Bird HotLine: Question HelpLine . . .
Archived Questions and Answers
Take me to the Current Questions or Vet Talk
Bird HotLine Directory!
An answer to your question does not take the place of proper medical attention for your bird.
The answers, whether coming from the Bird HotLine or others are simply opinions and should be treated as such.
(3210) Jared asks: Today my Quaker parrot hit his head on the roof and some of his feathers fell off . will the feathers on his head grow back?
[Yes, but that is a sign that he hit hard. Be sure he is okay and if he got cut that there is no infection. --Bird HotLine]
(3207) Cindy asks: My cockatiel was given to me as a gift 1 year ago along with a parakeet in the same cage and last month the parakeet died and now as of today the cockatiel has laid 2 eggs. What kind of care
can I give the bird and the eggs to have them survive? Also what is the time table for hatching? And with the bird being pregnant would she have killed the parakeet?
[The eggs are not fertile. Just let her sit on them but don't encourage her to lay more. We never suggest keeping two birds with different size beaks in the same cage. This can be very dangerous. You should
take the Tiel in for a check-up to be sure that the other bird did not die of illness. It is rare for a Tiel to harm a parakeet on purpose. But in the dark if the Tiel got scared and didn't realize what she was doing she could accidentally
seriously hurt a smaller bird. --Bird HotLine]
(3205) Christine asks: I have a Senegal parrot and lately she has been throwing her food out of her dish. She doesn't have seem to be losing weight, and we assume she eats the food that's dropped onto the
bottom of her cage. It's very frustrating because a lot of it gets on the floor and she makes plenty of noise throwing it everywhere. She scratches and smacks her beak into the bottom of her food dish once she gets it empty. Any advice
would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
[She obviously enjoys this activity. Suggest you get her a second dish that has small, lightweight, interesting items in it that she can throw around and maybe she will use it instead of her food. --Bird
(3204) Cindy asks: My male cockatiel died this past Sunday. He was approximately nine months old. Seemed to be in good health before last Friday. He was always singing, talking, and very animated. Had a fun
personality and we loved him very much. Last Friday afternoon I noticed when he eliminated his stool was literally "water" and he was emitting water from his mouth and slinging his head back and forth. On Saturday I got some
antibiotic (for his water) from our local pet store. He drank the water and ate his food that day. Also, he was perching, although he was still eliminating "water." Sunday he slept all day while perching and never ate or drank.
Monday morning he was dead. I'm really at a loss as to what happened to him because he appeared to be healthy up until last Friday. He was always plucking his tail feathers and I wonder if maybe he had some type of bacterial
"tail" infection. I also have 3 parakeets and they seem to be fine. I asked my vet yesterday and she said it could be "anything." I was wondering if you could enlighten me a bit more. Kindest Regards, Cindy.
[I'm so sorry for your loss. The symptoms you explained (especially the water from his mouth) were definite signs he was very ill and needed immediate medical attention. Just so you know, the antibiotics, etc.
available at pet shops are just about worthless. My first thought is that he got into something highly toxic like chocolate or avocado or some cleaning agent or rotten seeds or food. I would think about what happened on Thursday and Friday
and see if you can figure out a cause. --Bird HotLine]
(3203) Janet asks: Hello, I have had a lot of experience and done a lot of reading about caring for birds and have been helping a friend of mine with her new cockatiel. I used to have cockatiels but now have
had a Mexican red head parrot for 9 years. Anyway, here's my question. My friends bird does her fair share of night thrashing and breaks a lot of feathers. Full grown feathers and blood feathers. It seems to me to be happening too much.
Even when he is not thrashing. When I was sitting for her just recently her bird "Pepe" went down off my lap, only about 2 feet, landed softly and an entire blood feather just fell out. The whole thing. My cockatiel's lost a
feather from time to time but her bird is always having trouble. Is there a disease or could this be caused by genetics or something. She is definitely not feather plucking. Thanks, hope to hear from you soon.
