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Vet Talk and the Question HelpLine are Not Emergency Lines.

If your bird is hurt or ill please take him or her to a bird vet. Birds try to hide their illnesses and their injuries and rarily show pain. This is to protect themselves from being pushed out of the flock. When a bird acts really sick it is usually too late.

We get many questions that begin with: "Should I take my bird to a vet?" If you think it, do it.

Some sure signs of illness or injury are:

1. Dull eyes.
2. Puffed up for unusually long times and at unusual times of day (This usually means the bird is trying to keep all the heat it can in his/her system and is ill).
3. Sleeping much more than usual.
4. Eating much less than usual.
5. Sluggish and listless.
6. Loose potties (consistently having wet potties is another major warning sign).
7. Much more needy/cuddly/wanting to be held than usual. (Birds will look to their flock mates to protect them when they are ill.)
8. Weight loss - often the very first sign.

If any of the above doesn't seem right to you PLEASE see your Vet. ASAP. And if you see 2 or more, DON'T WAIT!

Ask Your Question Here!

We will be unable to accept Questions at this time
as all our efforts are going toward reuniting Lost Birds.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

If your bird shows any of the symptoms listed above,
PLEASE take him or her to a bird vet.

If you have a
go to: Wild Bird 

If you have an emergency question send us an email with the word "emergency" as the subject.
But please be sure it really is an emergency.


Received another report of a BIRD DYING from TEFLON fumes!
NEVER use a non-stick pot or pan if you have birds!

Arm & Hammer Pet Fresh carpet deodorizer:

My cockatiel died after I used it. Company admitted it's not recommended for use around birds.
They said they didn't need to put a warning on the product. I'm just broken hearted,
and her mate is just lost without her. Loretta

Febreze . . . Is it safe for Birds?

We have received conflicting reports.
The company says it is safe around birds and that zinc chloride is no longer an ingredient.

NEVER give your bird AVOCADO or CHOCOLATE.
Both are extremely toxic and can be fatal.


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Questions & Answers:

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.
An answer to your question does not take the place of proper medical attention for your bird. 

(3305) John love asks: our 9 week old African is in it new cage or home. We are feeding it by hand but is not wanting to take his formula. My wife is at the store right now buying some baby food. When and how can we start it on pellets. Please help me I want Grecy to stay healthy. I want to stay away from seed. thanks john

[You need to find a local person who can help you. African Greys need a lot of attention and care. Try finding someone in your area who is bird knowledgeable. You may want to go to some of the bird chat groups on the internet. --Bird HotLine]

Ashley Responds: I was confused when I got my 1st bird too. I got Buster when he was 8 weeks old. I bought him when he was already handraised. If he is already handraised then you can feed him seed whenever you want. That is what the people that I bought my bird off of told me. Sorry if I was no help!

Scott Responds:First are you mixing the formula right? I usually mix mine a little wet and make sure to use a thermometer to make sure it is the right temp. I suggest going to vet and get your bird examined for a form of a yeast infection that 85% of small aviary birds get that could be fatal and cause them not to eat. most birds will not show signs of being ill because it is a sign of weakness. Weakness leads to getting eaten by their natural instincts. I almost lost my first African Grey because of the yeast infection so get your bird to the vet ASAP. They will also help you with how to feed the bird and tell you the best time to wean. Most handfed bird die from many simple things but NOT EATING IS USUALLY THE FIRST SIGN OF SICKNESS.

Roger Responds: To get your young bird to start eating pellets, let it have a few to play with. Set the bird down on a towel and have a few pellets at its feet. Hand the bird a pellet, when she drops it, hand her another. It does not matter that the pellets aren't eaten. The bird has to get used to them first. Try breaking a pellet in half so the bird can taste the inside. Once the bird is eating and liking pellets, then it is OK to start letting it eat seed. The bird also has to play with seed a while before she learns to crack it. Total omission of seed is not good. A healthy bird diet should include pellets, a variety of seeds in a mix, greens like kale, veggies like corn, peas & carrots, as well as fruits like seedless grapes or apples.

Reginald asks: I received Sparkle 3 weeks ago, his owner died. This week I noticed a lot of feathers on the bottom of his cage. He is 9 months old. Is he molting? How long does molting lasts? What is the average fee for a vet visit?

[He is probably molting but you do need to take him in for a check-up. Call the vets in your area to find a bird vet and check prices. Molting usually lasts about a month but can go longer. --Bird HotLine]
(3303) Nanci asks: this cockatiel gets fed beans, pasta and vegetables daily with a commercial blend of seeds designated for cockatiels occasionally. I add liquid vitamins to the water but it doesn't seem to drink it. corky has total freedom, the large cage door is open most of the time. corky is very social and has several friends that stop to visit with him daily. it is a quiet household, no kids, there are plenty of toys in the cage. I was wondering what other readers have used for tricks to prevent their birds from plucking. there is absolutely no funds to take corky to the vet. any info will be greatly appreciated. thankx corky's friend

[I'm sorry, but you do need to first rule out illness and only a bird vet can do that. --Bird HotLine]

Kate Responds: It disturbs me very much when you can never say there are "no funds" to take your bird to the vet. He is a living creature and his life is in your hands. I'm sure if you needed medical treatment, you would go to the doctor. Corky deserves the same respect. Cockatiels often have Giardia, a medical condition that causes feather plucking. If he continues to pluck, it will become habitual and you will never cure him of plucking even if the disease is treated. If a disease causes the problem, he could easily die. If its a psycological condition, the bird may need to be in a collar - something a vet must do. I am a recent college graduate with "no funds" myself but when it comes to my bird's health, there is no question. I have spent hundreds of dollars on my cockatiel in the past few months. And would do it again today if I needed to!! You CAN find a way. If you are not willing to do so, it maybe best to find him a new home.

(3302) Carrie asks: My 3 year old cockatiel has recently started pulling the feathers out of his chest right where the breast splits. He eats a variety of healthy food and is active ad healthy except for this feather problem. I bought a lice and mite spray bath and followed it exactly and although it is not getting better it isn't getting worse. He will not bath. I have tried a bowl of water, a bird tub and have had to bath him by spraying a warm mist to bath him. Is this a part of molting or something serious? Thanks Carrie

[Your first step is seeing a bird vet to rule out illness. --Bird HotLine]

Holly Responds:If the gap in his feathers is only noticeable when he is fluffed out, it may just be the natural feather line of the feather growth on the birds breast. If he is picking feathers he is probably bored. Maybe you should try rotating toys or introduce him to new treats ( only those that you are positively sure that they won't harm him ). My birds enjoy a piece of popcorn once in a while; this helps you because maybe he will pick the popcorn instead of his feathers. (only feed him the lowfat popcorn with less butter)

Kate Responds: It could very well be Giardia, an illness that causes feather plucking. You need to act fast before it becomes habitual. Even if its a psycological issue, you need to work with a vet in order to best prevent the mutilation. If it does become a habit, you can deal with it. My mother has a feather plicking parrotlet who has been living in a collar for over a year. Otherwise, she is happy, active little bird.

(3301) TJ asks: My 1 year old cockatiel whistles very loudly and squawks whenever I am out of his sight. He will not stop unless I cover him or return back into the room. His singing and whistling are fine when he can see me but become out of control when he can't see me. Are there any ways to calm him when he can't see me?

[Not really. Best to keep him with you. These are flock creatures and you are his flock. --Bird HotLine]

Kate Responds: A classic case of separation anxiety!! Do not go to him every time he screams because that will only reinforce the behavior. My male cockatiel is the same way and he eventually calms down on his own.

(3300) Alicia asks: Around the end of December I got a parakeet. I think he's young he has stripes on his forehead that are just now starting to go away. 1)He's always biting himself I don't know if he's picking or if he itches we give baths several times a week. 2) He's started biting mostly my brother and parents but sometimes me recently what should I do? 3) He's sometimes quieter than usual and other times he's normal is he sick or just tired? Any help you can give me would be appreciated thank you.

[You need to get him to a bird vet to be sure he does not have mites or some other illnes. Nothing you can buy at a pet shop will help. --Bird HotLine]

Holly Responds:Are you pulling back your hand when he bites? If so, you should never do this, no matter how bad it may hurt. If you continue your hand toward him you are showing him that he is not the boss; you are.

(3299) Zach asks: my African Grey lives in a chrome molly dog cage that is up off the ground 5 feet. it is not painted or galvanized, just dull chrome. I do not see her chewing at the bars much BUT SOMEONE TOLD ME THE danger of zink and lead poisoning. does chrome contain these metals... I hand fed her from day one. I quit the job I had at the time and I will do anything to keep her safe. A large bird cage will bankrupt me right now but I will do it if you tell me to.. thanks Zach

[It is great you feel that way about her. I don't know about the chrome but suggest you talk to an avian vet or ask the question on our Vet Talk page. But this will take about a month to get an answer. --Bird HotLine]
(3298) Lucy asks: What low-priced materials can you suggest for a cage I want to make for my two parakeets? I am hearing that hardware screen (the one that has criss-crossed wire forming boxes around 1/2" square) is toxic if it is galvanized or just in general. I am hoping to build a cage 3'H X 3'W X 2'D. Is this sufficient for two parakeets? Can I paint the hardware screen with Rustoleum? Or leave it as is? If the screening is toxic, is there any wire I can use other than stainless steel? I don't like the idea of a used cage. I can only find Ultra Bleach in the stores. Thank you, Lucy and Family

Scott Responds: Galvanized is poisonous to birds because the galvanizing can come loose. Your best bet is to get stainless or powdercoated metals.

