Tuesday, September 19, 2017


African Greys are one the most wanted parrot species as a pet. It is due to a simple fact that they talk and are extremely intelligent. Most people want a parrot that talks, which is a misconception because not all African Greys talk.

Most times the end result leads the person to give up the parrot because of the responsibility an African Grey can be. There is a lot of responsibility with owning one of these special species.

A Congo African Grey Parrot in Herborn Bird Pa...
A Congo African Grey Parrot in Herborn Bird Park, Germany.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
They are known to be one of the smartest animals; yes I said animals, like chimpanzees, dolphins and even a human toddler. Not that a human toddler is an animal but they are correlated with a child. Their production of human speech is amazing. They talk in the third person, like a human.
Sparky, our three-year-old Grey, will answer a question when one is asked or respond when my wife and I are talking. I was asking my wife a question and she had not responded and Sparky replied "What?" just as she would say "What?" I can go on the many things Sparky says, responds and finishes off in a sentence, which even surprises me.

A notable African Grey N'kisi, a Timneh an African Grey, who in 2004 was said to a have a vocabulary of 950 words. When Jane Goodall came to visit him in New York he greeted her with "Got a chimp" He knew Jane Goddall from watching TV and seeing her in pictures with chimpanzees in Africa.

There is also Alex the famous African Grey, which was a Congo, that Dr. Irene Pepperberg worked within a scientific setting. He had the ability to associate simple words with meanings and intelligently apply abstract concepts of shape, number, size, color, and zero-sense. The day before he died Alex's last words to Dr. Pepperberg was "You be good. I love you." May Alex rest in peace. Yes, these two notable Greys displayed an outstanding sense of intelligence for an animal.

Please keep in mind that not all Greys talk or show such intelligence. This should not be a reason to get this type of parrot. Greys require a lot of love, attention, stimulation, and responsibility. Due to the intelligence, you need to keep them stimulated, occupied and showered in love. Yes, all parrots require this, but Greys seem to need more of the stimulation and being occupied than other parrots.
Misconceptions of an African Grey.

Misconceptions of Greys are arguable. Many people say an African Grey is neurotic and one person birds. Some say they scream, pluck their feathers, are high-strung, nervous and they bite. This depends on your household and how you raise your Grey.

Greys need to be socialized. This is a very important factor to know when you get it from the bird store or the breeder. Having a socialized baby Grey will build its confidence and disposition. When you bring it home have everybody and I mean everybody interacts with it. Like any parrot don't let it be favored by one individual person, everybody in the household needs to interact with the baby.

Some people agree and disagree to let a baby Grey keep their flight feathers for a month or two when bringing it home. Some critics say that Greys are awkward and clumsy and will hurt themselves. Others believe it helps them build self-confidence and security. With the latter we decided to let Sparky keep his flight feathers when he came home, yes he flew from the cage across the room to the couch but he never hurt himself. However, after a short period of time he soon began to copy our Amazon and would run around on the floor, chasing him and this continues to this day. We felt he was ready to have his wings clipped and with the end result being a positive one. Severe wing trims when a Grey is a baby can lead to insecurity and no self-confidence. It can lead to further insecurities and fears as they grow up.

Sparky is probably one of the most confident little guys I know and has no fear of anything. You can bring a new toy and he is at it with a vengeance, new food is a great treat to him and digs in and new situations are a little weird at first to him but he settles right in after a couple of hours. We have moved two times in his short threes of being with us and we have had none of the preconceptions of a Grey and have gone on two vacations, which one was for ten days. He had a blast at the babysitters, not as much fun as home but he was fine when he came back home.

Neurotic Behaviors
Neurotic type behaviors are formed when they are stressed, have insecurities and a lack of self-confidence. African Greys are hardwired for to flee from danger and we are expecting them to understand all the strange things about its environment we have put them in. They do not have their flock to protect them. African Greys live in large flocks that forage on the ground together. They go from their roost and find food on the ground and trees. Keep in mind that baby Greys remain in their family unit much longer to develop emotionally than when they are being hand-fed. They are still wild animals and still have that sense inbuilt in them. Parrots have not been domesticated over a long period of time. Many parrots that are domesticated are one or two generations in. Greys must be entertained and kept busy or they become stressed and will show self-destructive behavior.

