinion. The types of "pelleted" diets I like
best are the ones that I think have the most research behind them. In order of
preference of the ones that we carry... KayTee Exact, Roudybush,
Lafeber, Pretty Bird, Harrisons, ZuPreem. My best sellers in order are... Pretty
Bird, Roudybush, ZuPreem, KayTee Exact, Lafeber, Harrisons.
Q. How did you get started in keeping and
A. When I was a kid, anything that
moved, swam, crawled, slithered or flew, I tried to get into the house. However
my parents had other thoughts, especially about snakes. I had been keeping and
breeding tropical and marine fish for a few years and when I turned 16 I started
to work at the local pet store, ahh a dream come true. In the store there was a
Scarlet Macaw "Polly", an imported one, nasty to most people, kept in a horribly
too small cage, but man was I attracted to that bird. I even saw it take an eye
out of a dog one day when the customer held the dog (a poodle) too close to
the cage. Never saw that customer again now that I think about it. One day there
was an ad in the paper for a Mexican Double Yellow Headed Parrot, this was my
chance to get my own bird. Well I didn't know it at the time, but this was the
start of Birds Unlimited. She was quite feisty and hadn't even been out of
her cage in about ten years. She was great. I tamed her and even trained her to speak a
bit. My mom swore she could speak sentences, and I'm sure the bird could...just
not in English or any other language. From that point on people started giving
me birds, big ones, little ones, all kinds. The pet store even gave me that
Scarlet Macaw, now a feather plucker, but that was alright by me. By the time I
was 21 I got tired of working retail and was on to a new career of dental
technician. I did that for about 12 years, all the while I had been raising
birds at home. I started a local bird club to educate people about parrots,( it
went great for many years then got too political for people and the club folded
a few years ago). I got tired of the dental thing and decided to try my hand at
owning my own "pet store". Well 23 years later it is bigger than I ever thought
it could be. I have many ideas still to get into gear but time and money are
always a factor. That Scarlet Macaw "Polly" raised many beautiful babies for me,
she passed away about ten years ago. Man what a bird! Thanks.
Q. Do you have a restroom I can
A. No, take care of business at home,
sorry. Put the seat down. Honestly, don't ask.