recently had a note from one of our subscribers asking me to help
her find a source for buying a baby Quaker in pinfeathers, still being
hand fed. She stated that the pet shop in her town insisted that it be
weaned before they turned it over to her. She said that she was retired
and had plenty of time to feed the baby.
I was glad to hear that her
pet shop refused to sell baby birds needing hand feeding to owners with
no experience. In order to properly teach this skill a good deal of time
and patience is required of the teacher. It involves more than having
the prospective feeder observe the process a few times. There are many
dangers involved. My husband and I have been hand feeding baby birds in
large numbers for twenty years or more. Although it is rare,
complications still do happen with us. We do not sell unweaned birds
except to those we are certain are well qualified to do this procedure.
I think that the importance
of caring for your bird during the hand feeding stage in creating a bond
with the owner is exaggerated. At that point in their lives birds are
chiefly interested in obtaining food. I believe that they are well into
the weaning stage before they actually identify the human offering the
food. It is not necessary to hand feed yourself to create a strong bond
with your baby Quaker. The bird's life may depend on this task being
performed by an experienced, well-trained person. I respect the ethics
demonstrated by a pet shop which insists on selling only weaned birds.
We need more people like this, who place a higher value on the welfare
of the bird than on the profit made on the sale.
Dear Linda; I wrote to you a
few months ago about trying to get my pair to breed. You told me to have
patience. They had four beautiful babies this spring. I donít know if
this really helped or not, but because it is so dry here in West Texas,
I got a humidifier for them. I also got a full spectrum light and
started feeding them peas. Right after I started doing this, Keela laid
five eggs, four of which were fertile. What an enjoyable experience this
was for me. Karen from Texas
Dear Karen; I feel sure that
the light and the humidifier were helpful in getting your pair going,
but adding peas to their diet is a new one for me. Whatever works! Just
don't overdo on the amount of peas you give them - We all have a
tendency to think that if a little bit is good, more is better. Not so.
Congratulations on your success.
Dear Linda; Our Quaker is
completely bonded to our son Ethan who is 61/2 years old. In fact he is
the only person who can approach her without being bitten. She whistles
for him, calls for him, and runs from her cage to the front door when
she hears him come up the walk from school.. It has been amazing to
watch their relationship develop. She is the perfect size bird for him
and he has learned much about unconditional love, respect, and
responsibility from this pint sized treasure. Cari from Iowa.
Dear Cari; Perhaps you can
get the cooperation of your family in trying the training suggested in
the "Hot Potato" article in this issue. There may be a few
bites before you succeed in getting your bird to accept other members of
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - -
Dear Linda; Enclosed are two
pictures of our Joshua. As you can see. He has plenty of toys, his
favorite being a music box. Every night, after he calls out "Night!
Night!" and gets settled down, he has to go over and push the music
box on. Sometimes it takes several pushes to turn on, but he gets it on
and then goes up to his sleeping perch and settles in, usually adding
"Give Momma kiss." Another favorite toy is keys. He has
several toys with keys at the bottom. If you tell him "Go play with
keys." He goes over to the toy and shakes it to death, screeching
I have been wondering. Ever
since Joshua was a baby he has never liked a swing. Is this common? Or
do some Quakers just not like swings?. He loves ladders. This Christmas
he got a new, large cage with a play top with two sets of ladders. He
goes up one side, crosses over, and goes down the other side,
often-taking food or a toy with him. Diana and David
Dear Diana and David; After
a lot of years, I learned not to say "never" or
"always" about all parrots. Almost all birds enjoy swings,
perhaps satisfying their instinctive behavior to perch on swinging
branches. Perhaps, sometime in his infancy, for reasons that only make
sense to him, Joshua formed an unpleasant association with a swing.
Quakers do have incredible memories. At any rate, he seems a busy and
happy bird with caring and devoted owners, not missing the swing at all.
Dear Linda; I am finding my
Quaker to be a never-ending source of amusement and also a royal pain in
the butt! The bird is not a great talker, but can show signs of
remarkable intelligence one minute, and then do something else
completely stupid. Henry from Florida
Dear Henry; I am guessing
that your Quaker is going through the "terrible twos." I do
not agree with the article in this issue whose author feels this a myth.
