FROM THE EDITOR
It seems that with every
issue of The Quaker News I am discussing yet another product that can
cause illness or death in our beloved pets. I am concerned that this
repetition of "doomsday" warnings gets monotonous for our
readers. The thought that even one pet Quaker will be lost by my failure
to report a possible danger forces me to include what may be depressing
Just recently I read about
those yellow sponges with the green plastic fibers on the back, so
convenient for scrubbing. Apparently there is now a new and
"improved" version on the market that kills odor-causing fungi
in the sponge. The chemical used for this is a derivative of 2-4-D
commonly known as Agent Orange. On the back of the package in very tiny
print there is a warning to keep this sponge away from pets. Using this
sponge for scrubbing cages, dishes, etc could be a real danger.
In another article I read
about the death of several pet birds from carbon monoxide poisoning in
spite of the fact that there were two carbon monoxide detectors in the
house. It seems that the amount of CO it takes to kill a bird is much
less than the amount necessary to set off the alarm. Good ventilation is
Another source of trouble,
which has only recently been publicized, is the danger of zinc
poisoning. We have been warned about many sources but need to add the
glue that holds together toilet paper and paper towel rolls, favorite
toys. The wire inside the twist ties that hold some treats on the cage
is another source of zinc .
I will keep reporting to you
whatever new information I can pick up, and repeating some of the old
for our new pet owners. I have to consider this an important function of
your news letter.
Dear Linda; My Sam is a
little mischief. He puts all his play toys way to the back of his cage
and dares us to come and get them. He hollers at us to come and get
them. Can he run and laugh! He balances his wooden spoon on the open
door and length of the top. Stormy from Missouri
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Dear Linda; Our Fred is the
funniest little critter! Iíll be lying in bed reading a book and he
will take a sudden dislike to the hand not holding the book. He spends
hours trying to drive it away so he can have the other hand (the one
holding the book) all to himself. He cuddles up to it and coos and
preens. He makes turning the page a real adventure! Dave from California
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Dear Linda; We have a three
year old Quaker Parakeet named Izzy. He is the joy of our lives! It is
so neat to have an animal talk to you, and understand what he is saying!
Only another Quaker owner can understand how smart they really are.
Caris from Ohio
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Dear Linda; Our precious
Quaker "Jammer" is the best bird we could ever have, We love
his daily antics. He keeps us laughing every day. Quakers are simply the
best friends! Jeannelle from Ohio
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Dear Linda; I have a two
year old Quaker and love him very much. I want to get another one so heíll
have a playmate and maybe breed. Does it matter about the age difference
between them? I donít know how soon Iíll be able to get another one.
Hopefully, soon because he is like my shadow and he needs a companion.
Debby from West Virginia
Dear Debby; Your pet is
bonded firmly to you. If you get another bird, before too much time
passes, you will find the bond will be to the other bird, not to you.
You will lose your shadow! Especially if you set the two birds up in a
breeding situation, you will find that you no longer have pets.
Experience repeated over and over, shows that you canít have it both
ways. You either have breeders or pets. Your pet will probably do much
better without a bird companion.
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Dear Linda; I would be
interested to know if there are others who have allergies to their birds
as I do and how they manage. Patsy from Oregon
Yes, indeed there are
others, and I am one of them. Some years ago I had a series of tests and
on the list of things to avoid was bird dander and feathers. We had just
built a new aviary and breeding and showing birds had become an
important part of my life. I just couldnít give up on birds. I have
limited the number of pets we keep in the house and strictly adhere to a
daily spraying as well as good cage housekeeping. That, combined with
frequent use of prescribed antihistamines, works fairly well for me.
Anyone with some better ideas?
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Hi Linda: Hereís a little
warm weather silliness. Antonio from New York
ROOT FOR DODGER
When the bird Olympics come
to town in August, Dodger, the Quaker parrot will compete in the Kidney
Bean Flinging event.
"Õ wanted to compete
last year." Says Dodger, "but I was really too young. I had to
build up some muscle mass."
Dodger, who will be two
years old in July will be competing with such prodigious food flingers
as African Grays and Umbrella Cockatoos. She says that she is doing it
to prove that small birds have what it takes, and to express her disgust
with kidney beans.
