24 Apr

Think Parrots Show 2015, Masterclasses

TP15 Speakers Neil ForbesWe have a wonderful line up of speakers once again at Think Parrots Show, and kicking off the FREE Masterclass proceedings this year is renowned veterinarian, Neil Forbes, BVetMed DipECZM(avian) FRCVS, RCVS and European Recognised Specialist Avian Medicine, who will be speaking on the subject ‘Are you feeding your parrots correct diets’ between 11am and 12noon.
 
Neil qualified from RVC in 1983.  He gained his RCVS Specialist Status (Zoo and Wildlife [avian]) in 1992.  He received his FRCVS by examination in exotic bird medicine in 1996 and became a Diplomate of the European College of Avian Medicine and Surgery in 1997.  Neil has lectured widely on the international circuit and contributed to over 30 books.  He also received the Mackellar Award in 1991, the Dunkin Award in 2002, the Dr TJ Lafeber Avian Practitioner Award in 2004, the Hunting Award in 2005 and the first ever recipient of the Gerlach Senior Award ‘For Excellence in Avian medicine’ in 2011.  Neil is a past President of the European College of Zoological Medicine and the European Board of Specialisation.  He also heads the avian and exotic department at Great Western Exotic Vets (part of the Vets Now group) in Swindon, where he runs the only ECZM approved avian residency in the UK.  Neil has kept an African Grey parrot for many years and is committed to improving welfare standards for captive parrots.
www.gwexotics.com

Come along to Think Parrots Show, on Sunday 21 June 2015 at Kempton Park Racecourse, Middlesex, for further information visit www.thinkparrots.co.uk

17 Apr

Northern Parrots sponsors Think Parrots Show 2015

NorthernParrotsWebsiteWe are delighted that Northern Parrots is, once again, sponsoring Think Parrots Show.  Northern Parrots is the UK’s first and best online parrot shop, offering an unrivalled range of toys, food, perches and everything else you need to keep your parrot happy, healthy and entertained.

They have been selling parrot supplies through their catalogue since 1995, and online since 1998.  During that time they've grown significantly and have become a major importer and distributor, which allows them to provide their customers with an unequalled range at great value prices.
 
Whatever parrot – or parrots - you have, you’ll find everything for your parrot there, and you can even shop by bird type to make things easier.

They promise fast free delivery on everything when you spend £49, and a 30 day money back guarantee on anything you buy.

Everything listed on the site is in stock in one of their modern distribution warehouses, and they will despatch it to you within a few hours of your order being placed.

Parrot Cages

Northern Parrots offer a fabulous collection of parrot cages from top brands, and there are great styles including open top cages and play top cages suitable for every parrot.  There are even strong, lightweight travel cages, ideal for days out or trips to the vet.

Parrot Food

You’ll find the widest selection of parrot food from all the top manufacturers, including complete foods and pellets, a large range of parrot seed, delicious and nutritious parrot treats and much more.

Parrot Toys

Simply the largest range of parrot toys available, you’re guaranteed to be spoilt for choice, including foraging toys, foot toys, toy-making parts or swings and climbing toys.

Most importantly whatever parrot supplies and parrot accessories you buy at their parrot shop you’re guaranteed great service.
 
Come along and see their stand at Think Parrots Show 2015 www.thinkparrots.co.uk and visit their website at www.northernparrots.com

10 Apr

Juicing Fruits and Vegetables to Fight Arthritis

Fight Arthritisby Jill Perry

Juicing fruits and vegetables removes all the fibrous material, and enables the body to absorb the important nutrients and phytochemicals found in plants, almost instantly and with little effort on the part of the digestive system, potentially speeding up the health-effects of these foods.
 
Fruit and vegetable juices provide a convenient source of enzymes, which are extremely important to good health because they spark the essential chemical reactions that are necessary for digesting food, stimulating the brain, cellular energy, and repair and heal all body tissue.
 
But, the fibrous by-product of juicing plays an important part in a parrot’s general health too, and can either be offered chopped-up in a separate dish, or used as an ingredient in a birdie bread recipe.
 
Juices can be offered to parrots through a syringe, in a drinking pot, or it can be served by soaking birdie bread, dry monkey biscuits, or dry cereals, such as small shredded wheat squares, up in it.
 
Fresh juice does not keep for long and should be offered immediately after juicing.  But, leftovers can be frozen in an ice cube tray and defrosted as required.

Photo courtesy of Michael Bailey.

 

03 Apr

The Best Fruits and Vegetables to Fight Arthritis

by Jill PerryBest fruits

The best fresh fruits and vegetables to juice for the treatment of arthritis are those rich in antioxidants, vitamins C, E, K, calcium, copper, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), bioflavonoids or bromelain.
 
These include: broccoli, kale, carrot, root ginger, apple, cherries, blueberries, apricots, kiwi, mango, dark green leafy vegetables (spinach with its high iron content should be limited), pineapple (the only source of bromelain, which very effectively fights inflammation and acts as a muscle stimulant), and red bell peppers contain excellent pain-killing properties.
 