Trina Responds: In response, a cage 3'X 3' X 2' would be good for two parakeets. I have made cages out of the hardware cloth you are talking about, I haven't seen the birds messing with the wire as of yet. I have been told that you CAN coat the hardware cloth with a kid's room paint as it is non toxic. The bird that I have in a cage like that has never chewed on the cage wire of the smaller cage it was in so as I watch her I feel that she is safe in it. But I would recommend that you use the kid's room paint to coat the hardware cloth.

Michael Responds: First, parakeets do chew, so if the frame of the cage you are planing to build is would you will have a problem with that. The size of the cage your planing sounds good. The wire mesh does work, I have a finch cage made of similar wire, but, you do need to be very careful which wire mesh you buy. It is better to get the wire with the vertical and horizontal wire than the crosshatch. In a pinch you can use chickenwire, though I would not recommend it. Also, any wire that is safe for use on poultry and other livestock should be safe, but, I would ask if anyone has more information on wire to post it, to help others who might wish to build there own cages as well. A very important thing is to make sure that the wire does not have zinc or other heavy metals on it, or in it. For that you will probably have to ask the people that you would be getting the wire from. I do not know about the paint, but, unless the paint says on the can that you can eat it, straight up, I would not use it ! on the cage. The birds will chip off little bits of the paint and eat it, no matter how you tried to protect it from them. Just as little kids eat lead filled paint chips in older houses.

(3297) Eileen asks: I just bought a 9 month old Mustached Parakeet. I was fine the 1st three days we had him. But today when we came home from work he seemed sick. He was making odd nosies with his beak (rubbing the bottom to the top and kinda licking the inside). He was also shaking, he has been shaking since we bought him (I thought maybe he was scared new place and all) also he was standing on one foot on his perch. He ate and drank. But didn't walk around much. His stools are solid (white with green) and some runny (green). Is this normal we have never owned a bird.

[Get him to a bird vet. --Bird HotLine]
(3296) Logan asks: I have a young parakeet that I just got a couple of weeks ago and I'm away from home a lot of the time b/c of school and athletics and I was wondering what I should do so my bird won't become lonely or bored, or if I should do anything at all. Also, what kind of treats and toys should I give my bird?

Linda Responds: Leave a radio playing while you are gone. My Budgie loves music.

Nikki Responds:you should get your bird another bird that it can talk to and play with. If you do not want another parakeet try to get them sings and perches. They like to jump from one perch to another.

Kate Responds: I would leave the radio on for him. Make sure he has plenty of mirrors and bells and a swing. My parakeets love all of the typical plastic parakeet toys (not fond of wood) and those rope style perches. They are home alone for many hours themselves and always find a way to entertain themselves.

Darlene Responds: I would suggest getting him/her a mirror, especially since he is alone. Better yet, I would get another bird. Budgies love to be with other birds their own kind. It is also fun to watch their interaction together.

Noname Responds: you should get your bird anything with bells or mirrors I've got 4 budgie birds and they enjoy playing with those things or you might think of getting it a pal

Donna Responds: Get another bird so he'll have someone to play with! This is the perfect time to do it, since your bird is both young and new to his environment. I had the same problem when I bought one Conure, but when I added a second conure (and bought a much bigger cage) they are now happy and healthy.

(3295) Bryce asks: I just found a quaker parrot yesterday in the back of my fathers store. It was in a drained retention pond. I always go up to birds when they don't fly away when I am about 5 ft. away. The quaker parrot did not fly away, I think his wing might be broken, so my dad and I took it home. We are not exactly sure on what to feed it or what toys it will like. Please help. :) Sincerely, Bryce Huffman

[Have you posted a found bird notice on the site and checked the Lost pages? Hope so. You need to get him to a bird vet right away. The vet can tell you what to feed him and will check him over for injuries and medical problems. Please do not hesitate. Thanks. --Bird HotLine]
(3293) Nina asks: I'm from B.C. Canada and would like to know which trees are safe for my bird to chew on. For example are saskatoon, chokecherry, or any evergreens safe, assuming they're far from any pesticides and traffic pollution?

Auntyjoey Responds: Hi there, I heard years ago, that any diciduous (any tree that drops its leaves completely) tree branch is safe for your birds, so that rules out any BC cedar or evergreen. I have used apple tree, poplar and lilac branches without any problems. Hope this helps. Auntyjoey

(3292) Petra asks: How do I teach my Gold Capped Conure to talk, and other little tricks. We just brought our little guy home, he is rally sweet. I am not that experienced with birds but I heard that conures love doing tricks and could be able to talk a little bit. What is the best way to train him? Any advice or tips are helpful. Thanks...:)

[The first step is building trust. Get him to completely trust that you will not hurt him or do anything to scare him. This takes a lot of time. Once he feels that you are protecting him then he will open to you. Then let him come into his own and he will show you how to train him. --Bird HotLine]

Scott Responds:You need to build a bond with your bird so that he trust you. The next step to the tricks is teaching him the up command so that he starts to understand that when you say up he will get up on your finger. Remember to always give him praise or a treat when they are doing something that you want them to do and NEVER yell at them or say OWW when they bite or do anything that you don't like them doing. If you do they will repeat doing the things you hate just to get your attention. Take time to train them. I have an African Grey that I have been trying to teach him to lay in my arms like a baby for a year and after all this time he just won't do it but one day he will. Some trick are easy and some are hard but stick to the basic up command then move on to turning around. As for talking just keep saying hello and eventually he will pick it up my Grey didn't say a word till he was 9 months old but he did copy the phone ring and the alarm clock when he was six months old because noises! are easier for them to make than vocalization.

Donna Responds: I have 2 half conures (male and female) and my male actually talks a lot; he can say about 8-10 different phrases, but my female is much less verbal, although she does say a few things ("whatcha doing") My advice to you is to not push the talking thing. My birds are now 12 years and I don't remember ever actively sitting down with them trying to teach them to talk. I repeated phrases to them("pretty bird" "good morning" "how are you", etc), when I was playing with them, or feeding them or cleaning their cage, but didn't give them "lessons." They are very smart and as time went on and they heard me say things, they just naturally repeated them. SO -- my advice is to be patient and let them just be your bird-friends"!

(3291) Carl asks: Hi, I have two parakeets one is blue and white and the other one green the blue and white one is male and other one is female. They are about year old and they have been in same cage for about year and seem to peck and there is dry blood on both them. Why do they peck fight?

[This isn't good. They do not seem to be getting along well. One may want to mate and the other does not. Aggressive is one thing but when drawing blood is another. It may be time to split them up. Put them in separate cages and only let them be together when outside the cages. See how they react. They may seem to be very happy to be separated or may start missing each other and settle down. If they are happy apart, keep them that way or give one away. --Bird HotLine]

Scott Responds:Try moving them in two separate cages in separate rooms so they can still talk to each other but not see each other. After awhile get a third larger cage in the room you want both of them in and put them both in the cage at the same time for short periods of time. Keep increasing the time such as week one 1 visit together for half hour on Wednesday, Week two 45min. visit on Tuesday and Thursday. and keep this up till they can stay together.

(3290) Brenda asks: I have a 1 1/2 year old male parrotlet that has all of a sudden (like just 2 days ago) has become VERY possessive of his toy ball. He has always loved the ball to play with but has never singled it out as a favorite - he plays with all of his toys equally. For the last 2 days though he has not left the ball's side except to eat.. and if you go near the ball he guards it with his life. He does not move for ANYTHING if you try to get him away from the ball and he chases after you or it if you take it away and chirps like crazy! Last night when I put him "night night" - he threw a FIT in the cage to be away from the ball - and he NEVER does that. He is normally very quiet, calm, and very sweet. I do not know why he is acting like this! He has NEVER done this before! I do not want to take it away b/c he really enjoys playing with it but I do not know why he is so crazy with it now?? Does anyone have any advice or similar stories? Let me know if you can! Thanks!

[He has determined that the ball is his mate. This is spring and birds do crazy things in spring. Just go along with him and he will come out of it when his hormones settle down. --Bird HotLine]

Lisa40 Responds: I have a parakeet that loves a big toy ball so much he tries to mate with it a lot. It's comical and funny to watch. His name is Romeo, because he also has a real mate, a lovebird.. they adore each other, he feeds her, tends her, follows her around... but when she is not looking, he's after the ball! He's very hormonal I think, but he's healthy and the vet says he's okay.

(3289) Terrel asks: 1- how do you tame a peach face love bird. 2- how much food to give them. 3- which love bird is the male and which one is the female.

[You tame any bird by building a tremendous amount of trust between the two of you. You keep their food dishes full of good nutritious food and add supplements. They will decide how much to eat. The rest of your questions I will leave to someone else. --Bird HotLine]
(3288) Sandy asks: I have a pair of Blue Front Amazon parrots. The male (at least I think he is a male) has only one leg. Hence my problem. Can he fertilize the eggs? He has had trouble attempting to be amorous. The female has dropped two eggs thus far this season - this is the first year this has occurred - apparently she is now mature and wanting to lay. They have been trying to nest and in the process have destroyed a number of baskets, window blinds, wallpaper, etc. I have confined them to their aviary window. I have not allowed a nest and have not put one in their aviary window. Am I harming her by not allowing her to nest? I do not want babies. All suggestions appreciated.

