27 Feb

Birdie Mash Recipe

Birdie Mashby Pauline James
 
Birdie mash is very popular with most parrots and is a good way to get birds to eat foods they wouldn’t normally touch.  This highly nutrient-rich mix takes a little while to prepare, but if done in bulk, it can then be frozen in portions, so it doesn’t have to be made every week.  It can be served warm in the winter months and be used to supplement their daily diet.
 
This mash makes a great treat for the evening, to serve when you are sitting down to a meal too.  Eating together gives companion parrots a sense of belonging, and they will anticipate this time of day and their special food, with great joy and enthusiasm.
 
Making a birdie mash…
A good basis for a mash, and to give it body, is lightly steamed sweet potato and pumpkin (when available), as these contain high levels of vitamin A.  This vitamin is essential for all birds, but it is a vitamin many are deficient in, due to a staple diet of mainly seed, and is why malnourished birds are extra vulnerable to infection and disease and feather-plucking due to the irritation of dry, flaky skin and poor quality plumage.
 
Mash a good quantity of these two vegetables and then add to it mashed banana with a little added lemon juice to stop it discolouring and a few mashed cold hard-boiled eggs.  Exact quantities are not vital as long as the mash is not over-loaded with fats and proteins.
 
Cook a quantity of mixed lentils, brown rice, split peas, quinoa and mixed dried beans and when cold add to the sweet potato and pumpkin (if used) mixture.
 
Next liquidise a good variety of fresh fruits and vegetables not readily eaten in their normal diet and especially those that are nutrient-rich such as mango, figs, papaya, berries, pineapple, grated carrot and beetroot, broccoli, chillies and beans.  Start by liquidising the juiciest fruits first and chop them all into small pieces before adding to the liquidiser – add a little water if necessary.  Stir this into the mix, but make sure the mash retains its body.
 
Then grind up a mix of different top quality nuts, such as almonds, a few Brazils and walnuts along with the pumpkin seeds and perilla seeds.  Add to this chipped up fresh ginger and a few teaspoons of each turmeric and cinnamon and the freshly grated peel of a few oranges.
 
Mix thoroughly and divide into portions and freeze.
 
If all parrots were fed a portion of this every day, it would increase a parrot’s wellbeing and help satisfy their nutritional needs and go a long way to keeping them in good health.
 
Photo courtesy of Tony Pittman

20 Feb

ClubParrot

ClubParrot logoIt is incredible to think that we are coming up to the end of February already, where does the time go?!  Think Parrots Show 2015 on 21st June is just around the corner and we are working hard to make it a wonderful day out for all our visitors and exhibitors alike.

We have been contacted by a couple of clubs – Leicestershire Parrot Club and East Midlands Parrot Club - who have joined forces and are hiring a coach/mini bus to transport their members to the show at Kempton Park Racecourse in Middlesex, and back.  We thought this was a fantastic idea as it leaves you free to relax on the journey, and focus on all the benefits of the day, such as meeting other like-minded, parrot-loving people, listening and learning at the Masterclasses, speak to some of the world’s top parrot experts with any questions you may have concerning your birds, visit the numerous stands selling all sorts of goodies, and generally have a fun and educational time, without the worry and stress of the journey.

In the March issue of Parrots magazine, we have started a new item called 'ClubParrot', so if you belong to a parrot club, please let us know and, space dependent, we will give you some publicity.  In fact, why not organise a coach to the show for your club and let us know about that too!

If you haven’t already booked your Show and Masterclass tickets, you can do so here.

13 Feb

What to look for in a harness

Harnesses pic 1by Jill Perry
 
A harness basically needs to be as minimalist as possible, to allow the parrot freedom of movement.  It needs to be made of a strong and parrot-proof material, to withstand the rigours of a parrot’s beak, it needs to fit well, so that it cannot slip or ride-up, and it also needs to be as light as possible, so that a parrot does not feel encumbered by weight.
 
