Does My Parrot Require A Daily Routine?
The most common problems with pet parrots are:
- Excessive noise
All of these problems tend to start from the age of three onwards. They are all caused generally by frustration, which is usually brought on by changes in their owner’s life styles which, in turn, causes the parrot’s life style to change. Your parrot cannot understand these changes and will usually become intolerable by screeching until it gets attention or biting because it does not want to do as it’s told. In worst case scenarios your parrot may pluck and mutilate itself sometimes to death.
When you have chosen your baby pet parrot it is very important to have a pre- organised routine ready for when it arrives. Routine is very important for your parrot’s mental health and happiness. It should be started from the day it arrives and within reason adhered to as much as possible. If introducing an older parrot to an all-new routine (because you believe it to be developing problems) then you will have to be very patient. As problems will usually get worse before they get better.
The below guidance is a suggestion as to how the normal daily routine should be divided to fit in with your own daily routine.
A solid uninterrupted twelve-hour sleep for your parrot should be implemented first. This is best done in a completely darkened room where no sunlight can come through the curtains. The majority of parrots in the wild live just above and below the Equator and naturally have twelve hours of night throughout the year. An all too common problem with parrots in captivity is the sheer lack of sleep. They are usually living in the main room of the house where everybody is and not getting anywhere near the amount of sleep they require. Lack of sleep will play a big part as to whether or not your parrot will start to pluck.
Feeding times are best done as soon as you wake your bird up in the morning and again before the parrot goes to roost. Parrots have a crop, which store’s the food and then slowly feeds the stomach. In the morning, the average parrot will take the maximum of 1 hour to fill its crop with food but it will not need to eat again (except for the odd treat) until an hour before roost, when again it will fill its crop. It is recommended that you take all food pots away when the parrot has finished eating (this is explained under ‘When Should I feed my parrot? and also in the section entitled ‘Alone time for your parrot’ below). In the wild the best time to see parrots is always at Dawn and Dusk as these are the times they are flying about foraging for food. Through the main part of the day it is a lot harder to find them as they are usually sitting still in the forest canopy perhaps preening themselves and avoiding the strong heat of the day.
Social time with your parrot should be an absolute maximum of 4 hours in any one day. This is where you should take your parrot away from its living quarters and spend time with it. The 4 hours can be in one solid block or you can split it into various times throughout the day, which ever suits your own routine.
Diet plays an important part to your parrot’s health. But equally important is to let your parrot have some outside life where it can get the elements. Wind, rain and sunshine all play a vital part in your parrot’s health. A hand-reared bird has had no one to teach it how to enjoy the elements so at first it may be frightened or show dislike to wind and rain. But if you force it a little, then eventually hidden instincts will start to come forward, and the parrot will learn that the best shower comes from rain. Wind through the feathers keeps them clean and direct sunlight on their feet and face make them feel better!
All species benefit from being out in the sun. But African Greys in particular suffer from Calcium and Vitamin D3 deficiency. The problem is not usually a lack of Calcium but a lack of D3. In the average diet there is more than enough Calcium for your parrots needs but it is useless without the vitamin D3. Although D3 has been successfully synthesised by various companies in recent years the best way is nature’s way. Direct sunlight falling onto your birds skin will provide it with all the D3 it needs.
Giving your bird outside time is easy. Either keep your bird clipped (which entails ‘clipping’ some of the parrot’s wing feathers so it is unable to take flight – this does not hurt the bird) and you can leave it to climb around a small tree for a few hours. Or alternatively, you could build a small aviary where it can be left to play around in the elements. Come rain or shine your bird will benefit greatly by spending a minimum of two hours a day outside.
Alone time for your parrot! This should be a period where your parrot is left by itself in its room where it cannot see anyone. The object is to teach the parrot to play and amuse itself. This is best done by filling the room with fresh leafy twigs and branches, lengths of sisal or hemp rope to chew and swing on etc. A happy parrot is basically one that is destroying something. Use your own imagination to build things that will encourage your parrot to think for itself i.e. Tie its favourite titbit to one end of a piece of rope then tie the other end to a branch. Another good health tip is to grow (in a pot) some turf on normal soil. A fully educated parrot loves to dig at roots and soil and they get all sorts of goodness from that! It is very important that this period be no less than 3 hours a day and that the parrot cannot see anybody. If it can see you then all it will do is concentrate on trying to get to you and if it can’t get to you it will become very stressed and noisy. It is also important that during this period there are no feeding bowls around as most parrots will just start eating to pass the time away. It is better to use his favourite treats in a way that he has to perform a task to get to them within this period. Never underestimate their intelligence.
All of the above are guidelines to help you organise a routine for your new pet parrot within your own life style. A parrot welcomes a daily routine and they can even accept a weekly routine. If the daily routine changes for the weekend then the parrot can accept this.
It is all too easy to give your parrot what it asks for especially when you first get it home. But while you are trying to organise the routine spare a thought as to what your lifestyle might be like in four years’ time and not just for the first six months.
Remember - choosing to have a parrot for a pet is a big commitment as it could well out live you!!