Just as small children do at this stage of development, the bird needs
to be given time to learn what it is you expect from it. It needs to
make an adjustment between its instincts left from the wild state and
the requirements of socialization. Patience! Patience! It is hard to
keep in mind that Quakers are still birds and not humans.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - -
Dear Linda; I have a two
year old male Quaker. I got him when he was three months old. He does
not have his wings clipped and is free to fly all over the apartment. He
refuses to stay in his cage. He has one special toy and goes to it when
he is unhappy. Instead of toys, he is busy all day building his house of
BBQ 12-inch skewers. Each packet of skewers contains 60 sticks. So far
he has used up 5 packets and is asking for more. He would make a very
good husband to a Quaker girl bird. He is adorable. He talked when he
was younger but stopped when a year old. He will say things occasionally
but only if he feels like it. Enclosed is a picture of Jamie with his
structure on top of his cage. He is very protective and wonít let
anyone touch it. Rozella from New York
Dear Rozella; The picture
shows Jamie with a neatly built structure at least four times his
height. Quakers in the wild are known to build apartment house style
nests, huge in size. They are unique in that they are the only
nest-building parrots known. For many of our breeding Quakers we place a
small wire shelf in front of the nest box entrance to be used as a
foundation for their nests. Given a good supply of twigs, vines,
shredded paper, grasses, or just about any safe building material, they
will work industriously until the nest covers the entire front of a 12 x
12 cockatiel size nest box. Many single Quakers will build nests in
various places around the house. They use stolen pencils, shredded
paper, or any material they can find. Supplying those light weight
wooden sticks is a great idea, but I can not help but feel uneasy about
the dangers that exist in allowing a flighted bird complete freedom. If
you had heard as many sad stories about lost or injured birds as I have,
you would not take this risk.
- - - - - - - - - - - -- - -
- - -
Dear Linda; After having
received an issue of your Quaker News last month and digesting all the
material therein, I knew that I had to write and tell you about my new
family member. My interest in Quakers had been kindled is spite of so
many "warnings" from others about their behavioral habits. I
was able to locate a breeder who promised delivery of a baby Quaker as
soon as one as hatched. I held this little darling in my hands when she
as three days old. Since I am somewhat squeamish about hand feeding such
a youngster, he agreed to do it for me.
Six weeks later, my task of
Motherhood began, and Iíve been having a ball ever since. Kelly is now
four months old and I continue to be amazed at her progress. Let me tell
you a bit about her. I hold her on my hand at least three lengthy times
a day and talk to he constantly. She recognizes her name when she is
called and has become very compatible. She will go to most everyone who
wants to hold her except one of our great-grand daughters, a seven year
old who displayed a fear of her at their very first introduction. Since
then Kellyís conduct has been aggressive each time they meet..
She is out of the cage most
of the time. We have learned that our Daschund, although very tolerant
of her, cannot be trusted. Kelly dropped to the floor one day, in spite
of clipped wings, and proceeded to walk right up to the dog. Gretchen
snarled, and nearly had Quaker soup. Fortunately, only the feathers were
ruffled. Now we never leave Kelly uncaged when Gretchen is present .
She is beginning to say a
few words like "pretty pretty ", "do in" as in
"Whatcha do in?" plus other words that I have yet to figure
out. Since I whisper to her a good deal she is attempting this as well.
She is very nosey, and wants to be included, especially at the table
when we are eating. She will sample most everything, but is not fond of
a lot of fruit. Cooked oatmeal is a must in the morning, especially with
a bit of brown sugar. If she gets into something at the table and is
scolded for it, she runs to my husband for protection. Now her favorite
side of the table is near him, and she will run back to him if I pick
her up and move her "against her wishes."We laugh about this
favoritism. The pleasure we get from having this little darling in our
daily lives (We are 78 and 79.) Makes me wish I had known about Quakers
long ago Betty from Florida.
Dear Betty; It is a pleasure
to hear about how much you and your husband are enjoying Kelly. I would
like to suggest that you limit treats to the bare minimum. Your bird is
young enough to make it comparatively easy to make a good. Pelleted food
about 75% of her diet. Avoid fats, sugars, and salty foods- no tid bits
of French fries, snack crackers, or brown sugar. Donít "kill her
with kindness" I wish all of you a long and happy life together.
By David J Kersting, DVM
South Jersey Bird Club News
Understanding your bird's
droppings could save your bird's life.
