African parrot species like Senegal small and medium-sized parrots are the best pet for anyone looking for an intelligent bird that loves to be out and playing with you as often as possible. They will become very attached to their owner and will give a great amount of joy with their charm and powerful personalities. Some of these parrots can be very vocal and should be kept where noise is not a problem. They can even learn to talk, and many will learn some very interesting sounds and whistles with little encouragement.
Small to medium parrots, like other pet birds, need a diet with quality ingredients, and balanced levels of important vitamins, minerals and amino acids to maintain good health. A commercial diet that consists of high-quality extruded nuggets is the best diet for any exotic pet bird and should make up 80% of what the parrot eats every day. Many birds eat only seeds, but seed diets can contain high levels of fat and are deficient in important nutrients. An all-seed diet can lead to obesity and other nutritionally related diseases. Some birds may be difficult to convert from an all-seed diet to a more nutritious diet, but the health benefits will be worth it.
A high-quality commercial extruded diet contains balanced levels of important vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Additional supplements are not required and could be harmful to the bird. Many seed products have a vitamin and mineral coating on the hulls, and when birds eat the seed, they discard the hulls and the nutrients end up as waste. If supplements are added to the bird’s water, they may be discarded when the water is changed.
Although most fruits and vegetables are considered healthy additions to a bird’s diet, they should not make up more than 10%-15% of the daily diet. Some are high in sugar and carbohydrates, some lack important nutrients, and because they add bulk and fiber, the bird will feel satisfied and not eat the more nutritious commercial diet. Feeding seeds as treats can be a part of an overall nutritious diet, but make sure they do not make up more than 10%-15% of the total daily diet.
Parrots need a cage in which they can easily flap their wings. The bigger the cage, the better for the bird. Parrots should be kept in cages that have thick metal bars to handle a parrot’s incredible chewing ability. Luckily, there are many colors and styles to choose from and can be matched to the area that it will be placed. One feed cup and one water cup are basics with the cage along with perches and a tray on the bottom. Use bird litter or corn cob bedding in the tray, and never use colored newspaper or cedar shavings.
Make sure the bird has access to fresh, clean water. Every day scrub out the water dish with a light dishwashing detergent and rinse well. Make sure the bird always has food in his cup, but do not leave moistened food in the cup for long periods of time, especially in warm weather. The tray should be cleaned at least once a week or more often depending on cage size. Perches should be cleaned (washed if plastic or made of a synthetic material, scraped if wooden) once a week or as needed. At least once a month, clean out the cage completely by washing the bars, base, tray, and all toys and accessories made of plastic or metal thoroughly.
Most parrots rarely need nail or beak trims, but owners should keep an eye on the bill just in case. If the bill needs to be trimmed, make an appointment with an avian veterinarian. Parrots can be offered special perches made out of a material that can help keep the nails short, and the bill is usually kept trimmed by the bird chewing on a beak conditioner and wooden objects. Wings need to be trimmed every 4-6 months or the bird will be able to fly. For bathing, lightly mist your pet with a plant mister only in the morning at least three times a week.
With the proper nutrition, parrots are generally very hardy and some of the smaller parrots can live up to 15 years, while the medium ones can live twice that long. Although vaccinations are not required at this time, parrots should be checked by a veterinarian every year for any underlying medical conditions, or if they show any signs of illness such as lethargy, unusual discharges, a change in their feces or lack of appetite. Cages should be kept in a draft-free area away from vents, windows, or doors.
Special Section – Taming and Training to Talk:
Young parrots should always be handled quietly and gently at first, especially if they have not been hand-raised. (Hand-raised birds are very used to people and can be handled right away.) Young birds that are being tamed should have their wings trimmed (which is just like having your hair cut, it does not hurt at all). Then it is best to work with them in a small, quiet area. Keep them close to the floor, as they may try to fly.
When the bird is on the floor, push your hand slowly and gently against its lower chest. Once the bird is on, raise the hand and quietly talk to the bird. It may fly off a few times but be patient. (If the bird bites, use a perch instead of your hand at first.) Once the bird seems quiet and comfortable, talk to your pet and let it get to know you. Use the bird’s name frequently and repeat a word or short phrase over and over again for short periods of time (about 2-3 minutes) up to four times a day to teach your bird to talk. Realize that some birds may never learn to talk while others are very good talkers. It depends on the species and on the bird itself.
- Perches of at least three different diameters
- High-quality commercial diet formulated specially for small to medium size parrots
- Toys of many types and materials
- Beak conditioner
- Books on Parrots
- Large wire cage
- Food dish
- Water dish
- Treat dish
- Bird litter