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Bringing home your baby parrot, Congratulations! There are
many things to learn and read. I can recommend a few wonderful books on the
basics of Parrots and Parrot Behavior (See section on Recommended Parrot Books &
Magazines). The thing to focus on with regard to parrots is patience and
consistency; with that in mind, you hold the key to a long, happy life together.
When speaking of greys in particular, I think it is important for them as babies
to be introduced to as many new things as possible. Safe outings, car trips in a
pet carrier, harnesses, new objects, all the rooms in your home, etc. Once your
young grey is trained to accept change your lives together will be unsurpassing.
(Note: By stating trained I mean in a delicate manner to fit the personality of
your grey as an individual.)
On of the first things you should always remember when handling your baby parrot
is washing and disinfecting your hands. Baby birds are very susceptible to
bacteria's that are on our hands. All items should be disinfected that come in
contact with your parrot (not only as baby birds but even as adults). Bird safe
disinfectants are: Avicine, Oxyfresh Cleansing Gele & Avicine, Citricidal (GSE
Concentrate). They are all odorless and is completely bird safe. We personally
use to Avicine & Oxyfresh products to clean and disinfect utensils, food and
water crocks/bowls, toys, perches as well as cages. NOTE: Do not use Bleach.
There are new additives in Bleach that are found to be harmful to birds.
Depending on the age and species of your bird, they will need to feel secure
with you. Make sure you hold your baby parrot close to you when he/she is with
you. It helps them grow to be secure, happy birds. They need to feel the warmth,
comfort and peacefulness of their human parents. Some species need this to be
done longer than others since some may mature slower than others. A good rule of
thumb is to have clean "bird" towels around for this purpose. Baby birds may be
wrapped loosely but yet securely (not so tight they can't move or breath but
wrapped loosely but tight enough for security) when walking about or sitting on
the couch. This also helps later on with using towels to clip feathers and/or
trimming nails. Please note if your baby bird resists the towel. Then proceed
delicately and slowly so he/she will become familiar with the towel and feel
more comfortable with it.
It is good to have your baby parrot used to being handled by different,
responsible people. (Responsible in the manner of knowing how to hold a baby
parrot, how to love and nurture it). Having your parrot handled by different
people is all a part of socialization. I have several articles on this on my
Articles Page. Keeping that in mind, each parrot is an individual and has their
While sitting with your new bundle of joy. Have some Talon
Toys available for him/her to chew on and play with. Baby parrots have a
tendency to be mouthy. Yes it is adorable, and you may think it is a part of the
bonding process... but when that cute baby parrot grows up and bites... he/she
will not be so cute anymore. When the baby parrot tries to nibble on your
fingers or something that he/she should not be, rather offer a small hand toy
for him to chew on. We recommend Grey Feather Toy Creations.
Having various different kinds of toys (pine, cotton rope, acrylic). NOTE: Be
sure to see the section on Toys and reading the cautions of them. Changing/
Rotating toys every 2 to 3 weeks so they won't fear new toys and will stay
interested in them.
Feeding your baby parrot the greatest varieties of food as possible. Healthy
foods like Fresh Vegetables, Fruit, Cooked Beans, Pasta, Rice, Cooked Grains,
homemade Birdie or 12 Grain Breads, pellets, etc. (see section on
fruit/veggies). Please Continue to offer the food, consistency is key and
eventually they will either play with the food or eat it. You can also try to
entice them by disguising the food with items they do eat. The more variety you
offer him/her as a baby the easier he/she will accept new foods and the
healthier your baby bird will be in the long run. They may not feel like eating
it today, but maybe tomorrow they will ravish it all!
Lastly and most importantly, the trip to the vet. Before bringing home your baby
parrot, try to find a Board Certified Avian Veterinarian that is close to you. I
realize there are areas where one cannot find a ABVP Vet. However, sometimes it
is good to get recommendations from friends or searching the internet. Prior to
bringing home your baby, set up an appointment in advance. Establish your own
set protocol with regards to testing. Some examples of tests:
Blood Chemistry Test ~ A calcium level check - also will aid determine if vital
organs are functioning correctly
PBFD (Psitticine Beak And Feather Disease)
Culture and Sensitivity
Of course, if any emergencies that arise - your vet is a
phone call away. Always find out what procedures your vet's office has for off
hours ~ in case of an emergency. Remember this: Never be afraid to ask your vet
questions. Always have a list ready to take with you so you are prepared.
