01 10 / 2014

Anonymous said: Do any of the bloggers know any good websites or places to buy bird cages? I'm looking to get my bird a cage that's longer than taller (hers now is taller) but all the ones that fit the criteria on petco and petsmart are really flimsy and cheap looking...

Hi,

I purchased my bird’s cage off of Amazon, and Foster’s and Smith has a large selection as well. King’s cages has a website and comes highly recommended. 

Anyone else? Suggestions? Readers, where did you get your cages?

-Lucy (bootywraith)

28 9 / 2014

puddingball said: hi! ive had my budgie baby for one year, and i love very much. i move him between different rooms of the house when im cleaning so he is safe from the products. however soon i may be moving to smaller apartment, so i was wondering if you know of/use any bird-safe cleaning products? ive been hunting around but mostly just find bird-safe pet cleaner, not actual household cleaners (that i could use to clean my kitchen sink, for example.)

  • Mild dishwashing liquid: Sometimes I feel things needs a good, old fashioned scrub down with soap and water. I wash cages, toys and perches safely with a small amount of Dawn.
  • White distilled vinegar and water: I use a cup or two per gallon of water. This cleans everything from cages to mirrors. I use this solution and soapy water, as above, as my main general house cleaners.
  • Steam: If you have a bird that manages to get food into toy and cage crevices, this is a great method of cleaning. The hot steam gets into places that can’t always be reached with cleaning tools. It’s perfect for cleaning playgyms and porous perches. It kills mold and fungus too. There are hand held models available at some online bird stores. Never use anything but water in your steamer.
  • Laundry detergent: I know a lot of you have birds that play with towels, under sheets or are always in contact with your clothes. Some even help do the laundry. I use Tide, but in lesser amounts that is suggested because I want to be sure that any residue is removed in the rinse cycle. I clean my bird’s cage covers with this, and if you read my last post, you know that the cage cover spends a lot of time in Linus’ mouth. Don’t use fabric softener sheets, like Bounce, with fabrics your bird will come in contact with.
  • GSE (grapefruit seed extract) – This is a very effective antibacterial cleaner and great to have around for cleaning things like cutting boards, kitchen counters, and other places where food has been or will be.
  • Baking soda – On its own, it is great for absorbing oils and greasy messes. It also lifts stains when mixed with a bit of water to make a paste. It cleans effectively when diluted in hot water (about 1/4 cup per gallon of water), but leaves a residue behind that has to be cleaned or rinsed.

That’s my list. These are the ONLY products I use that my birds might have ANY contact with wherever they might be.

[x]

there’s also this company which was recommended by cockatielcove a little while ago. I’ve never used it and can not vouch for their safety and chemical uses so you may want to send them an ask if you’re interested in that!

- Courtney (thepacificparrotlet)

28 9 / 2014

Anonymous said: Hi, okay so my budgie eats fruit and vegetables quite happily, but she always ends up really dirty and her break is smeared and coated in food? I've tried giving her a wash but she seems to fly away, any ideas?

Don’t force your bird to bath, this seems to be a common budgie problem, getting covered in veggies. If you force her to bathe you could induce a fear of water, stress her out, and start up unnecessary plucking.

There’s not really a whole lot you can do, the bird should preen off what they can, some face feathers might stain but you can’t really stop that.

You could give your bird a towel to chew on which might help to rub some food off of her feathers, anything on the beak should eventually just flake off when she scratches so you shouldn’t worry about that unless the food obstructs the nares.  If the food is obstructing the nares just restrain her and use some tweezers to carefully remove the food or take her to a vet to have her nares cleared out.

Otherwise you can try presenting the food in different ways. Use toys to hide food in so she isn’t standing in them and shoving her face on them.  You could also serve the food differently, dry solid pieces, frozen cubes and things like that.  You can also change what you serve, stay away from the mushy foods if you really need to but really I don’t see much reason to.

As long as your budgie is happy, healthy, and eating those veggies! The only real reason for you to change anything is if she tries to rip her feathers out because there’s food on them in which case you wait until the food dries and pick it off for her.

Anyone else have ideas?

- Courtney (thepacificparrotlet)

28 9 / 2014

Anonymous said: I was wondering if it's safe to buy toys and cages from bird fairs. A friend told me not to buy the birds since they usually have health issues, but what about the cages and toys?

I would make sure to disinfect them before hand with vinegar and water or a *super* diluted bleach and water mix.  Rinse off really well and leave to dry for a few days before giving it to your bird but otherwise it should be fine.

I’ve purchased natural wood perches and a variety of toys from bird marts with absolutely no ill effects from them, just be sure to wash them thoroughly beforehand.  Typically the toys will be away from any birds being sold and should never have contacted the birds so they should be fine anyways but you definitely do not want to risk contracting any airborn illnesses.  So just wash them off really well to be on the safe side and it will be fine!