It should also be noted that seeds and their oils, including sunflower, play an important part too, in a healthy diet, and are rich in vitamin E.  Wholegrain cereals and wheatgerm oil are also rich in this vitamin, and are extremely beneficial in the fight against arthritis.  So, although a parrot’s diet should include a good variety of fresh foods and foods other than seeds, good quality seeds, which can be offered dried, soaked or sprouted, play an important part too, and should never be completely banished from a seed-eating parrot’s diet.

Photo courtesy of Leslie Moran.

 

27 Mar

Star Anise: a crunchy, nutritional treat!*

StarAniseby Pauline James

Parrots love different textures, tastes and shapes and in this respect dried Star Anise has everything!  Star Anise is the spicy fruit of the evergreen Illicium verum tree native to South-western China, but also grown in southern NSW, Australia, and has a similar flavour and taste to the anise seed.  The tree bears star-shaped fruits which turn a rusty-red when ripened and inside they contain amber-coloured seeds.

Both the seed and husk are used as a spice.  The seeds which feature a delicately sweet and aromatic bouquet are made up of 75-90 per cent anethole an essential volatile oil, which has a distinctive liquorice flavour.  The seeds also contain other important compounds such as estragol, p-anisaldehyde, anise alcohol, acetophenone, pinene and limonene and this exotic seed spice also contains many plant derived chemical compounds, which are known to have antioxidants to help prevent disease.

Health benefits
Star Anise seed oil is found in many traditional medicines and is used to settle the stomach, aid digestion and it is also an antiseptic, antispasmodic and carminative, helping to prevent the formation of gases in the gastrointestinal tract.   It is also used in tea as a remedy for rheumatism and as a general tonic to boost health.

This oil is also an expectorant – helping to thin the mucus that blocks the air tubes leading to the lungs and is used to relieve symptoms of asthma, colds, flu and other respiratory conditions.  Star Anise’s greatest claim to fame is that it is the major source of shikimic acid, a primary precursor in the pharmaceutical synthesis of the anti-influenza drug Tamiflu.  The shikimic acid is extracted from the seeds in a ten-stage manufacturing process which takes a year.

The spicy seeds are also an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and many essential B-complex vitamins such as pyridoxine, niacin, riboflavin and thiamine.  Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) helps increase GABA neuro-chemical levels in the brain.  They are also a great source of minerals like calcium, iron, copper, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium.

Parrots love these 1in diameter star-shaped pods, which have a long shelf-life if stored in airtight jars in the dark.   As an added bonus, the house and birds smell wonderful when they have been snacking on this crunchy, tasty, nutrient-rich treat!

*Important note, Japanese Star Anise (Illicium anisatum) is not edible and contains sikimitoxin, which is highly toxic and is burned as incense.

 

13 Mar

Turmeric: a powerful healing spice

Turmericby Pauline James

Turmeric, a member of the ginger family and native to Indonesia and southern India, where it has been harvested for over 5,000 years, comes from the dried root or rhizome of the Curcuma Longa plant.  This Asian spice has a peppery, warm and bitter flavour and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger.  Throughout history it has been used as a food colouring, an ingredient of curry powder, a bright orangey-yellow textile dye – used for over 2,500 years to colour Hindu priests’ robes – and as a powerful healing remedy.
 
The Chinese have long used this spice as an antidepressant, while the Indians relied on its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, adding it to bandages or applying it as a paste to wounds to prevent infection.  But, more recently this spice is becoming known in the West for its potent health benefits, and is proving to be a promising weapon against Alzheimer’s, cystic fibrosis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, haemorrhaging, heart disease, childhood leukaemia and prostate, breast, colon, skin and pancreatic cancers.
 
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin which is not commonly allergenic and as well as containing anti-inflammatory properties, is also a natural painkiller and inhibitor of the DOX-2 enzyme responsible for inflammation and pain – helping arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, tendinitis and gout, and with no side effects.  It is also an antioxidant, reducing free radicals in the body, antibacterial and antiviral, a natural liver detoxifier, and a natural antiseptic – useful for disinfecting cuts and burns, speeds up wound healing and assists in the regeneration of damaged skin.  It also halts the growth of new blood vessels in tumours, serves to boost the effects of chemotherapy drug Paclitaxel and reduces its harsh side effects.
 
All these health benefits apply to parrots too and a cockatiel keeper once explained how turmeric saved one of his birds when it developed a cancerous tumour.  It was very old and the vet was afraid to use traditional vigorous treatments, so after removing as much of the tumour as he dare, (as part of it lay close to the spine), he prescribed curcumin powder, to be applied to the bird’s back.  After a few months, the bird had completely recovered with no trace of the cancer or the tumour!
 
Put in foods such as homemade birdy bread, turmeric acts as a natural preservative, but is an anti-coagulant too, so as a precautionary measure should be avoided when a bird is moulting or has a problem with a broken blood feather.  It also helps prevent roundworm, boosts the immune system, is anti-fungal, helps alleviate nausea, aids digestion and can be a great aid to particularly young chicks suffering crop problems.  Sprinkle on softfood or mix a little with live yoghurt to feed.
 