All-in-One
A one-piece harness without the need for buckles and clips is the ideal, and the safest option.  One piece harnesses also tend to be lighter, and are usually easier to put on.  A harness that is fiddly to put on, will be off-putting for your parrot, and make it less likely that he will comply.
 
Plastic and Metal Clips
Plastic clips can be easily destroyed by parrots that like to chew, and the strapping can slip in a plastic clip, which could render the harness unsafe.  Although metal clips are stronger than plastic ones, they can be uncomfortable for a parrot, if they stick into their skin, and they can also add critical weight to the design, especially if there is more than one buckle.
 
Getting the right fit
Harnesses come in about six to eight different sizes, catering for cockatiels and the smallest pyrrhura conures (and more recently even budgies), and go right up to the largest macaws.  So, it is important to get the right size for your bird, and then it is vital to adjust the harness to fit your individual bird when it is on, and some harnesses are easier to adjust than others.
 
Avoid Restricting the Bird’s Crop
It is absolutely essential when fitting a harness that the crop is not restricted in any way and that the harness has no room for movement, especially if the bird is going to fly.  A low-lying neck yoke, which fits well below the bulge of the crop, is best.
 
Harnesses pic 2Elastic Leads (Leashes)
If the intention of the harness and lead is to allow a bird to fly, then an elastic lead is far safer.   If a parrot takes up the whole length of its lead, it will prevent the bird being suddenly jolted backwards mid-flight, sending it plummeting to the ground.  A lead fitted with a wrist loop is also a very good safety measure, and will prevent it being dropped by accident.
 
Materials Used
A good quality, strong manmade material, is probably the most durable, and will withstand being chewed very well.  Harnesses made of a slippery material, means less friction against the bird’s feathers, and will reduce the possibility of damage to its plumage.
 
Beware Stitching
Some parrots are very skilled at unpicking machine stitching bit by bit, so if the material has been heat-bonded, leaving no rough edges, rather than being stitched, and the harness has no buckles either, it makes it virtually indestructible.
 
DVD Instructions
Some harness manufacturers supply a dvd, to show the user how to get the best use out of the harness, how to fit it, how to initially introduce your parrot to it, and explains how your bird is likely to react to the whole new world of joining you outside, and taking part in outdoor family pursuits.
 
But, as with all new experiences that we introduce our parrots to, our bird’s happiness and well-being must always come first, and if a harness is to be tried, ‘maximum safety and minimum coverage’ is the way forward.

06 Feb

Papaya: ‘Fruit of the Angels’

PapayaBy Pauline James

Papaya is a sweet and luscious fruit from the tropics that is full of goodness and has many powerful health benefits – even Christopher Columbus famously called it the ‘Fruit of the Angels’.
 
There are two main types.  Hawaiian and Mexican, but those seen in our local supermarkets, all year round, are the Hawaiian variety; the Mexican version grows to 10x the size.  The flesh of the papaya is a rich orange colour with yellow or pink hues and its round black seeds encased in a gelatinous-like substance are also edible – their spicy flavour being somewhat reminiscent of black pepper.
 
The fruit, and other parts of the papaya tree, contain papain, an enzyme that helps digest proteins.  This enzyme is especially concentrated in the fruit when it is unripe and is extracted to make digestive enzyme dietary supplements.  But, this enzyme can also be greatly beneficial to young parrot chicks being hand-reared.
 
If the flesh of the papaya is liquidised with a little pre-boiled water, it can work brilliantly, fed little and often, to aid in the break-down of stubborn foods in a compacted crop.  Many a young chick has been saved having been fed papaya and if hand-rearing tiny chicks, the inclusion of a small amount of this pureed fruit in its formula can act as a powerful preventative, as well as a cure, to crop and digestive disorders.
 
This fruit is also rich in vitamins C, A, E and K, folate, potassium, calcium, magnesium and fibre and is low in calories.  And, although only found in small quantities, it also provides four times the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids to Omega-6 fatty acids, making it an extremely healthy food.
 
