I am a foster mother to an Indian ring-necked parakeet since he was of 5 weeks and have successfully trained and kept him since 2015.
Table of contents:
2) When to start?
3) The behaviour of a parrot and what to expect
4) Feeding the bird
5) Flying, it's importance and the first flight
6) New home for the bird
7) Socialising your parrot
The Indian parakeet is a ring-necked parakeet and is also known as the rose-ringed parakeet. It is a native of Africa and South Asia but can now be found in many different parts of the world. It is a bright green medium-sized parrot and grows up to be 16 inches in length including its long tail feathers. Nowadays, due to different colour mutations, you can also find them in bright yellow, blue and white colour. But despite so many colour mutations, most commonly these birds are found in bright lime green colour. Such a lime green colour helps them to remain hidden and out of sight from many predators in the wild. They are known to be a nuisance to farmers as they can eat crops and are hence banned in some places.
By nature, these birds are known to be very sociable. In the wild, they move around in large groups. They love to communicate and turn out to be great friends to their owners if raised with proper love and care. However, many parrot owners find them to be aggressive, less sociable and less interactive. They fail to recognize that this is just the end result of not raising the baby birds properly.
When to start?
The right time to bring a parrot home is when it’s a baby. A newly born baby parrot should never be separated from its mother, as this will affect it psychologically. This will affect its behaviour pattern in the long run. However, if you happen to find such a baby by chance or by accident, then you can bring it home. Otherwise, two months to six months old parrot would do fine as a pet as it will treat you as a family if you give it proper love and care from the start. If you bring home an older parrot then it might find it difficult to adjust with you, as it’s already used to its life in the wild. Even if you have not brought it from the wild, it is still not used to you as being a part of its surroundings. So it might treat you as a feeder but not as its own family. This will ultimately affect its trust, sociability and bonding with you. If however, it has grown up seeing you, grown up in your love and care, then it will definitely reciprocate the same.
The behaviour of a parrot and what to expect
Though they are known to be mere intelligent memorizers, they are very loving and have emotions as well as you do. If you gain their trust then they can be very cuddly and affectionate with you. If they treat you like a family then they mean it! They’ll miss you when you leave the house, they’ll be looking out for you at the exact time when you are supposed to head back home from work and they’ll want your presence around them a lot. Since they are better only at memorizing, and have grown up in your love and care, it shouldn’t be shocking for you to know that they do not understand the difference between you and them. Many times they start considering their human caretakers as flock-mates. Unless they are petrified of you, which of course shouldn’t happen if you haven’t been scolding them all along, you must know that in such a situation where you are raising up the parrot, it does not technically understand that you are not a parrot. This especially happens if it’s a single bird that you have. So when it’s angry you can expect it to treat you as it would treat a fellow parrot. Similarly, you can expect it to love you as it would love a fellow parrot. But how will you know if your parrot is angry?
You will know that your parrot is angry when you see it with puffed out feathers and dilated pupils. At such a time you must stay away from the bird or it will bite. Also, you must not appreciate such behaviour by giving it a lot of attention at this time. Just ignore and move away for some time or be still till it comes back to normal.
If you have more than one female parrot, then they might not get along with each other if the cage is too small. Females need some territorial space and so they might end up fighting if they do not have sufficient space for themselves.
Feeding the bird
Feeding a baby parrot is the toughest part of raising it up. Some people are so baffled about this, that they place a plate full of seeds in front of the baby parrot, expecting it to eat by itself. How can you expect that from a bird’s baby if you could not do it yourself as a baby? They are too young to eat on their own. They need a lot of care and frequent feeding when they are less than two months old. They need to be fed as their mother bird would have fed them and after every three hours. But since you cannot feed them by mouth as its mother would have done, you need to use some available alternatives. If it’s a very young bird that you have brought home, then you can feed it using the bottom part of a syringe or any other similar device. It can be filled with some liquefied bird food and inserted in the bird’s mouth. If bird food is not available at the place where you stay, then a readily available fortified baby cereal food can also be used. In case of my own baby parrot, I had fed him Nestle Cerelac stage 1 (Wheat flavour). Later on, after feeding him with this for about one month, I tried to feed him a new flavour of Cerelac but he didn’t seem to like it at all. He’d just reject it straight away. So I guess for a start the wheat flavoured Cerelac is fine.