- Courtney (thepacificparrotlet)

28 9 / 2014

nameriasaur said: I just received the best news of my life! My parents will get me a cockatiel in December! I decided to get a pretty young male 'tiel. It'll be my first time owning a male. So, any tips you can share with me about male tiels?

Hi,

Cockatiels are great first birds and make excellent companions. It’s very important to do your research beforehand. Some key things to know:

—Diet; getting birds on healthy, balanced diets is hugely important. Cockatiels are often raised on seed and can be tough to convince. Get your bird started on healthy foods like pellets/nutriberries, fruits/veggies, healthy grains and nuts, etc. 

—Healthcare; you should locate an avian veterinarian before you get the bird. Talk to them beforehand and let them know you’re going to be getting a bird soon. You may even want to schedule a new bird exam (I recommend doing this as soon as possible after getting the bird). Also read up on signs of illness in birds. 

—Household hazards; research info on heavy metal toxicity, poisonous plants, etc. 

Male ‘tiels tend to get VERY attached to their people, so take care to socialize them properly with lots of different people. 

Other admins, thoughts?

—Lucy (bootywraith)

28 9 / 2014

hakayla-matata said: I'd really like to be able to get my cockatiel a friend but I'm not sure how to go about it. The last time we tried introducing her to my friends baby lovebird she just ran away and if he came close to sus her out she would try bite and hiss at him. So I'm worried she won't like any other birds. Also I don't really want her breeding so I thought going with a different breed would be best but what do you think?

Hi,

So mixing birds of different species is not always a good idea. Lovebirds are, in many cases, not friendly to other birds and can be aggressive. Budgies are often more assertive than cockatiels and can/will harass them. In some cases mixed-species situations work (sun and jenday conures mix in the wild, but they are quite closely related), but in captivity, I always recommend extreme caution. It’s not like having a German shepherd and Scottish terrier in the same house, every different type of bird is an entire different species. 

You can always go with another female cockatiel. Hens can generally be housed together, but I urge caution and slow, careful, supervised introductions. I also highly recommend quarantining ANY new bird for several weeks (3-6) before allowing them to interact with your other bird; birds are masters at hiding illness and you never know what a new bird can bring into your flock. New birds should also see an avian vet to test for psittacosis and other diseases, ESPECIALLY if they come from a pet store. 

Not all male/female pairs will breed, but it’s definitely a risk if you go with a male cockatiel. I definitely don’t recommend keeping two different species in the same enclosure, ever. In the same house is OK, but not in the same cage, and as always BE CAREFUL. Supervise.

As always, I recommend looking into rescues. They can often tell you more about an individual bird, and birds that come through rescues are more likely to have been to a vet. There are lots of female AND male ‘tiels looking for loving families, and because they’re smaller birds, rescues often ask for minimal adoption fees (sometimes as much as you care to donate).

—Lucy (bootywraith)

28 9 / 2014

Anonymous said: What is the female cockatiel's egg lying cycle and how can I prevent them from laying? I'm scared of getting one due to the possibility of egg binding. What's life with a female cockatiel? Will get a baby tiel soon and I need to make a decision.

Hi,

Egg-binding is a scary thing, to be sure. If caught early, this serious medical condition can be treated successfully by an avian veterinarian. That being said, it’s the kind of emergency that’s easier to prevent than treat. 

Cockatiels become sexually mature between 6 and 12 months of age. When they lay eggs, they can lay 3-8, but I’ve seen as few as two and the average tends to be five. Birds will often lay one egg, wait a day, then lay another (so an egg should, theoretically, be produced every other day until they are done laying). Not all female ‘tiels will lay eggs, but the species is known for having issues with chronic egg-laying. 

Again, prevention is the best course of action. Don’t put anything in the hen’s cage that resembles a nest; fabric tents, logs they can burrow into, etc, all remind them of nest boxes. Take care if you allow them to roam in the house, too… they will naturally seek out small, dark places for nests. A female without a male may still want to lay eggs, but having a male present will obviously make breeding behavior more likely. 

Hormonal fluctuations are a normal part of avian life. As the seasons change, so too do our birds’ hormones. Spring and Fall are the prime “sexy” seasons, and my understanding is that ‘tiels tend to be more hormonal in the fall (I could be wrong on this). Be on the lookout for hormonal behavior. A female ‘tiel who wants to breed will make a weird chirping sound and raise her rump to the object of her affection. Some birds, even females, may masturbate (yep, birdies do it too). Below is a link to a video showing a female who’s asking for lovin’: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhp0CgCNLps

Take care also when petting your ‘tiel. Head scritches are fine if your bird will allow them, but rubbing/petting along the belly and back can stimulate breeding instincts (these areas are where sex organs are located). 

