Large Parrot Husbandry: Grey Parrot (Congo and Timneh), Cape Parrot, etc.
The cage should be large enough for the bird to have adequate room to play. We recommend purchasing the largest cage that you have space for and can afford. Multiple perches of varying diameter/textures should be available and they should be positioned to prevent the food and the water from becoming contaminated with droppings. Exercise will greatly enhance your parrot’s quality of life. Play perches/stands are a great way to give your bird extra attention and to help it get the exercise it needs.
You should allow each parrot to have it’s own cage to help prevent fighting and injuries when you are not around. If they get along, you can allow supervised play time on the play perch/stand.
Newspaper or computer paper. Changing the paper daily is important so you can monitor the number and consistency of the droppings. Often this is the first warning that you will get that something is wrong with your bird. You do not need a grate in the cage bottom, they just make cleaning more of a hassle and some birds like to eat food that they drop on the cage floor. Toys and other enrichment activities(see foraging section-coming soon) may be placed in the cage, but be sure that the bird is still able to move around with ease.
We recommend feeding a high quality pelleted diet, such as Harrison’s Bird Diet as approx. 80% of the diet. The remaining diet should consist of dark leafy greens, broccoli, mashed or shredded sweet potato, carrots, other vegetables/fruits, and healthy “people” food like beans, rice and pasta. Offer your parrot fresh water daily for drinking. Do not put vitamin supplements in the water.
Lighting and Temperature
Birds are fairly temperature tolerant, and do not ”catch colds” as easily as has always been rumored. They can tolerate temperatures between 55-85 degrees F, as long as they are not exposed to the extremes of these temperatures over a short period of time. Keep the bird in an active part of your house where they can interact with the family and the comings and goings of the household. If you place them near a window, be sure that a portion of the cage is hidden/covered, so your bird is not constantly nervous about predators and other birds it may view through the window. Placing a light with a UVB light bulb over your parrot’s cage will help with feather quality and the general well being of your parrot.
Screaming: Birds may vocalize for a number of different reasons. In the wild, vocalization may be used to locate flock members and warn of potential dangers. In many captive species, this behavior persists and can develop into a serious issue. To properly deal with this issue, a thorough evaluation of the patient, home environment, and social interaction with family must be conducted before specific recommendations can be made.
Biting: Physical violence between birds is almost non-existent in the wild. Birds rely heavily on non-verbal communication and various display behaviors to resolve issues within the flock. In captivity, biting is mainly a learned behavior in response to a negative s timulus. Some species learn to bite readily and care must be taken to avoid re-enforcing this behavior. For extremely aggressive birds, stick training and other positive re-enforcement activities may be used to help alleviate this undesirable behavior.
Feather Destructive Behaviors: Feather destructive behavior in companion birds is a very hot topic in avian medicine today. There are numerous medical and behavior etiologies that have been linked to this common and frustrating syndrome. Due to the complex nature of this disease syndrome, a thorough medical exam and behavior consult should be conducted to help elucidate the contributing factors and attempt to decrease the undesired behavior.
Blood Feathers: Blood feathers are new growing feathers that have a blood supply. Once the feather has completed its growth, the blood supply dries up and the feather shaft becomes clear/white. Broken blood feathers occur fairly frequently and are rarely life threatening. Restrain your bird and use water or hydrogen peroxide to clean the area and asses the damaged feather. Use digital pressure and flour or talcum powder to stop the bleeding. DO NOT pull the feather unless you cannot get the bleeding to stop. Place the bird back into the cage and cover the cage to keep him calm.
Beak Tip Fractures: Hard falls can cause the beak tip to break off or crack. This can cause enough pain that the bird will stop eating. When the beak is cracked, this acts as a “hang nail” and the bird is in pain each time he or she tries to eat. Get the bird to your vet so they can repair the beak, give pain medication and administer any other supportive care that is needed.