FROM THE EDITOR
Quite often I hear complaints about how
expensive Avian Veterinary care is. A common remark is that the Vet’s
bill was twice the selling price of the bird being treated..
I do not enjoy paying Vet bills myself, but
I must spring to the defense of all those dedicated and devoted
professionals who elect to specialize in Avian medicine. The small
animal Vet does not charge for services according to whether a mongrel
dog or a valuable thorobred is being treated. The
Avian Vet’s charges are the same for the
same service for a $2000 parrot or a $10 Budgie. What they are charging
for is expertise, training, experience, and their valued time.
When treating humans doctors rated as
specialist charge more for their services than general practitioners.
Avian medicine is a specialty. To be eligible for board certification
with the Association of Avian Veterinarians the already qualified
professional must pass a lengthy and comprehensive written examination
and submit two written papers on avian medicine considered worthy for
publication. To stay up to date on this rapidly changing field this
specialist must read extensively in professional journals and
publications and attend numerous conferences and seminars.
To get good care for our birds we must be
prepared to pay for it - and be thankful to find a skilled and caring
professional no matter what the cost.
FROM OUR READERS
I plan on sharing my subscription with a
neighbor of mine who introduced me to her Quaker. Now I am not sure how
I would ever get along without my Georgie."
He is still not talking but he does take an
hour or so each morning, practicing making "people noises." A
thought came to me about these wonderful little creatures, pertaining to
impatience on our part. I would love to hear Georgie say "OK, you
smart human being - Talk bird! Now you know something at which I will be
better than you some day!" David from Colorado
David wrote just a few weeks later to
proudly announce that George is now saying (even if slightly garbled)
"My name is George. What’s yours?" David also inquired about
potty training his "wonderful little poop machine."
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I have just recently read that Quaker
Parakeets are now legal in New Mexico and Idaho where that have
previously been banned. How about New Jersey? Anything new? Anne from
The last information I have had is that in
New Jersey they are now legal as pets by permit after meeting strict
regulations, but breeding them is still forbidden. It seems some
progress is being made. I have heard that they are now legal in Maine
with a permit but permits seem hard to get. In Kansas too they are legal
with a permit but readers tell me that the state has no forms for such a
permit and the Department of Fish and Wildlife will not issue one .
Perhaps if you bird lovers in these states put some pressure on the
lawmakers you could get even more favorable revisions of the laws.
Getting your bird clubs involved seems the most effective way to go.
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Dear Linda; My little Quaker, Alberta, has
been with us for one year this July 4th. She was 9 weeks old
when we bought her. She’s a charmer but says absolutely nothing. We
have sincerely tried everything - tapes, repetition. Baby talk, etc but
to no avail. She gets tons of attention and affection. Please recommend
something. Cynthia from New York
Mattie Sue Athan, the much respected
authority on bird behavior, says that a baby Quaker can be virtually
guaranteed to talk. She agrees with me that it is nor necessary to drive
your bird up the wall with recordings and formal sessions. I have found
that they say what they hear most often . There may be some who just do
not have the capacity to mimic human speech, but it will be a rare one
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I have had my Quaker Jasmine for a year as
of the past June . I brought her home as a baby and in a year’s time
she has truly captured my interest, dedication, and heart. I read a
great deal about birds and when I discovered your publication was
thrilled. They really are bright, spunky, and full of wonder. With a
great deal of patience, time, love, effort, persistence, affection, and
discipline. My Jasmine is fast becoming a wonderful addition to my
She understands and learns quite quickly. My
only problem is that she won’t talk in front of me. She’ll talk
while covered when she’s "in bed" or when she is alone in
the kitchen playing on her cage. (the kitchen is safe for her.) She’ll
repeat words if I talk to her, but I am very patient and leave her to
develop at her own pace. Is this type of behavior unusual?. Janice from
You answered your own question, Janice.
Patience, time, love, effort, persistence, affection and discipline are
what it takes. It is not at all unusual for our pets to demonstrate odd
behaviors as you describe. Usually the best way to handle this is not to
reinforce the actions by additional attention. Talk away to Jasmine
whenever you are near - no coaxing or fussing when she decides not to
talk in your presence. This too will pass - just a stage if not too much
attention is placed on her behavior.