It is true that when birds
become sick their health can deteriorate quickly, but it is rarely true
that when a bird becomes sick it dies suddenly without showing signs of
illness. The symptoms are there. We just have to learn to recognize
Changes in droppings can be
a very early indicator that the bird is sick. Know what normal droppings
look like so you can recognize a change in color. Consistency, odor, or
amount .If you are able to notice this change, you could save your
interferes with evaluating droppings for signs of health problems. If
you use wood shavings, ground walnut shell, or corncob at the bottom of
your bird's cage, you may miss a change in color or consistency in the
droppings. Then you have failed your bird. It is wrong to use wood
shavings at the bottom of your cage so that it looks nice, and you do
not have to clean the bottom of the cage as often.
There are three components
to most droppings. Urine consists of a crystal urine called urates
(white chalky material) and a non-crystal urine (clear water) Sometimes
the two types of urine are mixed crating a cloudy white urine. The third
part of the droppings is the feces, which comes from the colon and
consists of digested food. The color varies depending on the types of
food eaten. Red pellets and strawberries produce a red colored dropping.
(This does not apply to the urine.) Seed and green vegetable produce a
green dropping. (This does not apply to the urine) Blueberries and
blackberries produce black droppings. (This does not apply to the
urine.) The feces should be solid and tubular like a worm. It can be
coiled and it's OK if it's broken into pieces.
IMPORTANT CHANGES INCLUDE
COLOR CHANGES AND AMOUNT
Green or yellow urates Liver disease
Brown or chocolate urates Lead Poisoning
Increased urates Dehydration
Increased urine Disease, eating food high in
Blood in urates Go to Vet (Promptly)
Diarrhea is not excessive
urine in the droppings. Diarrhea is the fecal material not holding its
tubular shape. Instead it is the consistency of pudding. Look for blood
in the feces. If the feces is fresh and black in color and there were no
blue berries in the diet, this indicates melena. Melena is black
droppings caused by blood high up in the digestive system. When the
blood passes through the lower digestive tract. It is digested, turning
the bright red blood into a tarry color, staining the feces. If you
notice black droppings (indicating internal bleeding) at the bottom of
your bird's cage, stop and go to the Veterinarian. Your Veterinarian
should investigate color, which cannot be explained by the diet. Watch
your bird's droppings every day -and learn what they look like normally.
When you notice a change, identify what portion of the dropping has
changed. If you cannot explain the change by the bird's life style, act
immediately and contact your Avian Veterinarian.
By Kashmir Csaky, author
speaker, Forest, VA. Pet Information Pages, Bird Clubs of America
Once your bird is
comfortable with your private training sessions, begin doing them in
areas where there may be some distractions. After all, the bird must
behave in many different situations. However, if at some point the bird
becomes uneasy or difficult, go back to doing the training in a private
When your bird gets to the
point that the training sessions become boring for both you and the
bird, then you can attempt trick training. However, trick training is
just for fun and should never become serious or work for either of you.
"Warm potato" will
keep your birds comfortable and friendly with many people. This is an
activity that I strongly recommend with babies or when birds are new to
a home. The family, and everyone who may be expected to handle the bird,
should get together and sit in a circle. The bird is petted,
sweet-talked, and then passed on to the next person, who repeats the
petting and sweet-talking. This warm show of affection continues until
the bird goes full circle. The person who took the bird out of the cage
returns the bird to the cage or its gym to play. With new birds, play
warm potato every day for two weeks, and then six days out of the
following week. Do this five days the following week. Continue reducing
the sessions until you get down to once a week. The weekly session is
done for the birdís entire life. Every family should sit down like
this once a week anyway!
Teaching a bird the meaning
of "no" is difficult for many people. The consistent use of
language. tone of voice, and facial expression is paramount when
teaching a bird the meaning of "no." This is important in all
aspects of bird training. When language, voice, and expression are
consistent and proper in other aspects of training, "no"
becomes easier for a bird to understand.
This means that you always
use the same word for a particular command. "No", for
instance, would always be used whenever you want your bird to stop what
it is doing. You should not say "Stop that." or "Donít
do that." You must consistently use the word "No" during
the learning phase. Once a bird understands a particular word (command)
very well, it can be taught other words that have the same or similar
meaning. However, it will always understand and respond to the first
word it was taught more efficiently. It is much like learning two
languages. The first language will always come easier.
When praising a bird it is
important to know that birds enjoy high-pitched sounds and baby talk. So
use a high pitched and excited voice when encouraging or praising a
bird. If you have trouble understanding the proper voice for praise or
encouragement watch a childrenís show on television. Shows, such as
Sesame Street have characters with voices and body language that
maintain the attention and admiration of children and birds.
