PSA: Concentrate on Good Behavior

All pet parrots should be willing to do the following:

  • Step-up and step-down, onto and from: the owner’s hand, all members of the household and confident strangers
  • Stay on a perch or play gym when put there
  • Willingly enter the cage or carrier

Step-up: Step-up is the first basic command to teach your bird, and is the key to many hours of enjoyable interaction between you and your pet.

  • Confidently ask your bird to “step up” while placing your hand immediately in front of the parrot’s feet. Hold a favorite treat in your other hand to help encourage your bird to come forward.
  • When your bird leans forward to take the treat, offer verbal praise immediately and give him/her the treat. Repeat this process, asking a little more of your bird each time. For example, initially you will reward any forward movement towards your hand. Then, wait to reward your parrot until you see one of his/her feet moving towards your hand. Then, wait to reward your parrot until he/she touches your hand with a foot… etc. It may take only one training session or several training sessions before your parrot is comfortable with this process.
  • Once your bird steps up willingly on your hand, ask your bird to “step down” onto perches, the cage, or other locations by holding your hand close to these surfaces and offering your bird a treat once he/she steps onto the new surface. Some birds may be fearful of new surfaces, so move slowly and use lots of praise and encouragement.

If your parrot is consistently treated with respect and gentleness during this process, he/she will most likely be begging to step up at this point! You will be seen as the source of all treats, and your parrot will enjoy socializing with you. This behavior pattern should be “transferred” to everyone your bird meets, so that anyone can pick up your pet. A parrot that is only handled by one person can become aggressive or fearful towards other people due to poor socialization.

How Yellow and Blue Make Green in Parrots

When it comes to spectacular displays of color, birds are obvious standouts in the natural world. Many brightly colored birds get their pigments from the foods that they eat, but that's not true of parrots. Now, researchers reporting a study of familiar pet store parakeets -- also known as budgies -- have new evidence to explain how the birds produce their characteristic yellow, blue, and green feathers.

The findings reported in the journal Cell on October 5th promise to add an important dimension to evolutionary studies of parrots, the researchers say.

"Budgerigars are a great system for studying parrot colors because artificial selection over the last 150 years has resulted in a large number of simple Mendelian genetic traits that affect color," says first author Thomas Cooke, a graduate student at Stanford University. "We identified an uncharacterized gene in budgerigars that is highly expressed in growing feathers and is capable of synthesizing the budgie's yellow pigments."

Scientists have studied colors in budgies for more than a century. They knew that parrots produce psittacofulvins, a type of red to yellow pigment that's not found in any other type of vertebrate. They also knew that an inability to produce yellow pigments in some parakeets turns the birds from yellow and green to blue. But it wasn't clear which genes and biochemical pathways were involved.

To find out in the new study, the team led by Stanford's Carlos Bustamante first used genome-wide association mapping to identify a region containing the blue color mutation. That region contained several genes, so it wasn't yet clear which of them was responsible.

Read the full article here.

Cell Press. ScienceDaily, 5 October 2017.

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Companion Parrots Rehomed Featured in The Charlotte Observer

Companion Parrots Rehomed was recently featured in The Charlotte Observer in an article titled "Want to adopt a bird? Check out Companion Parrots Rehomed" by By Melinda Johnston.

“You really don’t choose a bird, it chooses you. We think we choose them as pets, but they choose us as mates.”

Read the full article here.