Archive for June, 2009

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Parakeet Training: Budgies Doing Tricks

June 26, 2009

Some people are under the impression that budgies (budgerigar parakeets) aren’t trainable because they are so small. Quite a few people, in fact, think budgies aren’t even real parrots.

Not only are they parrots, check out this guy’s very entertaining comedy act comprised of trick trained budgies. (He’s saying “Allez, allez!” which means “let’s go” in French)

Now that you know just how entertaining budgies can be, don’t you feel sorry for those pet shop parakeets crammed into a small cage who never get let out and never get handled? Budgies, just like the larger parrots, need lots of mental enrichment and activity to keep them happy and well adjusted.

If you’re interested in training your parakeet to perform tricks, check out Melinda Johnson’s fabulous book: Clicker Training for Birds.

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How Loud Is a Sun Conure (Redux)

June 15, 2009

Just a quick story: The other night, I got a call from the ACLU asking for a donation to support their investigation of waterboarding at Guantanamo. The whole time, of course, my orange ball of terror is “vocalizing” to express his unhappiness about me being on the phone. At the end of the call, the guy says “Ma’am, I just have to ask. What is that noise? Is that a bird?”. I say, yeah, that’s a parrot. And he says, “that sounds like torture!”.

You heard it first folks: The ACLU considers Stewie to be an instrument of torture! (I wonder if there’s anything in the Geneva Convention about sun conures.)

If you’re considering getting a sun conure and wonder how disruptive it could possible be (all those people warning you about the noise surely must be exaggerating, right?!), try playing this video every time you get on the phone. 😉

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Captive Foraging for Parrots

June 8, 2009

Foraging is an important activity for our pet parrots – not only does it keep them entertained and occupied , but it provides them much needed mental enrichment.

In the wild, parrots spend the majority of their waking time looking and working for their food. In our homes, parrots generally have all their food conveniently provided for them in a nice, neat little cup.

While we pet owners are certainly improving our charges’ lives by not exposing them to the dangers of starvation, we also remove from them a fundamental part of what they are designed to do. So why not do both? Why not provide all the food our parrots need to thrive and be healthy, but ALSO provide them with important foraging opportunities.


Hungry Parrot. Photo by Sangudo, used under Creative Commons license.

Hungry Parrot. Photo by Sangudo, used under Creative Commons license.

Foraging is important for pet parrots because, first of all, it gives them something to do. Boredom is the precursor to a lot of behavior problems.

While commercial foraging toys are often pretty cool (and my own birds might actually have most of the foraging toys available for purchase 🙂 ), you don’t actually need to spend a lot of money buying and replacing these products. You may be surprised how easy it is to make your own bird foraging items.

Here are just two ideas for making your own cheap foraging toys:

* Get small, unwaxed Dixie cups. Put a treat inside and crumple the cup together so the treat doesn’t fall out. Your bird will have to open or chew the paper to get at the treat.

* Find some medium-sized rocks, wash and dry them thoroughly, then put them in a bowl with some treats. Your bird will need to move or work around the stones to reach the treats.

See? How easy is that? These are just some examples to show you that providing foraging activities doesn’t need to be expensive, and to get spur some creative brainstorming on your part. Once your birds learn to forage, you can even make them forage for all their food if you want.

There’s a great blog of LiveJournal that’s all about promoting foraging ideas for parrots: http://community.livejournal.com/captiveforaging. The Captive Foraging for Parrots blog includes reviews of foraging toys, instructions for making your own foraging ideas, and photos and videos of parrots engaged in foraging. Check it out for inspiration.