[This definitely could be a major sign of an internal infection. Get her to a bird vet right away. --Bird HotLine]
(3202) Victoria asks: I have 2 fischers lovebirds. When purchased they looked like a pair, as they were together in the aviary and preening each other. I have had them about 3 months now, they appear
comfortable in their cage, but are very very noisy. They fight over food pots, they fight over their position on perches, and screech at each other most of the day. Have you any advice to stop them making so much noise? They still preen
each other, and look like a pair most of the time.
Jane Responds: My advice to you is to leave them alone, unless they are actually hurting each other, and let them work out their "issues" themselves. My conures did (and sometimes after 10 years still
do) squabble, bicker, bite, etc. until the question of who is the dominant bird is settled. That's all they're doing -- establishing their "pecking order". The one thing I would suggest is to put more than one food dish in the
cage, just to make sure they aren't fighting over food because they're hungry, which I doubt. The other thing is, are you sure their cage is large enough to house two birds? If not, get a bigger cage so each of them has their own space.
Also, make sure you're letting them out of the cage to play so they don't have a lot of pent up energy to work off. However, I think what you're dealing with are 2 young, feisty birds who are establishing their dominance. As for the noise
factor, what did you expect?/ They're birds and the noise is their way of communicating. I have conures and I know what noise is! The best thing to do is to ignore them when they scream because if you don't, they're going to quickly realize
their screaming will make you respond, and they don't care if you respond to them negatively! Any response from you is good to them. Whatever you do, don't yell at them, because they'll really like that! And never never hit them
(3200) Lori asks: I never had love birds and I am getting 2 adult love birds from a friend who cannot take care of them. can I separate them to give one to someone else??? can you tell me what to do if they
would have baby's?
Allen Responds: NO, If these birds have been raised together then please do not separate them. They consider themselves a couple just as you would any companion that you have lived with. They could morn
themselves to death. Please do not separate them. It will bring you endless joy watching them play and tease each other. Please keep them together.
Vicky Responds: If you separate 2 birds who have paired off, the chances are they will die if you separate them.
Darlene Responds: How long have the two birds been together? If they have been together for quite some time, I would not separate them. Frankly, I wouldn't separate them at all! If you have a male and female they could have babies, but it
is unlikely unless you put in a nest box. email@example.com
(3201) Danielle asks: Hi, we have two budgies(male and female),we were told that without nesting material they would not lay eggs is this true? Also the female bird has laid an egg but we did not know about it
and there is no nesting material in the cage. Will this create a problem if she lays more eggs in the future? Thanks for your help.
Darlene Responds: You do not need nesting material. If she is still laying eggs, put a nest box in the cage. You can put nesting materials in the nest box, ex. wood chips, but you do not need it.
(3199) Donna asks: I have a very dominant, yet very tame, male half moon conure who is very bonded to me. I noticed a while back that he was sneezing and I took him to the vet, who ran tests on him and treated
him with batryl for a respiratory infection, even tho the test results were questionable, but the sneezing continued. Lately I've been watching him and trying to figure out when he sneezes. I think he's conning me. He never sneezes while
sleeping, he never sneezes when he's playing with his mate -- he only sneezes when he's with me and then only sometimes. I'm beginning to think that he enjoys the attention his sneezes get him by me. He manifests no symptoms such as loss of
weight, ruffled feathers -- he's always his usual feisty, nasty, lovable, charming self. Before I bring him back to the vet, I would like your opinion on this. Is it possible that he is sneezing for the attention it brings him, and that he
is not sick. You should know that he is a very smart little guy!
[Does he rub his nostrils before he sneezes? He could be doing this to get attention. Is he molting? This can cause sneezing. Does he clean himself when with you? That would be a reason that he would sneeze
then and not other times. If there are no other symptoms, I still might try another bird vet to be 100% sure unless you are confident this is a ploy on his part. Could he do this just to get attention? I wouldn't put it past him. See what
happens if you start ignoring his sneezing. (Of course you aren't really ignoring it, just making him think you are.)--Bird HotLine]
BirdSlave Responds: Something else to consider might be, do you wear perfume? use hairspray or mousse or gel? Any of these might irritate his sinuses and make him sneeze. Do you smoke? If yes, do you smoke outside or inside; if outside, is
he sneezing on your hand? Residual nicotine stays on your fingers and can cause irritation. If you smoke inside near him, that could cause him to sneeze (and is not good for him anyway). Also, do you have shoulder length hair or longer? If
he's on your shoulder and sneezes, a hair could be getting into his nostril and tickling him into sneezing. Considering that he isn't sneezing all the time, you should take a look at what is around or on you when he sneezes. Also, is it an
actual bird sneeze, or is a sound you're hearing? My quaker has two "sneezes": one is his sneeze, which is done with a head shake and a little "pfft! pfft!", or if he has an irritated sinus, sounds the same only a little
wetter: "pffssst!" followed by a little rubbing of the nostrils on cloth or digging with his toenail in the nostril. When he imitates MY sneeze, it's the entire three-stage production: "AAAAhhh--snnnk---CHEEEWWWW!"
