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Complete Psittacine, by EB Cravens

Parrots magazine April 2012

Considerations in Psittacine Mate and Chick Killing

The captive cage bird phenomena of mate killing and chick killing are two of the most critical concerns when practicing aviculture with certain species of psittacines. Aggressive white cockatoos, unpredictable king parrots, volatile lories and lorikeets, even hyped up conures or lovebirds are just a few of the hookbills that can be problematic in this realm.

Sometimes the cause and effect point of view is obvious such as two large parrots prematurely introduced by the keeper into the same cage including a full, dark nest-box for ‘hopeful bonding’ during the height of the hormonal breeding season. Other times mate or chick abuse is difficult to pin down and nearly impossible to foresee.

In all my years of dealing with aggressive and quick-tempered psittacines, I have had to solve a variety of confrontational issues with breeding pairs. The overriding factor in most of these relationships is stress of one kind or another. Small cage size makes things worse, as does competition for the best food items. Aggression towards nearby cage birds can instigate violence, as can jealousy towards a human keeper in a former hand-fed pet. The key for the aviculturist is to pay attention and know your birds.

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