Illness

Parrots are very good at hiding that something is wrong or that they don’t feel well. It’s important to take notice of changing behavior or a change in stool.
Note that the stool will change in color depending on what a parrot eats, so if he eats a strawberry or tomato there will be red coloring in the stool. At first this can be worrisome but when you remember what you gave your parrot to eat it’s a great feeling of relief 🙂
If you did not give your parrot anything to eat that could color the stool and the stool is a different and strange color please monitor your parrot for illness and see an avian vet.

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Common illnesses include:
Malnutrition: Birds consuming a seed-only diet, picky birds, and those under stress (such as an egg-laying hen) may suffer from nutritional imbalances such as low Calcium or Vitamin A deficiency.
Vitamin A deficiency: Birds suffering from hypovitaminosis A may have blunted choanal papillae, secondary infections with candida sp., usually candida Albicans, or other problems.
Feather picking: There are many causes for feather-destructive behavior. Poor wing-feather trimming can cause skin irritation and chewing of the cut tips of primary wing feathers. Intestinal protozoa can cause feather picking. Nutritional problems may also result in feather abnormalities.
Bacterial infections: While birds are exposed to millions of bacterial organisms every day, most are innocuous or even beneficial. But some bacterial organisms can cause illness in birds, even death.
Psittacosis: This disease is caused by a primitive bacterial organism, almost always Chlamydophila psittaci.
Reproductive problems: Some hens will lay eggs until nutritionally exhausted. An egg may not be expelled normally, resulting in a medical emergency. Other problems can occur if a yolk does not go into the reproductive tract and ends up loose in the coelom. Rarely this may result in yolk stroke. If your parrot has any of the following symptoms or you think your parrot may be sick please contact an avian vet right away.

Excessive sneezing
Blood in stool
Unusually irritable
Abnormal stool color
Abnormal stool shape
Odor in stool
Lumps on body
Swollen or red nails or feet
Standing on one leg for long periods

Hot feet
Panting
Swollen nares
Stress bars in feathers
Tattered feathers
Worn feathers

​Excessive drinking
​swollen or red eyes or nose
​Weight gain or loss
Change in appetite
Abnormal stool consistency
Noisy breathing
Red ears or wings
swollen ears or wings
Swollen or red abdomen
Red wick feather (uropygial gland)

Unwelcome house guests

One thing no one thinks about very much is that pests are a danger to parrots.
Take mice for instance. Seemingly harmless, they occasionally let themselves into your house for warmth and food.
Spiders and other bugs somehow always find a way into your home.
Of course when these pests show themselves in we do everything we can to get them out, but we need to be aware about the dangers they pose for our precious parrots.
Mice are scavengers and will take whatever food they can get. Bird cages are perfect spots for a quick meal.

Mice can squeeze themselves between the bars of the cage and eat whatever awaits them.
We had this happen to us a few years ago. It was late at night and I could hear Hilo making little noises. He always tells us “goodnight” so I thought he was continuing his goodnights as he fell asleep, but I thought I’d go check on him anyway. I used the flashlight on my phone to approach the cage and lift up the cover, ready to say “goodnight” once again only to find little eyes glowing back at me! It was a mouse! I grabbed Hilo out of the cage as fast as I could as the mouse scurried away. Hilo was unharmed fortunately, but I was in a panic thinking what might have happened if I hadn’t gotten up to check.
I have read many horror stories about mice killing parrots in their cages.

Hilo at that time was using a snuggle sack to sleep in, which we have gotten rid of and now use snuggle huts for him. As the night went on I could hear the mouse return to hilo’s cage looking for food. Every Time I would get up to check, the mouse would be trying to get into the snuggle sack. Our thoughts were that he was looking for eggs and thought the snuggle sack was a nest.

We got rid of the mice without harm done to our parrots. We haven’t had mice since then, but whenever I hear Hilo or Hana making little noises or something rattle in one of their cages I get up to check just in case.


COOKING
One of the biggest and worst dangers is PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene).
Other names for PTFE are Teflon, Silverstone and Supra. When overheated, non-stick cookware emits several types of gases and hydrofluoric acid. Also, once the non-stick pans are scratched or tainted in any way, they are more susceptible to emitting these toxins even at regular cooking temperatures. Parrot owners should avoid all products that have PTFE as they are deadly for your parrot. Buy ceramic and stainless steel cookware.
Please also be aware that PTFE is not only used in cookware but also in space heaters, ovens, popcorn air poppers, hair dryers, etc… Do research about an item before bring it home just to be safe knowing whether or not it has PTFE in it. Your parrot’s life & yours for that matter could depend on it!

