PET BIRD CARE
Complete Care System For Asiatics
By Dr Rob Marshall & Tailai O'Brien
This section has been compiled especially for our clients and looks at the daily life and behaviour of Asiatic parrots in the wild and how this applies to keeping these intriguing birds as pets. From this information you will gain a better understanding of the needs and true potential of your particular pet bird. A detailed account of our recommended daily and weekly routines for Asiatic parrots is also included in a chart format that you can download for easy reference. These routines give your bird the best possible opportunity to remain happy, healthy and develop its true personality as a companion pet.
Before reading this section you may like to look at the following introductory articles attached to this web page: Diet & Foraging Behaviour of Parrots in Nature and Daily Routine for Pet Birds - Introduction.
The Alexandrine (Psittacula eupatria) and Indian Ring-Necked (Rose-Ringed) (Psittacula krameri) parrots are commonly kept as pets for very good reason as they are highly intelligent, interesting and capable of cognitive behaviour.
Their most conspicuous feature is a prominent beak and beautifully long slender tail. They are available in a large variety of different colour mutations.
Asiatic parrots make excellent pets for busy people and quickly become part of the family. They are not overly demanding for affection like cockatoos and are less likely to bond closely with their owners. They give kisses, communicate and return love but do not require constant hugging.
Asiatic parrots are brightly coloured, gentle, independent, medium-sized bird known to be hardy and relatively quiet. They are make a wonderful pet as they are playful birds and with good care are capable of cognitive talk and amassing an impressive vocabulary. They are an affectionate, easygoing, active species, likes water (bathing, misting, raining and showering) and readily accepts diverse and/or new foods. It chews vigorously and requires daily branches to chew upon. They live for about 40 years in captivity.
Asiatics in Nature
Special Characteristics of Alexandrine & Indian Ring Neck Parrots
Foods & Foraging Opportunities for Pet Asiatic Parrots
Daily Routine for Pet Asiatic Parrots
Weekly Health & Nutritional Programme
Annual Health Check-up
Asiatics In Nature
Alexandrine and Indian Ring Neck parrots are highly gregarious and associate in very large flocks of up to 1000 birds. In the wild, the Indian ring neck is the most widely distributed of all parrots and inhabits Asian and African continents.
Indian Ringnecks are lowland dry zone birds that avoid hills and are scarce in wet areas. Alexandrines on the other hand inhabit moist and dry deciduous forests.
Both species are highly social and outside the breeding season have communal roost sites that are used continuously by the entire population in the area. Towards dusk sometimes thousands of birds return to these trees to roost at night. At dawn amidst a chorus of screeching flocks leave the roosting trees and move off to feed. They band together and fly in close formation at considerable height to distant foraging sites.
Food comprises seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, blossoms, leaf buds and nectar.
Special Characteristics of Asiatic Parrots
As a result of foraging and roosting together in large flocks Asiatic parrots have developed a strong social and communicative behaviour in order to survive. This type of behaviour is akin to budgerigars and in many ways they share similar extraordinary qualities that make them ideal as pet birds.
They are highly intelligent and social birds with a great capacity to learn and may be taught to talk in a meaningful way (i.e. cognitive communication). They are not overly affectionate and are happy entertaining themselves during the daytime when provided with a daily routine that resembles their natural behaviour as wild birds.
As a group they are destructive birds and need to forage for most of the day to satisfy their hunger and nutrient needs. In captivity, they require special foraging opportunities throughout the entire day if behavioural problems are to be avoided. They require foods that exercise their strong beaks and require time to destruct. For example, Asiatic parrots enjoy beans that they can extract the seeds from (e.g. peas on pod) as they eat seeds from pods (most notably Acacia seed pods) in Nature.
Expect a messy cage at feed time because they are naturally destructive and wasteful.
Tough hardwood branches containing gum nuts are enjoyed by Asiatic parrots and satisfy their destructive style of foraging.
Foods & Foraging Opportunities for Asiatic Parrots
The daily routine must provide foraging opportunities that are both time consuming and challenging to ensure they remain occupied throughout the day and are not idle. Because Alexandrines and Ring neck parrots are naturally destructive, they should be encouraged to use their beak, tongue, foot and brain during foraging and during their leisure time.
Foods in their natural state are most beneficial and relished by companion birds. In their captive setting, fresh organic human fruits and vegetables are nutritious and they also present foraging opportunities and occupation for these birds. A selection of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables coupled with a seed mix provides interesting colour and a variety of different tastes for their sensory stimulation.
