Change is essential for your bird to accept it

Read in 18 minutes

Editor’s note: you will read these words later in the post:

Hi Catherine.  Peaches has always been in my small bird room with the cockatiels, lovebirds, meyers, quakers, conures and a very skittish white capped pionus I adopted last year.  It’s been a long road to get her to accept me.  Peaches doesn’t like to be near (within 2  feet) of other birds.

Otherwise she tolerates them so I am sure she is loving all the attention Mitch is giving her.  She was out of her cage (24 X 22) morning and afternoon for a total of two hours.  She also enjoyed being on the jungle gym in the kitchen area.  I have never used a water bottle with her.  She doesn’t throw food in her water.  Since I am home all day.  water dishes get changed twice a day if needed.

To be clear Peaches the Senegal parrot has been in the same room, in the same cage, with the same birds, interacting with the same woman – for about seven years.

A lovely couple traveled from the northern suburb to our humble shop today after having recently rescued an eight-year-old caique parrot.

We love caïques – they are known as the clowns of the parent world they are quite entertaining. Catherine my tagteamed the new bird owners for an hour or more learning much about each other’s birds and cage bird keeping strong and weak points.

It’s interesting to note that this couple also had three large dogs. A husky, a malamute and If I recall a Newfoundland (About a 150 pound dog)

I immediately asked the bird was clipped and what their intentions were about allowing the bird to be flighted. The response was that they intended to keep the bird clipped and somehow would magically ensure that approximately 300 pounds of dog would never interact With 150 g (about one third of a pound) bird.

The best defense that a bird has against any other animal house being a dog or a cat is the ability to fly away to safety.

A clipped bird in the house with other animals is not a good plan IMHO

We also talked about what they were doing to adapt the bird to the new household in general. They had the caïque for about 10 days and felt that they would give it time to “settle in”

So here’s the thing, the birds and parrots that we care for have a standing heart rate of around 200 bpm – that’s before flight

Feathered factoid: hummingbirds reach a heart rate of over 1200 bpm while hovering.

Animals with heart rates of 200 bpm never “settle in” which is why they require birdcages. They will never curl up like a dog in a dog bed in the corner of a room.

I’ve had dogs – I was a Musher in the 70s – I worked three teams of sled dogs while showing our malamutes.

2 cockatiels in basket handle with puppies in basket

When you have a sled dog team be it three or seven dogs one of the worst scenarios is the towline gets tangled up. It’s impossible to untangle sled towline’s with gloves on. Dogs that have abruptly stopped and want to run – are not happy.

This means that they can get quite aggressive. Getting bit on a gloveless hand in subzero temperatures is incredibly painful. I know this from experience.

This is where I learned that without absolute control over the animal(s). You and or the animal will always conceivably suffer pain in an emergency situation.

Another notable statement by the couple would rescued the caique was that there veterinarian advised them not to let the bird go near their 3 parakeets because if the got on the cage it could bite their feet.

So here I go again with absolutely no college degree bashing veterinarians by asking the question rhetorically – if all veterinarians can accurately predict the behavior of parrots why are bird rescues so full?


Here’s a video I put together for all of you who feel that insulating your bird or parent from change is simply not a good plan.


Deal with the bird on your terms not the birds term. Do not let the animal dictate how it’s to be treated. Think about that.

Editor’s note: the following is a thread between Catherine, me and Pat who operated the rescue that Peaches the Senegal parrot came from.

Hi Pat

As usual it’s been crazy around here but I wanted to give you a personal update. Peaches is the best bird ever.

She has clearly bonded with me she will do anything that I ask – she is lunged at Catherine and bit her a couple of times. We will be changing that with clicker training which we began this evening.

She defines the term Velcro bird. When I opened the door to her cage in the morning she does not come out she waits for my hand to come in to grab her which I’ve stopped doing

We normally go to our place in Indiana on the weekends but we stayed home the last weekend to ensure that we didn’t traumatize her. She’ll be fine. She’s already been there to travel cage and we have a beautiful all aluminum Hoie cage that she’ll be happy and in front of a 6 foot patio door looking upon a dozen bird feeders.

button find birdt raning supplies here

We have several play stands and a nice cage in the apartment. Yesterday I brought her into the shower with me. I placed her in the palm of my hand and she let the water rain down upon her.

Editors note: I wore a t-shirt in case she panicked and jumped on my shoulder.

When she started to crawl up my arm I knew she had enough I put her in the cage with the cage heater in the thermal perch – she was fine.

She seems to be preening more now  as well.

Today she got the full Monty. Because she is not flighted I put on a T-shirt grabber from the cage and put her on my shoulder. She is a back rider not a shoulder rider.

We went into my bedroom and made up the bed with a lot of heavy pillow fluffing then we went into Catherine’s room where we made up her bed with more pillow, sheet and blanket fluffing,

As part of my normal routine after making up Catherine’s bed I do 100 push-ups which peaches was not too certain about but she hung on and watched us in the mirror.

I that went into the bathroom to take a shower. Because of her lack of flight I didn’t want to put her on the shower rod and have her possibly fall off so I try to put her on the edge of the tub and she would have nothing to do with the porcelain.

I grabbed a small training stand and put it on a stool in the bathroom while I showered and let her watch me groom myself.

We did some domestic chores around the house including vacuuming and dishes. She is getting used to all of the strange noises and activities.

I’ve decided to migrate from the home office back to our shop office. Late in the afternoon today we cleaned up Popcorn’s old “shop” cage and installed it back in the shop. I went home and got Peaches and brought her into the shop and installed her in the new shop cage.

She took everything in stride and much like most birds I think she was just happy to be with us.

She likes swings and she doesn’t care if it’s her old swing or new swing.

She’s a great eater and a great drinker – Loves her scritches as you well know and has instantly become a perfect addition to this household

I’m still trying to convince bacon and eggs that I am not the chainsaw murderer they think I am so I walk over to their cage with peaches on my hand on my shoulder and we have our daily standoff.

The boys worry about that I’m going to attack them with swords and all sorts of media evil weapons while Peaches doesn’t seem to be concerned with the two of them at all. 

We need to work on the socialization – all in due time. Will send you some images of her in Indiana this weekend I just wanted you to know she is quite happy, we are quite happy and we are very sure this relationship work out till the end of time

I am so happy to hear it is going well.  Often times, when a bird has been rehomed for a week or so their temperament can change.  They figure out they are not returning to their former home and tend to be little brats hoping you will give up and return them.

I must say I am surprised she took so quickly to Mitch.  I have been the primary caretaker for Peaches so she did not have a male influence in her life.  When rehoming any bird, people will ask “does the bird prefer men or women?”  My answer is “the bird will let you know”.  I truly believe birds will choose their “human” to love.

That is great that you will be at the store more.  You will find (as you have already) that Peaches is very easy going and will adapt to any situation or environment.

Perhaps Catherine can interact with Peaches throughout the day to better help socialize her.  Clicker training should also be helpful.

I think the keets may be afraid of Peaches because she is so much bigger.  You should be able to handle the baby parakeet without biting.  I had him perching on my finger.  He is so sweet.

Thanks so much for the update.  I am looking forward to hearing how the weekend goes at the cabin.

Take care.



That is all good to hear. She ignores the budgies just fine, glad to hear she was fine with other birds in some situations. Mitch found out that she did not recognize herself in the mirror and attacked it. He got her away from it and won’t put her there again. Poor Peaches, it is hard when they don’t recognize themselves as birds. We will work around that. Mitch has already started clicker training.

The cage size is about what she has now at home, the one in the shop is the same dims but taller. The lower space is really a waste, no birds use it, but we had it in the store on display and when Popcorn came around, it became her cage while still on display. It is back in the same spot again but with Peaches now when he comes into the shop.The cage at our weekend place is also 24 x 20 or so.

I don’t use a water bottle currently either. When I had about 15 cages of breeding birds (lovebirds, finches) I used them and loved them. Mitch changes the water 2-3 times a day and there is a cup cover on the cage that prevents poop from hitting the dish from the bird sitting on top of the cage.


The cookables at the store are not very veggie, they are what I would call birdie oatmeal. They are made by Higgins, Roudybush, Crazycorn, etc. Sunshine my ringneck liked that stuff, Popcorn did not. It is just something else to offer variety. Mitch has been bringing her to the table stand when we have dinner and we give her a little dish with a bit of what we are having. Salad, veggies, a bean, a bit of chicken, etc. She just tastes a bit, she does not seem to be a real foodie.

She is definitely a real parrot in how she eats. Meaning that she picks up a piece, takes a bite or two, then drops it, then takes another, a bite, then drops it. LOL. I have mainly had ringnecks, cockatiels, lovebirds, red rumps, finches, a load of grass parakeets and 35 years ago 2 moluccan cockatoos for a short time with my ex husband. They were too much bird for me and we sold them. I always liked my birds small and manageable. The big birds scare me, I have been bitten really badly by a Scarlet Macaw who never should have been on display and I respect the beak. I want the best for all of them, but I know my limitations.

I still have faith that Peaches will accept me in time, treats are good right now. She in close proximity much of the day. I always liked our birds to be able to see us in our main space. The cage is well located for that. I will keep you up to date on how it is going it has only been about 8 days, wow. So much has happened.

So you have any finches? I have bunch of bags of good finch food just going out of code. I can give them to Carmel then next time she pops in. Plus some other stuff in the fridge.

Hi Catherine.  Peaches has always been in my small bird room with the cockatiels, lovebirds, meyers, quakers, conures and a very skittish white capped pionus I adopted last year.  It’s been a long road to get her to accept me.  

Peaches doesn’t like to be near (within 2  feet) of other birds.  Otherwise she tolerates them so I am sure she is loving all the attention Mitch is giving her.  She was out of her cage (24 X 22) morning and afternoon for a total of two hours.  She also enjoyed being on the jungle gym in the kitchen area.  I have never used a water bottle with her.  She doesn’t throw food in her water.  Since I am home all day.  water dishes get changed twice a day if needed.

I have used those pre-packaged foods that you soak and cook but now I make fresh vegetable mix (from the list I gave you).  I make a large batch one day a week and then freeze portion size in bags.  I add fresh green lettuce daily because it gets too soggy if your freeze it.

You and Mitch are doing everything right for Peaches.  I’m sure soon she will accept you as her friend.  Continue hand feeding her treats and talking softly to her.

I wish a lot more of my adopters were as conscientious as you are about the care of a bird.  I have 5 or 6 birds just like Peaches (different breeds) who desperately need a home also.  

Keep up the good work.  It will pay off.