Dairy Free Calcium Sources:
Here is a list of items that are a natural source for
Almonds, Deep Green Leafy Vegetables: Turnip Greens, Mustard
Greens, Kale, Dandelion Greens, Broccoli, Collard Greens, Kohlrabi, Endive,
Watercress, Bok Choy, Brussel Sprouts. Calcium-fortified orange juice, Tofu is
also high in calcium; comparable to dairy sources like milk, yogurt and cheese.
Sneak some tofu in some cooked eggs or accent it with some
garlic - sometimes it is just adding a special flavor that will trigger them to
eat it. Creatively masking the identity. Note: Calcium will be absorbed better
from fresh veggies than from an artificial source like a vitamin.
Please Note: Tofu is a soy based product. Parrots who have
hormonal tendencies should not be offered soy products. Soybeans contain natural
forms of estrogen which can enhance hormone levels. If your parrot has
plucking/picking habits, we recommend discontinuing all soy products.
Keep in mind that Calcium is lost in cooking some foods even under the best
conditions. I would recommend using fresh vegetables and organic where
available. Keeping in mind that high oxalate vegetables such as spinach and
swiss chard decrease calcium absorption. However, these vegetables are the
exception rather than the norm. Common beans such as kidney, chick pea and pinto
contain oxalate and phytates, which interfere with calcium absorption.
If you are concerned with calcium absorption, then it might
be better to stay away from the above mentioned items. Vitamin A enriched
vegetables and fruit are wonderful for aiding in calcium absorption.
Medicating Through Water:
Medicating through the water is always a guessing game
since you never really know how much a bird will consume. You might want to
*cautiously* cut back on the amount of wet foods (fresh fruits and vegetables),
and increase the dry foods (breads, nuts, etc.), to encourage your bird to drink
more. If he/she likes to dip her bread in water give her that first thing.
Note: Another important tip is to use only steamed distilled
water when adding medicine. The water needs to be as pure as possible so there
won't be any kind of reaction taking place between the minerals/etc. found in
normal drinking water and the meds. Bottled water must be kept refrigerated once
opened to prevent bacteria growth.
Learning to Fly:
Having a grey learn how to fly (fledged properly) when
a baby will avoid him/her being clumsy. Properly fledging a baby grey cannot be
timed ~ depending on the individual african grey, it may be several months
before this process is complete. Whether or not to clip a bird is a very
personal decision. There are many things to consider when deciding whether to
clip or not to clip. Having a bird fledged properly gives them self assurance &
Properly fledging means to allow a properly weaning baby
parrot to learn to become an agile flyer. There is no set time limit for a baby
grey to learn to fly. They need to be able to become graceful in landings and
take offs, to hover and turn on a moments notice, being able to land on your
hand from 20 feet away. Giving a baby grey the freedom to learn to fly will give
him the self-assurance he/she will need throughout their lives. I cannot express
enough the importance of this.
First things, first... Supervise your bird when
attempting to bath or shower him! And make sure the water is either luke-warm or
cool to the touch! Next... Patience is key. It took me 9-10 months to pattern
Oliver to enjoy taking showers. Some of my other greys prefer baths over
showers. Never give up hope. The day will come when they will all of a sudden
accept it gracefully or shock you and love it immediately. Never force a bird to
shower, this can cause a phobia of water.
Every morning, we took one of the greys into the bathroom
with us where he had his T-stand as we get ready for work. After a week or two
of him being used to the surroundings in the bathroom, We took him into the
shower. Explaining to him the shower feels wonderful, how healthy it is for him,
and most importantly it will NOT hurt him. After a few weeks of doing that, move
to the next step. Take him closer to the water and letting a tiny bit of water
get on his beak and feathers (be careful of their nares). Eventually, he was
drinking the water. Then several months later, he let me know he was ready to
shower. One morning he started flapping incessantly towards the shower. I picked
him up, brought him in and he started flapping and playing in the water. Had to
hold onto his feet tight - because he went crazy under the water. But that's my
boy, Oliver - just as nutsy as can be!
Our other two greys did things differently. They didn't like the shower, so I
didn't push the issue. Never force a bird to bathe or shower.
Here are some tips I have learned about getting Abby & Avery
to be interested in bathing. I have a bird bath (see Bathing Article for photo).
