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.
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.
Interaction & Social Behavior with other Birds (Top) (My Parrotlets for Sale)
Sexing Parrotlets (Top) (My Parrotlets for Sale)
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.
Photos Courtesy of: Google Image Search for male and female parrotlets
Origin (Top) (My Parrotlets for Sale)
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.
The information on this page is mainly for the Pacific Parrotlet.
Mexican Parrotlet (Forpus cyanopygius)
Green-rumped Parrotlet (Forpus passerinus)
Blue-winged Parrotlet (Forpus xanthopterygius)
Spectacled Parrotlet (Forpus conspicillatus)
Dusky-billed Parrotlet (Forpus modestus) – or Sclater’s Parrotlet
Pacific Parrotlet (Forpus coelestis) – or Celestial Parrotlet
Essential Green: (Top)
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:
Definition of Clean:
LuckyFeathers Green Breeding Standards:
*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.
Diet & Harmful Foods: (Top)
*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)
Edible flowers: (Top)
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
More Safe (and tasty) fruits (Top)
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)
If you don’t see it on this list, Look it up online to be sure its safe.
Non-toxic Foliage: (Top)
Safe spices: (Top)
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
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.
*Caffeine (in any form)
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.
Foods toxic for birds: (Top)
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.
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.
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)
Apple Cider Vinegar (Top)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Parrotlet Breeding Season (Top)
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)
Nest or Breeder Box for Parrotlets [ my breeder nesting boxes for sale ]
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)
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.
Pairing – The Bonding Process
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)
BONDING – PAIRING
Fighting Pairs (Top)
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.
Laying Eggs (Top)
Nest Box Size: (Top)
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)
Foster Parents (Top)
Breeding Life of Parrotlets: (Top)
Females 4-8 years – Closer to 3 if she has been over bred.
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.
Breeding Recessive mutations using Punnett’s Square (Top of page)
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
Exact’s balanced, high-nutrient formula helps babies grow faster, wean earlier and develop better, brighter plumage.
SPECIAL NOTES FOR PREPARATION
•IMPORTANT – DO NOT REUSE MIXED FORMULA!! Discard and mix fresh at each feeding.
Handfeeding Info: (Top)
Below are listed some of the different ways to handfeed. I personally like and use the Syringe method myself.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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)
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.
I use a CRI of 90 to 94 and Color temperature of 5500K.
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
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.
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.
The Stages: (Top)
Stage #4 (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)
Multiple Clutches (Top)
The incubation period for most Parrotlets is 18 to 19 days.
Photo Courtesy of: quoteko. com
Parrot Egg Incubation written by – Howard Voren ( also applies to Parrotlets – all Parrots )
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)
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.
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 .
Fertility and Candling (Top)
Fertility of eggs cannot be determined before incubating them. After 3 to 5 days, eggs may be candled to see if
Eggs may be candled by placing a light bulb under a box or can. A hole must be slightly smaller in diameter than
The Air Bubble in the Egg (Top)
The importance of correct humidity is more apparent at the end of incubation. The normal condition is that the
Positioning of Eggs (Top)
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.
Different kinds of cold (Top)
Other important things concerning a cold (Top)
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:
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.
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:
Discuss PTFE intoxication with your veterinarian to ensure your bird has a safe, healthy environment that both of you can be comfortable with.
Avian Medications (Top of Page)
* 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)
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.
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.
VIDEO LINKS OPEN IN NEW WINDOWS
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).
SHOULD MY BIRDS WINGS BE CLIPPED? (Top)
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.
Sleep Time: (Top)
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.
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
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)
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.
One of the best books written about Parrotlets. Below is a list of the Contents.
Book Preview By Google Books (Top)
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
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
Closed bands are found on birds which have been banded as babies. This usually means that they are captive bred by a breeder.
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)
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
BREEDING STOCK (Top)
LOST OR STOLEN BIRDS (Top)
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
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
BAND REMOVAL (Top)
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.
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
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
TRACING A BIRD’S LEG BAND (Top)
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.
Adding a leg band to a bird – CLOSED BANDING (Top)
#1 the band is slipped over 3 toes
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.
Splayed Legs: (Top)
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.
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.
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.
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)
*This is just one of several possible treatments (other treatments). As always check with your vet, do research online, check youtube.com 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)
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:
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
Articles – Resources – Links (Top)
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