Monday, October 14, 2013

Psittacosis 101: What Parrot Owners Should Know

Also known as parrot fever, psittacosis is a dangerous infectious disease that's commonly carried by parrots and birds. Owners must watch over their parrot to identify signs of this psittacosis, as it can lead to death if left untreated. Whether you own a large Amazon Parrot or a small budgie, all species are susceptible to this contagious disease. The good news, however, is that owners can take certain preventive measures to help reduce the chance of psittacosis.

Symptoms of Psittacosis In Parrots

  • Lack of appetite

  • Watery stool

  • Ruffled feathers

  • Desire to pluck feathers

  • Eye discharge

  • Nasal discharge

  • Inflammation around the eyes

How To Reduce The Chance of Psittacosis In Parrots

So, what steps you can take as an owner to reduce the chance of psittacosis in your parrot? Like all viral diseases, parrots must contract it from an already infected parrot; therefore, it's best to keep your parrot at home and avoid any unnecessary contact with other parrots or birds. Some owners take their parrots practically everywhere with them -- including the pet store, park, running errands, etc. Unfortunately, this type of behavior only 'ups' your parrot's risk of catching psittacosis from an infected parrot.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), owners should "Never expose your bird to other birds that have not been tested for Psittacosis and quarantined for 45 days. It is
especially important to avoid contact with pigeons and other wild birds." In addition, they also advise owners against taking their pet parrots to the pet store for nail trimming, wing clipping and other grooming practices. If you need to groom your parrot (which your should on occasion), take them to an avian veterinarian to have the procedures done. Chances are they have a cleaner, more sanitary office which reduces the risk of infection.

Psittacosis Treatment Options

If you believe your parrot is suffering from psittacosis, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately. Leaving this disease untreated can lead to devastating and potentially life-threatening consequences. Thankfully, veterinarians are typically able to treat it through a course of strong antibiotics, delivered either through drops in your parrot's water or under-the-skin injections. Depending on the severity of the disease, it usually takes a couple of weeks to clear up.

Note: psittacosis is contagious to humans. Symptoms include pneumonia, excess mucus productive, weakness, cough, headache and coma in rare cases. Psittacosis is transmitted to humans through contact with an infected parrot's fecal matter and/or mucus.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How To Tame an Aggressive Parrot

Allowing your parrot to exhibit aggressive behavior is bad for a number of a different reasons. For starters, it increases the chance of you or a family member being bitten by your parrot. Depending on the size and species, a bite from a parrot can leave behind a nasty wound that's open to infection. But aggression is also a sign that something isn't right with your parrot's currently living environment, and allowing it to remain untreated will likely result in psychological problems later down the road. Thankfully, you can tame even the most aggressive parrot with a little bit of work and patience.

Why Is My Parrot Aggressive?

In order to tame your parrot, you must first identify the cause of their aggression. While there are numerous possible causes, one of the most common is a lack of social interaction. Parrots cooped up in pet shops are oftentimes given very little social interaction with humans; therefore, they develop an instinctual level of aggression as a mechanism for protection. Owners oftentimes assume their parrots will grow out of this stage, but it usually take some training and work to break down this barrier.

Another common cause of aggression is poor stimulation. If you leave your parrot locked up in their cage all day long with no toys, music or other stimuli, they exhibit signs of aggression. When parrots have no way to release their built-up energy, they will lash out in aggression to anyone around the,. All pet parrots should be given a handful of toys to keep them occupied during the day.

Aggression Training Tips:

  • Take your parrot out of their cage for 20-30 minutes each day.

  • Talk to your parrot on a daily basis. Even if it's just a subtle "hello," talking to your parrot will make them feel more secure.

  • Clean your parrot's cage on a regular basis. Some parrots may develop aggression due to a dirty cage.

  • Watch closely for signs of aggression in your parrot. If he or she backs into the corner of their cage, don't force your hands on them.

  • Use slow, gently motions when you pet your parrot.