Turmeric root is an excellent source of iron, manganese, vitamin B6, potassium and dietary fibre and has five times more antioxidant power than vitamin E.  Along with curcumin it contains many other phytochemicals, helping to regenerate liver cells, cleanse the liver of toxins, increase the production and levels of bile and two liver-supporting enzymes, glutathione-s-transferase (GST) and UDP glucuronyl transferase (UDPGT) and aids in fat metabolism.

20 Mar

Basil: The ‘royal’ amongst herbs

Basilby Pauline James

The basil plant (Ocimum basilicum), a member of the peppermint family and native to Asia and Africa, is now grown worldwide and is prominently featured in Italian, Thai, Vietnamese and Laotian cuisines.  The word ‘basil’ is derived from basilikohn which in Greek means ‘royal’ – showing just how revered this herb was.
 
Parrots enjoy sweet aromas
Although there are more than 60 varieties of basil, the highly fragrant and pungent leaves of sweet basil, is the form we are most familiar with.

But, basil not only smells good, it tastes good, and this ‘royal’ amongst herbs, does us and our birds the power of good too!  Basil contains very high levels of vitamin K, which is fat-soluble and stored in the body, and essential for coagulating the blood.  This herb also provides good levels of vitamins, A, B6 and C, iron, calcium, manganese, tryptophan, magnesium, potassium and fibre.

A high concentration of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene and a precursor to vitamin A, is also present and is a more powerful anti-oxidant in this form.  Beta-carotene helps protect epithelial cells, which form the lining of numerous body structures, from free radical damage, helping to prevent respiratory disease and cholesterol oxidising in the blood stream and building up inside blood vessels.  Magnesium serves to relax muscles and increase blood flow – supporting the fight against cardiovascular disease.

But, there is more…
Basil is most revered in the medical world for its unique flavonoids and volatile oils which provide exceptional health benefits.  Its unique array of active flavonoids, provide protection at cellular level.  In studies on human white blood cells, Orientin and vicenin, two water-soluble flavonoids, have been found to protect cell structures as well as chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage.

The volatile oils found in basil containing, estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene have been found to inhibit the growth of numerous bacteria, including: Listerial monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Yersinia enterocolitica and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  These volatile oils are a natural food preservative and kill infection bacteria such as Shigella, which trigger diarrhoea, and can accumulate on uncooked foods such as salad ingredients.

Basil has even shown the ability to inhibit several pathogenic bacteria from the genera Staphylococcus, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas which are now widespread and have developed a high level of resistance to commonly used antibiotics.  Eugenol is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and can block the enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX) – aspirin and ibuprofen work to inhibit the same enzyme.

Fresh basil is superior to dried, and is best bought as a growing plant.  Freshly cut and chopped basil can be covered in water and frozen in ice cube trays.

06 Mar

Introducing Parrots – the dos and don’ts

NewBird180White belliedCaiquesLoroParqueby Pauline James

The most dangerous scenario for a new parrot, that is probably anxious and stressed already due to the changes being imposed upon it, is to be put straight into the cage or aviary of a resident bird.  However lonely the established single bird may be, if a strange bird is forced upon it, it will be seen as an interloper, and its natural instinct will be to vigorously defend its territory.

If the intention is for the two birds to be housed in the one large cage belonging to the resident bird, then the first thing to do is to remove it, and set up a second cage for the bird.  His intended partner should then be put in another similar cage, close by.  When the parrots start to show an interest, are watching each other intently, and are calling to one another, move the cages closer together.

When both birds are getting as near to each other as possible, place the cages side-by-side, so they may make physical contact with their beaks for the first time.  It is important not to rush this stage, so the new bird has the option to withdraw from conflict safetly, if need be.  Sometimes two parrots turn out to be incompatible, and if one bird shows little interest in the other, the birds should not be forced on each other.

The initial bonding process can take anything from one hour to three weeks, depending on the past history of each bird.  If either has lost a long-term partner, they may well take longer.  But, generally the quicker a pair become bonded, the more successful the partnership in the long-term is likely to be.  When you are confident you have a pair that are bonding well, they can be released into the original cage – once a few changes have been made.

Rearrange the cage
It is important to disorientate the original bird as much as possible, so that it no longer associates his old cage with being home.  Out of sight of the parrots, strip all the perching, food dishes, toys and any other accoutrements out of the cage and start afresh.

Provide new fresh branches as perching, and arrange them in different positions.  Extra branches will be appreciated in the bottom of the cage for recreational purposes, and will help relax them.  Provide new versions of favourite items and toys, such as a new large swing, for two, ladders and foot toys, etc., depending on the parrot species.  Ideally provide different food pots too, so literally everything in the old cage is now different.  This way, two bonded parrots should happily accept each other, and the ‘new’ cage.

5 don’ts

  • Mix immature with adults
  • Offer a mate of the opposite sex if breeding is not the intention
  • Introduce a new bird to a resident bird without quarantining it for at least four weeks first
  • Introduce a new mate to a bird when a previous partner is within sight or calling distance
  • Mix two species unless they are proven to get on well.

Photo courtesy of Loro Parque Fundación

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