The ultimate guide to taking care of your parrot.
Taking care of an animal is no joke! Me & my family have domesticated many animals over the years. From my personal experiences & research, here is my advice.
Design an appropriate diet model:
- High-quality mixed feed supplemented with fresh fruits & vegetables is the best way to feed your parrot.
- Consult a qualified veterinarian regarding how much food the parrot should be given. Your bird should be fed at least once a day.
- Birds have incredibly sensitive digestive tracks. Clinically & anecdotally, people have rounded up a list of foods that can harm your bird which include; high-fat, high-sugar, high-sodium foods, avocados, apple seeds, garlic, chocolates, onion, fruit pits, tea, coffee & alcohol.
- These foods can be even fatal for your parrot.
- Domesticated parrots should be given fewer calories because they don’t have to fly long distances like wild birds so they need less energy.
- Birds tend to eat when they are bored so place the bowl far away from its perch so regular exercise is ensured.
The best foods for your parrot:
Here are a “few” examples:
- Sweet potatoes.
Pellets, favourite foods & seed mixes:
1: Many vets recommend pellets because they believe that non-professional caregivers can rarely design a diet that is optimal for a bird's health. They have been around for 30 years so they’re proven to work.
Make sure that your parrot has the habit of eating a variety of foods, otherwise, they won’t like it. Baby birds that have been fed pellets from the beginning accept them happily.
Harrison's Organic is recognized as the best brand for pellets. And please avoid cheap ones. You get what you pay for!
2: Parrots love nuts. Give them human-grade nuts & not monkey nuts, they can cause a lung disease called Aspergillosis.
Nuts are high in fats so one to two nuts a day is enough for parrots & a bit more for Macaws, they can tolerate higher fats in food & lastly all nuts should be unsalted.
Walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, etc are nuts parrots can eat. They also love peanut butter, just make sure it is unsalted.
3: Adding seed mixes is a good way to add variety. Avoid cheap ones, they have excessive sunflower seeds & are bulky. Seed mixes are not a complete diet for your feathered friend.
Even though their fat content is high, they are not fatal for your parrot unless that is only what you feed your bird. A dozen a day is optimal for adult birds.
Supplements, beans & sprouts:
1: If you are giving pellets, then you don’t need supplements. If you are giving a non-pellet diet, then there are two opinions.
- Vets say If you are giving a diet that has plenty of greens then there is no need for them.
- However, many breeders, despite giving greens, add supplements like calcium.
Here, the choice is entirely up to you.
2: Beans like chickpeas & mung beans have important nutrients within them. Sprouting seeds also have the same benefit.
Sprouting transforms a dry seed into a quality vegetable that has fat as its major energy source.
High-quality seeds sprout 90% within 3–5 days. There are also commercial sprout mixes like Tidymix that do an outstanding job.
Shauna’s mash. What’s all the hype about?
Originally designed in the 1970s by a breeder named John Stoodley, this diet has gained popularity in the USA & folks in the UK have also started using it.
Mash is complicated to make but once it is done a month's portion can be frozen & you can add it to your fresh food daily.
Here is a link to for parrot's website where it has different versions of mash that you can prepare.
Water & parrots:
You should change the water from once to twice a day. Some owners give spring water & others give a few drops of cider vinegar.
The choice is yours.
Avoiding poisonous foods & plants:
- Before you give anything & have them live in your home, check if there are any poisonous plants in your home.
- Make sure to never give parrots any kind of food that can be fatal for them. I already made that list in the beginning.
- A responsible owner who has designed a healthy environment will make sure this doesn’t happen.
Getting optimal calories;
Wild birds fly long distances & they need a high-calorie diet to accomplish that. Home parrots don’t need such a diet.
Keep the food volume high but calorie content low. This is easily achievable with fruits & vegetables as they are low-calorie-dense foods.
Temperature also plays a big factor. If the barometer drops, then increase the fat content.
Simple observations that will tell you that your diet has worked:
- A happy & healthy bird will have an active posture, bright eyes & shiny feathers.
- They have a healthy weight. Not too fat nor too skinny.
- A weight scale is a brilliant investment for this purpose.
- The bird’s weight will stay the same, given a few grams here & there on a long-term basis.
- You can tell if your bird is overweight by checking if there is any fat on the side of the breastbone. If that is the case, cut down the calories, not the volume of the food.
Choose the right cage, factors to consider:
1: Select the largest cage possible that will also not take up too much space in your house. It should be large enough that your parrot can flap its wings easily, climb up & down & exercise.
2: This is the place that your parrot will call home, so make sure it is suitable for it to live in. The size will also depend upon how long the parrot will stay in it. The longer that stays in it, the bigger the cage needs to be.
3: The larger the parrot, the larger the cage.
Cages can be found in either metal or plastic. Metal is the more commonly used material for cages because it's obviously stronger & it can withstand the fact that parrots chew on their cages.
Within this category stainless steel is the standard. It doesn’t rust, lasts a long time & doesn’t break.
Select a cage that will not develop rust. It is dangerous for a parrot. And even if that happens use lemon juice on the place where rust is occurring. It will get rid of it immediately. Here is the method:
- Cut up a lemon in half & gently squish it, the juice will come out.
- Then rub the area of rust & gently keep squishing. Within 5 minutes the rust will disappear.