HOW MUCH AND HOW OFTEN?
There’s another important aspect of feeding baby birds that need to be addressed here. It’s how much and how often to feed. Do not overfeed the babies. At the start, giving a teaspoon amount using the syringe is fine. When they are satiated they’ll refuse to accept more and you will understand this by their actions. After two or three hours, feed them again. Please do not leave them from morning till evening without feeding them, just because you were selfish enough to bring home a baby bird so that the fantasies of your eye could be satisfied. If such is the case, then do not bring them home as babies as you would starve them to death. If in case you do bring them home then at least be home at midday and afternoon to feed them. If you have already brought them home as babies, then pass it to some responsible person for adoption.
A NEW TASTE:
Parrots seem to get bored quite fast of a particular taste. They need a change of taste quite often. Since their tongue is quite similar to the human tongue, they have a tendency to relish the taste that we ourselves enjoy. In my experience, I've observed that they like food that's sweet to taste. You must change its diet when you feel that it has started losing interest in a particular kind of taste. You will know that it has started losing interest in a particular kind of taste when you see that it's rejecting the food with that taste. In my parrot's case, when I tried to switch over from the wheat flavour to the apple flavour of Cerelac, the taste of the latter was outrightly rejected by my parrot, even though parrots are generally known to eat apples. So I switched back to the wheat flavour, which was readily accepted. Such a change generally starts happening when its feathers come up and its taste buds start developing. So when you are feeding your parrot, remember to give little at a time and to increase the variety of food intake as it grows up. The number of times they are fed in a day can be reduced as they grow up.
WHAT NOT TO FEED:
Research suggests that there are certain foods that are potentially toxic to parrots. Some of them are tomatoes, chocolates and avocados.
FOOD ON TIME:
Serve breakfast on time. It's in the inherent nature of parrots to search for food early in the morning. The saying 'it's the early bird that gets the worm' is synonymous to their routine. When the sun is rising, the birds wake up to attract the females, ward off other rivals from their territory and to gather food for themselves. So, if you have a bird at home, then you must provide it with food early in the morning, as that's the time when they are very hungry after a night long fast and start craving for food. In fact, I've personally observed that if there is some leftover edible food in their cage then they start trying to consume it, even though it is not in their chief interests to consume stale food. Indeed, in times of tragedy and necessity, unusual things can be done.
If you happen to be late to serve food to your bird then you must also be ready to find a very angry bird. Also, since all of us have varying definitions of late, what's not late for you might be 'very late' in your little bird's time table. So, you must not try to accommodate them into your routine or dream that they will adjust to yours as that is never going to happen. They are naturally built according to that timetable, just the same as they are naturally built to learn and repeat what you speak or to take a bath by themselves, even though neither you nor their mothers have taught them any of these. It's in their genes to behave like that and it's you who have to adjust your time-table according to them or be ready to face their immense wrath.
I have come across various bird feeders on the internet that might do well for a slightly grown up baby bird:
A large bird feeder (plastic)
Apart from the trays and bowls mentioned and linked above, I have found the food dispenser and water bottle holder mentioned below to be a very useful accessory in feeding the bird:
Bird food dispenser
Flying, its importance and the first flight
When you are raising a baby parrot, it's very important for it to take its flight. The first flight helps to strengthen up its muscles and tone its body. It also helps the bird to develop its muscles, so that it can flap its wings to its fullest potential. So let the grown-up baby bird learn how to fly within the four walls of your room or within the big house, you've provided it with. If it's taking the first flight in your room then make sure that the fan is switched off and that there is no fire or any such hazardous substance around it, as it's generic for birds to collide on random substances and fall down when taking their first flight. Also, you must know that they do not need their mothers to teach them how to fly. They are born with a natural instinct to fly. They just pick up the art of flying by themselves, after going through many fails and random collisions. Also, you must know that at this stage the bird is just a fledgeling and needs your continual care and attention as a parent. Just because it's learning how to fly doesn't mean that you can abruptly leave the bird to care for itself. They are still dependent on parental care and feeding at this stage.
