Parrotlet Information Care Breeding

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Celestial or Pacific Parrotlet Care and Information
“The Best Little Bird In The World”



Parrotlets For Sale

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The word Parrotlet means = “Little Parrots
Also called – Celestial Parrotlet & Lesson’s Parrotlets

Also visit  &
For Pacific Parrotlet Color Mutations Visit

*NEW – MY LIVE Parrotlet WEBCAMS – watch NOW   Live Now


I recently did an Audio Recoding about parrotlets for a national bird magazine that is putting together a story about parrotlets. Lots of good information for the first time pet owner   Listen Here

* About Parrotlets * Diet – Seed – Foods * Baby Parrotlets For Sale
* Different Species * Harmful & Poisons * Breeding Parrotlets #1  #2
*  Essential Green or Clean Green * Breeding with Punnett’s Square
* Interaction & Social Behavior * Apple Cider Vinegar * Breeding Life of Parrotlets
* Sexing a Parrotlet * Color mutations  * Handfeeding Food
* xRay – Parrotlet Bones * Seed or Pellets ?? * Handfeeding Information
* Origin of the Parrotlet * Teaching Parrotlets To Talk * Emergency Handfeeding
* Housing / Cage * Activities * Egg Incubation & Hatch Info
* Spectrum Lighting * Parrotlet BITING Stage * Parrotlet Egg Laying  / egg binding info
* Wing Clipping  & How to clip * Health – Diseases – Illness * Nesting Breeder Boxes
* Articles – Resources – Links * Parrotlet Hand Book  (preview)  ()

* Avian Medications

* Pricing – Averages * Teflon Toxicity   ( important info )
* Mites & Lice (treatments) * Leg Banding  (how to & why )
* Parrotlet Genetic Calculator * Abundance Weaning
* Parrotlet Genetics (DNA) * Splayed Legs Info * The Lost Lucida Parrotlet
* Breeding with Punnett’s Square * Splayed Legs Treatment

Copyright use policy

* CONTACT ME – Email

Some Photos Courtesy of: Google images search

Visit my Audio Blog, Podcast Site – Weekly talks about aviary breeding issues.    VISIT NOW
Voice Recording – A talk about Parrotlets in general    Listen Here
The Parrotlets Film Project – A short documentary about Parrotlets 
Egg Binding / Egg Bonded:  Prevention Help, Causes and Treatment Videos   View Details
Is it better to have two Parrotlets?   Should I get one or two?   View Details
Putting two Parrotlets together in the same cage or bonding View Details
How do birds sleep standing on one leg / How does a birds foot work?  View Details
I recommend a Birdie Play Pen for all new babies  View Details
Why does the tame parrotlet start biting you?    View Details
Wing Clipping – Should I clip my Parrotlets wings? #1 View Details #2 View Details #3 How to clip
Should I cover my Parrotlets cage at night or sleep time?  View Details
10 Things your bird needs from you  View Details
10 top bird killers and reasons for death?  View Details
What questions to ask when looking for a bird Vet   View Details
Breeding Recessive mutations using Punnett’s Square   View Details
NEVER Let anyone trim your birds beak unless they are a VET – Many birds have died from a heart attack as a result.
Beware of Reynolds oven cooking bags!!!   Reports are out that they put off fumes that can kill your birds
To add an article, information or photo  →            Contribute
Also visit my & Sections.

Caution & Note:

None of the information on this page is a substitute for veterinary care.

Web Page Resources: I put together this web page full of information from online resources in hopes of helping you find information that will help you understand and properly care for your bird. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. If you suspect your bird is sick do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your bird to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible!
Thank you for visiting my site, Sean Ira



  About: (Top)

One of the worlds smallest Parrots, known as the Tea Cup Parrot, Pocket Parrot and many other catchy names. They are cousin to the large Amazons and their personality shows it. Almost all of their DNA matches the Amazon. They are sometimes called small Amazons and are described as dynamite in small packages. Parrotlets are in a group of the smallest New World parrot species,  comprising several genera, namely Forpus, Nannopsittaca, and Touit. They have a stocky build and a broad tail, much like the lovebirds of East Africa and fig parrots and pygmy parrots of Australasia. They are endemic to Middle and South America. The Pacific Parrotlets (Forpus coelestis) – also known as Celestial, Western, Lesson’s or Ridgway’s Parrotlets – occur naturally in Western Ecuador and North-western Peru (on the Pacific coast). They are resident (non-migratory) within their range. These birds inhabit arid lowland scrub and semi-open tropical deciduous woodland.

These miniature parrots in the wild travel in flocks which, depending on the species, can range from as low as four to over 100 birds. Most species travel in flocks of about 5–40. They form lifelong and tight pair bonds with their chosen mates.

Parrotlets are the smallest commonly bred Parrot species in captivity. The genus Forpus, particularly the Celestial or Pacific Parrotlet, is growing in availability and popularity in the USA.

Parrotlets are rambunctious, playful, bold, confident, clownish, fearless, and determined, all wrapped into one package. A hand-fed Parrotlet kept singly can make a wonderful pet and companion. When keeping two or more together they are likely to bond to each other.  Parrotlets do need daily interaction to keep them manageable and interested in you. I always like to see birds have mates, However if you are able to spend good quality time with your pet parrotlet, you will end up having a wonderful bonded new best friend. They are little packages of joy!
Personality of the Parrotlet varies greatly from shy and reserved to outgoing and bratty. They are real individuals because each bird is completely unique and different.Top of page

The word Parrotlet means = “Little Parrot”

The most commonly kept Parrotlet in the USA is by far the Celestial or Pacific Parrotlet. The Mexican Parrotlet, Spectacled Parrotlet, Green-Rumped Parrotlet and Yellow-faced Parrotlet are also fairly common pets. Their popularity as pets has grown due to their small size and large personalities. Parrotlets are commonly known as playful birds that enjoy chewing as much as their larger Amazon counterparts. Being highly intelligent and active parrots, parrotlets must have ample opportunities to play and exercise. Environmental enrichment must be made a part of their lives as to prevent boredom. Parrotlets keep themselves more than occupied when left alone for several hours, so long as they are provided with an array of chewable and destructible toys to play with. However, when their keepers get home, they often greet them with lovely chirps and whistles to let them know they want attention. They can mimic speech with a somewhat impressive vocabulary though their voice is very small. Males mimic better than females do. They can be very territorial inside their cages and may try to bite if a human reaches in, even to feed them. They consider the cage to be their sole territory. But the same bird, when outside his cage, can be very affectionate—flying over to land on your shoulder, eating out of your mouth, and cuddling. They do not seem to know how tiny they are, and may not be afraid of cats or dogs. Their personalities are the same as much larger parrots, so like small dogs they may try to attack other pets. On the other hand, if properly introduced they may befriend them.

Life Expectancy:  How long do they live?  (Top)
Parrotlets are said to have a lifespan of about 20 – 25 years.
However, we are seeing the lifespan average more like 10 to 20 years based on the breeding. inbreeding bloodlines, health and diet. In the US the lifespan seems to be getting lower because of the inbreeding that has taken place over the last 20 years as a result of not being able to import any new birds or bloodlines into the country.






LuckyFeathers – White Paper Article        (Top)

by Sandee & Robert MolendaVirtually unheard of several years ago, parrotlets are rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after companion parrots. Their small size, beautiful plumage, comical behavior and inability to scream are all factors which make them highly desirable as pets. Parrotlets are true parrots which means they are intelligent, bold, curious, acrobatic, can learn to talk and are capable of developing a loving bond with their owners.There are seven species of parrotlet: Pacifics, Blue Wings, Green Rumps, Mexicans, Sclater’s, Spectacles and Yellow Face. Of these, the Pacific or Celestial and Green Rump parrotlets are the most common. Mexican and Blue Wing parrotlets are much more difficult to obtain and are rarely sold as pets. Although recent arrivals to the United States, Spectacled parrotlets are becoming more widely available due to their ease of breeding. There are only seven verified pairs of Yellow Face parrotlets in the United States although they are fairly common in Germany and Belgium. Sclater’s parrotlets have never been imported into this country and are rare even in Europe.

Less than six inches in length, parrotlets are basically tiny green hookbills. Males have blue on their heads, wings, backs and rumps, the shade and placement of which helps identify the species. Females are green with yellow on their faces, undersides and wings, the placement of which also helps identify the species although it is much more difficult in females. In only one subspecies of Pacific and in the Yellow Face parrotlet, do the females have blue on their rumps, heads and/or wings. It is best to identify the various species by the process of elimination. Spectacles, Yellow Face, Pacifics and Green Rumps have horn colored beaks and legs; Mexicans, Sclater’s and Blue Wings gray. In addition, both Yellow Face and Sclater’s have dark upper mandibles.
A hand-fed parrotlet can become a wonderful pet that is devoted to its “person”. Most are bundles of energy, spending hours swinging, climbing, playing with toys and eating. Toys that provide motion such as swings and hoops are favorites. Natural fiber ropes, leather and soft woods are appreciated as parrotlets love to chew. Fortunately, unlike most parrots, they usually do not destroy their toys due to their lack of jaw strength. Amazing acrobats, they often play with several toys at once such as hanging from a swing while chewing on a rope toy. They are in constant motion and have no problems entertaining themselves if given a wide variety of toys. Intelligent and fearless, these curious little parrots can get into a lot of trouble if they are not supervised. Parrotlets are very territorial and will attack other animals, especially other birds, even those much larger than themselves. Our pets have taken bites out of all four of our cats as well as our 80 pound golden retriever at one time or another so they give all the parrotlets a wide birth. Naturally, we discourage species interaction, however, parrotlets waste no time running up to nip a curious nose.

Both Pacifics and Green Rumps make wonderful pets if placed in their new homes at the time of weaning. Unlike many larger parrots, parrotlets do not bond with the person who is hand-feeding them. Rather, bonding is most successful when the baby is between six and nine weeks of age. As with all birds, they must be given a loving, nurturing environment with proper training and limit setting from the beginning. Since parrotlets are true parrots, closely related to Amazons, they must be cared for and trained in the same manner. It is interesting to note that, generally speaking, females tend to be one person birds and will often attack anyone but their person. Males, on the other hand, tend to have their favorite person but tolerate other people handling them.

It is fortunate that Pacifics are the most widely available, since I believe they are also the most beautiful. Found from western Equador to north-western Peru, the males have a cobalt blue streak of feathers extending backward from the eye as well as cobalt blue on the back, rump and wings. Many females also have an eye streak but it is usually light turquoise or emerald green. They also have dark green backs and wings with light green feathers on the face. There is one subspecies that comes from Columbia which has recently been rediscovered in American aviculture. The most striking difference between the nominate species and the subspecies is that the females have bright, deep blue feathers on the head, rump, back and occasionally, wings. It is interesting to note this blue is not the same dark cobalt as in males but a lighter, brighter shade that is almost turquoise. Within the last year or two, there has been an explosion of color mutations in Pacifics. Blue, lutinos, yellows and fallows, many of which were developed in Europe, are now available in the United States.
Pacifics tend to be more feisty than Green Rumps and often strut around fearlessly. They are absolutely unafraid of any one or anything. Unfortunately, Pacifics can also be moody, jealous, territorial and develop hormonal problems during breeding season. They must also be taught limits and never be spoiled as they will turn into aggressive, biting monsters. However, most pets are very sweet and lovable birds. They will lift every feather on their body to allow petting and scratching. Most are happiest when riding around on a shoulder or in a pocket, gently preening hair or chewing on a shirt.

Another common species, Green Rump parrotlets are the smallest weighing no more than 22 grams. They are native to Guyana and have a delicate, streamlined body with a small beak in proportion to their heads. Predominantly apple-green, the females have a patch of yellow feathers between their eyes above the cere. The males have dark, cobalt blue on their primary wing feathers while the secondaries are turquoise. They are the only species of parrotlet which lacks blue on the rump except for one subspecies that has pale blue washed over their rumps and back. There are three additional subspecies of Green Rumps found on Trinidad, Jamaica and in Brazil.

Pet Green Rumps are much more timid and shy compared to Pacifics. They are often easily frightened when confronted with any kind of new situation. Often, they will stop eating everything except millet and seed when placed in a new home. It takes much more time for them to become comfortable in their new surroundings. However, once settled in, they are just as intelligent and comical as their more assertive cousins and will swing, attack and play with their toys for hours.
Mexican parrotlets are the only parrotlets not found in Central or South America. One of the larger species, Mexicans are much less active than other parrotlets. Males have bright turquoise rumps and wings. Females have light green faces with no yellow. These parrotlets can be very difficult to breed often only producing one clutch every year or two. Most parrotlets are capable of producing multiple clutches but even when the clutch is lost Mexicans do not lay again that season. In addition to being less active, they are also much more docile than their South American counter-parts. Many hand-fed babies remain able to be handled years after becoming successful breeders which is unheard-of in other species of parrotlets. Unusually sensitive, they stop eating when stressed subjecting them to a compromised immune system often resulting in bacterial infections.

One of the rarest species of parrotlet, the Yellow Face, is found only in one remote valley in Peru. While widely bred in captivity in Europe, only one shipment came through quarantine in the early 1980’s which was soon forgotten. It is reported there are only four Yellow Face left and they are all males. They look very similar to Pacifics and were erroneously thought to be subspecies for many years. Being similarly marked with an eye streak and deep, violet blue wings, rumps and backs, they have a bright yellow face and much larger than a male Pacific. Females also have blue on their wings, heads, back and rumps but it is not as deep and rich in color as the males.

Blue Wing parrotlets are often confused with Mexicans since they both have gray legs and beaks. Blue Wings, however, are more stream-lined while Mexicans are more rounder and barrel-shaped. Male Blue Wings have deep, dark blue-violet on their rumps, wings and backs. Females have bright green faces with yellow green above the cere between the eyes. Although much easier to breed than Mexicans, they are difficult to find as so few were imported and only handfuls of birds are being bred.

Spectacle parrotlets are a new addition to American aviculture. Approximately twenty pairs were imported in the fall of 1992. A breeding cooperative was formed to insure the preservation of bloodlines and a clean gene pool for the future. So far, the program has exceptionally well as there are now hundreds of Spectacles in this country. Spectacles are one of the tiniest species. The males are dark forest green with bright violet-blue rumps, backs, wings and eye rings. Females are also dark green and have an emerald green eye ring.

Sclater’s parrotlets have never been imported into the United States and are rare even in European aviculture. Males have darker greens and blues than another species of parrotlet. The females are somewhat lighter than the males with yellow underparts and a yellow green face.

Parrotlets kept as a single bird make the best pets. They are very active birds and need a cage that can accommodate a lot of toys. A cage 18 inches tall, 13 inches wide and 14 inches deep is the minimum recommended for a single bird. Be sure there is a grate on the bottom to keep the bird away from old food and droppings. Natural wood perches, not dowels, should be provided. Ensure that food and water is placed where they will not be soiled by droppings. Use open food dishes as parrotlets will usually not stick their heads into a dish with a hood and can starve. Water should be provided in a glass tube fountain. Often, parrotlets use their water dishes to bathe in and will splash out all of the water. If provided with a canary-size bath, they will play and splash until they are soaked. Parrotlets will also bath in wet spinach or lettuce by rolling every inch of their body on the wet leaves.
As previously mentioned, parrotlets are very active birds and require a great deal of fuel to expend so much energy. Hand-fed parrotlets should be introduced to a wide variety of foods while young. They should be fed a good-quality small hookbill or cockatiel seed mix. A large hookbill seed mix can be provided, however, parrotlets are unable to crack open the nuts often contained in these mixes. They can also be fed a commercial pelleted diet instead of seeds. Whether fed seeds or pellets, they still require fresh fruits, vegetables and greens every day. They also love whole-grain breads, potatoes, rice and pasta which should be fed several times a week. “People food” such as pizza crust, popcorn and muffins are especially relished as long as they contain little or no fat. Remember, as with all parrots, your parrotlet thinks anything you are eating is better than anything he is eating. Fresh water, mineral block and cuttlebone should be available at all times. Vitamins can be sprinkled on the fruits and vegetables.

The exact life span of parrotlets are unknown, mainly because they have been uncommon in aviculture. It is believed to be around 20 to 30 years of age. While they are not immune to avian diseases, if well-cared for, parrotlets tend to be relatively disease resistant. Breeders all over the country house these birds outdoors and successfully produce babies year after year so they are not “delicate” animals. Moreover, these birds are shipped all over the country, in all kinds of weather, with no problems.

Anyone looking for a large parrot personality in a small parrot body, need look no further than parrotlets. They are delightful little parrots whose antics can provide hours of entertainment as well as many years of devoted companionship.

International Parrotlet Society
Santa Cruz, CA 95063-2428
By: Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.
Referenced – from the now closed – International Parrotlet Society



Interaction & Social Behavior with other Birds  (Top)   (My Parrotlets for Sale)
Caution must be advised regarding interaction with other birds. Very often a Parrotlet, especially a Pacific, will attack a much larger bird with no regard for their own small size. Particularly when they become mature enough to breed, they can become especially hostile toward other birds. This can pass in time. Normally they get aggressive in breeding season or during a first molt.
Do not allow Parrotlets to be unsupervised around other birds. See my breeding section for keeping more than one pair of Parrotlets in the same room. Parrotlets, like their Amazon cousins, can be quite willful. It is important to socialize and train them the exact same way you would a larger parrot such as an Amazon. Teach the “step-up” command from the beginning and use it at all times. These feisty little birds are often quite willing to be handled by all family members as well as visitors. Generally, they are not one-person birds which make them ideal for a family atmosphere.

Sexing Parrotlets   (Top)   (My Parrotlets for Sale)

An important quality of Parrotlets (Forpus Parrotlets) is that they are sexually dimorphic. This means that the sex of the bird can be determined by visual observation by just looking at the bird which makes pairing birds easy and does not require surgical or genetic sexing. In all but one of the species within the Forpus genus, the males have a varying amount of vivid or deep blue on their rumps (on their back in between the wings down by the base of the tail) . The males of all species have shades of vivid blue on primary and secondary feathers on their wings. The females are similar in appearance but always lack the blue markings on the wings. Even young chicks can be sexed by their coloration, another bonus when deciding which offspring to hold back for future breeders. The only species in which the females have blue on the wing are the Yellow Face, and even then, the blue is of a much paler shade. Recently we have also noticed some of the Lucida species also having the blue on the wings and a small amount of blue on the rump.



Photo #1 below is a male Photo #2 is a female. Notice the blue on the males wings and rump area. This blue will be in the same spot on any color of parrotlet.  The females of any color will not have the deep dark blue.  The only color that will not have the blue markings are the Albino and Lutino. However in the right light or under the right lighting conditions you will still be able to notice a shade of blue on the Albino Parrotlet. Lutinos have no color other than a bright yellow. In fact, males have white where it is blue on the other Pacific Parrotlets. So the Lutino Parrotlet is in fact Yellow and White and not solid yellow.

Below are photos of the Green Parrotlet , American Yellow and Blue Parrotlets.

#1   #2
#1 #2

#1 #2

Photos Courtesy of: Google Image Search for male and female parrotlets
Photos Courtesy of the


Origin   (Top)   (My Parrotlets for Sale)
Parrotlets share much of the same regions with large parrots such as Macaws, Amazons, Conures, and Pionus. Their range spreads from the arid tropical zone of western Mexico, along the west coast just below Baja, California to the southernmost parts of Brazil and from the east to west coasts of South America. They inhabit Trinidad and have been introduced to the Netherlands Antilles and the West Indies. In the wild, Parrotlets feed on blossoms, seed heads, fruits and berries.

Activities:   (Top)

Parrotlets are very active and are always busy. Many Parrotlets happily enjoy playing on a small gym outside the cage. However, remember that they are very small and should be supervised at all times when out of the cage. They tend to like to hide behind cushions, which can have obviously dire results if the owner doesn’t know where they are at any given moment. If the bird is not on your shoulder or in its cage, keep your eye on it. I have had great success using my Birdie Playpens for Parrotlets. These allow the birds to play in a safe environment and are great for traveling and taking  your new best friend places he normally would not be able to go.
CAUTION:  Watch out for ceiling fans – Many accidents are caused by owners not keeping the birds wings clipped or not making sure the fans are turned off when the bird is out of the cage. If the fan is not needed – I advise putting a piece of tape over the switch on the wall to remind and keep family members from turning on the fans.





Species (Top)   (My Parrotlets for Sale)

The information on this page is mainly for the Pacific Parrotlet.
Click on the links below for more info about the different species.

The genus Forpus includes all the species of parrotlet commonly kept as pets. The following species within three genera are considered to be parrotlets.

Mexican Parrotlet (Forpus cyanopygius)

Green-rumped Parrotlet (Forpus passerinus)

Blue-winged Parrotlet (Forpus xanthopterygius)
Turquoise-rumped Parrotlet (Forpus xanthopterygius spengeli)

Spectacled Parrotlet (Forpus conspicillatus)

Dusky-billed Parrotlet (Forpus modestus) – or Sclater’s Parrotlet

Pacific Parrotlet (Forpus coelestis) – or Celestial Parrotlet
( You are on the Pacific Parrotlet Page already)

Yellow-faced Parrotlet (Forpus xanthops)
Information, Care, Diet, Breeding

(Top)   (My Parrotlets for Sale)

Essential Green:      (Top)
Also called by some breeders: Clean Green, Complete Green, True Green, Natural Green, Aviary Green and a few other terms.

Also called clean green by some breeders, However since most breeders can not guarantee the pureness of the green DNA back more than a few generations of natural green to green only breeding, I have chosen to call my purest green line of parrotlets Essential Green. I currently have bred 6 generations of natural green pacific babies. By my personal standards a bird will be called Essential Green after 3 generations of green breeding. Meaning the 4th generation of babies will be called Essential Green.  It would be acceptable to call a bird clean green only after 8 generations of natural green breeding by my personal standards, However even after 8 generations of natural green breeding there is no way of knowing if a color mutation was present for example 10 or even 14 generations in the past. Different breeders will call their green line something else, for example some breeders are using Clean Green, True Green, Natural Green and a few other names. My advise when looking for a pure line of green is to ask the breeder how many generations of green is accounted for. In my belief to be somewhat safe I would suggest at least 3 generations of green breeding in order to be classified as Essential Green.

Definition of Essential: 
Being such by its very nature or in the highest sense known ; natural

Definition of Clean:
Free From, Uncontaminated or pure

LuckyFeathers Green Breeding Standards:
3 generations or less of natural green breeding – Green Parrotlet
3 to 8 generations of natural green breeding – Essential Green
8 generations or more of natural breeding – Clean Green /
and possibly still classified as Essential Green
Wild Caught Green Bird Breeding – True Clean Green

*Note – Different breeders will use different terms for their green line of parrotlets. The above standards and the term Essential Green is only my personal aviary standard and not recognized by an official bird club that I am aware of and I am not even sure if anyone else is using this term. However anyone is welcome to use it as far as I am concerned. However I ask that you please not classify a green parrotlet as an Essential Green unless it was produced from parents with 3 or more generations of natural green to green breeding.

True Clean Greens are now rare and are very hard to find and some breeders say they are not available at all in the USA.  Just because a parrotlet is green does not mean that it is a true clean green or does not carry any of the color mutations in its DNA. Breeding two green parrotlets together may produce green babies and in fact some of those babies may very well be true clean greens, However the only way to know for 100% sure is to have DNA testing done. I am not sure what that would cost but assume it would be very expensive.


(Top)   (My Parrotlets for Sale)


Diet & Harmful Foods:      (Top)
For: Pacific Parrotlet and Green-rumped Parrotlets

*NOTE: Some items are switched from safe to not safe often – Depending on any new research that may have been done. Always do an internet search to make sure you have the updated information. For example some breeders will say that OAK is not a safe wood to use with birds and other breeders will say it is completely safe. After some research what I have learned is that the OAK leaves and the bark of the tree is NOT safe, however the wood itself should be safe. Always double check by doing an internet search to see if any new research has been done before giving your bird anything!


Things to remember when feeding your bird:

• Fresh food and water should always be available.

• Vegetables and fruits not eaten within a few hours should be discarded.

• Remember, treats should not exceed 10% of total food intake.

LuckyFeathers: We feed each Parrotlet a high quality cockatiel seed mixed with low sunflower count. Also we mix in a high quality pellet food. I wean all of my babies onto Wild harvest Cockatiel Seed and Pretty bird pellets mixed into the seed. I wean my babies onto this formula because both products are available to my customers in any part of the USA. You can get the Wild Harvest mix at your local Walmart and the pretty bird pellets can be picked up at almost any pet shop. We also supply each baby with lots of millet for the first few months and recommend that my customers also supply millet every day for at least the first week after receiving your new baby. Parrotlets are recommended to have both seed and pellets as a daily diet. Sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamins and fatty acids that Parrotlets need. However you must watch your bird and make sure it is not eating the sunflower seeds only. Many parrots like the sunflower seeds so well that they eat nothing else. If you find that your Parrotlet is doing this, try to leave the seed in for a longer period of time before changing it. Many times this will cause the bird to eat the rest of the seed mix after it has picked out all of the sunflowers. We also use and recommend a liquid bird vitamin that can be added to the birds water. If you are feeding your Parrotlet pellets or a seed pellet mix, we do not recommend vitamins on a daily basis. The pellets are loaded with vitamins so only give your bird liquid vitamins once or twice a week. A diet with to much vitamin content can cause your Parrotlet to get ill or have health issues. Twice a week our birds get one of the below treat meals or some kind of fruit or veggie.

Whole cereals and whole grains:        (Top)
spray millet, amaranth, barley, couscous, flax, whole-grain pastas, oat, quinoa (truly a fruit but used as a cereal), whole-wheat, wild rice, whole rices.

Edible flowers:             (Top)
carnations, chamomille, chives, dandelion, daylily, eucalyptus, fruit tree blossoms, herb blossoms, hibiscus, honeysuckle, impatiens, lilac, nasturtiums, pansies, passion flower (Passiflora), roses, sunflowers, tulips, violets.

More Safe (and tasty) flowers

Note: that the leaves of some of these plants are poisonous to parrots.

Greens and/or weeds:       (Top)      Also see Foliage
mainly ; bok-choi, broccoli and/or cauliflower leaves, cabbage leaves, collard greens, dandelion leaves, kelp, mustard leaves, seaweeds, spirulina, water cress.
occasionally amaranth leaves, beet leaves, carambola (starfruit), chard, parsley, spinach & turnip leaves. All of these feature high oxalic acid contents that induces production of calcium oxalates (crystals/stones) by binding calcium and other trace minerals present in foods and goods with which they’re ingested, possibly leading to calcium deficiencies and/or Hypocalcemia in minor cases, liver or other internal organ damage or failure in more severe cases.

Fruit        (Top)
(except avocados which are toxic): all apple varieties, banana, all berry varieties, all citrus varieties, grapes, kiwi, mango, melons, nectarine, papaya, peach, all pear varieties, plum, star-fruit. Pits and seeds from every citrus and drupe species must always be discarded as they are intoxicating. However, achenes and tiny seeds from pseudo and true berries (bananas, blueberries, elderberries, eggplants, persimmons, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes) are all acceptable.

