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My feathered Friend
Member Name: lisa2062
Date: 03/05/06, updated on 03/05/06 (1139 review reads)
Advantages: loving, entertaining, and relatively cheap to keep.
Disadvantages: Can be very messy and noisy at times
Why choose this particular species?
I chose this particular parrot over all of the others as they're an easy to handle size for the first time parrot owner, they're slightly less noisy compared to others, due to having a living room of average size this species was perfect as I didn't need an over ally large cage, and finally the relatively cheap price of purchasing and keeping them. When purchasing any parrot I would strongly recommend obtaining them as a baby and preferably one that has been hand reared as new parrot owners will find it easier to handle and tame them.
What do I need to buy, and what is the cost?
Starting off with the obvious you need to acquire your feathered friend from a reputable pet shop or bird centre. When viewing the birds you should check for mites, any missing toes, the nostrils should be clear and dry; it should have an intelligent look and be interested in its environment. An unhealthy bird is likely to have its eyes closed and discharge coming from them as well as having dry and dull looking feathers which when slouched will have them puffed up.
When I chose Madison (named after a parrot in a children's television series a few years ago) after leaving the bird centre I took her straight to the vets to have her checked over and was happy that she was given a clean bill of health. My advice would be that if you spot an unhealthy bird or are distressed by its living conditions that report it to the R.S.P.B so that they can investigate. At the time of purchase back in July 2002 a 14 week old Madison cost me just under £200. This included the cage, 2 water bowls, a feeding bowl and a small bag of food. This price I believe is still pretty general today and I would advise to shop around first.
When it comes to purchasing a cage the minimum guidelines for size are that the height needs to be at least 2 inches of space when the adult bird is on its highest perch, and when on its lowest there should be at least the same amount below its tail feathers. Please note a cage any smaller than this for your bird will not only be cruel, but will affect the birds' health and may lead to death. My advice would be to buy the biggest cage that you have got room for and can afford, with a cage door for easy access for you and the bird. Your bird must have plenty of room to stretch its wings fully, so with regard to style I would recommend a rectangular shape that will provide length as this is more important than height. Cages can cost anything between £150 - £500 for this species.
You will also need to buy a cage cover which is large enough to block out all of the light so your bird can have the minimum requirement of 12 hours undisturbed sleep.
Other bits and bobs
Water bowls, a feeding bowl, perches (preferably natural ones of varying length and thickness to keep its talons trimmed) I usually place 2 bowls in Madison's cage, one for seed, and the other with a salad.
A variety of colorful and interesting toys is a must to keep your bird healthy, occupied and happy. It's important to choose toys appropriate for the size and species of your bird so as they won't get destroyed so easily and are not too small/big for your bird to handle. Madison almost has a huge toy box which includes bells, wooden ladders, swings, bricks, and even an abacus so that she can learn how to count (I'm expecting a call from MENSA any day now). Chewable toys are high on my priory list as it's important to keep her from chewing her feathers instead.
Prices do vary but can range from £2 - £30. Although toys are important to stimulate birds it's important to remember not to over crowd the cage, as space to flap their wings is just as important.
For the lining of the cage tray I personally use old newspapers, but sand sheets can also be purchased for this purpose.
On to the favorite part of Madison's day, feeding time. Madison's diet consists of a bowl of dried food which is mainly sunflower seeds, currents, dried fruit, chilies, and peanuts. She also has fresh fruit and veg daily. It's important to provide them with fruit as well as dry food to maintain a balanced diet,and after all this is what they'd have in the wild.
I personally change her food every day although some just blow the husks off and replenish, this to me is wrong as you don't know what nasties I.e. mites or droppings might be lurking amongst the food. I buy one 15kg of parrot mix food roughly every 3 months which costs me £15.
Are they easy to train?
As I purchased Madison at such a young age and started the training the day after I purchased her I haven't had too many problems in taming her. It's always important to remember that they're wild and therefore can be unpredictable. Having read many books on parrots in general there is one issue that is very highly debated and that is whether or not to get your parrots flight feathers trimmed. The so called advantages of this are that if you do have this done then they will be easier to handle. I however could not do this to my baby as I feel that she should be left as nature intended it. I admit that when training her it's frustrating when she flies off up onto the curtain tracking, but I'm able to get her day easily and so it's not a problem with her. If you're undecided as to what to do then have a talk with an avian vet who will advise you on this.
The basics of training is offering the bird food with the door open to tempt it to take it from you, and then eventually this will lead to you being able to get it to step up onto your hand so that you can show it round the rest of it's home. This is important as your parrot needs to know that its cage isn't a prison and that it has to share the home with you.