[If they are trying to nest (the "they" is the important word), then you really need to support them and get them a nesting box. You don't have a lot to say in this as they will find a way eventually. Once the eggs hatch and the babies are weaned from the parents the parents totally lose interest and no longer think of the babies as family. So you can easily give the babies to good homes or to a pet shop to sell. I don't think the lack of a leg will be a hindrance.--Bird HotLine]
(3287) Alicia asks: I have a house finch that has built a nest in a holiday wreath on my front door. I feel like every time we pass the door we scare her. Will she still lay her eggs if we are always disturbing her?

Michael Responds: So long as you leave the front door closed she will lay her eggs and rear her young successfully. If you use your front door at all to go in and out of the house you will have problems, not the lest of which is the baby finches might end up in your house, and might very easily be killed, but, if your willing to leave the front door closed, locked, and unused until the finch has raised and fledged her young, you should have no problem.

Lizzy Responds: well this can affect the female bird and might feel uncomfortable leaving her babies in a place where predators might get them so maybe for a while you might try not to open the door and do too much commotion and maybe she might feel more secure.

(3286) Lori asks: Greetings In November we inherited my moms pet cockatiel, maggie is 13 years old. My mom had her since she was a baby. We got her in November and we thought at first it was just that she missed my mom but 5 months later she is still acting very stressed out and anxious. Maggie seems to be filled with anxiety. She paces back and forth, screams rocking from one foot to the other continuously. She will settle down at times but then the minute we leave the living room she will start to scream continuously. She is quiet when it is dark and time for bed when her cage is covered up. But the minute the sun comes up she is screaming and rocking pacing. We have a pet lovebird who is another cage right next to hers. He is happy and content playing and entertaining his self in his cage. They both have entertaining toys to play with in each of there cages. The birds are let out to fly around every other day for the whole day. When she is let out she will head right to a chair the same chair and rub her bottom on the corner of the back of the chair as if she was masturbating, or maybe her bottom itches,,,she will do this for hours. We are at wits end, she is driving us crazy with her stressed out behavior. What can we do to stop her from being so anxious and hyper active. We want her to be happy like our lovebird seems to be. Any and all information will be appreciated. Thank you Lori

[I think you were right in the beginning and still right. Birds bond very strongly with a loved one and she could take a year or more to go through the mourning period. I assume your mom passed away. If this is so, did she (the bird) know this happened? Did she see her, etc. If not she has no idea why her loved one left her and still believes she is coming back. That is probably why she is calling and rocking. You are going to have to give her a lot of loving and attention. Right now she may feel abandoned and lost. Talk about your mom with her and let her know she is gone with words, by the way you say it, and your sadness. Her actions on the chair is mating related. She may be trying to start a family to replace her loss. She really needs you right now and if she was handled by your mom she needs to feel that touching. --Bird HotLine]

Kate Responds: I would also suggest moving her cage away from your lovebird. This also may be causing some of her stress.

(3285) Joanne asks: Any help is appreciated. I have a 3 year old male parakeet. He is very tame and loves to be with people. I was just given what I believe to be a female parakeet. She is 2 years old and not tame. Is there any danger in placing them in the same cage? Right now I have both cages side by side for them to get to know each other?!

[Your doing it the right way. Give them time this way and see what happens. Once she calms down, try them both outside their cages. Let her watch him outside and pretty soon she will want to be outside too. --Bird HotLine]
(3284) William asks: I have two budgies. I was wondering if oatmeal is safe for birds to eat. I eat it cooked often. Would cooked or uncooked be safe for the health of the birds? It seems like safe enough and natural type of food, but I want to be sure. Also want to know the best way to prepare it for the bird's health

[Cooked oatmeal is great. Just be sure not to add sugar or other sweetners. --Bird HotLine]
(3283) Kim asks: We have a wonderful sweet Cockatiel . And we are moving from Nebraska to Nevada this summer. Because of the distance and the heat at that time of the year we are concerned about her. Could you tell us how to transport her.

[I assume you are going by car. If that is the case have her cage in the back seat and be sure to cover it enough to avoid direct sunlight. Keep the car at a comfortable temperature for you and that will work for her. If you go into a restaurant, etc. you need to be sure she is in a cool place and under no circumstance leave the windows rolled up. The car can heat up extremely fast and she can dies within minutes. Suggest using drive-thru windows for food. If you do have to stop for awhile see if a restaurant will let you put her cage in their office or stop by a bird pet shop and leave her there while you eat. Most motels have no problem with a small bird in the cage. --Bird HotLine]

(3282) Anita asks: My pet budgie Monty that I have had for nearly 2 years won't even let me put my hand in his cage... when I try and get him to hop on my finger to come out - he attacks me. I am the one that feeds Monty, buys treats, cleans the cage and changes the water... although Monty doesn't seem to care about that. My boyfriend Craig can put his hand in and Monty's comes straight out... (even though Craig gets the job of clipping Monty's wing). I feel a little upset about it.. also I am worried that Monty is getting too vicious... Someone at work told me that Budgies sometimes fall in love with one person and then resents the other people around... but I don't know about that... I was hoping you could suggest some ideas about how to get Monty to love me again.

[Monty still loves you. My guess is that Monty may be a girl. Are you sure he is a boy? Often during springtime a bird will go for the opposite sex but will feel threatened by the same sex person. Or if he is a boy he may be trying to show dominance over you by being aggressive. Either way this is just hormones going crazy and is nothing personal. Just keep doing what you are doing, give him extra loving, and understanding, and wait till he gets his hormones back in line. --Bird HotLine]

Danielle Responds: My uncle has a bird like that. She hates children AND all females. She only likes the men. We think that it has something to do with the fact that she is a female. It is probably something that Monty does.

(3281) Traudl asks: I want to leave my thirty-year-old blue-fronted amazon with a friend for three weeks during winter. Can the bird be kept in a glass house with other birds at a temperature of 10 to 15 Celsius or wood that be bad for his health?

[Don't know about the temperature but this could be very traumatic if the bird is not used to being separated from you. Best to go slow. Let him visit for a day then come home a number of times so he gets the idea. --Bird HotLine]
(3280) Dustin asks: Why do the baby chicks dye the day before they are suppose to hatch? They are fully developed but they died. What is wrong?

[Impossible to tell from that description. Suggest you talk to a bird breeder in your area. --Bird HotLine]
(3279) Scott asks: hi, I have just received a green cheek amazon. he is about 12 yrs old and very lovely bird. I have never owned a parrot before. I was wondering if it is normal for their bills to have a cracked and flaky look and if not what should I do about it. If you have any helpful information to help me make sure I take care of my Loopie he would really like for me to know. I have had him for about two weeks now and I want to make sure we have a long future ahead of us. Thanks, SCOTT & LOOPIE

[Normally this is how they shed the outer layer of the beak when the beak is growing. There should not be a crack that goes through the beak just a flaky look. If the beak is cracked you need to see a bird vet. --Bird HotLine]
(3277) Nicole asks: I have six parakeets, three males and three females, in two cages, and two of the pairs ( in separate cages) are constantly preening and feeding each other. The females have recently been laying many eggs on the ground which they sit on, but they all end up cracked. We put nesting boxes in last week, and one of the females layed an egg today in it. She has been sitting on it for as long as I've been home. How can I tell if it is fertile? Is there anything special that I should be doing for them?

[You need to remove the oddball birds and put those two in a separate cage as well. The two pairs will get very aggressive with the other bird. They need plenty of good nourishment including vitamins and minerals and fruits and vegetables. They also need a calcium block. Do not touch the eggs as you can cause the death of the bird inside if there is one. Just let them do their thing and wait and see. --Bird HotLine]
(3275) Robbi JO asks: we have just got an African Grey Congo and its 18 weeks old. my mum has got it feeding small seeds as well as fruit and nuts from her hand which we think is great because we have only had it 48 hours. we have some info on food and general care but we don't have any info on malting, bathing the bird or the best way to tame. we seem to have a lot of people of talking at us but nobody talking to us with correct information. please can you help! P.S. can you help with a bird vet in the Bedford area?

[The trick here is to let your bird do the leading. For instance there are lots of ways to bath him. Some birds love to take a shower with you, others love to be sprayed from a spray bottle, and some like to get into the sink with a couple inches of water and have a blast. Without trauma, check out what he likes. The same with taming, do whatever makes him trust you. Trust is the key. It sounds like you are on the right track. Just give him lots of love, gobs of attention, and don't do anything that would make him distrust you. One thing to be aware of is that Greys are notoriously clumsy. Be very careful he does not fall, like when he is on your shoulder. That could lead to distrust and of course he could hurt himself. --Bird HotLine]
(3274) Donna asks: My male and female conures have laid a clutch of eggs this season, but they didn't hatch. As my birds are my pets and are not for breeding purposes, I don't want to encourage them to keep laying eggs. I have left their nest with the unhatched eggs in their aviary, even though the eggs are old and cracked. My question is, sometimes during the day or night, my birds will go back to the nest and sit on the eggs for an extended period of time; at other times, they totally ignore the nest and act as their usual inquisitive happy goofy selves. I don't know if it's better for me to totally remove the nest and hope they will not breed anymore this year, or just leave it alone and let them go back to it until they are totally bored with it. Once in past years, I took the nest away, and they proceeded to build another one and lay another clutch. Please advise me as to what is the better thing for me to do discourage them from any more egg laying this year. Thanks

[My guess is to leave everything alone and let them work it out. --Bird HotLine]

Charlotte Responds:I have a Fischer's Lovebird that is alone in her cage that began acting the way you describe your conures. I was told to cover her for a little longer each day so she would think the season was changing. I was told mating behavior is related to the increasing sunlight associated with the change of seasons. Covering her seems to be solving the problem.

