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Hello and a conure question!

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Hello and a conure question!

Postby TatorTot » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:14 am

Hello! Wow....WHAT great forum. In fact, there's so much information here that I feel bad writing about my situation and asking a question without first looking to see if the answer is in the forum, but it's so vast that I think this will be faster. I will, however, use this amazing forum from now on to learn more about living with birds!

I have two conures: Jade, (male) and Emerald (Emmie, female). I adopted them 3 yrs ago from my cousin who was moving from Florida to Hawaii and ran into difficulty after difficulty in getting his animals (birds and a few small animals) approved by the airline and then the island. He was devastated and I offered to adopt his little Tribe- this way they stay in the family and I love animals and he can visit with them whenever he visits. I had never had birds but was willing to learn.

The registration paperwork for the conures states that they were born one month apart in 2014 from different parents and that they are both male. Three weeks after moving in with me, Emerald laid an egg----- and shortly after that the birds differentiated physically more (Emmie is a little bigger). So paperwork isn't always to be trusted.

We've had quite a learning curve over the last three years but I think we've done well. I keep all of the Tribe in the same room, as that's what they were used to from my cousin (2 zebra finches, one parakeet, a guinea pig and a rabbit- all have their own spaces and are safe). The conures are complex: curious, loud, funny....they were not handled by my cousin so they shied away from being touched (he just assumed they would be agreeable to perching on his finger, etc, but they stuck with each other and my cousin didn't really undergo any training himself for how to work with birds). The conures have an enormous floor cage and after getting used to each other for several weeks, I turned the room into a small aviary and began letting them out for a while each day. Over time, this turned into me letting them out every day all day and then having them go back in their cage for sleeping overnight. After a little more time passed, and working with them to the best of my ability, Jade began landing on me and I would talk with him and give him treats. Emmie was far more hesitant- it took her another 2 yrs to land on me.

Neither will let me touch them, but I still think we've made progress.

Jade is gentler, Emmie is far more 'raw'. She's pretty bossy and Jade "minds" her. (she eats first, etc).

So the current issue: several months ago, I noticed both conures begin to look for floor areas- corners and hidden spaces. It's very weird to see birds on the floor. I kept having to flush them out of tight spots and it never occurred to me to look this behavior up until now, after I found them UNDER the small refrigerator I have in their room. Emmie has also been more aggressive and bit me upon flushing them out. It's been frustrating and upsetting however I NOW understand this is nesting behavior. I've now read enough about it to feel better knowing what's going on BUT am unsure how to work with them during this time.

Here's what I've done: I've 'proofed' the room so that they can't find hidden areas. They're not big fruit eaters, but I used to give them apple every day and have reduced that to decrease the sugar in their diet. They don't get starchy foods. Since I understand what's going on now and my energy has shifted, Emmie is actually less aggressive when I catch them searching for spots they can't get into anyway. I know that the light dark cycle and sleep play a large part in hormonal balance but I'm not sure what to do about increasing their sleep time. I've never covered their cage and I let them go to sleep naturally with the light/dark cycle (I live in upstate NY). I think they could use more sleep but I don't know how to start covering their cage when I never have before. Plunging them into darkness seems awful.

Given that this is the first time I'm dealing with this, I think getting a handle on it will help me moving forward. I haven't been letting them out of their cage as much and that feels kind of bad- I like that they can fly free in their room. But is it more frustrating for them to let them out and have them try to find a nesting spot? Or NOT let them out and they're together in the cage but maybe bored and not in their usual routine?

Additional info: I live alone and work full time so I'm not with them as much as I would like to be, but again, it's been three yrs and I think we've been ok and have made progress.

I know this is a long post-- sorry--- but I want to do the best I can for all of my animals and the conures right now stand out as needing something more than I know to give.

If the suggestion IS to cover their cage earlier than it naturally gets dark, can someone tell me how to do this so that the birds aren't plunged into darkness?

Thank you so much for reading this. I look forward to digging into this forum for all kinds of information.

Laura (TatorTot)
TatorTot
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 4
Number of Birds Owned: 5
Types of Birds Owned: 2 Green Cheek Conures
2 Zebra Finches
1 Parakeet
Flight: Yes

Re: Hello and a conure question!

