Basic List of Do's and Don'ts

Do remember that your bird is a companion for life.

Do take the responsibility for your companion birds seriously.

Do feed your bird a wide variety of fresh, nutritious and clean foods daily.

Do give your bird fresh clean water daily in a well washed and dried bowl.

Do change the papers in your bird's cage bottom daily.

Do scrape off organic material in the cage daily and disinfect the cage weekly.

Do wash and dry all food dishes daily.

Do spritz your bird AT LEAST three times a week, and thoroughly saturate AT LEAST once a week.

Do read as much information about your bird as you possibly can.

Do have your bird checked by a reputable avian vet at least annually.

Do keep your bird's toenails and flight feathers trimmed for the safety of the bird.

Do take your bird outside with you when the weather permits.

Do supervise your bird with children or strangers.

Do supervise all animals when they are around your bird.

Do provide a cage amply large so that your bird has MORE than enough room to move and flap its wings.

Do provide different and stimulating toys for your bird to attack and chew.

Do teach your bird to quote Shakespeare and Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Remember how intelligent these creatures are.

Do remember that birds are comfortable with people that are comfortable with birds.

Do not feed your bird avocado, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, heavily salted or greasy foods.

Do not assume that a bird is 100% healthy because it has never been "sick".

Do not bring a bird into contact with your bird that has not been tested first by an avian veterinarian.

Do not Allow a bird to fly freely in your home without understanding the potential dangers.

Do not allow your bird to drive your car ó and keep bird in a carrier at all times when traveling.

Do not cook with Teflon; when overheated it produces a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is fatal in seconds to your bird.

Do not use aerosols or sprays around your bird unless you are sure that the product is 100% safe.

Do not let your bird chew on surfaces or plants that can be fatal or toxic if ingested. Be aware of lead and zinc toxicity.

Do not leave the toilet lid up if your bird is flying free in your home. Birds cannot swim and will drown.

Do not use sandpaper perch covers, grit, gravel or gravel paper.

Do not use moth protectors, mite or lice spray anywhere that your bird can come in contact with them: they are TOXIC!

Do not smoke, or if you do, do not smoke around your bird. Nicotine is deadly to birds, not only in second hand smoke, but it also comes through the pores of the skin of the smoker's hands and can cause severe contact reaction.

Do not cook with a bird on your shoulder. Kitchens can be very dangerous.

Do not purchase toys for your bird that have dog leash type clips or jingle type bells. (Toes can be caught easily.)

Ten Commandments of Parrot Ownership

1.  My life is likely to last 10 or more years.   Any separation from you will be painful to me. Remember that before you take me home.

2.  Give me time to understand what you want of me.

3.  Place your trust in me ó itís crucial to my well being.

4.  Donít be angry with me for long, and donít lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your entertainment, and your friends. I have only you.

5.  Talk to me sometimes. Even if I donít understand your words, I do understand your voice when itís speaking to me.

6.  Be aware that however you treat me, Iíll never forget it.

7.  Remember before you hit me that I have a beak that could easily crush the bones of your hand, but that I choose not to bite you.

8.  Before you scold me for being uncooperative, obstinate, or lazy, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps Iím not getting the right food, or Iíve been in the cage too long.

9.  Take care of me when I get old; you too will get old.

10.  Go with me on the last journey. Never say "I canít bear to watch it," or "Let it happen in my absence." Everything is easier for me if you are there. Remember that I love you.

Advice and Information from Sally Blanchard

While the advice to never pay attention to a screaming parrot is generally good, there are certainly exceptions to this rule. Sometimes a well-thought-out distraction works well to change negative behaviors.

Often negative patterns become so ingrained that both the parrot and the person act in the same manner each and every time. By changing his or her behavior, the person distracts the parrot from the patterned behavior. Once the parrot is distracted, the person has a chance to teach a positive behavior. The key for the parrot owner is to become the actor rather than the reactor. Rather than reacting to your parrot's misbehavior on an emotional level, instead plan a response that challenges the behavior. Responses can be presented to the parrot in an indirect manner that does not encourage the negative behavior with a drama reward. Distractions usually work better if you do not make direct eye contact with the parrot. Directing your response towards someone else in the room, or even into thin air, gets the point across without taking a chance of inadvertently rewarding the negative behavior.

The early care a parrot chick receives determines much of his pet potential. Those people involved in raising and handfeeding baby parrots need to provide the proper care and guidance needed for quality early socialization. Early caregivers need to encourage exploration and teach their babies to accept change and new adventures. Stay away from breeders who say, "I don't pay any attention to my babies when I feed them because I don't want them to bond to me and/or I don't want to spoil them." Babies need frequent handling, instructional interaction, and attention. This kind of nurturing does not spoil them. Breeders with this attitude are ignorant about socialization and a chick's psychological development. Parrots are capable of bonding on many levels to many different people throughout their lives. Even if a baby has bonded to the breeder/handfeeders, well-socialized bappies easily transfer that bond to any nurturing buyer who is comfortable handling them. I believe that all handfed baby parrots should be taught to step on a person's hand before they are sold as a human companion. The minimal time it takes to teach this basic skill is well worth the added pet potential

Parrots are more comfortable with people who are comfortable with them.  This may be the only absolute behavioral observation with companion parrots. Although parrots probably can't read our minds, they certainly reflect our energy. A companion parrot quickly learns to sense or read the body language of the people around him. A parrot will be unlikely to relax with a person who is uncomfortable handling him. Parrots will also bond more readily with people who provide them with clear, consistent guidance. If you are afraid or apprehensive around your parrot, chances are he will not be comfortable with you. He will either be afraid of you or may react with aggression to get you to leave him alone. Focused attention, gentling exercises, and comfortable cuddle time help to keep a parrot tame throughout his life.