The proper voice for
"No" is serious and deep. The word "No" should never
be screamed. Screaming at your bird teaches your bird to scream back at
you. Screaming is drama reward. When people scream their voices become
high pitched, their body language is exaggerated, and frankly, they look
very comical. This is enjoyable and rewarding to birds. If you are
having trouble with the proper voice for "No", study Darth
Vaderís voice in the movie Star Wars. His voice is calm, serious, and
Facial expressions are often
the most difficult to control. However, once you are accustomed to
praising your bird for good behavior that just happens to follow bad
behavior, you facial expressions will improve. Being able to say
"Good bird" right after your bird threw a screaming fit,
paused and then said "Peekaboo" takes great self-control.
"Good bird" is likely to be the last thing you feel like
saying. Yet the good behavior must be rewarded or the bad behavior will
continue. Once you have developed this self-control of the facial
expression, it will become easier. You will not grimace so much when
trying to praise you bird.
I have often seen people
smile when saying "no". This sends mixed messages and the
command is not taken seriously. There are two reasons that a person may
smile when saying "No" to their bird. One, they are not giving
their bird full attention and their mind is on some other subject. If
you do not give your bird your full attention. It will not give you its
full attention. Two, the person is worried that the bird will not love
them if they tell it "No". Nothing could be further from the
truth. If people are unable to set boundaries for their birds, the birds
will lose respect for them, not necessarily stop loving them. They will
treat people who they love and respect with much more affection than
people they do not respect. If you feel that you are telling your bird
"No" too frequently, then you must re-evaluate your
expectations for your bird.
If at any time, you feel
compelled to punish your bird, you should remember that the best
punishment is to withhold reward. Physical punishment instills fear, not
respect. It teaches the bird that you are out of control. Birds donít
respect people who are out of control. Punishment also fosters
resentment and resentment leads to aggression or phobic behavior.
THE TERRIBLE TWOS Ė THE
I believe that the
"terrible twosí is a myth. Young birds are full of life and
energy. They are exuberant.
Once they have the
coordination to do so they will play hard and challenge everything. This
is how they teach themselves about life and their own limitations. To
create a structured environment. A birdís humans must::
Show the bird that they are
in control of themselves
Show the bird that they have
control of their environment.
If these things are done,
then the bird will become better behaved when it reaches two or three
years of age. Most species are very malleable until they are two and a
half to three years of age. If a structured environment (lifetime
training) was not created in the early years, then at two or three years
of age the bird will try to take control of its life and the lives of
the people in the birdís home. Hence, the twos become "the
terrible twos" and the bird owners must now work harder at creating
the structured environment that would have been much simpler to create
when the bird was younger and more impressionable.
This article is one of a
three part series, sent to us courtesy of Dick Ivey. We look forward to
the other two for future issues of The Quaker News.
BIRDS NEED THEIR
Standing in front of a cage
of blue Quakers, my friendís small son remarked "They are all
girl birds." They were, all hens., the fact determined only by DNA
sexing. "How do you know that?" I asked, with a sudden
irrational wild hope that just possibly this young child saw something
not apparent to me to make him decide on the birdís sex. Well,
miracles can happen! ĎThey are all wearing bracelets." He
answered, pointing at the birdsí legs.
The " bracelets"
he pointed to were the identifying leg bands, so important for many
reasons, but worn by the "boy birds" as well. So much for
miracles! Some people, new to the hobby with a limited number of birds
know each one by name and may feel that banding is not necessary. As
their collection grows, as it almost inevitably does, it becomes
increasingly difficult to keep track of the pedigrees of succeeding
generations. Without the help of identifying leg bands it is almost
impossible to manage a breeding program for any length of time. To
produce color mutations or increasingly desirable examples of the
species we are working with, positive ID is a requirement. Good records
need to be kept for good results.
Although it is generally
permissible to show birds without a leg band, it is not possible to
award points toward a championship without this ID. The owner of the
bird is not always the breeder. The leg band indicating who produced the
winning bird is a justifiable source of pride for the breeder and often
important in planning future breedings.
There are some states that
require that all birds be closed banded. The laws and regulations are
ever changing, but at last check these were New York, Virginia, and
Vermont. In these states it is illegal
To breed for sale, sell, or
in some even to own a bird without this closed band. The Avian Vets keep
your birdís health records by the identifying number and use it when
preparing a health certificate.
