Random Bits of Projects

September 6, 2008

Birds: My Parrotlet!

Last updated September 12, 2008. More pictures added.

I am owned by a parrotet (and cats). His name is Bucky. If you are unfamiliar with parrotlets you are missing out. Generally I do not recommend birds to most people because they are deceptively high maintenance and the novelty can wear off fast. Having said that, if you are wanting a parrot type bird but cannot have a large one and can have the guy out for at least an hour (or more!) a day, then you may want to study up on parrotlest. They give you much of what a large parrot gives you but in a small package and they are a little more forgiving. You will not have the noise and destruction that goes along with large birds. They are not a bird to keep in a cage like a canary and watch, which unfortunately that often happens because of their size or they are not given the time needed to bond (get a well handled young one from a breeder). Get them out like the parrot they are and have fun!

Like any bird, it takes time to build a relationship but they will bond very close to you. Start out with the wings clipped (the feathers, not the wings-ask your vet or breeder) and let them explore outside of the cage itself. Come home and prop the door open and let them come out. They can be territorial when you have your hand in the cage but otherwise they are very friendly (do not mistake biting with trying to grab your finger to get on). Put plenty of toys inside and outside of the cage (toys are a must). Talk and whistle a lot to the guy. Handle him as much as possible but do not let him get away with murder. Keep in mind initially the bird has to learn how hard he can grab you, much like a puppy has to learn. Eventually you will learn each other’s boundaries. Get a book on dealing with parrots for the full explanation. I do not want to post in full detail on caring for a parrot right now.

Get a bird from a breeder where you can see that birds are handled a lot. A pet shop or a mass breeder for petshops will crank these guys out without care for inbreeding or whatnot. They will not give individual care for each bird either that will start them off bonding with you. For any bird, really look at the breeder and their set up. Bird fairs are a wonderful place for handling your bird first and to get a wonderful price. I shun pet shops for most birds. Either they cost more than you really need to pay or they are just cranked out and not handled. They also go through a lot of trauma being shipped in bulk and then pestered by customers. Pick up a parrot magazine and find the nearest bird fair or breeder near you listed at the back. Some are better than others but you will see.

Parrotlets have much of the spunk of a large parrot with some of the convienience of a small bird. Less expensive and you do not have to Will the bird to next of kin since they live only around 20 years (not that I want my buddy to die soon, but it is nice to know he will not have to be abandoned after I die). But if your ego cannot handle a small bird, look for something else.

Unlike the bigger parrots, they will not hold things with their feet. They are quieter in comparision as well. They talk but not as well or as often. They are likely to be shy around  strangers and you cannot take them places. They also cannot defend themselves against non-bird pets (cats get along better with them than with dogs in general-more in another post)

In this picture, Bucky is looking in the bathroom mirror before he joines me in a shower (nothing kinky). The perch is a suction cup hangar often used for small plants or small birdfeeders. Makes a great perch from a mirror or bathroom tile, etc.

The males apparently are more likely to bond with only one or two people while the females may be more outgoing. They are a hoot to watch. They will get into anything you do and they will come to want to be constantly with you whether you like it or not.

Now about MY bird. Bucky!

I got him at a bird fair that was held near here. There was a semi-local breeder selling her babies. She only breeds enough that she can hand feed them as babies and get them used to being handled. The decision was still very hard. They are such happy things to watch.  My husband found one that was really curious about him and clinged to the cage side to check him out. We decided that was a good start. After the breeder took him out (wings already clipped) and handled him (he knew her, not us) we were convinced this was our guy. Well, mine. I was the one wanting a bird. My cockatiel (fantastic birds) died about 4 years ago by  and I was still missing him. My husband already had a conure bonded to him. Someday we will get a cockatoo or a grey if we feel we can put the time in for them. I tend to also get male birds because the females will lay eggs regardless of whether she has mated or not and complications can arise. Paranoia.

He stayed wing clipped for over a year.  He loves to stay on my shoulder, hang upside down for kisses, and play other games I made up. He also loves to throw little balls and get swung around on my hand. Starting out with wings clipped established his cage as home base. I have a play gymn on top of his cage that he can go to when he wants. Plenty of toys inside the cage for when he is locked up. When I am home, the cage is always open.

Eventually I let him learn to fly since he is not a type of bird you take publicly. His personality blossomed more. Note: you must bird proof your house if you do this. NO ceileing fans can run, etc. There are sacrifices! Find out more before you free-flight your birds. He had a few scary crashes before he got the hang of turning. After that he was not a bad flyer. Now, though, you are at his mercy when he wants to be with you. If you find it annoying to have a bird invade your space-all the time, then do not do this. You have to come up with compromises. He is not human and does not understand that you (his mate) does not want him in every thing you do, so be gentle. It really can get annoying but other times it is amazing. Poop? Well some. Because he knows his cage by now is his home, he tends to go there mostly. Other favorite places we have established as home base has a towel under it. But since he prefers me or the cage and one other spot, poo is not too much of a problem. And it does clean up well when it dries.

During showers he will fly right into the bathroom and take up residence on the shower rod or a perch I have suctioned to the wall. I dribble water from my finger tips over his head for him to drink (mind you this is two years later). Sometimes he even bathes with me (no soap). That is a riot of wet flapping wings. When brushing my teeth he will go down and drink from my palm when I am trying to rinse.