It’s possible to detect when a female is getting ready to lay, too. She will probably lose weight, as calcium from her bones is getting resorbed to put into the egg shells (this is why it’s vital for breeding birds to have extra calcium, and hens in general should always have a source of calcium available just in case). Her pelvis may widen as she prepares to expel the egg. These are things an avian veterinarian can detect via simple means; weighing and physical examination/palpation. If you suspect your hen is getting hormonal, it may be a good idea to have her examined, just in case. 

Lastly, while egg-binding is a medical emergency, birds do recover. Prevention is hugely important, as is fast detection. If you suspect your bird is egg bound, get them to a vet. I can’t emphasize this enough. 

Owning a female ‘tiel doesn’t have to be scary if you pay close attention to them. I fostered a hen and I highly recommend them; they’re sweet, loving little birds and you shouldn’t let fear of what might happen prevent you from getting one. It’s important to be aware, of course, but being aware is different than being afraid. 

If you are willing to consider a rescue bird, many reputable rescues can tell you if an adoptable hen has a history of egg-binding issues, as well as other health problems. 

Resources:

-http://www.cockatielcottage.net/binding.html — all about egg binding in ‘tiels

-http://www.lafebervet.com/avian-medicine-list/basic-information-sheets-for-the-cockatiel-2/ — basic info about the cockatiel

-http://lafeber.com/pet-birds/pet-bird-respiratory-infections-hormones/ — an article about fall hormones and other things by an excellent avian vet

-http://aav.site-ym.com/search/custom.asp?id=1803 — Find an AAV (association of avian veterinarians) vet near you!

—Lucy (bootywraith)

28 9 / 2014

glitchbunny:

kevinthegalah:

Bird lovers — does anyone have any tips on relocating a bird to a new home? We have bought a flat and I’m hoping to make the transition as smooth as possible for Kev. Please send me a message if you have any ideas…. really appreciate it :)

cc: sydneyandzoe, indianathegalah

I’d ask
askbirdbloggers
? They’ve talked about moving birds before.

check out this previous ask and feel free to shoot us any other questions!

- Courtney

27 9 / 2014

Anonymous said: Wait, if cockatiels are small, what is large O_o

Cockatoos, Macaws, and Eclectuses!

Toy sizing can range quite greatly, my parrotlets have some toys which are meant for large birds.  Some medium parrots do well with large toys as well and some conures can handle medium sized toys.

The real main dividing for toys is that you don’t want to be buying a large bird a small toy, too many small easily digestible parts!  It would not be too much of a concern it you were to buy a small bird a big bird toy in most cases.

- Courtney

27 9 / 2014

Anonymous said: For bird toys, would a Cockatiel be considered Medium size?

Small size!  Medium is usually for parrots such as African greys, amazons, and Pionus

26 9 / 2014

Anonymous said: I have been wanting a budgie for awhile and my dad finally said yes but he also refused to let me keep my bird in my room because of the carpet. He said it would make too much of a mess and kick seed everywhere. Is he right about that or is there something I can show him to let him know it's ok for my bird to be in my room? (English is not my first language, apologies)

I personally would not keep a bird in your room for other reasons than just carpet.  

My bird room is carpeted which keeps the seed mess from travelling in to other areas of the house, it gets vacuumed daily and so far I have not had any issues with birds and carpet. There’s all sorts of cage covers and preventative measures you can use, the only issue I’ve really had is fruit stains (I built a box to stop them from flinging the fresh foods everywhere so that is no longer a problem!).

The things I would be concerned about are related to you and your bird’s health. 

Many birds are prone to something called night terrors, it’s like when you wake up from a nightmare in a panic only it’s caused by a bird being in a perfectly silent room then hearing a sudden, unexpected noise.  If the bird was sleeping in your room, you roll over or knock something off of your nightstand you may cause the bird to panic and seriously hurt itself.  

The other concern would be breathing in that bird dust all night, avians produce a lot of dust which is not good for our lungs. Something called “bird keeper’s lung” or “bird fancier’s lung” can come from breathing in too much poop and dust, our lungs can become inflamed making us ill and in serious cases can kill us.

(just to prevent a wide panic: this is not a super common problem, if you keep the cages clean, well-ventilate rooms, and bathe the birds frequently this is not much of a problem but if you sleep with the bird cage in your room the risk is a bit higher)

If you had a nice quiet, non-social room of the house that would be a great place to start!  It’s better anyways, the bird needs to be with all the different people in your home to prevent them from starting up one-personish behaviours, if they’re in your room all day seeing nothing but you the bird could develop aggression problems.

