Parrots For Dummies 2nd Edition

Parrots For Dummies 2nd Edition

By Nikki Moustaki

Parrots For Dummies 2nd Edition PDF. While parrots have a historical reputation for being a pirate’s best friend, in the modern-day U.S.—where birds are the nation’s third most popular household pet-thousands of landlubbers are in on the act! And that’s not surprising—parrots are as affectionate, friendly, and fun to be with as a dog or cat. They are also relatively low-maintenance, with no rude 5 a.m. awakenings with demands for food or punishing walks.

Renowned avian care and behavior consultant Nikki Moustaki is your friendly guide to the colorful world of this intelligent and chatty pet. In this book, you’ll be introduced to the vibrant diversity of the parrot world, which covers a wide variety of Psittacidae family members, including macaws, cockatiels, and parakeets. You’ll also learn the best ways to choose, care for, and love your resplendently feathered companion.

  • Pick your perfect parrot
  • Devour the latest on nutrition
  • Tame and train
  • Make the perfect home

Whether you’re just setting out in the parrot world or are a seasoned voyager on the parrot-y seas, this 2nd edition of Parrots For Dummies has something for you and your pet—and will repay the hard-won pirate gold you spent on it a thousand times over!

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

Foolish Assumptions 3

Icons Used in This Book 3

Where to Go from Here 3

Part 1: Introducing the Parrot — Your Wild Child 5

Chapter 1: Meeting the Parrots, Just the Basics 7

Introducing the Parrots 7

From pet to companion 8

A little bit of wilderness 9

Home Tweet Home: Welcoming a Parrot into Your Home 10

Making birdy comfortable 10

Parrot paraphernalia 11

Parrot Care 101: Taking Care of Your Bird 11

Health care 11

Nutrition 12

Parrot Behavior: Checking How Your Bird Acts 12

Normal behaviors 12

The parrot monster 12

Parrot Pals: Socializing with Your Bird 13

Making friends with your parrot 13

Breeding parrots: Use caution 13

A Caveat to the Wise 14

Chapter 2: Knowing What to Expect with Your Companion Parrot 15

Defining a Companion Parrot 16

Just Being Themselves 17

Recognizing the Joys of Parrot Guardianship 18

Pondering Important Points about Buying or Adopting a Parrot 19

Recognizing who’s getting the parrot 19

Answering why you want a parrot 20

Factoring in the parrot’s personality 20

Contemplating the parrot’s home 21

Going on vacation 21

Remembering parrots have a longer lifespan 22

Dealing with allergies 22

Estimating the costs of parrot ownership 22

Being cognizant of the responsibilities of parrot guardianship 23

Spending time with your parrot 24

Preparing for mess and more mess 24

Getting used to the noise (Sorry, I can’t hear over my screaming parrot) 24

Understanding What a Companion Parrot Expects 25

Tolerance 25

Empathy 26

Sense of humor 26

Attentiveness 26