You can use just about anything that is low and won't tip if they perch on the
sides. Try a Rubbermaid container, porcelain/ceramic crocks, ceramic plant dish
(usually used to catch water from the plant). Whatever is completely clean and
would not be harmful to your bird. I then would throw in something of interest.
It varies for each bird ~ work with what they like. I used soft uncolored pine
spools & acrylic toys for Avery & Abby. Sometimes I would put in Carrot circles,
Radishes or Cherries. Be creative! Within 5 minutes, they were in and splashing
about! Here's a funny for you... Avery also enjoys bathing in his water crock.
Abby likes to take baths out of her water dish but only when we vacuum - Go
Also, I would put some Natural Aloe Juice in the water (it is
completely natural from a Health Food Store - no additives). Here's the dilution
ratio: 75% Water 25% Natural Aloe Juice. It is completely natural and will NOT
harm your bird. It moisturizes from the inside out as well! It is good for their
feathers. I have heard this helping feather pickers or birds with dry/itchy
skin. You can also put it in your birds water - same ratio.
Citricidal as a Disinfectant & Cure
Citricidal is a concentrate of GSE (Grapefruit Seed
Extract). GSE has the ability to inhibit mold, parasites and bacteria. It is
widely used in hospitals today.
Citricidal has been used to treat the following without side
effects: sinusitis, colds and flu, ulcers, application as a germicide,
preservative and preventive. The list goes on for the wondrous things that
Citricidal brings to the table.
Citricidal can be added to drinking water (not only for our
pet birds but for us as humans too!). Just 1 drop of Citricidal can be added to
drinking water for your bird as a preventative, per day. It has been known to
clear up Giardia, ear and skin infections, gum infections.
Citricidal stimulates the immune systems in birds, and aids
in absorbing nutrients.
Seed/Fresh Food Diet vs. Pellets
This is a very controversial topic. What should we
feed our birds? Well, in my opinion, there is no "set" answer. Each bird has
individual needs and different requirements.
My flock is on an all natural diet for several years. This is
a personal decision and every person needs to decide what is right for their
individual bird's needs and to suit their lifestyle. Personally, I felt this was
the best thing I could do for my flock. Their personality has flourished and
their feathers have a beautiful sheen to them.
I just want to say this to get it out of the way up front. I
did my research and felt this was right for our flock. This diet may not work
for you or others. It is up to the humans to decide what is best for their birds
and to what lengths you are willing to go to. If you feel more comfortable
having your bird on Pellets supplemented with Fruits & Vegetables - that is
wonderful. Please do not be pressured by individuals who tell you "THIS is what
you should do!!". As I mentioned, each bird has different nutritional
requirements that need to be met. No two birds have the same body chemistry.
All birds need to be on a varied diet to include fresh
vegetables and fruit, grains, legumes. Whether you feed pellets or not each diet
needs to be supplemented with lots of fresh produce.
In our situation specifically, we based our diet originally
on Alicia McWatters recipe. I took the recipe and modified it to include things
I felt were important for my birds (fresh papaya & papaya seeds, mango,
broccoli, etc). My birds get the following on a daily basis:
A Bowlful of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (Please see my Safe
A Piece of 12 Grain Bread (Birdie Bread is an alternative -
Sprouted Seed, Legumes, Grains - Sprouted for about 24 hrs
Seed & Grain Mix (Sunflower, Safflower, Flax and other
ingredients) - Offered in the Evening.
They also get a portion of our dinner, as long as it is not
something that will harm them.
There are different ways to approach getting your bird to
each veggies and fruit. (See our Diet Tips Article) Some birds do not like
everything ground up into a mash and getting on their beaks. Some birds do not
care if food is stuck to their beaks.
This was a major decision for us, I did my research for my
species of birds (African Greys). I would recommend to anyone willing to make
this kind of commitment in change in their bird's diet to speak with their Avian
Vet and research it first. Please feel free to read the articles at this link:
Diet Articles Read the articles written by Nutritionist Dr. Alicia McWatters.
There is no guarantee when you purchase a bird to
become a new member of your family that it will talk. Never believe it if
someone were to tell you they guarantee it! Do not walk, RUN!! (For more details
on this see our Talking Article.)