Postby Pajarita » Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:18 am

Hi, Laura, Jade and Emmie (I would have included the other birds but you did not tell us their names), welcome to the forum!

We can most definitely help and, in truth, your problem is not a bad one. Yes, you do have to get the light schedule under control but it's not a matter of them going from bright light to darkness by covering the cage because it's the light of dawn and dusk that sets the 'internal clock'. Let me explain. ALL birds are photoperiodic which is a long word that means that they endocrine system (the one that sets the 'periods' which we call 'seasons' as in breeding season, molting season, etc) works through light (the photo in the word coming from the greek one meaning light). Now, the thing with birds is that, unlike mammals, they do not produce sexual hormones all year round, they only produce them during breeding season, the rest of the year, zilch. The production is activated by a specific number of hours of daylight (different species have different number of hours and are split into long day and short day breeders) and stops again at another certain number but all species react to what it's called the species point of photorefractoriness which is the exact number of hours that nature -through evolution- determined was the ideal time for the species to reproduce in the wild or not to reproduce (this has to do with food availability (because babies need a lot of good, rich food to survive) and weather (because babies will die in the middle of a tornado or monsoon, for example). Now, a bird's body 'knows' how many hours of daylight there is because it reacts to the different light that happens during dawn and dusk. It's basically like a stop watch that gets turned on with the light of dawn and off with the light of dusk, and the number of daylight hours in between these two events is what tells their body if it's time to produce them or not. When we keep our birds at a human light schedule (artificial lights on before the sun is all out in the sky and/or after the sun reaches halfway down to the horizon), we screw up their endocrine system and they produce sexual hormones all the time which causes them sexual frustration AND physical discomfort if not pain. This is because during the resting season (we call it winter but, in reality, it's the season when their body 'rests' from reproduction) their sexual organs (we call them 'gonads') shrink to teeny tiny little things and go dormant but, when their endocrine system is screwed up and they produce sexual hormones all year round, year after year, they become way too large and end up pushing other internal organs out of their place (birds have peed blood in extreme cases). So, the trick to keep their endocrine system healthy is to keep them at a strict solar schedule with full exposure to dawn and dusk and ONLY covering their cage if there is light that filters in from a window (street lamp, cars, etc) or another room and ONLY after night has fallen. Covering the cage and plunging them into darkness from a bright light doesn't do it efficiently for a bird's body because the twilight trigger is not there for the body to recognize.

Then, you have diet. GCCs are mainly fruit eaters in the wild so free-feeding them any type of protein food (pellets, seeds, nuts, nutriberries, avicakes, etc) is not good for them. It will not only make them produce sexual hormones, it will also damage their liver and kidneys and shorten their lifespan. And when I say 'fruit eaters' I do mean fruit eaters! They consume portions of fruits much larger than one would think their tiny bodies would need so, please, a piece of apple every day is really not good for them, they need a large variety of fruits and veggies. Mine (I have two GCCs right now) enjoy all kinds of fruits: apples, oranges, pears, bananas, blueberries, blackberries (a favorite!), cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes (all colors), grapefruits (mine get only the ruby red because that's the only one I like :D ), strawberries, kiwis, starfruit, pomegranate (they LOVE the seeds!), etc but they also like veggies like cherry or grape tomatoes, corn on the cob (they love it!), peppers of all colors, including the hot spicy ones, carrots, sweet potatoes, all kinds of pumpkins and calabazas, zucchini, cucumbers, sugar snaps (love them but you need to open them up for them at the beginning until they figure it out), green beans, etc. They are not big on leafy greens but they do love raw broccoli and the ones that have crunchy stalks like the very heart of the romain, chard, bok choy, etc.

Now, personally, I do not believe it's easier for us (and definitely NOT for the birds) to try to prevent them from doing what their bodies are telling them to do. Actually, I think it's better for them to actually follow the seasons and the different circannual behaviors they have in the wild so I allow them to 'breed'. Not for real, mind you! No babies in my house! But it's easier for me to give them an actual nest during breeding season and simply exchange their real eggs with fake ones than it is to try to prevent something that nature ordained MUST happen (there is no stronger drive than the survival of the species!). And I have found that allowing them to do what they need to do makes them calmer (read less agressive) and infinitely happier, of course. BUT you need to be careful and make sure that the hen has enough calcium for the eggs or she could become eggbound! I don't know what you feed or if you give supplements or not so it would help if you told me because, that way, I can tell you if you need to give them more or not.