I have personally found these bird supplements to be very useful for baby birds, as they have the adequate vitamins and nutrition needed for the growth of the parrot's feathers and muscles:
D-plus powder for calcium absorption
Prebiotics, probiotics, enzymes (For better health and immunity)
Do not be atrocious enough to leave them out in the open, expecting them to fly away. They are not good flyers at this stage! Even if they are a little grown up and are starters at flying, leaving them outside would give an open invitation to the birds of prey to attack them. Your home bred bird might not be possessing the practise and exercise that is needed to be a good flyer. The slow birds are attacked and consumed by the raptors. So do not toy with such bizarre and insane ideas! If however, it’s a grown-up bird that you have brought home, especially one that has been brought from the wild, then you can let it fly away. But a baby bird raised up by you should not be left to fly away later on, as it would not be able to fend for itself in the wild. It won’t be able to adjust with other birds as it is not used to it. Some home bred birds take a long successful flight but fall down somewhere later on. After a fall they are too scared to take a flight again. So if you plan to let out your home-bred bird, then the end won’t be as good as you had thought it would be. Once you take a baby parrot home and raise it up with love and care it starts considering you as its own family. So even if it flies, it will still long for you. It will long for you as much as it longs for food and flying. So an optimal solution to this will be to build a bigger home for it, so that it can easily roam about in its home or even fly within that space. If you cannot build one then maybe you could buy one:
However, if you cannot arrange a bigger home for it, then you can clip or trim its feathers from time to time. Trimming the feathers slightly isn't painful and given the purpose for which you are doing it, it should not be considered injustice either.
New home for the bird
Do not cage your baby bird right from the start. Keep it in a box in your room when it's a baby. Though it might be tedious to clean its shit but it will do a lot of good to the relationship you share with your bird. However, to escape that tedious routine of cleaning the box, you can also use sterilized coconut fibre inside the box and change it as needed. Keep it in a cage or a home that you have built for it only after it has learnt flying. At least let it take its first flight. After that, you can trim its feathers with someone's help and keep it in its new home.
Remember to take your bird out of its cage daily or at least once a week if you are too busy. Don't forcefully take it out. Let it come out on its own and sit on your shoulder or hand. Do this daily to train your bird to come out this way.
Also, remember to put a lock on the parrot's cage, as they are prone to attack by stray cats. The cats are very smart at opening cages and so are the parrots! The smallest wound given by a cat can kill your bird.
In my case, I have an amiable pomeranian bitch that constantly defends the parrot. So, no cat has been successful at harming the bird so far, as our bitch shoos the cats away.
Socialising your parrot
Parrots love to socialise and interact. So start talking to your bird right from the start when it doesn't even speak. They'll listen to you intently even as little babies and if you do this they'll start talking as soon as they develop the capability to speak. Doing this will also form a good bond between you and the bird.
Never be angry at your bird! Since they are very good at imitating, you might also see them imitating your angry words and angry ways.
Talk slowly and clearly, so that they can grasp your words and pronunciation. They observe everything when you speak and that includes your actions as well. In my case, I've taught my bird to give flying kisses and say 'Praise the Lord' with a hand in the air. He loves action songs!
In this regard, I have found this book quite useful:Tips to teach parrots how to talk
They do not like a very quiet environment unless it's dark and time to sleep. A very quiet environment can make them feel that there is danger lurking around. Also, if you keep talking to your bird throughout the day, it will develop a very interactive behaviour. Some parrot keepers put on some music in the house if they are to leave the parrot alone for many hours within the house.
Fully home bred parrots do not easily get along with strangers. They are so smart that they'll start recognising every member of the family whom they have grown up seeing in the house. They'll also get familiar with the voices of family members. So if you bring a stranger home, your parrot might talk to them but might not sit on their shoulder or cuddle up with them. If in case they fail to recognise the stranger due to some reason and sit on their shoulder, then you should know that as soon as the parrot realises that it's a stranger it's with, it'll bite them. So be careful, and do not let your parrot go too close to strangers. They take family very seriously!
A parrot can have a very long life as compared to the other pets. There are some reports of ring-necked parrots living up to be 50 years of age. A home-bred parrot has a longer life than the one that lives in the wild, as the ones in the wild are attacked by the raptors as soon as the parrots become slow and frail. So since a parrot is a life long friend, one must make a responsible decision when bringing it home. Indeed, Anatole France has rightly said,
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Lincy Francis
Larry Slawson from North Carolina on March 19, 2019:
Interesting article! Thank you for sharing!