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Parrot Behaviors: Your Quaker Parrots Health

Susan is a mother, a grandmother, and is a pet mama to Levi, the Quaker parrot, Charlotte, a teddy bear dog, and Zereen, a Golden retriever.

After writing my article on How to Care For Your Quaker Parrot, I have received many inquiries about parrot behaviors and parrot health. This article is an attempt to answer some of them, including some common problems such as feather plucking, biting, boredom, noise, identifying severe illness, and how to perch train your pet so you can develop a good relationship. These tips will help keep your parrot healthy and happy for many years, and a happy, healthy parrot means a happy owner.

Help, My Parrot Bites

Parrot biting can be a serious problem—it is the most often cause for a person to regime their pet bird. So it is also a behavior that needs to be addressed immediately. There are several reasons that a bird can start biting, so it is vital to identify why your bird has started this Behavior. Four of the most common reasons are:

  1. Aggression: This is where the bird is expressing his dominance over you.
  2. Territorial: This is a natural occurrence in the Quaker bird. In the wild, they are defenders of their homes. This Behavior tends to turn to their cages, and they will avidly defend their territory.
  3. Fear: This can happen with very rapid movements by you or something near you that frightens the bird.
  4. Hormonal behavior: Yes, birds exhibit hormones, and they can even get crabby and nip during this time.

My Parrot Is Loud

Parrots use vocalization as a means of communication. In the wild Parrot's flock, we become the flock in our home. Parrots will communicate with us just as they do with their flock in the wild. The problem is when our pet becomes excessively loud or screams.

Levi on his portable perch

Levi on his portable perch

Special Tips: Noise Reduction

Some tips to consider:

  • Are they not getting enough attention? When we go about our daily activities, are we including our Parrot as part of the flock? If not, a bird will attempt to locate its community by screaming, and when ignored, it will screech louder.
  • Exercise is helpful to help your pet expend some nervous energy. Have a separate area like a play gym your pet can play on - we also have a portable perch to bring Levi into the room that we are in - so he feels like he is part of the flock.
  • Get your pet toys to interact with and maintain a revitalizing environment to help with boredom.
  • Train your Parrot and give him attention—spending time will alleviate a lot of behaviors.
  • Evaluate the area you have the cage. Is it a highly active area with television blaring or children running around? You might consider moving the cage to a calmer area of your home.
  • Use positive reinforcement. When your Parrot is loud, walk away; when quiet for even 5-10 seconds, come back and greet your pet. He will soon see that the loudness does not bring you to him.
  • Do not ever hit his cage, throw things at, scream, or yell at your Parrot. Be calm and gentle toward your feathered friend.

A Routine to Calm Your Quaker

You will probably find that talking is part of their routine, which should be allowed. At some point, birds tend to vocalize more. Our pet Levi is very talkative in the morning and will announce his desire to be uncovered by talking nonstop. When he is tired, he will become crabby and yell loudly until we cover him and tell him goodnight. His way of telling us it is bedtime typically happens around 7:00 pm. These are regular parts of Levi's routine. Observing your Quakers will help you with natural routines that will help you calm your pet.

Toys to Destroy

Feather Plucking

Feather preening and pulling out broken or damaged feathers is expected in a Quaker parrot; it keeps your bird looking healthy. Excessive pulling can be a sign of something much more serious. Excessive pulling is identified through bald spots on a bird, frequently in their chest area. However, it can be anywhere on the bird. Doing this repeatedly can even leave areas of bleeding or tissue injury.

Feather plucking can be very difficult to stop in a bird, but you can identify why your pet is doing this with careful observation and monitoring.

Feather plucking

Feather plucking

Why Do They Feather Pluck?

Analyzing your pet can help you discover why your pet bird is plucking. The following list though not inclusive can help. If you can figure it out you may be able to fix it.

Mental Stressors

  • Boredom: lack of toys, not enough foraging items, not enough integration with family members.
  • Fear: loud noises, something scary inside of the room or outside of a nearby window.

Physical Stressors

  • Illness: Is there a diet change or a change in your parrot's overall appearance?
  • Hormones: A pet will often attach to its owner. Is there a new person in your life?
  • Improper diet: Please see my other article for diet tips.
  • Parasites: There are several types of mites, ticks, and bird lice that can cause great discomfort in your pet.
  • Sleep deprivation: Is your home or apartment active day and night?
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Environment Stressors

  • Is there another pet in the house that is threatening to the bird?
  • Loud noises in the room or on the other side of the wall.