Dear Pat

Good to hear from you so soon. Peaches looks like she will be fine with us. Mitch dotes on her from morning to her bed time. She may be getting spoiled.

He is looking forward to when her wings grow in and is working now to show her, her landing areas. When he takes her into the kitchen there is a stand set up on the table. That is where she can do what she likes.

In the living room, besides her cage we have a nice old willow table stand that I have had for literally 30 years, still in fine shape, bark and all. It is on the coffee table and she is there now, placed by Mitch. She is flanked by a toy on either end, but she is preening currently.

Not finding her playing with anything really, but she has given things a good look over. She does like a pine slice toy I brought for her so that is something. Of course she rocks on her swing every evening. LOL.

Her voice has ranged from very soft to a forceful single note chirp that carried 2 rooms away. It was very cute to hear her loud call. She is a fine apartment bird.

She shows no fear of anything, she went right into our carrier, no hesitation, then out and on Mitch’s back while he set up the store cage for her. Mitch put in a nice sisal rope ring swing in it and she has been digging it. A little boy in the store today watched her and was very happy.

We will be taking her with us this weekend. The cage there already is set up and has a nice Booda rope swing too. We will leave after work Friday, travel 2 hours and we have heat, water and electric all set and waiting for us. We go home on Sunday around noon.

Peaches and me. After she bit my knuckles hard and later bit my nose I admit I got spooked. I have tried not to act any differently and I greet her cheerfully all the time. I decided to not reach out to her for awhile so maybe she will forget it all and we can start fresh. She has taken a bit of food from me yesterday so I think we are on the right track. She is only a few feet away from me right now and she is doing fine while I work. Mitch is at his desk and also only about 6 feet awayThe keets.

Bacon is so skittish that any approach to the cage makes him flutter and thus Eggs flutters copying Bacon’s fear. It is counterproductive in getting Eggs out without flipping him out in the process. Mitch is trying to get them, (Bacon) used to him coming up to the cage but it is slow going.

Eggs is not happy to be flightless and bounces around the cage a lot. I hope he molts soon. Bacon was clipped not that long ago but has a few new wing feathers already and is very strong and can flit around the cage, making poor Eggs unhappy. But he eventually gets up to the top perches.

Pat, I know you have many birds and Peaches did not like them. She was in another part of the house? She spent a lot of time in her cage. You said she had out of the cage time, Mornings? Evenings? How long?  Did she live in more than one size cage? What sizes were they? I have no issue with any of it, I just am trying to understand how she has lived for her life so I can respond accordingly and make sure her home is set up right. Has she ever used a water bottle? Has she has any cooked foods? Crazy Corn, etc. There are a lot off them available in pasta, grain, rice, etc. Corn on the cob?

Okay, I have asked enough for today. LOL.

your zygodactyl foot 


Don’t tell your bird she’s eating pellets so she can eat her pellets

Read in 5 minutes

Bird food pellets developed in the late 20th century have been a definite boon to avian nutrition. They offer a fully engineered diet that can be life-sustaining for most birds over decades.

Bird food pellets offer the lowest cost per pound/calorie of any food as well as the least mess.

The flip side of that is we tell people there are no pellet trees in the rain forest so pellets can be counterintuitive to a bird. They lack the many textures and flavors that seeds nuts fruits and vegetables offer.

Feathered factoid: humans have about 9000 taste buds – birds have 350.

Avian veterinarians universally recommend pellet bird food for health maintenance. Unfortunately the birds don’t always get the memo.

There are number of ways to convert birds to a pellet diet which we’re not getting get into here because we have what we think is one of the simplest techniques for getting most any bird to eat pellet bird food on a regular basis.

We start with Higgins Safflower Gold



which has a bunch of Higgins InTune Pellets. (the stuff really smells good too!) hidden betwixt the seeds, fruits and between the nuts and veggies all of which are human grade.close up of higgins intine natural bird food pellets

and this is what Higgins Safflower Gold and InTune pellets look from a bird’s point of view – in a video.

Editor’s note: yes I do in fact get paid to record parrots walk over err eat bird food.

Just don’t tell the bird she’s eating pellets

Higgins Safflower Gold Parrot Size No Sunflower Ingredient Panel and Information

Safflower Gold is now Natural with added vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Safflower Gold has no sunflower seeds and uses premium gourmet ingredients that are free of artificial colors and preservatives.

DHA and balanced Omega-3 fatty acids are added to support the immune system as well as encapsulated probiotics, ensuring a higher level of active in beneficial microorganisms for a healthier digestive system.

  • Vitaminized And Well Balanced – We use fresh clean seeds and grains for high palatability and our unique pasteurization to ensure that all Hookbills receive a nutritional, well balanced diet for their maintenance and longevity.
  • Real Fruits And Nuts – In our Safflower Gold they are a real pleaser. Safflower Gold contains a wide variety of human edible grade dried fruits and vegetables, nuts, pellets and crunchy biscuits.
  • Beautifully Packaged -Available in eye appealing factory sealed bags using our Air Out nitrogen flushed bags.
  • Safflower Gold Large – Suitable for Parrots, Cockatoos, Amazons, Macaws, etc
Human Grade Ingredients to satisfy your birds’ needs First Crop Seeds and Grains to insure its the freshest on the market Quadruple Air-Cleaned Ingredients to reduce the particles that can cause respiratory problems Array of Dried Tropical Fruits, Vegetables and Nuts that you can actually see in the mix and not just listed on the package.
Select Seed Embryos Pasteurized in Water Soluble Vitamins to insure your bird is not discarding valuable nutrients Naturally Preserved with Vitamin C to be free of controversial artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin All Perishable Products are Cold Stored to insure freshness. All Products are Coded with a “Best Use By” Date to insure that the consumer is getting the freshest food possible 100% Natural Citrus Extract to add a pleasing aroma for your pet and you.
Ingredients: Safflower, Corn, Whole Oats, Buckwheat, Red Milo, Wheat, Bean Flakes, Bean Flakes, Pea Flakes, Peanuts, Lentil Beans, Carrot Flakes, Petwheat, Raisins, Banana chips, Almonds, Cashews, Pistachios, Pumpkin Seeds, Red Peppers, Papaya Dices, Pineapple Dices, Ground Yellow Corn, Cane Sugar, Canola Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols – a source of Vitamin E) Dicalcium Phosphate, Dried Egg Product, Flaxseed, Calcium Carbonate, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Sea salt, Cranberries, Apples, Blueb

, Menadione Sodium Bisulfie complex (a source of Vitamin K activity), Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Carbonate, Vitamin B 12 supplement, Turmeric, Natural Annatto Coloring, Beet Juice, Natural Citrus Flavor, Natural Banana Flavor, Natural Pineapple Flavor, Dried Enterococcus, Faecium
Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus, Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei fermentation product.
Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min) 11% | Crude Fat (min) 16% |Crude Fiber (Max) 10.50% | Moisture (Max) 10.50% | Omega 3 Fatty acids .40% | DHA (Docosahexaenoic) .0035% | L-Carnitine (min) 25 mg/Kg | Total Lactic acid bacteria (min) (Enterococcus, Lactobacillus, Lactobacillus casie) 2×10(5) cfy/g

erries, Celery, Beets, Parsley, Lettuce, Spinach, Watercress, Brewers Dried Yeast, DL-Methionine, L- lysine, Choline Chloride, Algea Meal, Mixed Tocopherols (a natural preservative), Rosemary Extract, Potassium Chloride, Yeast Extract, Iron Oxide, L-carnitine, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 supplement, Vitamin E supplement, L-Ascorbyl-polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C activity), Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Follic Acid, Biotin, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine, Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate


As with any bird food keep the dish filled 1/4 to 1/3 high so the bird doesn’t think food is abundant. They will be less likely to get picky and fling unwanted tidbits on to the cage or your floor.

Keep water fresh through out the day and feel free to share your human food.

A 60 second list of good & bad fruits for birds

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing
approved by nora caterino

your zygodactyl footnote

OH NO someone has stolen my parrots! SunDance, Pepper and 19 other parrots: missing!

Read in 17 minutes

My first medium sized parrot was a loving sun conure who spent all the years of her life with me. She chose me one day when I was in a pet shop when she was just weaned, about 8 weeks old.

Today I know I got her for the wrong reasons. I was fast learning a lot about my budgie Sydney and twice-found cockatiel Cocoa. After two cold winters in Denver, my husband and I were at last returning to Cape Canaveral for his job on the Space Shuttle. Before leaving Denver I said I wanted a bike for riding the beach and a parrot to ride with me. When SunDance picked me, little did I know she would have an absolute horror of bicycles. No matter how I worked with her, she never overcame this fear.

This is Oscar, the Double Yellow Head Amazonm happily riding with his human. 

wanted a mate. I decided to let her pick one and she chose a pretty male who was tame but supposedly not totally human imprinted and also supposedly knew how to eat all kinds of foods. We named him Pepper.

Well, he turned out to be totally human imprinted and only knew how to eat seed. SunDance fixed the food issue by showing him what was good, but no matter how she tried, she could not get him to become bonded enough to attempt mating, even though he had accepted a nest box after they began grooming and feeding each other. She would corner him, pressuring him to get on her back and he would simply step over her.

When she was about 15 years old, she had often made it very clear she

Conure Chick Hatching — what I had hoped for SunDance and Pepper

I was living in a condo 4 blocks from the Atlantic Ocean with my mother, who at this time was still in good health.  Across the street a man owned and preserved a natural Florida sand dune, only keeping the jungle away along the walking paths and aviaries where he kept many parrots including some conures. Many of his parrots were rescues and rehomes, ranging from conures to macaws, cockatoos, emus and geese.

One day while chatting along the street, I said to my neighbor jokingly, “I need a birdie porn video so Pepper can learn his part in the process. He just steps over her back and doesn’t get what he’s supposed to do.” My friend suggested I let him keep my conures in one of his outdoor aviaries beside his breeding conures for a few days since his birds were busily taking the proper actions to procreate. Pepper would see nature taking its course and hopefully get the right idea. I agreed as long as I could come feed them daily to be sure they had all their usual fresh foods. I also supplied my friend some extra fresh foods because it was quite expensive feeding a flock the size of his.

Parent Conures with tiny baby chick in lower left corner. 

SunDance and Pepper seemed to be enjoying their adventure in the outdoor aviary so I was willing to leave them for a week or two. The trees around the aviaries created natural rainforest-like canopies and each aviary had a roof over a portion of the top so the birds could bathe in the rain only if they wanted and have shade any time they wanted.