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Dear Linda: I want to share
our Quakerís latest little antic with you. When we are home, Petrieís
cage door is almost always open. It is the kind where you pull out the
wire and the front opens. We keep his wings clipped so he is always
either on his cage or tree stand. I was watching him play on top of his
cage and sitting on the tree branch that is placed on top. I never
noticed before how he would climb down the cage and inside the door,
close the door, go eat or whatever, then open the door, come out, and
close the door before going back on top. I watched him do this time and
time again before I told my husband to watch him. This is now part of
his procedure, We come in to the room and he says "Hi, Mommy. Hi
Daddy" I walk over to the cage and ask him if he wants out. He
says, "Come out," and Iíll open the door. Out he pops, we
get kisses and then it is playtime.
Petrie does have the Quaker
voice. I read in your newsletter about a lady who took her Quaker
traveling with her. Petrie would be a good traveler, but I am afraid of
his being loud from time to time. I wonder what she does? Debbie from
Dear Debbie: I have found
that when traveling with my birds the secret to keeping them quiet is to
keep the carrier dark Ė a dark cloth draped over the carrier usually
works. They think that it is nighttime and sleep. When driving with them
in the car, I find they do much better with the same dark cover to avoid
the glare of approaching head lights. Another tip I just heard about is
to strictly avoid putting the cage on the floor of the car as even a
trace of carbon monoxide seeping up through the floor boards can effect
Dear Linda; Please give me
some advice on how to get a male to breed a female. (Quaker, that is!)
They have been getting Quicko Vit.E for awhile. My female is on her
second male. Iím giving her one more chance and then Iíll have to
get another female. Iím wondering if she just doesnít want to breed.
She has laid infertile eggs five times, once with the male I have now.
Should I give her another chance? Juanita from Ohio
Dear Juanita: One thing you
should try before giving up on that hen, that I have found occasionally
to be effective, is to trim away the soft. poufy feathers round her
vent. Sometimes these are abundant enough to prevent the sperm from
entering the cloaca to fertilize the eggs. Trim the feathers. Do not
pluck them or they will grow back within a short time. It is worth a
SOME TIPS ON
From South Jersey Bird Club
One thing a parrot loves is
a safe, non-toxic plastic tub placed in the play room, on top of the
cage, or on bottom of the cage.(be careful of feces) containing lots of
"bird junk." Let the bird pick and choose the pieces of wood,
fruit chews, or left over toy parts.
If your bird is afraid of
new things or never had a toy before, introduce the toy slowly so it
does not frighten the bird. Hang the toy on the side of the cage or in
an area close to the cage where the bird can see the toy. Wait until the
bird is reaching for the toy before placing it in the cage.
WHEN SHOULD TOYS BE
Always alternate your birdís
toys, at least every two to three weeks. Give your bird a new toy after
two to three weeks and replace with old toys. Discard old toys when they
are soiled or one half chewed. Remove leftover pieces such as unchewed
pieces of wood or marabella beads. These leftover pieces will be good
items for the toy tub mentioned above.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD BEGINNERS
Birds prefer small toys to
begin with. They also like toys with smaller pieces of soft, easy to
chew pine wood or cholla.
When selecting a toy for
your bird, follow these nine basic rules:
Rule # 1- No dog leash style
snap hooks, especially for large parrots strong enough to manipulate
them.(This advice includes Quakers.)
Rule # 2- Chain links should
be smoothly finished and welded. Links should be large enough to prevent
Rule # 3- Toys should not
feature small, removable parts that can be easily swallowed by the bird.
If your bird receives such a toy, remove the small parts or offer the
toy to a smaller bird. You may wish to remove bells or clappers if your
bird is mechanically inclined.
Rule # 5- Birds should not
be permitted to ingest non-food substances. Even though toy components
may be non-toxic, they may impact the crop. Observe your bird at play to
be sure it does not actually eat rope, wood, leather, etc.
Rule # 6- Rope toys should
be discarded when heavily soiled or frayed.