(3273) Danielle asks: We are having a serious problem with ants this Spring. I am very concerned about using any kind of pesticide inside the home. We currently have 2 parakeets and a Quaker and several tanks of fish and an aquatic turtle and a dog. Do you know of any remedy other than pesticides that will deter the ants and protect our pets?

[Try cayenne powder blocking where ever they are coming in. Be very careful of pesticides. They can harm the birds. Also there are ant poisons in little containers that they take back to their nests. Frankly, I hate having to kill anything so try the powder first. --Bird HotLine]
(3272) Lynn asks: A new dog at our house managed to get our golden crowned conure out of his tree when no one was looking. The bird escaped but lost most tail feathers. He doesn't seem traumatized and has no other injuries. I'm wondering how long it will take for tail feathers to grow back and if there is anything I can do to help. Thanks for your help.

[First thing you can do is protect the bird so there won't be any other "accident." It will take about 6 months to have all his feathers grow back assuming they will grow back since they were pulled out. --Bird HotLine]
(3271) Wendy asks: My parakeet has laid only one egg. I know for a fact that eggs can be fertile or not, but how can I tell if it is fertile? And if it is fertile, does the mother have to give full attention to the egg to develop healthy?

[Is there a male parakeet. If not the egg can not be fertile. If there is, leave her do her thing. Nothing you can do. --Bird HotLine]
(3270) Linda asks: I have a two year old cockatiel. Shadow always sits on her perch and talks away. She's very sociable. In the last week, she has decided to sit at the bottom corner of her cage like she's roosting. I have heard from my pet friends that she looks more like a he, due to the fact that Shadow talks so much. She has also become very aggressive with me...lunging when I approach her. I can't even go near her. It's like she's defending her territory. This isn't like her at all. Please help.

[If by talking you mean human words then she probably is a he. Either way she is acting out a mating ritual and is definitely nesting. This is very typical spring activity. The trick is to let her jump at you and then (probably wearing gloves) pick her up and get her away from the cage. She should settle down for awhile and then want to go back. --Bird HotLine]
(3268) Natasha asks: does my cockatiel bird need another bird with him or is he OK by himself. p.s. can you write me back please I would love you to answer my questions think you.

[That really depends on the bird and your relationship with him. If he spends a good deal of time with you outside of the cage and the two of you have bonded then probably not. If you do get another bird they both will need your time and need lots of time out of the cage. Our Tiels only are locked in the cage when they sleep at night (for their protection). We have a room set up that is bird proof. If you don't, then they should also be in the cage when you leave the house. --Bird HotLine]
(3267) Lisa asks: My Cockatoo just died a few days ago of Proventriculitis. The vet told me that it is a genetic disease but everything I read on the internet claims that it is a virus that my bird could have contracted from almost anything. One site even claimed it could have caught the virus from me! Is this true? I would like to pursue a claim against the company I purchased the bird from but I don't want to end up sticking my foot in my mouth when I tell the company that they basically sold me a "defective" bird. HELP!

[I wish you hadn't used the term "defective bird." Since he was a living creature and not a machine he couldn't be defective. He may have been ill when you got him, I don't know about that. Suggest you go to our Vet Talk page and ask Dr. Rosskopf about this disease. --Bird HotLine]
(3266) Brittney asks: I was wondering how you could tell if you're parakeet is pregnant. What does it mean if your bird only eats out of you hands, and not out of her bowl, does that mean she isn't getting any water? Brittney

[The only way you will know is if she lays an egg. She is probably eating out of the bowl too. But in any case if you are concerned give her some water at the same time you feed her. --Bird HotLine]
(3265) Kersty asks: -hello, I have a question about my bird (she's a cherry headed conure)... I know its spring and everything but my bird has been raised from a handler and hasn't been around any other birds like her, but I have two cockatiels (they aren't acting like her). well I was wondering if she new if it was spring or not? And if birds can be in heat, and if so would that be the reason for her acting this way? She has been acting really weird lately she wont let me pet her or touch her, she attacks my hands if I try.. Please Help me!

[Yes birds know when it is spring time and their hormones change. That could be the reason for her actions. Very typical. Just give her lots of love and let her get through it. --Bird HotLine]
(3264) Cindy asks: I have a cat, which stays indoors all the time. My fiancee is moving in with me soon, and he has an African Grey. Can you give me any helpful information or advice on how to get these pets used to living in the same house? I am sure there is plenty I need. Thanks!!

[This can be very dangerous. Also if the cat is a stalker, he will keep the Grey in constant fear and cause him to become emotionally unstable. If your cat has no thought of stalking and his comfortable around birds, then let them work it out. Don't push them to be together. And until you are 1000% sure, never leave them in the same room without one of you there. --Bird HotLine]
(3263) Norman asks: my parakeet flew away in 50 degree temperature. will he survive or will he return or will other birds eat him. what will he eat. I am heart broken .for I live in New York and it is not warm now. thank you .

[The odds are he found another home to go to. Put a notice on our lost page. --Bird HotLine]
(3261) Scott asks: I have two very nice cockatiels that I am sure are Male and Female. They get along very well and they like each other. Recently I have decided to breed them. After doing A LOT of research on this subject I found that you need to have a nesting box. What else can you tell me?

[You should wait until they show signs of wanting to be mates before you get a nesting box. If they don't become mates the nesting box will push the female to lay infertile eggs and that can be harmful to her health if she over does it like cockatiels are prone to do. If they do mate and she does lay eggs be sure she has a calcium block (not cuttlebone), gets a lot of vitamins and minerals, and good nutritious food. --Bird HotLine]
(3260) Toni asks: I have 4 lovebirds in a big cage together and one is a female and the other 3 are brothers and dad. I came home from work last night and there was an egg in there, and then tonight I came home and she now has 2 eggs. She is sitting on the 2 eggs and can the eggs be normal or will it be birds that are abnormal and what should I do? Should I take them from her? Any answers to this would deeply be appreciated. Thank you

[They may not even be fertile, and if they are nature normally resolves the problem and they do not hatch. Leave her be with the eggs. However, I don't think the setup is very good. Three males and a female is a problem. You may want to put her in a cage by herself or with one male (the one that seems least interested in her as a mate and thinks of her as a sister). Then let them all be together when they are out of the cages. --Bird HotLine]
(3259) Someone asks: I have a male cockatiel, well I thought he was a male until recently it has layed four eggs. I am wondering how it is possible for my bird to lay these eggs, and is it possible that it is fertile?

[Confused why you went from calling him a he to calling her an it when you know she is a female. Yes females can lay infertile eggs when there is no male bird. Without a male that she has bonded with these eggs will of course be infertile. Let her sit on them if she wishes, but do nothing to encourage her to lay more as laying infertile eggs can be hard on her health if she over does it. --Bird HotLine]
(3258) Les asks: I have a question concerning my 2-year-old budgie's excessive regurgitating. He started this behavior about 9 months ago. An avian vet checked him out, took a gram stain and crop sample, but found no physical ailment. The vet first suggested limiting the bird's daylight to less than 12 hours, but that did not alter his behavior. The vet then gave him a hormone injection, to counteract over-production of testosterone, but the shot didn't work either. The vet did not recommend further injections; since he felt subsequent injections would not make any difference. He told us just to keep an eye on him, make sure he doesn't lose or gain weight or have other behavioral changes. He speculated that overproduction of testosterone could indicate a tumor. I was initially concerned that he might starve himself, but he is not losing weight. He is active and friendly towards the family. He still talks and sings, although not as much as he used to because he spends a lot of time regurgitating and re-eating food. I place a small bowl beneath his favorite "spit-up" spot on the perch, so he can re-eat the food. He even makes chirping noises, like he's happy, when regurgitating. He doesn't re-eat all of it, but he does seem to eat more of the regurgitated food in the evening than during the day. He is also very obsessed with mirrors and mirrored surfaces. There are no mirrors in his cage, but when he is out of the cage, we close doors of rooms with mirrors; otherwise he flies up to the mirror and starts regurgitating almost immediately. He also hunts out other mirrored surfaces such as lamp bases, the kitchen faucet, and even the chrome antenna on a small tabletop radio. A surface does not have to be mirrored for him to regurgitate on it, since he regurgitates on his wood perch. However, he can be very aggressive, i.e., hard biting, when we get close to him while he is eating or is in a regurgitating mood. I am curious about your recommendation for my bird. I have read at some other web sites that diet may cause birds to have overproduction of testosterone and regurgitate excessively. I have tried unsuccessfully to convert my bird to pellets. The vet told me that budgies can be very resistant to pellets, and I could provide a wholesome diet by feeding him nutritious "people food" and some seed. He enjoys turkey, scrambled eggs, carrots, lettuce, and pasta, but he really waits for seed. I give him a measured amount of seeds (about 3 teaspoons) twice a day, at least 30 minutes after I give him the nutritious food. Any suggestions would be most appreciated. I am concerned that since he has been behaving this way for over 9 months, this is his standard behavior and there is nothing I can do to change him. Could his diet be at fault, and if so how can I successfully convert him to a pellet diet? Might he outgrow this, like a sex-crazed teenager? Could a tumor be a possible culprit? Thanks for your help.