More Safe (and tasty) fruits          (Top)
Blood orange
Cantaloupe (known as Rockmelon) melon
Coconut – fresh, dried or juice
Dried dates
Figs (fresh)
Goji berry – dried
Honeydew melon
Lychee (Litchi)
Mango (without skin)
Red Currants
Yellow Plum  

NOTE: Make sure that all apple, pear, citrus, and stone fruit seeds/pits are removed before letting your birds eat the fresh fruits. And make sure you wash all fruits and vegetable thoroughly. It’s always best to go organic for your parrots to stay away from pesticides. The chemicals they feed the plants will harm you and your birds.

Legumes: almonds, beans, lentils, peas, nuts and tofu.

Grain and/or Legume sprouts:           (Top)
adzuki beans, alfalfa beans, buckwheat, lentils, mung beans, pinto beans, red kidney beans, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds. Caution with only lima bean and navy bean sprouts which are toxic. Red kidney beans must be thoroughly cooked, as uncooked red kidney beans are toxic.

Vegetables:       (Top)
(except uncooked potatoes, uncooked onions and all mushrooms)

Beans, rinsed and cooked only
Bell Peppers
Brussels sprouts
Celery stalks
Chinese Cabbage      (Top)
Corn (milky & soft)
Green Beans
Hot Peppers (chilli)
Parsley (small/infrequent quantities only)
Peas (Snow and Sugar Snap to be given pod and all)
Potato (cooked)
Pumpkin (and seeds)
Radish Red Beet (fresh)      (Top)
Romain Lettuce
Sprouts and micro-greens (grown fresh or bought fresh) i.e. alfalfa, snow pea, cress, radish, mung bean, lentils, chickpea.
Sweet Potato (cooked only)
Yams (cooked only)

If you don’t see it on this list, Look it up online to be sure its safe.

Non-toxic Foliage:       (Top)

CORN PLANT       (Top)
DAFFODIL (bulbs are poisonous)
TULIP (bulbs only are toxic)

Safe spices:     (Top)
Garlic powder (limited quantities and must be ‘unsalted’)

Pellets:        (Top)           should you feed your parrotlet seed or pellets?
specifically formulated for small tropical Parrot species.
Other fat-free, healthy and nutritious human foods.
Adding these foods provides additional nutrients and can prevent obesity and lipomas, as can substituting millet, which is relatively low in fat, for higher-fat seed mixes. Adult parrotlets often do not always adapt readily to dietary additions, so care must be taken to introduce healthy diets as young as possible (ideally weaned onto fresh foods before introducing chicks onto seeds). Parrotlets like other Parrots learn mainly by mimicry and thus most adult parrotlets will be easily encouraged to try new foods by observing another bird eating the food, or by placing the new food on a mirror.

Parrot species (including Parrotlets) are herbivores. Consequently, they should be fed vegetarian diets that are ideally supplemented with vegetal proteins. Produced by the combination of any type of whole grain/cereal with any type of legume/pulse. Eggs (hard-boiled and/or scrambled) are the only appropriately healthy source of animal proteins. Mostly for birds in either breeding, growing, moulting and/or recovering conditions. High levels of proteins (most particularly animal proteins) is unhealthy for Parrotlets and any other Parrot species living under any alternate conditions (i.e. non-breeding, pets).

Harmful Foods:      (Top)   My Parrotlet Seed Mix

*NOTE: Some items are switched from safe to not safe often – Depending on any new research that may have been done. Always do an internet search to make sure you have the updated information. For example some breeders will say that OAK is not a safe wood to use with birds and other breeders will say it is completely safe. After some research what I have learned is that the OAK leaves and the bark of the tree is NOT safe, however the wood itself should be safe. Always double check by doing an internet search to see if any new research has been done before giving your bird anything!

This is a short list of harmful foods for birds, obviously there are other items and you need to do your homework before you share any foods with your bird.

*Apple Seeds
*Fruit seeds in general are bad. To be safe give your bird NO fruit seeds.
*Avocado or Guacamole
*Tomato Leaves
*Salt – Be careful with foods that have salt. My neighbor gave her Amazon a piece of pepperoni off of her pizza and the bird got ill and passed away the next day. She had an autopsy done and the vet told her the bird died from super high sodium levels, She claims that she did not regularly give her bird any human food and he only had one large piece of pepperoni the night before. Over the years I have heard other stories about birds getting very sick from to much salt.

*Caffeine (in any form)
*Dried Brown Beans (Fully Cooked Beans Are Safe)
*Any High Fat Food

Plants toxic for birds:      (Top)

Save a birds life by posting a link to this page in your facebook group or other bird club sites.

OAK – The wood should be fine, The leaves, bark and root is NOT safe.
PARSLEY (large quantities)
TOMATO PLANT (fruit is safe – must remove any green stems or leaves)

Foods toxic for birds:    (Top)

1) Chocolate

Chocolate poisoning first affects a bird’s digestive system, causing vomiting and diarrhea. As the condition progresses, the bird’s central nervous system is affected, first causing seizures and eventually death.

2) Apple Seeds    (Top)

Believe it or not, apples – along with other members of the rose family including cherries, peaches, apricots, and pears – contain trace amounts of Cyanide within their seeds. While the fruit of the apple is fine for your bird, be aware that in addition to the poisonous seeds, there may be pesticides present on the fruit’s skin. Be sure to thoroughly cleanse and core any apple pieces that you share with your bird to avoid exposure to these toxins.

3) Avocado

The skin and pit of this popular fruit had been known to cause cardiac distress and eventual heart failure in pet bird species. Although there is some debate to the degree of toxicity of avocados, it is generally advised to adopt a “better safe than sorry” attitude toward them and keep guacamole and other avocado products as far away from pet birds as possible.

4) Onions    (Top)

While the use of limited amounts of onion or garlic powders as flavorings is generally regarded as acceptable, excessive consumption of onions causes vomiting, diarrhea, and a host of other digestive problems. It has been found that prolonged exposure can lead to a blood condition called hemolytic anemia, which is followed by respiratory distress and eventual death.

Hemolytic anemia (HEE-moh-lit-ick uh-NEE-me-uh) is a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed and removed from the bloodstream before their normal lifespan is up.

5) Alcohol Although responsible bird owners would never dream of offering their pet an alcoholic drink, there have been instances in which free roaming birds have attained alcohol poisoning through helping themselves to unattended cocktails. Alcohol depresses the organ systems of birds and can be fatal. Make sure that your bird stays safe by securing him in his cage whenever alcohol is served in your home.

6) Mushrooms    (Top)

Mushrooms are a type of fungus, and have been known to cause digestive upset in companion birds. Caps and stems of some varieties can induce liver failure.

7) Tomato Leaves

Tomatoes, like potatoes and other nightshades, have a tasty fruit that is fine when used as a treat for your bird. The stems, vines, and leaves, however, are highly toxic to your pet. Make sure that any time you offer your bird a tomato treat it has been properly cleaned and sliced, with the green parts removed, so that your bird will avoid exposure to any toxins.

8) Salt    (Top)

While all living beings need regulated amounts of sodium in their systems, too much salt can lead to a host of health problems in birds, including excessive thirst, dehydration, kidney dysfunction, and death. Be sure to keep watch over the amount of salty foods your bird consumes.

9) Caffeine

Caffeinated beverages such as soda, coffee, and tea are popular among people – but allowing your bird to indulge in these drinks can be extremely hazardous. Caffeine causes cardiac malfunction in birds, and is associated with increased heartbeat, arrhythmia, hyper activity, and cardiac arrest. Share a healthy drink of pure fruit or vegetable juice with your bird instead – this will satisfy both your bird’s taste buds and nutritional requirements.

10) Dried Beans    (Top)

Cooked beans are a favorite treat of many birds, but raw, dry bean mixes can be extremely harmful to your pet. Uncooked beans contain a poison called hemaglutin which is very toxic to birds. To avoid exposure, make sure to thoroughly cook any beans that you choose to share with your bird.

Other Foods To Avoid

Fatty foods High fat in the diet leads to obesity and may result in lipomas (fatty tumors), lipemia (fat in the blood), and hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease). Any greasy, oily or otherwise fatty food should be avoided. Commonly overfed fatty foods include nuts, French fries, crackers, marbled meat, peanut butter, butter, fried chicken, fried anything etc.

Sugar foods Obviously, frosting is high in sugar and an undesirable foodstuff. Similarly, soda pop, candy and these types of foods are not recommended.

Dairy Birds lack the digestive enzymes needed to break down milk sugar and milk proteins. Uncultured milk products such as milk, cream and butter should not be fed but yogurt, cheeses and dried milk can be supplemented in the diet in moderation (they are also high in fat).    (Top)

Lettuce A typical filler food, lettuce is low in everything except water. It is not recommended as a food supplement since it offers little, if anything, for the bird. If leafy foods are desired by your bird, try feeding spinach, collard greens, tops of bok choy, carrot tops or kale.

Avocado Although higher in fat than other veggies and used in other countries to condition birds for breeding, avocado has been shown to be toxic in some birds and its feeding is no longer recommended, as mentioned above in the Toxic Foods list

There are so many things that are really bad for birds, Make sure to look up the food online first before giving it to your bird. Once the bird takes a bite – it is to late. It is always best to do just a little research in advance before trying new foods. So in general do not feed your bird anything high in salt, sugar, and fat. Table salt, cooking spray, donuts, chocolate, etc. should never be fed. Common toxic foods include avocado and guacamole, caffeine, fruit pits and apple seeds (contain amounts of cyanide), persimmons, onions (prolonged exposure can lead to a blood condition called hemolytic anemia), mushrooms (fungi should be avoided at all costs; it causes digestion problems and can induce liver failure), dried/uncooked beans (contain hemaglutin, a poison toxic to birds), the stems/vines/leaves of tomatoes (the actual fruit is fine), and eggplant.

Different Kinds of Wood – Tree Branches:    (Top)

Birds love to chew, The following kinds of wood should be harmless as long as it has not been treated with anything:

•Apple/Cherry/Pear tree (Malus spec./Prunus avium or Prunus cerasus/Pyrus spec., respectively)
•Red beech (Fagus sylvatica)
•Mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia)
•Willow (Salix spec.)
•Hazelnut (Corylus avellana)
•Poplar (Populus spec.)
•Lime tree (Tilia spec.)
•Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior)
•Plane (Platanus spec.
•Elm tree (Ulmus spec.)
•Common horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)
•Walnut (Juglans regia)
•Alder (Alnus spec.)
•Maple tree (Acer spec.)

Do not collect wood, grass or any wild herbs next to very busy roads (high pollution level!)

Apple Cider Vinegar    (Top)
AKA: ACV for short

I use Apple Cider Vinegar in my birds drinking water. I have done lots of research and read many different studies and articles written about the health benefits of ACV. I didn’t just wake up and decide to start doing it – I actually spent a large amount of time researching and reading studies. Most of the research I read said to use one half cup of ACV per each gallon of water. I decided on 5 tablespoons per gallon. For the first week I added 2 tablespoons to each gallon of water so that the birds could get used to it. After the first week I started using 5 table spoons per gallon and have continued now for over 3 years. I really did notice the benefits. My birds colors were brighter, they laid more fertile eggs and I have had almost zero illness. One of the really good things I liked about ACV is that it allows the birds body to absorb more calcium from their everyday regular food. I have had no slow crop issues with my babies and zero crop issues with the adults. I also raise cockatiels from time to time and they are very well known to have crop issues as babies. Sour crop or slow crop is very common. Adding ACV to the handfeeding formula has 100% stopped all slow or sour crop issues. This is my personal experience and I did a lot of research, However – I am no doctor and everyone should do their own research before starting an ACV treatment. Below I have listed just a couple links to more information for you.

Crop Disorders (Treatment with Apple Cider Vinegar) ACV    (Top)
Note: You must use ACV that contains the mother. (mother = the natural pulp bacteria)
Without the mother you will get no benefits from ACV.

One of the most popular uses of apple cider vinegar in aviculture is using it for the prevention and management of crop infections such as yeast infections. Yeast infections, if left untreated, can lead to crop stasis and sour crop. This treatment can be achieved by mixing 1TBSP of apple cider vinegar with 4 cups of water. Providing this mixture as your birds ONLY water source can be quite helpful in managing these disorders. (As with all health related treatments, seek the advice from your qualified avian veterinarian before beginning any home treatments.) The apple cider vinegar creates an acidic environment in the crop which prevents the yeast from continuing to grow. This treatment also helps to restore the normal intestinal flora. It lowers the PH of the droppings which discourages bacteria from growing.

Crop Disorders (Preventing with Apple Cider Vinegar) ACV    (Top)
Note: You must use ACV that contains the mother. (mother = the natural pulp bacteria)
Without the mother you will get no benefits from ACV.

Another popular use as a preventative of yeast and or fungus infection is to use ACV mixed in with the handfeeding formula.
I use one teaspoon full of ACV in each half cup of handfeeding formula as a preventative. Parrotlets are very strong healthy birds naturally but using the ACV has prevented my babies from ever having any yeast or fungus issues. It is also recommended to use with Budgies and Cockatiels regularly because they have a high chance of having crop issues. In my bird room I give all of my adult birds ACV daily and have done so for years now. I mix 5 tablespoons into one gallon of water. I have read that other breeders recommend one half cup of ACV to each gallon, but I have stuck to only using 5 tablespoons per gallon and have had nothing but excellent results. ACV also has been proven in studies to increase egg production in chickens. After using it for 4 to 5 months I did in fact notice an increase in egg production with my birds. It also allows the birds to absorb upto 40% more calcium from their regular diet. Because I am not a doctor I recommend each breeder or pet owner to do his or her own research online or to ask your vet about using ACV.




 PLEASE NOTE: HEATED vinegar emits toxic fumes similar to carbon dioxide. Bird owners have lost their pets by adding vinegar to their dishwashing cycle, or used it to clean coffee machines.

Apple Cider Vinegar Information Links –      (Top)

My Parrotlet Seed Mix 

Seeds or Pellets? What should you feed your parrotlet?   (Top

This question is one of the most asked questions of all time in the breeding business. I personally feed my birds a good seed mix with pellets added along with fresh fruits, veggies and treats. I do not believe in a total pellet diet. Below is an article I found on the internet that was written by one of the most knowledgeable parrotlet breeders in the word. With over 30 years experience in breeding parrotlets I truly believe she explains this issue best. So as to not try and reinvent the wheel I have posted her article below. 


LuckyFeathers – White Paper Article     (Top of page)

Seeds or Pellets? 

By – Sandee L. Molenda
I have had to discuss this issue and that includes my chapters in books, magazine articles I’ve written, web-pages I’ve published, seminars I’ve given, countless phone and in person conversations and hundreds of emails, I would be almost as rich as the pellet manufacturers. However, because there is so much misinformation and misunderstandings about this subject, I am happy to answer the question again. I am going to go into the history and basic understanding of parrot nutrition and the invention of pellets and you can make your own decision about it.

There are over 350 different species of parrots and over 9,000 species of birds. The only concrete information we have on bird nutrition is for poultry not companion birds. In fact, in hook bills, the only species we know anything about as far as nutritional requirements are lysine in cockatiels. These studies were done by Dr. Tom Roudybush (one of the few vets who is also an avian nutritionist) back in the 1980s. No other studies have been done. This is because if you can find an university doing research on companion birds its for diseases not nutrition. Even then, any honest vet will tell you that disease diagnosis and treatment is more of an art than a science. Nutrition studies are done by commercial food manufacturers, i.e., the pellet distributors. To say they have a conflict of interest when it comes to bias in this area is a gross understatement. That would be like having tobacco companies fund cancer research.
I have bred birds for almost 30 years and witnessed both the advent of pellets and the certification of vets with regard to avian medicine. It doesn’t mean I know more than vets but it certainly does give me both the opportunity for empirical (not anecdotal) data as well as remember why pellets were invented in the first place. Very simply it was for commercial use in making the feeding of caged birds the same as feeding dogs and cats. Of course, this is impossible since, again there are more than 350 species of parrots and only 1 species of dogs and cats. Pellet manufacturers felt that the correct feeding of birds – a diet made up primarily of whole foods (including seeds) but also fruit, vegetables, sprouts, whole grains and legumes was ‘too much work’ by bird owners. They decided if they could make a diet you can simply pour in a bowl they would deal with the usual problem with seed diets, which is the lack of vitamin A and in some species such as Amazons and cockatoos, the high fat content that often leads to fatty liver syndrome. Btw, when most parrotlets are diagnosed with fatty liver syndrome it is usually related to toxins and over vitaminization or medication not diet. So the invention of pellets was really for the convenience of the owners and breeders and, of course, to open up the market so feed companies could make a lot of money. Nothing wrong with that but if you think they were doing something altruistic to help make birds healthy that is incorrect.

One thing a lot of people do not realize is that pellets are made from seed, and it is almost always corn. Corn is one of the least nutritious grains on the planet and it is mostly made up of sugar. I myself do not eat corn for that reason. Moreover, in birds, it is not a natural food. But it is cheap and plentiful. There is one pellet, ironically the one promoted by vets, that is not made from corn. It is made from sunflower seeds. The same dreaded sunflower seeds that vets claim has too much fat when it is in whole form but apparently its ok when it has been processed into a pellet – or perhaps that has more to do with the monetary incentive that vets get for selling that pellet.
In any event, when you are told to feed pellets instead of seed, you are still feeding seed. Highly processed, artificially colored, flavored, often full of preservatives and vitaminized seed. We know with humans that processed foods are not recommended for top nutrition. This is true for just about all animals and it certainly must be true for birds. Birds have better eyesight than humans, they have a sense of smell, have a sensitive tongue for feeling textures and can taste food. I know I wouldn’t like living on something like “Ensure” even thought it is ‘nutritionally complete’ and I’m sure our birds wouldn’t like it either. More importantly, you will not convince me that drinking a highly processed, overly vitaminized, artificially flavored and colored food like Ensure is better for me than say a bowl of fresh salad made with lots of leafy greens, vegetables and lean protein. It also is more interesting and tastes better which adds to my enjoyment and well-being. I would say my birds would feel the same.

On another interesting note, since I know almost all the owners of feed companies personally, the honest ones have told me “Sandee, if you are feeding fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, cooked legumes, sprouted seed, supplements such as bee pollen and calcium in addition to whole seeds, we can’t make a pellet that nutritious. We make pellets for people who either can’t or won’t take the time to feed their birds whole fresh foods.”

As for the issues with mutations, I have dozens of necropsy reports and had countless (off the record of course) conversations with vets, biologists and researchers and they have documented the problems with color mutations and the kidney problems. These have been given to me in confidence so I will not share them nor will I give the names of the vets who have entrusted to me their opinions. My feeling is that it really doesn’t matter. The fact is I have yet to have anyone convince me that feeding highly processed artificially flavored, colored and preserved seed is a better diet than feeding one rich in fresh whole foods including seeds, irregardless of the uric acid problems in mutations. I know I don’t eat that way and I’m not going to feed my birds that way. After all, there are no pellet trees in the wild.

I hope you understand I’m not trying to tell you how to feed your bird. Only you can make that decision. However, you should have all the facts available so you can make appropriate decision for you and your bird. You asked my opinion and the reasons therefore and I hope this meets your expectations. Best of luck to you and your bird.

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.





Housing / Cage:    (Top)

Parrotlets are very active, playful birds. They need a roomy cage to keep them busy. Because of their playful nature, it is best to get them a cage that is large enough for their acrobatics. A parakeet-sized cage might seem right for their size, and at first for the new bird it is – but it is better after the bird gets used to its new home to take a step up to a lovebird or cockatiel-sized cage. The cage should for an adult should be at least 23 X 12 X 16 and up. The bar spacing should be no larger than half an inch so the birds cannot get their small heads caught between the bars, and have horizontal bars. For an adult parrotlet I recommend the largest cage that you can afford. For a baby one year and younger I recommend starting out with a small parakeet size cage. As babies they will feel more secure and it will be easier for them to find the food and water. You can pick up a small starter cage for about $18 at Wal-Mart. They love a variety of interesting toys from which they can swing and hang, as well as mirrors and ladders. They need a stimulating environment so they don’t become bored. We suggest that you purchase lots of extra toys so they can rotate them weekly to keep their parrotlet amused. Because the love to chew, I always get the non-treated wood toys normally made out of pine. Parrotlets should be allowed to chew. It is an important part of being a real parrot.  After your adult parrotlet gets comfortable in your home or after your baby parrotlet matures, It is then time to get a larger cage. Pet birds acclimate well to average household temperatures, not to exceed 90°F; be cautious of extreme temperature changes. The cage should be placed off the floor in an area that is well-lit and away from drafts. Perches should be at least 9” long and 1/4” to 1/2” in diameter; a variety of perch sizes to exercise feet and help prevent arthritis is strongly recommended. I recommend Home Depot or Lowes, These hardware stores carry many different sizes of wooden dowel rods that are priced between $1.00 up to $3.00. They carry them in both pine and oak. If your bird chews up the perches – that’s ok, They need to chew. If it becomes a problem I suggest getting the more pricey rods made of oak. They will take longer to chew up. Also they have square rods. Each cage should have different sizes of perches and at least one square perch. This helps keep their feet healthy. A metal grate over the droppings tray will keep the bird away from walking in the droppings. Most new cages come with the metal grate now. Line the droppings tray with white paper towels. These are not very expensive, they have no harsh inks and because they are white you will be able to spot problems with your birds droppings right away with ease. (such as runny or discolored stools) To avoid contamination, do not place food or water containers under perches. Parrotlets can be kept alone to bond with the owner or kept in pairs to bond with each other. I personally like to see them in pairs even if you are not going to breed. Birds love to play and have fun. Many people just do not have the time that is required for a single bird. If you are set on getting a bird and you know in advance that you will not have at least one hour each day to play with your bird, please get it a cage mate. Birds that get bored or lonely and can develop bad habits such as feather plucking. They are are easy to get stressed and this can result in shorter life spans. If you have two birds and spend a lot of time with them together you will have two wonderful pets. Normally most people get a male and a female, however you can get two of the same sex. Just introduce them carefully and in separate cages at first. Once you see they are going to get along well you can then put them together into a NEW cage. Do not put them into one of the cages they have been living in. The bird who has been living in that cage will consider that HIS home and you may have issues. It is better to introduce them together into a brand-new cage that neither of the birds have been living in. When possible it is always better to get the birds together and when they are young. Adult birds are sometimes harder to cage together. I talk about this more in a different section about parrotlet pairs. Different types of birds should not be housed together.

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Breeding Parrotlets:    (Top)   (My Parrotlets for Sale)


Back in the early 1980’s when I first started breeding birds my goal was to become an expert, I was very young and had no real experience. I believed that the answers to all my questions were printed someplace in a book. How wrong I was. Over the years I have read many books, university studies and watched many videos. But I have to say the most beneficial education was actually learning as I go. The best lesson I learned was to never be blinded by new ideas or new ways of doing things. Breeding birds is actually a science and what you learn as you go – will be the most important information. One way to learn valuable information is to talk with other breeders. Go to the bird shows, meet other breeders, join facebook groups and pick up some good books from the local library. Do not close your eyes to new ideas.


Note: The below breeding information is valid for the pacific, Green-Rumped and Spectacled Parrotlets. Their may be some small differences between the three different kinds of Parrotlets, but as far as diet, breeding, nesting and handfeeding, I personally have not seen any difference and following the same practices with each has been very successful for me.

Parrotlets, particularly hens, should be at least a year old before they attempt to breed or they can become egg bound and die. Males who are too young often do not provide enough food for the hen and the babies which are then abandoned or destroyed. Young pairs can be kept with one another until they go through their first molt, then they should be separated until they are at least eleven months old. It is not uncommon to have hand-fed birds begin laying eggs as young as six months – which can be disastrous.

The male will usually investigate the box first and when he deems it safe, will try and entice the female into it. Once mating has taken place, the hen will lay from four to eight eggs although Pacific hens have been known to produce ten fertile eggs. She will hardly leave the nest box from several days prior to laying until the last baby is gone, which can be as long as nine or ten weeks!


Parrotlets do breed better when you have more than one pair as long as they can hear each other but not see each other. Many people trying to breed a single pair have not had success. This is very important! Stack the cages on top of each other or put something solid in between them so that they can not see each other. These birds cannot be within eye sight of another pair. Not following this suggestion can result in death. Males are very protective of their mates. If they see another male in the same area they will go into attack mode. A Parrotlet will kill its mate to keep it away from, or from flirting with others.

If you have a pair that will not breed don’t give up. Try different things such as moving the breeder box or removing it totally for a couple of weeks. Sometimes when the box is there for a long time they just get used to seeing it and are not interested in checking it out. Before breeding your birds remove any breeding triggers such as sleeping huts or sleeping nests if used. When you add the breeder box make sure it is on the outside of the cage and put it up as high as possible. Move the perches or at least one perch in the cage close to the box so that it forces the birds to be closer to the opening of the box. This will give you a better chance of the birds checking out the box. If they show no interest after a couple of weeks try putting a piece of millet spray in the hole of the box with just a little bit of it sticking out. They will eat the millet and follow it into the box in order to get the rest of it. This sometimes helps trigger the breeding to start. Many people who have no luck with breeding only need to make a few changes in order to get results. I have talked to people who have placed the breeder box inside the cage or on the floor, or they have bought a cage that has a precut hole to attach a breeder box but the pre cut holes are almost always in the wrong spot. I have seen these cages with the precut holes placed down to low on the cage or on the side in the middle. This will not work for many breeder pairs. I have my best results with the breeder box on the outside of the cage placed up as high as possible with perches inside the cage moved close to the opening of the box. Also my advise is to check the box every day even if you know they are not going in it or have not laid any eggs. Many birds are strange breeders and they do not like to be disturbed when laying, sitting on or hatching eggs. In order to get my birds over this fear I check the boxes daily by looking inside. They see me looking in the box every day from the start. When they start laying eggs or hatching eggs they will be completely used to me looking in the box. There are several reasons you want to do this other than getting the birds used to it. Checking the box will allow you to catch problems quicker. Problems such as eggs that are buried or covered with pine shavings, broken or cracked eggs or even chicks that are having a hard time hatching. However I do need to advise you to use caution when looking into the box. If you have not got your birds used to it over time or if you did not start looking in the box prior to them having eggs. Starting this practice after the fact or disturbing birds that are not used to you looking in the box can cause problems. Many pairs will leave the box never to return or they will break or even through out the eggs. Get your birds used to you looking in the breeder box early. Another tip that helps trigger the breeding process is longer days. Keep the lights on in your bird room longer. My lights are on a timer. They turn on at 8am and turn off at 10pm each day. At night I use a backlight ( a regular black party light ) as a night light. This allows the birds to see at night and also gives them a very small amount of UV rays needed for health issues. For more on lighting see my Spectrum Lighting section.