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I recently purchased a Quaker Parakeet. I
looked at these little birds for a year before deciding to buy one and I
am totally delighted with the one I bought. He is two months old and his
name is Mango. I think he is already saying his name, no-no, and good.
At least it sounds like it! I am absolutely crazy about him. My husband
says "That bird thinks you are his mama." Mango thinks that
the only place he belongs is on my shoulder or chest and we spend a lot
of time that way. The problem is that I will soon be going back to work
and leaving him for about nine hours a day. Do you think I will have any
problems or will my little one adjust? Valini from Kentucky
It may be a bit late for this advice now,
but it would have been a good idea to gradually cut down on time with
you and more time in his cage before you made a drastic change in Mango’s
life style. Frequent changes of toys to amuse him are usually suggested.
Many owners set the radio or TV - or sometimes both at different
intervals - on timers - dried fruit treats are safe to leave - No doubt
that the change will be difficult for him, but birds are like small
children - they seem to eventually adjust to just about any situation.
SEEDS OF DISCONTENT;
Getting to The Root Of The
Susan W. Farlow of Jacot
With her permission to
reprint in this issue of Quaker News only.
Having completed the morning bird care
tasks, and armed with a big mug of coffee, I had just settled in at my
desk when the call came in. As I reached for the receiver I glanced at
the clock. It was 8:15 AM, an unusual time to receive a business call.
The caller’s voice, barely concealing tears, faltered as she recounted
"Birdie has been very good since you
visited us and I’ve done as you suggested, faithfully, every day for
the past four months. Then, this morning, after being very sweet and
gentle while I scratched her, she suddenly lunged at my face. I got a
bad bite. It was terrifying. It happened so fast. I can’t do this
anymore. I can’t imagine giving her away and never knowing if she is
being well cared for. But I can’t keep living like this, not knowing
when she will attack me again. And how could I expose any other owner to
this danger? I’m beginning to think that the only course left is to
put her to sleep."
As a behavior consultant to pet bird owners
I sighed quietly while listening to another sad, but all too familiar
story. A juvenile bird, once cute and reliably loving, had matured into
a ten year old threat to its owner’s safety. The owner felt angry,
fearful, rebuffed, and very confused. A discussion about motivating
factors, a recommendation to have an avian veterinarian evaluate the
bird promptly, and my advice not to take the incident too personally set
the course for addressing the immediate problem. The owner agreed to
call again after she took "Birdie" to her avian veterinarian.
I reflected on the number of birds and
owners needing "help or something", to quote one harassed
caller. By the time I am called to assist, many birds have been listed
for sale in newspapers or swap and buy magazines, dismissed by owners as
"untrainable", "gone bad", or "too wild."
Most birds and owners I have worked with
benefit enormously from straight-forward instruction in effective
communication, including a consistent use of the "up" and
"down" commands. Through their own efforts, most owners are
successfully sharing the home they had enjoyed with their birds before
the problem behavior surfaced. A little insight, and some good handling
techniques, will go far toward maintaining a successful bird-owner
By far, the most important long term success
occurs when the owner is willing to understand the bird as being of
distinctly avian, social, and instinctive behaviors. However, in some
situations, a bird’s behavior will not be altered by its relationship
with its human owner. For example, when hormone levels surge, avian self
control may fly out the window.
Although a few generations removed from
their wild origins, pet birds still display certain behaviors to ensure
their survival and reproductive success. Pet Budgies have been bred in
captivity for over one hundred and fifty years, but like their distant
relatives, Amazons and Cockatoos, they will still respond to certain
situations with predictable behaviors.
Because many of our pet birds love to cuddle
and whisper "sweet nothings" into our ears while they nibble
on our ear lobes, we easily assume they have adopted human social
behaviors. Inquisitive and highly social, many parrot species recognize
how to successfully bond with their human "flock mates."
However, we are unwise to assume they have become less bird like in the
All pet birds have sophisticated methods for
ensuring and maintaining a specific position in the flock hierarchy. And
as adults within this social group, birds are impelled to produce young.
We throw our mature pet birds a curve ball when the only available mate
is a human being who may already have a spouse and children. What should
we do? Shall we buy a friend for our feathered Romeo?
