by Shelly Lane
Are you bringing home a Quaker Parrot baby soon? Bringing home a new baby bird is an exciting time. This article discusses some of the things you should plan to teach your new bird during those first few months to help insure a happy and successful life as part of your family.
Note: Seven years ago or so, I wrote a series of articles that appeared in the Quaker Parakeet Society’s quarterly newsletter. This is the second of those articles.
Few things are more exciting than bringing home a new baby Quaker Parrot. Even for those of us who have multiple birds, bringing home a new baby is a day we look forward to with great anticipation. Whether you are a first time bird owner or not, some planning should occur before the happy day arrives.
The obvious things to consider include choosing a name, cage, toys and brand of food. However, more important than these things is the need to plan what you want to teach your young parrot during its first year. Because your bird is no longer with its natural parents or the breeder, it is now your job to be your bird’s parent and teach it everything it needs to know to live successfully in your household. The following list should provide a place to start when planning your baby Quaker’s education.
One of the most important things you should teach your new bird is to “step-up” to your finger or hand. This should be taught even if your baby easily steps onto your finger whenever you place it in front of the bird. Your bird’s willingness to step-up can change overnight when it becomes a “teenager” unless it already has a strong step-up response that has been conditioned by consistent training. A strong step-up response will help you get through your parrot’s adolescence and any other challenges that appear along the way.
You should also plan to introduce your baby to a large variety of healthy foods, including pellets, vegetables, fruits and other “people” foods. Stay away from avocado, chocolate, caffeine and alcohol as these are toxic to birds. It is difficult to introduce new foods to an older bird if it was only offered one or two types of food when it was young.
Be sure to encourage your young bird to play with toys, and change the toys your bird has available in its cage often. There is nothing sadder than a bird that sits in its cage with nothing to do because it doesn’t know how to play with toys, and boredom can lead to screaming and feather plucking problems. Rotating toys not only helps relieve boredom but also encourages your parrot’s natural curiosity.
Another important thing to teach your Quaker is how to bathe. A parrot can have baths as soon as it is fully feathered. Bathing is very important for physical and emotional health. It not only helps keep the feathers in good condition but also provides an outlet for excess energy. Teaching a bird to enjoy being misted and taking a bath in a bowl when it is young will insure your Quaker will enjoy the benefits that bathing provides throughout its lifetime.
If possible, get your Quaker used to being handled by many different people while it is still very young, even if you live by yourself. This will help prevent your baby from becoming a “one-person bird”. Keep in mind that you may need to also train the humans to properly handle the bird. This is especially true for children.
And last but not least, teach your Quaker how to play games and have fun. All of my birds learned to laugh before learning any other sounds or words. They love to play games (peek-a-boo is a good first game) and seem to have a real sense of fun and humor. They also love to play word games (What does a dog say? Arf Arf!) and can even learn to sing.
As you can see, it is a big responsibility to raise a baby parrot. You should take your new role as parent seriously, because your baby is counting on you to teach it what it needs to know to be successful as a companion bird. However, there are many joys and delightful surprises to be found along the way, and your reward will be a physically and emotionally healthy companion to spend a good many years with. Best wishes to you and your new Quaker Parrot.