[It could be something physical like a tumor, but since you can't do anything about that my thought is to treat it like it is behavioral. My guess is that his hormones are running wild. The mirror situation is a good clue. Take anything out of his cage that may act like a mate to him. Some toy he acts too social with, etc. Rearrange his cage often. That will help if it is hormonal. Move his cage to another location. If it is high bring it lower. Keep changing things around. Definitely cover him at night and put him down earlier and wake him up later. As far as the food is concerned, a bird that has been eating seed all its life will be hard to change to pellets. Try using pellets as treats as see how he reacts, but do not starve him to eat them. It doesn't work. Make sure he has a good vitamin and mineral supplement. We use Prime and sprinkle it over the seeds every morning. Try lightly sprinkling high protein powder over his seeds as well so he has to eat through the powder. This way he gets his seed but a lot of good nourishment on the way. We use one that is soy protein and no sugar. --Bird HotLine]
(3257) Sharon asks: Hello, (This is a long one) I have a Orange Wind Amazon, he is about 9 years old, he was bought when we lived in Germany (we now live in the UK) so I don't know if he was wild caught or not, but he's tame now. The problem is every few months for the last approx. 5yrs he will have a breathing fit which is very similar to a human having a asma attack. I have taken him to the vet and he was given a steriod injection while he was having the attack, which made him worse to the point where I though he was gonna die, but then it could have just bin the stress of having the inject and the fit at the same time? I have tried to find out what causes it and I think perhaps it could be his food, could the actual food cause him to have a breathing fit? Then I thought it might be some dust that set it off, caused me putting a new bowl of food in for him? I noticed he always got set of when he cracked a pine nut open but that's not what 'aways' sets him off. I know once I set him off by accident because I sprayed deodorant in the room, almost immediately he started breathing fast. When he does have an attack I usually steam him by holding a hot cup of water under his nostrils so he breaths the steam in then I cover his cage and open the windows. He usually stops after a hour. Other time I will spray some asthma inhaler into his nostrils and this stops it within ten mins, which is why I think it could be asma? anyway thanks for any help you can give Sharon

[This is more for a vet, but I would be very aware of detergents, cleaning products, deodorizers, etc. My guess is that he is reacting to something or some thing's in his environment. Also pesticides on food or sprays. Birds can be highly sensitive to these things even when we can't smell them. --Bird HotLine]
(3256) Sharon asks: If I was to buy a mullucan cockatoo: 1) What papers would I expect to receive from the breeder? 2) Is the species cities listed? 3) If I was to transport it from the UK to another country what papers would I need? 4) What would I need to import export this species? 5) What are the trade laws if I was to sell or give it away? Thanx Sharon.

BirdSlave Responds: I thought long and hard about this question before I submitted an answer. Europe has become of strong concern to folks in parrot rescue and rehab. Many of the birds stolen here in the U.S. by bird theft rings are sprayed with paint or dyes (no I'm NOT joking) and smuggled out of the country as another species because the U.S. bans import-export of exotic, rare or endangered birds (this is especially a problem in Florida). Europe so far has no international agreements to ban the import-export of endangered or exotic species of parrots. Australia has banned the export of its native population of 'Toos. If you do not know the trade laws and are asking about them, then you are planning, however to contribute to this horrific problem. Native populations of Congo and Timneh African Greys in the wild are disappearing to feed the hunger in Europe for exotic and endangered parrots. The African Grey is approaching, if not already on, the endangered species list, as are many other! parrots. If you or anyone else reading this care anything at all about these beautiful birds, PLEASE DO NOT import/export (do I need to tell stories of how these birds are caught, how many die in transit, the conditions in which they are shipped, etc.) or breed for international trade, 'Toos or any other parrots. The last I heard, the large parrot refuge in Holland had thousands, yes THOUSANDS, of unwanted parrots they were housing that came to them from all over Europe (a friend of mine visited them several years ago). Legitimate rescue operations in the U.S. are overwhelmed with abandoned, abused birds. This will give you an idea of the problem. On second thought, no, it doesn't give anyone an idea of the problem. Please read "The Parrot Who Owns Me", to begin to understand the problem. While the book is heartwarming in describing the author's relationship with her parrot, she also discusses some of the ways birds are treated and how they're caught in the wild.
(3255) Curtis asks: I take my parakeet to a lot of places with me. if it's cold outside, frosty (my parakeet) fluffs up his feathers and looks to be warm. it's maybe 55 degrees on the 2 minute walk to the car . I was told that birds are weak to cold temperatures. I have a down jacket that is very warm and assume it the same for my birds feathers. What temp range can he handle? (high and low) Curtis

[A parakeet can easily get a respiratory infection from cold air. If not treated by a vet it is often fatal. I would suggest keeping him in your coat until you get into the car and it is warmed up. Around 70 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. They can handle warmer temperatures than that much better than colder. By the way, I hope he has his wings clipped. One fright and he is gone. Just read the Lost page to see what I mean. --Bird HotLine]
(3253) Nick asks: how come my Quaker plucking his/her feathers by making his/her go bald really bald can you help

Runyn Responds: try putting an elizabethan collar on him/her,he/she wont be able to get acess to the feathers on the body to feather pluck.often this is a sign of boredom or frustration,so make sure the bird has toys etc to play with and is socialized enough with the owner.also make sure the bird has the correct diet as it may be lacking in certain foods.

Mandi Responds: It may also be a sign of illness. My grandpa gave us a pair of lovebirds, one of who was bald just like that. I don't remember how long we had them, but the one had a collar on and died anyway. A trip to the vet wouldn't hurt anyone.

(3252) Jesse asks: My Mallard duck has his right foot sore. He is in a pen outside with ten other ducks. We have had a lot of rain and they have been walking in the mud a lot. Could this cause the sore foot?

[I don't think so. --Bird HotLine]

Lisa Responds: Abscesses on the bottom of duck feet is very common in captive situations, especially when they have been on larger-holed wire mesh flooring at some point in their lives. The common name is bumblefoot. All it takes is a little crack to open up in the bottom of the foot, bacteria (like Staphylococcus) get in, and grow in the foot, and a sore develops. It is really difficult to treat. Surgery to remove the infection can be done, but it takes a lot of patience to get the foot healed up. If the sore is large, it will cause a lot of pain in the duck's foot and leg, and can cause lameness. Usually prevention is the best - clean floors and water, so they don't get droppings on their feet, and if on wire mesh floors, the mesh should be 0.2 inches(0.5-0.6cm). We have bought ducks that were only on mesh for a day(the day they were born) hoping to prevent the bumblefoot, but some of them already had symptoms. I think a soft floor is better than a hard one, and a pond to swim in takes the! pressure off the feet for a while, too. In my opinion, the mud wouldn't cause the sore on the foot, but it might allow extra bacteria into it. He probably cut his foot on something when he was exploring. I read about special casts for raptors with bumblefoot that keeps the pressure off the foot while it is healing. Sounds promising, but a lot of specialized surgery and post-operative care. Good luck with your duck. I referenced the following: page 43, Canadian Council on Animal Care-"Guide To The Care And Use of Experimental Animals, Vol.2" and: "Raptor Biomedicine"-I can't find the book to give you the author-It's packed in a box in my basement.... I'm not a vet, so please see your vet if you are concerned.

Lisa Responds: I found the other book I referenced when I sent an answer to this question on Friday. The title is "Raptor Biomedicine" and it is edited by Redig, Cooper, Remple and Hunter. Pages 92 and 154 are the start of the articles on bumblefoot. Thanks.

Barbara Responds: Another method that seems to help prevent bumblefoot in ducks involves making sure their feet are on a service that gives, but also allows air to circulate under the feet. Believe it or not, wet feet all the time is not good for their feet. We built little "duck trampolines" as we like to call them. We made a frame with 2" x 4"s Then stretched anti errosion mats (aka Inca mat) across the frame. This mat is sort of a plastic fiber that is porous. The mat gives under the weight of the ducks but also allows air to flow. Our ducks have several surfaces to choose from to sit on, but 98% of the time, they are on the trampoline and our foot problems have been non -existent since then. Good luck!

(3251) Kathy asks: I have two cockatiels. I know one is a female, because she keeps laying eggs although, I have only had the other one for 2 weeks. Now. my question is how do I know when the eggs will be fertile? And also, how long does it take for the eggs to hatch? thank you so much if you can help me out with this.

[Do nothing to encourage them to mate. It may turn out that they are not going to and you will just be encouraging the female to lay infertile eggs which can be harmful to her health if she over does it. Wait and see if they start acting like a couple. They will groom each other, snuggle together, and the like. Also if the other one is a male he has to mature and is probably too young at this point. Once you see they are acting truly like a couple then get them a nesting box, but only then. --Bird HotLine]

Christine Responds:To tell if the eggs are fertile hold a STRONG light behind them. If they are fertile they will have a black spot wit red veins. DO NOT REMOVE THE EGGS JUST YET!!!!! This may take a week if nothing appears I a week then you can get rid of them. The black spots should grow a little everyday.