One Person Birds
Many people will say that an African Grey is a one person bird. In our home, this is not true. Sparky loves my wife and me. He may favor my wife more but she is a mommy of the house and that happens in most human households until they realize mommy lays down the rules. This is a complete fallacy that African Greys are one person parrots. They will interact with anybody that interacts with them. They interact with you as a toddler would interact with a parent. Your African Grey is very rewarding and the reciprocation of love is never-ending.

In my opinion, there isn't anything a Grey won't eat when introduced. Sparky eats seed, pellets, fruits, veggies and yes our food. He loves bones may it be chicken or the bones from our steak. You need to take into consideration their calcium levels. Talk to your avian specialist as it is more complex than just feeding your Grey calcium enriched foods. They will recommend a wide variety of foods, a calcium/phosphorus supplement and/or pellets. It is imperative you speak with the doctor about it and not take it upon yourself.

Toys and Cage
These are the two most important things you have to think about when you have an African Grey. The cage needs to be the biggest you can afford. At a minimum, the cage needs to be 32 inches by 23 inches. Toys, toys, toys and more toys; you can never have enough toys for Greys. Change them out weekly. This is great for stimulation and keeping their busy minds occupied. Play music or put on the TV for them when you are out of the house, though I do warn you to be careful on the TV shows they choose. They may pick up something you don't want to be repeated. I like to put on cartoons. They are family friendly.

Does an African Grey mimic? Some say yes and some say no. I am one of those disagrees and would say no. Sparky can put sentences together from hearing my wife and I speak to each other. They can copy human voices; appliance sounds and puts a speech together with speaking in the 3rd person. In the wild Greys would mimic other bird calls and chainsaws. In our home, it is almost like a practical joke with his telephone ringing sound or if the phone rings he answers it and starts to have a conversation.
When your African screams as if they are dying when playing with a toy or swinging from a perch wildly you know you have a happy parrot. People wonder why Greys scratch at the bottom of their cage, there is no explanation. Sparky even scratches in the corner of the couch. I don't know if he is trying to dig a hole to China like any five years old or if he is searching for something, it is just unexplainable. Some people believe it is a sign that they want out of their cage contrary to believe they do it when they are out of the cage.

There are two Subspecies of the African Grey. There is the Congo that is larger, lighter gray, red tail and a black beak. Then there is the Timneh who is smaller in size, dark charcoal grey, maroon tail and horn-colored upper mandible. Of course, you have heard of the Cameroon, the ever elusive Cameroon. There is no such thing; it is just a way of getting you to pay more money. It is also called the Silverback or even the Ghana. It has not been scientifically proven of these other two subspecies. There are only subspecies and they are the Congo and Timneh African Grey. When we got Sparky we fell into the Cameroon trap but my wife would not pay the price they were asking. Some Congo's just happen to be larger than others.

African Greys are one of the most delightful animals one can come across and become companions with. The gratification you get will only grow as each day passes. There is so much to learn from these great creatures. They love to learn and we can show them how by being patient and understanding their needs. Your new addition is a five-year-old with the emotional needs of a two-year-old, only it is feathered. I love Sparky to the end and you will too, with your Grey.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Pet Birds From Australia - An Introduction to ROSELLAS

Pale-headed Rosella, Platycercus adscitus

Pale-headed Rosella, Platycercus adscitus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius), female,...
Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius), female, Queen's Domain, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Of all native Australian birds used as pets, the rosellas are amongst the most sought after. This is due to their wonderful variety of coloring, their size, and their unique markings. Their scalloped feather markings on the back are what makes them unique in the avian world. There are several different species of rosella, all of them unique in their own way, and they all have similar requirements when used in aviculture.

Common in all rosellas is the scalloped pattern to the feathers on the back and all have distinctive cheek patches. A very colorful and medium-sized parrot native to Australia and the surrounding islands. On the Australian mainland, these colorful birds tend to inhabit areas of farmland, woodland, forests and suburban gardens and parks, in the coastal mountains and plains but not the outback. Specific breeds tend to inhabit a particular area. Most species of rosella live in large flocks in the wild but not all.It is commonly held that their name originates from the area of Australia in which they were first noticed by early pioneers, the Rose Hill area of Sydney.

The most common species appear to be: Western Rosella - smallest of the species with two subspecies itself and is found in south-west Australia. Crimson Rosella - five subspecies and inhabiting east and south-east Australia. Green Rosella - the largest species and native to Tasmania. Pale-headed Rosella - two subspecies and found in the eastern part of Australia. Eastern Rosella - three subspecies and although native to the eastern area of the country they are found in many regions including Tasmania and have been introduced to New Zealand where feral populations can be found. Northern Rosella - mainly found in the north as the name suggests but can also be seen in open savanna country and a few other areas, this one is also more likely to be found in small groups or just in pairs in the wild. All these are popular as pets.