Memorial Day weekend was coming and I had told my boss at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in that Wednesday’s staff meeting that I would not take extra time off as many people do around a long holiday weekend. I had been off on medical leave for surgery earlier in the year. Also, I was working a project via phone, email and fax with a coworker who was temporarily working from California and our project was keeping him from his family; we wanted to finish it as soon as possible. My boss was one of those taking extra time so he designated an acting manager until his return after the holiday.

I came home from work that day and saw two police cars parked in the street, the officers talking to my neighbor — nothing unusual since he was well known in our community. I walked into the house and Mom said, “Get out there and talk to the cops; the birds have been stolen!” Needless to say, I raced outside to learn what was happening.

My neighbor’s fence had been cut, prickly Florida cactus cut down and 21 birds were missing including my two FIDs (feathered kids), several cockatoos, a large and several smaller macaws and other conures. I felt hopeless because I knew the chance of successfully locating our birds was slim.

I ran inside and called my ex-husband who had helped raise SunDance. He agreed to take the mainland pet shops since he lived in that area while I would work the barrier islands of Merritt Island and Cape Canaveral / Cocoa Beach.

Since it was not yet dark, I hit the streets on my bicycle immediately. I had always sung  a little song to SunDance based on “You Are My Sunshine” but changed to “you are my sunbird”. I sing very poorly and off-key but SunDance always snuggled up to me or danced when I sang to her.  I sang at the very top of my lungs, knowing that if SunDance could hear me, she would respond with her loudest shriek. No success.

I stopped and talked to everyone I encountered, many of whom were owners or former owners of birds of one sort or another. No clues except one lady said a kid had come by her house upon noticing a spare bird cage on her patio and asked if it was for sale. She didn’t know the kid, but thought him to be about 14-16 years old with brown hair. I report this progress to the police and they added it to their report. I also notified my neighbor. At least we had reason to believe the birds were in Cape Canaveral, a small town of about 10,000 residents and according to Wikipedia it is about 2.3 square miles in area.

 Cape Canaveral is so narrow that in many places it is only 5 short blocks wide bound by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and Banana River on the west

In some places Cape Canaveral is only five blocks wide with the Atlantic on the east and the Banana River on the west.

The next morning I made a dawn pass around town calling SunDance. I soon had to return home to call in to work.

In my office, I had no photos of Mom or me. I had amateur and professional photos of SunDance. Everyone knew about my love for birds and many people had purchased cockatiels or received parakeets from me when I had bred these species. The assigned acting manager wasn’t familiar with my passion for parrots, but when he asked when I expected to be in I told him my parrots had been stolen and I would not be in until either I located them or there was no hope of finding them.  

Soon after, my coworker temporarily on the West Coast to work our project called to find out why I wasn’t answering my phone. He knew all about my parrot passion so when he heard that my birds had been stolen, he said he’d jump on the next plane home until I returned because “she’s not coming in until she finds those birds or she knows they are dead”.

My neighbor tracked his Moluccan cockatoo down at the pet shop on the mainland. The shop owner told him that two teens had brought the bird into the store stuffed in a box and the bird was clearly about to expire from stress. Having already been notified of the stolen parrots, he gave the kids $200 to get them to leave the bird there but they wouldn’t give their names. He only bought the bird because he didn’t want it to die and immediately called my neighbor and the police.  Now we had a little more information, but not much.

My neighbor recalled allowing several older teens to tour his aviary a few weeks back. You really can’t see any parrots or the house from the street because of the natural jungle most people constantly fight in order to have nicely trimmed green lawns. He remembered a few first names but had no last names and no idea where the boys lived.

I continued my biking, calling and talking to everyone I saw. I ran into a few other people who had heard about some birds up for sale and we were able to determine a general area of four blocks where we believed the birds were located. Beachside housing is dense, so that still left a lot of homes, any of which might contain the birds.

The police had messed up one chance to catch the kids with birds when they made an appointment to show two birds to a beach pet shop. Law enforcement sent a marked car so the kids and birds never showed up! Of course, law enforcement really doesn’t place stolen pets very high on their list when there are violent crimes, missing children and major crimes to investigate. They told us getting a search warrant would be difficult even if we found our parrots and knew exactly where they were being kept.

My ex-husband and I had a long talk. Because I had a security clearance and government facility badge, I could not afford to be arrested. Policy was to take credentials immediately and ask questions later. However, I had enough money to hire an excellent attorney if needed. My ex had no clearance since he worked for himself in website design and computer repair. We decided that if we found the exact house and knew for certain the parrots were there, if we couldn’t obtain a search warrant, he would kick in the door, get the birds out to me or whoever was available and then be detained in county jail until I arranged bail. I’d pay for his attorney and we felt no jury would convict in such a situation. I’m glad we didn’t have to use this plan but it was comforting to know that he was willing to do whatever it took to get the parrots back.

SunDance absolutely loved my friend Susan. We decided that since I had been so high profile, she would canvas the neighborhood where we believed the parrots were, telling people she was visiting her cousin for the Memorial Day weekend and her kitten had gotten out of her cousin’s house. She actually stopped and bought a picture frame with a kitten picture in it as “evidence” since she had birds, not cats.

I quickly printed up flyers in huge letters that said only “Lost: Two Parrots, Large Reward” and my phone number. While Susan canvased the area, I posted fliers on every wooden post I could find along this 4 block area.

By the time Susan and I pulled back into my driveway, Mom was outside holding the cordless phone (yes, cell phones were a year or so away) telling me someone knew where the birds could be found.

A young man told me he knew exactly where the birds were and they were being kept in a dark closet with no food or water. It was already Day Two and birds can’t last long without water and food. We had to get our parrots out right away because as soon as the next day, they would begin to die.

The young man agreed to take Susan to the house and tell the kids she wanted to buy some birds. I gathered all the cash I could grab quickly which was a good amount between my emergency cash hidden at home and my ATM card. I asked her to at least get SunDance back, SunDance and Pepper if possible and as many of my neighbor’s birds as possible.

scarlet macaw parrot with dollar in beak


Cash to buy back my birds if necessary

My ex-husband had the house staked out and saw some kids leave with a large cooler, the kind you take soft drinks and beer to the beach in. Thinking they’d gotten into their parents’ beer and were stashing it at the beach for later that night, he didn’t think much of it. The last thing he thought was that the small cooler was stuffed with large and medium parrots. The teens and one guy over 21 realized that we were close to locating them so they wanted to get rid of the parrots quickly.

Susan and the young man arrived at the house just about 11:30 pm. They were allowed in but the kids told them that they’d let all the birds go on the beach just a short time earlier. If she wanted birds, she could have all she could catch.

Because we are near a port where many fish are caught and remains left in the trash cans, processing plants that drop seafood on the floor and have to dispose of it and many kind-hearted people, our population of feral cats was very larg and most of them roamed the beach at night. Susan was aware of this predator problem, knowing the cats would love to eat a few birds.

Susan ran as fast as she could to the beach. My ex joined her. Both called to SunDance who immediately ran to Susan and up to her shoulder. Pepper followed. Seeing safety from the beachside feral cats, the other unflighted birds joined in, climbing onto Susan until she was covered with parrots! The remaining parrots climbed onto my ex.

Four of the parrots were flighted and were never seen again. But of 21 stolen parrots, 17 returned to their homes safely. SunDance and Pepper climbed into their house and began to guzzle water. Once they were refreshed with water, they went to the food and ate and ate. They got treats and lots of love.

From that day forward, SunDance would not go near my neighbor’s jungle and would flap to the ground and begin walking toward home if I went too near the property. She and Pepper had been kept in a wooden box about the size of a small parakeet nest box with no light, food or water for nearly three days and clearly she remembered this horrible experience, associating it with the aviary from which she and Pepper had been removed and boxed up.

Later one of the deputies who had been involved in the case told me it was one of the best citizen investigations he’d ever encountered. Our safe parrots proved we’d done a lot of things right.

The young men were arrested, taken to court but since all but one  were juveniles, they were sentenced to  writing letters of apology to my neighbor and me and performing quite a few hours of community service while on probation for a year. Considering the total value of the parrots they had stolen, they got very light sentences. Hopefully they learned not to steal ever again.

Tips If Your Parrot is Stolen:

  1. Have a plan in advance so you don’t panic and waste time.
  2. Don’t expect the police to provide a great deal of help. Begin your own search.  Post on your local section of lost and found parrot websites. Someone may realize that a person with a new bird didn’t actually buy it.
  3. The main reason parrots are stolen is because people think they can easily sell them. Few people will buy birds from people who don’t know a lot about birds and have them in good housing situations. Alert all pet shops in your area and tell them you will reimburse if they have to pay to retrieve your bird. Often the parrots are offered at either unusually low or unusually high prices and pet shop will recognize this discrepancy.
  4. Provide pictures of your parrot to pet shops, the police and any well-known parrot owners in the area.
  5. Ask everyone you see and can talk to about anyone having mentioned a parrot or parrots for sale. Ask them to spread the word to others.
  6. Don’t post fliers that say the birds are stolen, people may fear reporting facts if you do. Instead, remain vague with something like my fliers and be sure to stress a large reward but don’t post an amount. Include a photo if you wish, just as if the bird were truly just lost.
  7. Use any and all tips to narrow the area of your search.
  8. Use any excuse to knock on doors in the search area or have a friend the bird loves and will call to help canvas so and hope to hear a response from the parrot on hearing your voice or your friend’s voice.
  9. Don’t give up. It took us nearly three days of coordinated team work but we retrieved all but the flighted parrots safely.
  10. Mentally prepare yourself for the possibility that you may never find the parrot if it is taken out of the area. It is sad but true that some stolen birds are never located. As soon as technology provides us with GPS microchips to locate our parrots, have one implanted so you can easily locate your stolen bird. Even with non-GPS chips, have one implanted so you can prove ownership of the bird if recovered.

Of course, this happened because the birds were in outdoor aviaries. I’d had an outdoor aviary before and never had a problem. My neighbor had kept parrots for over 35 years on his property without a theft, even though he allowed many people to tour his property and talked to them about conserving Florida’s natural lands as well as his love of parrots.

I know people who have had their homes broken into to steal a large parrot. So any parrot is at risk because neighbors will know you own a bird from the sounds. In good weather I also like to have my parrots outdoors at least 20 minutes per day because this allows them to produce natural Vitamin D. I have special window locks on the windows of my apartment so no one can easily open a window and grab my birds, electronics or other things that matter to me. 

written by nora caterino
approved by mitch rezman

Hurricane Matthew: Nora and Timmy Prepare for Worst, Hope for Best

Read in 8 minutes

It’s been a quiet summer as far as the Atlantic Ocean storms go — but now in early fall the hurricane season continues until the ocean water cools significantly. Now it looks as if the US East Coast, Florida especially, will be another target along the path of Hurricane Matthew, the strongest hurricane for the longest period of time in a decade.

