The Beauty of African Grey Parrots

The African Grey is a wonderful, sensitive and highly intelligent bird. They require diligent owners and are a serious commitment. However, they are truly delightful and if approached with the correct understanding will make a lifelong companion.

Originating from Africa, there are two distinct types: the Congo African Grey and the Timneh African Grey. The Congo is the larger of the two, measuring 12-14 inches with a bright red tail. The Timneh is smaller, closer to 11-13 inches with a darker coloring and crimson tail. The Congo and the Timneh originate in different regions of Africa.

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These highly intelligent parrots became famous from the cognitive studies of Dr. Irene Pepperberg. Dr. Pepperberg worked “Alex”, a Congo African Grey. Alex was able to recognize and name more then 100 objects. He could label colors and count. Dr. Pepperberg worked with Alex for over 30 years. It is suggested these beautiful birds have the intelligence of a 5 year old child. They are sensitive and emotional, resembling the emotions of a 2 year old child. They require mental stimulation as a 5 year old child would. If bored or depressed they can be prone to feather plucking. In general, they are anxious and cautious in new situations.

They have a superior ability to mimic humans, often in the person’s voice. Usually they will start speaking after 1 year of age and can often learn several new words weekly. They form strong attachments to their human “flock” and often have favorites. They have been said to be less cuddly then other species, yet loving and loyal. They are the professors of the bird flock and require as much attention as other species. They enjoy games that require mental stimulation such as foraging for “hidden treasures” of toys and treats. If one choses to home an African Grey, socialization of people and new surroundings, mental activities and emotional nurturing is very important. They cannot sit quietly in a cage, as one would not ask a 5 year old child to. But the rewards of the Grey are immense. They are very “human like” and very special.

African Greys have a lifespan of approximately 60 years and require a serious commitment due to their highly intelligent and sensitive nature. Hardy birds, they require a balanced diet supplemented with fresh fruit and vegetables. If making a commitment to an African Grey, it is highly suggested to annually visit an avian vet for complete check ups, nutritional guidance and blood work. Birds by nature will hide illnesses for a long time. Often once illness is suspected it is too late. For more information please visit http://parrotpod.com where you can find information on many types of birds and resources for their care.

Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9128943

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Maintaining A Large Finch Flight – Time Saving Tips For A Clean and Healthy Bird Habitat

Whether you have built your own flight or purchased one from a manufacturer, cleaning and maintenance are vital. Unlike cages that hold only a couple of birds, a large flight can hold dozens of birds depending on the size. The more birds housed together the greater the threat of bacterial infections from a dirty flight.

The design and setup of your finch flight is extremely important. It should have conveniently placed doors at the bottom to provide easy access to the cage floor. There should also be access doors to allow easy access to the birds, walls, perches and other items. Many commercially built flights have wire grates above the floor.

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If possible eliminate the wire grate as it only makes more to clean and does not benefit the birds in any way. Finches like to forage on the floor of the cage and the grates can possibly injure the feet of your Finches. Another bad thing about wire grates is if you provide nests for your Finches and they raise young. The babies could be severely injured if they should fall from the nest onto the grate.

There are several fantastic products that are both effective and affordable to make the job of maintaining your flight quick and easy. All are readily available online or at your local pet store.

Poop-Off ; A very safe product for cleaning cages, perches and accessories.

Aviclens; A great water cleanser. Add it to your birds water at all times to prevent bacteria from forming. Change your birds water every 1-2 days in hot weather, every 3-4 days in cooler weather.

Planet Petco Crumbled Paper Litter For Birds; An excellent litter for the bottom of the cage. Lasts from 1 to 2 weeks in large Finch flights.

Finch Seed Hopper with Catch Tray; A great feeder that reduces mess.

Perch and accessory placement inside the Finch flight is something often overlooked. The placement of perches, toys, feed and water stations, etc. need to be carefully thought out. Never place any of them where other items are directly below them. This greatly reduces the buildup of droppings on perches and accessories. This will result in having to clean perches, toys, etc. only about once every 7-10 days. (Unless you notice a need sooner) Cleaning is a snap too!