(3250) Autumn asks: How many times are birds to Molt in a year? I have a Cockatiel and it molts A LOT !

[They molt whenever they need to. Cockatiels do tend to molt often, especially when they are young. --Bird HotLine]
(3249) Karen asks: My bird has one eyelid that likes to stay closed, will this cause a problem? Sometimes both will stay shut, will it hurt to open the eyelids with your fingers?

[This could be a medical problem. Please take him in for a checkup to a bird vet. The vet can also answer your question. --Bird HotLine]
(3248) Earl asks: Hi there, I have two Rainbow Lorikeets in an outside aviary and one inside as a companion he is 13 months old and the best natured bird I have as yet met. But I would like to purchase another companion of another species a conure perhaps. Do you think this is advisable, I want more inside birds but am not entirely sure on the behavior subject when it comes to other species in the room. At least he would have a friend, or would he......?

[Why? If you have a great companion and are bonding why change anything. --Bird HotLine]
(3247) Jacob asks: Hello. I recently received two Cockatiels. They are two years old and have been together for life. The only problem is, they have never been tamed (taught to be picked up). Their previous owners only talked to them. I want to know if you can tell me how to tame them. They are both males. Thank you.

[This is going to be difficult and will take a great deal of time. I would suggest using food as the incentive. Try giving them different fun foods like dry popped popcorn, small pieces of cheddar cheese, crushed raw cashews, etc. Put these things in a bowl for them and see if they show an interest. Or try putting a small piece through the bars so they can come take it from you. Keep at it until they like something and will take it from you through the bars. Then try opening the cage and holding the item so they can still reach it from within with your hand outside. Once that is comfortable move your hand into the cage a short way. Keep at it until they seem comfortable with your hand in the cage. Next try to lure them out with the food, and so on. --Bird HotLine]

Mandi Responds: I have a parakeet (which I only just got yesterday, my first bird) and I thought I'd get it to trust my hand by giving it bits of apple. Unfortunately, this didn't work and only scared the bird. I recommend first letting them realize that your hand BRINGS the food, then, after they begin to trust that, offer it to them with your hand. If they already know what's there, then they won't get frightened.

(3244) you do go on Lisa asks: We purchased a peachface lovebird 7 months ago. Two weeks ago we had an opportunity to go to Hawaii for 2 weeks. When I had purchased the bird from a local (small) pet shop, prior to purchasing one of my concerns was what to do with him when we went on vacation. The manager of the store, who seemed to have a lot of bird experience (as we had discussed many things about her birds and how long she has had birds in her family, etc.) had indicated to me that when we went on vacation the pet store would take care of our lovebird for us. When we left for Hawaii our bird was about 10 months old. I had considered just leaving him at home with someone to come in and feed him, however, he only lets me hold him and seems to bite everyone else. I was concerned about a friend coming in and not being able to give him attention, which I felt would greatly upset our Lovey. Considering the woman in the pet shop had a lot of bird experienced and had handled Lovey prior to our purchasing ! him I decided to board him at the pet shop knowing that she would in fact handle and hold him, let him sit on her shoulder, etc. Four days into our vacation Lovey died. He had seemed very healthy (other than a bit nervous) since we had him. When the pet store boarded him, I believe his cage was placed on a shelf over the puppy kennels. The pet shop owner believes Lovey had some type of Night Fright and died due to the barking of the puppies. I was concerned that leaving him at the pet shop would cause him a lot of stress, but this seemed like the better alternative. I am very devastated about this and have to tell my 5 year old and 8 year old tomorrow. They will be crushed! The pet store has offered to give us another lovebird. Our choices are a 2 year old, which was hers and would let us adopt as she now has many parrots. She says this Dutch Blue is very handable and a pleasure to be around. He usually lets everyone hold and handle him and would be very good with m! y kids. Or we could get another 4 month old peachface. After all of this background, I guess my questions, are: what happened to our Lovey? Did the stress of the pet store environment kill him? Would it have been better to leave him here at home with someone just coming in to feed him and not being handled for 2 whole weeks? And should we even attempt to get another bird, will this only happen the next time we go on vacation? What is the best way to have your bird taken care of when vacation? I would appreciate any expert opinions or experience in this area, we don't have much experience with lovebirds, just our last 7 months with Lovey....Thank you, Lisa

[We are so sorry for your loss. This is a hard question. The best answer in my opinion is to have someone come in and take care of the bird while you are gone that the bird already knows and likes. Pet shops can be hectic and if they have animals other than birds can be very stressful. A bird only pet shop is another alternative. Whatever you decide you should only leave the bird for a day or so at first. Then longer and longer building to the two week maximum. This way the bird learns he is not being abandoned and gets the idea this is temporary. I think you should spend time mourning the loss of your Lovey before getting another bird. The children need to recognize the loss and the pain and not get the idea that you just buy another bird. --Bird HotLine]

(3242) Rick asks: We have a African Grey and a Sun Conure and they are constantly chirping-singing- and talking. We love the birds but they are making so much noise we are about to go crazy. They have a lot of toys and we give them a lot of attention. Please, Please tell us what we can do to keep them quiet. Going crazy in Florida

[Nothing. This is what birds do]

BirdSlave Responds: I also have a Congo African Grey and a sun conure. Yes, they screech and yell. The Congo especially will do this because they are great imitators of other bird screeches and love to practice at full volume. Unfortunately, you have chosen one of the not what your conure is calling for: food, company, talking to you? They are love bugs and need attention from you on a daily basis. They also need plenty of chew toys.

Mark Responds: We have a Congo Grey and an Senegal. they did the same think...very noisy. I thought to give them more attention, be with them more and also move them around the room. Some loving attention and a variety in their life keeps them interested, happy and they seem to make pleasant sounds as opposed to the screeching. They both love to sit on the shower curtain rod and play in the shower with me, the Senegal loves to make coffee with me, then the Grey sits with me on the patio while I drink it...they are with me when I am on the computer etc...point is include them with your daily duties around the house when you can. I found it is rather easy, they love it, and be happier, more content quieter, both LOVE riding on the back of our German Shepherd, but that is another story

(3241) Angie asks: My parakeet has a very swollen foot. It is obviously sore. He won't put any pressure on it. I don't see any cuts or puncture wounds. What could be a cause? Can it be treated? Thanks so much for any information you can give me. Sincerely, Angie.

[There could well be an internal infection that has settled in that foot. You need to get him to a bird vet right away. Untreated it could be fatal and nothing you can buy a pet shops will have any effect. --Bird HotLine]
(3239) Astacia asks: I have 4-9month old parakeets in my preschool class. Today, we noticed that one of our little guys has a large lump on the top of his foot just above his toes. It resembles a wart. He is still able to climb around the cage, but has trouble bearing weight on it while standing. He seemed to sleep more than the other three today. 1) Should I separate him from the others?(he shares a cage with one other) 2) Is this contagious, or easily treatable? We do not have a lot of money for the vet.

[You need to get him to a bird vet. It may be a tumor. Most importantly, you need to show your preschoolers how to take care of a bird. "We do not have a lot of money for the vet," is the worst lesson you could give them. We keep trying to impress upon people that you don't buy a bird unless you can take the proper care of him or her. The hidden message in what you said was that it is okay if the bird dies without the proper treatment, after all it is just a parakeet that we paid $10 for. I know you probably didn't realize the hidden message and wouldn't want that to happen if you thought about it, but that is the case. Don't give them that message. They need to realize that all life is sacred and the responsibility required when you take a little life in your hands. That bird is counting on you and your class to take care of him. Thanks. One last thought, read these pages and other sites for the proper nutrition and care. Even let the children try to find out on their own. Great lesson for the children. --Bird HotLine]
(3237) Chris asks: I have a pair of canaries that have successfully bred The three chicks are now 13 days old and healthy The problem is that both parents seem keen to breed again. They seem quite aggressive to each other and regularly tussle when the hen is sitting the chicks. Should I remove the hen or the cock from the cage, would either bird carry on rearing the chicks alone? I do not want the pair to breed again

[There is no way to stop them from breeding again, short of separating them which is extremely cruel if they want to be together. If the female acts afraid of the male all time then that is a different matter. If the male is bothering the female you might want to remove him while she is sitting on the chicks. Also watch out that he doesn't aggravate the chicks when they are getting old enough to be weaned from being fed by the parents. He may get anxious to mate again and try to hurry up the process by pushing the chicks too fast. If you do remove the male be sure the female has food and water close by as she will not leave the chicks for long. Also a calcium block (not a cuttlebone). Once the male settles down try him back with the female again. Let them and their actions be the deciding factor, not you.--Bird HotLine]
(3236) Amanda asks: OK I had gotten 2 young parakeets 8 months ago and it was my first time owning birds. They were always extremely angry, vicious, and unbearably noisy. I don't know if this was because I was doing something wrong or if they had been mistreated previously or what. but I ended up miserable and I ended up giving them away. I am thinking about getting another bird but only one and perhaps an older bird. Do you think I shouldn't get one because I gave the other two away. if so what type of bird is quiet and tame?

