Well, Folks, Cheeky sailed right through Kindergarten.
Yesterday, he received his graduation reward.
A trip to the Big Tree.
You don’t just bring home a baby parrot and plunk him down in a tree.
If you do, he’ll either fly off or climb to the top (if he doesn’t fall and break something). He will be virtually impossible to retrieve.
Besides, if it’s a tree that’s poisonous to parrots, you’ll kill him.
Cheeky was four months old when he came to live with the other animals and me.
He had never experienced life outside a cage.
He had lots to learn.
He had no idea that anything would hurt him so he sailed to the floor from his cage platform.
Anabelle herded Cheeky for me and kept him from running under the bookcase. She’s good for that.
However, when Cheeky made a sudden turn toward her, she stepped on one of his legs.
Poor Cheeky collapsed sideways and struggled to recover. Of course, I snatched him up thinking he was surely a goner.
His leg was bruised, but nothing was broken. First lesson: Baby parrots and cranky old dogs don’t mix.
Cheeky only limped a bit for a few days, but the accident could have been fatal.
Parrots have very long memory. After the near-death experience, Cheeky became humorously cautious about the floor.
When he falls off the desk or flutters down to the floor, he crouches there immobile waiting for me to rescue him.
As it turned out, his experience with Anabelle was an epiphany for him.
A parrot’s wings must be clipped in order for him to safely explore outside his cage.
The first six or seven flight feathers should be clipped on both wings.
This method will leave enough flight feathers to allow him to glide to the floor if he falls.
I could not have worked with him outside his cage if he had been fully flighted.
Clean water is essential.
When you bring your parrot home, be certain that he knows where his food and water are.
Some of the smaller parrots prefer to bathe in a dish. If no separate water is provided for baths.
they will bathe in their drinking water!
Cheeky did not like to be sprayed so I gave him a dish.
I wish I could manage to get a photo of him hopping into the dish, but no such luck.
Some of the little guys will bathe a couple of times a day,
but, all parrots need regular baths at least two or three times a week.
Rita prefers to be sprayed. If you spray, use a fine mist directed above the parrot so that the water falls on him.
Never spray a parrot directly in his face.
Rita spreads her wings to be sprayed underneath them.
Cheeky is so tiny even for his species that I have to weigh him regularly to be certain that he is not losing weight.
He weighed 53 grams when he came to us. A month later, he had gained three grams.
He has learned to sit where I place him making it easier to weigh him.
He is eating well and is learning what I want him to do.
Nobody on earth can force a parrot to do something he doesn’t want to do.
Diet is extremely important and requires special care in the choice of pellets, fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts.
This was Cheeky’s first meal. I fed him the awful dyed pellets that he was used to eating.
I offered vegetables too, but he refused them.
I fed him in dishes on the floor of his cage because I did not know how he was accustomed to eating.
He has since moved out of this smaller cage into his big cage and his food cups are on the sides of the cage.
Notice the size of the dowel perch. Yes, people do house Rita-size parrots in this size cage.
I do not use dowel perches. They are very hard on a parrot’s feet. Discard them for natural tree branch perches
and rope perches. No concrete perches.
Notice, too, that his nails are too long and curved. They needed to be trimmed right away.
Long, curved and pointed nails could become caught in a toy causing him to break his leg or worse.
The basis of an adequate parrot diet is pellets. Not seeds.
Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seeds and nuts make up the balance.
Do not feed your parrot anything that you would not eat.
I count the seeds and nuts that I allow Cheeky to eat. I added them because they are high in calories.
If I offered them freely, he would eat them and exclude the other stuff that is good for him.
When he was about to graduate from his Kindergarten program,
I allowed him to eat his afternoon snack from Rita’s play gym bowl.
His beak is identical to Rita’s. The lower beak is used to scrape out the inside of the nut after he cracks it.
He is scraping out the seed with his lower mandible.
You can see that he is above me. It’s fairly high up for him, but parrots love heights.
You can see me in the reflection in the food bowl! :-)
It is important for a new parrot to get to know everybody in the family.
He will bond with one person, probably, but he should be comfortable with everybody.
Here, Cheeky is getting to know Charlie.
Parrots are not appropriate pets for young children.
Charlie is a gentle kid, but he is not old enough to assume full responsibility for a parrot.
I would suggest that no child who is under the age of twelve or fourteen should have a parrot.
What baffles new parrot keepers is the question of taming and training.
I don’t think of teaching a parrot how to live with humans in that way.
The single most important goal is to earn the parrot’s complete trust.
That means spending as much time as possible getting to know each other.
I talk to him and often read to him. Parrots like the sound of your voice.
That’s how they get to know you.
As a general rule, I do not recommend allowing parrots to sit on your shoulder.
Rita does not sit on my shoulder.
Cheeky is so small that he can balance there really well.
I am also not fearful of his bite which could be painful if he decided to chomp down!
I think it is important for Cheeky to be involved with his human flock.
At first, I allowed him to explore my desk.
Then, I added a desktop play gym.
Some parrots are fearful of new toys and new situations.
Cheeky was curious about the piece of Rita’s toy on his gym.
I put it there on the second day, and he had not expected to see it.
The play gym provides a place for play and allows me to teach him to stay where I put him.
Parrots do not know what is and is not their property.
You cannot teach them to chew only on chew toys!
I simply put Cheeky back on the gym and moved the frame with no comment.
Repetition is the key to teaching parrots.
If he flies off or climbs off, put him back.
The top of Cheeky’s cage has a door that serves as a play gym with a dowel added when the door is open.
It was only when I was fairly certain that Cheeky would not fly off that I allowed him to play on top of his cage.
After he explored the top, he settled down to groom himself!
I chuckled to see Cheeky looking down into his cage.
I suppose he was trying to figure out how he could be on top of his house!
Parrots are very curious creatures who learn quickly.
If you don’t want a parrot to do something, the best plan is to keep him separated from whatever it is.
It is far easier to avoid the opportunity to learn bad habits than to try to correct them!
Cheeky and Rita spend a lot of time near me as I sit at my desk.
I can leave Rita on the play gym, but I do not leave Cheeky outside of his cage when I am not watching him.
Rita is at least twelve or fifteen years old and has live outside her cage for many years.
She seems to enjoy Cheeky’s company, and Cheeky loves having Rita nearby.
He begins his frantic calls if I take Rita with me when I leave the room.
While Rita doesn’t mind having Cheeky around, I do not think she would tolerate sharing a perch with him!
(Cheeky appears to be much bigger than he is compared to Rita because of the angle of the photo.)
The light shining into the cage from the right side of the photo is a UV light for birds.
It is set on a timer to be on for two hours a day which is optimal for Conures.
Artificial UV light is essential for parrots who do not spend time every day out of doors.
Light from windows is nice, but the UV rays are filtered out.
A final word:
Anyone who has an aversion to poop should never keep a parrot.
I left the room to get a change of food bowls.
When I returned, I saw Mr. Cheek sitting on a chair close to his cage
looking mighty pleased with his new adventure.
I had left the door open.
Take my word for it, Poop Happens!