No need to remove perches or accessories from the cage, simply spray with Poop-Off.

Wait 10-15 seconds and wipe down with a damp cloth.

(Do the same for the cage walls)

Avoid small water cups in your flight. Use a 1 quart or larger hanging Waterer and always fill with water treated with Aviclens. Unless you notice a large amount of droppings you will only need to change the water every 1-2 days in hot weather, every 3-4 days in cooler weather.

Use Seed Hoppers with Catch Trays. The hopper holds a large amount of seed and the catch tray eliminates most of the mess. A good rule of thumb is to add 1 hopper for every 4 finches in your flight. By providing the proper number of seed hoppers you will be emptying the catch trays less often.

Cover the flight floor with about 2″ of the Planet Petco Crumbled Paper Litter. Even in very large Finch flights the litter only needs to be changed every 7 – 10 days. This will vary depending on the number and type of birds in your flight. Typically the litter lasts anywhere from 7 days to 4 weeks. The litter absorbs moisture and odor, as well as effectively preventing bacteria. When it’s time to change the litter simply sweep or vacuum it out of the flight and add new.

Place the Bird Grit in a 10 ounce crock on the flight floor. Be sure it is away from the hanging waterer or it will become wet and need to be changed. Also make sure there are no perches or other items hanging above the crock. If you pour a nice layer of grit in the bottom of the crock it should last a couple of weeks before you need to worry about changing it. (Unless you notice droppings building up in the grit)

These simple steps will make maintaining your large flight easier and less time consuming. You’ll have a whole lot more time to just enjoy your birds.

Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9118116

Caring For Your Pet Dove

There are many Dove species found throughout the world but this article will focus on the Ringneck Dove. Sometimes referred to as Collard Doves, Ringneck Doves have developed in captivity to include several color mutations. The most common mutations include;

White Dove

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Blonde

Cream

Pied

Platinum

Ivory

Silver Ivory

Wild (The color found in the wild)

Contrary to popular belief, doves enjoy being handled and are very easily trained. Ringneck Doves have been trained to perform a number of tasks and tricks for the delight of their owners.

Many new dove owners are pleasantly surprised to see the reaction of their bird when they return home from work or other errands. Many compare it to that of a dog. Their Ringneck Dove will begin flapping it’s wings, cooing and showing its genuine joy that you’re home again. When you open the cage door it is almost certain your dove will fly directly to your shoulder. It is a truly rewarding feeling to see this expression of love from your pet.

Lifespan of Ringneck Doves – Doves can live to be 20 to 25 years old, with some reported to live much longer. The key to a long and happy life for your pet Dove is proper care and nutrition.

The Proper Cage – Doves can thrive and even breed in a cage as small as 2ft. x 2ft. If you do house your dove in a small cage like this you should provide it with plenty of time out of the cage. They need the opportunity to fly and stretch their wings. The best rule of thumb is to provide the largest cage you can afford and have space for.

A cage that is longer than it is tall is always best. This allows you to place a perch at each end so your dove can hop or fly from perch to perch. This allows them to get some exercise even when not out of the cage.

Proper Nutrition – There are several commercial brands of dove food on the market. These are readily available online or at your local pet store. Doves also do very well on a good quality wild bird seed mix. A mix that is formulated for a wide range of birds is best when using the wild bird seed. The choice of using a commercial brand of dove feed or a wild mix is a matter of personal preference. The difference in the two is that the commercial seed is better cleaned and processed to eliminate undesired contaminates.

Doves in captivity should not live on a seed only diet. Provide yours with chopped dark green vegetables, as well as chopped hard boiled eggs, shell and all. The egg shell is an excellent source of calcium.

Also be sure to provide a constant supply of properly sized grit. Adding crushed oyster shell will also provide additional calcium.

Don’t Overlook A Dove When Considering Your Next Pet Bird.

Doves have a way of quickly stealing our hearts!

Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9124362

Food for Budgies

The staple food of budgies in the wild is usually grass seeds. However, in captivity budgies thrive well on a diet of seeds, millets, whole grain breads and sprouts. A varied diet provides all essential nutrients and keeps the budgies well nourished. A varied diet also prevents obesity as opposed to a diet exclusively on seeds.

Place the seeds in a flat dish so that it is easy for removal The feeding can be done once a day. Seeds which have not been eaten by the budgies can be reused. Just blow over the feeding dish to remove the husk and then top up the remaining seeds.

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Budgies also love coriander leaves and greens. Beetroot, spinach, lettuce and cabbage may also be given. Put these leaves into the cage and watch the budgies tear them up into little bits as they eat them. Give only fresh leaves as old or refrigerated leaves may cause digestion problems for the budgies. Remove any leftovers from the cage.

Foods NOT to be given

Do not give Avocados, chocolates, apple seeds, coffee, tea, tomato leaves, peach seeds, eggplant, peanuts, etc to your budgies as these contain substances which can prove to be toxic to the budgies.

Water for Budgies

Budgies need fresh water everyday. Keep a constant supply of water in the cage. Replace the water if it has become soiled. Special water dispensers suited for birds are available. This prevents the water from getting soiled.

In the wild, budgies descend in large groups over water bodies. They love to bathe. You can keep a shallow bow of water and watch them bathe. Bathing water can be provided twice a week.

CuttleBone for Budgies

Budgies, especially female, need calcium as they lay eggs. Calcium deficiency can cause a dangerous condiction called egg binding in female budgies where the eggs, having soft shells due to lack of calcium, get stuck in the vent, causing death.

Hence, it is vital that the diet the budgies eat contains a lot of calcium. The Cuttle bone is a common source of calcium. Cuttle bone as the name suggests comes from the cuttlefish. It is available in all pet stores. The cuttle bone may be placed inside the cage. Some pet owners prefer to crush the cuttlebone into powder and add to the budgies’ food.

You can also provide other sources of calcium for your budgies such as broken eggshells and commercial calcium supplements which are available in the market.

Another alternative would be to use mineral blocks. Mineral blocks are supplements which contain calcium as well as other ingredients such as phosphorus, zinc, Iron, Magnesium, etc necessary for the health of the budgie.

Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9147214

Cages and Toys for Budgies

Choosing a cage for your Budgies is extremely important. The following are some of the tips for someone searching for a suitable cage for their budgies.

Budgies are extremely active birds. When choosing a cage it is important to ensure that the cage is wide enough for the birds to fly across the cage and exercise themselves.

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Place two perches on either ends of the cages for the birds to perch themselves. The perches should be at least an half an inch thick to prevent damage to the budgies’ feet.

The bars of the bars should be spaced not more than 1/2 inch apart. A larger spacing can cause budgies to stick their heads out of the cage with the risk of the head getting trapped between the bars.

There should be a sufficient number of horizontal bars as budgies are avid climbers and love to climb the cage walls.

The cage should ideally be rectangular in shape. Avoid circular cages as they make budgies a bit insecure.

The cage should have a removable tray at the bottom to remove waste and keep the cage clean.

The cage should have doors which can be secured effectively. Budgies are clever birds and will soon find a way to open doors that are not adequately fastened.

Budgies are intelligent and playful creatures. They love to play with toys, bits of paper and whatever they can find. It is good to provide your budgies with toys they can play with. The adage “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” holds true for Budgies too.

Selecting Toys for your Budgies

A wide varieties of toys are available for your budgies. Rings, steps, geometric blocks and a whole lot of designs. Budgies love climbing and toys such as a block of steps provide endless entertainment to budgies. Bells are another great idea. Rings and hoops hung from the ceiling of the budgie cage provide interesting perches.

Beads also make good toys for your birds. Beads can be used individually or strung up into beautiful shapes which can also look decorative.

A mirror placed in the cage also provides entertainment for your budgies

When designing or buying toys for your budgies you must take some precautions.

The toys should not be painted as paint can be toxic.

Do not use metals such as zinc or lead in the toys

Wood if used should be untreated.

Do not use glue.

Toys should not have small holes or cracks/splits in which the feet of the birds can get caught.