Wild Parrots in Florida, probably Hurricane Andrew survivors or their offspring, enjoying an outdoor bird feeding station

As a long-time Florida resident, I’ve seen a lot of hurricanes develop and have followed those nearby closely. Never had I checked the storm updates in the morning to learn that a tropical storm had become a Category 1 hurricane and checked back less than 12 hours later to find it had become a huge, raging Category 5 hurricane. That is exactly how Saturday, October 1, developed this year. Hurricane Matthew was still south of Jamaica and soon experienced wind reductions qualifying it for a Category 4, but Category 5 hurricanes are those like Camille in the 1960s and Andrew in the 1990s — deadly, devastating storms requiring months, even years of recovery and rebuilding.

I began early hurricane preparations because predictions showed scenarios where Matthew would either slide up the East Coast from Miami to the Carolinas, with the eye wall never making landfall or a direct landfall somewhere between Miami and Maine but with South Carolina appearing likely. Being a optimistic pessimist, better to start getting ready than to wait until the last moment.

When I did grocery shopping I picked up extra batteries, some large tall candles in glass containers (the glass keeps the wind from blowing out the flame) a few extra cans of tuna and chicken as well as other staples that can be consumed without heat and few or no any sides (baked beans, ramen noodles that can soak in water and soften, peanut butter and crackers), fresh and small cans of fruit that don’t require cooling for both my Timneh African Grey named Timmy and human use.


I’d just stocked up on a new supply of Living World seed parrot food, but had I not done so I would have stocked up on that, too. I also checked that there were sufficient supplements of AviTech’s AviVita Plus Multivitamin to ensure Timmy has a balanced diet and AviTech’s AviCalm so that Timmy would be less stressed should his house need to be moved into the central part of the apartment. He seems to be fearful of thunderstorms so I’m sure the hurricane will cause him stress. In fact, at the first hint that the hurricane would definitely impact us, I started him on low doses of AviCalm to prepare him for the scary storm. If he showed signs of stress, I would increase his dosage.
Button_AvitechButton_Avitech Button_shop-sups

History Lesson: When Hurricane Andrew wiped out South Miami and its southern suburbs all the way south to Homestead Air Force Base, many people had to leave their parrots or other pets in their homes or aviaries while many others refused to evacuate because of not being able to take their pets.The total destruction resulted in many parrots escaping as their homes were destroyed.

The same happened during Hurricane Katrina with one breeding pair of macaws found alive and hungry, after days of floating in their plastic 55 gallon drum nest box. In both of these cases and many other mandatory evacuations many people refused to leave their homes because they could not take their pets to safety, increasing the total human and animal death toll.

These horrible tragedies resulted in legislation both federal and additional laws in most states stating that shelters for animals must be made available during hurricanes and similar natural disasters.  According to, “In 2006, the federal Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act (42 U.S.C.A. § 5196a-d (2006)) was passed. PETS directs the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to develop emergency preparedness plans and ensure that state and local emergency plans take into account the needs of individuals with pets and service animals during a major disaster or emergency.” The video below shows what happens when pets were not considered in evacuation plans in sub-tropical Florida all the way to Maine. End History Lesson.

Wild Parrots in Miami Cling to Office Building Seeking Shelter from Wind/Rain, most likely survivors from aviary or home hurricane damages in previous years

On Tuesday, October 4, Florida Governor Rick Scott tweeted the message below and contacted the US President to enlist help from FEMA, the National Guard and many other resources so that help would be available immediately to devastated and damaged areas after Hurricane Matthew passes. This crucial step was not perform by the governor of Louisiana, causing help to be long in coming for evacuees of Katrina who lost everything they owned.

Also on Tuesday, vendors located in Florida that do business with Windy City Parrot (WCP) notified WCP that any orders had to be in early so they could be shipped by Wednesday noon since they expected to have to close for the hurricane. By Wednesday night the south Florida areas were beginning to feel the outer bands of the hurricane and soon hurricane force winds hit the southernmost portion of the state. 

Wednesday morning, October 5, I returned to the store to try to obtain more candles, additional bottles of water and more food that required little or no preparation. My roommate and I had a long discussion, both of us seasoned hurricane survivors. We decided to remain in our sturdy concrete block constructed apartment. This building has withstood years of storms, including repeated direct landfalls of Category 3 and 4 hurricanes. I would not recommend to anyone else that they stay, yet many in our apartment complex planned to remain here.

I checked our emergency kit, made sure we had prescription medications as well as commonly needed over the counter products such as alcohol and peroxide, bandaids, gauze left over from my roomie’s leg amputation, medical tape, OTC pain relievers, allergy products and antibiotic ointment. These items were placed in a small piece of luggage and labeled.

Timmy’s evac kit was check to be sure product use-by dates were current. I packed all the vitamins and supplements. Some of these are special need products and if I do not need them I could share with other parrot parents in need after the storm passes.  I added paper towels, terrycloth towels, extra dishes, all his monthly supply of food, toothpicks (emergency splints) and self adhesive tape that requires no clips or adhesive. Of course I could have simply purchased the complete first aid kit rather than building my own.

On Wednesday, Port Canaveral, just two miles north of our apartment, shut down all operations at 12 noon, both on land and on the water. Waterfront restaurants closed, portside businesses of all kinds had to close and all ships from the largest cruise ship to small recreational boats and everything in between had to be in safe haven to ride out the storm because no ship could leave or enter the port. This happening this early assured me the storm was pretty bad and was likely to do damage here, even if the eye didn’t pass over us.

Having decided to stay here for this storm, we were hoping and praying the storm eyewall continued to remain offshore so that only the bands of wind and rain would hit us. But we knew we were prepared and from the best weather reporters we knew to expect 70 to 140 mph sustained wind speeds with even stronger gusts. 

During the night the winds got higher and higher with really strong gusts, near 120 mph at least and sustained winds were 80-100 mph. The rain became torrential, pounding our windows with sounds that made me feel as if the glass would surely break. But nothing resulted in any glass breakage, at least not in our apartment.

The storm continued until around 10 am Friday morning when it began to ease slowly. By Friday evening all that remained was a slight drizzle and grey skies. 

Saturday dawned bright and sunny. We surveyed the complex to see metal carports twisted like straws everywhere, a few cars damaged, some broken windows and many people without electric service. Some who had electric did not have internet or cell phone service.  But we felt really grateful that all the people, pets, as well as me, my roommate and my parrot Timmy were just fine through it all. 

No matter what the potential disaster, always be prepared before disaster strikes and check your level of preparedness as soon as you become aware of possible danger with evacuation cages your birds are accustomed to and have practiced going in and out of, food, other supplies and all the basics for you and your parrot to survive for a week or more. Prepare for the worst but pray for the best. We were fortunate that our situation proved to be far from the worst even though it wasn’t the best. 

written by nora caterino
approved by mitch rezman

Should I get my companion sun conure a buddy?

Read in 10 minutes


October 12
From Veronica

Hello again. We have chatted before. thanks for previous advice. We have a one year old female sun conure and we are thinking about getting her a buddy. Perhaps a male sun (red factor) or just another parrot critter. If we chose another species, what would you suggest as a good companion for her, not including parakeets for cockatiels?


Hi Veronica and thanks for asking Windy City Parrot for advice on your situation.

I am sort of the sun conure expert around here I guess, having owned 3 personally at various times in my life. My first I bought as a baby, just  weaned. The second a lady gave me as a young bird but she passed away in a very unfortunate accident and the third I did the final hand feeding only to have him fall in love with my boyfriend so, when we split up, I let the sun conure stay with the ex  because Mango would have missed him so terribly and I had to think of what was best for the bird.

I have to ask you a couple of questions and once I have the answers I will be able to provide more advice (so please get back to me on it): WHY do you want to get your female sun a buddy? And is your female  sun DNA sexed to be sure she really is a she? Okok, I’m going for 4 questions: Do you plan to house them in the same cage? And why do you rule out parakeets?

I’m going to answer your question from personal experience. When my first sun conure, SunDance, was 10+ years old she made it perfectly clear she wanted a mate. So we let her choose one.

My elderly mom and I shared a condo that was all-tile flooring, but had plenty furniture and wall decor in the great room where SunDance had her house (read cage if you prefer). We had area rugs on the floor and the neighbors never heard any real noise from her unless they were outdoors. She was not a screamer, just the usual morning welcome calls, goodbye screech when she we told her “bye, we’ll be back soon”, and hello calls plus the normal conure screams of fear from lawnmowers, hawk-like birds or shadows, flashing lights, etc., and an occasional contact call which, if answered, ended the calling. She was quiet for a sun conure. We were very happy with her noise level and so were our neighbors and friends.

So, since she wanted a partner/mate, I decided to let her choose one. She did. Now we had two sun conures making all the above normal calls each BUT we also had the contact calls between the two, even after the quarantine period and they lived in the same huge cage.

You have no idea how loud two sun conures calling in unison or to each other can be. Suddenly it seemed the very earth echoed every call. And when bonded birds, even if not mated, make contact calls it tends to go like this: she calls, he answers, she answers, he answers ad nauseam ad deafness….you get idea. Suddenly it was nerve wrecking.

That is one issue with adding either same gender or a pair of sun conures inside a home. You’ll read more about these two in a future Birdie Brunch post. But the point is, one bird makes some noise, the other bird makes some noise but in this situation 1 plus 1 can equal 12+ in the noise increase!! Not to mention there was twice as much mess to clean up, but if that were the only issue, things would have been happy.

Eventually because the two did not mate (I didn’t know at that early state of parrot learning that breeding wasn’t a great idea anyway) and the noise was making mother and I want to run away from home, we were forced to rehome the male. Had they been forced to live in two cages I think the noise would have been much worse.

Screaming Conure

Secondly, if you place a male and female of the same species or ones close enough to mate successfully together and they bond, nature (in most cases, not in my two) takes it’s natural course and you can end up with babies.

There are far, far too many unwanted sun conures in rescues to add more babies into the world unless they are of very special gene pools, strong ones and both birds have had an absolutely perfect diet and exercise program all their lives — plus their ancestors had to have had the same. Otherwise you could end up with bad natured babies, or chronic egg laying, or in the worst case an egg bound hen that you don’t get help for in time and you lose your beloved friend.

Avian Vet Saves Egg Bound Hen

Even if you got a second parrot of the same gender or a totally different species that would adapt and be friends with your sun conure so there would be no babies, hormones could still result in eggs and potential egg binding.

