rand avicultural society
conservation through aviculture

Big Parrots
Exciting & Exotic birds, only for those who have the time! by Gordon M Duncan©

The great parrots are truly diverse and exciting group of birds in which there is something for every taste and budget. Stop and think before you commit yourself. A big parrot of any kind is for life. They live as long as 60 – 100 years. Are you prepared to take on a lifetime commitment to a wonderful companion who will look to you for company, love and care? Are you prepared to spend hours of quality time with your chosen pet every single day? If you hesitated anywhere, stop and think before making the commitment.

Parrots are noisy, intelligent birds. If your pet bird is to be left alone for most of the day and evening, do not buy a parrot. Rather choose a pair of lovebirds or a canary. Boredom and loneliness will lead to feather plucking (virtually impossible to stop once the habit is established), incessant screaming and generally an unhappy bird. Also be warned they can be noisy! Especially at dawn and dusk.

You can minimise the noise factor by giving your bird regular attention, by placing his cage in a darkened room at night (to delay the onset of dawn) and by speaking quietly to him when he screams. Never shout at him, or worse yet, bang on the cage. This will only make it worse. One final warning, parrots can be extremely destructive and an unsupervised bird can do a huge amount of damage in a surprisingly short time.

Having emphasised the negative aspects of large parrot ownership, it is only fair to say that in the hands of a responsible and loving owner there is no more rewarding pet than a tame parrot. They return your affection in full measure. They speak well and learn tricks easily. In essence, the ideal bird for the person who has the time and love to lavish on a lifetime companion.

If you are planning to enjoy your parrot as a pet, ALWAYS buy a hand raised, captive-bred baby. While wild caught adults will settle down and become good breeders, they will never make good pets!

Most cages sold for parrots are too small to permanently house them. They are fine if your parrot is only to sleep inside, while being free to clamber on the outside during the day. Never house a bird permanently in a cage which is too small for him to freely flap his wings. Fortunately better pet shops and bird farms are now stocking really large parrot cages, mounted on wheels for ease of movement. Do buy the biggest cage you can afford and by all means add a ‘jungle gym’ or other facility for playing outside the cage. Position your parrot’s cage in an area of constant human activity. He wants your company.

Draughts are deadly. This cannot be emphasised strongly enough. It is a good idea to put his cage on a table or stand (at waist height) with one central leg. This should discourage him from climbing off and eating the furniture.

Some direct sunshine on a daily basis, or at least once a week is good for your bird. But never place his cage where he cannot escape into the shade if the sun becomes too hot.

Your parrot needs a balanced diet. Never feed any parrot on an unvaried diet of sunflower seed and nuts. These should not make up more than, at most, 25% of his daily food intake. The balance of his daily intake should be made up of fresh fruit and vegetables (not avocado), dried whole maize, beans and mixed peas, boiled until just soft (you can cook these in advance and freeze them in daily portions) and one of the pelleted or powdered parrot foods now available. The addition of regular supplies of greed food and fresh, non-poisonous branches and twigs, on which to chew, complete his diet. These also provide entertainment, which is essential for such intelligent birds.

Fresh water, both for drinking and bathing, in clean dishes is essential. Failure to bath will lead to dry, itchy skin, which, in turn, can lead to incurable feather plucking. If your parrot refuses to bath, spray him daily with a fine mist sprayer. Once he gets used to it he will love it.

If you purchase a hand-raised baby, there will be no need to tame him. He will already be tame. All that you need to do is spend time with him, ruffle his feathers and scratch his head, etc. daily. He will soon bond with you and love you. It is a good idea to keep his wings lightly clipped. This will stop him from accidentally flying away and getting lost. Teaching him to talk is simply a matter of constant repetition and positive reinforcement. In the right home, there is no bird to rival a parrot.

If you wish to breed the big parrots, invest in a good book, or buy a video such as Birdkeeping the South African Way or consider joining a bird club like the Rand Avicultural Society.

The members of the Rand Avicultural Society meet at the Honeydew Country club Tennis club section, No 1 Boundary Rd Honeydew, Johannesburg on the LAST TUESDAY OF EVERY MONTH, except December.

If you wish to find out more about the club then click back to RAS introduction page.


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