Rule # 7- Monitor your bird
carefully to be sure that it can play safely before leaving it alone
with the new item. If you have any doubts over any toy, remove it from
the cage when the bird is unsupervised.
Rule # 8- If you are
concerned about the safety of suspended toys for athletic parrots, buy
hand held play items, or remove components from hanging toys and offer
Rule # 9- Keep your birdís
wings and nails well groomed to avoid toy related injury. Many accidents
occur because overgrown beaks and nails become trapped in toy parts.
Big Bend Bird Club
Aviculturists have a new
headache to watch for: Organic bedding. Weíve been seeing birds die of
grit impactions for years now, as we slowly (but hopefully surely) get
the information out to the bird owning public. Now we have new killers.
I had a breeder find her
male Macaw dead one morning. She had the bird for about a year. He had
sired 12 fertile eggs during that year and had been observed feeding his
mate the evening before his death. Fortunately for us, the breeder is
one of those who is willing to have necropsies done on her birds so that
if there is anything we can learn from a birdís death, we will.
When we opened the birdís
body we discovered that there were signs of bleeding into the bowel. The
gizzard and proventriculus were both distended with bloody food and
small corncob bedding. There was so much cob in there that there was
very little room for food. Like grit, the corncob bedding was inert and
stayed in the gizzard. Unlike grit, the stuff swelled. And the bird had
not had access to corn cob bedding for over a year.
Another notable necropsy was
on an Amazon. He too died suddenly. His proventriculus was markedly
thickened and his bowel, just past the gizzard, showed gross evidence of
bleeding. His gizzard was FULL of walnut shell bedding. He had only had
access to the bedding for about two hours a month before his death. A
survivor who had also only had two hours of access to the walnut shell
bedding was seen at the clinic for "off and on" eating and
"off and on" depression for five days. Fecal content of the
droppings was decreased and in black color. His urates (the white) and
urine (the clear liquid) were normal. The bird had been observed to be
choking or trying to regurgitate and then vomit the evening before
presentation. Blood work indicated that the bird was fighting off an
infection or inflammation. The history and physical indicated that it
probably had a bowel obstruction. The owner declined X-rays and barium
series and would not have opted for surgery if the problem was a tumor,
so we attempted medical therapy.
Please donít risk your
birdís life. Not just babies eat cage bottom materials: adults can and
do as well. Birds of all ages can die from that behavior. So, no walnut
shell bedding, corncob bedding, or kitty litter. Plain old newspaper,
paper towels, paper in bags or on a roll, etc. work just fine. You can
see and evaluate daily dropping, catching any changes before the problem
is overwhelming. Color, size, constancy and number of droppings are all
very important. Sure, it is easier to "keep clean" if you only
change bedding once a week or so, but who knows what is going on with
the droppings if you cannot see them?
KEEP YOUR BIRD
ENTERTAINED AND QUIET
Pet Information Pages Ė
Bird Clubs of America
Inexpensive things can stop
the screaming of birds. At the Crafts store you can buy wooden
clothespins (not with metal clips) by the dozen. At peak noise periods
just hand them out and sit back and enjoy the temporary peace. You can
also buy large plastic macramť balls in an assortment of colors. Place
one per cage and watch them pick up the ball and carry it everywhere.
Some will even roll it on the floor while others will flip on their
backs and hold it in their feet. I have one bird that will throw it and
run after it to do it all over again. Just throw it into the utensil
part of your dishwasher while you are doing their bowls and someone will
get a new color the next time around
Craft stores also sell
cinnamon sticks. Get the ones wrapped in plastic to avoid the extra
bacteria. Depending on the size purchased, break into three inch pieces
and pass them out. Like a little wood branch, they will chew it and
bring about a most pleasant aroma.
In the grocery store donít
forget to go down the paper isle and get some paper (no wax or plastic)
bathroom cups. Birds of all sizes love to rip the cups to shreds.
On the pasta isle of the
store pick up garden twists (beet, carrot and spinach flavor) mix. Also
pick up some large bow tie pasts or any other shape you think your bird
can hold. This will quiet down even the largest Amazon once they learn
to eat them raw. Just give one or two at a time. This is extra protein
but really entertainment and variety to their day. When I pass out my
large salad to the birds, before I have finished the room I can hear the
crunching of the pasta. It is their first choice over corn.