Decisiveness and action 26

Constant companionship 26

A loyal friend 27

Living with a Parrot around Nonbird People 27

Chapter 3: Choosing the Right Companion 29

Keeping Certain Considerations in Mind As You Choose a Species 30

Parrots are individuals 30

The chemistry between the two of you 30

Not all species are created equal 30

Noise: deafening or extremely deafening 31

Space: Bigger is better 31

Lifestyles of the neat and messy 32

From easily affordable to taking out a loan 33

Talking ability 33

Child-friendliness 33

One, two, or more 34

Looking Closer at Species Profiles Commonly Kept As Companions 35

African grey parrots 35

Amazon parrots 36

Brotogeris 38

Budgies 38

Caiques 39

Cockatiels 40

Cockatoos 40

Conures 45

Eclectus 48

Hanging parrots 48

Hawk-headed parrots 49

Lories 49

Lovebirds 50

Macaws 51

Other parakeets 54

Parrotlets 57

Pionus 58

Poicephalus parrots 58

Quaker parakeets 59

Vasa parrots 60

Chapter 4: Purchasing or Adopting a Parrot 61

Considering Your Parrot Options 61

Comparing handfed versus parent-raised birds 62

Choosing an age 63

Contemplating degrees of tameness 66

The talker in the bunch 67

Finding the Perfect Parrot for You 68

Pet shops 68

Bird shops 69

Online classifieds 69

Reputable breeders 70

Flea markets 71

Bird shows or expos 72

Adopting a Rescue Parrot 72

Identifying which birds are available for adoption 72

Completing the rescue application 74

Being prepared for the rescue home visit 74

Looking for a Healthy Parrot 75

Bright eyes 76

Clear nose and nares 76

Beak 76

Shiny feathers 76

Feet 77

Vent 77

Attitude and stance 77

Requesting a Guarantee 77

Knowing What to Ask Before You Buy or Adopt 78

Part 2: Bringing Home Your New Parrot 81

Chapter 5: A House to Call Home: Choosing Proper Housing 83

Matching the Housing to the Species 84

Finding the Right Cage for Your Bird 84

Cage shape 84

Sturdiness and material 85

Housing bottom 86

Door types 87

Cage dangers 87

Building Your Own Cage 88

Placing Your Cage to Ensure Your Parrot is Comfortable 89

Cleaning the Cage 90

Simplifying your cage cleaning 90

Choosing the right cleansers 90

Considering an Aviary 91

The flight cage 92

The habitat 92

Chapter 6: Going Shopping: Avian Supplies and Accessories 95

Giving Your Parrot a Place to Stand: Perches 95

Wooden perches 96

Concrete and cement perches 96

Rope perches 97

Plastic perches 98

Keeping the Food and Water Accessible: Coop Cups 98

Entertaining Your Parrot: Toys 99

Ensuring safety at all times 100

Considering different types of toys 102

Creating the Right Ambience: Bird Lighting 106

Setting Up the Cage 106

Considering Play Gyms and Stands 107

Lining Your Cage: Litter and Bedding 108

Covering the Cage: Nighttime Covers 108

Preventing Mess 109

Mess accessories 110

Air filters 110

Chapter 7: Bringing Home Birdy: Making Introductions and Parrot-Proofing Your Home 111