Check the toys for sharp edges which can injure the bird.

Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9147226

Interesting Tidbits About Birds

Bird lovers know that these inquisitive and social creatures make ideal pets that can provide plenty of entertainment and companionship. While all birds need basic housing, nutritious food and plenty of watchful care, it is important to understand the features that are unique to each species that may affect their health and happiness. Whether you are considering a pet bird or already have one of your own, check out these interesting tidbits about birds that can provide more insight into their behavior.

Birds Can Outlive Their Owner

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Before choosing a bird as a pet, it is important for you to know that many birds have extremely long life spans. Canaries, budgies and lovebirds can all live eight years or more, and macaws and cockatoos can live well beyond 40 years. For this reason, many bird owners appoint a guardian for their bird to ensure continuous care in the event that it outlives them.

Mushrooms are Harmful to Birds

While you can watch as your pet bird happily gobbles up many of the fresh fruits and vegetables that you put on your plate, it may come as a surprise that certain foods are on the forbidden list. Mushrooms are one that can be especially dangerous because the stems and caps of certain types have led to liver failure in birds. They also cause digestive disorders in parrots.

Birds Use Body Language to Communicate

Most pet owners are familiar with common actions performed by dogs and cats to communicate with their companions, but birds also convey emotions through shifting their feathers and assuming a specific stance. For example, loose, ruffled feathers may mean that a bird is happy; however, flared wings or shoulders may mean that a bird is either getting ready to fight or interested in courting. Many people are also surprised to find that birds will sometimes wag their tails as a greeting to their owner.

Even Small Birds Eat a Lot

When observing birds, it is easy to notice that it seems they are always eating. Whether they are outdoors eating small insects or a pet consuming their nutritious feed, it is necessary for a bird to eat at least half their body weight each day to be able to survive. Pet owners should be conscious of this fact so that they can plan their bird’s feeding routine accordingly. Birds also prefer variety in their diet so include the occasional treat in your pet’s bowl.

Sensory Stimulation is Important for Happiness

Due to the social nature of birds, it is critical to provide them with constant stimulation that they can use to keep boredom at bay and find comfort. Colorful toys, jingly bells and climbing structures can all enhance a bird’s cage. Birds also notice change in their environment so you may want to trade out toys from time to time. If you must leave your bird alone during the day, use a radio or television to provide auditory stimulation that is similar to social conversations.

Interacting with your bird regularly has its share of rewards. Through chirps, mimicking and even repeating words, this pet can show happiness and forge a long lasting bond with its owner. Understanding and responding to the finer nuances that make birds unique will enhance your relationship with your favorite avian companion while safeguarding their health and longevity.

Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9163966

Basic Tricks for Birds

Birds are clever animals and are good companion pets. They can be taught easily with the right training preparation and techniques. Being able to teach a pet a new trick is a very rewarding experience for its owner. Training animals will not just make them smarter. It is also a good ground to build a trusting relationship with them and to eventually understand them better.

The first thing to remember when training a bird is to be realistic with your goals. Just like any other animals, a bird has its own nature and character. You must always remember that they also have good days and bad days. There are times when they seem so sharp and can be easily trained. However, there are also occasions wherein they will not follow commands despite of your extreme effort. The important thing is to learn their cues and to understand their moods. Birds have short attention span. Therefore, it is best to train them for just 15 minutes per session. You can do this for 2-3 times a day.

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The most basic thing that your bird should learn is how to step-up on your finger. When teaching this trick, make sure to always position yourself above your pet and never below. You should always look higher or taller from your pet’s point of view. This position tells it that you are its master and no one else. This will teach your bird that you have the authority and that it should focus.

To teach your pet to step on your finger, you may use the command “step-up”. What you need to do is to position your finger against the lower breast of your bird, a litter higher than its feet. Talk with it through your magic words and persuade it to step on your finger. When it obeys, you can reward it with praises or treats. You can say “good job”. Repeat the stepping-up trick and the verbal commands until your bird has the interest. But make sure to end it when it starts to show boredom cues.