From your own stock of bird
supplies you can cut millet sprays in 2-3 inch pieces instead of giving
them an entire spray. Keep a bunch pre-cut in a zip lock baggy so when
you are having that important phone conversation you can give them a
Hey, you like your coke and
cookies now and then. So do the birds. I think their screaming is just a
craving for attention or for something to eat. They are only human!
Pet birds need to be
noticed, fed at a regular time, fed treats at meal time if they are
within sight of you eating, played with like before, or they will scream
like a three year old. Perhaps they scream because the water bottle is
empty or their food is gone.
Covering with a blanket or
cloth only increases their frustration, though they will be relatively
quiet for a time until they get used to being covered for such behavior.
They might learn if covered for a short time, like 5,10,or 15 minutes,
the length of a telephone call. Otherwise they wonít get the message.
When they scream, do not
scream back at them. It will become play, and they will only do it
louder. They are being rewarded for their screaming by getting the
attention that they crave. Reward birds for good behavior. If the TV is
on, theyíll want to compete. Turn down the volume or turn it off and
hear the reaction of the birds. Donít punish the birds for being
natural. Loud calls are natural in the wild.
Toys are wonderful, but
those too become a regular part of their lives. Regular changes keep the
bird entertained. As Ann Novak indicates, something that they can hold
in their feet is better. Strips of carrot, celery, greens, millet spray
or a small stick or clothespin keep them quiet longer.
If the bird continually
screams, perhaps heís telling you the cage is too small. Moving him
will also provide a new thing for him to get used to, and perhaps quiet
him for a spell.
From The Perch ĖLouisiana
Understanding nutrition is
of critical importance because proper nutrition leads to good health and
a strong immune system to help fight off disease. Nutrients are required
in varying amounts, depending on their functions and the amounts and
interactions with each other.
Remember, a bird, like a
human baby, relies entirely on your ability to , provide exactly the
foods it needs.. Special treats may be given although total treat intake
should not exceed 20% of the total diet.
There is a considerable
amount of anecdotal information available from aviculturists, breeders,
and hobbyists reporting observations on different foodstuffs. Valid,
scientific evidence is less numerous. It is wise to assume that any food
or agent that is harmful for dogs, cats, or people is also harmful for
birds. Unfortunately, birds appear to be much more susceptible to toxins
than mammals. This increased susceptibility to toxins may be due in part
to their smaller size, rapid metabolism and unique physiology.
A growing concern for birds
that is not related to toxic foods or agents found in foods is the
practice of feeding table scraps. A common belief is that if birds eat
people food, they will receive a good diet. Unfortunately, this is
generally not the case for the following reasons. People generally do
not eat healthy. The incidence of heart disease, cancer, and obesity in
Americans is certainly due in part to poor dietary habits. While many
people begin by feeding their birds nutritious foods these good
intentions often decay into fatty, salty, fast food items. Even people
who provide a well-balanced table diet to their birds cannot guarantee
consumption of all the diet provided. As with any diet, what is placed
in front of the bird is not necessarily what it consumes.
Further, if a bid consumes a
food, which is high in calories, it may not be able to eat enough food
to be properly nourished. Birds, like all animals, eat to meet their
energy requirements. A single food source, provided in sufficient
quantity, may provide a bird with its daily energy requirements while
depriving it of its daily nutrient needs. An example of this principle
is a cookie. A single cookie may contain as many as 200 calories, or
roughly the entire caloric requirement for a macaw.
Another problem with table
scraps or human foods involves bulk. Birds are very small animals.
Giving a parrot half a small apple is equivalent to a person being given
a ten pound head of lettuce to eat.. Many foods, fruits especially, are
high fiber foods, which may fill the crop, proventriculus and
ventriculus and lead to satiety (the state of being full, not hungry).
Again, foods which contain high fiber or are high bilk, may fill the
bird but not provide adequate nutrients..
Given then, certain
"nutritious" foods are not necessarily good for your bird.