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Parrotlet Breeding Season     (Top)
Pacific & Green Rump Parrotlets do not have a programmed breeding season when kept inside. However, it is best for the health of the birds to limit the amount of clutches they have per year. Most breeders allow their Parrotlets to have two clutches, then rest for two to three months, then let them breed again. (Again good record keeping is a must!) This usually results in three or four clutches per year. I allow my birds to have 3 clutches per year. My Parrotlets normally take a break on their own after the second clutch. This break is normally about 3 months long, then they will breed again. If they do not take a break and go right into a 3rd clutch I will take the box off of the cage as soon as the babies from the 3rd clutch are pulled or I will move the breeders into a larger resting cage where they can get some flight exercise. There is no defined breeding season for Parrotlets kept indoors. My birds breed in every month of the year. Although there are two windows in my current indoor birdroom the spectrum rays do not pass through the glass, I use full spectrum lighting. The lights come on at 8am and go off at 11pm. The birdroom is climate controlled with AC and heat. I never let the temperature go below 80 in the summer. In the winter months it is hard to keep the temperature at 80 all the time, so I have an average temperature of 75 in the winter months.

Caution: Even though birds can handle high heat and low cold temperatures – allowing them to be exposed to large temperature changes that happen quickly can cause illness or death. Keep them away from cold drafts.

VIDEO –  (opens in new window)

Caging    (Top)
Most breeders have the best success with caging anywhere from 18″ square up to 48″ long and anything in between. We are currently using double breeder units with each side measuring 18″x18″x20″ with about 20 inches between units. If cages are placed too close together, the birds may spend all their time arguing and fighting with any neighbor they can see. A visual barrier must be placed between each cage to avoid potential problems. A Parrotlet will kill its mate to keep it away from, or from flirting with others.

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Nest or Breeder Box for Parrotlets    [ my breeder nesting boxes for sale ]
Parrotlets are not nest builders, they will generally accept just about anything provided for them. Breeding pairs should have nest boxes that are six inches wide by ten inches tall and seven inches deep, I currently use the standard budgie nesting box. Place untreated pine shavings in the bottom of the box. About 2 inches deep should be enough. They are not like finches so there is no need to have any nesting material in the cage as the hen will not normally “build” a nest. In most cases she will be taking out the pine shavings from the nest box and you will be replacing them. Go ahead and place it in the box for the hen.  Boxes should be placed on the front of the cages when possible so that when the Parrotlets look out, they only see the inside of their cage. This will help them to feel more secure. Some parrotlets, particularly Green Rumps, are fond of throwing the nest material out of the box so be sure to keep it replaced. Babies can develop crippling orthopedic problems if left on the bare floor. Conversely, sometimes parrotlets will bury their eggs and lose them in the shavings. Start checking nest boxes daily so you will be able to monitor the pairs and deal with any problems as they arise. Also, following a routine will teach the parrotlets to tolerate your inspections and intrusions.

Update – Note: I am in the process of adding and offering breeder nesting boxes and supplies for sale. You can check out the different sizes and prices on my new website   or

Toys, Perches & Swings     (Top)
I keep a perch, swing and at least 1-2 toys in every breeding cage. I believe it is very important to have lots of toys available for breeding pairs. I will be discussing this in another section later.

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Breeding Diet:      (Top)

Nutritionally, it’s more of the same – more fat & more proteins. Follow the normal diet suggestions that I describe above. Except breeding birds will want a greater supply of soft foods such as eggs food, soft fruits and vegetables and millet as these will be the foods that they feed to their young. Supplying these from the start will reassure the breeders that there is an ample food supply to sustain potential chicks, making it more likely that they will breed. High protein foods such as eggs are also advisable at this time.

A calcium supplement is of vital importance at this time, as the hen will be depleting her calcium reserves in egg production. Calcium deficiency at this stage could easily lead to egg binding. Egg binding occurs when the hen’s body has insufficient calcium to deposit on the surface of an egg. The resulting egg is soft, and so when she contracts her muscles to press the egg out, it merely deforms and remains lodged within her. If not treated quickly, this condition can easily be fatal – the hen can succumb to exhaustion, or the egg can burst inside her. Cuttlebone is the obvious solution to this problem, although you can also get commercial calcium supplements designed to be added to water.

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Pairing – The Bonding Process
OR  When putting two parrotlets that have never met each other into the same cage

The disposition of the Parrotlet carries over to breeding practices. Protect them from territorial fights by not putting adult pairs together or in close proximity. If in a double breeder cage, the divider must be solid, not wire. Although some have tried colony-breeding in large cages or flights, they can become very aggressive during breeding and have been known to kill even their own mates or chicks.

Parrotlets bond for life, however, I have split up and re-paired unproductive or problem pairs many times with good results. You must be careful and handle repairing very cautiously.

When setting up a new pair, the hen is placed in the breeding cage several days before the male so that she may become familiar with her new surroundings. Once the male is placed in the cage, watch them from a distance to make sure normal arguing and bickering does not escalate to serious injury. Be ready to step in immediately if you feel either bird is in danger. I suggest putting them next to each other with a cage or wire divider in between them for one to two weeks in advance. For this process I personally use what I call the bonding cage (photo above) I have built several of these little cages and use them all the time. After the birds have been in the bonding cage then try putting them together in the breeding cage. () This process has worked for me many times. Once a male or female decides they do not like the other mate, it is almost always to late. At that point you will have a very hard time getting them to bond. In an attempt to avoid this from happening I always use the divider cage first. Once i see they are not fighting through the wire or have started to feed each other through the wires I generally go ahead and put them together and watch them closely.

Caution of Young Males ( 5 months to a year old )    (Top)
During this time the male will start to sexually mature. He will be come over aggressive. this is not a good time to introduce him to a mate without close supervision. Also a young bonded pair may have problems during this time also. Even though they were put together when they were babies and have been together all this time – The male entering sexually maturity needs to be watched close so that he does not hurt or even kill the female.

View my video of the bonding process – The safest way to introduce two parrotlets to each other.
This is also the best way to introduce any two parrotlets even if they are not going to be for breeding.

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Fighting Pairs      (Top)
Never pair a much older male (over a year who has bred) with younger hen (under a year who has not bred). He can get frustrated if she doesn’t want to breed and starting picking on her.

Keep the wings clipped of the aggressor. This will keep your pairs calm.

If you ever see blood, IMMEDIATELY remove one of the mates from the nest. Males will peck and bite the female’s toes and legs to try to chase her into the nesting box, if she’s not ready to mate he may kill her. (The female can be the attacker also) After separating them, let them sit side by side in adjacent cages and see after a few days if they look like they are ready to be paired again. I give them a second chance, after this I repair with a new mate.

Mating    (Top)
When parrotlets mate the male will tend to put one foot on the females back and then they will turn their tails over so the cloaca’s touch, sometimes the female will put her foot on the male. It is very (VERY) important that you have secure perches that are not loose at all in anyway. If you have loose perches you may get unfertile eggs over and over. It is also normal for parrotlets to mate at the bottom of the cage or in the nest box. Some pairs will mate every day right up until the hen lays the first egg. Normally it take only 10 days from a successful mating for the first egg to be laid. The female may not start sitting on the eggs until she has laid 2 or 3. At normal room temperatures of 76 – 80 degrees it is possible for a fertile egg to be 10 days old before the female starts to sit.

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Laying Eggs    (Top)
Once a hen begins laying, she can be expected to lay one egg every other day, up to 4-6 eggs, although any amount up to about 10 is possible. If three days pass without laying, it is safe to assume the clutch is complete.
I do have some hens who skip a day and lay the eggs every 2 days. Unless the birds are older – it would be not normal for the female to only lay one or two eggs. If your female only lays one or two eggs and no more are laid over the next 2 days check the female for egg binding right away to make sure she does not have an egg stuck. If you believe your hen has an egg that she can not pass you will need to get her to the Vet ( doctor ) right away.

Hatching     (Top)
The eggs take about 18 days to hatch (more like 20 in most cases), although this can be increased for the first egg if the hen doesn’t start brooding immediately and potentially decreased for later eggs in the clutch for the opposite reason.
Since the eggs are laid two days apart and a hen usually starts sitting tightly from the first or second egg, you can expect a wide spread in the ages of the chicks. This shouldn’t be a problem except in the cases of particularly large clutches. I personally only allow my hens to have 3 or 4 babies at the most. Once the 4th baby is hatched or starts to hatch I remove the baby that hatched first. By this time the first baby hatched is going to already be about 10 to 12 days old. This allows the rest of the eggs room to hatch and helps keep the female from wearing herself out with so many babies. If you do not remove babies as I do after the 4th hatch, you take the risk of any eggs after the 4th one not hatching. This is because the female no longer has the room she needs to keep the eggs warm and also with 3 or 4 babies continually moving the eggs around in the box many of them crack.  You will have a much higher yield if you remove some of the babies.  If your hen has only laid 3 or 4 eggs you will not need to worry about this.

Nest Box Size:    (Top)
Vertical box 6″ x 6″ x 6″ (15.2cm x 15.2cm x 15.2cm). ( a good average sized box )

Clutch Size: 4-6 average – sometimes up to 10 is possible.

Incubation Time: 18 days from the time the hen starts to sit on the eggs.

Fledging Age: around 5 weeks old they will start to leave the nest box (if parent raised). If Handfeeding they will start to wean around 6 weeks of age on average. However I do sometimes have babies that do not wean until 7 or 8 weeks. I practice the abundance weaning process.

Definition of Abundance Weaning:    (Top)
The phrase “abundance weaning” describes the way that most reputable bird breeders wean the baby birds that they hand feed. In abundance weaning, the breeders continue to give the chicks handfeedings while offering them solid foods to try, such as millet and softened pellets. The birds are allowed to stay on handfeedings until they themselves decide that they are ready to eat solid foods and drink water on their own. Most breeders agree that abundance weaning techniques lead to birds with more stable physical and psychological health. Abundance Weaning.

Foster Parents   (Top)
Pacific Parrotlets are excellent breeders and highly dedicated parents. They are commonly used as foster parents to incubate eggs and raise the chicks of other parrotlet species as well as their own species. I have several pair that for whatever the reason they just will not sit on the eggs. I remove the eggs from the box and place them under a different hen. Anytime you have to foster chicks or eggs make sure to mark the eggs and keep a close eye out for the hatch date. Keep good records and use a safe food coloring to mark the babies on the feet or the back. This will allow you to keep track of who the foster chicks are and their bloodlines.

LuckyFeathers – White Paper Article    (Top of page)

Tips For Breeding Parrotlets         
  (My Parrotlets for Sale)
August 2002Breeding parrotlets is not for beginners. Parrotlets are aggressive and can be challenging to breed unless you become educated on their needs.1. Parrotlets breed best when you have more than one pair, and they can hear but not see one another. Set up barriers between the cages.

2. Parrotlets breed best in cages that are at least 24 by 24 inches. Yellow-faced parrotlets need bigger cages at least 24 by 36 inches. Nest boxes should be small, grandfather-type boxes at least 10 inches tall, 7 inches wide and 7 inches deep. I use a 2-inch nest hole with a small perch underneath and fill the box up to a couple of inches to the hole with clean pine shavings.

3. Parrotlets do not build nests but chew and move shavings around, so make sure they have a lot even if it must be replaced from time to time. Place the box on the outside front of the cage in the highest corner possible. This way, the parrotlet will only see the inside of the cage when it looks out of the nestbox and feel more secure.

4. In the wild, parrotlets nest in tree cavities. They also prefer fence posts, if available. Several biologists have had success with the birds nesting in man-made boxes even when tree nest cavities are available.

5. Breeding pairs of parrotlets need more food and better variety than pet parrotlets. Include some seed in the diet of breeders. This increases fertility and helps prevent stress bars in the offspring. Give them a mix higher in fat and protein, such as safflower-based hookbill mix with sunflower and hemp.

6. They also need fruit, vegetables, greens, whole-grain breads, cooked dried beans, rice and pasta. Higher protein foods such as egg food, tofu and cooked lean chicken should also be added. Sprouted seeds are also excellent. Cuttlebone and mineral block is a must, as is powdered calcium and vitamins sprinkled on the fresh foods several times a week. Calcium is extremely important to prevent egg binding in females, so supply as much cuttlebone as the females will eat. Many hens will eat a 6-inch cuttlebone a week for several weeks prior to laying.

7. Most parrotlet species do not have a programmed breeding season. However, it is best for the health of the birds to limit the amount of clutches they have per year. Most breeders allow their Parrotlets to have two clutches, then rest for two to three months, then let them breed again. This usually results in three or four clutches per year. Parrotlets lay a white egg every other day until a clutch of 6 to 8 is reached; some hens will lay as many as 10 but 6 to 8 eggs is average.

8. Incubation is 21 days. Chicks hatch in the order they were laid. Most breeders pull them for hand-feeding at 10 – 14 days. I try to pull mine around this time right before the eyes open. I like to be the first thing my babies see in life.

9. Parrotlets should be fed every four hours but not during the night. They start picking at food at 4 to 5 weeks and are usually weaned by 6 or 7, unless they are spectacled parrotlets, which usually take 8 or 9 weeks. It is always best to keep babies an extra week after they are weaned just incase one of them reverts back to formula for a few days. This does happen often.

10. Parrotlets do not bond with the hand-feeder, but rather they bond with the person who they spend the most time with after they are weaned.

11. Most species are mature at one year of age. In the wild these birds are sometimes breeding as early as 5 or 6 months of age. However it is not recommended for bird breeders to allow any parrotlet to breed prior to one year.       (Top


LuckyFeathers – White Paper Article    (Top of page)

Breeding Parrotlets   
 (Top of page)
By: Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.
Referenced – from the now closed – International Parrotlet Society

Many people who discover parrotlets are so enchanted with their delightful personalities that they decide to breed them. Generally speaking, parrotlets are not easy to breed unless you are familiar with their unique breeding characteristics. Most parrotlet species only need to be a year old to breed, the exceptions are Mexicans, Blue Wings and Yellow Face which breed after two years of age. They do not need a large flight but you can only keep one pair in a cage. This is true even if in a large flight; parrotlets are very aggressive and territorial and will kill other birds, including other parrotlets if housed together. Mexican parrotlets are the exception and the only parrotlets that can be safely colony bred. Breeding parrotlets also have certain dietary requirements including a diet much higher and fat and protein than other parrots. Finally, parrotlets breed better when there are more than one pair and when they can hear but not see each other.

Most pairs usually are careful parents although on a first clutch it is not unusual for them to have problems. However, even if the first clutch dies, they will usually do a wonderful job with the second. Green Rumps can be a bit more difficult to breed than Pacifics but if they have an undisturbed area and are well-fed, they will usually produce healthy babies. Blue Wing parrotlets can take up to a year before settling in and breeding but are usually good parents and, like the others, will produce multiple clutches through out the year.

Mexican parrotlets are as different from the other species as night and day. Unlike the others, they have a specific breeding season which is late summer. They can also be kept in colonies. Unlike other parrotlets, they produce only one clutch a year, sometimes every other year. Their babies even take longer to hatch than the others. They are very gentle and sweet but very difficult to breed. They are also spectacularly beautiful especially when in a planted aviary.

Housing Breeding Pairs    (Top)

Most species breed well in a minimum cage of 18 inches tall, 24 inches long and 24 inches deep. They can also be bred successfully in three to six foot long flights. Both Mexicans and Yellow Face breed much better in flights than in cages. Not surprisingly, many breeders feel their birds are in much better condition and have higher productivity with large flights. Perches must be sturdily attached to the cage as infertility can sometimes be traced to wobbly or unstable perches. Natural wood perches should be used instead of dowels to exercise the bird’s feet. Cages should have pull out trays with grates to keep the birds off the bottom. Food and water should be placed so they are not soiled by droppings. Use open food dishes as parrotlets often will not stick their heads into a dish with a hood and can starve. Water may be provided in a glass tube fountain or rodent style waterer in order to keep the parrotlets from bathing in their water bowl.. This should be done using a both the tube waterer and water bowl. Once the parrotlets are drinking out of the tube waterer, the bowl can be removed.  .

Breeding pairs should have nest boxes that are six inches wide by ten inches tall and seven inches deep, which should be hung on the outside of the cage and filled with untreated pine shavings to within two inches of the nest box hole. Boxes should be placed on the front of the cages so when the birds look out, they only see the inside of their cage. Some birds, particularly Green Rumps, are fond of throwing the nest material out of the box so be sure to keep it replaced. Babies can develop crippling orthopedic problems if left on the bare floor. Conversely, sometimes birds will bury their eggs and lose them in the shavings. Mexican parrotlets seem particularly prone to this habit. If this is the case, remove the shavings a little at a time until the problems ceases or try using heavier shavings. In any case, by checking nest boxes daily, you will be able to monitor the pairs and deal with any problems as they arise. Also, following a routine will teach the birds to tolerate you.

As previously mentioned, parrotlets breed best when there are more than one pair in the aviary and they can hear but not see each other. Pairs can be separated by wood barriers, foliage, burlap or even cardboard between the cages. Hand-fed birds generally make the best parents as they are not as sensitive to stress and are used to people. Be careful, however, hand-fed birds have no fear of people and, females especially, will inflict a painful bite if given a chance. Parrotlets also have a much deserved reputation for not letting go once they latch on. When removing babies, a piece of cardboard can be used to hold the hen back as she will not usually leave the box the way males do. Females have been known to attack babies as they were being pulled so the utmost caution must be used.

Nutrition for Breeding Parrotlets    (Top)

Pairs feeding babies will often consume three or more times the normal amount of food. In fact, clutch size is directly tied to the amount of food available to the parents. A good-quality small hookbill or cockatiel seed mix should be fed. They can also be fed a commercial pelleted diet, however, they also require some seed in the diet when breeding. Fortunately, parrotlets will usually eat both seeds and pellets unlike most other parrots. They still require fresh fruits, vegetables and greens daily. Breeding pairs also need sprouted seed, egg food, whole grain breads, cooked (dried) beans, whole-grain breads, potatoes, rice and pasta which should also be fed daily. Fresh clean water must be available at all times. Powdered vitamins should be sprinkled on the soft foods several times a week. Wheat grass and Spirulina can be added to the egg food, if desired. A small amount of bee pollen several times a week can also improve their health and is part of their natural diet.

The importance of calcium to breeding hens cannot be stressed enough. Cuttlebone and mineral block should always be available and calcium powder should also be sprinkled on the soft foods in addition to vitamins. Most hens will devour massive amounts of cuttlebone immediately before they lay eggs. It is common for a hen to eat a six-inch cuttlebone once a week for several weeks prior to laying. If the hens do not receive enough calcium they will certainly become egg-bound.

Breeding Behavior    (Top)

Parrotlets, particularly hens, should be at least a year old before they attempt to breed or they can become egg bound and die. Males who are too young often do not provide enough food for the hen and the babies which are then abandoned or destroyed. Young pairs can be kept with one another until they go through their first molt, then they should be separated until they are at least eleven months old. It is not uncommon to have hand-fed birds begin laying as young as seven months – which can be disastrous.

The male will usually investigate the box first and when he deems it safe, will try and entice the female into it. Once mating has taken place, the hen will lay from four to eight eggs although Pacific hens have been known to produce ten fertile eggs. She will hardly leave the nest box from several days prior to laying until the last baby is gone, which can be as long as nine or ten weeks! Females lay one egg every other day. In most species, the babies take 21 days to hatch. Mexican and Yellow Face parrotlets take 24. In all species of parrotlets, the females incubate the eggs and the males provide food and protection. Sometimes the hen will allow the male into the box and even incubate the eggs but this seems to be an individual preference in each pair.

Hand-Feeding and Socializing    (Top)

As with all baby parrots, parrotlets are blind, deaf and almost naked when they hatch. Even so, they have loud cries for their tiny size as Green Rumps, Blue Wings and Spectacles can often be heard begging for food when only a few hours old. They are extremely tiny when they hatch – no larger than a bumble bee. Unlike many species of parrot, parrotlet hens begin incubating almost immediately after laying the first egg, therefore the babies hatch in the order the eggs were laid. This leaves a great deal of age difference between the oldest and youngest babies, especially in large clutches. Most breeders who hand feed, leave the babies with their parents until they are 10 to 14 days old. Babies should be placed in a brooder which is set at 89° F and checked often to make sure they are comfortable. Birds that are younger than eight days, particularly Green Rumps and Spectacles, need a temperature of 91° or higher. They are fed every four hours, although not during the night. Younger chicks are fed more frequently and given a 2:00 a.m. feeding. Parrotlets can be fed with a spoon or syringe. Ten-day old babies generally take between one and two cc’s per feeding, gradually working up to a maximum of six by the age of three weeks.

Babies also need to be cuddled and socialized in order to become the best possible pets. Babies that are simply fed and put back in the brooder with little or no interaction are not as sweet and do not bond as well to their new owners. Also, they should be exposed to as many things as possible to keep them from becoming nervous or easily frightened.

The sex of parrotlet babies can be determined when they are about three weeks old. By the time their pin feathers are growing in, you can see the blue feathers of the males. Mexicans, Spectacles and Blue Wings sometimes take as long as their first molt to produce the blue feathering on the rump, but it is evident on the wings as soon as they begin to feather out. Color enhancement after the first molt can also occur in various species such as the hens of the Pacific subspecies.

Weaning    (Top)

Babies show an interest in solid foods when they are approximately four to five weeks old. They should be given millet spray, finely chopped fruits, vegetables and greens, whole grain bread, small seeds such as finch and cockatiel, pellets, cooked rice and pasta. Dry foods are scattered over the bottom of the brooder; cooked foods are placed in flat dishes. The temperature in the brooder is gradually lowered to room temperature as the babies feather out. At about five weeks, they are placed in a large weaning cage with low perches and food is fed on paper plates or small flat dishes placed on the bottom of the cage. By the time the birds are six weeks of age, they are usually completely weaned. However, birds are individuals, if one is weaning more slowly than the others, he should continue to be fed.. It is better to continue feeding a few more days than have a tragedy. Some species, such as Blue Wings and Spectacles take longer to wean, usually eight weeks rather than six. Also be sure to provide plenty of toys for the babies so they will learn how to play and grow up healthy and well-adjusted.

Parent-Raised Babies    (Top)

Parent-raised babies usually do not make good pets but there are exceptions. Sometimes it is possible to allow the parents to feed the babies and remove them several times a day to be handled. Green Rumps seem to be very tolerant of this routine; Pacifics would be more difficult. If you do allow parents to raise their babies, be sure and remove the father when the babies fledge or he will kill his sons. The mother can continue to feed them until they wean and then the babies can be moved to their own cage.

Breeding Color Mutations    (Top)

So far, almost all the parrotlet mutations have been created in the Pacific parrotlets. There are a few mutations in the other species such as pied Spectacles, cinnamon and possibly dilute Green Rumps and blue Blue Wings but mainly it is the Pacifics that have the most diversity of colors. Also, all but one are recessive, non-sex linked mutations. Currently, there are blue, American yellow, fallow, cinnamon, lutino, pastel, gray green, American white, silver, gray, recessive pied, dominant pied, albino and combinations such as fallow-blue, pastel-blue and cinnamon blue. Understanding recessive single mutations, using blue, is as follows:


  • bb  x bb = 100% Blue Offspring

  • bb  x bG = 50% Blue & 50% Blue Split Offspring

  • bb x GG = 100% Split to Blue Offspring

  • bG x bG = 25% Blue, 25% Normal & 50% Split to Blue Offspring


  • GG = Normal Green

  • bb = Visual Blue

  • bG = Split to Blue


In order to produce comination mutations such as dilute-blue (formerly “American white”), albino and fallow-blue, pastel-blue and cinnamon-blue, it takes at least two generations. In order to produce dilute-blue, you need a dilute and blue pairing the first generation. The second, must be an dilute/blue split pair, paired with unrelated dilute/blue splits. This would produce the following percentage of mutations:

  • 6.25 % GG

  • 12.50% bg

  • 12.50% dG

  • 25.00% Gdbb-d

  • 6.25% bb

  • 12.50% bb-d

  • 12.50% db-d

  • 6.25%dd

  • 6.25% b-db-d

  • GG = Normal Green

  • bb – Visual Blue

  • dd = Visual Dilute

  • b-db-d = Visual Blue-Dilute

  • bG = Blue Split

  • dG = Dilute Split

  • bb-d = Blue Split to Blue-Dilute

  • db-d = Dilute Split to Blue-Dilute

  • Gdbb-d = Green Split to Dilute, Blue and blue-dilute

Record Keeping    (Top)

As with any good breeding program, accurate records are a must. Each baby should be closed-banded and all information as to parent identification, date egg was laid, date of hatch, date baby was pulled and medical or veterinary information should be recorded. In addition, babies should be weighed each morning prior to their first feeding so as to monitor gains and losses.

Parrotlets are too small to be micro-chipped so closed-banding is the only way to identify the bird. More and more states are banning wild-caught birds and mandating that captive-bred birds be closed-banded. This is completely safe when the proper size band is used. I recommend either American or English budgie bands only. Never use lovebird which not only is easly caught on items but can be put on the leg of a full-grown parrotlet. The only exception is Yellow Face parrotlets which need lovebird bands as the others are too small.

Disinfection and Hygene    (Top)

As with all bird breeding operations, cleanliness and sterilization is an absolute must. While common chlorine bleach is okay for disinfecting most equipment such as feeding dishes, cages, baskets, tubs and scales, a virucide/pseudomonacide should be used for soaking syringes, feeding spoons, brooders and anything that has been in contact with either babies or a sick bird. Also, use common sense such as never bringing strange babies into the nursery and always quarantining new birds for at least 60 days.  

Whether breeding parrotlets for pets, producing new color mutations or saving rare species for conservation, these diminutive parrots have a lot to offer. They are beautiful, intelligent, quiet and hardy.  So, if you are looking for a parrot with plenty of personality but cannot eat the dining room table, consider a parrotlet.


Breeding Life of Parrotlets:      (Top)

Females 4-8 years – Closer to 3 if she has been over bred.
Males 7-10 years

In most cases, males have a longer breeding life cycle than females.

Many things depend on the life of a parrotlets breeding cycle such as bird management, care, diet and environment. With females who were started early around 11 months old and did not receive proper rest periods the life cycle is shorter – 4 to 5 years or if she was over bread it is closer to 3 years. Females who have been well taken care of and allowed proper rest periods can produce eggs 4 to 8 years. Remember this is just an average. Females are born (hatched) with all of the egg cells that they will ever have already developed inside of their body. If she has been laying eggs non stop for 3 or 4 years her breeding cycle is close to an end. This however does not reflect or have anything to do with her actual life span except that over breeding may put stress on her health and in return shorted her life, But with any bird, bad conditions and diet will shorten the life span and the breeding life. I personally try to sell my female breeders around the age of 3. This allows a new breeder who buys her to have several years left of breeding ( on average )

Males can breed and produce fertile eggs for much longer. The average is generally 7 to 10 years. I have one male that is still producing at 14 years old and have heard from other breeders stories of males producing well into their teens.