So this is my advice to you: follow nature. Give them the right kind of food by following their natural diet in the wild (low protein, high moisture, high fiber, low fat - mine eat gloop and raw produce for breakfast and a budgie seed mix for dinner -but because this time of the year is breeding season for them, I increase their protein intake a bit by adding nuts to it, as in half a walnut, for example). Keep them at a strict solar schedule with full exposure to dawn and dusk so their endocrine system is in tune with the seasons as it would be in the wild. Get yourself four plastic eggs of the right size (they sell them in the net) and a nest and check it every morning so you can exchange the real egg with a plastic one. And make sure the birds have enough calcium and vit D3 so they can absorb it (again, if you tell me what you feed and supplement, I can help you with that).

Let me know if I was not clear enough or if you have any doubts.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 14658
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: Hello and a conure question!

Postby TatorTot » Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:59 pm

Pajarita,

THANK YOU for your amazing reply!! Let me share a link with you that I didn't like a lot of BUT is written by a DVM and seemed to be valid and prompted me to keep researching, which is how I found your forum: https://www.forthebirdsdvm.com/pages/di ... -pet-birds. I am not happy with conflicting information because I think our pets can suffer or their progress is delayed in some way until we find what's right for them. I'm also not saying this article is "wrong"-- this advice might work for some, but some of it just didn't feel right to me. This isn't the first time I've heard an avian vet say to separate bonded birds. My vet told me to do this when the conures first came to live with me and I asked her about how to encourage them to be more forthcoming with me. She said to separate them but that made me feel uncomfortable- it seemed like too much stress for the birds. I didn't/wouldn't do that.

I understand completely about the circadian rhythm/light/dark cycle and signals and hormones and nature at work. Thank you so much for all the validation and clarification. It DOESN'T seem right to go against that, but again, conflicting info-----

So let me start with nesting. Are you suggesting I get a nesting box? I actually have a smallish cardboard box I could cut a hole in the side of and put upside down for them. Which is better? And what should I put in the box? Shredded paper? I could also get grass and twigs from outside. Should I put this on the bottom of their cage? They are OBSESSED with the areas in the room that I've blocked off. Emmie just picked the paint off a small part of the wall near the little refrigerator (I painted the room 'non toxically' with them in mind). If they take to a box, I pray they forget about under the fridge and behind the chair. If an official nesting box is better, I'll order one today. I called my local pet store and they don't stock them, but Amazon has them readily available. I DID put a small box with newspaper in their cage several days ago, but it was not upside down and they just ignored it. They ignore most of their toys or distracting items.

Ok, now...food. This is tough. I have had SO much conflicting info for these last few years. Plus, my birds seem to be very selective. Obviously, they may not immediately take to a particular food and I would have to offer it several times, but there are many foods I just can't buy in small amounts and I would have to eat what they don't want. Here's what I've tried with them over time and what they HAVEN'T liked/taken to:

blueberries
strawberries
melon (watermelon/cantaloupe)
corn on the cob
kiwi
banana
grapes

Here's what they like, in terms of veggies/fruits:

apple
pear
carrot
the stalks of green leafies and typically, I give them chickory (endive), escarole, parsley. They don't care for the leaves, just the juicy stalks
green bell pepper (occasionally)
dried fruit- papaya

Based on your message to me, I went out and bought raspberries, blackberries and blueberries (can't hurt to try the blues again), a peach, an orange, snap peas and I'm going to try banana again. I also bought fresh broccoli. It's a good thing I'm a vegetarian so I can eat their rejections.

They like spray millet and shelled, unsalted, roasted peanuts (I read that raw nuts are NOT good for them, so roasted it is).

Here's what they eat, generally: A fortified conure seed mix, topped with the veggie stalks, carrots and apple or pear. I put bell pepper in a couple of times a week- I notice they won't eat pepper if I give it every day. I give peanuts every so often. They always have a big spray millet available to them and about once a week I sprinkle some egg supplement powder on their food. I gave them a boiled egg once and Jade ate it and Emmie just shredded it. I'm telling you, she's a little wild one.