An aviary is the best option when keeping rosellas in captivity as this ensures an environment as close to their natural habitat as possible. If an aviary is not an option then they will do OK in cages, as long as the cage is adequately large enough for their requirements. They will need to have regular exercise outside the cage however and should get the opportunity to have a fly around. These birds are not usually talkers and will mainly chirp & squawk, although they could learn a few unique sounds or the odd whistle. A single rosella will form a very strong bond with its owner.

An important warning with regards to keeping rosellas:
They are best kept alone or in pairs as they can be very aggressive towards each other if a lot are enclosed together, a strange thing about captive ones this is as they tend to live mainly in flocks in the wild. Whether kept in aviary or cage try to only have no more than two, and ensure they are of the same species subfamily. These birds will fight to the death in captivity if different sub-species are allowed access to each other, so make certain that if keeping more than one type of Rosella to separate the different sub-species by housing in separate aviaries or cages. If the aviaries are connected together you must at the very least double-mesh so as these birds cannot get any physical contact. 

Beautiful birds yes, they do have these requirements, however, but they are easily achievable.

Most bird keepers will suggest that rosellas are not to be kept in a mixed aviary with other types of birds because of their aggressive nature. This may be so but I have in the past kept a pair of Eastern Rosellas (golden-mantled rosellas) in the same mixed aviary with budgies, cockatiels, grass parakeets and kakarikis and have had no problems, the rosellas tended to keep themselves to themselves and do their own thing. It would be best to get advice from an avian professional if unsure.

To summarise there are several types of rosella available to the bird keeper, but their demand can often lead to having to pay a substantial fee in order to purchase any. Their physical appearance, however, is well worth the expense.

    For more about rosellas please email me with your questions or visit my pet bird blog at http://StantonBirdman.wordpress.com/.
    Pete Etheridge
    Nottinghamshire, UK 
    Hobbyist keeper and breeder of pet birds for over 10 years. 
    Offering information and advice on all aspects of bird keeping. - tanton.birdman@gmail.com
    Article Source: EzineArticles

Sunday, September 17, 2017

EUROPEAN ROBIN - Erithacus rubecula

EUROPEAN ROBIN - Erithacus rubecula - Photo: Pixabay

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Raising CHICKENS 101: Introducing the New Birds on the Block

To raise chickens, there are procedures and adaptations to attend to. One very good instance is introducing a group of “new” birds to a flock of old birds. It’s like managing to merge two restaurants when one is Italian and the other is Chinese. Stress will come along. And that is not an assumption but a fact. 

Free range chickens seek shade in their simple...
Free range chickens seek shade in their simple coop.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many poultry owners who think that they’re ready to expand their chicken farm make certain measures of importing birds that came or was purchased from the outside, while others take their time and wait for hens to hatch their eggs. Adding new breeds into your peaceful and comfortable neighborhood of chickens can put a quite a rumble between the old and the new.

Admit it, nobody likes newcomers. And adding these newcomers into a flock of hens or roosters that already have certain territories inside their coop can be a big mess. The newcomers will try to take their place too, and the oldies will try their best to protect their area.

Fret not, for this kind of attitude and feud lasts for only a couple of days. Adaptation can now take place. You can’t avoid this kind of predicament from rising but you can do certain adjustments that can make all of you happy and stress-free.

There are numerous peace-making strategies to help both parties adjust with each other. Isn’t it nice to see your new and old birds in one space without having to stop them from pecking one another?

One very good strategy is to let them see each other without having any physical contact. How? If you have a run (which is basically attached to the coop), you could put your old chickens there and then put a border (chicken wire) between the run and the coop. Put your new chickens inside the coop. This way, they are able to see each other minus the harm. Be sure that both parties have access to sufficient food and water. You can do this for about a week.

As transition day comes, that will be a week after the slight introduction, you can now “join” them in one area. You can transfer the newcomers to the resident flock’s territory during the night when all the birds are sleeping. Upon waking up, the old chickens will notice the new ones and they will, at any point, try to start a fight but will not because they are too groggy to initiate it. Not a strategy that has been proven effective but it’s worth the trying.

