Bird Breeder — For the Aviculturist
Note: Hand-rearing birds is not for the novice bird owner. If you don’t do it correctly, you can injure or even kill the baby bird. Only professional bird breeders and hand-feeders should hand-rear. These professionals continually educate themselves, work with avian vets and mentor under other experienced bird breeders to breed the happiest, healthiest birds possible.
Behavior and Weaning
One area of aviculture and nursery management that has really changed is our understanding of avian behavior. In the past it was assumed that parrots had to be reared in certain ways to make them good pets. This brought about the notion that there were ways to rear parrots that could then make them bad pets. Although there is some truth to this, the methods that were agreed upon to raise good pets versus bad pets were oftentimes incorrect. Here are some behavioral rumors and the reasons they were not such good ideas.
Perception 1: Pet owners should acquire baby parrots while they are still hand-feeding so the pet owner can bond with the baby bird and, therefore, it will be a better pet for that person.
- This caused a lot of problems because people with no hand-feeding experience were buying baby parrots and didn’t know how to properly feed or wean them. In extreme cases, baby parrots died from mishandling, neglect, poor hand-feeding management, or lack of knowledge about avian nutrition or health. Further observations demonstrated that young parrots, even those that are weaned, can make good pets even if the new owner is not the one who hand-fed them.
Perception 2: Shipping or moving unweaned baby parrots from one breeder to another or to qualified pet stores is too stressful, and they should be weaned before being moved.
- In actuality, feathered baby parrots that are of an age where they can thermo regulate their own bodies, but are not weaned, ship much better than older weaned birds do. This is because they do not stress out over the dramatic change in their environment as quickly as an older bird might. During and after weaning, birds become very aware of their environment and are more apt to become stressed when moved.
Perception 3: Hand-fed baby parrots do not make good breeders. Or … birds that have been pets will not make good breeders.
- Over the years of observing young parrots during and after weaning, it has come to light that the socialization during weaning is what can make the difference between a good breeder and a bird that would make a better lifetime pet. Weaning young parrots in small groups is the answer to a more properly socialized bird later in its life. Even species that seem to be a problem for breeders if hand-fed, will become more stable and self-assured when weaned in groups. Cockatoos, macaws, Amazons, and African grey parrots alike benefit from socialized weaning situations. They can be mixed in groups for weaning or weaned in groups of like species.