[There is one major factor in raising a happy, quiet and tame bird: how the bird was raised from a baby. If he or she was raised with love and attention then you will have a wonderful friend. So you first have to ask yourself if you can be that kind of person and do you have the time and patience required. Frankly, most people do not. To get an older bird means uprooting that bird from his or her environment. If he was feeling close with other birds or other people he will feel abandoned and have all the trauma of an abandoned child. Birds are extremely emotionally sensitive. Keep this in mind. They also are very slow to forget trauma. So when you raise a bird your first priority is to never make the bird distrust you or feel uncomfortable around you. Your job is to make them feel you are protecting them. Once they feel that trust, the world of wondrous birds opens to you.--Bird HotLine]
(3235) Paul asks: I have 2 Grey cockatiel's and today 2 eggs appeared in the bottom of my cage what do I do?

[If the Tiels are acting like a couple (cleaning each other, feeding one another, etc., then you could assume the eggs are fertile. Are the birds sitting on them. If not, they are infertile and the birds know it. And if the birds are paying no attention to the eggs, remove them. If they are sitting on them do not move the eggs to another location but see if you can get a small towel under the eggs to create a little nest so it will be easier for the birds to sit. Also be sure the parents get a lot of extra vitamins and minerals and food is close by as they will not leave the eggs for long. You also need a calcium block. Then get the birds a nesting box for next time. If the birds are not a couple, do not get a nesting box as it will encourage the female to lay more infertile eggs. --Bird HotLine]
(3234) Virginia asks: please tell me how to help my conure to get her feathers to grow back in. she plucked them out. I don't know why I just want to help her grow them back and look cute again. Thanks

Kate Responds: This is a tough situation. First, she needs to go to vet to hopefully determine the cause. Medical conditions need to be ruled out. If it is a psychological problem, its harder to handle. If the feathers start to come in and she plucks them again, she will probably need a collar. I have a 3 year old parrotlet who has been in a collar for a year now. She is a compulsive feather plucker and if we take the collar off, she will pluck all of her feather out again. Birds can live fine in a collar. We had no success with the normal e-collar, our bird wears what resembles a neck brace and she does just fine with it.

Kelly A Responds: Birds will pluck for a variety of reasons. The first thing you should do is take him to a vet and have lab work done to make sure he doesn't have a bacterial, fungal infection or internal parasites like giardia.

(3233) Melissa asks: How do I get the bird to like me for example when I put my hand in the cage it just flies around like its scared?

[He is scared. You need to go very slowly with this. It can take months to make him trust you enough to let you hold him. I do suggest you have his wing feathers clipped so he can spend lots of time out of the cage without hurting himself by flying into walls and mirrors. Also it will help to tame him. Once he is tame you can decide if you want to continue to have his wing feathers clipped or not. --Bird HotLine]
(3232) David asks: I was just wondering how long baby chickens keep there baby feathers before getting new ones in, and if injecting the egg with food coloring will harm the egg or the chicken???

Mandi Responds: Okay, I don't know how long the baby down remains on the bird, but YES, injecting an egg with food coloring will hurt it! First of all, the hole you make to inject the coloring in will allow the fluid inside the egg (which is vital is it serves as the embryo's nourishment) will slowly drain out, killing the chick. Second, the embryo uses the fluids in the egg to develop the chick! If you put food coloring in, then you'll kill it, no doubt.

Cecile Responds: There are many breeds and varieties of chicken that have different rates of development. On average the wing feathers will grow after about a week. At 2 weeks the chick should be able to break it's fall though not lift up. At that time they will grow tail and back feathers. Chest feathers follow then head. At 4 weeks they are almost entirely feathered.

(3231) Leah asks: We have a new dove. We don't know what Kind of food, cage and if it's a male or female.

[Find a local pet shop that specializes in birds and they will help you with the food and cage. Very difficult to tell if a dove is a male or female without DNA testing. --Bird HotLine]
(3230) Gina asks: My Love Birds have mated and laid an egg a nestin box. Do we remove the egg? We want the egg to hatch and possibly keep the bird as an additional pet, but want to hand feed and let it be attached to us. Is this possible?

[My answer is No to everything. Leave the egg alone. You would need a professional incubator that turns the egg constantly for it to hatch. Once the baby is born let the parents feed him or her. Hand feeding by novices is the number one cause of death in baby birds. When the baby is out of the nesting box, start interacting with him or her. Feed the bird from your hand when he is able to eat that way. Work with the parents during this time. At first they will be very worried and maybe even aggressive, but when they realize you are helping them they will appreciate the help. --Bird HotLine]
(3229) Garry asks: How do you test whether a hens egg is fertile?

[First, there has to be a male bird as well. Secondly, is the relationship between the two birds obviously a couple relatlionship. Thirdly is she sitting on it and does he also show an interest? If all this is true you can figure it is probably fertile and let them do their thing and wait and see. Yes, you can candle the egg, to see if their is a blood spot, but you can also damage it in the process or even kill the baby so just wait and see. --Bird HotLine]
(3228) Cole asks:I just got a cockatiel and it makes a grinding noise with it's beak. It hasn't talked very much yet and seems like it's trying to communicate this way. Am I correct in this or could it be a problem?

[Neither. He is sharpening his beak by rubbing the top and bottom together. You also may be hearing him rubbing his seeds together when he brings them up from his crop to digest them. --Bird HotLine]
(3227) Lori asks:I am concerned about the amount of pesticides on raw fruits and vegetables. What is the proper way to clean them so my beautiful cockatoo is protected? He does not like cooked vegetables, only raw.

[Two possibilities I can think of. Go to a health food store and get him his fruits and vegetables there as they are organically grown with no pesticides. Since birds eat like birds, a little will go a long way so it won't be very expensive. Secondly, use an organic cleaner (non chemical) to clean the items. I know AmWay puts out one and I'm sure other companies do too. --Bird HotLine]
(3226) Shana asks: Hello I just wanted to know if you know of any way that I can see a picture of scaly mites (but on the legs). My Parakeet does not have any crust or intrusions on his beak but his legs seems to look a little on the dry side so I wanted to know if this is something that I should be concerned with. Ohsi is less than a year old and still eats and drinks water, the droppings seem to still appear normal. Any info you can give me will be greatly appreciated Thanks

[Check the Internet through search engines and contact vets in your area to see if one has a book with pictures. --Bird HotLine]
(3225) Sharon asks: Will it be OK to put a kakariki in the same cage as my other kakariki? He's about 8 months old

Cecile Responds: As with any other species, it is possible, but you can never be sure two individuals will get along. Proceed with caution. First allow them to meet in neutral territory (i.e. NOT the resident bird's cage or playstand) under supervision for increasing amount of time. Be prepared to separate them if one attacks the other. If they appear to get along you can put them in the same cage. If they show aggression, separate them for a time and try again. There is a real possibility that they may never get along so instead of having 2 birds keeping each other company you have to maintain 2 cages and give each some personal time with you to keep them happy. Do not get the new bird if you think you couldn't cope with that situation. Good luck.
(3224) Chris asks: I have two caiques, unrelated, young and, as of now, unsexed. They share the same cage and if they turn out to be a true pair and decide to breed at a later date what would be the result ie..chicks. I don't like to breed sub species but am loath to split a very content and happy pair up. Please give me your advice.

[My thought is to leave them be and let nature take its course. I too do not believe in cross breeding, etc. but I also don't believe in making two birds miserable for the rest of their lives. --Bird HotLine]
(3223) Annette asks::I took my listless Zebra Finch, Peppie, to the vet in November. She put him on Baytril 60 compounded. This was to be hand fed 2 drops twice daily. He had a terrible reaction to it the first time I gave it to him. He shook all over and banged his head against the cage when I put him back in. I called the vet the next morning and told her about his reaction. She said he didn't like the taste, and I should put sugar in it for him. He continued to have a bad reaction, but I thought he needed it to make him better. When I took him in a few weeks later, he had lost weight even though his appetite was still good. She said the bacteria was not showing up in his droppings, but they showed undigested food. His feathers were all puffed up, even on his back, and he looked terrible. He was no longer grooming himself. She said she thought he had a diseased liver and there was nothing else she could do for him. I watched him slowly starve to death, even though he never stopped eating enormous amounts of food. Have you heard of Baytril causing liver damage in a bird this size? Should his reaction to it have been cause for concern? When do you listen to your vet, and when do you listen to your pet?

[Your question about Baytril should be asked of Dr. Rosskoff on the Vet Talk page. As far as your other question, my thought is that you almost always listen to your pet when it comes to birds. So many vets call themselves bird knowledgeable when they are not. The exception would be that you have checked out the vet and found him or her to really be bird knowledgeable or experience has proven it. Even then, for me, it would be half and half. --Bird HotLine]
(3222) Sylvia asks: Thank you so much Steve & Sandy, about the sex of my cockatiel. The pet shops in Australia are giving me differing information, so I would like to stick with you, when do cockatiels molt and when are they considered mature? Barnie or Bernadette which ever he/she turns out to be has never grown feathers on his head, the shop said it was because he was still a baby( he is a 1 year old lutino or yellow cockatiel. My friends gray cockatiel is the same age and he has feathers on his head. Plus can we put id rings on their legs now? I am grateful for your help as I cannot find an avian vet in Adelaide Australia yet and all the cockatiel clubs so far are in your wonderful country. I am not a novice with animals I was head of The Australian Animal Protection Society for many years, but I never came across cockatiels before, but I adore mine I am disabled now and he has become a major companion as I live alone with two dogs as well. Thanks America for having such a great an helpful site ! . God Bless you. Bye for now Sylvia Austrlia.