So it is safe to assume that females can produce well between 1 and 4 years of age.
After 3 years you will notice the clutch size starting to drop, the female who used to lay 8 eggs will start laying only 3 or 4 eggs or in some cases only 1 or 2. Also the amount of unfertile eggs will start to get higher. For the health and a longer breeding life I recommend no more than two or at the very most 3 clutches per year. Never allow them to have 3 clutches for two years. Always allow them to rest after the second clutch for at least 4 months if you are going to allow them to have a 3rd clutch.  If they go into a 3rd clutch before you get the change to remove the box then make sure to allow her a good 5 to 6 months rest before she starts a 4th clutch. After the clutches are raised you need to allow the female to rest until the next years breeding season or at least 5 to 6 months.

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Breeding Recessive mutations using Punnett’s Square   (Top of page)


Breeding Recessive mutations demonstrated using Punnett’s Square
Each bird donates one set of chromosomes expressed with capital letters to demonstrate dominance. Recessive mutations are expressed with lower case letters. In this example “B” = blue so a normal bird not having any blue genes is expressed as “BB”. A blue bird is expressed as “bb”. A split bird is expressed as “Bb” denoting one blue gene.
Single Mutations – the following examples are valid for working with any autosomal recessive mutation. Although the blue mutation has been used in these examples, these Punnett Squares will apply to Blue, American Yellow, Pastel (European Yellow), Lutino, or Fallow.


b b
B Bb Bb
B Bb Bb
Blue (bb) to Normal Green (BB)
100% green/split blue (Bb)

b b
B Bb Bb
b bb bb
Blue (bb) to split blue (Bb)
50% visual blue (bb)
50% green/split blue (Bb)

B b
b Bb bb
Split blue (Bb) to split blue (Bb)
25% normal green (BB) **
50% green/split blue (Bb) **
25% visual blue (bb)** It is not possible to visually determine a normal from a split, they must be test bred

B b
Split blue (Bb) to normal green (BB)
50% normal green (BB) **
50% green/split blue (Bb) **** It is not possible to visually determine a normal from a split, they must be test bred

Double Mutations – the following examples are valid for working with any two autosomal recessive mutations. These Punnett Squares will apply to any combination of Blue, American Yellow, Pastel (European Yellow), Lutino, or Fallow.


bY bY
By Bb
By Bb
Blue (bbYY) to Yellow (BByy)
100% green/split blue & yellow (BbYy) (double split)

BY By bY by
bY bB
by bB
Double split (BbYy) (blue & yellow) to double split (BbYy) (blue & yellow)
6.25% normal green (BBYY) **
12.5 normal green/split yellow (BByY) **
12.5 normal green/split blue (bBYY) **
25% normal green/split yellow & blue (BbYy) (double split) **
6.25% Yellow (BByy) **
12.5% Yellow/split blue (bByy) **
6.25% Blue (bbYY) **
12.5% Blue/split yellow (bbYy) **
6.25% White (bbyy)** It is not possible to visually determine whether any bird is a split, they must be test bred

by by
bY bb
bY bb
White (bbyy) to Blue (bbYY)
100% blue/split yellow (bbYy)




Handfeeding Formula – Food:   (Top)  

 I recommend a video so you can see exactly how to feed the chick as just one mistake when feeding can drown the chick. Do some research on YouTube and the internet and watch some videos if you do not know what you are doing. One of the best ways to learn is to find someone who is already rearing baby parrots and try and visit them to see how they do it. Be warned, it seems very easy when you see an experienced hand feeder at work but there are so many things that can go wrong and with these very small chicks, you do not normally get a second chance – one mistake and they are dead. Parrotlets start to wean around 5 weeks of age and great patience is needed at this time, at this time food should be offered on a flat low dish on the cage floor and lots of variety.

Exact Handfeeding Formula
UPDATE – I am now using the new High Fat Formula made by the same company.
I personally like the high fat formula for my babies. Being such a small bird the extra fat seems to put just a little bit more weight on the bird. The extra weight allows them a better chance to thrive.

Exact Handfeeding Formula I use Exact Handfeeding Formula and have had great success with it over the years.
Exact Hand Feeding Formula was the first “instant “ formula available and is the most researched and respected product used by professional breeders, veterinarians and conservation programs throughout the world. All of my breeder friends also use this formula.

Exact’s balanced, high-nutrient formula helps babies grow faster, wean earlier and develop better, brighter plumage.
When used properly, exact will not cause crop slow-down
exact Hand Feeding Formula contains probiotics to encourage a healthy population of intestinal microorganisms. The selected species have been chosen specifically for their vitality, stability, and overall benefits to a bird’s system.
Digestive enzymes (amylase and protease) are included to insure adequate digestion of carbohydrates and proteins. These enzymes are of particular value in the newly hatched baby or in a bird experiencing digestive difficulties.
exact Hand Feeding Formula has compatible tastes and ingredients with exact Conversion and exact adult daily diets reducing digestive upsets during weaning, or when pulling young from the nest of exact fed parents.
With DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid for development of heart, brain, and visual functions
High-Nutrient Formuladeveloped for the needs of Baby Birds
Babies develop better feathering & brighter plumage
Trusted by Avian Veterinarians & Breeders
Babies grow faster & wean earlier



•IMPORTANT – DO NOT REUSE MIXED FORMULA!! Discard and mix fresh at each feeding.
•For hatch to 2 days old – formula should be made in small quantities and thoroughly stirred before feeding. Separation at this concentration is expected and is not a problem at this early stage because primary requirements are for water and water soluble nutrients. After chick is two days old, the food concentration must be increased (see feeding chart).
•Microwaving should be avoided. Microwaving can create “hot spots” in the formula and increase the likelihood of accidental crop burns. If required, limit microwaving (on high) to no more than 5 seconds per ½ cup of mixed formula at a time. Be sure to follow this with vigorous stirring before retesting the temperature and feeding. Cover large batches of formula while microwaving to avoid a moisture loss. STIR FORMULA THOROUGHLY TO AVOID POTENTIAL OF BURNING THE CROP. Always test formula for proper temperature before feeding.
•Monitoring weight gain and loss is the best way to identify a problem before it becomes visibly obvious. Weigh and record the weight of each baby bird every morning before the first feeding.
•A healthy chick should gain weight every day until it begins the weaning process. If weight gain stops, but weight is maintained, watch the bird closely. Loss of weight indicates a problem and should be investigated immediately


Take a look at these videos I found on YouTube.

I Feed all of my babies with a Syringe. One of the videos below shows you how to use a spoon. These videos are of baby parrotlets, however it is the same for all baby birds including budgies, conures and cockatiels. I have more information below on all of the different ways you can feed baby birds.



Additional Resources
Exact   Great information and tips, what to do if the crop slows down and many other great feeding tips. I recommend everyone read this.

Handfeeding Info:    (Top)  

Below are listed some of the different ways to handfeed. I personally like and use the Syringe method myself.
I also allow the babies to tell me when it is time for them to wean. I practice the abundance weaning process with each baby bird.

Definition of Abundance Weaning:
The phrase “abundance weaning” describes the way that most reputable bird breeders wean the baby birds that they hand feed. In abundance weaning, the breeders continue to give the chicks handfeedings while offering them solid foods to try, such as millet and softened pellets. The birds are allowed to stay on handfeedings until they themselves decide that they are ready to eat solid foods and drink water on their own. Most breeders agree that abundance weaning techniques lead to birds with more stable physical and psychological health. Abundance Weaning.

Syringe Feeding     (Top)  

Syringes are widely used for handfeeding. It also benefits from the chick’s natural feeding response and teaches the baby to eat. The handfeeder can easily control the flow of the formula. I prefer the syringes with the rubber-tipped plungers, as they operate very smoothly.

However, it is more difficult to know when the mouth is full. Another potential problem is that syringes are very difficult to disinfect. I keep mine soaking in disinfect solution at all times when not in use. I rinse them off good before using.

I keep the syringes very clean and have not had a problem with bacterial infections.

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Spoon Feeding     (Top)  

Spoon feeding is the easiest and “fool-proof” way to feed babies. It takes advantage of the baby’s natural feeding response and introduced it to the taste of food. You can do a search on Yahoo to see videos of how this is done.

The size of the chick will dictate the size of the spoon. I have a couple of small spoons that I like. I bent the sides up to form a trough. This allows me to control the flow of the formula quite easily. I watch carefully to see if the baby’s mouth is full, or if it needs to take a breath.

The negative part about spoon feeding is that it gets very messy. Have some wet paper towel available for a clean-up after the feeding.

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Dixie Cup      (Top)  

Some breeders swear by this method. They use a Dixie cup with one edge pinched to a point. I personally have never used this method, but it sounds easy and the big benefit is that there are no dishes to wash afterwards.

Power Feeding /Force Feeding / Gavage / Tube Feeding   (Top)  

I do not power feed my babies. I have had to tube feed over the years when the baby simply will not take the formula any other way. Power feeding is also known as Force-feeding, gavage or tube feeding. Gavage feeding is a method of feeding, in which the food is pumped into the crop through a tube that has been put down the esophagus and into the crop.

Gavage feeding is typically used by handfeeders with too many babies to feed. Birds fed in this manner never learn to eat and can be very difficult to wean.

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Emergency Handfeeding Formula:    (Top)

I found the below info and formula mix someplace on the internet a long time ago and thought it important to share.

Sometimes an emergency occurs and you have to hand feed a baby unexpectedly. If you don’t have hand feeding formula and pet shops are closed, this recipe will make a formula for baby birds until you are able to buy some the next day. The ingredients should be available at any 24 hour grocery store. In an emergency situation, you can also feed baby birds, human baby food dinners, stage 1 for infants instead of the recipe below Choose a chicken, turkey, veal or beef dinner with noodles or rice.

* 2/3 cup of Gerber’s or Beech Nut mixed grain or high protein baby food cereal,

* 1 teaspoon of peanut butter–only use a commercial, name brand , NOT organic.

* 1 teaspoon of baby food applesauce

* 1 cap full of unflavored Pedialyte

* Distilled or bottled water, enough for needed consistency

* Dip a plastic, disposable spoon in boiling water then bend the tip to make a little funnel for hand feeding. This will work if you do not have feeding syringes.

Full Spectrum Lighting  ( Very Important )   (Top)  


I use full spectrum lights only in my birdroom.


Unless you have an outdoor aviary you should have full-spectrum UVA/UVB lighting. Without proper lighting pet birds and breeding birds can become vitamin D deficient. When you are looking for a quality breeder of any parrot species insist on one that provides full-spectrum lighting for proper egg development and vitamin D. It is very expensive to provide this lighting in a full scale large bird room or indoor aviary. Twice a year I change out my spectrum lights and the bill runs around $350.00. However for the pet owner, it does not cost a lot at all because you only need to purchase one bulb. The average cost of the bulb runs around $20.00

Glass windows filter out up to 90% of the beneficial UV spectrum unless that glass was made pre 1939. Aluminum screening used can filter out 30% or more UV light. High-grade acrylic (cages) filters out less than 5% of the UV light.

Sunlight and artificial sources of light are measured by color temperature and rendering. If you were to consider the intensity of the sun at noon daylight, it is about 5500 degrees Kelvin (K).


Natural light not only provides warmth, but brings out the intensity of colors in a way that artificial fluorescent lighting rarely mimics.

Natural daylight is also measured at a color rendering index (CRI) of 100, which shows the vibrant and intensity of colors in and around our environment. Our full spectrum light for birds, the Vital Lamp spiral bulbs, have a CRI of 88, and will bring out colors in your bird’s feathers that you may not have even known existed while using a standard fluorescent cage light.

Full spectrum fluorescent light emits light in all parts of the visual spectrum and some in the ultraviolet range (short-wavelength, high-energy light). To be a full spectrum bulb, the color temperature must be 5000K or greater, and the CRI must be at least 88

A standard fluorescent bulb generally only has a CRI of between 60 and 75, which means the intensity of the source of light is much lower, the temperature is cooler, and there is a noticeable difference or dulling of colors when objects are placed under a standard bulb.

Some Major Benefits of full spectrum lights   (Top)  


* Prepares bird for seasonal changes
* Encourages breeding behaviors
* Strengthens immune system
* Lowers obsessive/compulsive behavior frequencies
* Relieves psychological distress
* Mimics a bird’s natural environment
* Aids in Vitamin D Synthesis
* Maintains constant environmental temperature
* Aids a bird’s visual acuity
* Increases the longevity of the captive bird

Birds have four-color vision and the lower wavelength ultraviolet (UVA) adds the fourth visual perspective. Correct spectrum and photo period of light are also critical factors in normal preening and Breeding as well as the skin and feather health of birds. If a bird’s system is not stimulated through adequate environmental lighting to maintain proper endocrine function, it may become lethargic and not continue normal preening or breeding behaviors.


One of the greatest benefits of full spectrum light for birds is the natural synthesis of Vitamin D precursors allowing the animal to naturally regulate calcium uptake.


Another important benefit of full spectrum lighting is the effect it has on the glandular system; the Thyroid Gland controls how and when the other glands function and for it to function properly, it needs to be stimulated by normal photo periods of full-spectrum light. The Hypothalamus is involved in proper feather development and skin. The Pineal Gland controls the cyclical processes such as molting and the reproductive cycle.


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full spectrum light for birds can help reestablish the body’s natural rhythm, which controls things like timing of sleep, hormone production, body temperature, and other biological functions.

What characteristics should the light have?      (Top)
What Kind of Light do I get?

There is a lot of conflicting information about what kind of full spectrum lighting is best for birds. But it seems to be generally agreed that the following is ideal:

It should have a CRI (color rendering index) of 90 or more, preferably 95-98. Natural sunlight has a CRI of 100.

A color temperature of 5000K is considered to be perfect but temperatures up to 5500 or so are OK. 5500K is the color temperature of the sun at noon on the equator.

The light fixture should have an electronic ballast, not magnetic, to avoid flicker problems which are invisible to humans but stressful to birds. Fluorescent light fixtures are currently manufactured with electronic ballasts because they are much more energy efficient than the old magnetic ballasts. But this changeover is fairly recent (beginning around 2002) and older fixtures might have a magnetic ballast.

What I Use:          (Top)   (My Parrotlets for Sale)

I use a CRI of 90 to 94 and Color temperature of 5500K.
But some lights that call themselves full spectrum are only talking about the human visual spectrum, which is more limited than the avian visual spectrum. You need to know that you can NOT get the bulbs you need at Wal-Mart or Kmart. They need to be ordered or purchased from a specialty shop or pet store.

I will be offering these bulbs for sale on my website soon. Until I have them in stock and listed on the website you can get them directly from BlueMax at   –  The bulbs I use are true full spectrum (visual). I use the screw in  compact fluorescent lights (CFL) for short. They also offer the long tube bulbs as well. If  you want to get the long tube bulbs you will need to call them for the model numbers.

CFL Model #BLDS269055L
26 watts (equal to 150 watts of light)
5500 K   (Kelvin temperature)
90 CRI Minimum (Color Retention Index) – the actual CRI will be between 90 and 94 with these bulbs. They guarantee that it will not be below 90.

For a small room you really don’t need more than one or two bulbs. My bird room is actually my car garage and in order to have really nice light I use 22 bulbs that I change out every 6 months. In between changing the bulbs I use a can of pressure air to keep them clean of dust.

It may not be necessary to change out the bulbs as often as I do. I change mine out because I need to make sure the color spectrum does not fade over time and drop below 90 CRI – also if the bulbs gets old it could be possible that it starts to put out more of the red or blue color spectrum rays. To much of the Blue spectrum can result in producing more females. In order to assure this does not happen in my bird room I always have a couple of the old regular Incandescent type bulbs running (60w) Because the older Incandescent bulbs put out a lot of the red color spectrum this gives me a good balance and assures I don’t end up with to many female babies.

DO NOT position the bulb where the bird will have to look into the bulb to look out of the cage. The bulb should be above the bird at all times.

As a night light in my bird room I use two 4 foot black lights. The black lights give off enough light to reduce the risk of your birds having night fright spells. Also they produce some of the ultraviolet rays that help your bird produce Vitamin D.

The full spectrum color rays are more important than the ultraviolet rays. From all of the studies I have read the bulbs that produce ultraviolet rays put out such a little amount that it just does not justify paying the extra expense. Also even the best ultraviolet bulb only lasts about 40 to 50 days. After this amount of time the bulb still works however the ultraviolet rays have dropped very low if not totally down to zero. Also I did not like the fact that you would have to put the bulbs very close to the birds (16 to 20 inches ) So after a lot of reading I decided to use only the full spectrum bulbs during the day and at night I use the black lights for a small amount of ultraviolet rays. My birds also get Vitamin D and minerals daily in their food and water, so the Vitamin D is supplemented well.

NOTE: I recommend that everyone read up and do internet searches about full spectrum lighting for birds. It took me several weeks and many hours of reading and study to finally decide that the above procedure was best for my aviary. You should read other information available on the internet and then make a choice as to what kind of bulb or lighting is best for your bird room or aviary.


Teaching Parrotlets To Talk   (Top)

Parrotlets are one of the most intelligent birds that we have ever known. They easily & quickly master understanding of the human language and learn the names of certain thing almost instantly. They are creative and ingenious.


Often, birds start out being “closet talkers”, meaning they will only talk if you are not in the room or if they are in their cages. They practice quietly and often you can’t quite figure out what they are doing. It starts out being a medley of sounds that eventually turn into distinct words. At first, it can have a squeaky sort of honk sound. When perfected, it retains a robotic quality. Many start out with a “song” rather than recognizable speech.

Holding your bird very close to your mouth while talking seems to encourage them to mimic you. Young birds have an instinctive ability to mimic the calls of their parents and learn the sounds of their flock. Imitating their sounds can encourage them to mimic yours. This is not easy for us, it can’t be expected for it to be easy for them.

Rather than teaching individual words, we use short phrases. Associating a phrase with an action teaches more than simple speech, it helps with training. Examples would be saying “Time for nite-nite” as you cover the cage. If said every evening, your bird will associate these words and actions with a bedtime routine. Even if he never learns the words, he will quickly learn that this means his day is at an end. If you have raised children, you are aware that they respond to short, familiar phrases. They like a lot of enthusiasm. So do birds. (This is why so many birds learn to repeat expletives – they are said with such enthusiasm.)

Both male and female Parrotlets can learn to talk. Many learn to speak at six months of age and some even sooner as early as 3 months, though at first it may be awhile before their persons are aware of what is being said.


The Parrotlet Biting State:    (Top)

The biting stage is pretty much the same with budgies, linnies, parrotlets, conures and other hooked bill birds. Many of these little guys go through strong hormonal stages around the first molt. They LOVE to chew – Even though it feels the same as a bite, In most cases the bird is following its natural instincts to chew. They will chew on anything including your fingers.

This section is for the single Parrotlet that was handfed as a baby and was very tame, and now all of the sudden is starting to bite you. If this does not describe your bird then the answer below will not apply.

The Question: Why does my Parrotlet bite me, why is it not tame anymore and what can I do?

The Answer: both male and females

This is such a hard question to answer because like people each Parrotlet has its very own personality and you can not treat each one of them the same way. There is no simple answer to the biting question, so I have put together a page that if read totally will give you an understanding of the answer and maybe even the solution. Parrotlets that are handfed as babies are generally not scared of anything. This of course depends greatly on the personality of each bird, but from my experience a handfed baby that grows up around people will not be scared of much. This can be dangerous for the bird. They have the personality of a large Amazon Parrot and because they are so small they are not aware of the dangers that come with this strong-headed personality. Please keep an eye out for dangers, it is your responsibility to keep the Parrotlet safe and away from other animals that may cause harm. The Parrotlet generally shows you that he is not scared when he is in his cage and feels secure. You may notice that he goes into attack mode when a stranger comes close to the cage or another bird is close by or even a strange dog or cat is in the room.

The biting stage normally starts between 6 months to a year old. Parrotlets love people too much. The biting does not mean that the parrotlet does not love you anymore. He/she loves you so much he/she has chosen you for his/her mate. The parrotlet becomes frustrated that it cannot drive you to the nest and the two of you are not setting up housekeeping. The parrotlet will bite you to drive you away from a potential suitor (your human mate, child, acquaintance or other pet). The Parrotlet is trying to drive you to the safety of his or her nest. He may bite other people to communicate that you already have a partner. The bird may become territorial when you hold him/her and bite any one that intrudes your space. Although these bites can be extremely painful, they are in fact love bites and almost never will they break the skin.
Limits must be set early. The male parrotlet or aggressive female parrotlet in this biting stage, does not belong on your shoulder. Hold the bird on your finger at low chest or waist level. I believe that Parrotlets should also be stick or perch trained as well as hand trained so you can always handle them even when they are in the biting stage. Do not engage in rough play with the bird as that will bring out its natural aggression. Discourage nibbling on your body, or fingers. A jiggle of your finger and a firm “No” is all that you need for young Parrotlets. You must be consistent with this for it to work. At this stage do not give up on the bird. Please continue to hold and play with it during this stage process even if it is biting you. Start using a perch in place of your finger to hold him or her. If you stop working with the bird at this point it will revert back to being un-tame. This would be the worst mistake a bird owner could make. Remember that these little guys can live 15 to 30 years and how un-happy of a life it would have if it became un-tame and could no longer be held, pet or loved because it had lost its tameness. This is a natural stage for the parrotlet and it will only last about 8 to 12 weeks. Your parrotlet may come into this same biting stage each year as it matures and enters breeding season.

The Stages:  (Top)
As a general rule each Parrotlet goes through different stages and at least one biting stage each year. The first stage starts as soon as the baby is pulled from the nest box.

Stage #1
The baby will not eat after being pulled away from his parents. This stage only lasts about 3 days. The breeder must be experienced and know how to force the baby to eat at this stage. After a day or two the baby will take the food with no fight.

Stage #2
The baby knows that you are the mommy, He no longer fights you to feed, he runs to you when he sees you and demands that you feed him

Stage #3
The baby is around 6 weeks old. He is hungry but not starving because you have started to give him seed mix. He is curious to explore the world and it is hard to get him to eat. At this stage you will feel that you are back to stage #1 and you will have to be firm and force the baby
( without hurting him ) to take the food. At this stage it is very important for the baby to eat the formula even if you notice him eating the seed mix. The reason is because he needs water and the nutrition from the formula until he is totally on a seed diet around 8 weeks of age.

Stage #4   (Top)  
The baby is very loving and tame, however it was just purchased by its new owner and arrived at his new home for the first time. Now the baby is going to be scared and stressed for a few days up to a week. It is important at this time to not force the baby to play or be held. Let him get used to his new home. Let him learn where is food and water are kept. Remember he has only knew one person in his life up to this point. It will take him a few days to get used to everything. After 3 days to a week you should then start taking him out, holding him and playing with him.

Stage #5
The baby is secure in his new home. He is now reaching the age of about 6 months and starting to mature. This age can also come late and is not always marked at the 6 month period. Some babies do not reach this mature age that we are talking about here until they are 10 to 12 months old. However in most cases it will come around the 6 month area. At this point the bird will start to see you as his mate. It is very important to follow the steps that I talked about above. If he continues to bite you and if it hurts – start using a perch to hold him on. Also this is a good stage to use the birdie play pens that I talk about on this page.

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Parrotlet Egg Laying    / also see Egg Incubation   (Top)  

A Parrotlet hen will appear swollen in the vent area before eggs are laid. Another indication of impending egg laying is extremely large droppings. The average clutch will usually be four to seven eggs, although I’ve heard of up to 10 eggs being laid. The eggs will be laid every other day until the clutch is completed. The hen will not always sit tight until the second or third egg is laid. It’s not unusual to see several clutches of clear eggs before fertile eggs are produced. A pair may go through several cycles before actually producing chicks.

Broken/Missing Eggs   (Top)  
Some inexperienced young pairs may destroy their eggs or chicks. If a squabble has taken place in the nest box and an egg has broken, the hen may eat the broken egg in an attempt to keep the nest box clean. If the eggs are being deliberately destroyed, replace the newly laid egg with a plastic egg. I bought mine on eBay for about $4 for 6 of them. Once the birds realize the eggs can’t be destroyed, the problem is usually solved. It is not uncommon for this to occur to young, inexperienced pairs. Often the problem will resolve itself and the next clutch will go smoothly. However if they are tossing the eggs out of the box that can be another problem. Sometimes the plastic eggs will also solve this issue. Another way to sold this is to blow out the eggs by poking a hole in each end of the egg and then blowing the yoke out. After you blow out the eggs fill them back up with Tabasco hot sauce and then add a drop of glue on each end of the egg to cover the holes. Once the parents get a taste of the hot sauce they normally stop eating , cracking or tossing the eggs out. The next clutch should go smoothly for you.

Multiple Clutches   (Top)  
Although most pairs will rest between clutches, a very determined pair will continue to lay clutch after clutch. It is these pairs that must have their nestboxes removed for a forced “vacation.” A very determined pair will even attempt to nest in a food dish or on the wire grate of the cage. When this happens, the pair is moved to a different cage with new neighbors and an entirely different view. This generally results in breaking the breeding cycle.


Egg Incubation     (Top of Page)   (Parrotlet Babies for Sale)

The incubation period for most Parrotlets is 18 to 19 days.
Some hens will sit tight after laying the first egg. In a large clutch this can cause a vast age difference between the oldest and youngest chicks. The incubation period for most Parrotlets is 18 to 19 days. The hen will spend all of her time in the nestbox coming out only to defecate. The male will feed her either in the nest box or at the entrance hole. Sometimes a male will even help incubate the eggs, although it is uncommon. If several eggs have been laid before the hen begins incubating, it is possible for several chicks to be hatched on the same day.






Photo Courtesy of: quoteko. com

Parrot Egg Incubation   written by – Howard Voren  ( also applies to Parrotlets – all Parrots )
During the many years that I traveled through the jungles of Central and South America, there was never an egg under incubation back home on the farm. We at Voren’s Aviaries never “counted our chickens” before they hatched. Due to the fact that I was near a jungle somewhere in the world about half the time, there was never anyone to tackle the responsibility who wasn’t already overburdened by my absence. As my collection grew near my goals and I began to curtail my travels, I became very involved with incubation. 


Well over 8,000 psittacine eggs have passed through my various incubation procedures during the last four years. The numbers of birds that we have hatched successfully staggers most people (over 1,500 this year alone). I myself am more staggered by those that don’t hatch. Infertility can be depressing, but what really hurts are the babies that die in the shell sometime after the second week of incubation.

Due to my success as an aviculturist, I am called on by many professional breeders for advice. Being in this position allows me to see that everyone who incubates large quantities of eggs has similar problems. Although it is impossible to help people solve problems that I have not been able to solve myself, this communication allows me to question them freely and stockpile facts–facts that at some point lead to answers.

The first fact that becomes glaringly apparent is that the first 10 days to two weeks of incubation is the critical period. Correct procedures during this initial time will almost always result in a successful hatch.