accompanied by no headshaking or nostril-rubbing. My vet always asks me, if I take him in for a checkup, whether the sneeze is "productive"--meaning, when he sneezes does any wet material come out of his nostrils? (well, I know it
sounds gross, but the poor little guy can't blow his nose!!!) IF the sneeze is not productive, usually there is no sinus infection but a checkup is always in order to be sure.
(3196) Marc asks: I have a three or four year old budgie. He seems quite happy and content. He has let his beak grow very long. He doesn't use a cuttlebone. How do I cut his beak and how long should I leave it?
[An overgrown beak can be a sign of illness. Please have him in for a check-up. --Bird HotLine]
(3195) Kitty asks: ok, my step-father, a small animal vet, found a (we think) male cockatiel on the roof next door in a rain storm in July. he caught it, and said I could keep it. the bird was sickly and thin,
but he survived, and is nice and healthy now. I am a vet tech student, but we didn't have much in he way of exotics training, it's something we have to learn out of school. anyway, how can you tell a cockatiels age? and what temperature
range should they be kept in? I live in a northern state, and the winters get nasty here, and my room is on the cold side. can I buy a space heater, or would that make him sick? also, the last question, how would I go about teaching Jim to
talk? in the 6 months I have had him, he has only learned a wolf-whistle. thank you very much for your time.
[For future reference, you should have tried to find the bird's family. You still should make an effort. No way to tell age. They need warmth. 70 degrees is a good. If you use a space heater be sure it has been
used before for at least a day so that any Teflon coating will have burned off. Keep it away from the bird so it isn't blowing directly on him. Repetition is the way to teaching him to talk. Best if you use the word in context so he learns
what the word means. Like saying "Hello," every time you see him. --Bird HotLine]
(3193) Melanie asks: hey...we just got this parrot and its 3 yrs old and its mostly green over his or her body, and the head is gray and the only different color on the parrot is a yellow and its under its
arms...can u help me? how do I know if it is a girl or a boy? Melanie
[You can't tell by color. --Bird HotLine]
(3192) Sara asks: I just got a Parakeet yesterday (1/12/02) and I am afraid it will bite me, in the cage we have to bars that go across the cage. The cage is a starter-kit for a parakeet. Instead of using the
door to get the bird out I tried to take the top off, when I did this the bar and the bird fell to the bottom of the cage. The bird seemed fine, but in a few minutes the bird was on the top bar again and was tucking one leg under her. I am
afraid her leg is hurt. Please let me know any information as soon as possible. Thanks
[Get her to a bird vet. --Bird HotLine]
(3191) Monica asks: Is it possible to teach your bird(parakeet) to talk?
[Yes; --Bird HotLine]
Snady Responds: yes you can teach your parakeet to talk I have one that can talk an is very good at it he learnt from me an was in room with my Quaker an pick up every thing she could say some nice an some very bad words from sandy thank
(3190) Vikki & Tony asks: people talk about baby birds having sour crop, dose it kill the bird and what are the signs of the bird having it. how do we treat it. thank you.
[See the symptoms for illness above. They would be having a problem eating and digesting. Are you hand feeding these birds? If so you need to find someone who knows all about hand feeding to help you. More baby
birds die from improper hand feeding then anything else. Check the weight of the birds. If they are not getting heavier that is a problem. If you are the least bit concerned, see a bird vet immediately. --Bird HotLine]
(3188) Brunny asks: Excuse my English, but I don't speak very well. I have a one sun conure, this bird talk? My bird is a baby have a only 7 month. Thanks for your information and attention.