Very often, when I fix their food, they push ALL the fresh away to get the sunflower seeds in the mix. They both LOVE sunflower seeds.

When I try some of the new foods out later, I'm going to hold them out to them in my hand (carefully, because Emmie will bite). I think it's better as a connection between us rather then just plopped in their bowl.

Again, thank you SO much for taking the time!
Laura
TatorTot
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 4
Number of Birds Owned: 5
Types of Birds Owned: 2 Green Cheek Conures
2 Zebra Finches
1 Parakeet
Flight: Yes

Re: Hello and a conure question!

Postby Pajarita » Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:08 am

Well, if conflicting information bothers you, you'll have a real hard time researching anything about birds because pretty much all you find out there IS conflicting info :lol: I have pretty much given up reading stuff other people write because it ends up being a bit of a waste of time. I go by nature, scientific studies, field biologists reports/papers/articles and when I find nothing to guide me, common sense and observation. And I've had plenty of opportunity for the observation part because I've had birds my entire life (there were already birds in my house when I was born and there was never a time when we didn't have any -my grandmother was a bird lover BIG TIME), I hand-fed my first parrot when I was ten years old (under my grandmother's supervision -I was born and raised in a South American country where there are parrots that are considered an agricultural pest so she would buy the babies sold in the flea markets, raise them without a cage and allowed to go back to the wild flocks if and when they wanted) and I took in my first rescue (a redlored zon) back in 1992 (I also ran a rescue for 6 years in Pennsylvania). I am also a bit of a know-it-all who hates being wrong so I make triple sure I know what I am talking about before I open my mouth (gotta make sure I win all the arguments with the husband :D ).

Yes, that article is not good at all. For one thing, as I explained, it's not a matter of simply covering the cage, the bird needs to be exposed to twilight for the thing to work flawlessly and, as we can't reproduce that different light with artificial bulbs, we have no choice but to follow the natural schedule of the sun. Also, not all birds breed with long days. Tropical birds breed at 12 hours of light because that's all the get in the tropics. And then you have birds that go into breeding condition when the days are short (like grays, senegals, IRNs, etc). It says that it's dangerous for birds to lay eggs but that doesn't make much sense taking into consideration that it is the ONLY way they have of keeping the species alive (Nature is not that stupid). And (and this is the clincher for me) it recommends Lupron injections and separating bonded birds! TERRIBLE advice! But I am going to tell you something that avian vets keep secret: they do not study avian nutrition or behavior - and, in truth, they shouldn't be giving advice on something they don't know enough about. They go to school for dogs, cats and large animals (which is mostly farm animals like horses, cows, etc - they hardly touch exotics in school), they do study to pass an exam that allows them to be certified in birds after they get their degree but they only study medical issues like pathology, diseases, conditions, treatment/meds, surgery, etc. I have three Avian Medicine text books and there is no chapter on behavior (NONE) and the one on nutrition is pitifully vague and general. People forget that Avian means all kinds of birds, not only parrots, and that birds have all kinds of dietary ecologies, some eat meat, some eat fish, some eat seeds, some eat insects, some eat nectar and pollen, some eat everything like pigeons, chickens and gulls, etc. Parrots, with the exception of two species and possible a third, are all classified as herbivores and that means NO animal protein so, please, no more egg supplement for yours (there isn't a single species of parrots that has eggs as part of their natural diet -and neither do finches, for that matter), it makes them hormonal (all that protein!) and it destroys their liver (hepatic lipidosis) and kidneys (high uric acid) because Nature doesn't give an animal the ability to either metabolize or get rid of something that the animal is never supposed to eat so all the bad cholesterol of animal protein goes straight to their circulatory system and stores in the liver. There is absolutely nothing a parrot eats in the wild that has bad cholesterol in it because, although there are species that do eat insects, insect meat has virtually no fat and no bad cholesterol. Also, please no parsley. It has, by far, the highest content in oxalic acid of all the veggies and giving it to a bird that wants to breed is actually very dangerous because it inhibits absorption of calcium which they need for the eggshell - without enough, the eggshell is very thin and flexible and they cannot push the egg out (eggbound!). I also do not feed collard greens or beet greens because of the same issue or spinach because of the high iron content (very bad for birds that require very little iron and, when given too much, ends up stored in the liver giving them hemochromatosis which has no cure for birds (humans get transfusions) and it's fatal. I also don't feed any dry anything - well, let me rephrase that, I do give them dry currants, dates, figs and raisins and, when I use things like dried apple or pineapple chips, I get the ones that are dried naturally and without any additives (papaya, mango, apricots, etc have sulfites added) and I reconstitute them overnight. Why? Because parrots natural diets have a water content of 85 to 95% and, because they are all prey, they are crepuscular and mostly canopy feeders so they only drink water once or twice a day and are not hard-wired to drink a lot of it. We've learned from the mistakes we made feeding cats that animals that are supposed to eat a wet diet end up with kidney problems if fed dry (I've know birds that have fainted from dehydration). A chronic subclinical dehydration added to high protein always ends up as kidney disease in parrots.