Without exception, anyone incubating a reasonable quantity of eggs who claims a success rate of over 85 percent is not pulling the eggs as they are laid. They are either allowing the hen to keep the eggs until the entire clutch is laid, or they are leaving them with her for two weeks of natural incubation. Those who allow the hen to sit for two weeks have success rates well into the 90-percent range. Once this critical two-week period is over, the egg can be successfully brought to term with a wide variety of temperatures and humidities. 


Temperature (Top of Page)

Under natural conditions, the most important factor in successful incubation is heat. As long as the egg gets enough of it and is not permitted to lose too much of it for too long a time, everything will be fine. This is true even though the actual temperature of the egg fluctuates drastically when the hen is off the nest. Hens that “sit tight” (those that rarely leave the nest) do not have a noticeably higher hatch rate than those that leave the nest at regular intervals. From this, it’s safe to assume that eggs have evolved to be less sensitive to temperature drops than to other more unnatural circumstances.

One thing that a bird cannot do no matter how hard it may try is overheat an egg. This, of course, is possible in an incubator. Overheating is one of the things that an egg is very sensitive to and can result in eventual death. Temperatures that have been used successfully range from 98.7 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. At Voren’s aviaries, we have settled on 99.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

Of course, the best temperature for you to use will depend on many different factors. The most important of these factors is humidity.

Humidity  (Top of Page)

It has been long assumed that 50-percent humidity is required for successful hatching. This is not necessarily the case. Humidities ranging between 38 and 52 percent have been used by different professionals under different circumstances. All have proven successful in the situations used. An egg should undergo a specific percentage of weight loss during the incubation period. This weight loss is achieved by the evaporation of water through the pores of the shell.

Since increasing the incubation temperature can shorten the time period in which it takes a chick to hatch, there is less time for the required water loss to take place. If using these higher temperatures, the lower humidities should be used to allow sufficient water loss during the shortened time period. Conversely, if lower temperatures are used, the chick will take longer to hatch, and higher humidities should be used in order to keep too much evaporation from taking place.

I have experimented with different humidities and found that under the same environmental circumstances, large eggs do better at lower humidities (38 to 45 percent), and smaller eggs do better at the higher range (46 to 52 percent). In fact, it is now standard procedure for me to incubate all macaw and Amazon eggs at between 38 and 42 percent humidity. Conure eggs at these humidity levels experience too much water loss and die, or hatch in a dehydrated state. For conures, we use a humidity level of 48 to 52 percent. I believe this is a function of eggshell calcification differences rather than a difference in the amount of water held in large eggs versus small eggs. In my aviaries, the larger birds generally produce eggs that are harder and thicker-shelled than the conures’. Logic tells one that an egg with a thicker and denser shell would require a lower humidity level in order to incur the same water loss as a thinner or less dense-shelled egg.

Differences in diets and individual metabolisms are the major reasons that there are so many different reports as to the ideal humidity to use in a specific case. One must not lose sight of the fact that a bird can sit on an egg under almost any reasonable humidity and hatch it regardless of how marginally over or under calcified it might be. This tells me there are major flaws in our basic incubation philosophies.

Humidity (to high or to low?)  info added by LuckyFeathers:   (Top)  
With experience you can adjust your humidity as needed by visual inspection of the eggs air cell (air sac or air space). However, Weighing the egg is the MOST accurate. If the incubation humidity is too low (very dry conditions), the air sac will be larger than normal and the humidity in the incubator should be increased to reduce the rate of water loss. If the air space is smaller than normal then the opposite applies and the air sac will be smaller. In order to tell what the air space size should be you will need to compare a few eggs over time. In time you will know just by looking if the air space is to small or to large and then you can adjust your humidity level up or down. With humidity levels being to low the air space will be large and the baby can have a hard time getting out of the egg because it gets stuck to the side of the egg. If the air space is to small (to much humidity) the baby may not be able to reach up and break through the membrane into the air space with its head to pip – resulting in the baby not being able to breath and followed by death. Using a pencil you can keep track of the air space as seen in the photo.


Turning  (Top of Page)

The next most important aspect of incubation is turning the eggs. The number of times per day that a parrot egg should be turned in the incubator is still a subject of debate. Poultry research supports the theory that eggs should be turned between 12 and 24 times a day. However, some people, myself included, think that between four and eight times per day is sufficient.

Under my incubation conditions, I noticed a marked difference in development when the incubator was set to turn the eggs only six times a day instead of 12 times. The eggs developed more evenly. That is to say that the veins that grow out from the embryo covered a larger area and reached around to the “underside” of the egg much earlier in the incubation process than those turned every two hours. There was no difference in incubation time, but hatchability was increased.

Vibration  (Top of Page)

Vibration is probably the most unconsidered variable that is responsible for mortality in the shell. It also explains why under “exactly” the same conditions, two different people can have completely different results using the same model incubator.

Minor differences in mounting positions, as well as the age and type of fan motors used, can have a great effect on the amount of vibration that is transferred from your incubator to your eggs. Eggs in their natural state are incubated in a vibration-free environment. It stands to reason that even the slightest bit of vibration can affect the development of those tiny veins in a negative way. The question is, how much can they stand before vibration proves lethal?

Hatching  (Top of Page)

The first sign that hatching is around the corner is when you see the egg “draw down.” This is when the air space in the egg enlarges. It will change from its normal round appearance to elliptical. One side of this now-elliptical air cell will extend down one side of the inside of the shell. The other side remains up near the top of the egg where it has always been–hence, the elliptical appearance. At this point, many aviculturists move the eggs into a hatcher. Others prefer to wait until the first “pip mark” appears on the egg.

The “hatcher” is an incubator with high humidity and no turning mechanism. The high humidity is to make it easier for the chick to hatch. Since the incubation process is complete, the high humidity (the higher the better) does not interfere with evaporation but does make it less likely for the internal membrane to stick to the hatching chick. Chicks that get stuck to the membrane must be assisted out of the shell, or they will die trying to get out. Normal time lapse between major draw down and hatching is usually about three days.

Hatch Assistance  (Top of Page)

Knowing when to enter into an egg and when to stay out is an art in itself. Many chicks have been saved by timely assistance, but anyone attempting this must remember that it is always a gamble. Hatch assist is something that you can consider if you have a chick that has come to term but for some reason does not hatch.

One should wait at least for an internal pip before even beginning to monitor an egg for possible need of assistance. An internal pip is when you can see the chick moving in the area of the air cell. This happens just prior to the chick attempting to break through the shell wall. Once broken through, the pip mark is called an external pip. If an external pip is not forthcoming, then there may be a need for assistance.

You also may have a problem if a chick externally pips one pip and then stops. Stopping to rest after the first pip is normal. If, however, two days pass and no further attempt has been made to continue the hatching process (more pip marks), then help might be necessary. With either of these two problems (just internal pip or just one external pip), you would proceed in the same manner.

Chip a small hole in the shell so you can see inside. There are some dental tools that are perfect for this work. You should make the hole where the pip mark is or where the pip mark should be. To determine where a pip mark should ideally be, estimate about 3/4 the distance down from the center of the top of the egg (the fat end) to where the expanded air cell ends along the side of the egg. If there is no pip mark, you will have to make a tiny hole. A small nail spun between the thumb and forefinger makes a perfect drill for this procedure.

Once you have drilled a hole or located the pre-existing pip mark, begin to chip away tiny pieces of shell until you can see what is going on inside. Sometimes a chick will pip and get stuck to an overly dry internal membrane. If this happens, the chick will not be able to rotate and pip in enough spots to facilitate hatching. A sure sign of this problem is when you notice upon candling that there are no veins left on the inside of the shell. The feet appear to be moving freely, and the chick keeps pipping at the same spot. In the case of no pip mark other than internal, the problem could still be an overly dry membrane. It might also be a problem of the head being poorly positioned and unable to make an effective strike on the shell.

Remember to keep the hole as small as possible. The membrane will usually be white in appearance. Paint the membrane with water using a tiny paint brush. This will make the membrane transparent and clearly show any veins that might still be carrying blood.

If the chick has not come through the membrane and you are convinced that it is overdue, then make a tear in the membrane to free the chick’s beak and nostrils. Be careful not to break any blood vessels in the membrane. Only work in spots that are free of vessels. This allows the chick to breath and eliminates suffocation as a possible cause of death.

You should now cover all but the smallest air hole with a small piece of tape. At this point, you have the choice of allowing nature to take its course or going in to complete hatching if you feel that there are no more live veins in the membrane, and the yolk has been completely absorbed. If the hole allows you to see that the membrane is completely devoid of veins and the chick has internally pipped and its only obstacle is a dry membrane, you might wish to take off the top of the shell and let the chick lift its head out of the torn membrane. When removing the shell and membrane from around the head, work from the nares back to the crown, if there are any hidden blood vessels they’ll be in the area of the crown. If no viable vessels are noticed as you proceed, then lift the shell and membrane off the bird’s crown down to the upper neck. If the chick is ready to come out, you will get what I call the “jack in the box” effect; that is, the chick’s head will pop straight up out of the fetal position. If the chick does not pop its head up and tries to return to the fetal position, even if you coax the head upward, it’s best to tape the bird in with paper tape (I use Micropore by 3M with great success) and try again in six hours. If the bird does pop its head up, at that point you can look down to see if there is any yolk that has not been absorbed. If none exists, the chick on the half shell should be placed in a small tissue basket back into the hatcher so it can crawl out when it is ready. This is when the last few veins at the navel have dried.

Pulling a chick out of the half shell too early can cause it to bleed to death. If, however, you can see some yolk sac, you should place the chick’s head back into the “fetal” position, place the top of the shell back on the egg, and tape it together. Place the egg back into the hatcher to allow the chick to finish absorbing the yolk. A chick in this situation will have to be released from the shell at the proper time.

Remember, always proceed with great caution. Good luck, and may all your eggs be fertile.

written by – Howard Voren

Howard Voren is a Psittacultural Scientist specializing in the maintenance and reproduction of Central & South American Psittacine birds. Information about Howard Voren can be found on his website at .

Hatching Eggs Using an Incubator: Some extra helpful hints   
 (Top of Page)

General Hints
•Before putting your eggs into an incubator, plug it in and make sure the temp is holding at 99.5 – 102 degrees.
•Mark eggs with a pencil or marker with an x on one side and an o on the other. This is for those of us who have to
turn the eggs.
•Make sure to turn the eggs at least 3 times a day (turn an odd number of times a day). You cannot skip weekends –
you may have deformed babies or none at all.
•You must keep adequate moisture in the incubator at all times. A couple of small paper cups or a pie pan will do
nicely for your water supply.

Fertility and Candling   (Top)  
Fertility is rarely 100%. Fertility may vary from 55% to 95% with season, condition and type of birds. A good
average expectancy may be that 50% to 75% of the eggs will hatch.

Fertility of eggs cannot be determined before incubating them. After 3 to 5 days, eggs may be candled to see if
embryos have developed. Cracked or damaged eggs do not hatch and often develop odors and should be removed when

Eggs may be candled by placing a light bulb under a box or can. A hole must be slightly smaller in diameter than
the egg through which light will pass. Place the egg over the hole, if a cloudy spot or mass is observed, this can
be assumed to be a growing embryo. If the contents of the egg allows light to pass uniformly through it, it can be
assumed that the egg is infertile. Many breeders are now using pen flashlights in place of the above. The pen
lights allow you to candle the eggs without moving them.

The Air Bubble in the Egg   (Top)  
Soon after an egg is laid, a small air bubble forms in the large end under the shell. A membrane separating the
mass of the egg and the air bubble serves as a diaphragm to relieve stress and pressure resulting from thermal
changes of temperature. The drier the ambient air is, naturally the more fluid is depleted and the faster the
bubbles grows. Correct humidity in the incubator insures that the bubble does not grow to a certain degree by the
time the embryo is ready to hatch, but that the air bubble does not enlarge to the point of depleting the fluids
that are necessary for the final growth of the embryo.

The importance of correct humidity is more apparent at the end of incubation. The normal condition is that the
bubble has enlarged to the point where the baby can reach his beak through the membrane wall and pick around the
shell breaking the bubble area off as a door. If humidity has been excessive, the baby may not reach the bubble but
will pip the shell in the fluids under the bubble and may drown at that moment, before he is able to go any further
with his effort to release himself from the confines of the egg. On the other hand, if humidity has been too low,
the bubble will be oversized and the fluids under it will have dehydrated to the point where final development of
the embryo may be retarded and the baby may become stuck to the shell when it pips. In this condition, the baby
will exhaust itself but will not be able to get out of the shell. After half a day, a baby that is stuck to the
shell, after pipping, may be relieved by pulling the top of the shell off.

Positioning of Eggs   (Top)  
An incubating egg should set in a normal position as it would on a flat surface; that is with the large end
slightly higher than the point end. An egg that persistently has the small end elevated may cause the embryo to be
misoriented with the head toward the small end. In the misoriented position, the chick is likely to drown on
pipping. Therefore, it is quite important that in general, the large end of eggs should be slightly higher than the
small ends; or as they would lie naturally on a flat surface.

Turning   (Top)  
Eggs that aren’t turned regularly do not hatch! Turning 3 times a day seems to be adequate. Turning is essential in
the early stages. The last 3 days of incubation when the bird is preparing to hatch it is not recommended. If not
turned to a fresh position frequently during the early stages, the developing embryo touches the shell membrane and
sticks to it causing abnormal growth. Turning the egg aids these movements within the egg. The turning can
determine if the baby will emerge successfully at hatching time.

Temperature   (Top)  
*See the article above for more info on Temperature

  (Top of Page)    (Hand fed Parrotlet Babies for Sale

Health – Diseases – Illness  

Red flags:
If you notice any of these signs, please contact your veterinarian ASAP.
• beak swelling or accumulations
• fluffed, plucked, or soiled feathers
• sitting on floor or bottom of cage
• wheezing or coughing
• runny or discolored stools
• favoring one foot
• eye or nasal discharge
• red or swollen eyes
• loss of appetite

Caution: Because all pet birds are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Chlamydiosis, always wash your hands before and after handling any pet bird and/or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of diseases. Work with your avian veterinarian on protocols to treat your bird should the bird contract Chlamydiosis. Pregnant women, children under the age of 5 and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing and/or caring for a bird and should consider not having a bird as a pet. For more information regarding birds as pets and bird disease, go to the Center for Disease Control at .

Note: Please also visit my Links page for information on many different bird health issues, diseases and illness.
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Many birds tend to become ill in case they are exposed to draught or quick changes in temperature. A bird who suffers from a cold fluffs up the plumage, behaves apathetic, and in case the animal caught a cold , the nose may also be running and from time to time the bird may sneeze. Other kinds of infections affect the lower respiratory tract (lungs, air sacs) and the bird makes sounds that remind of coughing. In fact, coughing is not quite correct since birds are unable to do so. They don’t have a diaphragm and due to this difference in anatomy they can just make sounds that are a bit similar to coughing. On the left you can see a bird whose nose is severely infected, (a bacterial infection).

The birds can be short of breath and in severe cases they may suffer from choking fits that last for several minutes. Due to this, many feathered patients become too weak to perch on their branches. They totter on the ground instead or the bottom of the cage, desperately fighting to get enough oxygen while they breathe. Some birds try to help themselves by attaching their beak to the bars of the cage. This posture enables them to stretch their trachea and breathing becomes a bit more easy.  Often one can hear a sound with each breath a bird takes that is typical for a respiratory infection. Also moving the tail feathers up and down with each breath and a “pumping” motion of the breast can be observed in affected birds.

The types of respiratory disease seen vary depending on geography and whether the birds are kept in aviaries or as pets. Large indoor flocks are at a greater risk for bacterial and fungal infections than single-kept pet birds because the ventilation in indoor aviaries is usually poor and the spread of a disease can be rapid since the number of susceptible birds is higher. Infections and illnesses are spread in many different ways, to help avoid this I use and recommend water bottles for everyday drinking use. I use the ones with large metal balls – I find the large ones allow the birds to get more water much easier. This also assures all of my birds are drinking clean water during the day. Regular water dishes are great places for bacteria and fungus to develop as many birds dunk food and or sit over top of the water and poop in it. I strongly believe that I have not had any disease as a result of using water bottles along with other cleaning practices.

Also, pet birds are more susceptible to inhaling airborne toxins because these birds are more often exposed to such things as household cleansers, incense and air fresheners, kerosene heaters, second-hand cigarette smoke and overheated cookware. Birds housed in outdoor aviaries or flights usually have plenty of air circulation so airborne toxins are far less an issue for them. Birds are susceptible to a respiratory condition called “teflon toxicity” or “PTFE poisoning/toxicosis.” Deaths can result from this condition, which is due to the noxious fumes emitted from overheated cookware coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). This chemical is found on most non-stick cookware and appliances, some stain repellant products, and other household items. (PTFE) intoxication, is a rapid and lethal gaseous intoxication of all species of birds. We strongly recommed you research PTFE online for more information.

If you observe the mentioned symptoms you should meet your avian vet as soon as possible. Your bird needs an effective treatment with special drugs like antibiotics (not in each case, but quite often). In addition to this, there are some more things you can do to support the healing process. For example, a warmth therapy might be helpful. Please talk to the avian vet before you expose your bird to infrared light. Another household remedy is inhalation. Your vet will for sure tell you how you have to proceed to prevent hurting your bird (hot water, hot vapour).

“Bacterial infections can be very severe and serious. “Antibiotics, along with other drugs such as steroids and antifungals, are frequently used with great success.
Teflon Toxicity    (Top)

Different kinds of cold      (Top)
In humans, a typical cold is caused by viruses. The situation in birds is completely different. Viruses are irrelevant, instead birds suffer from bacterial infections of the upper respiratory tract. The problem is: If we humans suffer from a cold, the doctors call the disease “self-limited” because after a few days, the viruses naturally die and the cold is gone. But in birds, the bacterial cold will not heal after a few days. Far from it! It will even get worse because the bacteria proliferate and settle down in more parts of the nose, the sinuses and the mouth (pharynx). The nasal discharges are not watery but gooey and yellowish.

Attention:  (Top)
Unlike a cold in humans, a similar disease with purulent nasal discharge in birds will not heal by itself. If the cold is not treated with an antibiotic it will become chronic! In the worst case the infection will destroy the nose and cere. The nostrils will be enlarged and the affected bird will suffer from pain and choking fits because of the mucus sticking in his nose.

Other important things concerning a cold    (Top)  
If you suffer from a cold or any kind of infection of the upper respiratory tract you should not kiss your bird and wash your hands after using a tissue handkerchief. Birds can catch illness from humans.


Note: Please also visit my Links page for information on many different bird health issues, diseases and illness.
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Teflon Toxicity   (Top)

Birds are susceptible to a respiratory condition called “teflon toxicity” or “PTFE poisoning/toxicosis.” Deaths can result from this condition, which is due to the noxious fumes emitted from overheated cookware coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). This chemical is found on most non-stick cookware and appliances, some stain repellant products, and other household items. (PTFE) intoxication, is a rapid and lethal gaseous intoxication of all species of birds. We strongly recommed you research PTFE online for more information.

Whether you’re a first-time avian owner or an experienced one, did you know that the nonstick pans in your kitchen are your bird’s worst enemy?

Commonly referred to as Teflon poisoning, polytetrafluoroethlyene (PTFE) intoxication is a silent, deadly killer of all species of birds.

While concern about PTFE intoxication tends to increase during the colder months when we close the windows in our homes and decrease the air circulation, the reality is that Teflon poisoning can take place at any time throughout the year.

Why Are Nonstick Pans Dangerous to Birds?   (Top)  

The first nonstick pan coated with PTFE was created in 1954 by French engineer Marc Grégoire, who called the nonstick resin “Tefal.” In 1961, the first U.S.-made nonstick, PTFE-coated frying pan called the “Happy Pan” was sold in stores.

PTFE is now commonly known as the DuPont brand name Teflon.

PTFE toxicity occurs when the nonstick cookware is overheated. The excessive heat creates a gas emission that is typically harmless to humans and other mammals. Birds, however, are particularly sensitive to the airborne gas emission—even in small dosages due to their high metabolic rate and unique anatomy (high levels of oxygen are emitted to their musculature system in order to fly).

Toxicity from PTFE causes severe edematous pneumonia—where a bird’s lungs quick fill with fluid which is then leaked into the airways.

Not many birds can survive PTFE toxicity. The best course of action to ensure your bird’s health is prevention.

Do You Have Toxic Cookware in Your Home?   (Top)  

Your cookware does not have to be the specific Teflon brand to cause PTFE toxicity. All nonstick pans containing polytetrafluoroethlyene are toxic to birds.

Types of nonstick cookware include but are not limited to:

  • Bakeware such as cookie sheets, cupcake pans, cake pans, bread pans, Bundt cake molds
  • Quart pots
  • Frying pans
  • Roasting pans
  • Egg poaching pans
  • Nonstick-coated appliances: ovens, grill plates, electric pans, space heaters
  • Stovetop drip pans.

Symptoms of Teflon Toxicity in Birds    (Top)

PTFE toxicity in birds is devastating and acts quickly.


Symptoms of PTFE toxicity include severe respiratory distress — open-mouthed breathing, tail bobbing and raspy breathing, and birds dropping off their perches. PTFE toxicity is typically fatal, rarely offering owners the time to have their birds examined or treated for the poisoning.

All types of birds are affected by PTFE toxicity. Smaller birds suffer even faster due to their size—less gas is required to register the poisonous effect.

What to Do If You Suspect Your Bird Has Been Poisoned by Teflon    (Top)

If your bird is showing signs of respiratory distress and you suspect Teflon poisoning is a possibility, act quickly.

  • Immediately remove the questionable cookware from the house and turn off the heat source. Take safety precautions as you do so — place the hot object on a fire-proof surface and make sure children and other pets cannot reach it.
  • Open the windows in your house.
  • Increase the ventilation: Turn on ceiling fans, floor fans, exhaust fans and even an attic fan.
  • Call your veterinary clinic immediately to let them know you’re on your way with what you suspect is an acute intoxication.

If your bird survives the initial exposure to PTFE, your veterinarian may place the bird in an oxygen cage, administer antibiotics and diuretics in an attempt to relieve the excess fluid in the birds lungs.

Prevent Teflon Toxicity in Your Home    (Top)

Not many birds can survive PTFE toxicity. The best course of action to ensure your bird’s health is prevention.


Removing all nonstick-coated cookware will eliminate the threat to your bird.


If you have spoken with an avian specialist — whether this is your veterinarian or someone affiliated with veterinary avian care — and removal of all nonstick cookware is not recommended (there are varying opinions on this), take caution when cooking with Teflon-coated products:

  • Don’t leave your cookware unattended on the stove—overheating the nonstick ware is the main culprit. Throw out any nonstick coated pots and pans when they begin to show signs of wear and tear or damage.
  • Move your bird’s cage out of the kitchen to a less exposed area that will also elminate any additional dangers found in the kitchen such as accidental burns.

Discuss PTFE intoxication with your veterinarian to ensure your bird has a safe, healthy environment that both of you can be comfortable with.


Note: Please also visit my Links page for information on many different bird health issues, diseases and illness.
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Avian Medications    (Top of Page)

Note: Please also visit my Links page for information on many different bird health issues, diseases and illness.
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* Below is a list of just a few different medications that vets can use. As always I recommend that you take any sick or ill bird to the vet for treatment. Do not try to medicate your bird unless a vet has written you instructions. 

Acetylsalicylic Acid (Aspirin): potent anti-inflammatory, useful for musculoskeletal pain, also will bring fever down;

Acyclovir (Zorirax): used to treat certain Herpes virus infections; it interferes with the synthesis of the virus’ DNA. It can be applied topically in ointment form, orally or intravenously; can be nephrotoxic (kidney damage), so hydration must be maintained. 


Allopurinol (Zyloprim): used to treat gout; its action inhibits uric acid production; given orally, usually in drinking water; antiviral; potentially nephrotoxic; treats hyperuricaemia, which causes gout; not enough testing done in birds to note all side effects 

Amikacin (Amikin): an aminoglycocide (as is Gentamicin); a potent antibiotic that must be given by injection as it is not absorbed orally; can cause deafness and/or kidney damage, so fluids should be administered during injections to prevent kidney damage:  may also be used in nebulization therapy.

Ammonium solution (Penetran): ointment; analgesic, antipruritic, anti-inflammatory; reduces swelling and relaxes muscles; can be used on fresh wounds; avoid overuse

Amphotericin-B (Fungizone): a newer, antifungal antibiotic used to treat fungal infections that do not respond to other antifungal drugs, esp. Aspergillus; Lotion, cream, ointment, intravenously, injected directly into trachea, or delivered to the respiratory tract via nebulization; may cause bone marrow and kidney toxicity; the most commonly used drug in veterinary medicine for systemic fungal infections. In avian medicine, Aspergillus infections are commonly diagnosed and amphotericin B is widely used to treat such cases;  typically administered to birds  intravenously or intratracheally (IT) or via nebulization; despite its potential for toxic effects, continues to be one of the first drugs selected in both human and veterinary medicine to treat systemic fungal infections.   (Top of Page)


Amoxicillin (Amoxil and Clavulanate): a combination of drugs that makes amoxicillin more effective in treating some bacterial infections; used to prevent pasteurellosis from animal bites

Amprol (Amprolium, Corid): used in combination with other drugs for Coccidia; put in drinking water; birds may not drink medicated water.

Aralen Phosphate (Chloroquine): for malaria, acts to destroy Plasmodium in the red blood cells, given orally.

Azithromycin (Zithromax): an antibiotic new to avian medicine; effective against a variety of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial pathogens and has some activity against anaerobic bacteria and protozoa; more testing needs to be done to determine effectiveness in psittacines

Butorphanol (Stadol): a pain medication and cough suppressant;  a powerful synthetic opioid; presently it is the mostly commonly used analgesic drug in the management of acute pain in avian and exotic mammal medicine; used in perioperative and postoperative pain management; is the current recommendation for opioid analgesia in parrots.

Calphosan: injectable form of calcium used to treat convulsions due to low serum calcium level; also dietary supplement during egg-laying, egg-binding and laying of soft-shelled eggs; periods of rapid growth or bone healing

Calcitonin (Miacalcin, Fortical): a hormone used to treat metabolic bone disease; treats hypercalcemia secondary to neoplasia and poison toxicity.

Calcium EDTA, preferred initial drug to chelate lead or zinc-related toxicosis; given by injection; caution in patients with renal or hepatic impairment.

Capricillic Acid: positive results seen when administered with anti-fungals for aspergillosis in parrots; contains calcium, magnesium and zinc caprylates; given orally.

Carnidazole: trichomoniasis, hexamitiasis, histomoniasis; cockatiels with Giaria.

Carprofen: oral or injectable pain reliever; Carprofen remains a popular NSAID in avian and exotic medicine; NSAIDs are the first course of therapy for chronic disorders. Carprofen is the current drug of choice because of its widespread use and low incidence of reported toxicities.

Cefotaxime (Claforan): in the group of cephalosporins, an injectable antibiotic that crosses the blood-brain barrier; can be used to treat susceptible bacterial infections in the brain;  useful for serious susceptible bacterial infections elsewhere in the body; excreted by kidneys; reduce dose with renal impairment; good for Staph, Strep and some Gram-negative bacteria; may cause diarrhea, secondary candidiasis.