Having no experience of this as I don't keep an aviary of birds, I have done a little research.
Female Amazons will need a nest-box placed in their cage which is made out of strong wood and lined with peat. Light within the box should be limited and the box itself should not be overly spacious. Your bird should not be disturbed when the eggs have been laid and should be left to incubate for roughly 28 days.If the eggs haven't been expelled from the parrot then for novice owners an immediate visit to the vets is vital so that the hen and egg have every chance of survival. If in any doubt always seek professional help.
I have already told you what signs and symptoms to look out for in a healthy bird, but please note that a bird that appears to be healthy can rapidly deteriorate and die in a very short period of time. Once you have had your parrot for a while and got to know his or her habits then it should soon become apparent to you when something is not right. If in any doubt take your parrot to your local vet who will check them over.
It's a good to idea to find an avian vet as they will have been especially trained in dealing with birds and so therefore will have a better knowledge and understanding of them.
In nearly 4 years in owning Madison she has visited the vets only 3 times. Once to have her checked over after buying her and twice to have her talons clipped. If you've never clipped a birds talons before or aren't confident in doing them properly then you need to let a vet do them.
It's important to keep an eye on the length of their talons as untrimmed ones can be life threatening to them if they get them caught in the cage bars, this can lead to them breaking a leg and dying of shock. If the talons are long and are starting to hook right round, then they need trimming.
To maintain them I purchased some perches for Madison that are specially designed to keep them trimmed for around £10 each.
To keep her beak trimmed Madison has cuttle fish on a regular basis as well as calcium blocks. Madison has only needed to have her beak trimmed once as a result of having access to these things.
A clean environment is also important in maintaining your parrots' health. I clean Madison's cage out every day with hot water to sterilize it along with her water and feeding bowls. When it comes to her toys, I wipe over with them with a dry cloth everyday and any washable ones at the end of each week I put in a bowl of hot water and then leave them to dry. If a thoroughly clean environment is not maintained then it can lead to your bird suffering with mites. Luckily Madison hasn't had any unwanted guests yet and I strive to keep it that way.
To keep her feathers moist and healthy looking I spray her daily with lukewarm water to avoid them drying out and resulting in possible feather plucking.
How long do they live for?
" With proper care, nutrition and good genetics Amazons can live a human lifetime and enjoy good health and a ripe old age." A quote from amazonasociety.org.
So who is Madison?
Madison is just over 4 years old and is definitely a female. I have been told that as her identity ring is on her left leg then she is a hen. Also around this time of year she starts to get broody and wiggles her bum up and down the newspaper. I have made the decision not to let her breed as I lack the experience of this and also there is always the worry of finding homes for the babies.
She is reasonably tame although she does have her moments. Although Amazons are supposed to be excellent talkers Madison's speech is somewhat slurred, for instance my name is Lisa and it comes out as "eeeeeeea"!
She has plenty of out of cage time and loves to torment the cats and roll her bricks up and down the living room. During the summer months I put her outside in the cage so that she gets to see something different and to compete vocally with the other birds. Her favorite food is cheesy pasta and she is notorious for pinching mine. When I go to work I always leave the radio on for her and this has resulted in her liking the Black Eyed Peas and some rather peculiar dancing.
I hope that I have covered everything that you would need to know when considering this species, although I'm sure that you will appreciate that most of my advice covers owning and looking after any bird. I would definitely recommend purchasing an Amazon for the first time owner as well as the more experienced parrot owners out there. Amazons are a good size to handle, very loving, easy to train and aren't quite as noisy as other parrot species, although they do have the odd screeching session.
As most parrots screech and some point or another during the day they can't be left alone for long periods of time so this needs to be thought about when considering a parrot.
Always make sure that your home is fully prepared and safe for bringing a parrot into your life and that you keep its environment very clean to hopefully avoid mites lodging in on your parrot and affecting its health.
Books to consider purchasing
Guide to a well behaved parrot by Mattie Sue Athan
Parrot training by Bonnie Munro Doane
The guide to a happy healthy pet parrot by Arthur Freud
Amazon parrots by Paul R Paradise
Why does my parrot …? By rosemary Low
All of these books can be found on Amazon for around £5
A favorite parrot website of mine is www.24parrot.com as you can purchase food, toys, cages, books, accessories plus many other things for you and your bird at very reasonable prices.
Summary: Owning one can be stressful at times but the love they give makes up for it!
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