Nest: I use cardboard boxes which I change once they chew it up with holes (they don't like holes in them even though they like to make them :D ) but a nest box is better. They do not use nesting material so no shredded paper or anything. If it's a species that uses some sort of material at the bottom of the nest, they make it themselves by chewing the bottom of the box or tree cavity or whatever. The only species that carries nesting material back to their nest are the lovebirds and, in a much lesser scale, budgies. BUT do make sure your birds have enough calcium and vit D3 before you give them a box. And yes, once they get a nest they like (and this is the trick! they have to like the nest AND the location so you need to watch them and see what they do when you put it in their cage), they will leave everything else alone because they found what they have been looking for.

Diet: Yes again, lots and lots of conflicting information and even going to places where they list what the wild birds eat is not much help unless you dig deeper and deeper because they don't tell you what the proportion is of each type of food or when they eat it (birds are seasonal eaters so they don't eat the same things in spring as they do in the winter, summer or fall). What I have done (I started doing research on their natural diets when my first rescue was diagnosed with high uric acid back in 1994) and still do (I do two hours of research every day except Sundays) is look at different sites where they list their wild diet, then I go to the country's natural flora and do research on each species and type of plant, seed, fruit, etc they eat looking at the nutritional values (if I can find them! but I am lucky that I can read different languages) and when they bloom, fruit, etc and how long they last -this is because a list can say they eat, say, figs but figs last only a couple of weeks out of the year. Now, if you look at GCCs, where they come from, what kind of climate they have there, and what they eat doing research on each item listed there, you can get a pretty good idea of what it is that they eat in the wild. They eat a lot of fruits, other plant material like buds and such and seeds BUT just because it says seeds, it doesn't mean sunflower seeds or a huge quantity of them because most of the seeds they eat are what is called 'green seeds' which are the seeds inside the fruit or still on the grasses. Sugar is not a problem for them as long as it's the natural sugar found in fresh fruit (fructose). Also, the thing about parrots and what they eat and don't eat is that they are VERY altricial and need to learn everything from their parents but because no breeder really takes the time, energy or expense of weaning them to the right kind of food (if you breed them, you either don't know enough about them or you simply don't care), they need to learn when, in reality, it's after the fact - which makes it very hard and requires A LOT of work in our part. There are tricks you can use: right time (dawn because it's when they eat in the wild and when they are the hungriest), right presentation (this one varies from bird to bird), communal eating (you eat with them), etc but the most important is patience. It takes a looooong time to get them to eat a good diet - and when I say a loooong time I don't mean a month or two, it means years sometimes! I had a gray that took five years to try blueberries for the first time even though she got them once a week for the whole five years and she saw all the other birds eating them. Yes, it's a lot of wasted money but a parrot will not eat something it doesn't know what it is and their timetables are not like ours, everything takes a long time with them. But the other thing is that they cannot have any protein food available because, if they do, they will eat it until they are full and just take a bite or two of the healthy food. Why? Because nature gives animals a craving for food that has nutritional elements necessary for survival for the species but it's not easily available and, in the wild, there are no natural sources of high protein food that is available all the time or even in abundance. Parrots might eat, say, palm nuts which are high in protein, for example, but a palm doesn't produce nuts all year round. See what I mean?