Distraction techniques are always effective in some way. This can alleviate tactics of war coming from the resident chickens. If you don’t do this, the old hens will chase the newcomers till all their feathers come off. That would be devastating.

Some of the distracting techniques are:

a. Cabbage heads can do the trick. By hanging a piece of whole cabbage just above their head, chickens will reach it until everything is finished. That is if they don’t get exhausted by jumping to it and reaching it.

b. Make the pursuit an obstacle for the pursuing party. Add large branches inside the run and coop.

c. Let them run around at a wider and freer range. The oldies will be so thrilled to dig for grubs and insects they wouldn’t even notice that there are newcomers roaming around.

The Romantic Songbirds of Spring - The NORTHERN CARDINAL

This beautiful bird is the only member of the cardinal family found in the northern hemisphere thus referred to as the Northern Cardinal. It is named a named "cardinal" after the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, who wear distinctive red robes and caps. They are native to the near arctic region. They are found throughout eastern and central North America from southern Canada into parts of Mexico and Central America.

English: female northern cardinal
Female northern cardinal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In spring this romantic male bird courts his future mate by feeding her seeds. When the female agrees to become his mate they sing to each other. During courtship they may also participate in a bonding behavior where the male collects food and brings it to the female, feeding her beak-to-beak. If the mating is successful, this mate-feeding may continue throughout the period of egg incubation. Mated pairs often travel together.

The Northern Cardinal is a territorial songbird. The male sings in a loud, clear whistle from the top of a tree or another high location to defend his territory. He will chase off other males entering his territory. The Northern Cardinal learns its songs, and as a result, the songs vary regionally. It is able to easily distinguish the sex of another singing Northern Cardinal by its song alone.

Both sexes sing clear, whistled song patterns, which are repeated several times, then varied. Some common phrases are described as purdy, purdy, purdy...whoit, whoit, whoit, whoit and what-cheer, what-cheer... wheet, wheet, wheet, wheet'. They has a distinctive alarm call, a short metallic 'chip' sound. This call often is given when predators approach the nest, in order to give warning to the female and nestlings. In some cases it will also utter a series of chipping notes. The frequency and volume of these notes increases as the threat becomes greater.

Northern Cardinals are preyed upon by Cooper's Hawks, Loggerhead Shrikes, Northern Shrikes, Eastern gray squirrels, Long-eared Owls and Eastern Screech Owls. Predators of chicks and eggs include milk snakes, coluber constrictors, Blue Jays, fox squirrels, red squirrels and eastern chipmunks.

The adult Cardinal's diet consists of weed seeds, grains, insect snail berry and fruit eaters. It eats beetles, cicadas, grasshoppers, snails, wild fruit and berries, corn and oats, sunflower seeds and the blossoms and bark of elm trees,. Cardinals drink maple sap from holes made by sapsuckers.The cardinal is a ground feeder and finds food while hopping on the ground through trees or shrubbery. During the summer months, it shows a preference for seeds that are easily husked but is less selective during winter, when food is scarce. Northern Cardinals feed their young almost exclusively on insects.

You can do a lot to help Northern Cardinal flourish:
1. Create nesting habitat near edges of woods, hedgerows, and vegetation around houses...
2. Install pole feeders high enough so preying animals cannot reach it.

3. Garden to attract cardinals and other songbirds year around by including these flowering plants:
sunflowers, delphinium, daisies. heliopsis, liatris, penstamon, bee balm, goldenrod, purple coneflower, tickseed, phlox, coneflower, cosmos, spider flower, aster, four o'clock, bachelor's button, phlox and snapdragon.

These flowering plants produce seeds that attract and feed songbirds throughout the spring and summer months.

    Dr. M. Wolken Ph.D. is an educator and environmentalist helping to inform and encourage you and your children to explore the wonders of nature. Visit http://www.naturescrusaders.wordpress.com to experience and get involved in saving Mother Nature's wonderful world.
    Article Source: EzineArti

Friday, September 15, 2017

Fact Sheet: WHITE-CAPPED PIONUS - Pionus Senelis

Photo of a pet White-capped Pionus parrot (Pio...
White-capped Pionus parrot (Pionus senilis). It had both its wings clipped and some of the feathers on both sides were growing back. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
(Original Title: Rainforest Birds - White-Capped Pionus)

Bird Name:
White-capped Pionus

Latin Name:
Pionus senelis

Least Concern

Scientific Classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae
Tribe: Arini
Genus: Pionus
Species: P. senilis

General Information:
The White Pionus is a relatively small and common domestically kept bird. In the wild its range extends from Mexico south to Panama, and can be found in a variety of habitats. The White-capped Pionus feeds in flocks comprised of 30 to 50 individuals, sometimes wandering beyond the breeding range after nesting is finished.