The closed band is evidence
that the bird has been domestically bred and has not been illegally
smuggled into the country. If there is any doubt of this, carefully
observe the leg band for fit. Watch for a loose, sloppy band that could
have been applied to an adult bird. The band should be fitted with very
little play. A loosely fitted band is not only evidence of possible
illegal application but it is dangerous. There is danger of its being
caught on any protruding surfaces in the birdís environment. A
properly fitted band is less likely to cause problems if reasonable
precautions are used Ė no protruding wires, no short stubby ends on
branches provided for perches, care in selecting toys, etc.
If the bird is injured with
swelling of the leg, the band can act as a tourniquet, cutting off
circulation to the foot. In these emergency situations, it must be
removed by cutting it off. If this is the case, careful records must be
kept. If the band is removed by the Vet, request a signed statement of
this fact from him and keep this on file.
An incidental use I have
found is to band both legs instead of one on a baby bird suffering from
spraddle legs. The legs are pulled together to a normal position by a
cotton cord threaded through the bands. One band is cut off when the
hips and legs appear normal. This does not always work, of course, but
it beats taping and other methods for simplicity and keeping the splint
Open bands, as the name
implies, have a visible crack in the ring. They can be applied at any
age and tightened after being placed on the birdís leg. They can be
ordered to provide ID for birds that have not been closed banded. Most
societies will not accept these as traceable bands or as positive ID,
It is readily apparent that
those are more than bracelets on your birdís legs and need to be
The Avian Home
South Jersey Club News
( ) Do living room windows
pose a threat to your birdís safety? If your bird is flighted, keep
your shades or blinds drawn, for your bird will not see the glass. Heíll
only see the beautiful trees to climb on and green shrubs to play on.
( ) Do you use powdered
carpet deodorizers, scented candles, or aerosol sprays to freshen the
air? These powders and fumes are harmful to birds. Open a screened
window on a sunny morning instead.
( ) Do you have a ceiling
fan in your living room? Do you shut it off when your bird is flying
about? (Leave a note taped near your birdís cage stating simply
"SHUT OFF FAN."
( ) Are there exposed light
bulbs that can get hot and burn a bird that lands there?
( ) Do you have a stained
glass lamp? Remember that these contain lead and lead poisoning is a
serious avian health threat. Donít let your bird perch on a stained
(The most dangerous room in
( ) Did you know that some
small birds can crawl into the roll of a paper towel, but they canít
crawl out? Make sure your paper towels are mounted horizontally, not
( ) Are you aware that
non-stick pots and pans and other appliances are dangerous? The fumes
from heated cook ware may go unnoticed by you but your bird could be
dead in minutes. Check your manufacturers to make sure newer appliances
do not contain non-stick parts.
( ) What about the stoveís
exhaust fan? It should be vented to the outside.
( ) You know that a free
flighted bird is not allowed in the kitchen where there is boiling water
and/or a hot stove, donít you? Put your feathered baby safely away
while cooking. Watch out for toasters, broiler ovens, and other hot
( ) Is your refrigerator
dangerous? You bet it is. Those heavy doors close automatically. A bird
could easily get locked or crushed by the doors.
( ) Ceiling fan warning
applies here too.
( ) Did you remove those
exposed electrical cords? (They are also found in other rooms.)
This is a fun room for a
parrot to explore. Thereís the waterfall (the shower), and that other
bird (the mirror) and a whole lot more.
( ) Do you keep the toilet
( ) Donít give your birds
toilet paper rolls to play with. . . use paper towel rolls, cut up,
instead. Bacteria could contaminate toilet paper rolls
( ) Do you keep hair sprays,
perfumes, and/or other sprays away from your bird? These fumes will harm
( ) Do you let your bird
walk around unsupervised in the bathroom? Too many bad things to get
into: soap, makeup, cleaners, etc.
(Curiosity hurt the bird far
more than it hurt the cat.)
( ) Do you keep the closet
( ) Do you remember the
windows and fan warning for the living room? Applies here too!
( ) Jewelry Ė what parrot
doesnít adore it? Can you imagine what your costume jewelry pin could
do to the fragile tissue of a birdís mouth? Also, many costume jewelry
pieces contain a nasty ingredient Ė Lead.
( ) Do you sleep with your
bird? Donít unless it is a pterodactyl (that could get interesting . .
(Editorís note: I looked
that up for you. It is an extinct order of flying reptile!)