Basic Parrot Care in Temporary Shelters
(Conures, Cockatoos, Amazons, Macaws, etc.)
DIET: Most birds will not eat unfamiliar foods; try to find what diet he is used to and mix new food with old. Some will eat pelleted diets, but may recognize only one brand.
Larger parrots can’t open tiny seeds; offer sunflower seeds, peanuts, fruits and vegetables. In an emergency pick out the larger seeds from cockatiel or wild bird seed.
Check dishes twice daily. A layer of empty seed hulls may cover the unopened seeds deeper in the dish, so blow or scrape away the opened shells.
Birds may not eat every seed type in the mix. Watch droppings as described below.
Most birds don’t know how to drink from a bottle. Use a bowl, check twice daily.
Parrots never need grit. Lories, a type of smaller parrot with a special diet, cannot ever have seed. If you don’t know what kind of parrot it is offer fruits and vegetables.
HOUSING: Minimum temperature 60 degrees, maximum 85 degrees. A bird that is too cold will fluff out the feathers. Covering the cage isn’t adequate; move to warm shelter.
Panting is a sign of distress and overheating. Cool with water and fans immediately.
Cage bars should not allow the head to push thru. Use carabineers or Quick Links on cage to secure doors. Parrots can break small bars or chew thru plastic in minutes.
Some species may become aggressive in their territory, keep cages separated.
Reduce stress with covers or barricades around 2 or 3 sides of the cage.
Use newspaper or paper towels in the cage bottom and change daily.
Place perches where the tail will not hit the cage bars, and not directly above other perches or dishes. The foot should wrap 1/2 to 3/4 of the way around the perch.
RESTRAINT: Never work on a flighted bird outdoors, move indoors or into a vehicle.
Capture with a hand towel or larger doubled up towel. A darkened room may make capture easier. Corner the bird in the bottom of the cage and wrap the towel around it.
Encircle the neck with the thumb and one or more fingers to elongate the neck. Your fingertips should be touching under the lower beak thru the towel. Use your body and your other hand to confine the wings and sharp toenails. Never restrict breathing by compressing the chest.
A large parrot bite can happen very quickly, without warning, and can cause permanent injury. Watch out for bites when restraining, feeding or watering.
COMMON MEDICAL PROBLEMS: Bacterial infections are very common. Keep cage and dishes clean; wash hands before handling; do not share food from your mouth.
Over the counter antibiotics and those used in dogs are often ineffective in birds.
Birds are extremely sensitive to toxic fumes. Never use aerosols near birds; be cautious with disinfectant fumes or exhaust from vehicles when rescuing.
Birds will hide symptoms of illness as long as possible. Report any subtle changes in sleeping, eating, breathing, droppings, or activity level immediately.
OTHER: There should be white urates and green/brown feces in each dropping. Watch for change in color or consistency. Birds that aren’t eating pass only urates or fluid.
Sick or injured birds may be picked on by cage mates. Remove immediately.
Sick birds usually greatly benefit from extra heat. Warm to 80 or 85 degrees.
Compiled by Julie Burge, DVM, Burge Bird Services, August 2010