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Breeding Parrots, Cockatiels and Lovebirds.

Hints for breeders

The quality of early socialization does make an extremely significant difference in the behavioural development of a young parrot. The absolute biological proof of this is the fact that parrot chicks have a long maturation process which involves extensive nurturing and parenting. Generalizations do not always apply as the pet potential of any parrot species depends on the individual traits of each bird and the way it is raised and behaviourally maintained. For example, according to stereotypical generalizations, all cockatoos are noisy. Some are but there are also quiet cockatoos.
Not all Moluccans are needy - if raised properly, they can be quite independent. Not all Amazons become aggressive as they mature - some are love sponges throughout their lives. Not all greys are excellent cognitive talkers but some certainly are especially if they have owners who provide instructional attention. I get tired of hearing how 'neurotic' greys are - phobic behaviour and feather picking is not a consideration with the vast majority of properly socialized and well-cared for greys. Not all Scarlet Macaws are nippy. Not all Hyacinths are 'gentle giants.' Not all Pionus are quiet. We could go on listing generalizations for pages

Each bird is an individual influenced by the people in their lives.

If a baby parrot is well socialized and learns to trust, it will transfer its bond to anyone who handles it gently and properly. Hand feeding by inexperienced novices may actually damage the potential parrot/human bond. Even worse, an inexperienced hand feeder may create serious health problems for their new baby parrot including but not limited to crop burn, aspiration, bacterial infection, fungal infection, malnutrition, starvation, and even death.

Baby parrots absolutely need more instructional attention and guidance to develop their personality and pet potential. Not giving them proper socialization will limit pet potential. It is not the amount of time spent with chicks that spoils them, it is what is done during that time. If baby parrots are just cuddled for hours, they will be spoiled. Time must be spent playing with baby parrots in an instructional manner which develops their independence and pet potential.

It is a fact that two birds are always more difficult to care for than one. In many cases, it is also harder to keep two parrots tame if they are living together and form a strong bond with each other. If continued pet potential is desired from two parrots who relate to each other daily, it will be essential for owners to establish and maintain a strong nurturing guidance. Each bird must be given consistent focused individual attention plus time together with the people in their lives.

Most parrots in the wild form different levels of bonding with other parrots. Stronger bonds are with parents, siblings, and then later with mates. Looser bonds occur within the family group, the juvenile flock and later with other flock members. Companion parrots are capable of bonding to different people on different levels throughout their lives.

Some parrots are monogamous - but some may be monogamous in the same sense of human beings. Parrots give their owners unconditional love. Not generally true. People have to provide consistent nurturing affection and attention to win and maintain the love of a parrot. Mistreatment and/or neglect will quickly damage the trust and bond parrots have with their owners.


Male parrots bond to women and female parrots bond to men. This generalization is absolute nonsense! One absolute rule of parrot behaviour - parrots are more comfortable with people who were comfortable with them. Any gender preferences may be formed because of the people parrots are most used to being handled by when they were young.

However, if they are then gently and comfortably handled by a person of the opposite gender, the bond can be transferred easily. I have worked with many parrots who are considered women's birds who learn to enjoy the company of men who work to win their trust. People should not groom their own birds or their birds will hate them. It is not grooming which threatens a parrot's sense of security It is the manner in which they are handled. Once a person learns non-aggressive handling, towelling, and grooming techniques and becomes calm and confident grooming their parrot, there will be no threat to the relationship they have with their parrot.

When parrots become sexually mature, they no longer make good pets and need to be put into a breeding program. This myth is absolute nonsense, perhaps perpetuated by aspects of the pet industry who want either to sell you a new bird or want yours for their breeding programs. People who are willing to work with their parrots can create contented lifelong companions.

A well-socialized, well-loved companion parrot whose owner has established positive rules and guidance will rarely become so difficult that he or she no longer has pet potential. While some parrots may become more difficult for a few weeks or so each year for a few years, the knowledgeable bird owner can learn how to deal with these periods of time. Parrots who are sexually mature are happier in breeding situations. It depends on the parrot and it depends on the breeding situation. Many companion parrots who exhibit sexual behaviour do so because of the strong bond they have with their owners. This does not mean they want to raise babies and many of these parrots will not be happy if they lose their human flock. Some breeding situations do not take proper care of their parrots.

Once a parrot starts to exhibit problems, the problems can not be solved. Parrots are capable of learning throughout their ives and therefore, with consistent instructional attention, even the most entrenched behaviours can be worked with and changed. Biting is a natural aggressive behaviour in parrots. In the wild, it appears that most parrots will bluff and strut long before they resort to using their beaks as a weapon. Pet parrots usually bite only when they have no other means to communicate or when their initial biting behaviour is reinforced by people.

If finger chewing and beak exploration are not stopped the parrot will turn into an aggressive biter. Beak exploration and aggressive biting are two entirely different behaviours. A parrot's highly sensitive beak and tongue are their hands and fingers which they use to explore and even give affection. Young parrots who chew too hard should be quietly told to be gentle or given a foot toy to chew on but never punished for exploring with their beak.

Parrots need to know who is the boss at all times. If being the 'boss' involves aggressive behaviour towards the parrot, it will create more problems than it will solve. Nurturing Guidance does not involve aggression. The key to having a successful relationship with a parrot is to create and maintain trust.

Quick-fix punishments are effective ways to stop problem behaviours. While quick-fixes may distract a parrot momentarily from negative behaviour, it will not teach the parrot anything that will change the behaviour on a long-term basis. Working patiently and consistently with the underlying causes is the only way to change negative behaviours. Breeding birds do not need toys. To deprive parrots of behavioural enrichment and/or play objects (also defined as toys) because of the mistaken belief that play objects will keep the pair from breeding is absolute nonsense. Aviculturists who provide their breeding pairs with behavioural enrichment, including toys, report having better success with breeding and much more contentment in their aviaries.

A cage should be big enough for a parrot to spread its wings. Cages should be larger than just a parrot's wingspan. Cage size should not just be determined by the size of the bird but also by their energy level. High energy parrot-family birds such as parrotlets, caiques, lories, and the small cockatoos need larger cages in proportion to their size. Parrots are not sentient or cognitive and it is anthropomorphic to think they are. Anyone who has lived with a companion parrot realizes they are clearly aware of their environment and understand much of what goes on in it. It is also obvious that many of the words and phrases parrots learn are used appropriately.

Anthropomorphism is defined as giving animals human characteristics. However, it is clearly not anthropomorphic to describe parrots with behavioural traits which they clearly possess. The cry of anthropomorphism often seems to be an excuse some people use to treat parrots in less than a humane manner. Parrots are 'easy-care' pets. Parrots are the most complex animals we have ever seen. Parrots have complex behavioural needs. People who do not take the time and energy to create the proper behavioural guidance will probably never know what it is all about. People who are up to the challenge will have a successful relationship with their companion parrot. They will be the ones who reap the rewards!

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