All interactions with parrots should be trust-building and not trust-destroying.  Strong bonds between parrots and humans are based on mutual trust. In working with our companion parrots, the most important consideration is whether or not what we do will be trust-building or trust-destroying. The majority of punishment techniques used with parrots are trust-destroying. Quick-fix or aggressive discipline are generally ineffective anyway because parrots do not have the cause-and-effect logic to understand them.

It is not the amount of attention that spoils a parrot, it is the kind of attention. Because they are social animals, parrots (especially bappies) need a lot of attention. But it shouldn't be just cuddle time.  Instructional interaction, essential for a parrot's emotional and physical well-being, is nurturing time spent teaching the parrot skills, and guiding and patterning behavior. Parrots thrive on a consistent amount of daily attention and interaction from their human flocks.

Food Bowl Etiquette

The Foot Strainer
Place one foot on the side of the food bowl, using the other foot as a  utensil. Grab a footfull of food and lift. Smaller seeds and pieces of  food will fall to the floor, making a funny noise. Eat the one or two  pieces which remain in the foot. Repeat until the bowl is empty.

The Dainty Selector
Approach the fresh dish of food. Daintily select pieces of food and gently drop to the floor of the cage until only a few desired pieces of food remain in the bowl. Proceed to eat. When done, call for more food.

The Dieter
One at a time, hold each piece of fruit, veggie or pasta in the foot.   Take one bite and drop the remainder on the floor. This ensures that  there will be room for treats and other delicacies later.

The Dried Fruit Gourmet
Choose pieces of dried fruit. Carefully place them in the water bowl.  Return later, after they have plumped up. Then remove from the bowl,  taste and drop on the floor.

The Shoveler
Approach a full dish of food. Bury the beak in the bowl and with a quick  snap of the neck, sweep the food sideways out of the dish. Use short  quick strokes to cover most of the cage bottom with pretty patterns of  food. If feeling energetic, shovel harder to decorate the walls and  floor outside of the cage. This method helps convince the pet owner that  a different kind of food is preferred.

The 20 foot Fling
Dip the foot in a food dish and grab a large footfull of goodies. Close  the foot into a ball around the items, raise the foot and throw as far  as possible. This technique not only gets to the walls and floors, but reaches much of the furniture as well.

The Grate Houdini
From time to time drop morsels of favorite foods on the cage floor. Let  them remain there while they age to the proper potency. When ready,  climb down to the cage floor and sample the delicacies. Many pet owners  have placed grates in the bottom of the cage. To thwart this maneuver,  just stretch a leg through the grate to get at the prize. Most birds  have legs long enough to reach the tray below the grate. If the owner  changes the cage papers daily, begin dropping pieces of food just after  the change so that the food has at least a few hours to ripen.

The Butter or Sauce Scraper
This maneuver is to foil the human who coats a piece of undesirable food  with butter, sauce or something else that birds really love. Just hold  the piece of food in the foot and use the beak to skim off the good  tasting part, leaving the unwanted portion untouched.

Pack a Lunch
Tuck seeds, pellets or other choice items among the feathers and under  the wings. It messes up the human's measurements of how much is eaten and puzzles them when they give you a shower.

Water Sports

The Artist
 For birds with an artistic flair and a good sense of color. Break off a  piece of dyed wood from a favorite toy and place in the water dish. From  time to time, return to the dish and mix. When the water has turned a  satisfactory color, call for the pet owner to admire the creation and  replace the water. Begin a new artistic work.

The Dunker
Carefully select a choice piece of food from the food dish. Items like  pellets, cheerios or birdie bread are best. Dip in the water bowl until  thoroughly soaked. Sample the moist delicacy and decide that it doesn't  taste as good as expected. Leave the item in the water bowl and start complaining about the messy water.

The Water Bottle Trick
For those birds lucky enough to have a water bottle. Select the proper  size seed and wedge it into the water bottle tip. This keeps the water  bottle mechanism open and creates a nice waterfall effect. Experienced  birds can also use the beak or a toe to achieve the same effect.

Eating at the Dinner Table

The Plate Stomp
Explore the various foods available on the table, before making a  selection. Just approach each bowl or plate and walk through it, making  sure to pass through each item on the plate. Foods with sauces and  dressings are especially great. They stick to the feet and allow the  flavors to mix with other food items. The messy feet also discourage the  pet owner from picking a bird up from the table.

The Shoulder Trick
Select a piece of food which has a sauce (such as pasta) or a juicy item  (such as a piece of tomato). Holding the food in the beak, as fast as  possible climb up the arm of a human to the shoulder. Proceed to eat the  messy food, dropping sauce or juice on the human's clothes. When done,  drop the remainder and wipe the beak on a still clean portion of the  item of clothing. A true expert bird can perfect the 'Squeegie Trick'.   Hold a piece of pasta with sauce in the foot and bite off the end. Pull  the pasta through the foot to get another bit, while at the same time  forcing the sauce to come off on the foot. Place this foot on the  human's shoulder when it has become sufficiently covered with sauce.  Climb down the arm to get another piece of food.

The Floor Caper
After selecting items from a dinner plate, take a few bites and fling  the remainder to the floor. To throw the food further, fling the food  from a human's shoulder. If the human becomes annoyed, placate it by offering it a bit of the food or saying something cute and looking innocent. (Aside from Liz: You can also get a *fabulous* drama reward if you manage to stuff some food down your human's shirt.)

Eat to Get a Hug
Grab all the garlic you can find - garlic bread, salad dressing, etc.  Then give the human a kiss. The human will give you hugs and scratches - anything to avoid getting another odorous, garlic breathe kiss. Also  effective is the 'Pepper Kiss'. A kiss after eating hot red peppers or  jalapenos will definitely get a human's attention.