Towel training is very important for your bird to learn. Training your bird to be familiar to towels is important because you will be utilizing towels for different petting situations. Towels are used in giving medication, hygiene or when treating an injury. During the towel training, make sure to only use white colored towel and nothing else. Bright colored towels may frighten your pet and affect its concentration. For your bird to get accustomed to the towel, you can start by placing treats on the cloth to entice your pet to step on it and eventually to become comfortable with it. Once it is already accustomed with it, you can try wrapping its behind and placing your other hand’s thumb and middle finger at the sides of the neck and the index finger on the top of its head to stabilize the neck.

Teaching birds what not to bite is also a useful trick. You can use a biting stick to teach your bird what is appropriate to bite and what is not. Chopsticks can be used as biting sticks. Position the stick within the bird’s reach and encourage it to bite. When the bird obeys, praise it and give it some treats. This will give your bird the idea that only the biting stick is allowed to be bitten. Veterinary approved deterrent called bitter apple spray can also be used to safeguard your furniture from your pet’s biting tendencies. You just have to spray it to the things that you do not want to be bitten by your pet.

Training pets requires a lot of patience and commitment. Start with the most basic and progress to more complex ones as time goes by. Mutual trust and respect is built between the owner and the pet along the training sessions. Rewarding them with their favorite treats from time to time will help you to motivate them and win their focus.

Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9176546

Discover How You Can Have The Best Budgie Aviary In Town

A purpose-built budgie aviary needs to complement the colourful personalities of its inmates. Here are three important design features that should be incorporated in every budgie aviary.

1. Type of Aviary

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A walk in aviary fixed to the ground is ideal for budgerigars. While it can take any shape in order to fill whatever space is available, a square or rectangular aviary is usually best and the most economical because it can be easily subdivided. There needs to be an indoor area to provide shelter and an outdoor area where the birds can enjoy the fresh air. The main advantages of this design are:

it allows budgies to fossick on the ground for food.

it provides more room and better flying space from the ground up to the roof

it can be planted with plants and shrubs to simulate the natural environment.

it is easy for people to enter and move around inside, which makes the tasks of cleaning the aviaries and catching the birds much simpler.

2. Perches

Budgies stand for most of their lives, and so, in order to prevent foot problems, their feet need to be exercised by standing on different-sized perches made of different materials.

Natural wood perches are best, as they have a variety of diameters and are good to chew on. Rope perches are also excellent, being made of a different, softer material and offering a variety of sizes.

Budgies are energetic so exercise is essential for their good health and quality of life. They need plenty of space to fly around in. Thus perches should be placed in a sheltered area out in the open, and arranged so they don’t impede flight and allow the budgies to fly the longest distances possible.

3. Play Areas

Third, budgies are playful, and highly intelligent, and so need play areas where they can amuse themselves. These areas should have baths, greenery, and toys such as bells, ropes, and swings. Other toys that are easily shredded also appeal to their natural inquisitiveness (and natural destructiveness!). A clever trick if the flight has a netting roof is to lay an irrigation hose over the top of the aviary so that the birds can take a shower on hot days.

If you are serious about the health and well-being of your feathered friends, then you need to have a first class budgie aviary. Don’t forget, budgerigars can live for up to 15 years – and so having them as pets is a long-term commitment.

Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9197894

How to Buy a Pet Bird: 5 Important Things You Need To Know

Birds make great pets, well they won’t be as loyal a dog, but at least they require less maintenance. Like any other pet, it’s important that you know what kind of bird you want. This should be in correlation with your personality. Like any other animal, birds have personalities. Some birds are more sociable than the others while some are more inclined to be hyperactive than most. In any case, birds should be treated with the utmost care. Ignoring them will aggravate them because just like any other living being, they need attention and care. Besides if you are not willing to take care of them they why take them in the first place?

Things you must know before Buying a Pet Bird.

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1. Find the Right Seller.

First, it is recommended that your check your local newspaper first for legitimate ads from professional breeders. Why? Because like anything else, you can only rely on experts for the best kind of breeds. Moreover, they will be able to provide you the best kind of information about your chosen type of feathered friend.