Making the First Night Stress Free (As Much As Possible) 112

Naming Your Bird 112

Thriving on Routine with Your New Parrot 113

Welcoming Your Parrot as a Family Member 114

Being unafraid; being very unafraid 114

Introducing people 115

Introducing pets 116

Introducing other birds 118

Quarantining your parrot 119

Understanding the Relationship between Parrots and Children 119

Realizing the commitment to owning a bird 119

Establishing some basic rules 120

Familiarizing Houseguests to Your Parrot 123

Parrot-Proofing Your Home 124

Part 3: Caring for Your Parrot 127

Chapter 8: Eating Like a Bird: Proper Parrot Nutrition 129

Starting with the Basics: Water 129

Keeping everything clean 130

Adding supplements to your water: Yay or nay? 131

Recognizing a Parrot’s Dietary Requirements 132

The digestive system 132

Eating in the wild 133

Identifying Nutrition-Related Disorders 134

Vitamin A deficiency 134

Calcium deficiency 135

Comparing Seeds versus Pellets: The Big Debate 136

Eyeing What the Cooked Base Diet is 138

Purchasing and Storing 138

Knowing Which Vegetables to Feed Your Parrot 140

Focusing on Fruit to Feed Your Feathered Friend 141

Being Aware of Pesticides 141

Giving Your Bird Snacks 143

Adding Table Foods to Your Bird’s Diet 145

Avoiding Toxic and Irritating Foods 145

Considering Grit and Clay 146

Contemplating Nutritional Supplements 146

Feeding Nectar Eaters 148

Getting a Parrot to Eat 149

Making Some Easy Recipes 150

Parrot muffins and bread 150

Parrot mac and cheese 151

Parrot omelet 151

Parrot juice and smoothies 151

Parrot pancakes 152

Parrot grain 152

Creating a Healthy Diet Routine 153

Chapter 9: Pretty Bird! Grooming Your Companion 157

Examining What Your Bird Fusses All about: Feathers 157

Fluffing up: Your bird’s feather types 158

Looking closer at feather anatomy 159

Recognizing what you can do 160

Clipping Your Parrot’s Wings 160

To clip or not to clip 161

Examining how flight effects parrot behavior 161

Considering options in between 162

Dealing with clipped and unclipped parrots 163

Clipping Your Bird’s Wings Properly: The How-To 164

Holding the parrot properly — Toweling 164

Clipping the flight feathers 165

Considering special circumstances 167

Clipping Your Parrot’s Toenails 168

Grooming the Beak 169

Beak breaks 170

The misaligned beak 170

Bathing Your Parrot 170

Caring for Molting Parrots 173

Dealing With Blood Feathers 175

Chapter 10: Taking Care of Your Parrot: In Sickness and in Health 177

Taking a Closer Look at a Parrot’s Anatomy 178

Eyes 178

Ears 178

Feathers 178

Preen gland 179

Feet 180

Beak 180

Cere 182

Tongue 182

Neck 182

Skin 182

Syrinx 182

Skeletal system 183

Muscles 183

Respiratory system 183

Digestive system 184

Circulatory system 184

Reproductive system 184

Recognizing Indications of Illness 184

Choosing an Avian Veterinarian 186

Finding a qualified avian vet 186

Knowing what to look for at the first visit 187

Divulging important information 188

Identifying Common Health Disorders 189

Nutritional disorders 190

Parasites 190

Bacterial infections 191

Viral infections 192

Fungal infections 192

Foot disorders 193

Feather disorders 193

Reproductive disorders 194

Being Aware of and Preventing Common Dangers to

Companion Parrots 194

Predators and animal bites 195

Standing water 196

Nonstick cookware 196

Household products 197

Poisonous houseplants 198

Ceiling fans 199

Toxic foods 199

Electrocution 200

Feet and doors 200

Lead and other heavy metals 200

Mirrors and clean glass 200

Night thrashing 201

Temperature changes 201

Frostbite 201

Overheating 202

Oil on feathers 202

Broken blood feathers and bleeding nails 202

Physical injuries and seizures 202

Flying away 203

Unsafe toys 205

Humans 205

Caring for an Older Parrot 205

Handling an Emergency 206

Medicating Your Parrot 207

Creating a Hospital Cage 207

Creating a Parrot First-Aid Kit 208

Part 4: Parrot Behavior Made Simple 211

Chapter 11: Understanding Your Wild Child’s Instincts 213

Looking At a Daily Life of Parrots in the Wild 214

Appreciating the Plight of Wild-Caught Parrots 217

Differentiating between wild caught and captive bred 218

Getting involved: Conservation organizations 219

Understanding Your Parrot’s Instincts 220

Being the prey 220

Finding a high spot 220

Flocking 221

Sleeping 221

