Cheat Sheet

Parrots For Dummies

From Parrots For Dummies by Nikki Moustaki

Parrots are engaging and intelligent birds, which may explain the many Web sites devoted to them and their interests. These tropical birds need protection from some common household items and natural predators, and if your parrot and your child share a house, you need to teach your child how to make friends with your parrot.

Online Pet Parrot Resources

Owning a parrot requires a certain level of interest in these tropical birds, and the Internet is a great place to slake your curiosity. The following Web sites offer a range of information from caring for individual birds to preserving these feathered creatures.

  • The Alex Foundation: Very informative Web site for Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s research on Alex, an African grey parrot, and two other greys. If you want to know about parrot intelligence, this is the site.

  • Association of Avian Veterinarians: Find an avian vet in your area.

  • Avian Protection Society: A group promoting the welfare of parrots everywhere. Excellent resource for adopting a parrot or for parrot behavior and welfare issues.

  • The Avian Welfare Coalition: The AWC is a working alliance of representatives from bird adoption, rescue, and sanctuary groups, humane societies, animal advocacy organizations, published research biologists, animal behaviorists, shelter and research veterinarians, and attorneys and other animal law specialists dedicated to the ethical treatment and protection of birds living in captivity and in their natural habitats.

  • Foster Parrots: Run by Marc Johnson, is dedicated to improving the lives of parrots as pets and in their natural habitats. You’ll find information about rescue and adoption in this site, as well as lots of other good stuff.

  • Free Parrots: A great parrot news site run by Harvard biologist Mike Schindlinger, who also runs the Oratrix Project, an in-depth study of the language of wild Amazon parrots.

  • The Gabriel Foundation: A nonprofit corporation promoting education, conservation, rescue, rehabilitation, adoption, and sanctuary for the needs of parrots everywhere.

  • My Toos: Thinking about getting a cockatoo? Please check out this site first!

  • Natural Encounters: Cool site featuring one of the best-known trainers in the world, Steve Martin, who has pioneered the art of training a variety of birds and animals through positive reinforcement. The site contains lots of practical training information.

  • The Shyne Foundation: This site details the benefit of free flight in parrots and shows you how to build a free flight habitat.

  • Tropical Nature Travel: Want to see parrots in the wild? This organization offers tours for just that purpose.

  • World Parrot Trust: This charity funds projects and promotes parrot conservation and welfare. Great information on parrot welfare and links to parrot resources.

Items to Keep Your Parrot Away From

Your parrot is a curious bird, but too much curiosity about the wrong things can be harmful to your feathered friends as well as to cats (which certainly pose a danger to your parrot).

The following list contains foods, household items, and other creatures to keep away from your parrot and your parrot away from:

Air fresheners Chocolate Nonstick surfaces
Alcohol Ferrets and snakes Open windows
Avocados Glues Pencils
Caffeine Household cleansers Pens
Candles Ionizers Pesticides
Cats and dogs Jingle bells Standing water
Chipping paint Lead Toxic houseplants

How to Teach a Child to Behave around a New Parrot

Incorporating a parrot into your family takes some adjustment from everyone, especially children. The tips in the following list can help your child — and anyone who isn’t familiar with birds — adjust to the newest, most feathered member of the family:

  • Use inside voices, but don’t whisper.

  • Talk to your new parrot. Get it used to the sound of your voice.

  • Don’t play with the bird too much in the first few days. Allow the bird to become acclimated.

  • Move slowly. Children tend to display sharp, quick movements which can scare parrots.

  • Be gentle. Never squeeze, hit, or throw the bird. Use slow, gentle movements.

  • Be compassionate and understanding. Teach your child that the bird is not a toy.

  • Teach your child not to be afraid of the bird. Fear will lead to an ignored and unhappy companion.

  • Don’t stick your fingers in the cage or tease the bird.

  • If the bird is afraid, it’s not personal. He’s just being a bird.

  • Offer the bird yummy treats to make friends with it.

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