Celecoxib (Celebrex): pain reliever, a COX-2 enzyme inhibitor, NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory), used to control signs of Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD); is not a cure; used for general pain relief, arthritis, anti-inflammatory.

Cephalexin (Keflex): also a cephalosporin; can be given orally to treat susceptible bacterial infections; may be good for deep skin infections; varied efficacy for many Gram-negative bacteria. (Top of Page)


Chelating agent: used to bind toxic elements (lead, zinc, iron) and remove them from the body safely; chelating agents are effective against zinc, (a metal that can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, polydypsia, polyuria); found in galvanized metal, some adhesives, some toys, pennies minted after 1982, and more; is associated with feather-picking in some birds, especially cockatoos.

Chlortetracycline: an older member of the tetracycline family, formerly used to treat psittacosis (Chlamydophila); treat concurrently for yeast infections; oral preparation; however, Doxycycline is preferred.

Chorionic Gonadotropin (Pregnyl): a hormone used to inhibit egg laying; also used to treat feather-picking due to sexually related disorders.

Ciprofloxacin (Baytril): broad-spectrum antibiotic, made for human use, often used in avian medicine, was in the news during anthrax scare because it is a first-choice antibiotic for treating it; is a fluoroquinolone, in the same family of antibiotics as Enrofloxacin; most anaerobes (Pseudomonas and Streptococcus) are resistant and may overgrow; Chlamydia and mycoplasma only moderately susceptible.

Cisapride (Propulsid): an oral medication to stimulate gastrointestinal motility, increases gastric emptying rate.

Clortrimazole (Lotrimin): an antifungal used as an adjunct to aspergillosis treatment; can be administered into air sacs, into the trachea, topically or by nebulization; patient must be stable and out of respiratory distress.

Corticosteroids: Hydrocortisone, Prednisolone, Methylprednisolone, Desamethasone; used to treat hypovolemic and septic shock, acute trauma and toxicities.

Cortisone (Cortone), a corticosteroid that should be used with extreme caution in avian patients due to immunosuppressive properties.

Clopidol (Coyden): used to treat Coccidia

D-Ca-Phos: balanced Vit. D3-calcium-phosphorus nutritional supplement.

Dexamethasone (Decadron): a potent steroid, anti-inflammatory; used for shock and trauma; may predispose a bird to aspergillosis and other fungal infections; a synthetic steroid; used in treatment of inflammatory conditions and hormonal imbalances; use with caution—egg-related peritonitis.

Dextrose: for seizuring birds caused by hypoglycemia; measure blood glucose level prior to use.

Diatrozoate sodium): for goiter in budgies.

Diazepam (Valium): used for sedation, seizures, convulsions; acts to relax skeletal muscle, IV, intramuscularly, oral or injectable; can be used with anesthetic agents; may cause hypotension; may increase intracranial and intraocular pressure; caution in renal and liver impairment.   (Top of Page)


Digoxin solution (Lanoxin): for congestive heart failure in conures and parakeets; lower dose in patients with impaired renal function.

Dimercaprol (BAL): chelator for arsenic and gold, mercury if ingested; helps in lead excretion.

Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA): oral chelator for removing toxins from kidney and blood, nasty smell and taste. Preferred oral chelator for lead and zinc toxicosis.

Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) (Rimso-50): topical, for edema, pain, swelling; causes vasodilation and histamine release.

Dimetridazole (Emtryl): used in drinking water to treat giardiasis and trichomoniasis; not to be used when birds are breeding as males feeding hens in nest may consume enough to reach toxic levels; prolonged use may result in toxicity or development of candidiasis; extremely hepatotoxic; can cause death.

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl): antihistamine, used for allergic feather picking, pruritis and allergy signs; given orally; calming effect in some anxious birds; may cause hypotension.

Doxycycline (Atridox):  a very effective drug for treating psittacosis (Chlamydophila); bacteriostatic and anti-inflammatory; can be given orally in water; is also available as an injectable preparation that will provide blood levels for one week with one injection; also used to treat susceptible bacterial infections and mycoplasmosis, allergy,  skin irritation; general antibiotic for many issues.

Enrofloxacin (Baytril): broad-spectrum antibiotic, useful for a wide variety of infections such as chlamydiosis; injectable, orally and in tablets; multiple injections should not be given—they can cause serious tissue, pain and nerve damage; it is bactericidal and has excellent activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens; this antibiotic has also been used to control certain intracellular pathogens; not well accepted by birds when put in drinking water; more research is needed fo its usefulness in birds.  (Top of Page)


Ether: an inhalant anesthetic agent no longer used due to inflammatory and explosive qualities at concentrations needed to induce anesthesia.

Fenbendazole: a new anthelminthic; indicated for the removal of a wide variety of parasites; not enough testing has been done on birds; not recommended at this time; toxic in some species, esp. cockatiels.

Ferric Subsulfate: a coagulant to stop bleeding; available in liquid and powder form; limited to hemorrhage of beak and nails, as it will cause tissue necrosis.

Florfenicol (like chloramphenicol): is a broad-spectrum, bacteriostatic antibiotic that is effective against many Gram-positive and Gram-negative organisms; needs more research for use in exotic species.

Fluconazole (Diflucan):  antifungal medication (fungistatic); useful for treating Candida yeast infections; may cause regurgitation; (can be combined with another treatment for yeast—Nystatin); also used to treat Cryptococcus.

Flucytosine (Ancobon): an antifungal (fungistatic); can be used prophylactically in raptors and waterfowl to prevent aspergillosis; may be used as adjuvant for aspergillus treatment; its action is to inhibit certain biochemical reactions necessary to the life of the fungus cell, thereby killing it. It can be toxic to the bone marrow, administered orally.

Fluoxetine (Prozac): used as adjunctive treatment for depression-induced feather-picking, antidepressant.

Fluoroquinolones: anti-microbial drugs that inhibit bacterial gyrase (the enzyme able for coiling DNA); may induce GI signs and seizures.

Furosemide (Lasix): a diuretic, helps remove excess water from tissues, causes increased urination; can be used in  treatment of heart failure, fluid build-up in tissues or celoem.

Gentamicin (Gentak ointment) (Genoptic drops) (Gentamicin Sulfate Cream):  an aminoglycosid; can cause deafness and kidney disease, not absorbed orally; used in some eye preparations; can be nebulized or given by injection, not recommended for injectable use as safer, newer aminoglycosides are available; mostly used for cockatiels; treats dermatitis; available as drops for nares, eyes and as an antibiotic cream and ointment for sores and lesions

Glipizide (Glucotrol): an oral agent that can be used in the management of diabetes mellitus.

Haloperidol (Haldol): an oral medication used for behavioral disorders and for frustration-induced feather picking; used with hormone injection; for obsessive/compulsive behavior; commonly fails; may work for short time because it increases prolactin levels; may cause hypotension and anorexia.   (Top of Page)


Halothane (Fluothane): an older inhalation anesthetic agent, not usually used in avian patients; it gives moderately good muscle relaxation but has the potential for kidney and liver damage.

Heparin: treats sores; shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Hyaluronidase (Amphadase): added to sterile fluids for injection, causes increased rate of absorption of fluids (such as Lactated Ringers solution) when administered subcutaneously; in some cases, replacing the need for intravenous or intraosseous fluids.

Hydrocortisone: a steroid that should be used with extreme caution in avian patients due to immunosuppression in some topical agents.   (Top of Page)


Hydromorphone (Dilaudid): a newer opioid agonist that is related to morphine and is used for sedation, analgesia, and as a restraining agent. Hydromorphone is 5 times as potent as morphine; more effective at relieving continuous, dull pain versus sharp, intermittent pain; can be used in nebulization to help with dyspnea because of its respiratory depressive effects; can have deleterious effects on the intestinal system, slowing down gut motility and causing constipation and ileus; may not be the best choice for managing analgesia in avian patients until further research is performed.

Hydroxyzine (Vistaril): mixed in water; lowers the threshold for seizures, hypotensive, anti-anxiety, anti-pruritic and antihistamine action; not to be used with CNS depressants.

Injacom: injectable preparation of vitamins A, D3 and E used to treat Vit. A deficiency and to promote bone healing and in the treatment of egg binding, soft-shelled eggs, and soft bones.


Insulin: injectable hormone for lowering blood glucose levels in diabetes mellitus; appears to have very short duration of activity in avian patients.

131 Iodine (Iodotope therapeutic): radioactive form of iodine, used to treat hyperthyroidism and in the diagnosis of thyroid disorders; administered orally.

Ipronidazole (Ipropran): used to treat giardiasis and trichomoniasis, put in drinking water.

Isoflurane (Aerrane): an inhalation anesthetic agent that is very safe for use in avian patients, rapidly becoming the anesthetic of choice for avian anesthetic procedures due to its safety, effectiveness and rapid recovery period.

Isoniazid (Nydrazid): treats avian tuberculosis; bacteriostatic for bacilli that are not growing, and bacteriocidal for bacilli that are dividing rapidly; given orally.

Itraconazole (Sporanox): an oral antifungal agent used in the treatment of aspergillosis, candida, Cryptococcus in psittacines; may cause hepatitis, bone toxicit,  hypokalemia (a lack of potassium in the blood, usually caused by excessive amounts of it being excreted, that leads to muscle weakness, heart irregularities, disorientation, and sometimes cardiac arrest)


Ivomectin (Ivermectin) (Stromectol): an antiparasitic drug;  can be given orally, injected or applied topically; effective for scaly mites, lice (ectoparasites), may not be as effective in eradicating ascarids, other nematodes; reported toxicity in finches.

Ketamine (Vetalar):  injectable dissociative agent, may be combined with other injectable medications to provide anesthesia; non-barbituate anesthetic that produces immobility without analgesia; given intramuscularly or intravenously.

Ketoconazole (Nizoral): for systemic fungal infection, including aspergillosis, candidiasis; may cause regurgitation and adrenal gland suppression, so can be dangerous for use in stressed birds; used only when nothing else works; Fluconazole is a safer antifungal for treating candidiasis .   (Top of Page)


Ketoprofen (Orudis): non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent, for analgesia, arthritis.

Lactated Ringer’s Solution: composed of sterile water, sodium, calcium potassium, chloride and bicarbonate; these components are in the same amounts and proportions as found in the blood; used intravenously to treat shock and dehydration.

Lactobacillus: preparation of nonpathogenic Gram-negative bacteria that promotes the reestablishment of normal bacterial flora in the gut, without which digestion of food and absorption of nutrients cannot occur; given orally.

Lactulos solution: oral suspension; reduces toxins, restores GI flora in liver-damaged birds; carrier for oral meds; overdose causes diarrhea; caution in birds with diabetes mellitus; has been used as a laxative, although more recently for treating hepatic encephalopathy and other diseases that result in liver failure; Lactulose has also been used as a prebiotic and intestinal protective agent in birds exposed to toxins, particularly those affected by oil spills; It is not known whether the digestive tracts of exotic species, particularly birds, are able to digest lactulose; therefore, the effectiveness of this product in these species remains unclear.

Leuprolide acetate (Lupron): drug to prevent ovulation, useful for sexually-related feather-picking and behavioral issues; for use in reproductive diseases; may be helpful in sexual aggression cases; reduces the production of estrogen; used with chronic egg-laying, particularly in cockatiels.

Levamisole (Ripercol-L): used to treat intestinal roundworms; also to stimulate depressed immune systems; when used for this purpose it seems to restore certain immune mechanisms in white blood cells; also stimulates the production of T-lymphocytes. Given in drinking water or administered via feeding tube, or as injection.

Levothyroxine (Levothroid): treatment for hypothyroidism, obesity, lipomas; however, hypothyroidism cannot be diagnosed by just one solitary thyroid test; hypothyroidism is very rare in pet birds and is probably over-diagnosed.

Lincocin or lincomycin: an oral or injectable antibiotic used for skin infections, pododermatitis (bumblefoot), bone infections; antibiotic that is effective mainly against Gram-positive bacteria, thus limiting its usefulness in parrot species, in which bacterial infections are usually of the Gram-negative variety. Administered orally.

Lipotropin powder, sprinkled on food, chelator for liver, fat break up, used for fat packets near wing on chest.   (Top of Page)


LS 50: Lyncomycin and spectinomysin: respiratory and alimentary tract infections caused by Gram positive bacteria. Respiratory/nasal infection, oral or injectable antibiotic for skin infections, dermatitis.

Lugol’s solution: iodine solution used to treat certain thyroid conditions such as goite; added to drinking water; excess may cause thyroid hyperplasia; unnecessary if on formulated diet.


Lupron: see Leuprolide acetate.

Meloxicam (Mobic): is a COX-2 preferential nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory; it has analgesic, ant-inflammatory, and antipyretic (reduces fever) properties; used commonly in avian and exotic species, even though studies are lacking and the information of its use is anecdotal. Often used for arthritis, post-operative pain; few side effects when not used in high doses.

Methoxyflurane (Metofane): An inhalant anesthetic that gives excellent muscle relaxation but has the potential for liver damage and causes prolonged depressed body temperature.

Methylprednisolone acitate (Medrol):, corticosteroid, anti-inflammatory, may predispose a bird to aspergillosis and other mycoses, should be used with extreme caution; treats allergies, e.g. Amazon foot necrosis: given orally.

Metoclopramide (Reglan): an injectable or oral medication used for gastrointestinal motility disorders (regurgitation, slow crop motility); used for controlling vomiting, nausea; not to be used if GI obstruction, hemorrhage or hypertension present; not used for epileptics (lowers the threshold for seizures); caution in renally impaired; antagonized by narcotics; not used with monoamine oxidase inhibitors; often used for PDD sufferers.

Metronidazole, (Nitroimidazole) (Flagyl) an oral or IV injectable bacteriocidal antibiotic/antiprotozoal agent,  an amebicide; treats anaerobic bacteria (such as Clostridium), hexamita, Giardia and other GI protozoal flagellates; caution in renal or hepatic impairment; may cause seizures, peripheral neurophathies, anorexia or GI upset; may enhance candidiasis; toxic in finches; seems not as effective in eradicating Giardia since many isolates seem to be resistant now, so for treating Giardia, Ronidazole may be a better choice.

Mintezol (Thiabendazole): treats ascarid (roundworm) infestation of the gut, also gapeworm (Syngamus); Given orally.

Myambutol: (Ethambutol): treats avian tuberculosis, acts to suppress the growth of the TB organism, given orally.   (Top of Page)


Neocalglucon: oral preparation of calcium used as a dietary calcium supplement; given in drinking water.

Niclosamide (Yomaesan): Used to treat tapeworms; administered orally

Nystatin (Mycostatin): an oral suspension used to treat candidiasis (yeast infection), medication must contact the organism, so used most often to treat oral or gastrointestinal candidiasis, some isolates of Candida are becoming resistant to Nystatin, so it may be used as a carrier for Fluconazole (a systemic antifungal agent); any baby bird on an antibiotic should also receive an antifungal agent to prevent secondary candidiasis; also Chlorhexidine or Ketoconazole are used as preventatives for candidiasis in hand-fed baby birds being treated with other antibiotics, or in adult birds on long-term antibiotic therapy, especially of the tetracycline family; resistance common.

Nyzoral: anti-fungal, effective against fungal dermatitis.

Oxytocin (Pitocin): a drug for use in humans and mammals that causes uterine contractions and milk letdown; has been used by injection in cases of egg-binding; however, since birds are not mammals, this is not the best, most effective drug to use, but it may help a hen lay an egg in certain cases; hormone used to aid in egg expulsion in egg-bound hens; acts to stimulate both the frequency and force of smooth muscle contractions in the oviduct; used to stop uterine bleeding; may cause cardiac arrhythmias.

Penicillin G (Procaine): the procaine in this injectable preparation used in small and large animals is very toxic in avian species and should not be used if safer antibiotics are available to treat the condition.

PEP-E: injectable amino acid supplement; an immune stimulant and nutritional supplement in anorexic and compromised birds; (anorectic: a medicine that suppresses the appetite)

Phenobarbital: an oral medication that can be used to try to control seizures in avian species, especially in cases of epilepsy; will diminish oviduct contractions; may cause osteomalacia (a disease that results from a lack of vitamin D or calcium, causing softening of the bones and resulting pain and weakness); caution in liver-impaired; shortens efficacy of Doxycycline.

Pimobendan: cardiovascular drug, a new cariotonic vasodilator (an agent that widens the blood vessels, which in turn decreases resistance to blood flow and lowers blood pressure. Drugs that act as vasodilators are used medically to treat high blood pressure and various other circulatory disorders) ; more tests are needed to determine effects in birds.

Piperacillin (Pipracil): injectable antibiotic in the penicillin family, good broad-spectrum drug; excellent antibiotic alone or when combined with Amikacin; effective against many Gram-negative/Gram-positive bacteria, anaerobes, pseudomonas; excreted in urine and bile; good for liver infections, dog-bite wounds; contraindicated in neonates.

Polysulfated glycosamine glycan (Adequan): cartilage precursor used for arthritis.

Ponazuril: a new triazine coccidiocidal drug which specifically attacks the protozoan parasite from the phylum apicomplexa (this parasite attacks the central nervous system); appears to be safe and effective in a variety of vertebrate species; may prove useful against a variety of apicomplexans found in exotic species; further research is needed.

Praziquantel (Droncit): a dewormer that can be used to remove tapeworms and some flukes (trematodes); can be administered orally or by injection; it causes increased muscular activity in the intestine, causing the worms to lose their grip on host tissue; it destroys the skin of the tapeworm, making it susceptible to the host’s immune mechanism and results in destruction; given in food, by tube or injection; metabolized in liver; toxic to finches; caution in neonates and juveniles, (esp. African Greys).  (Top of Page)


Prednisone, Prednisolone: corticosteroids that are anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive; may predispose birds to aspergillosis and other fungal infections; should be used only with extreme caution; given either orally, topically or by injection; may cause GI ulcers.

Prepidil gel (Dinoprostone): topical, applied to utero-vaginal sphincter; allows for expulsion of egg.

Primaquine: treats avian malaria; useful in killing malarial protozoa lodged in body tissues such as the liver, rather than those in the red blood cells; for this reason, it is almost always used in conjunction with an anti-malarial drug such as Chloroquine, which is effective against the protozoa residing in the red blood cells; given orally.

Probiotics: a live microorganism that exhibits beneficial effects on the host’s health beyond inherent basic nutrition; used in  preventing and treating disease and promoting overall health in humans and animals; Lactobacillus, Enterococcus, and Bifidobacterium are most often used in human and animal commercial probiotics; more research is needed before practitioners will feel comfortable recommending them for their avian patients.  

Probucol (Lorelco): used to lower cholesterol, control lipemia and lipomas; contains iron; use with caution in birds that are susceptible to hemochromatosisa (a genetic disorder in which there is excess accumulation of iron in the body leading to damage of many organs, especially the liver and pancreas).

Progesterone (Depo-Provera): a hormone used to inhibit ovulation in hens with chronic egg-laying problems,given in injection.   (Top of Page)


Proguanil: treats avian malaria; given intramuscularly.

Propyliodone (Dionosl): a molecule used as a contrast medicine for bronchography.

Propylthiouracil: treats hyperthyroidism; acts to inhibit the formation of thyroid hormones; administered orally.

Prostaglandin E2 (Dinoprostone) gel: for use in cases of egg-binding; placed into cloaca;  will help deliver an egg (if not too large and there are no complications).

Prostaglandin or Oxytocin:  to help passing of egg in egg binding.

Prozac, Doxepin, Haloperidol, Clomipramine, Naltrexone: behavioral drugs; Prozac has a relatively low level of toxicity and relatively few side effects. It is even tolerated in patients with hepatosplenic disease. Toxic to finches can be given orally, and in many cases is effective after a single dose; uses are still being discovered.

Pyrantel Pamoate (Nemex): an oral dewormer that is very safe and effective; to remove intestinal roundworms and other types of intestinal worms (except for tapeworms).

Quinacrine (Atabrine): oral medication rarely used to treat malaria (Plasmodium) in avian species; given orally via feeding tube; concentrates in liver, caution with liver impairment; may cause jaundice and seizures;

Ryfadin (Rifampin, Rimactene): used for avian TB; inhibits the growth of the tuberculosis organism and enhances the effectiveness of Isoniazid, with which it is combined; given orally; has numberous drug interactions; side effects are numerous and associated with most body systems; hepatoxic; do not use with liver impairment; usually used with other drugs to treat mycobacterium (fungus); resistance occurs rapidly; absorption reduced with food.

Ronidazole: oral antiprotozoal medication, very safe and efficacious for treating giardiasis in avian species; (however, not produced for use in the U.S., but is available through companies in this country that import the medication).

Selenium and Vit E (Selsun): used for neuromuscular disease in cockatiels.

Sevoflurane (Ultane): newer inhalation anesthetic, similar to isoflurane; provides more rapid recovery.  (Top of Page)


Silver sulphadiazine (Silvadene): topical; for burns, ulcers, under bandage; good to help rehydrate wounds when applied under a transparent dressing; if used over large areas, make sure hydration is maintained.

Silymarin: milk thistle, digestive aid.

Sucralfate (Carafate): for upper GI bleeding; given 1 hour before food or other drugs; may cause constipation; acts to form a protective barrier in the GI lining; treats stress ulcerations, esophogitis, duodenal ulcerations, GI ulcerations resulting from NSAID use, GI reflux disease; considered safe with few side effects.

Sulfachlorpyridazine: powder antibiotic for susceptible bacterial infections of the gastrointestinal tract; also used to treat coccidiosis; not to be used in birds laying eggs.

Sulfadimethoxine (Albon): an oral and injectable medication used to treat coccidiosis (a type of protozoa), Haemoproteus, Pasteurella, Salmonella in small psittacines; make sure hydration is maintained.  (Top of Page)


Tetracycline (Sumycin): an older antibiotic that is bacteriostatic, was used for treating Chlamydophila, Mycoplasma, spirochetes, rickettsiae (a parasitic bacterium that typically lives inside ticks and can be transmitted to humans, causing Rocky Mountain spotted fever), forms of typhus, and other diseases; some aerobic and anaerobic bacteria  are susceptible; also can be used to treat certain protozoal infections; rarely used as birds may not drink sufficient water.

Thyroxine (Synthroid): thyroid supplement; may cause recrudescence (to become active again after a dormant period) of thymus in adults; toxic levels cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and heart failure.

Ticarcillin (Timentin): effective against many Gram-positive and Gram-negative organisms including Pseudomonas and some anaerobes; resistance may develop rapidly.

Tramadol (Ultracet): anopiate for pain management, used for past 25 years in humans; an analgesic for moderate to severe pain; combined with isoflurane to maintain anesthesia; also used in local anesthetics; more research needs to be done for use in avian species.

Triamcinolone: a corticosteroid often found in topical preparations used for dogs and cats; can be dangerous when used topically in avian species; may predispose to aspergillosis and other fungal infections.   (Top of Page)


Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (or Sulfadizine) (Bactrim): oral, injectable; bacteriocidal antibiotic combination, used in geese for susceptible organisms.

Vecuronium Bromide: can be used to dilate pupils in avian species.

Vermifuge: for endoparasites such as threadworms, (capillaria); kills or expels internal parasites from intestinal tract.

Vincristine sulfate: treatment for avian lymphosarcoma, possibly leukemia; given intravenously.

Vinegar, can be used in drinking water (apple cider) to treat gastrointestinal yeast infections, also can be applied topically to mucosa of cloaca (everted) to check for evidence of papillomas.

 PLEASE NOTE: HEATED vinegar emits toxic fumes similar to carbon dioxide. Bird owners have lost their pets by adding vinegar to their dishwashing cycle, or used it to clean coffee machines.

Xylazine (Rompun):  injectable agent used for sedation (seldom used in avian patients); analgesic and sedative used in combination with ketamine to produce anesthesia; intravenously or intramuscularly.   
(Top of Page)


Yohimbine (Aphrodine): used to partially reverse Xylazine.

(Top of Page)


Note: Please also visit my Links page for information on many different bird health issues, diseases and illness.
Click Here


Wing Clipping – Should I clip my Parrotlets wings?   (Top)  


Wing clipping could be labeled one of the most controversial subjects in aviculture. There are many reasons why some bird owners choose to clip their bird’s wings, and just as many reasons why some bird owners do not. While wing clipping is generally recommended for most captive birds, the decision to trim a bird is one best left to the individual owner.

Aside from ensuring that their pet doesn’t accidentally fly away, the biggest reason that most bird owners clip their pets is for safety. Indoor life poses perils that birds do not normally face in the wild, such as windows, ceiling fans, ovens, doorways, sinks, and toilets. Clipping a bird’s wings can help limit their access to dangers such as these.

Another reason that many pet birds have their wings clipped is because it forces the bird to be more dependent on its owner. Many believe that this can serve to enhance the bird/human bond, although there are countless flighted pet birds that enjoy close relationships with their human families.

Those on the other side of the fence contend that depriving a bird of its ability to fly can cause physical and psychological damage. Many argue that the benefits of flying — exercise and mental stimulation — far outweigh the risks of injury to a pet bird, provided they are properly supervised.

Others have different reasons for not trimming their birds. Show birds, for example, have the best chance of winning when they are fully feathered.

Putting some thought into the reasons for and against wing clipping will help you make the best choice for your pet. Talk to your avian veterinarian and get his or her input, and discuss the options with your family members. With careful consideration, you are sure to make a decision that will satisfy the needs of both you are your favorite feathered friend.


Below are some photos that show you where to clip. Also i recommend watching some videos on Youtube. Some of the videos posted by users are very good and detailed.


Clipping Your Parrotlets Wings     (Top)  

I recommend that you visit your local Avian Veterinarian for your first wing and nail clipping! Your Veterinarian can demonstrate the proper techniques and provide you with everything you need to safely perform this routine maintenance on your own. Also I recommend that  you watch a few videos on YouTube if it’s your first time.



Keeping your parrotlets wing’s properly trimmed is an essential part of owning a parrot. Not only does it aid in keeping you, the owner, as the dominant member of the bird-human relationship, it is very important for the safety of your pet. The vast majority of “lost bird” reports come from people who claim to never have clipped their bird’s wings, or to have “forgotten” to do this. Even birds who owners claim “never even attempt to fly” are prone to a startle reflex when suddenly frightened. In this case even a handraised bird’s instincts tell then to attempt to fly off. If the bird’s wings are clipped, the parrot will flutter harmlessly to the ground – if not, this act of owner negligence could result in the loss of a bird.

Even birds who never go outside benefit from clipped wings. A fully flighted bird in the house is much more prone to wing, head and leg injuries resulting from crashes into doors, walls, ceiling fans, windows, mirrors, etc. Sometimes these injuries could prove fatal! Further, a non-clipped bird is more likely to act dominant to its owner, since it knows it can fly away to a high, “superior” spot if it needs to assert itself. Over the years I have had several customers call me and tell me horror stories about their little birds getting away from them or about how someone left the ceiling fan on and the bird flew right into it. It is just not worth the chances you take by not having the birds wings clipped.