Thirdly, conures like most parrots are flock animals. Right now your young sun is precious and cute and probably interacts with you all the time when you are home. This is because a single tame companion parrot accepts the humans in the household as its artificial flock, eating when they do, wanting to be with the family, wanting to be loved, tickled and given attention, and generally with conures and suns especially, cuddled and snuggled with. When you add another parrot of similar size, even if not of the same species, to the mix, your beloved companion may have no need of you as a flock member, becoming untamed and wanting little or nothing to do with you.

Image result for bonded sun conure

These two conures create their own flock and don’t need a human flock

If you fear your bird is lonely during the times of day that perhaps you have to work outside the home, if you have provided a rich cage environment with lots of chewing, foraging, perches of different textures and sizes including soft perches, climbing and challenging toys, a place for privacy and lots of interesting foods, the  bird will be happy enough while you are away as long as you spend QUALITY out of cage time with her when you get home. For more info on these issues, please read blog post and “The Cage Canopy Concept”. Many companion birds sleep a lot of the time their humans are away, eating, playing then napping for quite a while, and repeat. Unless you are away a great deal, say sunup to darkness 6 days or more per week and busy most evenings so that you can’t give your bird quality time with you, the bird is happy enough as a single parrot. Please excuse any missing images, videos or links in the referred blog posts as we are still putting the final paint and polish in some places from our recent website redesign and migration. We kindly ask that you bear with us.

Baby Conure Playing With Toys

I actually twice have had a sun conure voluntarily allow a parakeet to move in with the bigger bird and live happily together. They didn’t play together a lot, but they got along well and clearly wanted to reside together since in both cases each bird had its own perfect cage with everything it could want. Keets are so tenacious they simply won’t allow a sun conure, usually a rather ‘fraidy bird’ personality type, to hurt them or run them over. Of course I did supervise quite a while before I allowed this situation to be the norm to ensure no harm to either bird.

But if you can provide your young sun conure with quality out of cage time with the human family on a daily basis — QUALITY being the key word rather than length actual number of hours — you will probably be happiest with one tame, snuggly loving sun conure.

Instead of spending a lot of money on a additional living creature that may make things LESS perfect rather than more perfect, why not get lots of toys, interesting ways to serve food like kabobs, foraging opportunities, and puzzles (most conures love puzzles, untying knots, challenges) so that when your bird has to be in its cage it is happy, entertained when not napping, and will be thrilled when you do arrive home and include her in your daily life.

Conure solves puzzle toy

Change toys often except for one or two favorites that can be moved (and her bed if she uses one), rearrange, reintroduce, buy a play stand or cage for every room where the bird may be with you, and the best food (and supplements if a seed diet is used but not needed if top-quality pellets are fed) and treats as well as healthy human foods.

And don’t forget the yearly well-bird checkups with the best avian vet in your area so you have a relationship and records should illness or accident (or the aforementioned egg binding) strike.

Check supplies of every type suitable for a conure,  health, first aid, grooming and similar needs,  stands for placing in other rooms or areas where you spend time with your bird, and habitat enrichment. Also if you wish to keep her flighted, a harness or flight suit is ideal so she can go outdoors for healthy air and sunlight while watching that she doesn’t get too hot or cold.

Warm Snuggle Hut for Birds Medium GreenMango in Snuggle Hut Birdie Tent at Bedtime

Notice in the habitat area that the bird in the “bedtime” subcategory is a sun conure and at the bottom of the page is the story of my Mango getting a new Snuggle Hut. These birds seem to have a need to hide when sleeping, at least in my experience, though a privacy area can work if you don’t like the idea of a bed. Oh, and just in case something got missed in our recent move, but sure to go through toys, especially preening/foraging and interactive ones and food sections.

Find All Birdie Bed Time Products HereHow Do Birds Sleep Standing On 1 Leg

If you have further questions or if I can help in any way, please just contact me. After all, it’s all about birds and  We Speak Bird!

written by nora caterino
approved by mitch rezman

(*´∀`)ノ Holy crap we just rescued 2 more birds ヽ(゚〇゚)ノ

Read in 20 minutes

File under: riding the cosmic coaster

About a month after Popcorn had passed Catherine and I made big plans to get a new bird after we launched the new Windy City Parrot. I casually mentioned that I was thinking of an African bird like a Senegal.

Sometimes when we get deliveries of bird food a bag is broken or torn and cannot be sold as new. We get credit for that bag and we store them in a refrigerator in the back of the store. We give these bags to our local customers as it is too expense to ship them.

A couple weeks ago Catherine casually mentioned that we were ready to begin a serious search for a new bird.

Carmel, a very good customer of ours was in the Birdie Boutique one day. We give her a lot of the food because we know she passes it on to a local rescue run by a woman we found was named Pat.

Turns out we knew Pat from the bird fairs years back when we were vending at the bird clubs and events.

Peaches, a Senegal parrot, clearly did not like all the other birds in Pat’s rescue. Senegals tend to be quiet.

At the same time we had made a decision to get Bacon, our newly rescued budgie a cage mate because he was clearly unhappy alone and we knew it would take a long time to socialize him. What the heck – we asked Pat if she also had a budgie she could spare.

Cosmos speaking to us -> the day after Peaches came into our lives, I had to do some banking in our new bank. We set up some new accounts and I really hadn’t paid attention to how money was coming and going.

Funny story – one of the accounts that I expected to have $10 had $954. Some dumb credit card processing center had somehow sent this money to the wrong account which I had been chasing for two weeks and was getting nowhere.

Thank you Peaches <- THERE’S YOUR SIGN

The video explains it all.

the digital journey

Subject: Senegal

Dear Pat, It was good to talk to you again. Time flies by so fast. Yes, Mitch and I are looking for a new forever bird. We had Sunshine, our Indian Ringneck, for many years until he passed. I bought him at a GCCBC bird fair about 30 years ago.

Then we went a couple of years bird-less until Popcorn flew into our lives; she was a great little girl. Sadly we lost her to her hormones and most likely cancer. I wish we knew then what we know now.

We were able to stop her hormonal behavior with the 72 hour light cycle we put her through, but by then it was too late. We have had others try it on their own birds and it works.

We currently have a tiny male parakeet foundling who is not tame and does not want to be from what we can see so we are going to get it a buddy in a week or so as we are waiting 30 days to see if the owner shows up.

We would love to see the Senegal you were talking about. Please send me any information, regarding a rescue. We have never adopted before, but we want to have an older bird, not a baby at this point in our lives.

Dear Pat, Thank you for the pictures of Mishu. She looks cute. Does not look mean, LOL, but has a look like “what are you doing?” Is she flighted? We do believe in allowing a bird to fly but also know a bird in a new environment can fly right into danger.

We would clip once, so she would not be able to harm herself. Then when the feathers grow back, she would have full flight available forever. When we brought Popcorn home she had to be clipped as she was just so confused and within a month had molted and grown new feathers; that was great.

Mitch works at home most of the time so he is able to allow the bird to be out. Every room has a stand as we feel if a bird lands on something and destroys it, it is not their fault if we have not provided a stand for it.

We never allow them to fly around other rooms unless we are with them. We have a lot of doors that can be closed keeping the bird in the same room we are. I don’t know if you have seen our BLOG or are signed up for it, but seeing it would show you what sticklers we are at bird care.

senegal parrot on back i womans hand with bracelet on wrist

Windy City Parrot's Blog Home Page

Hi Catherine.  I am a caregiver for my elderly mother so weeknights will not work for me.  I can bring her to you maybe Thursday or Friday this week.  We will start off with a foster contract to see how it goes for a month.

I typically do a home inspection but not necessary for you.  Her name is Mishu which was given to her by a former owner.  He purchased her from a Rolling Meadows bird show breeder.  I was there the day he got her so I know she is six years old.  

This was the son of a good friend of mine who was living with a girlfriend.  When he got home she was furious about bringing the bird home.  Told him “it is me or the bird”.  

So I have had her her whole life.  I’m sad that I am offering her a new home but know you will give her the best home possible.  I have been her only human interaction so I am not sure if she will warm up to Mitch. All I can suggest is give her time.

Let me know if and when I can drop her off to you.  I assume you will use Popcorn ‘s cage for her.

Dear Pat, Wow, that is quite a story, but it is nice to know her history too. We would be honored to try to see how it works out. Yes, we would love to do this. Mitch works from home currently so he would be with her all the time. He intends to work from an office being set up by the shop at some point (going slowly) and then he would take her with him to a cage in the office. It would be a rare day that she would be left alone all day.

Yes, you can do the home inspection, you would be coming by so all would be shown anyway. We are cautious bird owners, toilet seats stay closed, garbage cans stay closed, no open glasses of water or other beverages. 

We currently have the parakeet in Popcorn’s cage and we intend to get a buddy for the single parakeet and then put them in a new cage. So we have to do some set up at home before we can bring home Mishu.

Next week would be better for us so we can get another cage for the keet ready.  The keets will live at home and not travel with us, they won’t be in the same area and will always be caged for their safety.

Hi Catherine, Next week is better for me also.  I like the proposed schedule you will have for Mishu.  Feel free to change her name.  I’m not sure she recognizes it.  She loves attention and will come to the front of the cage to come out or for head and neck scratches.

Where are you planning to get another parakeet?  I got Carmel a beautiful parakeet as a partner for her single bird.  She takes all my rescued parakeets. Let me know if you want a male or female.  This time Wednesday or Thursday next week is OK for me to bring Mishu to you. Probably around 1 pm after I make lunch for my mom. Whatever works for you. Talk to you later.

Dear Pat, It all sounds wonderful. Nothing should be rushed when it comes to a new family member. I will discuss it all with Mitch later tonight. I know he is excited about the prospect.

We have been together for 15 years, I had Sunshine when I met him and they were fine together but of course Sunshine was my bird. When Popcorn came into our lives they bonded so well. He could handle her so well, but she did not care for me unless he was not around for awhile. It was all on her terms if she rode on me around the house, let me pet her, etc.

Mitch was not new to birds prior to our meeting, his ex had a ringneck, a toe biting cherry headed conure and a sweet white capped pionus so he was no stranger to parrots when we met. LOL.

Dear Pat, Mitch is all in on the plan. We will be bringing in a new cage for the parakeets as quickly as possible, something from Prevue we can pick up by Friday.

Yes, we would be fine with you picking out a buddy for Bacon. A boy, we don’t want to breed them, just let them enjoy being budgies together. We think by the feathering, and the eyes that Bacon is about 9 months old. Color-wise something to go with a Blue and White budgie, LOL.