[Go the Sunshine on My Shoulder page read the article and click on the Previous Article button and read those articles. They will help you realize the potential of a sun conure. --Bird HotLine]
(3187) Andy asks: We have two budgies who we thought were both females (tan ceres). The youngest one just layed an egg on the floor of the cage. Do budgies lay eggs without a male (like a chicken), or has
[This is normal. All female birds can lay infertile eggs if their hormones are active, but you should try to distract her and do nothing to encourage her. --Bird HotLine]
(3186) Sandy asks: I have a cockatiel that is scratching his bottom on a cement perch. Is this normal behavior or could there be some kind of problem?
[This could be very normal behavior for a male cockatiel. However, a cement perch could rub him raw. See if you could interest him in rubbing on a towel or something soft. Also if he shows any other signs of
illness, get him in for a check-up. --Bird HotLine]
(3185) Jacky asks: I just recently adopted a conure and am wondering if he may have mites because he preens himself much more than I have seen other birds do, also the cage that he came with was in hideous
shape how can I determine if he is infested. Also after handling him I feel quite itchy or am I being neurotic? Thank You
[Get him in for a check-up. --Bird HotLine]
(3183) Birdlover asks: Can cockatiels play with budgies, can you teach them how to play games.
Mindi Responds: I have a cockateil and a parakeet. They enjoy being around each other, and they are always playing games.
(3182) Julie asks: this is a myth. I've read of ornithologists who swear that birds are not poisoned or made sick by chocolate. Please concur so that my son will realize!
[Chocolate is a KILLER. Some birds may tolerate a small amount or have an unusual system but overall it is to be avoided at ALL COSTS. I can't tell by your question if you know chocolate is toxic or think it
isn't. It is! --Bird HotLine]
(3180) Hilary asks: I have the dearest little peachface lovebird "Beebe" who is an absolute delight. She is as loving and sweet as can be with me to the point where I have to force her onto her perch
when I need her off me. The only thing is she has strange relationships with the rest of my family. With my son (aged 15)she will never bite him but will fly away from him at the earliest opportunity - I feel she doesn't really trust him.
With my husband she will spend a long time on his shoulder by choice, often laying down to snooze but she won't let him touch her with biting him - seems strange as she obviously trusts him. She also doesn't like strangers to touch her.
What do you think as my husband loves her and wants to stroke her as she spends a lot of time on his shoulder, and why doesn't she bite my son who she clearly doesn't like to be near?
[So what is the question? She sounds totally normal to me. She has her own personality, her own ideas of what she will and will not accept, and what she likes and doesn't like. Sounds like a bird to me.
Seriously, she has bonded completely with you and loves the rest of the family but not in the same way she feels about you. Very typical. The good news is that she doesn't bite the rest of the family or act over protective of you. Try
giving her to your husband (from your hand to his) and telling her how good she is. You pet her while she is being held by your husband, and let her know you like her being with him. If she realizes it pleases you to be on his hand then she
may let him do some of the petting. While you are petting her let him sneak in a pet or two. Then let him continue while you secretly stop. Once she sees that it was him and it still felt good, she may go along with the program. Then again,
she is a bird so who knows. --Bird HotLine]
(3179) Teresa asks: hi! I have two male budgies in the same cage and I would like to know if it is normal for them to always fight. They bite and kick. Is this normal and why do they do it? Thank you Teresa
[No, they obviously don't get along and you should separate them. --Bird HotLine]
(3177) Danny asks: It's too hard and I can't get it to like me how can I train it?
[First of all stop calling him or her an it. If you aren't sure what sex the bird is, pick one. You sure wouldn't like to be thought of as an it. This is important because it says you are thinking of the bird
as a little being and that will help you to bond with him or her. You can't train a bird, you have to build trust and confidence between the two of you. --Bird HotLine]
(3176) Kelly asks: I got my cockatoo off a breeder and they gave me a list of food to prepare. My bird refuses to eat anything except for the pellets I have and this concerns me because this is the first parrot
I have ever owned that will not eat the food I eat. I have tried fruits and I call her she turns her nose up at it....I don't know what to do these people I got her from swear they weaned her with this list they gave me but its funny cause
she wont eat it or anything thing else except for her pellets....plus her droppings seem to runny to me....