Also, observe different times of day to give you clues to what might be causing your bird to feather pluck.

Is Your Bird Bored?

Quaker parrots are curious birds, and they need a variety of toys to keep them busy. Sitting in an empty cage or a cage where the toys no longer interest your pet can lead to feather plucking - just because of boredom.

With my pet Levi, we have various toys that we rotate in and out of his cage. The toys keep him happy and occupied. Some of the toys are there to destroy, as Quakers seem to like doing this—like wood toys or puzzle toys. Others make him think by having him work to get something out of the toy. Some of his favorites are a toy that can house paper or treats—he will spend hours emptying it, and another toy has parts that can move, twirl, or shake. It is very important to have a stimulating environment for your Quaker.

One of Levi's favorite toys

An overgrown beak can be caused by Fatty Liver Disease or a poor diet

An overgrown beak can be caused by Fatty Liver Disease or a poor diet

Fatty Liver Disease

Our bird's diet is of utmost importance, and because of their rapid metabolic rate - birds develop malnutrition quickly. The results are often devastating; this is why a Parrot needs a balanced diet that includes fresh fruits, vegetables, pellets, and supplemental seeds.

Birds can rapidly become "seed junkies" and pick only one seed they like to eat. For a Quaker, it is often the sunflower seed with high-fat content.

When a bird's diet is too high in fat, the fat will travel through the bloodstream, resulting in fat deposits making the bird appear obese. In time the fat will deposit in the liver and inhibit the function of the liver—or fatty liver disease. It is often hard to get a bird to change its diet willingly, and this alone will often take consultation from someone skilled in parrot care.

Fatty Liver Disease

Fatty Liver Disease

Signs of Fatty Liver Disease

  1. Obesity: An overweight bird will often have fat deposited in their chest and abdominal area.
  2. Overgrown veak: A bird's beak can be trimmed, but when it appears to be growing abnormally or uneven, this can often be a sign of a poor diet.
  3. Black spots on their beak and toenails: These are often later signs, but the black spots are areas of hemorrhages. These begin to occur when the liver is failing, and the clotting factor in the bird is becoming compromised.
  4. Enlarged fatty liver: This can only be diagnosed by a veterinarian and is often diagnosed with a fecal specimen.

Train Your Quaker to "Step Up"

Just as teaching a puppy to sit is the first command, teaching a bird to step up is one of the first commands you need to teach your parrot. This command will help you quickly get your pet out of their cage or out of a dangerous area. The training is completed using your hand to step up on or using a stick you have specifically for the parrot to step up onto to remove from their cage or another area.

We start by using our hands and can eventually add a stick if desired. This can be an easy task, but if you find your pet is either ignoring or biting at your hand, begin with teaching them not to fear your hand by offering treats and rewarding them when they come near your hand. Once the Quaker is not afraid of your hand, the training can begin.

As with training any pet, the sessions should be short, generally no longer than 15 minutes. Patience is the key to training, so make sure you devote that time to your pet without becoming irritated. Have fun with your pet, and you will both be rewarded.

  1. First, get your bird to take treats from your hand.
  2. Next, bring the step-up hand close to the bird - holding it in front of the Quaker a little higher, so he has to step up onto it. Offer him a treat for allowing this action.
  3. Once he is used to the step-up hand, gently push it toward his chest - while using the command you choose. “Step Up” or “Up” either command is okay; just use it consistently.
  4. When your Quaker steps up, offer him a treat. You may give a treat for even putting one foot up. Do this consistently for the behavior of stepping up.
  5. After your Quaker consistently steps up on command, you can begin to teach your bird to ladder by stepping up and putting another item for him to step up on as if going up a ladder.

Some owners will use an object to remove the Quaker from their cage. It can be a perch or training stick, as Quakers can be territorial in their cage. Levi, my parrot, is difficult to get out of his cage at times. A perch has helped him. We use this to get him to step up and come out of his cage- he is a sweetie once out of his territory.

By teaching your parrot this basic command, you will find it will help you establish a great relationship between you and your pet.

Our Blue Quaker Levi continues to be an essential part of our family. With care and work, you can enjoy your Parrot for many years. Pay attention to signs of illness and include your Parrot as part of your family, and you too can enjoy the antics of the Quaker Parrot. If you have further questions, feel free to ask me them, and we can see if we can help you and your pet live happily together.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2021 Susan Sears

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