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Introducing Parrots – the dos and don’ts

NewBird180White belliedCaiquesLoroParqueby Pauline James

The most dangerous scenario for a new parrot, that is probably anxious and stressed already due to the changes being imposed upon it, is to be put straight into the cage or aviary of a resident bird.  However lonely the established single bird may be, if a strange bird is forced upon it, it will be seen as an interloper, and its natural instinct will be to vigorously defend its territory.

If the intention is for the two birds to be housed in the one large cage belonging to the resident bird, then the first thing to do is to remove it, and set up a second cage for the bird.  His intended partner should then be put in another similar cage, close by.  When the parrots start to show an interest, are watching each other intently, and are calling to one another, move the cages closer together.

When both birds are getting as near to each other as possible, place the cages side-by-side, so they may make physical contact with their beaks for the first time.  It is important not to rush this stage, so the new bird has the option to withdraw from conflict safetly, if need be.  Sometimes two parrots turn out to be incompatible, and if one bird shows little interest in the other, the birds should not be forced on each other.

The initial bonding process can take anything from one hour to three weeks, depending on the past history of each bird.  If either has lost a long-term partner, they may well take longer.  But, generally the quicker a pair become bonded, the more successful the partnership in the long-term is likely to be.  When you are confident you have a pair that are bonding well, they can be released into the original cage – once a few changes have been made.

Rearrange the cage
It is important to disorientate the original bird as much as possible, so that it no longer associates his old cage with being home.  Out of sight of the parrots, strip all the perching, food dishes, toys and any other accoutrements out of the cage and start afresh.

Provide new fresh branches as perching, and arrange them in different positions.  Extra branches will be appreciated in the bottom of the cage for recreational purposes, and will help relax them.  Provide new versions of favourite items and toys, such as a new large swing, for two, ladders and foot toys, etc., depending on the parrot species.  Ideally provide different food pots too, so literally everything in the old cage is now different.  This way, two bonded parrots should happily accept each other, and the ‘new’ cage.

5 don’ts

  • Mix immature with adults
  • Offer a mate of the opposite sex if breeding is not the intention
  • Introduce a new bird to a resident bird without quarantining it for at least four weeks first
  • Introduce a new mate to a bird when a previous partner is within sight or calling distance
  • Mix two species unless they are proven to get on well.

Photo courtesy of Loro Parque Fundación

Birdie Mash Recipe

Birdie Mashby Pauline James
Birdie mash is very popular with most parrots and is a good way to get birds to eat foods they wouldn’t normally touch.  This highly nutrient-rich mix takes a little while to prepare, but if done in bulk, it can then be frozen in portions, so it doesn’t have to be made every week.  It can be served warm in the winter months and be used to supplement their daily diet.
This mash makes a great treat for the evening, to serve when you are sitting down to a meal too.  Eating together gives companion parrots a sense of belonging, and they will anticipate this time of day and their special food, with great joy and enthusiasm.
Making a birdie mash…
A good basis for a mash, and to give it body, is lightly steamed sweet potato and pumpkin (when available), as these contain high levels of vitamin A.  This vitamin is essential for all birds, but it is a vitamin many are deficient in, due to a staple diet of mainly seed, and is why malnourished birds are extra vulnerable to infection and disease and feather-plucking due to the irritation of dry, flaky skin and poor quality plumage.
Mash a good quantity of these two vegetables and then add to it mashed banana with a little added lemon juice to stop it discolouring and a few mashed cold hard-boiled eggs.  Exact quantities are not vital as long as the mash is not over-loaded with fats and proteins.
Cook a quantity of mixed lentils, brown rice, split peas, quinoa and mixed dried beans and when cold add to the sweet potato and pumpkin (if used) mixture.
Next liquidise a good variety of fresh fruits and vegetables not readily eaten in their normal diet and especially those that are nutrient-rich such as mango, figs, papaya, berries, pineapple, grated carrot and beetroot, broccoli, chillies and beans.  Start by liquidising the juiciest fruits first and chop them all into small pieces before adding to the liquidiser – add a little water if necessary.  Stir this into the mix, but make sure the mash retains its body.
Then grind up a mix of different top quality nuts, such as almonds, a few Brazils and walnuts along with the pumpkin seeds and perilla seeds.  Add to this chipped up fresh ginger and a few teaspoons of each turmeric and cinnamon and the freshly grated peel of a few oranges.
Mix thoroughly and divide into portions and freeze.
If all parrots were fed a portion of this every day, it would increase a parrot’s wellbeing and help satisfy their nutritional needs and go a long way to keeping them in good health.
Photo courtesy of Tony Pittman

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