2. Inquire About Health.

These winged animals also usually comes with paper when bought from professionals, were talking about veterinary records here which is very important if you want your bird to live long enough, you may want to know its medical history. The only backlog is that these birds are usually pricey so if you don’t have the budget, then the next stop is the neighborhood pet shop. This is tricky because some pet shops don’t have in-house vets and only have ignorant salesmen to man the place. Therefore, if this is your only choice then I suggest you do prior research to the kind of breed you want, just so that you know what it should look like healthy.

3. Psychological Test.

Check for the coat and the beaks if it’s on the right shape. Coats should be shiny and full while beaks should look sturdy. It will also help if you could observe the bird for a while before you commit to buying it so that you can have an idea if it’s psychologically healthy; the last thing you want is to have a bird with a defective instinctive behavior which will prevent it from responding positively in your care.

4. Learn its Past Life.

Check if the bird is properly cared for; see the cage if it’s in good condition and if there is adequate food and water. This is to prevent you from buying a traumatized bird. If you just want to buy a bird from a friend, it is still necessary to check all these stuff, after all, a pet is a responsibility, you’ll be spending a lot of time with it so it’s best not to jump the cage without a thorough thought first.

5. Best of All.

Make sure that the bird you will be buying will have an emotional tie with you, don’t just choose birds because of their aesthetic qualities. Look for qualities that will endear them to you because these are the aspects, which you will be relishing for a long time.

Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9226868

The Considerations of Having a Parrot As a Pet

There are several factors that need to be considered before Purchasing/Adopting a Parrot.

One key factor to remember that parrots unlike dogs and cats and other commonly kept pets is they do come with a good amount of requirements and on occasion including visits to the Avian Vet.

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Which brings up the point in the screening of the previous owners what is the birds overall health?

There are owners sadly that will intentionally/unintentionally sell you a bird that is ill and on top of that if you have other companion parrots in the household can make them ill.

This is why it important that if you are around other birds make sure and clean and sanitize your hands before handling any of your other birds.

Breeders, zoos parks etc. will require, for the most part, this to be done prior to handling or coming into contact with their birds/investments to some.

It would be a great idea to quarantine from the rest of your flock as pointed out in an article by the bird channel “Unfortunately, many bird keepers regard quarantine as a required procedure only for the bigger breeders or those who import or export birds. Some consider quarantine a nuisance, and others shortcut the procedure to hurry things along. However, quarantine restrictions are in place to protect both the bird owner and their pet birds. Quarantining can literally mean the difference between life and death for your flock”.

When choosing a provider of your bird, for Adoption or Purchasing (these two can be misinterpreted) but with the help of Wikipedia can be easily explained.

By this article definition:

A. Adoption-is the process of taking guardianship of and responsibility for a parrot that a previous owner has abandoned or released to a shelter or rescue organization. Common sources for adoptable pets are animal shelters and rescue groups.

B. Purchasing-This would be from Breeders locally from local hobby breeders to large breeding farms.

The best advice as always is regarding the health of your Parrot is to seek the advice of an Avian Vet.

Time:

In regards to time and the amount required for a parrot is dependent upon the species as well as how many you have in your flock.

With the 4 pet birds that I own and by species here are the time requirements that we have experienced.

Congo African Grey – In comparison requires more companionship time the all the rest put together. This of course could be the spoiling effect as well. The African Grey is always active and always wants to be the center of attention primarily of my attention. He is a “Hold me Baby” and he could and often does perch on my shoulder all day long.Occasionally sleeping as I work on the computer.

Lilac Crown Amazon – Does like some quality time spent with my wife mainly but only for a couple of hours a day combined. He usually likes to pass the day napping and of course eating. Occasionally swinging on his swing and playing on top of his cage.

Pineapple & Fancy Green cheek Conure – These two are characters often prefer playing and sitting on top of cage. They do like to be held but not near as much as the African Grey or the Amazon. They are perfectly happy sitting on the cage snuggling and preening each other.

The above are examples of differences between species and the time requirements daily for having the most important relationship with your companion parrot.

Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9261382