[The runny droppings are a concern. She may need a check-up. Pellets are really good for her, so that is the good news. Have you tried feeding her by hand? You eat something and give her a piece. If she has
bonded with you, try putting a small piece of something on your lips and let her take it from you. Raw cashews are usually irresistible. --Bird HotLine]
(3175) Renee asks: I have tried to tame my parakeet I am consist with him but he squawks very time I go near his cage or when I hold him. He will step up on my finger but will not let me take him out of his
cage. he seems afraid of me how can I make him comfortable with me?
[The fact he will step on your finger is a good sign. Try feeding him treats that he likes that are good for him. No sugar. Our birds love a little cheddar cheese, dry popped popcorn, and raw cashew pieces.
Once you find something he really likes, let him take it from your fingers, then put it on your palm so he has to stand on it while he eats. Eventually move him, your palm, and the food out of the cage. He should have him wing feathers
clipped so he doesn't hurt himself flying around the house. Once he is fully tamed then you can decide if you want to keep them trimmed. It is the safest so they don't accidentally fly out of the house. --Bird HotLine]
(3172) Vicki asks: My name is Vicki and I have a question about my budgies Rennie and Girlie. Rennie is 8 Years old and Girlie is 7 years old. They get on very well together and last year they mated and Girlie
layed 4 eggs, which were clear and no chicks were present. They are now starting to flirt together again, but since then I have read a book about budgies written by Anna and Michael Sproule which says a pair should never be mated once over
4 years old. Could you please explain why ? , Does it effect the health of the baby birds ?, and would a pair mate after 4 years old in the wild ?. Thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you soon.
[I think it really depends on the health of the birds. In this case I don't think you have much choice in the matter so let nature take its course. --Bird HotLine]
(3171) Sammi asks: I posted a question about my sick Amazon 2 weeks ago since he has pasted. The breeder was kind enough to offer my another bird. Should I accept? The bird died of a growth in his throat, which
is no ones fault but very sad after having him for 4 months. The breeder offer me a choice of birds ranging from a umbrella cockatoo, a mini macaw, a African Grey and several others I know little about. I have lots of love 1 other
bird(conure) and two boys 9 yrs and 6 yrs. Is there any one you would recommend? I prefer a medium to large(not full scale macaw large), prefer intelligence(meaning has some vocal ability), and like one that likes to be handled and play.
[So sorry for your loss. I would really think about getting another bird with a 6 and 9 year old in the house. Birds need calmness, quiet, and security. Normally boys of this age are just the opposite with
birds. --Bird HotLine]
Jake Responds: If you like rather large birds and vocabulary, I would try an African Grey, even though they are quite expensive.
(3170) Austin asks: how do you tell if a pearl cockatiel is male or female?