Hi Pat, Wednesday is good, Mitch will be here. And yes, Bacon is a boy, it was up in the air for a bit as it was very light blue and when we took a couple of pictures it faded to white so we thought it was a girl, but the blue is deepening a bit. So we want another boy to avoid eggs. I will try to snag a couple pics to send anyway.

bacon the budgie in his cage close up

We are getting a cage in for the keets tomorrow. I want a fancy one for them but it is not in the budget right now so I am getting a decent sized cage and stand for them, 26 x 14 x 36 high. We will furnish it for the keets, can’t wait. I so want Bacon to be happy. He really looks so sad all alone. He has no interest in us.

Great on the clipped wings, has she always been clipped? If her nails need it, please it would be nice so we don’t have to subject her to that. We do our birds nails ourselves but it is never a bonding experience. LOL. We are getting excited.

Catherine, The cage for the parakeets is more than adequate size for them.  I personally don’t like the fancy ones (with the indented roof lines at the top).  It is wasted space and the birds wouldn’t go there.  They like to perch high up. Have you thought about introducing them slowly to each other by putting them side by side in separate cages for a short time?  It gives them a chance to get to know one another before putting them in the same cage.

As with all my birds no matter the breed, I include a separate food and water cup for each bird on separate sides of the cage.  Unfortunately, birds can starve a mate by being aggressive and not sharing their dishes. I know a few of my clients that it has happened so it is good to observe their behavior.  

You may not encounter this since one of the birds is quite young and should adapt easier to an older bird. Just like people, the older birds get set in their ways which can be problematic . . . LOL.  If you do want to keep them separate for a short time,  I have an inventory of cages you can use.

I truly hope the adoption of Mishu will be successful. Not all of them go smoothly.  I have had several for one reason or another that failed.  I wanted to prepare you in the event it happens.  I truly believe a bird chooses the family to love.  Giving Mishu time to settle in will be the test.

I am excited for her to join your family.  It will be a sad day and I may shed some tears.  She loves me so much but it is the right thing to do for her. As I mentioned, I will ask you to sign a very simple temporary contract that states she will be in your care until we both decide to make it a permanent adoption or return her to me.  It may take more than a month to come to that decision.  I am open to a time frame. 

Looking forward to seeing you and Mitch on Wednesday with Mishu and the new parakeet.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Dear Pat, We have been thinking about you and everything a lot. We are excited. The keet sounds adorable. Mitch is working on the cages today. I wish I could be there for the arrival. But Mitch plans to record it all.

Hi Catherine,  I am prepared for my visit tomorrow to bring Mishu and the little parakeet.  It will take me almost two hours in travel time.  I will be coming via Milwaukee Avenue past Dr. Sakas office.  

We can talk about making some fresh veggies for the parakeets.  A friend of mine uses a food processor or chopper to make the veggie mix as small as possible. The ingredients are the same for all birds.

This little parakeet is so adorable.  I believe it is a male. He is only 11 weeks old and fully weaned.  I’ve watched him eat seed, drink and eat some millet.  He is very tame.  

Pat, The keets diet – Maybe you can help me with the keets on getting them to eat well too. I am familiar with them being given nothing but seed and water and then they die young.

That is not what I want to do of course. Right now I started with a good Budgie seed mix by Hagen Living World that has seeds, dried fruits and veggies and tiny pellets. I also added some Leafy Greens and another mix by Higgins Small Fruits & Veggies, but want to encourage fresh food. Not so easy when the bird is so tiny.

I figure I can start with a hunk of romaine clipped to the cage, but beyond that, I am stumped. I admit parakeets are not in my list of birds I have had before. I did have a good number of beautiful Australian Grass keets years ago but they were big enough to eat my usual veggies and fruit mixes I gave to all the birds.

Catherine, Mishu is a very good eater.  All (even the doves) get a vegetable mix that includes plain pasta at 7:00 am every morning (all other food has been removed).  It is left in the cage for no more than 3 hours.  They are then given a mix of seed and pellets (more pellets than seed).  I mostly use Higgins brand for the seed and Zupreem for the pellets.  I also sometimes use Roudybush and Higgins In-Tune pellets.  I like to change it up so they don’t become bored.  Then at dinner time they get fruit. She loves apples very much.

I placed her on the jungle gym this morning while I was having a discussion with my mom’s hospice nurse. Mishu began crying and swaying back and forth.  The nurse said it sounded like a kitten.  She could be mimicking cats I had before they died of old age.  She wanted me to pick her up.  I also heard her trying to talk. I think she has unlimited potential.  I feel bad that I have not been able to give her as much attention she deserves.  She has out of cage time everyday.   She is not a vocal bird so she will not make a lot of noise.

Pat, I am not concerned with her talking, although if she does, that is fine too. At her age it is doubtful she will start. My male ringneck started to talk at 6 1/2 months old and was a sponge for new words until he was about 3 then had no interest in learning more.

bacon 7 eggs budgies on thermo perchg

We just set up the new cage for the keets, it is HUGE. I think they will be fine. I will be ordering another cage light for the keets cage as it is a dim corner.

I just cleaned up Popcorn’s cage (also the temporary Bacon home). Take a look, it you think it is too busy you are welcome to tell Mitch what needs to be done.

Both cages are not perfect, they don’t have grilles that slide out so I put paper on top of the grilles to make clean up easier. But until we can order new ones, they will be fine.

It will be very exciting to come how to a house full of chirping again. Mitch said he would be waiting for you on the front steps, LOL.

Dear Pat, Which Higgins seed mix did you use for Mishu? I am guessing a Conure Mix?

Higgins Sunburst Conure bird food blend is a nice one, it has Higgins Intune Pellets in it and I can also feed additional Intune Pellets available in a separate bag. I will bring them home tonight.

Catherine, That Higgins blend is good also.  I’ve been ordering Higgins Safflower Parrot and the Sunburst Conure mix as well so that is perfect.  This month I’ve changed the pellets to Zupreem.   You will find Mishu is not a picky eater and should do well for you.  I was going to bring a supply of food for her but sounds like you have what she likes.  I try not to order any blends with peanuts or sunflower.


P.S. Tell Mitch I will be bringing my female cockatoos along but will leave them in the car. They will be fine. My husband works from home and has a conference call during the time I will be away.  They scream if I am not there to quiet them.  They are quiet in the car so don’t worry about your neighbors.

Post The Arrival of Pat and Parrots:

Hi Mitch and Catherine.  I am very pleased on how the transition of these two birds went today.  I have high hopes that the parakeets will become best buds.  It took them all of 5 minutes before they were sitting side by side.  

If I could put a caption to it “you blink I am dominant one” . . .lol.  Since Eggs is only 11 weeks old please observe him eating and drinking.  I had his dishes on the bottom of the cage in case he couldn’t get to them higher up.  I forgot to give you some millet to give him a little to supplement his diet.

I am also happy Mishu stepped up to Mitch.  She was a little tentative but will get better in time (it might have been the facial hair).  She went right inside her cage to settle in.  She does like to be out on top of the cage so I’m not sure if she will with the light on top.

You’ll have to see how it goes.  Other option would be a separate device like a small jungle gym so she can get away from her safe place (cage).  It would be best to work with her away from the cage.  Don’t be afraid to stroke her neck and head and make those mouth gestures she loves to do.  Give me an update in a day or two on both of them.

Catherine, I gave Mitch 3 small bags of veggies.  He froze 2 of them.  Use the one we left out giving her 1/2 today and 1/2 tomorrow.  After that it will become rancid. I left you a list of ingredients I use to make it.  I forgot to put fruit on the list.  

She loves apples and anything else you want to try.  You can use the same menu for the keets just mash it up real good.  As you said you can clip some dark leafy green lettuce inside the cage as a treat.  Also gave Mitch some almonds for Mishu.  She can have 2 or 3 almonds or walnuts a day.  I’ve read recently that birds could have scrambled eggs in organic coconut oil only 2 times a month.

I probably sound like a nervous Nellie so I will close for now. Any questions let me know.  We can work thru any issues that may come up. Thanks and good luck!  I am up around 5 am daily which means I go to bed between 9 and 10 pm.  Feel free to contact me anytime.  I also have text capabilities.


written by catherine tobsing
approved by mitch rezman
approved by nora caterino

your zygodactyl footnote

Let’s place the burden of bird behavior on humans not birds

Read in 8 minutes

I had to jump in and provide a voice on the other side. I remember reading this article last month about keeping birds flighted and feeling very conflicted. My friend’s green cheek conure, who often came to visit, was fully flighted, while my own green cheek is not– our respective choices. His bird, despite being able to follow us humans everywhere, was a screamer anyway and mine is not.

Bungees & other Soft Perches
Both were playful and spoiled, so it’s hard to say what causes behaviors with any certainty. My main point is this: His bird was quite the nimble flyer, but yesterday it hit a window in his home and died on impact. What on earth is a bird owner to do in a large house, for example, when no quantity of decals is enough to cover them all?

It’s unreasonable to expect most owners to be able to adequately bird-proof the entire space, and so CAREFUL wing-trimming to limit distance and speed is the far more humane solution we’ve come up with. I worked with several respected avian vets and experts, and they agreed that most homes just aren’t safe enough no matter what we do, but we can’t all build giant aviaries.

Wing trimming does not seem to limit the quality of life at all for my own little guy– he is out on his various play stations all the time and goes everywhere with me at home, from room to room. If my friend had followed suit, his would still be alive. So I think my mind is made up.


editors note: I’m the guy whose cockatiel followed him around a 65 foot long apartment for 3-1/2 years with out one incident.

Let’s start at the beginning


(h)yo͞oˈmān/ adjective

  1. having or showing compassion or benevolence.
  2. “regulations ensuring the humane treatment of animals”

Chopping any body part off any animal or any human is not humane – I’m sorry.

The blood may have left the feather but the feather is still anchored to the skin controlled by muscles – it’s still a living organism that you have removed from the animal.

A bird that has lost the ability to fly has a diminished quality of life they are – handicapped.

If you are clipping your bird properly you are clipping the largest feathers on their body.

All birds preen – have you asked it how it’s dealing 20 feather shafts that been rudely and abruptly terminated?

No I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect most bird owners to be able to adequately bird proof their entire space

I do think it’s reasonable to limit the room(s) the birds are in much like grandparents limit certain rooms to grandchildren.


You’re arguments are putting the whole the whole burden on the bird and the bird isn’t the problem it’s the human.

Statistically floor walking birds are five times more likely to get stepped on then a flying bird getting killed upon impact with a vertical surface BECAUSE WE LOPPED OFF ALL THEIR WINGS!.