Here are things that we did with our greys. We talked to them
about everything! When we would leave for the day ~ We would tell them either
"Bye, bye. Be back later, gotta go to work". When we would be gone 5-10 minutes.
We would say, "Be right Back" This way they realize the difference in time. Now,
when we grab our keys, they say "Bye, Bye and squeek like the door".
Working with different word associations. When offered a
piece of apple or broccoli. "Want some broccoli?" "Want some apple?" When they
decided they didn't want it, we repeated the phrase, "I don't want anymore". Or
how about "Want to take a shower?" or "Want to play Hide 'n Seek?" Then
immediately after those questions perform the action. Whether it was taking a
shower or playing a game. They will forget if too much time is in between. It
works, TRUST ME!
Vegetables & Fruit:
Getting your parrot to eat vegetables and fruit may
not be easy, but it is in their best interest. Start offering them fruits and
vegetables when they are babies. Please note some vegetables or fruits may be
startling to your feathered friend. To avoid this, cut it in small pieces.
Here are some tips on starting out your parrot to the road to
healthy eating! Always ensure the vegetables and/or fruits are clean of
residues/ chemicals. Clean your fruits and vegetables with a solution of 2
Tablespoons Organic Apple Cider Vinegar & 1 gallon Water - let it sit for 5
minutes then rinse. Summer Squash, Cooked Sweet Potato, Broccoli (stems
included), carrots, red pepper, etc. Place a variety of produce in a food
processor until it is UNRECOGNIZABLE. And serve. The same can be done with fruit
(Cored Apples (remember apple seeds are toxic), Oranges, Grapes, Papaya,
Cantaloupe). You might even want to try mixing the fruit mix with the vegetable
mix. You will recognize if your parrot enjoys citrus type of fruits versus the
sweet. Using a food processor to grind the food and offering it to your parrot
will make it easy for your bird to eat and they will not have the opportunity to
individually select items they like more than the other. Once your parrot
becomes interested in the mix and is eating it readily, change the mix by
letting the pieces become less processed. Before you know it, the pieces are so
large that they are picking up the pieces with their tiny talons and eating
Another tip would be to hang the food on a Bird Kabob in the
cage. They will think its a toy and realize with the first touch that it is
food. They will start to get a taste from it. If you bird does not try it the
first time, please be patient. Keep offering the fruit and vegetables they will
eventually come around to at least trying it. In fact they may eat a certain
vegetable one day and the next day not touch it. Birds like variety, always
offer different fruits and vegetables each day.
Sometimes it is not just the taste of the fruit or vegetable
that the bird doesn't like it may be the texture of it. So cutting the
vegetables/fruit differently may make a difference. (See our To Peel Or Not
Article) For example: Carrots can be cut endless ways. Shredding, Thin circles,
Julienne, Quartered, Chunks, etc. If one must succeed, one must try different
shapes! Talon sized pieces work wonders.
Nothing goes to waste in my house. My greys LOVE to be in the
kitchen when I am cooking or preparing their dishes. It is like candy to a
child. When cutting up fruits and vegetables our flock is jumping up and down
because they know what is coming shortly. We offer them the stems of the
broccoli and the leaves I thread through the bars of the cage for them to tear
apart - Excellent source of vitamins. The broccoli stems - I cut about an inch
and then quarter it up and hand it out. Sometimes they eat it, sometimes they
just tear it apart. It is a cheap toy and it is good for them - what more can
you ask for!
Here's another tip. If you notice that most of the
fruit/veggies are at the bottom of the cage with one bite in them. Cut the
pieces smaller. You will see a big difference. No more or at least minimal
Now for the food that they still refuse to eat; I sneak it in
creatively. I bake Home Made Birdie Muffins for my birds. I throw all sorts of
fruit & veggies in the food processor and add it to the muffins. Mission
Accomplished!!! They can't pick out the pieces they don't like, because its
Handfeeding & More on Babies
NOTE: I would like to first start out with that I am a
true believer in *not* purchasing unweaned babies. If I would have known what I
know today about the dangers of handfeeding I would not have bought unweaned
babies. I am fortunate that I was properly taught the basics before bringing
home my birds.
With hand feeding there are many things that need to be taken
Disinfecting ~ All utensils and your hands must be
disinfected. Baby parrots are very susceptible to germs and bacteria until they
are about a year and their immune system is built up. Avicine is a perfect
bird-safe disinfectant which will not disintegrate the syringes.