Vocalizing 222

Making a mess 223

Blending into the background — Camouflage 223

Making eye contact 223

Picking a mate — gender preference in parrots 224

Chapter 12: Recognizing Normal Companion Parrot Behaviors 227

Examining Your Parrot’s Most Natural Behavior — Flying 228

Heading to the Heavens — Climbing 228

Hanging Out on the Ground — Foraging 229

Gnawing to His Heart’s Content — Chewing 229

Staying Completely Still — Freezing 230

Chatting Up a Storm — Vocalization 231

Contact calling 231

Screaming 232

Hissing 232

Growling 232

Begging 232

Differentiating between Beak Clicking and Clucking 233

Getting Clean and Looking Pretty — Preening 233

Clearing His Ears — Yawning 234

Hearing Your Parrot — Beak Grinding 234

Bobbing Up and Down to Say, “I Love You” — Regurgitation 234

Cleaning His Face — Beak Wiping 235

Considering Different Tail Behaviors 236

Exhibiting Breeding Behavior 236

Being Annoyed with Their Cage Mate — Bickering 238

Identifying Eating Habits 238

Rub a Dub Dub — Bathing 239

Taking a Nap — Sleeping 239

Getting Rid of Dirt and Itches — Scratching 239

Achoo! Bless You — Sneezing 240

Warning You to Back Off — Nipping 240

Reading Body Language 240

Flapping wings 240

Crest position 241

Fluffing and ruffling 241

The please dance 242

Head down 242

The attack stance 243

Stretching 243

Bowing and bobbing 244

Head shaking 244

Leaning forward, wings shaking 244

Quivering wings 244

Beak language 244

Potty language 244

Chicken scratching 244

Eye pinning (dilate/contract pupils) 245

Wing drooping 245

Wing flipping 245

Blushing 245

Back down, feet up 245

Recognizing When Your Parrot is Training You 247

Training method 1: Noise 248

Training method 2: Display 249

Training method 3: Biting 250

Training method 4: Plucking 251

Chapter 13: Handling More Than One Bird: Multiple Parrot Households 253

Keeping More Than One Parrot: The Pros and Cons 254

The pros 255

The cons 255

Interpreting Different Parrot Interactions 256

Parrot pals 257

Parrot enemies 258

Romeo and Romeo 259

One-sided love 259

Keeping the peace 259

Falling in love 260

Introducing a New Parrot 260

Wondering Why Everyone Just Can’t Get Along 261

Changing Your Relationship 262

Chapter 14: Addressing Behavior: When Good Birds Go Bad 263

Figuring Out the Problem 263

Understanding Dominance 264

Height dominance 265

Aggression 267

Socializing One-Person Parrots 267

Preventing possessiveness 268

Reversing one person-ness 269

Dealing With a Screaming Parrot 271

Trying these strategies for a screaming bird 271

Staying away from these remedies for a screamer 272

Handling Bad Words and Sounds 273

Taking a Chunk out of You: Biting 274

Considering why birds bite 274

Responding after your bird bites you 276

Paying attention to your bird’s biting body language 276

Addressing Fears and Phobias 277

Considering the causes 278

Trying these tactics with a fearful bird 279

Identifying and Handling Hormonal Issues 280

Pulling Out Her Plumes — Feather Plucking 281

Figuring out why parrots pluck 281

Helping your feathered friend stop plucking 283

Figuring Out What’s Bugging Your Bird 284

Maturity 284

Other birds 284

Environmental changes 285

Cage placement 285

Temperature 286

Noise 286

Sleep 286

Helping or Hurting: Why Your Actions Are Important 287

Hiring a Behavior Consultant 288

Considering the Last Resort: Rescue and Adoption 289

Part 5: Taming, Training, and Beyond 291

Chapter 15: Bird Brains: Understanding Parrot Intelligence 293

Taking a Closer Look at Mr Smarty Pants er, Feathers 294

Studying What Parrots Really Understand 295

Introducing Alex the Amazing Grey 296

Helping Your Bird Understand You 298

Teaching Your Parrot to Converse 299

Comprehending Why Parrots Talk 300

Chapter 16: Taming and Training Your Parrot 303

Beginning Training When Your Parrot is Young 304

Understanding the Importance of Socializing Your Parrot 304

Seeing how socialization affects a parrot’s quality of life 305

Socializing your parrot: The how-to 306

Bonding with Your Parrot 308

Building trust 308

Creating the bond: The how-to 309

Praising Your Bird: Positive Reinforcement Goes a Long Way 311

Considering Different Training Strategies 313

Finding your bird’s motivation 313

Considering clicker training 314

Teaching the Step-Up Command 316

Training a tame or semi-tame parrot: The how-to 316