[Cockatiels molt whenever they want to. There really isn't a precise timing. Usually about 2 or 3 times a year. I would say they are mature at about a year and a half. Lutinos often have bald heads for a while. Also when they molt they seem to lose those feathers a lot and look bald when they raise their top feathers. Remember these birds have been bred for color so they lose some of their normal attributes. Also they typically have weak livers so you need to be sure he doesn't get anything toxic as he will have a bad time trying to get it out of his system. Also give him lots of vitamins and minerals to compensate and good nutritious food. I don't really like the idea of ID rings. Of course if he got lost it could help but there is more of a chance that he could catch his leg in a hanging toy or something on his cage or elsewhere and hurt himself badly if not fatally. This isn't common but we hear about it enough on the Bird HotLine to make me nervous. --Bird HotLine]
(3221) Jack asks: I have a sun conure 16 years old. she lays eggs once a year, usually about 4. this year she has been laying eggs for the last 6 weeks. the total so far is eight. her personality has changed. also advise please.

[Something is triggering her to lay eggs. She may be fixating on you as her mate. You need to back off and not give her the kind of attention that may trigger a mating response. Also if this is not winter for you, or you live where it is warm, try putting her down earlier and waking her up later. Keep her room dark during her sleep time so she thinks it is winter. --Bird HotLine]
(3220) Judy asks:I would like to know more about how I can tam my peachface lovebird. when I get close to the cage it starts to go nuts. How can I get close to it so it even gets us to me. I talk to it all the time. when I uncover it in the morning and when I get home from work. I talk to it when it's time for bed and every thing. Maybe you can tell me a name of a web site to go to so that I can read about how to do this. I want to get this done before it get to old. I was told at the pet store when I got it that its a baby. I would like to let it fly around the house and have it come when I need to put it back in the cage. As it can not be left out all the time as we also have a cat. As long as the bird is in the cage the cat doesn't bother it, just watches it. When I would let it out of the cage I would lock the cat up! Please help so that I can teach pixie to trust me. Thank You

[First of all stop calling him or her an it. Pick one and use it. How would you feel if you were referred to as an "it?" Secondly and most important this bird has every right to be scared of you. A bird judges people by how much they can trust them. You have put this bird in a life threatening situation and he knows it. Think how you would feel if you were locked in a cage and someone who wanted to kill you was prowling around the cage and constantly watching you. I think you really need to consider giving the bird to a family that does not have a cat. One day a mistake will happen and your bird may die. It is not easy to live with that. --Bird HotLine]
(3219) Mary asks: My son has a male parakeet approximately 18 months old. My first question is why does he "eat" his wooden perch and ladder? He gnaws at them until they look like toothpicks. Secondly, we have removed all half-eaten wooden perches, etc. We noticed blood on the bird's chest the other day. There is no sharp object of any kind in his cage. We cleaned him up and he was fine. Now we noticed the blood again. Can he be doing this to himself?

[Is he plucking feathers? He could be pulling blood feathers. My first step would be a check-up to see if he is ill or missing vitamins and minerals. Does he have a calcium block (not a cuttlebone)? Does he get lots of different foods? Supplements? Since he likes to chew give him wooden items to chew. Just be sure they are clean and non toxic. Best to use pieces of perches, etc. Hang them around the cage so can reach up and chew the heck out of them. Also and most important, how much time does he get a day playing with you outside the cage. They need to be outside more than in. --Bird HotLine]
(3218) Julia asks:I have just purchased a Nanday Conure he would bite occasionally at the pet store, but when brought home he became vicious towards me only I am a female but to male family members he is much less likely to bite. It is only his second day home but I am worried, I want a bird that can be handled. I did not show fear and mostly left him alone since he is new and not to overwhelm him (or her). I would also like to mention that it will go out of its way to bite just me. I would appreciate any suggestions even if it might be too late since he is 1 1/2 years old. We have someone else interested in buying the bird, but that is our last resort. Thank-you much.

[He sounds more like a she to me. She may not understand the situation yet and feel like you and her are in competition for the male. Also she may be very nervous right now trying to make sure everyone understands how to handle her and she feels insecure. Take this slow and give her lots of love. At 1 1/2 she is an adult and has only known the previous lifestyle. She may also be missing some of her friends. --Bird HotLine]
(3217) Sonia asks: I am concerned for my 6 month old Rainbow Lorikeet. My partner and I care for him very much. Since we bought our bird (4 1/2 months ago) there has always been one of us at home, myself during the evening at my partner during the day. My partner is now going to be away during the day and evening for work and I will still be away during the day. Now our bird will be alone all day. I'm afraid he will be very lonely and angry at us. How will he cope? Should we get another lorikeet for company? Will our bird reject another bird? Will our bird no longer be tame towards us if there is another bird? Desperate for advice. We want the best for our bird.

[Place this one by ear. Don't do anything without first seeing how he reacts to the situation. Some birds would much rather be alone during the day and have your full attention when you get home and on weekends. Other birds enjoy the company of another bird. Sometimes a radio on a nice mellow station does the trick when you are gone. Think this through step by step. Is this a permanent situation with your partner's work? If not, that is another consideration. --Bird HotLine]
(3216) Urshulaa asks: About a week and a half ago, I brought home 2 young, healthy, and active parakeets. For the first few days, I just gave them a seed mix and let them eat whatever they wanted. Now that they are settled and everything, I would like to get them to start eating more of a variety of food, so I tried putting in some cantaloupe, carrots, and banana, but they only picked at the banana and cantaloupe (probably to get the pieces out of the way of the seed). Also, they only seem to be eating the millet and one other kind from the seed/pellet mix. I want them to eat all the other good things in there, so I tried to separate the millet out before replacing their food dish, however they only seem to be getting frustrated poking through the mix and not finding any. I left it that way for about half the day, but I didn't want them to starve, so I gave in and added the millet back. How can I get them to eat different things? And how long can they go without eating? Thanks!

[Never use starvation as a way to get them to eat other foods. How much time do they spend with you on your shoulder and playing. This is the first step. They need to bond with you. You may want to have their wing feathers clipped so they won't fly into things and they will be much tamer. Once you have bonded with them, give them tiny pieces of other foods by hand. --Bird HotLine]
(3215) Bonnie asks: I have a 3 year old Senegal, who began plucking the gold feathers off her chest about a year ago. Also, when my husband and I are at home in another room, she demands attention by screaming. I took her to the vet, and he suggested some environmental changes and for her to be given even more attention. Nothing has changed, and I was wondering what your thoughts are on the use of Prosac to help stop plucking and screaming. Thanks in advance. B.

[Very much against it unless it would help the health of the bird. We don't medicate a situation. We find out what the problem is and solve it. This is very typical behavior of many birds. They are flock creatures and get very upset when the flock isn't together. If you are going to have a bird you have to deal with this. Start thinking about the situation through her eyes and you will come up with a good solution. Put yourself in her feathers and think how you would feel if the people you loved were in the next room ignoring you. --Bird HotLine]
(3213) Sylvia asks: When are cockatiels mature and do both sexes talk. Grateful Sylvia Australia.

[Normally the male is the talker. He does this to get attention. Much like in humans. --Bird HotLine]
(3212) Tabitha asks: What is the avg. life span for a cockatiel? Thanks

[That is really difficult since many cockatiels have been bred for color, etc. These birds have a much shorter life expectancy then natural Tiels. A natural Tiel's life expectancy should be between 15 and 20 years. --Bird HotLine]
(3211) Jackie asks: I have a family of three cockatiels, a mom, dad, and a baby, then, I just saw that the mom layed an egg, what do I do? How can I help the egg survive? How long does it take before they mate and she lays an egg? I just saw the egg now, I don't know how long it's been there? How long does it take for the egg to hatch? are there special requirements, like do I go out now and buy a little nest now for them to put it in? Should I touch the egg?

[Normally there is nothing you need do. Just be sure the mother has a calcium block close by. Also that both parents get a lot of extra vitamins and minerals, plus, of course, good nutritious food. If the Mom and Dad are truly mates then you should get them a mating box at a pet shop. If neither of them are sitting on the egg then it isn't fertile and leave it alone until you are sure they are completely ignoring it. Then just take it away.--Bird HotLine]

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*Karen ("The Parrot Lady") has been involved with birds for nearly 30 years. She has written chapters on hand feeding baby birds and grooming for the book, Diseases of Cage and Avian Birds, written by Dr. Walter J. Rosskopf and Dr. Richard Woerpel . And has published similar information in veterinarian manuals. She has worked with veterinarians for over 14 years.*Karen ("The Parrot Lady") has been involved with birds for nearly 30 years. She has written chapters on hand feeding baby birds and grooming for the book, Diseases of Cage and Avian Birds, written by Dr. Walter J. Rosskopf and Dr. Richard Woerpel . And has published similar information in veterinarian manuals. She has worked with veterinarians for over 14 years.

She has her own bird shop--Birds & More--in Redondo Beach, CA and has hand raised almost all of her 100 birds, born from her own breeding pairs or from selected breeders. She is well known as a bird groomer and has been flown [on airplanes--not birds] around the country to do special bird groomings for private individuals and organizations like the Hyatt Regency in Hawaii. [How do you get this job?] In her spare time [very funny], she writes a "bird help" column for the South Bay Bird Society. She is also a consultant to people around the world on the proper care of birds.

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