Papaya also contains high levels of powerful antioxidants, and the riper the fruit the more it contains, which helps prevent cholesterol building up in blood vessel walls.  High levels of fibre also helps to maintain lower cholesterol levels and the folic acid they contain converts homocysteine, which can damage blood vessel walls, into benign amino acids also helping to prevent heart disease.
 
Papaya’s unique protein-digesting enzymes including papain and chymopapain also help to lower inflammation and heal burns.  In addition, the antioxidant nutrients found in this fruit, including vitamin C, vitamin D, and beta-carotene, also help reduce inflammation, support the respiratory and immune systems and provide relief from arthritis.

30 Jan

Making a Stand

Home made parrot standBy Oliver Fry

A plant pot is filled with concrete, in which is placed a vertical plastic pipe to hold the base of a tree branch (branches can be replaced periodically, and can be wedged into the tube with smaller twigs).  This is placed in a large wooden box lined with newspaper to catch mess and make it look less offensive.  The branches can be as large or small as space permits, and need not take up too much room – parrots enjoy climbing and sitting on tall vertical branches as well as ones with thin horizontal and diagonal offshoots. Always wash any branches you may have acquired to remove any traces of insectacides, unless you know they have not been sprayed.
 
Photo courtesy of Oliver Fry


For suggestions of suitable wood for natural perches see http://www.parrotmag.com/parrots-blog/943-natural-perching-is-best

16 Jan

Quinoa Vegetable Salad For Parrots and People

QuinoaBy Leslie Moran

Cook one cup of quinoa.  When cooking quinoa, use two cups of water to one cup of grain.  After bringing it to the boil, cover it and cook it at a low simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the germ separates from the seed.  The cooked germ looks like a tiny pinwheel and should have a slight texture to it like al dente pasta.  A rice cooker can also be used.

Cockatiels


Meanwhile, wash and finely chop or grate approximately two cups of mixed raw vegetables.  You can use a combination of fresh raw carrots, beetroot, green beans, peas, broccoli, celery, kale and dandelion greens.

After the cooked quinoa has cooled, mix in the chopped vegetables and lightly toss.  Serve to your birds as is.

When serving yourself, you may want to add some seasoning herbs such as dill, parsley, or garlic powder.  Tamari or soy sauce can also be flavourful.  You can also serve over a bed of red leaf lettuce, and top with your favourite salad dressing.

Photo on left courtesy of Leslie Moran. Photo on right courtesy of Michael Bailey.

23 Jan

Early Bird tickets for Think Parrots Show 2015

think parrots parrot 100pxBy John Catchpole

We have been receiving many requests for Early Bird tickets for Think Parrots Show 2015.  These tickets will be on sale from 14th February 2015 when you can also book your places at any of the FREE masterclasses, which is recommended to guarantee a place.  
 
Our masterclasses are presented by some of the UK's leading experts in veterinary healthcare, diet and nutrition, parrot behaviour and general husbandry.  You will learn more about how best to care for your bird(s), which will then ensure you are able to developed the best and lasting relationships.
 
And Think Parrots 2015 is guaranteed to give you a rewarding and fabulous day out!

TP14 Neil Forbes BLOG2

09 Jan

Could your parrot be bored?

Bored parrotBy John Catchpole

It is very easy to ignore the requirements of our captive animals with particular interest in what occupies their minds.  In the wild, creatures can choose what they eat, where they go and how they live.  In captivity, they cannot do this but have to rely on us humans for all their needs.

There are cases when psychological problems are identified as an underlying problem with behaviour, which opens up a whole raft of questions.  Can such issues be attributed to deep underlying issues or could it be that, simply, boredom is a cause?

Parrots are inquisitive creatures and often need to be stimulated and toys can play an important role.  With just one, or even a number of birds in cages or aviaries, stimulation can often be missing.  So why not try toys as a stimulus.

There are many different types readily available using a wide range of materials from basic wood through natural ropes to hard plastic.  Also, treats can often be ‘hidden’ in a ‘foraging’ toy, stimulating even more response, which can be purchased from a number of advertisers in Parrots magazine.  So why not try some?

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