Saturday, April 10, 2010

Aviary Update & Stick Training

We are very excited here at Almost Angels Aviary! One of our pineapple green cheek pairs is in the process of hatching their first clutch! So far they are great parents, feeding their babies and being very protective. Especially the male who comes after my hand like a bolt of lightning when I reach in the cage to change food bowls! So far, looks like there are four babies in the nest! Our other pair of pineapple green cheek conures are on eggs also which are due to start hatching very soon. This will be their first clutch. We'll keep our fingers crossed! If you have never seen the "pineapple" mutation of green cheek conures you are missing out! They are gorgeous with yellow, red, green and maroon colors. If you love the bright colors of the sun conures, but can't handle their loud calls, a pineapple green cheek conure may be the bird for you.

We also have a pair of senegals of eggs and a pair of linnies on eggs. I expect the linnies to begin hatching very soon! Our box is back up on our black headed caique pair and my girl just couldn't wait to jump right in LOL! So we will probably have some black headed caique eggs in a few weeks.

For current updates on eggs/babies visit our website at .

Stick Training:

I always recommend to people that they "stick train" their birds. By stick training, I mean that your bird is trained to step up on a stick or dowel. And I don't just recommend this for big birds. Smaller birds such as lovebirds, parrotlets, lineolated parakeets and cockatiels should be stick trained also.

It is easy to do. Start by obtaining a suitable perch or dowel rod suitable for your bird's size. Your bird should be able to grip the perch comfortably. Vetwrap in a neutral color can be used to wrap the perch to make a more grippable surface if needed.

Introduce your bird to the perch slowly letting him/her get used to it. Another idea is to use a perch that is currently in your bird's cage or the same type. That will make things go quicker. Once he is used to the perch, ask him to step up on the stick for a second and then put him back down. Or you can alternate stepping up on your hand and the stick. However he is most comfortable. Then practice having your bird step up on the stick from various locations: the top of his cage, off his playstand, from inside the cage, etc.

Once he is reliably stepping up on the stick, use it regularly to keep your bird in the habit of stepping onto it.

Stick training has many benefits. If your bird is mature, you will notice it's behavior may change for a few weeks around Spring and Fall. This is the breeding season for many parrot species. Since we do not nueter/spay our birds, their reproductive systems are fully functional. Environmental triggers signal the hormones to kick in for breeding! Some birds are louder and more aggressive during this time. If you are not paying attention to your bird's body language, you may receive a painful nip or bite.

Some birds such as macaws, cockatoos, caiques and amazons can become very dominant and assert themselves by biting. It's not only the large birds though. I've seen some very aggressive lovebirds and parrotlets!

If your bird is stick trained, when he gets naughty, you can simply have him step up onto the stick instead of offering your hand. This keeps you from getting bitten which in turn keeps you in control of your bird. It's also a great way for other people to handle your bird if necessary. What if you are out of town and your bird gets out of the cage? Not everyone is comfortable handling birds and your bird may not want somebody else picking it up. Your pet sitter could easily ask your bird to step up on his familiar stick to put him back in his cage. No drama for either the parrot nor the pet sitter.

The above is just one scenario. There are many other instances where stick training can be beneficial. Birds that are afraid of hands, cagebound, or aggressive around their cage for example, often will happily step up on a stick to come out.

I consider stick training to be the equivalent of basic obedience training for dogs. You may not always use it, but if you need it, you're glad it's there.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring is here!

Finally! After a cold, rainy winter we are enjoying the sunshine and warm days! I've been out riding the horses and my pet birds are having a ball playing in their outdoor cages. Life is good!

The aviary has been a buzz with activity. I took down most of my nestboxes for a while to give me and the birds a break. Well they are back up and my pairs have been busy! Right now I have lineolated parakeets on eggs, three pairs of green cheeks on eggs, a pair of senegals on eggs and my blue quakers have been spending a lot of time in the nestbox! I have some more nestboxes to put back up, but I think I'll wait LOL!!

Be sure to check my website for updates on babies that are available . I keep my information current so check back often!

People often ask me if I ship. Yes I do! I prefer to use Continental Airlines as the birds are hand carried on and off the plane and transported in a climate controlled area. The birds handle being shipped very well and acclimate quickly to their new homes and owners.

Reminder:  Now is the time to get those flight feathers trimmed on your bird. With the nice weather, we often leave our windows open and turn our ceiling fans on. And remember, small birds such as budgies, cockatiels, small conures, etc. can usually still fly very well even with trimmed wings. If you take your bird outside, please have it in a safe travel cage or teach it to wear a harness.

If you haven't seen your avian vet in a while, schedule a grooming appointment with him or her. I often recommend people do this even if they know how to groom their bird themselves. It's a good way to get some face time with your vet and update your bird's records. Having a good relationship with your avian vet is very important. Don't wait until you have an emergency. Plus, I found that even though you are just bringing your bird in for a grooming, the vet will take the opportunity to give your bird a physical examination and talk with you about it's care while you are there. It is money well spent.