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From Spring/Summer 2004

 

Warm Weather is right around the corner.....

With warmer weather soon arriving, we naturally want to open windows, and spend a lot of time outside, and birds owners want to share the sunshine and warm breeze with their avian pets.

 

Get those wings trimmed!!!

Cockatiels are #1 on the bird brain escape list. They are so aero-dynamic - meaning that they are just build for flight EVEN when wings are trimmed. It takes just a little draft to sweep them up into the trees and out of site.

But all birds are an escape risk. Don't fool yourself into thinking that they are not going to go anywhere. Flight is as natural as breathing. Once out of sight, they may want to find their way home, but so many times, lost birds are not reunited with their families.

So what do we do???????

Keep wings trimmed.

Keep your cage out of direct site of a door.

Make sure all screens are secure.

Never take your bird outside unless he is in a cage.

If you are moving in and out of your door a lot at a certain time, keep your bird secure in his cage.

Take the precautions so you don't have to take the loss.......

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BITING!!!

We all have to deal with the bite at some time or another. The fear of it is probably worse than the bite itself, though some bites can be pretty nasty. We assume that birds bite only out of fear, and that may be true most of the time. If you acquire a hand fed baby, you may be surprised when he bites you because he is, after all, a hand fed baby.

But keep in mind that a hand fed baby has been taken out of the only home and environment that he knows, and has been taken away from 'Mama.'

In this case, if he bites, it is definitely because he is afraid. You can prevent this from happening by careful handling, and taking your queue from the bird as to whether he is ready to go to the next level of interaction. In general, give him his space and let him settle in at his own pace. With older birds going to a new home, this is even more crucial because you have no idea what is going on in their psyche. You are taking on years of conditioning as well as normal fear.

But, as I have watched many young fledglings develop, I have noticed that some have an attitude of superiority. A common phrase in my house is, " He has an attitude, " and everyone knows what is meant by this. In fact I have two Maroon Bellied Conure babies still hand feeding as I write, that show this contrast in character. Maroon Bellied Conures are a more docile, gentle, friendly species .......in general....

But the one is laid back and more of a snuggler, while the other is very vocal, and he bites at his sibling, stands on him, and just generally picks on him. He vocalizes at me, when, for some unknown reason, I have offended him, and he has given me the occasional nip. It doesn't hurt, {much}but he clearly wants to be in control and asserts the authority he believes he has. And, he is just six week old and handled no differently that the other. He will need a confident owner that is not intimidated by a few ounces of feathers. This type of bird must have pleasing behavior rewarded and not much fuss made over because parrots thrive on drama. If you squeal, that is enough of a reason to bite again.

Note: We have separated these two babies and now that there is no longer any competition, he no longer nips. But he still wants to be boss. I think this is derived from 'the stronger one survives instinct.'

Another reason for biting has nothing to do with aggression. We raise Sun Conures and they are the dearest, sweetest things on the face of the earth, in my opinion. But they love to wrestle with mock anger and tussle in play, either with each other, or with people. At times, they get rough and nips happen. It is then time for a time out to get calmed down and that is all it takes, along with a firm, but calm, "Don't bite."Time out - not being intended as punishment, but for a time to gather our composure....again, rewarding good " behavior " with treats or something special. Our Suns, get that look on their faces when they slip and nip as though they know that this is a no-no.

Yet another reason for biting is hormons and territory. When it is that time of years, breeding season , most of our parrots turn into Pitbulls. We expect and accept that, and give them their space and handle with caution. The second mentioned being territorial aggression. "Don't touch my cage, my toys , my stuff, my nest box, and sometimes my person!!" It is as simple as that. Some species will be more territorial that others.

And then there is that reason {s} that completely elludes us. At times we simply have no idea why they bite. And, what makes them bite one time, will not cause them to bite at an another time. Go figure!

The bottom line here is to know your bird and that species. Remember they are not like dogs and cats. We often don't know why birds do the things they do, but a long lasting bond with our avian friends succeeds when we let them be birds and enjoy them for what and who they are...

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