1) Should I get my bird a playmate?
I have a bird that is very attached to me but I am gone a lot and I want to get it a playmate. What do you suggest?
Be careful with this one. You should be aware that if you get your bird another bird of the same species, there is a good chance that your bird will start to bond with the new bird and not be as close to you. This is not always the rule, but it certainly happens a lot. If you want to get the same species, then try to get a bird that is the same sex as your bird - that will help lessen the risk of them pair bonding. Getting a bird of another species is probably the safest (although not foolproof) way to keep your existing bird still bonded to you.
2) What bird is the best talker?
Most people and magazines generally agree that the African Grey species are the best talkers. In the following text, I have tried to give you my opinion of the talking ability of the different birds we raise.
3) What bird is the best for me?
This is a pretty individual question, and a choice you ultimately have to make for yourself. You can look at some of the descriptions we have posted on the different types of birds we have to see what would best fit into your life.
Blue and Gold Macaws:
As their name implies, these birds are blue and gold or yellow. They are a medium to large macaw. Not as big as the Greenwing, but larger than the Military. They are very social birds and adapt well to changes in their environment. We have known of several that have been used in school assemblies, camps, etc and did not seem to mind putting up with lots of people touching them. They are intelligent, colorful and active. They seem to be able to amuse themselves when left alone but also love to be held and petted. Their talking ability is good.
This is Janet's favorite bird. They are very striking combination of red, green, and blue colors. They are the largest macaws that we raise. They are called "Gentle Giants" because although they have an almost intimidating size, they are one of the gentlest birds around. Their beaks are massive, but they rarely will bite or nip at humans. Because of their size they have a slower metabolism and are somewhat docile or sedentary compared to some of the other macaws. We don't raise many of these and are selective about what homes we will place them in. They have good talking ability.
Ruby (Greenwing X Scarlet):
The Ruby is actually a hybrid between a Greenwing macaw and a Scarlet macaw. The Scarlets have a reputation for becoming nippy and being very intelligent. The Ruby is a beautiful cross between the two species and seems to embody the best traits of both birds. They are striking in their appearance, picking up some of the yellow from the Scarlet's wings. They are also very intelligent and are more active than a Greenwing. Because of their intelligence, they can be prone to mischief. They have good talking ability.
Lesser Sulphur Crested Cockatoo:
These birds all white except for yellow crests and yellow cheek patches. This is one of Larry's favorite birds. They are totally sweet and loving and yet are very animated and active. They are good talkers and crave your attention. They love to be held, petted, and kissed. They are not as prone to screaming as some of the larger Cockatoos. They are a nice pet for someone who wants a cockatoo but does not have a lot of room. They have good talking ability.
These birds are all white except for some yellow under their wings. These birds demand attention and love to be held, petted and kissed. I say demand because they can get quite loud in an effort to get your attention, and they act like a two year old forever. They make great companions for people who have lots of time to devote to a bird who will love them back. They have excellent talking ability.
These birds are a beautiful peach or salmon color all over. They are the largest cockatoos we raise. These birds demand attention and love to be held, petted and kissed. I say demand because they can get quite loud in an effort to get your attention, and they act like a two year old forever. They make great companions for people who have lots of time to devote to a bird who will love them back. They have excellent talking ability.
Illigers are mostly green with some red on the lower belly, forehead and underside of the tail feathers. Illigers are classified as mini-macaws. They are perfect for someone who would like to get a macaw but does not have the space for a large bird. We like to say that you get all the personality of a macaw in a small package. These birds are very animated and comical. We often find them on the bottom of the cage playing with their feet. They have fair to good talking ability.
Hahns or Nobles (aka Red-shouldered Macaws):
These are Larry's other favorite. They are mostly green with red on their shoulders, and yellow on the underside of the tail feathers. These birds are the smallest macaws we raise and are about the same size as a conure. They crave attention and long to be with you. They have fair to poor talking ability.
These birds are mostly green with a patch of red on the forehead and tail, as well as blue on their wings and tail. Militarys are the smallest of the large macaws. They are smaller than a Blue and Gold macaws but bigger than African Greys or Amazons. Militarys have a reputation for becoming nippy, but there are also many exceptions to this.
Eclectus are one of the most striking birds and also one of the few parrots that are sexually dimorphic - that is you can tell the sex of the bird simply by looking at it. Males are a vibrant green while females are an iridescent purple and red. Our experience with these birds has been that they make very good family pets, but do occasionally bond to one gender (men or women). We have seen some of our babies go to homes that the kids just grab them like a cat and take off with them, and they don't care at all. I think they have very tolerant personalities. They seem to adjust well to different people and remain friendly. Their talking ability is good.
Another perfect bird, although much smaller is the cockatiel, they have a ton of personality and are easy for anyone to handle. Some people don't consider them because they are so small and don't have the lifespan of the larger parrots, but for a family with small children they are great. The important thing is to get a hand raised one as the ones that are flight raised by their parents don't tame down quite as well.
4) I've heard I need to handfeed my bird for it to bond to me?
This is simply not true and is usually promoted by people who ship unweaned babies because they do not want to take the time to wean the babies themselves. Our experience has shown time and time again that new owners bond just fine with their newly weaned babies. There are many references on our web site that attest to this. Given all the things that can go wrong with handfeeding (burned crops, sour crops, aspiration, refusal to eat), and weaning (weaning too fast or too slow causes problems), it is best left to someone with experience. For an excellent article on this subject, see: http://www.OldWorldAviaries.com/text/lewis/unweaned.html
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