I use cast iron and stainless steel pots & pans when cooking.
Ceramic pans are nice also as they are naturally “slick” and won’t let off harmful chemicals when heated.
I love my stainless steel pots & pans because you can be rough with them and can’t really hurt them, plus they won’t let off harmful chemicals either.

When it comes to buying new appliances such as ovens, don’t be afraid to ask the store to turn it on in their warehouse or in-store for a few hours over a couple of days before you bring it home or have it delivered so that the PTFE wears down before it comes into your home. If the store refuses to do that or if you are like me and you just want to make sure that your new oven is safe, make sure any windows in the kitchen are open and that your parrots are in a room with windows open to allow for fresh air while you break in your new oven!


OTHER PETS
Many people post photos of their dog or cat hanging out with their parrots out of the cage, proudly proclaiming that they get along. Seeing that makes me feel sick.

Cats and dogs are predators, all it takes is a second and the parrot could be toast.
I’m not saying that other pets can’t get along with parrots but, the interactions between them need to be responsibly monitored.

For me, having the parrots loose while the dogs are around is not an option.
We set aside a few hours every day for the parrots to be out of their cages while the dogs are outside playing in the yard.
This helps them realize that we don’t love the dogs more than we love them and that this is still their house.

Our beagles are not aggressive toward our parrots.
We allow them to sniff the cages and meet nose to beak through the bars. They have an understanding that the parrots are friends, not food but there will never be any out-of-cage interaction between them. (although I don’t clip my parrot’s wings anymore, in case something were to happen and they need to fly to safety)

We had our parrots before we had our beagles, so before we brought either of the beagles home we explained to Hilo and Hana that we were going to be getting a puppy (I know it seems really weird to talk to your parrot like it’s a human child, because how could they understand what you are saying, but trust me, it really does help)
The day we brought Murphy home, we held him up to Hilo and Hana’s cages and let the introductions begin. (Murphy sniffing the cages and the parrots while they tried to bite his nose through the bars.)
We let Murphy wander the parrot’s area and quench his curiosity.
The introductions with Isla were the same, although, by the time we got her, our parrots were “dog greeting experts”.

Introductions like this are good for a few reasons.
One: The dog is new to the house. Meeting existing pets right away will help them understand their place in the home.

Two: If a dog sees a different kind of animal, it tends to bark at it. Introducing your dog to your parrots will save the parrot stress over being barked at by an unknown creature that’s invading its house.

Don’t hide your parrots from your other pets, but don’t expect that your other pets won’t eat your parrots either.
Always remember your parrot is very delicate, no matter their size.

Toxic Metals

Zinc & Lead.

Parrots are very curious and they put everything in their mouths. We have to be aware of what we leave laying around because what they get ahold of might kill them…

Common household sources of lead include costume jewelry, paint, drapery weights, linoleum, batteries, stained glass, mirrors, galvanized wire, and improperly glazed bowls.
Lead poisoning most commonly affects the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and nervous system.
High levels of zinc and lead in the body can cause seizures.

Sources of zinc include galvanized hardware (wire, nuts, and bolts), zipper pulls,
and US pennies minted after 1983. Elevated levels of zinc can affect the liver.

Other toxic metals

Cadmium
Hardware cloth
Arsenic Compounds
Linoleum
Mirrors (silver backing)
Nuts/bolts/nails

Mercury
Brass
Chrome
Wrapping foil
Non-stick aluminum foil
Galvanized wire

Other toxic items

Standing water
Scented/lit candles
Chemicals
Open flames
Other pets
Polish
Insecticides
Wax
Auto products
Dollar bills/coins
Tea tree oil
Lighter fluid
Secondhand smoke
Ceiling fans
Open doors/windows
Heated surfaces
House plants
Nail polish/remover
Matches
Ammonia
Antifreeze

Electric plugs/cords
Swinging doors
Herbicides
Chemical cleaners
Paint/thinners
Bleach
Flea products
Oven cleaners
Lye
Boric acid
Shellac/varnishes
Muriatic acid
Glues
Gas
Medications
Floor polish
Batteries
Hair spray
Pesticides
Charcoal
Kerosene
Formaldehyde
Ink
Metal cleaners

Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian. The material on this site is not intended to be, and should not be relied on as, a substitute for professional advice. Read my full disclaimer.

Sprouting Organics is an offshoot of Willowbottom Homestead, a website about our homestead where we share practical ways to help save the environment through Eco-Friendly & Sustainable living.