Now, I do no feed any sunflower seeds to my GCCs and they don't have any type of protein food available to them during the day - only the healthy food. When the sun is going down (this time of the year, at 6:30 pm more or less, it depends on the day itself because, if it's a very grey day, they get it a bit earlier), they get a single tablespoon of budgie mix (mostly grass seeds like different types of millets, canary seed and a few safflowers) for both of them with pieces of nuts (yesterday they got three pieces each the size of a 1/8 walnut more or less - broke half a walnut in half and then halved it again) but only this time of the year and only until they are done with the molt. The rest of the year they only get budgie seed but I do up the portion a bit. My birds get their gloop in shallow little stainless steel dishes (like this one: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Van-Ness-Sta ... /111418784), the raw produce on a little wire platform they have which I cover with old magazines and the seed dinner on the bottom of the cage.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 14658
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: Hello and a conure question!

Postby TatorTot » Sat Jun 15, 2019 9:28 am

Hi Pajarita,

Again, thank you for your in depth and informative reply. I read it soon after you sent it but haven't had a chance to reply until now as I've been sooo busy.

Since joining this forum, I've begun trying to shift things slowly with Jade and Em. I've tried 7 or 8 different fruits and veg they won't touch the new things. I take that back, when I held a piece of broccoli, they shredded it without eating it. I leave the food in their cage for as long as the food is viable- not long with fresh, but at least they can contemplate it. When I'm able to be with them I try to engage them with the new food but again, they haven't tried it. Given that what you wrote about it taking a long time to make these changes, I'm caught in a place of giving them what they're used to because they want it/eat it, and bringing new foods in which they won't touch if their familiar food is around. I'm not a person who says, "well, when they're hungry enough, they'll eat a, b, c"--- I mean to a POINT, that works IF, the new food and old food are given in proportions-- maybe less "familiar food" and more "new food" so that they can remain satisfied and not stressed but perhaps need a little more and thus try the new, but you know what I mean. My two obviously started off on a less healthy diet, are used to it, and are reluctant to change. They're like junk food junkies I guess.

Nesting: I've watched them shred a small box before, so I know boxes aren't scary for them or strange. However...I put a small box on the bottom of their cage for nesting purposes. They ignored it. The next day, I cut a hole in the side (about 4-5 inches in diameter) and then stabilized it a bit higher in their cage. This was maybe 3 or 4 days ago. All they do is walk on top of it to get from point A to point B. I'm leaving it in there, because it took them a few weeks to crawl into the snuggie I got them a couple of years ago.

Here's the clincher though: There are three areas in their room that I can see are the nesting spots they seem to want (on the floor, under/behind things). I've blocked two of those spots. The third area I had 'quasi blocked' because they originally were obsessed with the other two. Yesterday, after they'd been out of their cage for a while, I didn't hear them. That's my signal they're 'somewhere'. I went to investigate and heard a noise from the closet. Now I have to block that. The reason I'm blocking these areas is that these areas they want to go are very remote and I don't think that behind the refrigerator or in the closet are particularly safe places. They're hard for ME to access.

So I'm left feeling pretty crappy, which they're probably picking up on. For two years now, I've been able to let them out each morning until bedtime. Now they're restricted. I can only let them out when I'm home and can continuously check on them. After so much freedom I'm concerned that they're bored or frustrated- remember, I work so I'm not home most of the day. They're OBSESSED with where THEY want to go when out, so we're sort of at a stalemate. Both with diet and this urge they have.

I'm not trying to get you to solve my issues, I'm just sharing this info- finally- with someone I know 'gets it'. I feel overwhelmed with taking in these birds that I love but clearly not understanding their needs the way I wish I had from the start- and perhaps I wouldn't have taken them in if I didn't feel I could provide all they need, especially given that I'm on my own with caring for them and don't have a lot of time. All of that is in the past and here I am so I have to figure out how to proceed. I know a lot more about mammals, as I've lived with animals all of my life and worked as an animal nurse. My other birds are doing very well and given that the other three are male (2 finches and a parakeet), I don't think I'll ever be dealing with this type of hormonal situation.

So that's where I'm at. And that's where they're at. And we go forth....

Thanks again,
Laura
TatorTot
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 4
Number of Birds Owned: 5
Types of Birds Owned: 2 Green Cheek Conures
2 Zebra Finches
1 Parakeet
Flight: Yes

Re: Hello and a conure question!