- Courtney (thepacificparrotlet)

26 9 / 2014

kaijutegu said: I've got a friend whose 'tiel flew out the front door and is now in a tree. I'm trying to help, and wondered if you had any advice. So far he's tried taking the other 'tiel outside in a cage and calling to him, offering food, putting a ladder about halfway up the tree, and leaving the cage outside. The problem is that it's a tall tree (about 40 feet) and there's no good angle for the bird to see him (too many branches). The bird's been there for about 4 hours and it's getting dark- any tips?

http://askbirdbloggers.tumblr.com/post/90542956164/thepacificparrotlet-not-mine-this-is-an

^ all of that is my extent of knowledge for this

make sure you stand somewhere the ‘tiel can see you and it’s flock mate and keep trying.  Notify the neighbours to leave bird feeders out and see if you can’t coax him down that way.  If you throw a scary ladder in to the tree you may frighten him away, if there are things he responds to, music he dances to or anything try playing that to help him calm down.

- Courtney (thepacificparrotlet)

25 9 / 2014

odddogblog said: This will be the 2nd winter living in my new apt with my senior cockatiel, the house is drafty and poorly insulated, in a few months indoor temps will hover around 64-68 F. On cold nights I'd set up a hospital box with a towel/heating pad below it & monitor with a thermometer in the box. I'd like to get full-spectrum lighting for her during the day, do those have a heating element? And I can't have lights on at night, are there other options for keeping her warm day&night?

Hi,

I recommend getting a heated perch for the cage; I use one for my bird and it’s safe. 

—Lucy (bootywraith)

25 9 / 2014

Anonymous said: Two of my parakeets have bonded to each other. They go so far as to fly away from us to try and find each other. Is there anything I can do to unbond them?

You have to teach them that socializing with you is worth it, that there is something you can bring to this flock.

If you take the time to separate them for in-cage training there’s a few things you can try.

You could try sticking millet through the bars and sitting by the millet so the bird gets used to you. Slowly move closer over a few weeks and introduce your hand gradually until you can be touching the millet without the bird running away.  You can then use that to gain the bird’s trust by getting it to walk towards you for millet or opening the cage door and getting the bird to want to be near you because you bring positivity and food.

You can also use in-cage target training to have a similar process occur.  This tends to work better because the bird is driven to do an action and is working for approval rather than working based on how hungry it is but both techniques can be used.

If you try to train with both birds in a cage at the same time they will continue to run away, they have each-other, they’re both scared and have no need for you.  When you separate them for training they won’t be focused on the energy of the other bird and will make decisions based on their own responses.

It will take quite a while for two bonded birds to see purpose in human contact, it may take months but it will work eventually if you stay focused and take it slow.

- Courtney (thepacificparrotlet)

24 9 / 2014

Anonymous said: Nail trimmed cockatiel again can we get a run down on the nail filing for birds? I have anxiety and I wanna take the edge off both of us.

I file my birds’ nails every other day to keep them maintained and to lower the stress levels, the more they experience it the more comfortable they will be with it.

I started off teaching basic tricks so they understood that doing an action got them a reward, I taught tricks which involved their feet (wave, shake) so they would also be comfortable with the idea of my manipulating their feet. 

then a basic breakdown of training nail filing went like this, rewarding after each step:

  • I offer a ‘step-up’ finger, she gives me one foot
  • gives me foot for longer period of time
  • gives me foot until I give the cue to stop (pulling my hand away slowly) (you teach that by getting the concept of giving you a foot down and then only rewarding once you remove your hand)
  • lets me touch toe
  • touch multiple toes
  • touch back toe
  • touch all back toes
  • (same as previous 4 steps) but for longer periods of time until the bird is comfortable with me doing it
  • lets me gently hold a toe (repeat for all 4 toes)
  • lets me hold toe for longer time 
  • lets me hold toe without discomfort
  • Here I start playing with the toes, moving them around lightly and running my finger across the nail to simulate a nail file until the bird is comfortable with that
  • introduce nail file
  • bird will let me hold nail file near it
  • lets me hold foot and nail file
  • lets me move closer with file
  • lets me touch foot with file
  • lets me hold toes with file
  • lets me run across nails with file

It’s a lot of tiny steps and you need to take it really slow.  Make sure the bird is 100% comfortable before moving on and always give loads of rewards after each step.  I usually file one toe, if she shows discomfort I will stop and reward her for doing a good job then start again once she is relaxed again.  I always reward after doing each toe, talk to her calmly and make it a fun experience.

Be really careful with the toes, don’t twist them or add pressure it’s not necessary and can hurt the toes.  While learning this you may want to get half-sanded or cement perches to help keep the nails trimmed while you teach this concept as to limit the amount of nail cutting that is needed.

Don’t do this all at once, no more than 15 minutes (I wouldn’t do more than 5-10 since this is comfort based training) and have no more than 3 sessions a day. Take your time and keep training a fun, safe place.

This may not work for everyone, not all birds like having their feet held let alone a metal object running across their toes.  Make sure your bird is fully comfortable with what you are doing, don’t force them.

- Courtney (thepacificparrotlet)