Foods must be provided in the appropriate amounts and must be balanced
for energy in an overall dietary scheme.
Back in the spring of 1997 I
was fortunate to become acquainted with a small bird breeder who was
willing to sell me a Cinnamon mutation Quaker along with the parent
birds. This lady needed a new roof for her house and even though it was
a large house and a large and expensive roof she needed the money for, I
was delighted to accept her offer.
In the Cinnamon mutation
lime green replaces the dark green of the normal. The lores, cheeks, and
throat, normally gray, are so pale a gray they are almost white. The
primaries and tail are greenish cinnamon on top and cinnamon on the
undersides. The feet and legs are pale, almost flesh colored. The eyes
are a dark, reddish brown, not the bright red of the Lutino.
While we had our new
Cinnamon hen in the house in isolation from the other birds she amused
us by immediately starting to talk. Whenever anyone approached her cage
she would rush over calling "Tickle! Tickle!" in a sweet
little voice, accompanied by a tinkly laugh that was almost a giggle.
It was with regret that we
moved "Tickle-Tickle" out to the bird room in a cage next to
that of the visual blue we had chosen as her mate. She had to learn to
be a bird and break her strong bond to humans. She would have made a
delightful pet, but with all the money I had invested in her that was a
luxury I couldnít afford. I had to stick to my breeding program.
That was the spring of 1997.
It wasnít until this spring, 1999, that Tickle finally accepted the
attentions of her visual blue mate. For the past year we had Moved the
pair out to the big aviary where they are surrounded by other breeding
birds and see humans briefly for feeding and housekeeping chores.
Tickle-Tickle produced four
eggs and sat on them faithfully, not leaving the nest to talk to humans.
The babies are Normal-split-to-blue-and-cinnamon cocks and
While Tickle-Tickle was
taking her time to accept a mate, I mated her father with a normal green
hen. After about twenty normal green chicks I have about given up on his
producing any more Cinnamons. The mutation is sex linked. Only the cock
is involved in producing the Cinnamons. There is always the possibility
that the father bird is not a split but that Tickle-Tickle is a
spontaneous mutation. If this is true, neither parent has anything to do
with the mutation.
The breeding plan for the
next generation is to pair a Normal-Split-To-Blue-and Cinnamon cock with
a Blue hen. A number of combinations are possible. What I am hoping for
is a Cinnamon Blue hen. These are rare and lovely mutations commonly
called "Icicles" which have recently been produced in this
to mate for so long caused me to lose the race with other Aviculturists
to produce the first Icicles. This came as no surprise to me. My
experience has been that good pets, closely bonded to their owners from
infancy, are very reluctant to accept the new role of a producing bird.
Chicks which have been incubated and hand fed from day one often never
make the transition. If they do eventually breed, they often make poor
parents. They have not learned how from their own parents and more often
than not do sit or feed well.
PARROT NEW YEARS
From The Perch
I resolve to throw more food
and toys all over the floor. This will give my humans more exercise so
they wonít have to waste time at the gym.
I resolve to help my Mom on
that pile of clothes that needs altering. I will remove all buttons,
snaps and decorations from shirts.
I resolve to practice my
wild banshee screams at a higher decibel, so my humans wonít have to
bothered by the sounds of that noisy TV.
I resolve to make my Dad
happy by shredding all the papers on his desk so he wonít have to make
out his income taxes.
I resolve to only be sick on
holidays and after midnight. This will give my overworked veterinarian
more sleep, as my humans will not be able to call him.
I resolve to pluck out all
my feathers. That way my humans wonít have to complain about feather
dust all over the furniture.
I resolve to become potty
trained. I will only secretly drop on the backs of good clothing because
humans always get angry if you do it on the couch.
I resolve to help my humans
save money on groceries. I will refuse all expensive fruits and veggies.
I will eat only seeds and sneak junk food when they arenít looking.
I resolve to stop biting. I
will use my beak only to remove unwanted household items Ė VCR
buttons, book jackets, watch knobs, lamp cords, plant leaves and cat
I resolve to whisper
"I love you" into my humans ears each night so they wonít
ring home another bird that they donít have time for.