Wildlife watch: Parrot Health
Often at PWCA we receive calls requesting help dealing with pet birds as the owner is at a loss as what is wrong or the vet has been unable to help.
It is usually to do with domestic cockatoos or parrots and behaviour surrounding the bird.
We have been told by different vets (from all over the country) that the most common problem they see when pet birds are presented is malnutrition.
People just don’t seem to understand the basic nutrition requirements of their pet and the bird is either starving or overweight as a result.
So over the next few weeks I thought I’d address a few of the most common mistakes that are made with pet cockatoos and parrots that have resulted from either poor diet, lack of stimulation (boredom) or over attachment to the human companion resulting in aggressive behaviour.
Firstly, back to basics. Regardless of what sort of parrot you have weather it a budgie or a large sulphur crested one , you must understand that these magnificent, funny, entertaining creatures are a flock bird that would normally spend their days with many companions foraging and feeding, playing, chewing, sleeping, flying and interacting with each other.
Now regardless of the pet bird being captive bred the wild instincts are still there, just as certain instincts remain in different dog breeds even though they have been domesticated for hundreds of years and when you put a parrot in a cage a responsible and well informed owner will cater to these needs and have a healthy happy companion bird.
Not catering will result in a range of bad behaviours.
Owning one of the large cockatoos requires a person to understand that they are loud, messy company craving birds.
Even budgies can be noisy messy little creatures and you have to be prepared for this, especially if it is in the house with you.
Just ask anyone owning a lorikeet or Eclectus how noisy and messy they are and you will be told ‘VERY’.
These birds live for a long time and training them in the formative years is important to have a well behaved companion parrot.
Doing a bit of homework before you purchase the bird of your choice (just as you would a dog breed) will also allow you to evaluate if owning a parrot is for you.
Budgies live for about 12-15 years, cockatiels live upwards of 17-20 years, galahs and corellas upwards of 40+ and the large breeds, sulphur crested, black cockatoos etc upwards of 60 to 70 years.
The pirate parrots, the macaw live to 80 years.
Most people assume that parrots eat seed and seed alone.
This is incorrect.
Seed should only make up 30-40% of their total diet.
They should also have the opportunity to eat a range of fruit, vegetables and grasses including special treats.
They are all partial to meat and will enjoy a cooked chop bone or chicken bone, the corellas in our family like mashed potato and cooked pumpkin along with peas and corn.
Too often we see birds that are just fed sun flower seed and as a result the bird is overweight and has liver problems or has pulled out its feathers.
Sunflower seed (including peanuts) is very high in saturated fat and this builds up in the liver just as a high fat diet in humans builds up in the arteries and liver.
A poor diet can be changed but it has to be done slowly over time. To just stop feeding it the usual diet will result in the bird digging its heels in and starving.
Next week: more on nutrition