The recommended core diet for Asiatic parrots therefore includes a seed mix, and fresh fruits and vegetable items that can be prepared in different ways to encourage beak exercise and activity for the muscular tongue as well as foot and claw coordination.
Asiatic parrots have extremely strong feet and should be encouraged to become highly dexterous with their feet by providing uncooked fruits and vegetables as foot toys. Long carrots, whole beans, pieces of apple in squares are ideal foot toy foods that they hand up to beak rather than just eat it out of a dish.
Foraging dexterity builds confidence and inquisitiveness in young birds, creating a strong foundation for life long learning as a companion bird. These items can be served on a stainless skewer, mashed, chopped, diced, cooked, soaked or sprouted to add variety and to suit the textures contained in the natural foods of the different species.
At meal times and during the day pet Asiatic parrots require foraging opportunities that are time consuming and very physical. Hand held foot food toys e.g. long beans, carrot strips, apple pieces to hold in their "hand" whilst eating are recommended. Grainy toast is a favourite time consuming and interesting food that Asiatics enjoy to eat.
Many of the foraging activities inside and outside the cage provided for Asiatic parrots require supervision because of their highly destructive nature. They like to destroy tougher hard woods and may demolish an entire branch being used as a perch in the course of the day.
Human fruits and vegetables as well as agricultural grains and pulses however do not provide a complete nutritional balance for pet birds and for this reason an ongoing health programme of added nutritional supplements is essential to vitality and longevity of the Asiatic parrots in captivity. Without provision of all the essential nutrients pet birds are prone to over-engorging on foodstuffs and ingesting foreign bodies while searching for depleted nutrients in carpets, power cords etc. Alexandrines are especially prone to ingesting soft foreign bodies and toys because of their extreme need to chew. Other examples of diet related problems include undesirable behaviours such as feather picking, excessive screaming and aggression, poor feather quality and a lack of energy.
Asiatic parrots forage as a large flock and therefore eating and sharing meals is the most important flock/family group meeting time of the day. Therefore, the best companion bird feeding routine mimics the morning and evening flock activity of wild birds. It involves providing freshly prepared fruits and vegetables at human meal times, ideally at breakfast time and again as part of the family evening meal.
Eating at the same times as the human family reinforces the pet bird to human bond, and provides essential security and the knowledge that their human carers will return at the end of the day to eat and play again with them. Asiatics are adjust particularly quickly to shared mealtime routines as it is an instinctual behaviour which encourages them to occupy themselves happily during the day time hours when most owners are at work.
In the wild, asiatics spend much of their day foraging in trees in small groups. Individual foraging in the captive setting can be achieved during the day when the humans are away from home by providing a selection of fresh, clean branches and millet sprays as well as a dish of small seeds. This eliminates the need for fruits and vegetables to be left in the cage where they may spoil during the heat of the day.
A final element for dietary consideration is portion size. The amount of food required must be allocated according to the relative size and dietary requirements of the pet bird. Flighted birds require and will use more energy than those with clipped wings. It should be noted that most pet parrots are far more sedentary and require less food than their wild cousins that must spend many hours each day foraging for survival and use strong flight repeatedly during foraging and also to evade predation.
Daily Routine for Pet Asiatics
Click here to view our daily routine for pet Asiatics.
Weekly Health & Nutritional Programme for Pet Asiatics
Annual Health Check-up for Pet Asiatics
We believe an annual health check is an integral part of developing your bird's innate potential as a companion pet, because without good health your bird is unable to respond fully to your affection or concentrate during training sessions. Microscopic testing of droppings (and sometimes other tests) are required as part of this health examination since birds are masters of hiding their illness. As part of the examination, Dr Marshall and Talai will also assess your daily routines and the progress of your bird's intellect. This is a most important part of the annual health examination as it allows us to tailor a programme specific to your bird's individual needs.
During your bird's health check Dr Marshall will examine the progress of your bird's annual moult. This gives a good indication of your bird's overall health as the moult may be delayed or interrupted when an underlying health problem or nutritional deficiency is present. Adjustments to your bird's weekly health programme may be recommended based on your bird's individual needs.
February to March is the best time for an annual health check for Asiatics as this marks the end of the annual moult. Other critical times when a health check may be required are from September to October as Spring breeding behaviour may begin at this time.
Dr Rob Marshall and bird trainer, Tailai O'Brien have developed a complete system of care that ensures health and happiness in your pet bird.
Going on holidays? At Carlingford Animal Hospital, we understand the needs of your much loved pet bird and will cater for these during its stay with us.
Dr Marshall and Tailai O'Brien have developed a culture tested bean mix for larger parrots, to provide them with variety and a low Glycaemic Index (GI) food.