There is no guarantee that two birds will
accept one another as mates - an arranged marriage if ever there was
one! And, if the pair never produce a single egg it is quite likely that
instead of showering their owner with affection, the two birds will be
more responsive to one another. But, should the two birds bond and
produce chicks, are the human "flock mates" ready for baby
birds galore, and the commitment involved? There are no simple solutions
when there is conflict between the needs of the bird and its human
People have kept companion birds for
thousands of years. The compelling beauty and personality of feathered
companions will always fascinate and entertain us. Increased study and
avian research have offered an array of dietary products, informational
resources, and avian veterinary services which can improve the health
and quality of life for all cage birds. Still "Birdie" and her
unhappy owner, like many others, struggle to coexist.
Living successfully with pet birds from
their juvenile days through adulthood need not pose insurmountable
problems. Regardless of the species, some basic practices apply. The
most important first step in bird ownership is to become a well informed
bird owner before the first bird is purchased.
When a new bird arrives home good manners
and a healthy relationship begin with clear, consistent instructions and
guidelines about acceptable behavior. Teach the bird to step up and down
on command from the hand or hand held perch, and trim flight feathers
regularly. The best treatment for problem behavior is to avoid allowing
such behavior to develop in the first place. If a bird’s actions
confuse you, contact an avian veterinarian, or an experienced pet store
staff member, for a referral to a behavior specialist. A bird behavior
specialist can interpret the behavior and provide instruction on
handling and training methods.
Many books and magazines illustrate how to
encourage positive behavior and how to effectively avoid or correct
problems as they develop. A number of resources exist to help every bird
owner understand his or her bird’s behavior. A well informed and
educated owner is better prepared to discern whether a behavior is a
problem that can be corrected, or a characteristic behavior that should
be tolerated with insightful responses. And the concept of tolerance,
with insightful response, makes me think of ‘Birdie", whose
future is unclear.
Although "Birdie’s" owner sought
the help needed and earnestly tried to correct the problems that had
developed, the owner continued to expect "Birdie" to put aside
her "birdness" in order to fulfill a human need. "Birdie’s
" owner tries to assure herself that "Birdie" still loves
her by offering scratches under the wings and on the belly when their
relationship appears to be going smoothly. As a mature adult
"Birdie" has become so stimulated by these scratches that
breeding motivated behavior causes spontaneous aggression toward her
human "mate" and the vicious circle continues.
New handling techniques and changes in the
home environment have helped "Birdie" and her owner to some
extent. But there is no easy solution while "Birdie" acts like
a mature bird, anxious to breed, when her owner needs "Birdie"
to be a submissive cuddler and cannot accept her natural needs. Once the
owner is able to accept Birdie as she is, and is willing to explore
other interactions with the bird that are less provocative, she will
have a far clearer picture of "Birdie’s" potential as a
It is our responsibility to learn to
understand the natural behavior of the birds who share our homes. Let’s
try never to assume that in the bird-human relationship, the human is
always the teacher.
ABOUT OUR JOSHUA
Diane and David Lepri of
D&D Feather Friendly
We both enjoy reading your enjoyable and
informative news letter. It is so amazing how many common traits these
little guys have with each other Our Joshua, who is 5 years old, has
about a 25 word vocabulary. He’s such a character too. Boy, is he ever
a good eater! Our Vet says that he is quite large for a Quaker but he’s
not fat. One of his favorite foods is my meatloaf . If he doesn’t get
a piece put in his dish he stares you down until you put some in. Joshua
eats with us at every meal. My husband has made him his own portable
feeding stand that we take along with us.
Joshua loves to travel. My husband made his
travel cage so he can sit up on top and eat. When we are traveling, he
yells out "I want out!" until you let him out. On one of our
trips he learned to say "Beep Beep" like the radar detector.
He also imitates my husband chewing gum. You ask him " How does
Daddy chew gum?" and he moves his beak in a chewing fashion. (My
husband chewed a lot of gum on one of our vacations when he quit smoking
three years ago.)
One thing Joshua does that we enjoy is his
bath taking. He yells out "Taking a bath!" and then proceeds
to get into his water dish, at which point we put in a lot of clean
water and watch him dive in and out - all the time yelling
""Taking a bath! Taking a bath!" When he hears my husband
cleaning out or filling up our large aquarium that is next to his cage
he’ll yell out "Taking a bath!"
He also announces in a loud voice "Nite
Nite" when he wants to go to bed. The longer we take to respond,
the louder he yells it. Once he’s in for the night he then whispers
"Give Mama a kiss" and throws me a kiss.