- Apply fresh paint to the infected area.
- Problem solved.
Be careful of the coating on the metal. Make sure that it is safe for your bird. And last but not least, don’t buy a wooden cage because your little friend will destroy it.
The spacing should not be over 1.25 inches. If it is larger then your bird will squeeze out of it & escape. Lastly, choose a cage that has horizontal bars because parrots like to climb as well.
Design & quality:
Get a cage that can allow colourful toys & accessories. Colour attracts birds. The toys will provide playtime, encourage regular exercise for optimal health & prevent boredom.
Put rags in there as well, if your bird ever feels threatened it can hide under a rag you put.
The cage should be robust & incredibly strong so that it can last a long time. Ensure that the quality is top-notch.
The industry does not recommend round but square cages. Here are the reasons:
- Most of them have poor constructions because of having poor welding. These cages don’t last at all because of their inferior quality. And they don’t come in stainless steel which I recommended to be the standard material.
- They are difficult to clean. Food particles or any kind of mess are hard to clean in those tight spaces. This isn’t good for you or your bird.
- The bird's feathers are in contact with the cage 24/7, giving the bird a jagged look because of the round space.
- Most round cages are small. That isn’t optimal for your bird's health.
- Fitting accessories is incredibly difficult. And as I said before, accessories are a must for a parrot.
Placing the cage in the right area of your house:
- Place the cage at chest level. Not too high nor too low. If it is too low, the bird will feel frightened. If it is too high, then it will feel it is above its owners.
- Keep your birdcage away from places like the kitchen, washroom, windows, air conditioners, etc. These are places where dangers like toxins, sharp objects, poisons from chemicals, rapid heat changes occur. These can be fatal for your lubby dubby friend.
- Keep your bird away from the center of the room & from the noisy part of your house, otherwise, your friend's health would be in danger. The cage should have 1 to 2 sides against a wall, this will make a bird feel secure.
- But at the same time birds should be in a room where lots of human interaction can take place, this will aid in having a great lifespan for your friend.
Cleaning the home of your feathered friend:
The cage’s tray should be washed:
There is a tray at the substructure where the cage liners are in place. Once a week remove it & clean it with a wet piece of cloth. The tray should be dry before you put the liners back in.
Clean the overall surfaces:
Using a wet cloth of any kind, clean the surfaces of the cage. These include:
- Toys & accessories.
Change & clean the bird's toys weekly:
Have a variety of toys for your bird. This way they will never get bored with the same thing. The toys should be removed & then cleansed on a weekly basis.
Clean & change the food, water dishes & cage paper:
Remove & thoroughly clean the water & food bowls with a mild dish detergent & make sure that the bowls are dry when you place them into the cage again. This way no bacteria can be formed on the bowls that will harm your bird.
Change the paper on the surface of the cage every day. It is healthy & comfortable for birds to NOT walk around in droppings & scrap food in the cage. Dirty papers have a terrible smell too.
Clean the perches:
Perches can become a ground for bacteria if not cleaned on a weekly basis. Wash & scrub them once a week to avoid bacteria forming.
Perches take time to dry up, especially those which consist of wood. Always keep back up ones so that while the previous ones are drying up, you can go & change them immediately this way.
Clean the grate, if you have one:
Various cages have a grate at the lowest point of the cage which collects scrap from droppings. It should be cleaned once a week.
Place it in a bathtub (which is separate from your own personal use so it prevents diseases) & use a bristle brush, once that is done, dry it out & place it back in the cage.
Clean the cracks:
Germs can easily grow in cages where there are cracks, grooves & corners where the bars connect with each other & at the base. A bristle brush will get the job done in cleaning these areas.
Help your parrot in grooming:
Parrots don’t need a lot of conditioning to stay clean & healthy. Just make sure the wings & nails are top-notch.
Adult birds should have their nails trimmed while baby parrots should have untrimmed nails as the larger nails help them stay balanced while standing. The AAV states that the nails should be cut once they become too sharp to handle.
On small parrots, we should use small-scale nail clippers. On larger parrots use cordless Dremel, the stone on that machine cauterizes the area, effectively stopping bleeding. If bleeding does happen, don’t panic use a Qwik-Stop coagulating powder.
Parrots shouldn’t be taken outdoors without a cage. Even if the bird's wings are clipped, a quick burst of wind is enough to make your parrot fly away.
If you don’t want to cut the wings of your bird (which you shouldn’t), then train it to not fly away & have a space where they can fly freely without having the chance to escape.
The beak can be easily maintained if you have lots of toys. When they chew on the toy, it helps them maintain their beak. But as the parrot gets older, the beak can deform from old age. In these cases, grooming should only be done by a professional, not by you!
And even because of some reason you have to do it yourself, if you have a small parrot don’t use a Dremel because the vibration from the tool could kill it.
Parrots, especially those breeds which grow up in rain forests, love to bathe! Different parrots prefer different ways of bathing, find the method which your parrot enjoys the most. Here are some:
- Some prefer to bathe in a sink or a tap.
- Others prefer to be misted with a spray bottle.
- While the rest either prefer to wash in a dish of water or showering directly.
I have said what needed to be said for more information on the mash I linked to a website where you can find tons of recipes for it. As always, I hope this article has helped you out & thank you for reading. :)