We don’t have ANY decals on our windows in the two big rooms that my bird flies around in but I, like my neighbors and friends (thankfully) all have shades – shutters – curtains and blinds that all can easily be closed when a flighted bird is out.

Birds are smart you can train them where to fly and where not to fly.

How many minutes or hours have you spent this week this month or this year clicker training your bird?

How often have you weighed your bird?

When you get a moment please forward me the literature written by the several respected avian vets and experts, and they agreed that most homes just aren’t safe enough no matter what we do, so I can publish it all here on this blog.

I’ve never met a dis-respected avian vet – and there’s not a whole lot of experts on exotic birds today – the air is pretty thin.

so is mine

I want to return this bird

Why is that?

It can’t fly

Gee I’m sorry about that we’ve never taken back a dog that couldn’t walk

New topic – birds and candles

Thanks Mitch, a very good topic that I thought I was up on… but “the German study” was the last I’d heard. Many years ago I had a party and burned tons of candles all night. Once in bed, the carbon monoxide alarm went off and I called the fire company.

Find all our higgins bird food here

When they were in, one turned to the parrots and said, Well you know the level isn’t too bad because they’re still standing. Obviously I don’t want to use my guys as a detector, and I’ve never lit many candles at once again. I also seek soy-based candles (about the only thing soy is good for, IMHO) vs. paraffin.

I’m so sorry to hear of Enki’s owner’s illness, and I hope she will look into the other home-based sources of irritants like those you suggested. Sending prayers for you.


Candles have no place in a home with birds – In 1842, Julius Robert Mayer discovered the “Law of Conservation of Energy”.


In its most compact form, it it now called the First Law of Thermodynamics: energy is neither created nor destroyed.

In laymans terms – for a candle to produce heat and light energy it needs fuel which is the (paraffin) wax and the oxygen in the air.

Every candle lit in the same room as a bird regardless if they are “bird safe” the candle(s) is depleting oxygen in that room.

I have no scientific evidence but – much like dogs that can sniff out human tumors and explosives the size of a grain of sand packaged tightly in luggage, I believe in my heart of hearts birds can feel the diminished oxygen from a single candle flame.

find all our hagen bird food here too

Most candles usually do not lead to a bird’s death but are probably instrumental in reducing the quality of life for the animal while lit.

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing
approved by nora caterino

your zygodactyl foot note

Ha, when I saw the perch video this morning, I thought, “That’s more like it.” Hearing about Bacon allowing to be grabbed to change cages and grabbed for a shower attempt said terrified budgie to me, not cooperative budgie.

Bacon’s continued aloof attitude and resentment of hands in the cage to adjust perches and whatnot is the typical behavior right now. A budgie is indeed not a cockatiel, and can take a VERY LONG time to accept new surroundings, especially being alone ie “flockless”. This is why budgies are so undervalued and why people are easily disappointed in them when they bring them home and get only “budgie statue” mode for a long time. But budgies are not antisocial, dumb or boring.

Given time and patience, slow movements and careful reintroduction of the hand, as a clearly frustrated Mitch is attempting, they will return to their happy, playful, smart, singing, charming, sassy selves. Patience is the only way with budgies, period, but it will be rewarded. I read aloud to mine, even if it was the newspaper, just to get each used to my voice, and they still enjoy being read a story!

No, Bacon will never be that wonderful and dearly missed ambassador, Princess Popcorn, but he’ll be a delightful Prince Bacon, given the chance he deserves. He’s in such good hands, just don’t handle him! Yes, “let’s place the burden of bird behavior on humans, not birds.”

Catherine, I do have a question for you. Do you know why some birds like to dunk their food in water? I have a two year old budgie that just started to dip her oat groats in her water, even though she has to go back and forth across the cage each time to do so, and she drinks plenty of water in general. I’m just wondering if this is indicative of something in particular, as nothing else in her lifestyle seems changed. The oats are not colored and she doesn’t do it with pellets or other seeds. Thanks for any opinion.

Budgies are NOT like cockatiels – perch placement in the cage is very different

Read in less then a minute

Most cage bird keepers assume a bird is a bird a perch is a perch a cage is a cage. The previous statement is highly inaccurate.

About a decade ago I coined the term “cagescaping” (but no one remebers) Our specialties at Windy City Parrot   are avian nutrition and the implementation of proper caged bird and home habitats based on species.

Find Free & DIY Toys Here

This video is a perfect example of how you have to take into consideration the species of the bird when designing its forever environment.


A trio of picky parrots – conure, cockatiel and parakeet are picky eaters – help!

Read in 5 minutes

From: Wanda  <>

I have 3 birds, a conure, cockatiel and a parakeet. My birds are really fussy about their food. I feed the parakeet Hartsfield, the cockatiel is very fussy, I’m trying  to teach her to forge her food. She just throw her food out of the cage and use her dish as a toilet. The conure is very fussy too but she does look for her food until she finds what she wants.

Hi Wanda,

You didn’t mention how your birds are housed so I must assume they are each in their own cage of appropriate size. If they share a big cage or aviary, the dynamics of the situation change somewhat. 

You mentioned that you feed the parakeet Hartsfield. This is not a brand I’m familiar with nor could I find it on the internet. I believe you mean Hartz Mountain, a common brand of small bird food sold in cardboard boxes in superstores and grocery stores. I can’t recommend using that type of food because it may have been on the shelf and in warehousing for a very long time since it was packaged. The food can be old and won’t provide good nutrition for your little keet. The same is true if you are buying food for your cockatiel and conure at places that do not specialize in the freshest, healthiest bird diets. It can contain moth larvae that eat the inside of the seeds, leaving nothing for the bird and only causes seed moths to fly around your house unless you are unusually clean about removing every single seed every day. 

wild budgie approaching and other budgie on millet sprays


Any all seed diet requires supplementation or you are slowly starving the bird to death, significantly shortening its lifespan and leaving it open to opportunistic diseases. All your birds may fit into this category. More about supplements further on.

Birds that are on all seed diets can be converted to pellet diets with which no supplements are required. The conversion can be very easy with some birds but require a little longer with others. You find your birds to be picky eaters but they would convert over time. In fact, we have a plan on how to do the conversion as easily as possible. This plan happens to refer to Hagen pellets, a very good balanced option available for every size bird but the concepts are valid for any brand of pellet diet. 

Great choices in pellet diets include those available for your size birds from Higgin’s Intune line of pellets or Harrison’s Organic Non GMO pellet line. Either of these choices are available in sizes for every parrot species and they are great for foraging by hiding some in foraging toys.

We have found that Hagen Living World parakeet seed is a very excellent, fresh product that comes in factory sealed bags. It has a “use before” date, just like human foods so you know you are not feeding old, stale seed. The fresher the seed, the more nutrients it has available for the bird. Higgins Vita Seed with Probiotics is also available for your parakeet as well as your other parrots.

lorikeets eating meat outside

we have learned these Australian lorikeets are carnivores


You didn’t mention what you are feeding the cockatiel and conure so I imagine you are feeding them seed diets as well. You’ll find a great choice for each in Hagen Living World Cockatiel blend and Hagen Living World Small Parrot blend or choose the appropriate size Vita Seed blend from the Higgins link above.

You mentioned the conure picks through the food until it finds what it wants. The problem with this is that it is only eating some of the types of seed in the food. All too often they choose the high fat seeds like sunflower, rejecting all else. Cockatiels sometimes do the same thing with their food. By choosing a no sunflower blend like  in the size for cockatiels to conures, you’ll avoid the “sunflower addict” problem and round out their nutrition. Or choose one of the other no sunflower foods for your cockatiel and conure.

You mentioned foraging and birds need to forage for some of their food. It is more like the experience they have in nature. You can use special treats, fruits, veggies and Lafebers AviCakes and Nutriberries to provide enrichment in their diet and lives.

If you do choose to stick with a seed diet, and many parrot parents do choose to do so — me included, you can add Avitech Avivita Plus multivitamin supplement or Nekton S multivitamin supplement.  If you have a specific health problem, your vet may recommend additional supplements which you will find in the Avitech and Nekton sections of the site.

Good luck and please let us know how you decide to proceed and your experiences.

written by nora caterino
approved by mitch rezman

your zygodactyl footnote


Proper Bird Parrot Cage Placement

Read in 7 minutes

One of the first things I evaluate with a problem bird is their cage. Where it is located, size, shape, and how it is set up. Many behavior problems can be attributed to having your parrot in improper surroundings. Their cage should be a safe haven for them with plenty of things to keep them busy.

Types of Bird Cages

A good bird cage should be easy to keep clean, and it should not be round. The bar spacing should be appropriate for the type of bird or parrot that is housed in it. Whether or not you have a play top or a dome top is up to you. One of the best gifts you can give yourself and your parrot is a top of the line cage. When you skimp on a cage you just end up replacing it again and again. Do your research and get a cage that will last the lifetime of your parrot.

Bird Cage Placement

The cage should be placed in an area where you are sure your parrot will be able to view his surroundings safely without feeling threatened. You do not want to place a parrot directly in front of a window or in the center of a room. Our first response is to assume that they would enjoy the outside view or being right in the middle of a room so they can see everything. The truth is that this type of placement may be fine while your parrot is young. But once your parrot becomes sexually mature and aware that it is a prey animal, this type of placement will cause extreme stress upon him. Knowing this, a parrot should be placed against a solid wall, if this is not possible then the back half of the cage should be covered at all times. This will give him the sense of security that is needed.

Parrots do not live out in the open in the wild. They build nests inside of trees or in dense forest areas. So they may live and raise young safely. Therefore we should try to mock this type of environment by placing the cage in a more indiscreet area or our homes. One where they can take pleasure in their surroundings and not feel threatened. You will need also to consider your parrots sleep requirements. Does the placement of the cage allow for the proper amounts of undisturbed quite darkness? If not do you have a sleeping cage in another room? Sleep deprivation is a problem with many parrots I see. So if your parrot is not receiving at least ten to twelve hours of rest each night you will need to re evaluate his cage placement.

prevue 3161 dome top cage

Find this 20 x 20 inch Prevue dometop here

Do’s and dont’s for cage placement

  • Don’t place directly in front of a window
  • Don’t place in center of a room
  • Don’t place right on the edge of a doorway
  • Don’t place next to the TV that is watched late into the niter.
  • Don’t place in the kitchen because of toxic fumes
  • Don’t place in an unfinished basement
  • Don’t place in a utility room
  • Don’t place in the garage
  • Don’t place them in your bedroom
  • Do place them in a corner of the family room with a sleeping cage in another room
  • Do place them in a frequently used office or sitting room
  • Do have a bird room if you have multiple birds
  • Do place in an alcove or visible dining room
  • Do place them against a wall
  • Do place them so they have a view of the entire room without putting them as a focal point.
  • You want your parrot to be able to observe his environment so he learns to trust his surroundings.