  • Use a water-filled spray bottle to discipline your parrot for biting.
Following the tips listed above should help you tame your aggressive parrot. Just remember to be persistent with your training efforts and don't give up after the first few days. It may take several weeks or even months before your parrot is fully tamed.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD) In Parrots

Formerly known as macaw wasting syndrome, Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD) is a potentially fatal disease which can affect any species of parrot. As a parrot owner, it's important to know and understand the symptoms of PDD. Only then will you be able to provide care for your parrot in the event they contract this dangerous disease. For more information on PDD, keep reading.

PDD was first discovered in 1978 by esteemed bird veterinarian Dr. Hannis L. Stoddard. At the time, the cause of PDD was believed to be from an infectious organism or parasite. In 2008, however, University of California researchers identified the Avian Bornovirus (ABV), which they now believe to be the cause of PDD. If a parrot contracts ABV, unfortunately there's a good chance they will develop PDD.

Although veterinarians and researchers have identified PDD in over 50 different parrot species, some species are more susceptible to this disease than others. Amazon parrots, Macaws, African Greys, cockatoos, Eclectus parrots and conures are at a greater risk for developing PDD. In addition, parrots are more susceptible to PDD between the ages of 2 and 4 years of age.

PDD affects parrots in a few different ways, one of which is an intestinal disorder. Parrots suffering from PDD may stop eating, spit up their food, experience irregular bowel movements, and have exceptionally watery poop. PDD is known to gradually damage the host's intestinal lining, creating a wide variety of unpleasant symptoms for the parrot. Also, some parrots may experience neurological problems associated with PDD as well, such as lethargy, behavioral changes, etc.

Diagnosis of PDD is done through radiographs and tissue samples. If you believe your parrot is suffering from PDD, take them to an avian veterinarian who's familiar with PDD. A radiograph is generally the preferred method of diagnosis simply because it's less invasive than a tissue sample. The Avian Bornovirus, which is now believed to cause PDD, can be identified through fecal and blood tests. Several veterinarians are now testing for the Avian Bornovirus to help diagnose PDD in parrots; however, it's important to note that the presence of the Avian Bornovirus is not a clear indication as to whether or not they parrot is suffering from PDD.

Unfortunately, there's currently no cure for PDD. By identifying the disease early, though, owners and their veterinarians can treat some of the unpleasant symptoms associated with this disease. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, talk with your veterinarian for a more professional and thorough investigation.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Endangered Puerto Rican Parrot Rebounds With Strong Numbers

The populations of endangered parrot species has been on the decline in recent years. Scientists believe this is the result of several different factors, including the destruction of rainforests, increased predatory animals, and the formation of new avian diseases. But there's good news in the midst of this turmoil: one of the world's most endangered parrots -- native to Puerto Rico -- is seeing a strong comeback.

The Puerto Rican Parrot

Not long ago, the number of these parrots fell to just 13, placing them on the brink of extinction. Scientists have dubbed this colorful and intelligent species of Amazon parrots as the "Puerto Rican parrot," which is the perfect namesake since they are the island nation's one and only parrot. Like other Amazon parrots, Puerto Rican parrots are medium-sized birds that possess colorful plumage.

Conservation Efforts

Thanks to headstrong conservation efforts by the local government, the Puerto Rican parrot is seeing strong numbers once again. Although they are still being closely monitored to ensure their population doesn't drop, there are an estimated 400 Puerto Rican parrots living on the island nation. Scientists recently discovered a huge nest consisting of dozens of Puerto Rican parrot eggs in the Rio Abajo Nature Preserve. "This is a huge step. It shows the population can sustain itself," said researcher Gustavo Olivieri.

Over 50 Puerto Rican parrots were born in captivity this year, which is a record amount for the endangered species. Scientists plan to have more than 100 in captivity by the end of the year, allowing them to closely monitor their behavior, health and any other issues that may arise. Researchers close to the project have already released some of these specimens back into the wild with GPS tracking devices, allowing them to see exactly where they go.

