Budgie parakeets > Talking birds > Care of parrots

Care of parrots

After parrots are acclimated and pass a few months in the north there is no, reason why they should not live to a very old age. Many specimens of the gray parrot in Europe are known to have lived sixty, eighty, and even 100 years. The Mexican parrots do not appear to be as long lived, and they have only been popular pets for a few years in the central and western states, so we have had no opportunity to properly estimate their longevity. We have had many reports, however, of these birds which have been kept in captivity from fifteen to twenty­five years and were seemingly in good health and their education or talking ability constantly im­proved.

The prime essentials in the care of parrots are warmth, cleanliness, pure, wholesome food and fresh, moist air. The subject of food will be treated in another chapter.

Cleanliness is one of the most essential points in the care of parrots, and daily attention is necessary, not only for the sake of keeping the plumage unsoiled and beautiful, but to preserve the health and prolong the bird's life. The cage should he thoroughly cleaned in every part, occa­sionally taking the birds out of it and giving the cage a thorough washing. It is not necessiry to wash the perch often, but it should be daily scraped. The little instrument called a perch scraper, which we illustrate herewith, consists of a wooden handle with a piece of sharpened metal affixed at one end. With this it is an easv matter to reach between the wires of the cage and thoroughly scrape the perch. It is important to keep the bottom of the cage dry as well as clean, and therefore sand or gravel sprinkled over the bottom is quite an advantage, and helps the bird to keep its feet clean. Should you notice that there are incrustations of dirt on the feet, it is well to remove them, picking them off carefully. Should they seem to adhere so firmly as to be apt to injure the bird's foot in removing, they may be washed off with a little warm water. Washing the feet with water with
which a little glycerine has been mixed, helps to keep them soft and in good condition.
If the cage is not cleaned regularly, and soft food is allowed to remain in it, it will soon be­gin smelling badly, and a dirty cage is also quite apt to become infected with vermin. Birds tor­mented by these parasites can never remain in good health very long, and their feathers will look dull and rough instead of smooth and glossy as they should. An accumulation of refuse and droppings in the cage gives rise to the formation of noxious gases, which are not only unpleasant in the room, but sometimes cause fever and other bird ailments. The parrots when in health are quite fond of preening and arranging their feath­ers, but when they once become seriously soiled they sometimes give up the care of their toilet in despair and degenerate into a slovenly habit.

Parrots are natives of a very warm climate, and nothing is more essential to them than be­ing kept in a warm place, and especially free from drafts. Exposure to sudden changes of tempera­ture often proves the precursor of various dis­eases. In most homes the temperature of the room is apt to fall considerable during the night in the winter season, and it is always best to cover the cage lightly with a blanket so that the bird's natural warmth of body will be retained, and to avoid all drafts it is a good plan to "put Polly to bed" by throwing a cloth over the cage every night, unless it is during extremely warm weather.

In case of sickness it has often been found that when all other means have failed to restore birds to health, placing it in an immoderate degree of heat has been attended with signal success. One case of this kind is related as follows: A valu­able gray parrot having taken a severe cold was attacked with violent diarrhoea and inflammation, and the bird's life was despaired of. The usual medicines and specific were employed, but with­out favorable result.

Within three days the bird was reduced to a mere skeleton and was unable to partake of nourishment of any kind, and through excessive weakness and exhaustion fell to the bottom of the cage and had two or three attacks of convulsions. It thereafter laid so still that its keeper considered the bird's life extinct. He, however, took some hot coals from the stove, covered them with ashes, wrapped the bird in a piece of flannel and placed it in this hot bed of ashes. Within a few minutes the bird began to move, and to the surprise of all present soon stood up on its feet. It was then placed in a warm cloth and kept so near the stove that it was ex­posed to all unusual degree of heat. The cage top was placed over him, and within an hour it proceeded to mount its perch, and the following day regained its customary spirits and soon re­covered.

It is well to remember that parrots like warm, moist air instead of dry air. During warm weather parrots enjoy the fresh air, and it is well to hang them out on the porch, but do not put them in such a position that they are exposed to the direct rays of the sun without chance friends getting in the shade. Some of our lady friends who have parrots have made a neat awning for the cage, so when the sun became too hot the bird could readily keep to the side of the cage where he is not exposed to its direct rays. The cage must not be hung in front of an open window or where the bird is in a draft, as it is quite apt to catch cold, which might result disastrously.

We have frequently seen two or more parrots kept in the same cage and there is no objection to this, provided the birds are of the same species and not quarrelsome, but it is seldom advisable to keep a number of different varieties caged together, as their habits and dispositions are apt to be so dissimilar as to cause trouble. Where an aviary is desired for them, it is as a rule best to keep the birds caged seperately for a while so that they can become acquainted before turning them loose together in a large cage.

Most varieties of paroquets and some kinds of parrots enjoy bathing in water, and in their wild state they bathe freely. They should be provided with means for taking a bath in the cage. The Mexican parrots, however, resemble the domestic hen in that they much prefer a dust bath, and it is a good plan to occasionally give them a treat by putting a spadeful of dry dirt in the cage, and place the cage in some position where dirt will not be objectionable if scattered. It is decidedly amusing to see the parrots roll in the dust and scatter it through their feathers, and after thor­oughly shaking themselves and pluming their feathers they appear cleaner than they were before.

It is easier and more pleasant, however, to give, them a shower bath. The best way to arranye this is to sprinkle the bird with soft, tepid water, in which may be dissolved a small quantity of borax. This is quite cleansing to the feathers. This kind of a bath should be given once a week during the summer and once a month during the winter. Care should be exercised to place the bird in the sun or near a stove or radiator so that its plumage will dry thoroughly, and then be very careful that it is not exposed to the cold draft. Usually after taking a bath the bird will spread its feathers so as to dry them off, and pass every feather through its beak until they are neat and glossy.

Birds enjoy an occasional sun bath and like to plume their feathers when the sun is shining on them: but do not hang your bird in the full sun­light for any considerable length of time during hot days, as it is liable to suffer from the heat. The smell of gas or turpentine or any such odors is injurious to parrots as well as other birds.