He also thinks he has to have some of your food. This is messy and often discouraged. He LOVES coffee (not great for them-moderation), and pop tarts (how my husband won him over). When he drinks coffee he sits on the side of the mug and dips down. His butt will be sticking up in the air out of the mug if the coffee is low. They do not have much for spit so you are not swapping anything gross. Just be sure the feet are clean. We have various games with his toys or he just with rides on my hand, arm, shoulder, butt… They do get clingy.

Free-flight has really increased his personality but be careful, accidents happen no matter how careful you are. One day I was very tired after work and went outside for something. I forgot he was on my shoulder. Easy to do since they are so light. He startled and off he went. All I could do was watch him fly away. It was awful. Rarely do you get your little birds back when this happens and I knew it while I watched him go. I knew better, yet it happened.

Lucky it was near sunset. They do not move around much after it gets dim. So we figured wherever he landed, he stayed. My husband and I got up at sunrise (not morning people mind you) the next day and scoured the neighborhood calling for him. We had toys we jangled, I waved a coffee cup (really loves coffee), and Mike had pop tarts he would wave around. I am sure the neighbors plan to shun us after this.

He is green and small. The leaves are green and small. We were about to give up. Finally I heard a commotion of chickadees nearby and decided to check it out. The neighborhood chickadees had found him and were surrounding him, making a fuss. I saw the chickadees and finally could make him out in the middle of the gaggle. He blended so well with the leaves. He was trying to mimic the chickadees which got them even more riled up. Great fun! He was about two blocks from where we thought he might be. He was at the top of a tree having a great time. We spent another two hours calling to him and trying to get him down. Oh, he chirped right back at us, glad we could join him. Surely we were there to join in on the fun! I was about to give up hope-again. Any bird that went by (the chickadees moved on by now) he had to make noises at. Oh! Lets chew on the branch he is sitting on. Are the humans still down there? Hello! Wheeee!!!!!

Ugh. Two hours of that.

Until one of the things I feared finally happened. Blue jays. Now mind you, I really like blue jays. They can be mean but they are fascinating for reasons I will not go on about here. But right now they were doing what I was afraid they might do. Attack Bucky. I have seen them rip birds his size in half. Two came at him in full force. Amazingly, Bucky had the sense to get out of there. We are running and trying to follow below (still with the bells and coffee cup-pop tart eaten by Mike). Several near-hits later and Bucky finally hangs upside down by one foot from the end of a branch. This is not normal for local birds so this confused the blue jays. The blue jays looked at us, then at Bucky upside down, and then backed off for a bit.

Now Bucky is not having fun. He makes several attempts to fly down to us and finally lands on my head. I slooooly reach up and then snag his ass. I nearly crush him against my chest and dropped everything else. I ran for home before I lose him. Poor Mike is following. I get him into the cage and cry with relief. Stupid bird. Wonderful Mike. He is the one who insisted I not give up and try that morning.

I thought I would trim his wings after that. I should. I really should. But now he has so many routines that depend on his flying that I just do not have the heart. He has no interest so far in going near the door now but we have a more rigid routine where we check our shoulders for birds and locate where he is before going outside. I know someday this may happen again. I do not know yet what I will do as far as trimming his wings. Free-flighting has so many advantages and several huge disadvantages. Think hard before doing it. Once you do it, it is unfair to the bird to take it back. But it is a wonderful experience.

Eventually I hope to go into more detail about the games that Bucky and I like to do. But I am out of steam. I will talk about birds and cats later. It is possible in some cases. Dogs, so far bad luck. Nothing against dogs. Just bad luck with birds. I also have pictures of him eating pop tarts. My desktop computer crashed for the final time (DELL) so I will post those when I can get to them again.

If you have questions or comments, please post your comments. I am always checking.

Also, if you have your own parrotlet adventures to share, comment!

 

Thanks for reading,

–Amy

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7 Comments »

  1. Awesome 🙂 I’m getting a Parrotlet soon, and found your blog and bookmarked it 🙂

    Comment by Becky — May 23, 2009 @ 12:06 am | Reply

    • Neat!! You will love him/her! Let me know. 🙂

      Comment by virtuallyamy — May 23, 2009 @ 9:32 am | Reply

      • I have my boy, now. 🙂 I’ll post pictures over at my blog, soon. I need to switch lenses on my camera to be able to focus on him (HE’S SOOOO SMALL!!!) and he’s still a little scruffy. 🙂

        I seriously had no idea how small they were. I had never seen a Parrotlet in person, only researched them for months on end… the pictures just didn’t do them proper justice. They need to put them beside a quarter or a ruler or something!!

        Comment by Becky — July 8, 2009 @ 11:55 pm | Reply

        • I am so excited!! Please keep me posted on your little guy!! Your relationship with him will evolve into something really great. Mine has become way more than I ever expected!
          Ha! Too funny on the size. Good point. I will try to take a picture with something to give an idea on how big they are (not). They have so much personality packed into that little body, I tend to forget about that. Unfortunately, it is misleading to people who do not research them first and they often end up as strictly cage birds since they look like they are. But these little guys are parrots all the way. Mind of their own…ha.

          Comment by virtuallyamy — July 9, 2009 @ 7:45 am | Reply

        • Oh yeah, what is the link to your blog so we can see your pictures?

          Comment by virtuallyamy — July 14, 2009 @ 11:09 pm | Reply

  2. I’m over at http://rebeck.wordpress.com
    If you click the Parrotlet tag you can see all his entries 🙂

    Comment by Becky — July 21, 2009 @ 8:48 pm | Reply

    • He is so adorable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Comment by virtuallyamy — July 22, 2009 @ 5:11 pm | Reply


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