Physical Description:
The White Pionus is usually between 9 and 11 inches in length and weighs around 220 g. The White-capped is considered the smallest pionus. Their name is derived from the small white patch that adorns the head of the male. Males are generally larger than females and have a darker blue hue. In females, the blue plumage fades into scaling on the lower breast and their shoulder patches are duller. The White-capped Pionus' undertail, like those of all pionus, is bright red, and has speckled brown patches on its dorsal wings. There is also a blue lacing around its neck and along the edge of its tail feathers.

Its diet encompasses various seeds and nuts as well as fruit and corn, which have made it a pest creature to many farmers and plantations.

These parrots are native to Central and South America, and have a range from Southwestern Mexico down across Panama. They are primarily found in lowland tropical forests as well as oak and pine forests up to 6000 feet in elevation. White-capped Pionus frequently nest in tree cavities or hollow palm stubs.

A female Pionus will lay between 3 and 6 eggs per clutch in an unlined nest. In North America, the White-capped usually breeds in the spring, from approximately February or March to June or July.

An Introduction to the History of OSTRICH Farming

Ostrich farming in the Eastern Cape of South Africa started in the early years of the 19th century. This was as a result of the high demand for ostrich feathers for use in the fashion industry.

Ostriches near Swartberg Pass, Oudtshoorn, Wes...
Ostriches near Swartberg Pass, Oudtshoorn, Western Cape (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Enormous tracts of land in the Klein Karoo, outside Oudtshoorn, Western Cape, were fenced off and planted under Lucerne. Now the ostriches were within easy reach instead of having to hunt for them in the wild to harvest the ostrich feathers. Now the ostrich feathers were gathered yearly instead of shooting the birds.

Ostrich feathers were first exported in 1838, and slowly the industry became more organized until it truly organized in 1863. Eventually, by 1913, ostrich feathers were South Africa's 4th largest export, the top three being gold, diamonds, and wool. Ostrich feathers were selling at an incredible £12 per lb. (454g). This was an enormous sum, considering that a teacher was earning a mere £ 100 a year. Ostrich farming was definitely a lucrative venture, making the owners incredibly wealthy. They built large homes for themselves, which became known as "Feather Palaces".

At this stage, many other nations wanted a share in this lucrative business, and ostriches were exported to Australia and the United States. But the boom was not to last. With the outbreak of WW1, nearly all available ships were commandeered by the war effort. The advent of the motor vehicle also diminished the demand for feathers. With the collapse of the market for ostrich feathers, most of the ostriches in Australia were released into the wild.

It was only after the end of WW2 that ostrich farming in South Africa gained momentum again. Now ostrich skins were marketed as a high-value commodity. Ostrich skins were sold in low quantities but at a high value. Ostrich meat was also marketed as biltong, and as a healthy alternative to red meat. By 1959 a single channel co-operative was established, under which only the cooperative could market ostrich products. Farmers were forced to sell all their birds to the cooperative, who then marketed the different lines of ostrich products. In 1964 the first ostrich abattoir was built. All ostrich skins were shipped to England for tanning until 1970 until the first tannery was opened.

Farmers were very frustrated at the cF320ontrol that was being exercised on the market by the single channel co-operative. Production was forced to a minimum to keep prices of the ostrich skins at a maximum. Many farmers were unable to join because of this control, and they began the development of ostrich farming in Zimbabwe and Namibia. Finally, in 1993, single channel marketing was abolished, leaving farmers free to sell their products wherever they desired, for whatever price they could get.

Ostrich farming in the rest of the world has been stocked out of the free trade areas of Zimbabwe and Namibia, and by ostrich eggs and live birds that were smuggled out of South Africa.

Alan B. Stables is a freelance writer on alternative agriculture, has organized the World Ostrich Congress in Madrid, Spain in 2005 and has also been a guest speaker in Brazil, China, Egypt, Italy, Latvia, and Spain, on how to market ostrich produce for maximum returns. His leaflet "The Information Guide on How To Remove, Store, Transport and Grade Your Ostrich Skins" has become an Ostrich Industry Standard that has been translated and used in many countries today. Alan is also a founding member of the World Ostrich Association.