For those feeling pity for stripping our feathered companions of their unique and beautiful flying ability, fear not. Any bird will learn very quickly to get what it wants using their two wonderfully adapted feet and that marvelous hooked beak. Think about it this way, in the wild, birds fly (expending lots of time and energy) to find food, shelter, safety, things to play with, places to bathe, and companionship. In a proper human-parrot home, all of these things are provided in abundance. If let out of the cage often, and offered plenty of opportunity and variety of food, playthings and companionship, a pet bird with clipped wings will be perfectly content and will never attempt to fly (unless startled).



When trimming your bird’s wings always aim the scissors away from the bird’s body. Otherwise, serious injury could result. Also, be sure to have someone competent holding the bird. You could easily get bit or even strangle your bird if your holder is not careful.

When you cut your bird’s primary flight feathers, use the dorsal major primary coverts as a type of “dotted line” guide. These are the smaller feathers just above (towards the bird’s head and wrist) the primary flights. If you cut just below (towards the tail) these feathers, you should never accidentally cut an immature or “blood” feather, which could result in pain and bleeding. Normally, the part of the feather sticking beyond the coverts is mature and without blood supply.

Clipping the wings in this manner can be as painless as cutting hair. Usually, the bird has more objection to the restraint involved than the actual wing trimming. As shown in the diagram, when the wing is fully extended, we can see the area cut. However, once the wing is pulled back into a folded position, the cut portion folds under the secondary flight feathers and cannot be seen.

NOTE: If you accidentally cause your bird to bleed during a grooming procedure, do not panic! Bleeding can be stopped by using a styptic powder (i.e. “Kwik-Stop”) or even regular baking flour, in a pinch.

Before and After

A good example would be to follow the black lines below when cutting.

I always recommend watching some videos of wing clipping on Youtube if it’s your first time.
Here is a link to just one. Do a search on Youtube for wing clipping and watch several videos.







As a breeder I have to take everything into account so I do clip the wings on all of my babies. I do however wait until the baby has flown a few times after feeding. After a baby has flown around the house a couple of times I clip the wings for safety reasons. One reason is because I have a teen age son that no matter how many times you tell him – Leaves the doors open or turns on the ceiling fans. Another reason is because most of my babies are shipped with same day service and if for any reason the airport needs to open the birds shipping crate I don’t want it to fly away at the airport. I do not clip the wings on any of my adult breeders. However if I have a male or female that is aggressive with its mate I sometimes will clip its wings. Clipping the wings normally calms the bird down and it will stop picking on the other birds. It is rare that I have to do this.  Below is an article that was posted in one of the Facebook groups about wing clipping. I found it to be full of great information about wing clipping so I decided to share it here on the website.




LuckyFeathers – White Paper Article     (Top of page)

by: Greg Glendell
(Originally published in UK, 2008)Many parrots still have their wings clipped. In this article, Greg Glendell explains why clipping is not
necessary and may even cause more problems than it can solve.

The flying parrot! It sometimes comes as a surprise to bird keepers (who may only know parrots in
captivity) that most wild parrots are ace-aeronauts. And they have to be for one very simple reason: to
escape being caught by an equally skilled hawk intent on catching a parrot for food. Wild parrots who
escape such attacks at high speed and can fly with precision in a tightly packed flock are the ones who
survive to live another day.

So what has this to do with the pet bird in your home? Well, we are always reminding ourselves that
parrots are not really domesticated birds, but remain essentially the same as those in the wild; this is very
true! Throughout their long history of evolution, parrots have refined their flying abilities for the sake of
sheer survival. Wild parrots typically fly at 35 to 45 mph and can keep this up for several hours when
required. The parrot in the home has retained all the instinctive behaviours found in a wild bird
vulnerable to attack from predators. In fact the bird’s whole body, behaviour and lifestyle are adapted for
flight. Due to this evolutionary history, flight is also vital to a parrot’s health and well-being even when it
is in captivity. A flying creature cannot get effective aerobic exercise merely by climbing around, no
more than a dog can get effective exercise unless it is able to run around each day. Pet parrots which do
have regular daily exercise by flying are also strong, fit and healthy birds. Flight is as vital for a bird as
running is for dogs or horses.

How parrots learn to fly.

When baby parrots fledge and leave the nest, they have a strong natural urge to fly, though they don’t
have the skills for precision flight; these skills can only be acquired by experience. All birds (both wild
ones and pet birds) are clumsy for a while during this stage. Just like a human toddler learning to walk
instead of crawl, the birds will have accidents. They may crash-land and misjudge distances when
landing. Birds in captivity have two extra problems to overcome when learning to fly. First, there is the
problem of taking off in the still ‘dead’ air of a room. In the wild, the bird would normally experience the
wind and turn instinctively into this to take off and land more easily. Second, a lack of space. Learning
to fly within the confines of a room is both difficult and unnatural. The bird has insufficient space to gain
any speed before it then has to find somewhere to land. In the wild, it might fly a great distance before
finding a suitable place to land, then prepare itself as it approaches the perch. Fledgling parrots tend to
follow their parents on early flights, and rely on them to show them where to land. With this in mind, as
the bird’s main carer, you should replicate this guidance by showing your bird which places you would
like him to use as perches to land on, but do this before the bird is asked to fly to these places. So, just
use the ‘Step up’ and ‘Step down’ requests to get your bird used to a range of places in the room(s) he has
access to. This might include the backs of chairs, a table, settee, window-ledges etc. Pet birds also need
to be taught about the problems of large-pane windows. It’s best to make these invisible barriers more
obvious to the bird by hanging net curtains at them or sticking something on the window such as diagonal
strips of dark masking/duct tape (birds may try to perch on horizontally arranged tape). Once the bird is
familiar with the window, the tape can be removed.
At first, young birds are not aware of the extent of their own wingspan and an Amazon or African grey,
with a wingspan of about 28 inches (75cms) may collide with a door post as it tries to fly through.
However, after a few attempts, they learn the trick of tucking the wings in to pass through any gap
narrower than their wingspan. So, given the time and space in which to learn, pet parrots soon acquire the
skills to fly well, though this may take a few weeks. You will see a big change in a young bird’s flying
abilities as soon as it learns how to apply the ‘air-brakes’. It does this by dropping its tail feathers and
using some reverse thrust with its primary feathers as it comes in to land. Following acquisition of these
skills the birds fly with much greater confidence and control.
The bird will soon have better speed control and use its tail and a banking manoeuvre to change direction
as well as reduce speed. To land properly, the skilled flyer swoops up to the perch while the tail is
dropped down. This allows it to reduce speed. At the point of landing (and unlike aircraft) the bird has
to stall -to ensure zero airspeed as it reaches the perch. Then, it twists its primary feathers forward to
brake as it puts its feet out to grip the perch. Clipped birds will still sometimes attempt to fly, but the loss
of their primary feathers causes another problem; crash landings. Clipped birds cannot use their primaries
for reverse thrust, so they are often forced to crash-land. This can result in injuries.

As part of their normal development, parrots have a ‘behavioural window’ to learn to fly in the first few
weeks of leaving the nest and it is vital that all young captive-bred birds be given this opportunity. Good
breeders will always encourage their birds to fly as soon as the bird’s natural urges reveal the desire to
take to the air. Soon after fledging (the natural point at which the bird leaves the nest) it will put on
weight as it develops its powerful pectoral muscles on the chest. Also, the heart will grow to its normal
healthy size and develop to be able to beat at around a thousand beats per minute, as is required for flight.

Young birds fledged naturally will be very much fitter and stronger birds than those that have not had
such opportunities to fly. With this in mind, it is common sense that young birds should never be wing
clipped. Clipping at this stage could seriously affect both their mental and physical health for the rest of
their lives, so this should never be done.

So Why clip at all?

The most common reasons given for wanting a bird clipped are
• To prevent the bird escaping.
• To control a bird’s ‘dominant’ behaviour by limiting its ability to fly.
• Because the owner (or breeder) feels it is ‘safer’ for the bird.
• Because the owner doesn’t feel comfortable having a bird that can fly around the house.
Although the first three reasons may seem acceptable there are problems with these as we shall see.
However, the fourth reason is simply not acceptable: anyone who is not at ease with birds flying near
them should consider the many alternative animals which can be kept as pets. In truth, many birds are
also clipped merely as a routine or default practice, without really thinking about the true effects on the
bird of this procedure.
Clipping to Prevent escape.

There are many different types of clipping which vary in their severity, but essentially there are two
methods: either a one-wing clip, to deliberately unbalance the bird should it attempt to fly, or a
symmetrical clip to both wings, which is meant to allow safe downward flight, but prevents lift. The first
method, where most of the primary feathers on one wing are cut off at the level of the wing coverts, is
very crude, indeed very cruel. This clip can threaten the safety, indeed the life, of the bird. Birds have
spent millions of years evolving as highly skilled flying creatures and symmetry is vital to them. To
undermine this by deliberately making a bird unbalanced may also threaten the bird’s mental well-being.
Birds clipped on one-wing which then fall on any hard surface are vulnerable to fractures and bruising to
the breastbone, broken limbs, head injuries and even death. Parrots often start feather plucking a few
weeks after such crude clipping and this problem can be impossible to cure in many birds.
A light but even clipping of both wings is less harmful to the bird. The intention here, is that the bird will
be able to fly down and land safely, but it will be unable to fly up (cannot generate lift). However, should
such a bird get outdoors, it may be able to gain enough lift by facing into the wind and fly fairly normally.
So, the dilemma with a ‘better’ type of clipping is that while it denies the bird lift in the still ‘dead’ air
indoors, it cannot stop a bird escaping by flight outdoors if there is some wind blowing to aid lift.

All birds, clipped or not, are vulnerable to some dangers. If a full-winged bird escapes it may go a
considerable distance, especially if it panics. However, clipped birds are vulnerable to different dangers.
For example, they tend to walk on the floor more, so they are more likely to be trodden on or caught by a
door opening or closing onto them. People with severely clipped birds may be less cautious about leaving
their external doors open. If such a clipped bird escapes, it may not get very far, but it is more vulnerable
to attacks from dogs or cats or being run over by a vehicle when outdoors.

More problems……

All flying birds, including parrots, have an escape response to danger which is both instinctive (not a
learnt behaviour) and is a reflex action (the bird cannot control this action by a conscious decision). The
escape reflex action is caused by many aversive stimuli that the bird receives. This may be a ‘real’ threat,
such as the close approach of a person or animal the bird fears, or some perceived but ‘false’ or harmless
threat such as the proximity of some harmless but unfamiliar object. In performing the escape reflex
action, the bird jumps into the air and takes flight to seek a higher perch where it will feel more secure as
it can then look down, safely on the danger. Only once air-borne, a second or two after the reflex action
comes into play, does the bird have voluntary control of its own movements. Clipping a bird does not
(cannot) prevent the reflex action from taking place; where a clipped bird tries to fly and lands on any
hard surface, it can sustain serious injuries. It is the frustration of this predator-escape response caused by
wing-clipping which causes many parrots great psychological stress. Some birds transfer this frustration
into maladaptive behaviours such as feather plucking, self-mutilation, biting or screaming. With their
freedom to move so limited, others may become ‘behaviourally tethered’ to their cage or stand, defending
this space aggressively against anyone else.
Moulting and re-growth of feathers can mean further problems for clipped birds. Most people who clip
birds’ wings don’t acknowledge the importance of flight to birds as part of the normal behavioural
repertoire. Often there is a lack of information on the evolutionary pressures which resulted in birds
perfecting a flying lifestyle over millions years. Also, many parrot people remain unaware of the
moulting sequence and rate of growth of flight feathers. They fail to understand why, in parrots, these
facts often lead to breaking and bleeding of blood feathers.

Most parrots have 10 primary feathers which are attached to the ‘hand’ and 12 secondary feathers
attached to the lower forearm (ulna). These feathers are numbered, anatomically, in a standard way, as
you look at the bird’s outstretched wing. Primary number 1 (P1) is the innermost primary. P10 is the
outermost primary. The outermost secondary is S1 (this is next to P1). The innermost secondary (next ,
to the bird’s body) is S12. Healthy parrots moult in a set way, (Juniper & Parr 1998) and their moulting
sequence is quite different from most other birds such as passerines and raptors. The middle primary,
usually P6 is the first feather to be dropped from both wings and growth of the new replacement feathers
starts immediately. Most parrots, regardless of their size, grow their feathers at a rate of 3 – 4 millimetres
every 24 hours (Glendell 2007). So, it takes a grey parrot with primaries measuring about 185cms 52
days to grow one blood feather down. You can usually see the growth rate of a feather as alternating,
narrow, parallel dark and pale bands across each feather when this is viewed in good, bright daylight.
Once the new P6 is part grown, P5 and/or P7 will be moulted and start to be re-grown. Then numbers P3
and P7 etc. working in both directions along both wings at the same time. Once most primaries have
been replaced, the bird starts to moult and replace its secondaries (S). The full moulting sequence for
most parrots is as follows, brackets indicate feathers being moulted at the same time in pairs: P6, (P5+7)
(P8+4) (P3+9) (P2+10) P1. S1, straight through to S12 at the end of the moult. This moulting sequence
is an adaptation to maintain the symmetry that is vital to flying birds.


Moulting sequence of most parrots
A central primary, P no. 6 (shown red) is usually the first wing feather to be moulted.

Normal healthy birds will not moult more than 3 flight feathers from the wing at once. Large birds (with
large flight feathers!) take much longer to grow each feather. It may take a large macaw or cockatoo
more than 18 months to complete a moult. But a small parakeet may take no more than 3 months to
complete the same process.

Now, when a clipped bird tries to re-grow its wing feathers by producing the new ‘blood’ feathers, these
are liable to be damaged. This is because unlike the normal wing, a clipped wing does not have adjacent
old, full-length feathers to give the new blood feathers any protection during their very delicate growth
stage. Bleeding can be profuse if such a feather is damaged. Birds which do not show any behavioural
problems at the time of clipping often develop problems later at this stage. They start to pick at the new
unprotected feathers and this may prevent proper re-growth of all clipped feathers. If your bird is clipped,
it is best to restore flight immediately by having donor feathers attached to the clipped feather stumps.
This procedure is called imping and can be carried out by an avian vet. I can supply donor flight feathers
for most ‘pet’ parrot species to vets for imping. The bird should of course also be trained to fly to and
from you, and to and from other familiar places on a verbal request from you.

Clipping to have more control over your bird.    (Top
This is commonly given as the reason for clipping. However, most people who ask for their bird to be
clipped for control reasons have not even been informed of the option of basic training of flight requests
with their bird, yet most parrots respond very well to training within a few days. In addition to teaching a
bird to “Step up” and “Go down” off the hand, I normally teach these additional requests:

Stay”. This means do not approach me or fly to me for the moment.
Go“. Means leave me by flying off me.
Off there“. Means leave your present perch and fly to another place (usually used as a safety request).
On here” This means please fly to me now.

These flight requests are taught using reward-based training methods; the bird gets something it really
likes such as head scritches, a favourite toy or favourite food treat while learning the new requests. Once
learnt by the bird these requests gives carers all the control they need of their bird.

Another major advantage of teaching a bird the basic flight requests is that should the bird ever escape, it
can be much easier to get it back once you have spotted it, since trained birds tend to still accept these
requests by the person they are bonded to even when they are outdoors. Having kept parrots for over 25
years, I have had quite a few birds escape. However, I have never lost any trained birds, and only ever
lost one untrained one (in 1992). I have recovered escaped Amazons, greys, conures and Meyers parrots
by this means.

Wings are for flying!    (Top
Prospective buyers of parrots are often simply not told about the serious consequences of wing clipping
especially as regards young birds. These problems do not often appear until many weeks or months after
the bird is in its new home. Since the basic training can give you good control of a flighted bird there is
no need to have any bird clipped. It only takes a few minutes to clip a bird’s wings but it can take months
or even years (and expensive vet’s bills) to correct the problems that wing-clipping can cause.

Birds trained to accept a few extra ‘requests’ from their main carers can of course spend much more time
out of their cage since they cause fewer problems while enjoying valuable time with you and the relative
freedom that this gives them. Flying birds also get good effective exercise which is vital for them to be
strong, healthy birds. Parrots are very different from the domesticated creatures kept as pets. Even
captive-bred birds remain essentially ‘wild’ animals with a vital need to perform as many of their natural
behaviors as possible each day of their lives. This should include daily periods of flight, even if this is
only indoors. With this in mind, parrot owners should be prepared to adapt their homes, at least to a
certain degree, to the bird’s needs, instead of adapting the bird, by clipping it and disabling it for their
convenience. Flight is something to be encouraged in parrots; not something which should be denied the
birds almost by default. By teaching birds some basic flight requests, carers can have all the ‘control’
they need of their flying bird, and the bird will be fitter, stronger and healthier in many ways.

Greg Glendell BSc (hons) works as a full-time companion parrot behavior consultant in Somerset in the
UK. He has written several books on companion parrot care.

For further information contact Greg at:
or see:

(Originally published in Parrots magazine, UK, 2008)








Sleep Time:   (Top)  

Many people choose to cover their bird’s cage at night. While it’s not necessary, there are a few possible benefits. First, it means your bird is less likely to wake up at the crack of dawn and wake up everybody else in the house. Birds are very light-responsive: they sleep when it’s dark and wake up when there’s light. If you cover their cage, it gives you more control over this. It also allows the birds to sleep in a little bit — many of them probably aren’t going to bed when the sun sets, since they live in a house with electricity!

Training – It is also a great tool for training. When your pet bird is being bad or gets a little uncontrollable , Give him 10 to 20 minuets of time out in a covered cage. I have had really good success with doing this. A firm NO command and then a quick trip to a covered cage for a few minuets will (may) teach your bird in a harmless way that his actions are not acceptable. Parrotlets are very smart, this form of training works.


 Covering the cage can also help reduce “night frights.” Night frights are when something scares the bird at night and they end up flapping all over the cage in the dark, potentially hurting themselves. Some birds, like cockatiels, are particularly prone to this. Pet birds cannot see well in the dark, so things like the moving shadows in a dark room can really scare them. Usually you won’t even know what it was that scared them. If you cover them, that eliminates most of those sorts of visual stimuli.

You might consider placing a small nightlight near your bird’s cage. If your bird does have a night fright, she can use that light to see her back to her sleeping perch.

Sleep is a good way to monitor your bird’s health. Parrotlets should get an average of 9 to 12 hours of sleep each day. If she is sleeping on the floor of the cage, that’s frequently a sign of poor health. Birds, being prey animals, are very good at hiding their symptoms. By the time they’re willing to sleep exposed on the ground, they are often feeling very bad indeed. A bird on the floor may be a female about to lay an egg, but if it is, that should become apparent fairly quickly. If your bird is sleeping on the floor for long periods of time, it’s time to get them to the veterinarian.

It’s not at all uncommon for birds to nap throughout the day at different spots in the cage or on their owners. As long as your bird has active periods and seems alert and responsive when they are awake, she is most likely just fine.

Beak Grinding
Many birds will do a thing called “beak grinding” as they settle down to sleep. This is where they rub the two mandibles of their beak together, producing a soft sound almost like teeth grinding. New owners are sometimes concerned by this, but this is actually a good sign. Birds do this when they are very content and relaxed, which is why they tend to do it right before dozing off. Hearing my cockatiels beak-grind on my shoulder is one of my favorite sounds in the world, because I know it means they are very happy to be with me.

Top 10 Bird Killers          (Top)    Update November 2014: Click here to view the latest updated list below in a photo format.

Although we all like to think that we always have our bird’s best interests at heart, it is impossible to foresee every single household danger that our avian friends can get into. But it is wise to be aware of the most common dangers to our pet birds, so that we can avoid those situations. And, of course, it is an excellent idea to have a well-stocked first-aid kit on hand at all times, in the event that a mishap does occur. Be sure to discuss emergency plans with your avian vet and have a list of emergency phone numbers available.

Many birds die before their time as a result of mistakes made by their owners, either unintentionally or through ignorance. Learn about the top ten reasons birds die, and just perhaps, this information may save some birds’ lives.

1. Water   (Top)  

Deprivation of water can also have fatal results. The most common reason for this happening is due to a water bottle malfunctioning. If the delivery tube’s ball sticks, or if a bird stuffs an object into the tube, effectively blocking it, a bird will be deprived of water. If an owner doesn’t check that all water bottles are working every day, or if it is not noticed that the water level in the bottle is not going down, it may be days before an owner recognizes a problem. Rarely, the unthinkable happens and a bird’s water bowl may go unfilled for days, or the bird may empty the bowl, which goes unnoticed, resulting in fatal dehydration. Most birds will die if water is withheld for three days, unless lots of moisture-laden foods are fed.

2. Unclipped Wings   (Top)  

If a bird is to be allowed freedom outside of its cage, its wings should be properly clipped. This means that it can glide gracefully to the ground. If the wings are not clipped correctly, or if several primary wing feathers have grown back unbeknownst to the owner, an alarmed bird may end up flying erratically around the house, or worse, launching itself to the top of a tree! Some avian vets actually have a name for birds that have had run-ins with ceiling fans (shredded tweet!) If a bird is frightened, it may mistake a window or mirror for open spaces, and end up with a concussion. Contrary to popular belief, birds RARELY break their necks with such an injury.

Birds indoors have flown into pots of boiling water, open commodes, windows, mirrors, fondue pots and an active fireplace, to name just a few of the household hazards.

3. Toxic Fumes       (Top

Non-stick cookware and other household items possessing a non-stick surface made from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) can be toxic to birds. If overheated (temperatures over 530 degrees F), the gas released is extremely dangerous to birds and can result in death. However, even with normal usage, some fumes may also be released, so non-stick cookware, drip pans, irons, ironing board covers and heat-lamps with a PTFE coating should not be used around birds.

Passive inhalation of cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke can cause chronic eye problems, skin irritation and respiratory disease. Birds that live in homes with smokes may develop coughing, sneezing, sinusitis and conjunctivitis, which may resolve spontaneously, if the bird is moved to a location free of smoke. Some birds exposed to chronic second-hand smoke will develop secondary bacterial infections, as well, which can prove fatal.

Many common disinfectants and household cleaning agents release fumes that can be toxic or fatal to birds. Chlorine bleach, phenols and ammonia can all have dangerous vapors that can cause irritation, toxicosis and even death.

Common household aerosol products, such as perfume, deodorant and hairspray, can cause respiratory problems in birds. They may cause severe inflammation and difficulty breathing, and after large or direct exposure, death can occur. Any pump spray or aerosol using a propellant can be dangerous to birds, and these should not be used around birds.

Natural gas leaks can cause sudden death in birds. Any type of heater, used improperly or with inadequate ventilation can be deadly to birds. Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas, can also be fatal to birds. Anyone with pet birds should have a working carbon monoxide monitoring device in the home, preferably in the room where the birds are kept. Second-hand smoke from marijuana can also cause severe depression and regurgitation. Burning foods, overheated cooking oils and smoke from a fire can cause fatal inhalations.

4. Trauma   (Top)  

A bird with properly clipped wings may develop the “cute” habit of climbing down off of its cage to seek out favorite family members. Below is a small list of some items that can cause trauma.

A. Stepping on the bird
B. Sliding glass doors
C. Vacuum Cleaners
D. Recliners
E. Couch Cushions
F. Laundry Baskets
G. Getting in or behind the washer or dryer
H. Getting in, under or behind refrigerators and freezers
* Plus many other household items.

5. Other Animals        (Top

Birds should never be left unsupervised outside of the cage, especially if other animals, including other birds, share the same house. Even if a pet dog or cat has acted completely trustworthy around a pet bird, it should not be trusted. Many birds have died as a result of another housepet either “playing” too exuberantly with a bird, or from the pet biting or stepping on the pet bird.

Birds may also injure each other. Parrotlets and Lovebirds are notorious for nipping the toes of birds housed in neighboring cages. Toes are the most commonly injured body part, and bleeding may be serious, and even fatal. Especially with the onset of puberty, birds that previously got along together, may begin fighting, with fatal results.

Any animal bite should be considered extremely serious, possibly life-threatening. The bacteria found in the saliva and the mouth of a mammal can cause fatal septicemia (infection in the bloodstream) of a bird in very short order. Cat bites should be considered the most dangerous, as the Pasteurella bacteria commonly found in the feline mouth, are extremely hazardous to birds. Even a simple puncture by a tooth can result in a fatal infection. Scratches from claws are also extremely dangerous, as the risk of infection is very real.

6. Toxic Food or Plants   (Top)  
Please also review my list of toxic foods in the diet section of this page.

There are several foods that are very toxic to birds. Chocolate is digested in a different way by birds, and the metabolite, theobromide, is very toxic to them. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate are the most toxic, and milk chocolate, although less toxic, is still a forbidden food for birds. Caffeine is also metabolized differently in birds, which also results in toxic compounds. There is some data that indicates that some varieties of avocado are toxic to birds, with perhaps the skin and pit being the most dangerous parts. Although unlikely to kill a bird, to be on the safe side, avocado should not be fed to birds. Onions can cause a fatal hemolytic anemia in dogs and cats, but since birds’ red blood cells have a nucleus, this may protect the cells from the severe injury that occurs in other species. However, until this topic is studied, it is best to not feed onions to birds.

Some houseplants can be toxic, even fatal, to birds. Lists of potentially toxic plants have been published often in Bird Talk. Outdoor plants can also kill birds.

7. Hand-Feeding Mistakes        (Top

There is no doubt in my mind that many a baby bird has expired as a result of hand-feeding mishaps. Unweaned baby birds should not be sold or given to inexperienced hand-feeders for this reason. It is not necessary for a baby bird to be hand-fed by the family purchasing it in order for it to become “bonded” to them. Budgies are routinely tamed down as pets once they have fledged by the parents, and this can also occur with larger birds fed-out by the parents. Baby birds can also be hand-fed by the aviculturist, and be visited by the new owners to allow the babies to become accustomed to their new families. Weaned birds can be sold to owners, and they will settle in with their new families in no time. So, there is no reason for a baby to be fed by an inexperienced owner.

There are many different things that can go wrong during the hand-rearing process, including feeding formula improperly (mixed incorrectly, stored incorrectly, fed at wrong temperature), delivering the food improperly (dirty utensils, forcing food into the baby resulting in aspiration pneumonia, injuring the mouth or crop with feeding equipment), poor husbandry techniques (keeping the baby at the incorrect temperature, not practicing good hygiene, indiscriminate use of antibiotics), just to mention just a few potential problems.

Most commonly, babies are kept at the incorrect temperature, or the food is fed at too low of a temperature, resulting in a slowed down gastrointestinal tract, which can be fatal, if not corrected in time. If the baby is forced to eat, it may struggle and end up inhaling the baby formula, resulting in aspiration pneumonia. If a large amount of food is inhaled, the baby will die immediately, but if a small amount of food ends up in the respiratory tract, the aspiration pneumonia may result in the baby suffering for days, trying desperately to breathe, before it dies.