Temperature ~ Greys are very
finicky about having their formula hot. BUT be wary of hot spots. Never above
108F. Mixing the formula thoroughly to remove any hot spots that may be evident.
You may heat up the water first then mix the powder in. Occasionally you may use
Papaya nectar in replace of the water - they may enjoy the sweetness a bit more.
Sometimes even putting Aloe Juice in replace of some of the water, which aids in
Consistency ~ When I handfed my
babies they liked their formula the same consistency - like a loose pudding or
ketchup. There are thoughts of "If I give him thicker formula it will be better
for him". Not true the babies need the liquid to pass through their system.
After hand feeding, *immediately* wash the syringe,
thermometer, etc. Then I would disinfect them with Avicine. It doesn't harm the
syringes like bleach would. We personally use it on everything at home to
disinfect - cages, dishes, cutting boards, countertops, perches. Having a spray
bottle that is not clear next to the sink filled with a dilution of Avicine is
If it seems like the babies are not emptying their crops, you
could add Aloe Detox to their formula. It is better known as a wonder herb. It
is a concentrated Aloe - if you have a plant at home - you could skin it and
throw it in the blender and add to the water mix. Note: Slow Crop is something
that should be handled by your Avian Vet.
Heat - Up until babies greys are
approximately 8 weeks of age they need to be put on "heat", because they do not
have their feathers to help keep them warm. Once the baby is fully feathered
heat should be removed. An alternative, you may use a small heating pad on *low*
on 1/3 of the container. Then place a towel on top of the heating pad. Never lay
them flat on the heating pad it could burn their skin very easily. Burns can
cause an infections. They are very delicate at this age. A large Rubbermaid
Container can be converted without using the top . We built a grate for the
bottom to build up their little toes up and they couldn't reach the poop. Then
we drilled holes to put feeders in later on. We built a grate for the top and
covered 1/2 of the container with a towel for security. They need to feel safe
where they are. They come out and play eventually. I also had a few small human
baby toys in with them. I would buy the terrycloth toys that don't have parts
that can be swallowed or taken off easy. Eventually when they get older you may
place small hanging toys in.
When ever the babies are out, I would have a towel and wrap
them for warmth and keep them close to me (if they were not feathered at the
time ~ otherwise I would have the towel underneath them in case of poop
accidents). They need to feel safe and secure.
When they are about 8 wks you can start offering vegetables
and fruit. I would throw them in the food processor so it is mush and they can
pick at it. Then as a week goes by letting the mush get bigger pieces. Very
gradually - don't want to frighten them with it. See my Fruits and Vegetables
section and my Safe Foods article.
When babies are weaning, you can expect to lose 10-15% of
their weight. Oliver topped out at 500 grams at 8 weeks, when weaning he went
down to 425 grams. Then over time he increased his weight. It took him several
years to get back up -now he is steady at approximately 495.
Weight ~ It is important to have
a scale available when venturing into the avian world. You can create a chart,
list the date and the individual bird. Enter their weight and time of day as
well as any notations. This is good record keeping. Keep in mind not all birds
are created equal. Just as humans vary in size, birds do as well. Even adult
birds should be weighed occasionally. As a baby bird, weigh your bird twice a
day and note of any food in their crop. Note: Time of day will make a difference
in the weight of a bird. Make sure they "poop" before weighing as well as
weighing them before hand feeding to get a more accurate weight.
Cages: Sizes & Sleep Cages:
If your bird will be out all day with you on a
playstand then a small "sleep" cage is fine. My birds are safely in their cages
when we are not home. They have a large cage with various toys and perches in
there for their entertainment. I have heard of people having their birds in
sleep cages - close to their bedrooms - which is fine. But I would caution
anyone who would keep a bird in their bedroom to sleep. If you are a late
nighter or every time you move - your bird will wake up (remember they are prey
animals any movement will alarm them from their sleep). Birds need a total of
about 12-14 hrs sleep a day (a baby bird would require more). To elaborate on
"total sleep time" is this ~ birds sleep during the day - they get a little nap
- that is included in the total time. Food for thought: when a bird is covered
at night and you are in either the same room or room just next door - doesn't
mean your bird is sleeping. They may be quiet, but sleeping? Probably not. Birds
are prey animals - there is always one in the flock who is the watch-bird. That
watch-bird will stay awake until all is calm. Now your bird may think you are
the watch-bird and entrust you with that task. Birds can develop behavioral
problems if they do not get enough sleep. The potential of being cranky,
plucking, nervous is greater when sleep requirements are not met.