Bird Cage Perches

There should be three different size perches in the cage. These perches should also different textures with at least one of the perches being a rope or Booda perch. The rope perch should be the one that is placed at the highest point for sleeping. Place this perch in a U shape in an upper back corner of the cage. This is especially important if you have a feather picker. It gives a sense of safety to the parrot, plus if they turn to pick, the rope is right there and they will opt to shred that.

The other two perches should be wood or one wood one of a different texture of choice. I would also like to add that there does not have to be perches in front of every food dish. We tend to make life just a little too easy for these busy birds. Make them work a little.

Bird Cage Set up

Three different perches with the main wood one going horizontally across the middle. The rope perch should be in a U shape in an upper back corner. The third should be place just inside of the door so that when the door is opened the perch is brought out of the cage. By doing this you do not have to reach into the cage for step up commands that may be refused. When you want your parrot to come out you have him come down to this perch first, open the door once he is on it and request the step up. This is a must if your bird has aggression issues.

Bird Toys

Now it is time to add the toys. You should have at least three working toys in the cage at all times. Working toys are toys that make them work for their treats or favored foods. The other toys should be things that are easily shredded such as soft wood, paper, and leather, preferably all of the above. Good toys have many different shapes and textures for the bird to explore and destroy. Your parrot should have a minimum of ten toys in his cage at all time. You should not be able to see the parrot easily when he is in his cage. This is his home and he should feel camouflaged as he would if he was in the wild.

bacon the budgie in her cage

Place one of the working toys in front of the U shape perch, with the other working toy towards the front of the opposite corner. Place one of the other toys directly on the side of the U perch so that perch is surrounded by hanging toys. This allows your parrot a hiding place to feel secure. Now take paper towels, shredders, newspaper, leather, or brown paper bags and fold them up and weave into the cage bars making a little square section on the side and to the back of the U perch. Again this gives a sense of security to the parrot. Plus if you have a feather picker it gives them another option to chew instead of their feathers.

We have to remember that we took these birds from the wild and it is up to us to learn to understand their needs. Set their cage up in a way that is fun for them and keep it interesting. Busy beaks are happy beaks!

Thank You,

Michelle Karras
Published Birds USA
Slave to Twelve rescued Parrots

your zygodactyl footnote

Comparative Human and Bird Digestive & Respiratory Systems

Read in 10 minutes

Comparative Physiology: Human and Bird

The human body uses food and liquids for energy, growth, maintenance and repair. Before it can use food and liquids for these purposes, it must go through a process called digestion, which is carried out by the digestive system. The digestive system consists of the following organs: Mouth, salivary glands, oesophagus, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, stomach, large and small intestines, duodenum, rectum and the anus.

digestive system

The process of digestion begins when a bite of food is taken. The teeth are then used to chew the food breaking it down into smaller and softer pieces. The food is also lubricated at this stage in the process by saliva produced in the salivary glands. Then, when the food is ready to be swallowed, a flap called the epiglottis blocks off the entrance to the windpipe, the soft palate rises to stop food entering the nasal cavity, and the food passes down the oesophagus, in a series of peristaltic waves, until it reaches the stomach, ready for the next stage of digestion.

The mouth of birds is distinctly different from humans. They have no teeth and their jaws are covered by a beak, which is in different forms depending on the bird. Birds, unlike humans, do not masticate or chew their food, as this is accomplished by the gizzard. The oesophagus of birds is large in diameter. Swallowing is accomplished

the same as humans, that is by peristaltic waves, which is in most birds aided by the extension of the neck.

bird digestion tutorial (raptor not parrot)

you haven’t lived until a Falcon pellets your lap

A human stomach is approximately 25 cm long. It is a J-shaped bag with strong, muscular walls which can stretch. These muscular walls contract and relax, churning the food up and making sure it is mixed very thoroughly with gastric juices. These gastric juices contain hydrochloric acid and enzymes, which, along with the churning of the stomach, eventually turn the food into a liquid called chyme. When this process has taken place, the chyme is pushed into the first part of the small intestine, the duodenum, ready for the next stage of digestion.

The human duodenum is a horseshoe shape organ, approximately 20 cm long. The purpose of the duodenum is to change the chyme into substances the body can use, with the help of different enzymes. It also neutralizes the acidic chyme making it safe to travel through the rest of the digestive system. Other organs which work with the

duodenum are the pancreas and the gall bladder. The pancreas forms the enzymes used by the duodenum, and insulin which is released straight into the bloodstream and taken to the liver. The gall bladder forms bile, which is also used by the duodenum. Once the chime has passed through the duodenum it has began to pass through the small intestine. This is a long, narrow tube, and although it is between 4 and 6 metres

long, it is coiled and looped tightly so that it fits into the abdominal space. The process of digestion is more or less finished, but the nutrients have to get out of the digestive system and into the rest of the body. This process is called absorption, and it takes

place as the digested food passes through the small intestine. Because of this it has a rich blood supply, both to nourish the small intestine, and to carry away the nutrients which are absorbed. After the chyme has passed through the small intestine, all the nutrients the body needs have been absorbed, and there is just one more stage it has to pass through before being excreted, the large intestine.

 blue & gold macaw with food particulate on beak

Blue & Gold Macaw

Birds have a duodenum and stomach similar to humans, but they also have an extra organ at this stage in digestion, the gizzard. The gizzard is similar to the stomach, but it is disc shaped and very muscular. It is responsible for breaking down food. Because of this, it sometimes contains small stones to help grind the food. A cycle of contractions forces food back and forward between the stomach, gizzard and duodenum to help mix it with enzymes. The small intestine of birds is very similar to that of humans. It is responsible for absorbing nutrients, and does so with the aid of the same enzyme as in humans, produced, produced by the pancreas.

The human large intestine is also known as the colon. It is much shorter and fatter than the small intestine-about 1m long and 6cm in diameter. All the useful material in food is absorbed before it reaches the large intestine. Only waste material and water, containing dissolved mineral salts, is left. The main function of the large intestine is to remove the water and salts from the waste. It does this in the same way as the small intestine absorbs nutrients. Once the water and mineral salts have been removed, the waste material becomes more solid, eventually forming the brown waste material called

faeces. Faeces are stored in the rectum until they are excreted through the anus.

The large intestine of bird’s primary purpose is the same as in humans. The only difference is that short villi extend into the lumen. The cloaca is the cavity in birds where the intestinal and urinary ducts end, which opens to the outside of the bird as a vent.

birds digestive tract

The parts of an animal which obtain the vital supplies of oxygen from the surroundings are called the respiratory system. In humans, the system starts at the nasal cavity inside the nose. This is both the inlet and outlet for air. Beyond this is the passageway, down the throat, which consists of the larynx and the windpipe, or trachea. These carry air down into the chest. From here the windpipe splits into two airways, called the bronchi. These carry air in and out of two lungs, which sit protected inside the rib cage of the chest.

The Human Respiratory System

Birds have a respiratory system which is functionally comparable to humans, but the structure is quite different. Air enters through the nostrils or nares of the bird and move into the nasal cavity. The nasal cavity is divided into a right and left side by a nasal septum. The septum is composed of cartilage and bone. The air then moves down the trachea, which is very similar to that of humans. It then, like humans, splits into two bronchus, going in to one of two lungs.

In the human lungs, oxygen is removed from the air and passed into the blood; the waste gas carbon dioxide leaves the blood to be eliminated in exhaled air. The airways, going into the lungs, divide into finer and finer branches, or bronchioles; the narrowest bronchioles end in alveoli. These are tiny blind ended air sacs where most of the gas exchange between air and blood takes place. The total volume of air in a pair of filled lungs is more than six litres.

 When you breathe in, muscles raise and expand the rib cage, while the diaphragm, a domed muscular sheet under the lungs, flattens. These movements increase the volume of the plearal cavity, the space in which the lungs sit, and air rushes in to equalize pressure. With the reverse movements, the volume decreases and air is pushed out.

It’s in the structure of the lung that birds differ greatly from humans. Birds lungs are very small compared to their body size, very stiff and do not become inflated. Birds also have eight air sacs (in most birds). These air sacs move air through the lungs, as they do not have a diaphragm. They do this by pressure changes in the air sacs. Many of these air sacs extend into bones. The whole structure of the respiratory system in birds is to aid them in flight. Their blood becomes oxygenated at a higher rate than humans. This helps them meet their high oxygen demand during flight. The air sacs also make the bird much lighter and make it easier to fly.

All living tissue has to be supplied with blood; it delivers nutrients and oxygen and takes away waste products. The system responsible for this is the circulatory system. This is a closed, tubular system of arteries, veins, capillaries and the heart.

To force blood through the vessels, the whole heart contracts, squeezing blood out of its internal chambers. Flap valves inside the heart mean that each side of the heart allows blood to move in only one direction. The heart is a double pump, with two pairs of pumping chambers, each having its own role. The right side pumps oxygen- depleted blood from the rest of the body to the lungs, where it gains a new oxygen supply. The blood then moves to the left of the heart, where it is pumped back out to the body. The four chambers of the heart, two atria and two ventricles, are built of cardiac muscle.

 Double yellow had Amazon parrots in flight with wings spread fully open

Double Yellow head Amazon

Blood circulates around the body, returning to its starting point again and again. In one complete tour of the system, blood goes in turn around each of the body’s two circulation tracks: from the heart, through the lungs and back to the heart; and from the heart to the rest of the body and back. In both tracks thick-walled arteries carry blood away from the heart, and thinner walled veins carry blood back again.

The circulatory system of birds is much like that of a human. It consists of a heart, arteries, veins and capillaries. Birds, like humans, have a 4 chambered heart (2 atria and 2 ventricles), which works in exactly the same way.

The differences between the circulatory system of birds, compared to humans, is the size of their heart. Relative to body size and mass, birds have much larger hearts than humans. The relatively large hearts of birds may be necessary to meet the high blood supply needed during flight. Hummingbirds have the largest hearts of all birds (relative to body size and mass), because of the large amounts of energy used when hovering.

Bird’s hearts also tend to pump more blood per unit time than human hearts. This is known as cardiac output, and is influenced by both heart rate (beats per minute) and stroke volume (blood pumped with each beat). The reason for this is again because of the large amounts of blood supply needed during flight.

“Comparative Physiology: Human and Bird.” 24 Feb 2013