Infection is common in hand-feeding babies that are not cared for properly. Bacterial infection, fungal infection and polyoma virus infection are the most common infectious diseases in baby birds, and all can prove fatal.

Hand-feeding is best left up to those with experience.

8. Owner-Caused Diseases   (Top)  

Although it is fun to take baby birds to bird shows, swap meets and club meetings, it is very dangerous for the babies. Infections can spread to baby birds, even through the air, even if the owner is diligent about not allowing any direct contact with the babies. Many diseases can prove fatal to babies, especially polyoma virus. Adult birds are also at risk from exposure to other birds from the same sources, as well as from trips to the pet store, as well. Having parties where owners bring their birds can also spread disease. Unfortunately, a bird can carry a disease, and be able to pass it to others without appearing ill. Proventricular dilatation disease (PDD), chlamydiosis (psittacosis), Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) and pacheco’s disease may all be spread by birds that MAY appear healthy in physical appearance. Giardia, a one-celled protozoal organism, can be spread by a bird ingesting food or water contaminated by the droppings of an infested bird. Remember that we don’t even have tests for some of the diseases that birds can have! Deliberately exposing birds to other birds, even if they have been vet checked, is dangerous and should be avoided, or kept to an absolute minimum.

Owners must understand that it is dangerous for pet birds to have direct contact with their owner’s mouths. We carry bacteria and fungi that can cause serious infection, or even death, in our birds. Birds should never be kissed with an open mouth, nor should birds be allowed any contact with the owner’s teeth, tongue, lips or saliva.

9. Heat Exposure      (Top

Exotic birds, while from warm, tropical climates, cannot tolerate excessive heat. Children, dogs, cats, other pets and birds should never be left in a car during warmer weather, even with the windows partially lowered. Temperatures inside a car can rapidly reach lethal levels.

Heat can also kill birds in a more insidious way. An owner may place a cage outdoors in the shade in the morning, for fresh air, and as the sun slides across the sky during the day, the bird may end up in the direct sun by the afternoon. With no place to escape the sun, a bird may rapidly develop hyperthermia and die. An overheated bird will begin panting, and with panting, will also begin getting dehydrated. Most birds suffering from hyperthermia will try to get out of the sun, and may try to bathe to cool off, if possible. If the bird’s body temperature rises high enough, it will seizure and die. Hyperthermia can also occur if a bird’s cage is relocated by a window, with no shade to escape the sun. Hyperthermia can also occur in baby birds, if a brooder is set at too high of a temperature, or if the brooder malfunctions.

10. Sleeping With Birds   (Top)  

Birds should sleep in their cages. Birds that are allowed to sleep in bed with their owners are at serious risk for suffocation or life-threatening trauma. Even though an owner has slept with the pet bird for a while, there is always the chance that the bird will get lodged between the waterbed and frame, smothered under a pillow, or be rolled over on during sound sleep. It has happened all too often to allow such a risk. Although it is fun to read or watch television in bed or on the sofa with a pet bird, if there is a chance that you might doze off, it is time to return the bird to its cage.

Although we cannot foresee every possible accident or problem that can occur with our pet birds, by knowing the top ten bird killers, you can avoid the most common dangers.

UPDATE – Top 10 – November 2014
I ran across the below updated photo list on a website that invited us to share the list.
The below list was found on an


(Top)   (My Parrotlets for Sale)


The Parrotlet Handbook
By Sandee L. Molenda
Published By: Barrons



One of the best books written about Parrotlets. Below is a list of the Contents.
The book is available on for around $10. I recommend anyone who wants a parrotlet or anyone who already has a parrotlet to buy this book. It is full of so much great information.
See a preview of this book below – Click Here   or to buy

Table Of Contents
Chapter I – Meet the Parrotlet 

Parrotlets and their Special People
History In Captivity
What Are Parrotlets?
Frequently Asked Questions
Are There Differences in Personalities Between Subspecies?
What is a Parrotlet’s Average Life Span?
Chapter II – Parrotlet Identification 
Basic Classifications
Identification Terms
Pacific Parrotlets
Color Mutation Parrotlets
Pacific Color Mutation Descriptions
Green Rumped Parrotlets
Spectacled Parrotlets
Rare Species Of Parrotlets
Blue Winged Parrotlets
Mexican Parrotlets
Sclater’s Parrotlets
Yellow Faced Parrotlets
Chapter III – Choosing A Parrotlet 
Are You the Right Person for a Parrotlet?
Considerations When Picking A Parrotlet
Which Species?
What Sex?
One Parrotlet or More?
Where to Buy a Parrotlet
Purchasing from a Breeder
Shipping Parrotlets
Purchasing From a Pet Shop
Bird Marts
Purchasing Checklist
Picking the Perfect Parrotlet
Healthy Parrotlet Checklist
Unweaned Parrotlets
Tips For Purchasing Parrotlets
Chapter IV – Housing The Parrotlet 
Food Dishes
Watering Devices
Mite Protectors
Floor Covering
Cage Location
Covering the Cage
Cleaning the Cage
Finding Safe, Fun Toys
Birdie Buddies™ and Happy Huts™
“People” Toys
Playpens and Baskets
Other Equipment
Air Filters
Water Filter
Chapter V – Feeding The Parrotlet 
Pellets and Color Mutation Parrotlets
Other Necessary Foods
Fresh Fruit For Your Parrotlet
Fresh Vegetables and Greens – Fed Raw Unless Noted
Organic and Homegrown Produce
Nuts, Seeds, Legumes and Non-Animal Proteins
Legumes and Other Non-Animal Proteins
Animal Proteins
Hot Cooked Diets
Sprouted Seed
Vitamins and Supplements
Lory Powder
Bee Pollen
Spirulina™ and Wheat Grass Powder
Cuttlebone and Mineral Blocks
Mineral Blocks
Grit and Oyster Shell
Healthful Treats
Healthful Recipes for Parrotlets
Daily Fresh Food Mix
Birdie Corn Muffins
Brown Rice Recipe
Basic Bird Bread
Corn/Bean/Rice Recipe
Parrotlet Ranch Beans
Is Your Parrotlet Eating?
Picky Eaters
Wasteful Parrotlets
Chapter VI – Bringing The Parrotlet Home 
New Home Checklist
New-Parrotlet Check Up
New Bird Examination Procedure
Leg Bands
Patience and Understanding
Chapter VII – Behavior and Training 
  The Spoiled Parrotlet
Parrotlet Behavior
Cage Aggression
Egg-Laying Pet Females
Feather Mutilation
The “Teenage Years”
Training Basics
The “No” Command
The “Step Up” Command
Playing “Ladders”
Time Out
Teaching Parrotlets to Talk
Pepper the Wonder Parrotlet
Teaching The Parrotlet Tricks
Get the Bell
Playing Dead
Potty training
Riding on a Toy
Shaking Hands
Standing on Head
Chapter VIII – Grooming The Parrotlet 
Wing Clipping
Beak Trimming
Green Rumped Parrotlet Beak Problems
Preening and Pinfeathers
Chapter IX – Breeding Parrotlets 
  Housing Breeding Pairs
Nutrition for Breeding Parrotlets
Breeding Parrotlets
Hand-Feeding and Socializing
Parent-Raised Chicks
Record Keeping
Proper Equipment & Disinfection & Hygiene
Hand Feeding Equipment Guide
Color Mutation Parrotlets
Pellet Diets and Color Mutation Parrotlets
Breeding Parrotlet Mutations
Inheritance Modes and Color Combinations
Recessive Color Mutation Chart – Single Factor
Recessive Color Mutation Chart – Combination Colors
Chapter X – Traveling with Your Parrotlet 
Basic Travel Tips
Traveling by Air
Health Certificates
Chapter XI – Hazards and Disaster Preparedness 
Around the House
Airborne Toxins
List of Common Household Airborne Toxins
Cigarette Smoke
Paint and Pesticides
Stored Dangers
Teflon™ and Other Non-Stick Surfaces
Dangerous Foods
The Avocado Controversy
Dangerous houseplants
Safe Houseplants
Other Birds and Animals
Toys and Cages
Zinc and Lead
Common Household Sources of Lead
Disaster Preparedness
Emergency Bird Supply Kit
Chapter XII – Illness and Diseases 
Know What to Look For
Signs of Illness
Emergency Situations
First Aid
Bird First Aid Kit
Hospital Cage
Cuts and Abrasions
Bleeding Feathers
Broken Beak Tip
Broken Toenail
Working With Your Veterinarian 
Holistic Medicine
Chlamydiosis (Psittacosis, Parrot Fever)
E. coli
Mycobacteria (Avian Tuberculosis)
Fungal Infections
Avian Gastric Yeast
Protozoal Parasites
Viral Infections
Beak and Feather Disease (P.B.F.D.)
Pacheco’s Disease
Polyoma Virus
To Vaccinate or Not?
Proventricular Dilatation Disease (P.D.D.)
Further Education
Books and Magazines
Bird Clubs
Death of a Parrotlet
Chapter XIII – Showing A Parrotlet 
What is a Bird Show?
Societies and Specialty Clubs
Great American and National Cage Bird Shows
Other Benefits
General Parrot Standards
International Parrotlet Society Standards
Preparing A Parrotlet For A Show
Show Cages
Show Cage Training
Before the Show
Night of the Show
Attending the Show
Show Tag and Registration Form
Judging Procedure
Accumulating Points
Banquet and Raffles
Chapter XIV – Beyond the Basics 
Further Information
International Parrotlet Society
Avicultural Organizations
American Federation of Aviculture
National Cage Bird Show
Society of Parrot Breeders and Exhibitors
Conservation Organizations
American Bird Conservancy
RARE Center for Tropical Conservation
Magazines and Periodicals
Bird Talk Magazine
Parrot Life
Veterinary References
American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, Inc.
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
Association of Avian Veterinarians
Chapter XV – Glossary of Terms
Chapter XVI- Appendix
Classifications of Forpus Parrotlets

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Leg Banding Or Leg Rings    (Top

There are a number of reasons why identification of a bird is important. These include proof of ownership, governmental requirements in some states, identification of lost or stolen birds, and tracking of birds for breeding purposes (very important). The ability to identify a bird also acts as a deterrent to smugglers and the illegal bird trade. Thus it has a
positive impact on saving birds in their natural environments.

The most widely accepted means of identification of birds today is the leg band. Microchipping and DNA fingerprinting are alternative methods which are gaining in
popularity. Many people prefer these newer methods for a variety of reasons. However at this time, the leg band is the most used method.


Closed bands are found on birds which have been banded as babies. This usually means that they are captive bred by a breeder.
Closed bands are circular and seamless. They are made of stainless steel, aluminum or plastic and come in a variety of colors and sizes . The band is placed on a baby
bird, about 9 to 14 days old, by sliding the band over the foot to the leg portion. As the bird grows, the feet become too large for the band to fall off. Removal can
only be accomplished by cutting the band off. This permanency makes closed bands a more reliable method of identifying a bird than open bands which can be opened or removed.

An open band is a piece of metal which has been bent into the form of a
circle. The ends of the band do not meet and are separated by a space to enable them to be placed on a mature bird’s leg. After placement, the ends are then pinched
together with a special tool until they meet. Open bands can be used on older birds whose feet are too large for banding with a closed band.

In my aviary I only use open bands. I really like the fact that I can decide when the best time is to band the bird. If i were using closed bands I would have to make sure that I put the bands on the babies at exactly the right time otherwise it is to late and the bird can not be banded. With open bands I am able to band the babies when the time is right and when my work schedule permits it. Another reason I like open bands is that they can be removed. From my experience over the years I have found that most of my customers just simply don’t like the bands on the birds. With open bands the Veterinarian can easily remove the band or the owner can remove it very carefully. It is very important to me as a breeder to know exactly what my birds family background and bloodline is, because of this I band all of my babies. This allows me to know for sure at later dates what birds can be paired with each other. It would be impossible to keep track of the family bloodlines without bands. Open bands should be checked every few months to make sure they are closed tightly. Over time the gap in between the band can slowly get larger allowing a bird to maybe get caught on a cage wire and not be able to get lose. For this reason i recommend that you check your bands monthly to make sure their is no gap in between the band.

For larger birds I would recommend using only closed bands. Larger birds are stronger and sometimes are able to remove the open bands. So if you are breeding larger birds you will want to order and use closed bands. Smaller birds such as budgies or parrotlets are not strong enough to remove the bands so I find it much easier for my record keeping to use the open bands on smaller birds.

Ordering Bands   (Top)  
Many different companies offer bands. Also a lot of bird clubs sell them.
I buy my leg bands from L & M Leg Bands. (909) 882-4649

L & M offers customers engraving which includes: a buyer id code (up to three characters such as letters, numbers or symbols); a consecutive series of numbers so each
band has a unique number for record-keeping; their state or Canadian province abbreviation; and lastly, the year. With the exception of some states, this is all
optional. L & M is not imprinted on their bands.

Those interested in breeding birds need a reliable method of identifying them. Keeping the gene pools diverse, pairing unrelated birds, breeding for traits or
mutations are all important issues. Band numbers are used by breeders to identify and keep records on their birds. Use of colored bands also enables a breeder to more
easily distinguish among multiple birds in an aviary without disturbing the birds. Breeders buying older birds can trace the origins of the birds to ensure that
potential pairings are unrelated or to identify certain traits. Bands are also an inexpensive means of identification.


Bands are one method of identifying a lost or stolen bird. No matter how careful bird owners and breeders are, the unthinkable sometimes happens and a bird flies
away. It may be found by a conscientious person who would like to return the bird to its owner. If the bird is wearing a band, the task becomes much easier. Many bands
are traceable and a finder (with help from a pet store, veterinarian or breeder) may be able to trace the bird and its owner. If a finder advertises that a bird has
been found, the true owner can prove his ownership of this particular bird if he has the band number.

If a bird has been stolen, the thief will often remove the band to prevent discovery. However, there are documented cases where birds have been recovered years later
due to identification of the leg band. Removal of the band by a thief, decreases the value of the bird and some thieves take their chances. Reputable breeders and pet
stores will question the history of an unbanded bird. Anyone buying a bird as a pet should also question any bird which is not banded.


There are some bird owners and veterinarians who routinely remove the band from every bird they own or treat, believing that the band may be a cause of future injury.
There are fears that a bird can get hung up in its cage by the band or that a bird will pick and chew at the band and its feet. All cages should be inspected for
safety whether a bird is banded or not. Any exposed cage wire ends or other hazards should be removed. Experience has shown that if a band is of the proper size, most
birds will not pick. There are instances where open bands have not been correctly closed , allowing thin objects to slide into the opening. This can be corrected by
closing the band properly.

However, there will be instances when a band should be removed. It may be too small. There may be swelling, loss of feathers, picking or some medical reason. Consult
your veterinarian if you have concerns.

Howard Voren, noted aviculturist, has written of a case in which a vet removed the bands of a newly purchased pair. DNA sexing later showed that the birds were not a
male/female pair. He writes that “The seller refused to take the birds back because the birds could no longer be positively identified, nor resold as domestically bred
to a skeptical buyer. The vet had by his actions turned the birds into damaged goods.”

Whether imported or domestic, open or closed banded, the leg band carries letters and numbers which identify the bird. Import bands are traceable by contacting the US fish and game or a local import station. Domestic bands purchased from bird associations and some commercial vendors are also traceable but it can be very hard because we have no nation wide system or data base. You have to contact each band company or bird club one at a time and ask them to chek their records for the information you are looking for.

It is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to trace a band which does not have an organization code on it. The best course is to contact the major band manufacturers.
They have thousands of customers, so it is unlikely that the band buyer code would be unique. But they may be able to provide the names of a few breeders using this
code, which is a starting point. The more information which has been engraved on the band, the better the chances of tracing it.

Adding a leg band to a bird – CLOSED BANDING   (Top)  

#1 the band is slipped over 3 toes
#2 the 4th toe is bent backwards and the band slides over it.
#3 The closed band is on the bird – completed.
Note: This must be done when the bird is very young around 9 to 14 days old.
After this time has passed you can not use a closed band.


xRay – Parrotlet Bones up close    (Top

Below is a rare look at a Parrotlet under xray. Notice how small and fragile the little wing bones are. This photo was sent to us by a customer. We posted it asking other breeders who have seen xrays before to take a look and send us your thoughts on what the little white dot on the right down by the birds left leg could be. The vet told her it could be an undeveloped egg. If you have experience in viewing eggs with xray please send us your thoughts from our contact page.


10 Things your bird needs from you   (Top

The below information was available from for download.
Great information every bird owner should follow.

Splayed Legs:   (Top



LuckyFeathers – White Paper Article    (Top of page)

Splayed Legs
By on January 3, 2012   ()
Caring for a Bird With Splayed Legs

Most birds have no trouble flying, climbing around their cages or perching on their favorite swings. But every now and then a bird is born with splayed legs. The bird may be unable to stand up straight, walk, perch or move around easily. You may find that the legs lean more to the sides than underneath the body, and this is referred to as splayed legs (sometimes called spraddle legs).

Causes   (Top)  
There are several causes of splayed legs in birds. The mother could have sat on the baby too heavily or too long, and the force and pressure caused the legs to bend and grow outward instead of underneath the body. Birds need sunlight to produce vitamins, and baby birds kept in nestboxes in dark corners may suffer from a vitamin deficiency that affects their growth.

There are bird foods that supplement this vitamin need, but not all provide enough nutrition. A lack of nutrition or supplements is another reason attributed to splayed legs. In addition to diet, not enough or incorrect bedding in the nestbox can add a risk of the legs being splayed. In fact, veterinarian Ron Hines, DMV, PhD, argues that this is far more likely to be the cause than a vitamin deficiency.

Genetics can also be a factor. This is most commonly seen with inbreeding; unless corrected, it can continue with future offspring. Other times a parent bird might notice the baby is different and refuse to care for it or place more emphasis on the other babies.

Prevention   (Top)  
If you do not have a bird with splayed legs, you can start working on prevention in young birds now. The feed should have a good amount of calcium and protein; check the feed you normally buy to make sure it is sufficient for the growth of the birds.

If you provide vitamin D3 as a supplement, check the amount and frequency you provide it so make it is enough for healthy growth. You can also ground up Tums and sprinkle it over their food if other forms are not available.

Treatment  (Top)     
Babies and younger birds respond best to treatment since they are still growing. Older or fully developed birds may not be able to be treated, but you can consult with your avian veterinarian to determine what course of action (if any) can still be taken.

If you can determine that the weight of the parents on the baby is causing the legs to be pushed outward, add more bedding to address this problem. Is the nesting container too slippery to be grasped by the young bird? Fix this. Are the birds getting enough sunlight? Consider relocating the cage or providing a lamp that produces sunlight properties. Diet is also very important for growth; double-check that your feed and supplements are sufficient if you can’t find any other reason for the condition.

There are several creative ways to treat splayed legs:

•Pipe cleaners can be bent in a figure-8 shape around the bird’s legs to bring them closer together.
•Placing the bird’s legs in a small cup so they are straight underneath him can help straighten the legs.
•Use vet tape (tape or bandages that stick to themselves) to wrap around the legs and bring them closer together.
•Sticks or straight objects attached to the legs to straighten them can also be used, but be careful that the materials do not scratch the baby’s legs.
•Sponges can be used with holes cut out for the legs at the desired angle. This solution can provide a soft and safe alternative to correcting the bird’s legs. Unused makeup sponges can be cut to fit for this purpose.

Splayed leg chick improved

Birds with splayed legs that can still move around, eat and be active can live normal and healthy lives. They may need additional or special perches, their nails clipped more regularly and extra care given to the pressure points caused on their body in different areas. These pets can still lead a happy life, so check with your veterinarian before you start any treatment. The younger the bird the better, so don’t delay treatment.(Top)     

LuckyFeathers – White Paper Article    (Top of page)

How to tape up the legs     

*This is just one of several possible treatments (other treatments). As always check with your vet, do research online, check for videos showing you more information. Doing it wrong or not knowing exactly what you are doing can cause more damage.

See photos below: Tape on legs Curad 1 inch paper tape. Cut in half, Place one behind the left leg and wrap the end around the front of the ankle, then place a spacer piece of tape in the middle of the two legs, then wrap the other end of the tape from the back of the leg around the front and place another spacer piece of tape in the center. Be sure there is a slight space where the tape wraps around the ankle part of the leg. Chick should be able to stand.

Click Photos for larger view:   (Top)  

#1 #2 #3 #4

Another example





Mites & Lice   (Top

Information on treating mites and lice is coming soon.


LuckyFeathers – White Paper Article    (Top of page)

The Lost Lucida Parrotlet 

also known as “Ridgway’s Parrotlet

Rediscovering A Forgotten Subspecies:
The Colombian Pacific Parrotlet

By: Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.

Pacific parrotlets, Forpus coelestis, are found in south-western Equador and north-western Peru. According to the most respected avicultural publications, there are no subspecies. Yellow Faced parrotlets, Forpus xanthops, which are found in the Maranon Valley in Peru, were erroneously classified as, Forpus coelestis xanthops, a subspecies of Pacifics for many years. The Yellow Faced are now rightly identified as their own albeit very rare species.

It has long been accepted among Pacific parrotlet breeders that males can be differentiated from females by their cobalt-blue feathers on their wings, backs, rumps and eye streaks. Although females do have eye streaks, they are emerald green not blue. This distinction is also true of most species of Forpus parrotlets with Yellow Face being the only exception.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, it came as a great surprise when one morning a little three-week old hen during hand-feeding, had a very pronounced blue rump. Her wings were green and her eye streak was emerald but her rump was definitely blue. The rump color was not dark cobalt as in the males but much softer and diffuse, almost dark turquoise. Her sisters all appeared “normal”, that is, they possessed green rumps not blue. Upon checking the parent bird, to our utter disbelief, she had the most beautiful, bright, rich shade of turquoise on her rump as well as her eye streak. Since this is a wild-caught hen, she is rarely seen her outside of the box, thus color observation was infrequent. Also, since she was one of the first breeders obtained, inexperience added to the confusion.

Immediately taking inventory of the seven pair of pacifics in our aviary, four had blue rumps and of those, two had patches of blue on their wings! Contacting several other breeders of pacific parrotlets, they too reported some of their Pacific hens had blue rumps. Learning later, many of these hens passed on this trait to their daughters although often the color patterns did not come in until after their first molt.

About this time, another pair of birds was obtained from southern California. This time, it was the male that looked different. Instead of having an olive back, this bird was silver-gray. He also had a grayish-mauve band of feathers across the chest and his eye streak extended around his head so the whole back of his head was blue. Even the dark blue rump and wing color was much lighter than the deep, almost black, cobalt blue of other males.

Unknown at the time, these color differences in both sexes of Pacific parrotlets were related. We began a study with our wild-caught birds as they are the purest bloodlines, and there would be no chance of inbreeding as well as hybridization between the potential sub-species. We also reasoned that wild-caught pairs, collected at different times and from diverse regions, would have little relation to one another. A suspicion that they may be an undiscovered or at least unpublished subspecies, not mutations or hybrids, was also considered at this point. After contacting purchasers of our birds’ offspring, a majority consisting of seventy percent, stated their hens had blue rumps. Of those thirty percent stated the females also had limited blue on their wings as well. The more research performed, the more we believed in the possibility of a subspecies and began researching everything possible to prove it.

At first, hens with blue rumps were paired with males who had gray backs. The pairs were placed in wooden cages which were twenty-four inches wide, eighteen inches high and twenty-four inches deep. Lovebird size nest boxes were hung on the wire front of the cages. This allows the pairs to hear each other but not see each other. All species of parrotlets, but especially Pacifics, can be very aggressive and territorial. They will fight incessantly if another pair is too closely housed. The birds are kept indoors under Vitalites which automatically turn on at 7:30 a.m. and turn off at 9:30 p.m. An air filter is also utilized to reduce the dust and to provide clean filtered air for the birds.

All of our parrotlets are fed a basic large hook bill seed diet with the peanuts in the shell removed and hemp, gray striped sunflower and millet seed added. In addition to seeds, seven different kinds of fresh fruits, vegetables and greens were given daily along with cooked beans and rice. A commercial brand of pellets and Petamine, cuttlebone and mineral block are always available. Fresh, clean water filtered through a biological filter is available at all times. Vitamins and powdered calcium supplement are sprinkled onto the soft foods. Egg food is also provided as parrotlets seem to benefit from a higher protein and fat diet when breeding, as compared to the other small parrots.

In May 1991, the first F-1 generation began to hatch into the world. Boy were we excited! By three weeks of age, their feathers were beginning to emerge and low and behold about half the little hens had blue rumps. The males, however, looked like normal males with olive backs and no band across the chest. We crossed our fingers and waited. After their first molt, we were rewarded. The hens’ rumps became blue and the males’ backs became gray. By one year of age, all the offspring looked identical to their parents. Hallelujah!

In July, 1992, the F-1 generation was set up and by August, healthy baby birds had been produced. True to form, some of the hens had blue rumps as soon as they feathered out and some waited until their first molt. The males also followed the same pattern.

By the time the F-2 generation was ready to breed, in the summer of 1993, we wanted to introduce some new bloodlines. Contacting other aviculturists who were interested in breeding these birds true and traded some offspring. Again, the F-3 generation repeated the coloration patterns as did their predecessors.

One day, a friend sent us a very old article on parrotlets first written in 1932 by the Chicago Zoo curator of birds, Karl Plath. Although most of the information is now known to be incorrect, there was one small paragraph that almost made our hearts stop beating. He described a subspecies of Pacifics that originated in Columbia and the hens had blue rumps. He also described the male as having a gray back and lighter blue on the wings and rump than in the species found in Equador and Peru. Eureeka! Proof in hand! There was a subspecies; it even had a name – Forpus coelestis lucida also known as “Ridgway’s Parrotlet”.

As of April 1995, generation F-4 is now on a clutch of eggs. Several articles have been written in the International Parrotlet Society newsletter along with photographs for easy reference. Many people have identified these birds in their own aviaries and are endeavoring to breed them only with others of their kind. Aviculture is a new science and we must share our knowledge and experience to help ourselves as well as the birds. The odyssey taken over the last six years has helped us to feel the thrill of the pioneer spirit and hopefully, give better insight and understanding into the importance of captive breeding in identifying as well as preserving species.

By: Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.




Parrotlet Genetics (DNA)   (Top

Breeding Recessive mutations using Punnett’s Square   View Details

 Parrotlet Genetic Calculator

Articles – Resources – Links    (Top

I have links to many great articles about birds, Illness, Disease and bird care on my Links Page.
So many great things to read are located on other websites. I have put together a list of resources on my links page for some of these things.  Click Here



(Top)   (My Parrotlets for Sale)

Visit my other bird care websites listed below.

All about Linnies

All about Pacific Parrotlets

All about English Budgies

All about Green Cheek Conures

All about Green Rump Parrotlets

All about my parrotlet seed mix

All about the rare Spectacled Parrotlet

All about Linnies