We never knew how enjoyable a bird can be
until we got him. Now I can’t imagine life without him. In the future
we are thinking of getting another bird to join our family. Joshua is
really an amazing little guy, even when he is getting into trouble.
A HELPFUL HINT
From Beverly in New Mexico
I would like to share a short story that may
help save some of our little friends, no matter if they are green or
One day when I got home from work I found
"Shredder", one of my four Quakers on the floor of the Aviary.
I thought that she might be egg bound, so I called my Avian Vet. She
said that she could see Shredder in 2 hours, so we were off and running.
At that time I lived in Texas and Dr Weaver
was in New Mexico. Dr Weaver said that Shredder as in critical condition
with a viral infection. She gave me some antibiotics but little hope for
Shredder. I tried to give her the medicine but she would not take it. In
fact, she did everything but bite me to avoid it. She would not eat and
would not drink water either.
I was hand feeding a baby cockatiel at that
time. Every time I would feed the baby Shredder would perk up and watch.
I tried giving her some of the baby food and "she liked it!"
So I put her medicine in the next spoonful and she ate it. I had
forgotten that she was hand fed until that moment.
For the next week she would eat with the
baby, of course with her own spoon and bowl of food. I gave her the
medicine in the first spoonful of baby food at the time she was to take
it, and just baby food at four hour intervals. Three days after I had
started this she started trying her regular food and a week after that
was pronounced healthy by Dr Weaver.
Now Shredder, Taz, Riply and Jazz are back
to their crazy games in the aviary. I will never forget to try hand
feeding formula if any of them get sick. Thanks to Dr Weaver and a baby
MURPHY’S LAWS OF BIRD
From Bulletin of Heartland
Young fledge on cold, wet days
The bird you want to buy has already been
Other peoples birds look better than your
own, even if you beat them at shows
The hen dies first in breeding pairs
The hen bought to replace the hen in No. 4
will not go to nest.
The bird bought as a hen from the dealer
is a cock.
The bird bought in No. 6 hybridizes with
the best hen in the aviary.
Young hatch when live food is in short
Only Zebra Finches breed successfully when
maintained in a mixed Finch collection.
The pair that will not breed are both the
You cannot breed mice and birds in the
Overcrowding occurs due to previous
Seed runs out on public holidays when
shops are closed.
Birds are more interested in pairing with
those in the next aviary than with those in their own aviary.
The bird you just bought is sick.
When you hold birds, hoping for a price
increase, the price drops.
Seed prices rise a week before you buy a
No one knows what was wrong with the bird
until the post mortem - and sometimes not even then.
The largest, fittest. Healthiest looking
bird in the aviary is found dead on the floor the next morning.
Catch birds in a large planted aviary and
find more than you expected.
The only bird missing in the aviary is a
favorite, very expensive and hard to replace.
IF YOU’D BEEN MY CHICK
A poem For My Eight Year Old
Barb of Denver
I know that you feel you have to act tough
because in the past you were treated so
When you were a hatchling
no one treated you kind.
But I am so glad at least today you are
When you were a chick
you had to grow up quick.
You never learned to play
in the usual way.
The time to learn talking
has passed long ago
But we’re the best of buddies-
I don’t need words to tell me so.
Still. I dream of your youth, your earliest
I long for the truth - were you stolen away?
Did you ever feel scared or afraid you would
You’re a little survivor, the apple of my
You’re OK now, or at least so you seem.
Still. Here’s what I sometime think of and
If you’d been my chick, I’d have loved
you so true,
making sure only good things happened to you
If I’d been the one to raise you from
I’d have shown the whole world how much
you are worth.
I’d have held you and cuddled,
til we both were befuddled.
And you’d talk all the time.
Sing songs and say rhymes.
And tell me in words what you want and need
A bath or a kiss or a sunflower seed.
And I would have watched you grow like a
Snuggled up against my heart.
I’d have never let us be apart.
We’d have played and sung, beak to nose.
And I’d always kiss your little toes…..
Like I do now, my little ball of fluff.
Though I missed your beginnings
today is enough.
FROM AVI-REFERENCE PAGE
Bird Clubs of America
Dr Joel Murphy, a highly respected Avian Vet
from Clearwater, Florida, states that one day of illness for a bird is
like seven days of illness for a human. So, when you first recognize
that your bird is ill, it is important to seek Veterinary help quickly.
