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parrot-social

Choosing a second bird

A second bird EB Cravens describes his favourite choices of parrot for introducing as a companion for an existing bird.

One of the difficult points of being a pet psittacine owner is when you decide to purchase or adopt another parrot in hopes of it becoming an acquaintance to your bird.  This can be especially difficult if you own a jealous or possessive type.
If not undertaken carefully, such a move can bring discord into a normally calm avian home.  In addition, there are certain species of psittacine which often may be better accepted as the ‘newcomer’.  Here are my favourites:

Cockatiel - A social flock orientated bird which shows almost no aggression and biting.  Males can be a bit merrier and will sometimes prefer more preening and touch.

Budgerigar - Much the same as the cockatiel but in a smaller package.  They are chatty and mischievous around birds they come to trust.

Princess of Wales Parakeet - A great choice as a buddy for small to mid-sized parrots.  They do not bond tightly so they are seldom jealous themselves.  Males will court members of the opposite gender.  Slightly more savvy than most cockatiels but with the same flock social norms.

Plum-headed Parakeet - Very tolerant and benign when around other species provided they are given enough uncrowded space. Lovely personalities, well-behaved and unlikely to bond tightly to your bird.

Derbyan Parakeet – Another in the Ring-necked genus, in fact many of the Asiatics, except maybe some Moustached Parakeets, fit well as companions for other birds. They are non-preeners, usually non-aggressive if housed near a calm, sedate species, not an Amazon that wants to wrestle, and when brought up right are content to just be there.

Eclectus male - A well-raised Green Eclectus is patient and tolerant of other birds in its space. It will not want to play and allopreen, hence it will keep its human contact and not steal the heart of your psittacine by over-bonding.  If this species has a down side, it is the baby phase, just before weaning, when they can be irascible and slightly territorial.  I prefer getting them younger or older than this.

Peach-faced Lovebird - I have seen some of these little packages social with small Conures and Tiels.  Males especially can be endearing and non-aggressive when they have grown up with another small bird.  They will preen and play, but mating attempts are not usually an issue with totally unrelated genera.

Umbrella Cockatoo - One of the real love sponges among the white parrots.  Babies are mostly gentle and in need of a friend so this is a great possibility if your pet has the open-mindedness to accept a bird of such size and presence.  It is essential to get an Umbrella that has been hand-fed and raised around other species, not just people!

Goffin’s Cockatoo - Another fine choice with the somewhat smaller size range, suitable for larger Conures, Caiques, Mini-Macaws, Timnehs and such.  Goffins are loving, but higher energy than most Umbrellas and thus will spar and roughhouse a bit more. Accordingly, this would be a better choice for an active Amazon than for an Electus.

Quaker Parakeet - A top-notch species of cuddly, loveable psittacine.  As youngsters, these birds are gregarious and flock social, accepting birds of many different types.  As they approach six months, their own possessiveness can kick in, but when handled right , they make reliable companions.  I do not like to put them with say, Conures of a different gender, for fear of over-bonding.  Hen Quakers can be more mellow in this sexual realm.

Rainbow Lorikeet - My favourites are Swainson’s and Edward’s.  I have had more difficulty with Green-naped’s.  These colourful fledglings will bounce and preen and cajole their way into nearly any house parrot’s heart, even more so if the opposite sex.  They take extra care of course, and can bond very tightly if allowed to dominate a living situation with your pet, so keep some space between and maintain control.  But Rainbows absolutely love playing with other birds, any colour and almost any size!

Goldie’s Lorikeet - Another wonderful nectar-eater to befriend small psittacines.  Playful, weak of bite, high energy and tolerant of other parrot’s grumpiness, Goldie’s can spread joy just by being in the same room - especially at bath time!

Blue and Gold Macaw - To my estimation, the most easy going of all the Macaws.  When brought up in an atmosphere of many other psittacine species, these macaws can shine as acquaintances for other large parrots.  The only real danger is the boisterous fledgling males that can inflict unintentional damage with their beak play.  Any time the larger pet parrots are allowed to interact, human supervision is a must.

Okay, that is a basic start.  We could also throw in Bourke’s Parakeet, Patagonian Conure, Timneh African Grey and some individual Blue-headed Pionus.

Now for a few ground rules.  Parrot acquaintances must always be judged as safe and compatible with regard to beak size.  No matter how well you trust your twosomes to get along, a Macaw with a Conure or a Moluccan Cockatoo with a small Amazon is asking for the little guy to get bumped around or worse.  Use common sense as to size, weight, beak strength and rambunctiousness!

Try to arrange the friendships between distantly related species.  Two South Americans like Quaker and Sun or Amazon and Yellow-collared is asking for sexual attitudes once puberty arrives.  Some of our nicest matches were Rose-breasted with Yellow-naped, Timneh with mini-Macaw, Goffin’s with a Caique and a Lovebird with a Conure.  Lorikeets seem to fit with anything.

The best bet is to bring a non-threatening baby or young fledgling to an established household.  Be aware of gender.  A hen red-tailed grey may be a perfect spicy fit for a male Electus.  A male Blue-fronted Amazon will be well aware that his friend is a female Goffin and a boy Eleanora may be the perfect fit for a hen Blue and Gold.

Never choose your bird without knowing precisely how the psittacine was brought up.  There are so many parrots out there that have never experienced the pleasure of being preened by another bird.  They look to humans for 100 per cent of their affection needs.  I have found these to be practically useless as far as a friend for my birds.

Finally, be aware of the critical importance of introduction day.  Here is where experienced counselling will be invaluable.

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