[After the bird matures and has molted his or her wing feathers at least twice, check to see if there are little yellow stripes running across the feather (not down the feather). If yes, name her Molly. If no,
Rambo would be a good name. --Bird HotLine]
(3169) Jeanne asks: are they fertilized before or after laying
[We are talking eggs, right? They are fertilized while still in the mom. Everything is exactly like in mammals. The only exception is that instead of the egg staying inside the mother until the baby is born,
the egg comes out right away and the mother keeps the baby in the egg warm until it is ready to be born. By the way it is very beautiful to watch the relationship between the mom and dad and their eggs (babies). They talk to them, gently
roll them, and keep them moist and warm. Once the baby starts to grow, he or she will also start making little sounds while in the egg. All in all it is a wondrous experience. --Bird HotLine]
(3168) Lynne asks: What is the truth about onions and garlic and parrots? I have known many birds who ate foods with onion and garlic included without apparent harm, but I have heard birds should never eat
[I have never heard that onions or garlic are problems. Of course, don't overdue it or they may start speaking Italian. --Bird HotLine]
(3167) Carletta asks: Hi there, I would like to ask about substitute eggs. Our friend has an Eclectus and she lays eggs all the time. We have suggested to her that she gets some substitute eggs so Katie doesn't
effect her health in laying eggs so frequently. She got the eggs and Katie loves them. We have a couple of questions. Should she leave the eggs in with Katie all the time? If she should remove them, at what intervals should she take them
away and return them? Any advise you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Carletta
BirdSlave Responds: The school of thought on artificial eggs is to leave them in the cage until the hen tires of sitting on them, then remove them when she no longer sits on them. This is an excellent first
thing to do in an excessive egg-laying situation. There are other factors, however, to consider in any excessive egg-laying problem, especially if the behavior is ongoing. Be sure that Katie has had a full workup at the vet to rule out any
physical problems that may be causing her excessive egg-laying, and to be sure she has enough calcium in her system after laying so many eggs, which drains a bird's reserves of calcium. Lack of calcium won't show in any behavioral or
physical manifestations. Usually the first indication is a broken bone or two in what seems a trifling accident, and then you've got bad problems. Secondly, your friend should make sure she has addressed any environmental or behavioral
problems which may cause excessive egg-laying, such as too much light, too much sexual-type stimulation such as encouraging her to regurgitate food offered as a mating ritual, petting or playing with her tail, or encouraging beak wrestling,
all when Katie is showing signs of feeling sexy (looking for a nest site in the home, "flirting" with your friend or a toy, etc.). A good talk with a certified avian vet is in order, if your friend already hasn't done so.
Excessive egg-laying can lead to many physical health problems, especially if it started when Katie was young. Good luck!
(3165) Stacy asks: What exactly what are the marking of a halfmoon conure and how much are they worth?
[Someone else can talk about the markings, but if you love them and they love you, they are priceless. --Bird HotLine]
(3164) Windy asks: I live in Hawaii and have a large Lychee tree to use for perches for my parrots. Is this wood safe?
[Don't know. But be sure you are 100% sure, before using them. --Bird HotLine]
(3163) Michele asks: My mom has 2 birds cockatiels one of them layed a egg last night but it cracked what do we do? Also will the bird lay anymore and how do we know if the egg is OK to keep and if it will
hatch? How long does it take for a egg to hatch and does the bird need to sit on the egg? Also can a male bird lay an egg because we are not sure the sex of our birds. Thanks Michele
[A cracked egg will not hatch. Just take it away. Yes the birds need to sit on the eggs. If she (yes she is a she) lays any more eggs let her sit on them. Have you noticed that the other bird and her act like
mates? Do they clean each other, snuggle together? If not, she may just be laying infertile eggs. Do nothing to encourage egg laying unless you are sure they are mates. However, leave her to sit on the eggs if she wants. She will get bored
if they are not fertile. If fertile it takes about 3 weeks for the eggs to hatch. --Bird HotLine]
(3161) Tina asks: I own a pet rat. All rats carry Mycoplasma but don't necessarily show symptoms. I also own 2 african greys, senegal and a white faced cockatiel. My question is regarding the mycoplasma being
contagious to my parrots from the pet rat.
[Have no idea, but that is a good question. Check with a bird vet in your area and let us know. --Bird HotLine]
(3160) Deborah asks: Dear Doctor, I have a Pionus (white cap) parrot. As of yesterday, I have noticed that when she walks on the tile floor, she seems to be favoring her right foot with what I would describe as
a "limp" (which she never did before, she would walk with her toes "open" and "flat" on the floor). I picked her up and she held onto my finger as usual. When I put her down again, he curled the foot into a
ball when she walked and she looked like she was walking on her "instep". I thought her middle toe nail might have been too long so I clipped the end. This did not help, as she repeated her actions. Her foot does not appear to
have a cut or any other visual impediment. what do you suggest? Thank you for your efforts, Deborah.
[Since you started out by saying, "Dear Doctor," I assume you want to resubmit this to the Vet Talk page. However, since it takes weeks to get a response I would take her in for a check up to see if
she broke a toe or other bone. --Bird HotLine]
Website Designed by:
Steve of the Bird HotLine,
"The Computer Guy"