Buying a general purpose antibiotic at your local pet shop in order to
medicate your bird first allows your bird to become even more ill and
will seriously compromise the results of any diagnostic tests performed
by your veterinarian when you do get to see him.
Did you also know that a bird’s normal
temperature is 103-107 degrees?
BEATING BAD BACTERIA
Dr Sam Vaughn DVM
Avi Reference Page - Bird
Clubs of America
When we find a sick bird that bacterial
disease has made ill, the most common question is "How in the world
did my bird get exposed to this bacteria?"
The answer is in having a knowledge of
bacteria, what they are and where they are. Bacteria are single celled
organisms so tiny that thousands can fit into a space the size of a pin
Bacteria are basically two types: beneficial
and harmful (potentially disease causing). Most people do not realize
that bacteria are everywhere. They inhabit our mouths, skin, intestinal
tracts, food, refrigerators, kitchen tables, silverware and dish
washers. Just about everything exposed to air has bacteria present.
"Normal flora" is a term used in micro biology to describe
those bacteria that are normal, healthy, necessary part of the microbio
population within a given animal’s particular organ system. Without
these normal flora, the animal would not be healthy.
The normal flora in a human’s mouth
contain many bacteria that are harmful and potentially disease causing
to our pet birds.
Food that is perishable, such as fruits and
vegetables, are very likely to grow large numbers of disease-causing
bacteria if left in the cage at room temperature for long periods of
Baby food formula mixed in the morning and
refrigerated during the day and reheated and fed that evening is a
wonderful place for bacteria to grow. Many baby birds are made sick with
this practice. Refrigeration slows bacteria growth; it does not stop it!
Fresh foods from the grocery are bacteria
laden since they have been handled by humans and possibly contaminated
by other mammal wastes during storage and shipping. Mice and other
vermin can carry bacteria to your food sources.
A PROBLEM WITH FAUCET WATER
Water sources are an enigma of their own.
Pseudomonas bacteria is a potential threat to all of our birds on a
constant basis. This bacteria loves to grow in your water faucet,
particuarily if your lines are PVC pipe instead of copper. Chlorination
does not eliminate all bacteria; it is designed to keep bacterial counts
in low enough range to be fit for consumption by humans, not birds. I
have cultured several aviaries with Pseudomonas problems strictly due to
filthy food and water sources. Water bowls should be placed above perch
level to prevent contamination by fecal material which increases
recontamination to your bird and the feces provides organic material in
the water bowl for the bacteria to grow.
Running your tap water for 3-5 minutes
before filling water bowls helps flush these bacteria from the faucet
instead of filling your bowl with them. Water bottles for birds are an
excellent way to prevent contamination with food and fecal material.
Vitamins in the water are a sore spot with me as they provide nutrients
for bacterial growth to occur. If you have to use vitamins in the water
change, and disinfect that bowl every day.
SWEET KISSES PASS HUMAN FLORA
Those sweet kisses Cecil (my Amazon) gives
me at night are laced with my normal flora which can be disease
producing to my precious pet. So Cecil gets a gram stain probably every
3-4 months. Gram stains differentiate between gram positive (good guys)
and negative (bad guys) bacteria. If the gram negative ratio is above
20%, then a culture and sensitivity are done. This tells me what
bacteria are present and the exact best antibiotics with which to treat
LOOK, I’M NOT SICK
Birds can carry bacteria infections for
years and still appear healthy. Many people look at me with disbelief
when I make this statement. Many of our pet birds are just two
generations out of the Amazon jungle. Handfed or not, there is still a
lot of genetic programming in their computer that says "Look and
act healthy, because if you get sick something or someone is going to
While laboratory work does not always
identify the sick bird, it does much more and comes closer than a
physical examination. When you see your veterinarian, have the extras
done that screen for subclinical bacterial infections that if addressed
early can be cleared instead of waiting for you bird to look sick when
it may be too late for anyone to save his or her life.
BCA RECOMMENDS EASY THINGS TO
Wash vegetables and fruits before feeding,
fresh batch of baby formula each feeding, Vitamins sprinkled on leafy
vegetables or in veg-fruit mixes, washing bottles/bowls in hot-hot or
boiling water. Good hygiene management is effective against many