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Dear Parrots magazine,

Alternatives to giving Amazon mate…

I wanted to write in and say what a wonderful asset Parrots magazine has been in my life. It is one of my favourite parrot publications and I find it very informative.

There is one thing I would like to point out however. Reading through the December 2012 issue (179) someone wrote in to the panel of experts asking if there was anything they could do to help their nine year-old companion Yellow-naped Amazon through her ‘breeding season.’ His Amazon was doing a lot of calling and the owner had tried various things to no avail. He was advised to find a mate for his bird or to re-home with a breeder and start out with a baby again.

While this is an option, I would like to point out that you don't have to get a mate for a bird or re-home him. Adding a mate could be a good thing, but keep in mind, with a mate, the Amazon and owner may lose the parrot-human bond they once had. There are other ways to deal with an Amazon that is excessively calling. Some of these things include reducing petting and keep it to just around the head and cheeks. A little less handling may also be necessary.

Remove any toys that could be misconstrued as nesting materials. Rotate toys and perches, keeping the ‘nesting site’ continually disturbed and provide distractions such as foraging toys. The two things I find to be the most important are to reduce sunlight and change diet. As we know a parrot’s reproductive organs enlarge, with the extra hours of daylight, telling them it is time to breed.

During the spring I keep my birds’ hours of daylight as long as their winter hours of daylight would be, providing 12 hours of sleep. The second major thing I do is change their diet. I keep changing my parrots’ foods to give variety, when there is a consistent supply of one or more of the foods, that can also trigger breeding. Birds have an internal clock and naturally know when it is time to breed. Some of the changes I made to my eight year-old Double Yellow-headed Amazon's diet was to find pellets that had a lower percentage of corn in it. I also avoid feeding wet foods, such as beans, grapes, oranges, bananas and egg food, and keep nuts to a minimum.

I feed more fresh veggies and small bits of dried fruit rather than fresh fruits. All of these things will help. It will be hard to reset your bird’s natural clock once triggered for the season, but with consistency and patience things should improve enough to make it through the season. The next year when the breeding season rolls around and the owner knows what to do for their parrot from the start, it should make all the difference.

My Double Yellow-headed Amazon is living proof of this. Last year I had a bird that screamed on and off most of the day, this year with these changes I am hardly able to tell she is in season. Through my readings I have learnt Yellow-napes are known for having 1-2 years of a more aggressive breeding season, but once they make it through this, the breeding season for them should be less difficult.

I am thankful the breeding season does not last forever and in the years to come, with close attention to the breeding season, over time and with age, a bird’s desire to breed will subside. With all due respect to Bob Mann, who provides wonderful advice that I often look forward to, I just wanted to point out there are other options.

Greeneyed.girl, USA




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