African Greys need to have large cages if kept caged the
majority of the day. Depending on the size of the grey - 36" w x 24" d x 36" h
is a wonderful size cage for a Grey! Now that may seem large to you... However,
once you put in toys, perches and if you have inside feeders - there is not much
room left to play. I have outside feeders on 1 side of my cages - this allows
play throughout the cage. And do they PLAY! Recommended Bar Spacing: 1" this
will also depend on the individual Grey. Greys who have smaller heads (like
Timnehs) may need .75" bar spacing . It will depend on your individual Bird.
Supervision is the biggest key when having predators
with prey. Dogs, Cats, Ferrets, etc they are all predators and birds are prey. I
have heard more good stories than bad stories of multi pet households. But let
me assure you with the bad stories, the birds ended up either in a hospital or
passing over the rainbow bridge. Adding a word of caution: If you do decide to
get a bird, whether it is a grey or another wonderful species, do *not* train
the bird to land on the dog or cat. A while back, I heard a story of a couple
who did such a thing. The bird wound up in the dogs mouth and had a punctured
lung. The people also did not take the bird to the vet. The bird may have had a
chance to survive. In this scenario it was a Grey and that poor baby didn't make
it. Still brings tears to my eyes. I just wanted to share that with you so you
know the importance of respecting both animals (be it birds, dogs or cats). I
can't stress the importance of supervision enough. It only takes a split second.
NOW on the other hand, I have heard of countless stories of how people will have
their dogs and/or cats living gracefully with their birds. Some cases like: When
the birds are out the cats/dogs are either outside or in another room (closed
Buy a variety of different kinds of toys. Keeping in
mind, not all toys are for all birds. For example: A toy you would buy for a
large macaw would *not* be fit for an Amazon or an African Grey. And the
adverse, a toy for a Parakeet would not be a toy you would give to your African
Grey or Amazon. Giving toys to birds that are *not* meant for their size can be
dangerous. We need to be cautious of the toys we give our beloved parrot
friends. Checking them for fraying and clipping it back (don't want to get those
toes caught!), checking that the toy is secured to its Quick Link on the cage
(don't want him or her to fall from a toy and harm itself). Parrots are
inquisitive - make sure its tight.
If your parrot is young, I would recommend buying soft pine
wood toys and maybe some acrylic toys. Manzanita wood is a very hard wood and
can be used later on when the bird is older and can readily chew it. We
recommend Grey Feather Toy Creations. They offer toys exclusively with stainless
My greys happen to like toys that are of soft pine (easy to
chew and destroy), lots of hanging & dangling parts (what better to attack and
scream at), acrylic, cotton toys (be wary that your bird does *not* ingest any
of the rope or cotton material - Look for fragments in the bottom of the cage
for a clue). My flock in particular like toys that are not too large but more of
a medium to small in size.
I also like to rotate their toys. It keeps their interest in
their toys constant, and helps them to become used to new and exciting toys.
Touching lightly on how you attach your toys. Some of the
attachments that come with toys may not be the best thing to use. For example:
Key Chain Rings ~ parrots have the potential of getting their tongue, beak
and/or toes caught in key chain rings. We recommend stainless steel wide jaw
For a more in depth look at toy making, see our article, "The
Art of Toy Making."
The Companion Parrot Quarterly - Quarterly Magazine
The Grey Play Roundtable - Quarterly Publication on The
Bird Talk - Monthly Magazine
Bringing Home Baby Bird #2
Congrats on bringing home your new bird! Be prepared
for your first bird to feel a little insecure! I will add; he is entitled to ~
he has been "Running the Show" for a while.
He is going to need some special time alone with you ~
without the new bird in the room. Like a bedroom or someplace where the "newbie"
is not a distraction for you & him. He should get undivided attention when you
are with him.
Play some special new games - Peek a Boo, etc. Please refer
to our Games We Play Article.
You don't want to take away time from your first bird at this
point. It is a delicate matter. You always want to give those special treats to
him first. Everything *has* to be him first! First one to be uncovered, first
one to be out of the cage, first one to be offered a treat, etc.