Postby Pajarita » Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:44 am

Laura, none of us, NOT A SINGLE ONE OF US, knew enough when we first started so don't feel bad about it because what you are going through is the same every single person who first takes in a parrot felt - and, if they don't, they will NEVER become good parrot keepers because the first step into becoming better is admitting that we are not good enough and that we need to improve. You are there already so you are good, Laura. And, yes, I think that, at one point or another, we all admit to ourselves that if we had known then what we know now about parrots, we would not have 'started'. I know I feel that way and Lord knows I love them to pieces!

I., myself, have had A LOT to learn and I was born and raised in a South American country where there are wild parrots and handfed my first baby parrot at ten years of age under my grandmother's supervision. I thought I knew just because of this fact but found out -the hard way!- that I didn't (this was back in 1994 when my first rescue was diagnosed with high uric acid due to the bad diet I was giving it) and I've been doing research ever since. And, even now, 25 years later, I am still researching, I am still learning and I am still tweaking their diets constantly. So, my dear, don't worry, just keep on trying and it will happen.

Now, it's no good to give them all different kinds of produce they will not eat so pace yourself and get them used to one 'new' fruit first and once they start eating it, start them on another one. Don't buy a whole package or bag of them, get loose produce like one apple, one orange, one banana, etc. and work from there. I promise you, ALL GCCs are good eaters - all of them! I don't have a single bird that came to me as a baby and 99% of them were, like yours, seed junkies but they have all been converted to a better diet so I know it can be done. I promise you. Take out all the food from their cage (and room) once they go to sleep and early in the morning (this time of the year, the best time for this is around 7 am because they have been awake and active for over 2 whole hours by then and are mighty hungry) put out just produce for them. You need to eat with them but not offering them any - just stand or sit in front of them and pretending to ignore them eat your slice of apple or whatever making yummy noises. I always use a phrase that I repeat to them every single day over and over -I call it 'the good food mantra'- and, as time goes by, they learn that this phrase means 'this is good food to eat' and try whatever new stuff I give them without a problem. I know that most people think that tough love is cruel but it's not because, in the long run, it saves their lives. Besides, if you give them a heaping tablespoon of budgie seed at night, they are not going to starve to death. Now, if you free-feed gloop about one hour after you put out the raw produce you won't have to worry too much about how long it will take because the gloop is very low protein, low to no fat, high moisture and high fiber so even when they eat a lot of it, it doesn't make them fat or hormonal at all and they will never go hungry. I recently got a new GCC, it was supposed to have been a male but I think it's another female (which is fine because they bonded without a problem). It was all plucked (overly hormonal and very stressed out, I would guess) and all it ate was a mix of seeds and dried fruit (the man gave me a little bag with it and I gave it to the street pigeons I feed everyday) but she started eating the gloop immediately and is now eating all kinds of produce. It's a matter of timing everything right and insisting. And it's also allowing her feathers to grow back, coming out every morning for a nice flight time and going back into the cage on her own without a problem so everything is going great only she thinks her name is Cody because that's her companion's name :lol: but that's OK, I will try harder with the Annie I decided to call her and she will get it eventually.

Nesting problem: yes, they are 100% one-track minds when it comes to breeding! It's the strongest drive nature gives animals because the survival of the species depends on it - and, when they are overly hormonal, it's even worse. So be patient because you will not see an improvement until the days are, at least, half an hour shorter (which will happen around the end of July beginning of August). But, the longer they have been kept at a human light schedule, the longer it will take for their endocrine system to go back on track (the longer period I have experienced was with a show and breeding lovebird female that took an entire year to stop being hormonal but I've never had to wait that long with a GCC). Try a real wooden nest and put it in the upper corner that is the most 'hidden' in their cage (you could try obscuring it by draping some sort of material on the back of the cage so it's like a little cave within a larger cave kind of thing). But, please, get some good quality bird vitamins (the powder that is soluble in water is the best bet for you) and start them on them before they start laying because fortified seed is a gimmick - it doesn't work for birds that 'peel' the covering of the seed which is where all the 'fortification' is found (they spray the seeds with a liquid multivitamin/mineral solution), add this to the fact that parrots have no saliva in their beaks and you end up with a bird that is not getting any vitamin or mineral into its body even though it's eating a lot of 'fortified' seed. It only works for birds that swallow the seed whole (like pigeons and chickens, for example).