Using stick training for this command 317

Whittling down to teach this command 318

Taming a Bronco Parrot 318

Disciplining a Parrot 320

Considering Some Simple Fun Behaviors You Can Teach 321

Potty Training Your Parrot: is It Even Possible? 323

Teaching Your Parrot to Talk 324

Recognizing what you need to get your bird to talk 324

Focusing on breeds that are known for talking 326

Getting your bird to stop talking 327

Dealing with a bird that doesn’t talk 328

Chapter 17: Taking Your Training to the Next Level: Advanced Techniques 329

Determining Whether Your Bird Learn Advanced Skills 331

Getting Started on the Right Foot 332

Discovering your parrot’s favorite treats 332

Giving praise 333

Recognizing other items you need to begin 333

Implementing Preference Training 334

Incorporating a Target into Your Training 335

Adding Colors to Your Training Regimen 336

Differentiating between Yes and No 338

Developing Your Bird’s Vocabulary 340

Playing Games with Your Parrot 340

Focusing on “more” or “less” 341

Playing war 341

Training How to Count 342

Handling Wrong Answers 344

Chapter 18: Breeding Parrots 345

Taking Heed: A Warning Before You Begin 346

Having Realistic Expectations When Breeding 347

Realizing how much time and expense is required 347

Considering the associated risks with breeding 348

Finding homes for the babies 350

Getting Started: Breeding with Paired Parrots 350

Recognizing What Breeding Equipment You Need 351

Meeting Nutritional Requirements When Breeding 352

Understanding the Breeding Process: A Timeline 353

Incubating Eggs When the Parent Parrots Aren’t Interested 357

Hatching — Time to welcome the new peeper 357

Making your own brooder 358

Using Leg Bands — A Bird’s ID Tag 359

Handfeeding Baby Parrots 360

Recognizing the equipment you need 360

Choosing a formula 360

Handfeeding your birds: The how-to 361

Being aware of handfeeding potential problems 362

Weaning Baby Parrots 366

Parrot Genetics 101 — Just the Basics 368

Chapter 19: In the Ring: Showing Your Parrot 371

Being Wary — Words of Warning for Showing 372

Looking into Parrot Clubs and Societies 373

Walking You Through How a Bird Show Works 374

Knowing the Show Standard 375

Looking at Different Show Equipment 378

Conditioning Your Bird for a Show 378

Preparing Your Bird: Show Training 379

Helping Out at the Show 380

Part 6: The Part of Tens 381

Chapter 20: Ten Things All Parrots Should Know 383

Understand the Step-Up Command 383

Comprehend Stick Training 384

Know Her Carrier 384

Identify Windows and Mirrors 384

Say Her Name and Phone Number 385

Recognize Her Cage As a Safety Zone 385

Know How to Take Medicine 386

Be Able to Trust You 386

Eat Well 386

Understand the Word “No!” 387

Chapter 21: Ten Ways to Entertain Your Parrot 389

Feeding Him — Food 390

Entertaining Your Bird — You’re the Star 391

Stimulating Your Parrot’s Mind — Parrot Toys 391

Turning on the TV and Some Music 393

Spending Time Outside — The Great Outdoors 393

Letting Him Spread His Wings — Flying 394

Shaking Your Groove Thang — Dancing 394

Belting at the Top of Your Lungs — Singing 394

Introducing a Friend — Parrot Pets 395

Training Him Different Tricks 395

Chapter 22: Ten (or So) Tips When Traveling with Your Parrot 397

Being Prepared — Packing Your Parrot’s Suitcase 398

Thinking Safety and Comfort — Bringing the Right Carrier 399

Hitting the Friendly Skies — Traveling by Air 401

Taking a Road Trip — Traveling by Car 402

Keeping Your Bird Hydrated — Bringing Bottled Water 403

Sleeping for the Night — Staying in a Hospitable Hotel 403

Feeding Your Bird — Helpful Travel Tips 404

Dealing with an Emergency — Finding an Avian Veterinarian on the Road 404

Relying on Help — Using a Parrot Sitter 405

Chapter 23: Ten Surprises for Parrot Guardians and How to Respond to Them 407

Handling the Inevitable Mess 407

Being Ready for the Noise 408

Feeling Guilty 409

Requiring Constant Supervision 410

Preparing to Open Your Wallet — The Expense 410

Bonding with You to an Extreme 411

Seeing How Funny Parrots Are around Mirrors 411

Recognizing How Smart Parrots Are 411

Figuring Out Who Inherits Your Parrot When You Die — Estate Planning 412

Being Prepared for the Unexpected — When Your Parrot Dies 413

Index 415

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