It's estimated that over 1 million Puerto Rican parrots inhabited the island during the early 1800s. However, once this land was colonized, over 90% of their habitat was wiped clean, forcing them on the brink of extinction. Their numbers continued to dwindle over the years until there were only a shocking 13 left in 1975. Scientists took notice of the Puerto Rican parrots shockingly low numbers and began conservation efforts to bring the population numbers back into the green. A new program as founded in the 70s to breed Puerto Rican parrots and release them into the wild. Although their numbers are still considered low, the Puerto Rican parrot is seeing a strong rebound that's sure to grow in the years to come.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Rare Australian Parrot Spotted

Pezoporus occidentalis, or what's more commonly referred to as the "night parrot," is an endangered desert-dwelling bird that no one has seen in the wild over a century. However, John Young, an avid Australian birdwatcher, claims to have seen and even photographed this elusive parrot.

If Young's claims are true, this would be the first definitive proof that the night parrot is still alive and inhabiting the lands of Australia. Up until now, scientists were fearful that it may have gone extinct since. Other birdwatchers have recorded calls of the night parrot and even found a couple dead specimens in the wild several decades ago, but no one has seen a live one in over a hundred years. This latest development, should it turn out to be true, is huge news for bird watchers and environmentalists from all over the world.

The night parrot is a relatively small species with colorful yellow and green plumage with several brown spots throughout. It certainly lives up to its namesake by hiding in thick grass during the daytime and coming out to feed at night. Because of its innate nocturnal characteristics and dangerously low population numbers, few people have witnessed the night parrot in the wild.

So, why has the night parrot's population declined to such abysmal numbers? Researchers believe its the direct result of increased predator numbers along with a decrease in their natural habitat. Feral cats, foxes and dingos are all predators that see the night parrot as a meal. Another reason why their numbers have declined is simply because of their nocturnal characteristics. By coming out at night, they are placing themselves at risk for getting scooped up by a predator.

John Young claims to have both photographs and video of the night parrot after his recent encounter. After capturing this highly elusive bird on tape, he took the recordings to the Queensland Museum for verification. I know some people are probably upset that he didn't first post the video online, but this is step is necessary to verify the authenticity of the bird. Researchers at the Queensland Museum will carefully inspect the video to determine if Young did in fact see a night parrot.

Young refused to reveal the night parrot's location out of fear that someone would try to harm it. "I think the worst thing we can do at the moment is to let too many people anywhere near it," said Young.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Top 3 Parrots For Apartment Living

Some people automatically assume that parrots are a poor choice of pet for apartment living. After all, these highly social animals love to sing and dance, which could anger some of the nearby tenants. While certain parrots do in fact make a fair amount of noise, there are other species that are quieter and more docile. If you're looking for an apartment-friendly parrot, check out some of the suggestions listed below.

Let me first start off by stressing the importance of providing your parrot with a healthy living environment. If you don't provide your feathered friend with everything they need to grow and remain healthy, they may either lash out in aggression or screech loudly using their vocal abilities. You probably don't want either one of these things happening, especially if you live in an apartment.


Parakeets are a wonderful choice for apartment living. These medium-sized birds are both affectionate and quite. The term "parakeet" actually refers to a broad range of different parrots, but the "Budgie" is the most widely known. It features soft green feathers with hunts of yellow, dark blue and black. Budgies make wonderful pet parrots for apartment living.


Cockatiels are another highly popular choice for apartment living. These brilliant-colored show birds love to dance, play and sing, but they are surprisingly quite compared to most other parrot species. While cockatiels enjoy singing in their cage, they do it soft enough so that it's really difficult to hear from far away. As long as your cockatiel is tucked inside, their singing shouldn't disturb your neighbors. Cockatiels can live up to 20 years in captivity, but only if their nutritional needs are properly met. Feed your pet cockatiel a diet consisting of either a brand-name seed or pellet mix along with fresh fruits and veggies.

Pinous Parrot

Of course, some apartment dwellers will probably want a larger parrot than a cockatiel or parakeet. Unfortunately, most larger parrots are naturally more vocal, making them poor choices for apartments. Before you go throwing in the towel, though, you should check out a pinous parrot. They aren't quite as large as macaws or African Greys, but pinous parrots are still relatively big compared to cockatiels and parakeets. These parrots possess an arrangement of multicolored feathers along with a large, prominent beak. In addition to their docile nature, pinous parrots are also incredibly quite and make minimal noise. The bottom line is that these make excellent pet parrots for apartment living.