You are doing good, Laura, and your birds will end up eating a good diet and producing sexual hormones only during the breeding season. You just have to work a bit at it and wait until time has had a chance to work its magic.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 14658
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: Hello and a conure question!

Postby TatorTot » Sat Jun 15, 2019 5:17 pm

Pajarita,

Thank you for your words of support! Truly. Truly.

I left Jade and Em out all day while I did chores and of course they couldn't get into any area I blocked BUT! they were 'engagable' when I entered the room to check on them. In other words, they didn't seem stressed or obsessed. It's like they analyzed the situation and realized, "ok, can't get in there' and left it alone.

I will put their box in an upper corner. Actually- that's where their snuggie is. They were sleeping in a different corner every night but since this behavior began, they're sleeping in their snuggie. Clearly, they see that snuggie as a nest of sorts. I will look into getting a wooden nest for them.

Food: I have looked up 'gloop' and see that there are multiple gloop recipes. I will try one. I agree with you about tough love--- that's why it's tough. It's painful BUT it's for the greater good of the being who's being tough-loved. The story of your new GCC inspired me because she was in worse stress shape than mine. I never thought about fortification being 'sprayed' on and thus being on the part of the seed that the bird is discarding. Ugh. I will get water vits tomorrow.

You know......it's true that I may not have brought these guys in if I had 'known' or researched prior to adopting, BUT! I think of the beloved dogs, cats, buns and fish I've had and how each one of them presented some learning curve for me to apply to those who came after. As researched as I was, as ANY of us can be, we still have to be "in" it and experience the relationship with the non-human, to truly learn. My elder guinea pig had surgery 3 weeks ago and as much as I knew about gps prior to surgery, I've learned a ton more post surgery. I think birds are FAR more complex than anyone initially thinks. They don't just sit in a cage and they don't just 'hang out'. They need companionship and one on one attention. Dogs need walking and being played with and birds need engagement. They like to solve puzzles. I marvel at how Jade and Emmie interact and communicate.

I feel a little better--- I'll try to hold onto this feeling. THANK YOU. You've given me more hope than any other resource or person I've connected with!

Laura
TatorTot
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 4
Number of Birds Owned: 5
Types of Birds Owned: 2 Green Cheek Conures
2 Zebra Finches
1 Parakeet
Flight: Yes

Re: Hello and a conure question!

Postby Pajarita » Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:58 am

Quote
You know......it's true that I may not have brought these guys in if I had 'known' or researched prior to adopting, BUT! I think of the beloved dogs, cats, buns and fish I've had and how each one of them presented some learning curve for me to apply to those who came after. As researched as I was, as ANY of us can be, we still have to be "in" it and experience the relationship with the non-human, to truly learn. My elder guinea pig had surgery 3 weeks ago and as much as I knew about gps prior to surgery, I've learned a ton more post surgery. I think birds are FAR more complex than anyone initially thinks. They don't just sit in a cage and they don't just 'hang out'. They need companionship and one on one attention. Dogs need walking and being played with and birds need engagement. They like to solve puzzles. I marvel at how Jade and Emmie interact and communicate.
Unquote

The frame of mind this paragraph you wrote tells me that you are going to be an EXCELLENT parrot caregiver! Like I used to tell my kids and now my grandkids NOBODY is born a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist, they were the same as anybody else: little babies that could not talk, walk or eat on their own and they did was just cry, eat and sleep. The only difference between them and other people is that they did not give up on learning. And that's how excellent parrot caregivers are made: by learning and not giving up. It's frustrating, it takes forever and a day and it's intensely humbling because every day we find out/realize there is still much more to learn than what we already know but, if you keep at it, you make it.

Like I said, you are on the right track. Observe them, make mental or even written notes about your observations, analyze the ABC (Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence) of their behaviors and reactions, do research (but not so much on birdsites although this one is pretty good in terms of only recommending proven and/or scientific tenets) and, most of all, be patient, persistent and consistent. I am not going to promise your birds will be happy because undomesticated species are never truly happy in captivity but they will be healthy and content - which is the most we can aspire to with parrot keeping.

And come back and let us know how your birds and you are doing and ask as many questions as you need. That's what we are here for.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 14658
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes


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