Buying & equipment

Parrots are sociable birds and their trusting nature is just one of the characteristics that makes them so popular. They enjoy being spoken to on a regular basis and have a playful attitude. Before bringing a parrot home, however, there are a few important things that you need to bear in mind so that nothing stands in the way of a longstanding friendship. 

Checklist for initial equipment: 

  • A large birdcage with vertical bars for climbing
  • Perches of different sizes for foot exercises (at least thick enough that the bird's foot does not enclose the entire perch)
  • Untreated branches for climbing
  • Toys to keep your pet occupied (made from materials suitable for parrots)
  • Water bath for daily bathing
  • Bird sand, such as SANDY parrot sand plus mussel grit high in minerals
  • Food bowl or automatic feeder filled with main food, such as Vitakraft African or Amazonian
  • Water bottle with fresh drinking water or Vita Fit® Aqua drink
  • Mineral stone, e.g. Vita Fit® Mineral Maxi to provide added minerals and help care for your bird's beak
  • Kräcker® sticks to care for your bird's beak and provide variety 

The right spot for your birdcage 

Parrots love to have company and a light, sheltered corner in a living room provides the ideal location for a birdcage. Placing the cage in an elevated spot allows your pets to observe what is happening around them. Large indoor or outdoor aviaries are also ideal. Some bird lovers even set up a dedicated room for their birds, which is required for particularly large breeds of parrot.

  • Birds are sensitive to draughts and direct sunlight, so be careful not to place your birdcage too close to a window. Domestic birds also cannot tolerate extreme variations in temperature.
  • Kitchens, in particular, can be hazardous places due to hot hobs, toxic detergents etc.
  • Parrots enjoy fresh air. In summer, you can set up an outdoor aviary in a shaded corner of your balcony or garden that is protected against wind.

Caring for your pet

The birdcage 

In addition to a suitable diet, parrots also need the correct cage to ensure that they remain healthy and happy. As a rule, a birdcage can never be too big. In any case, it must provide sufficient room for your bird to flap its wings, climb and jump around so that it can remain fit and healthy.
Parrots also enjoy performing daring acrobatics on twisting untreated branches. This acrobatic nature means that you need to provide a range of different climbing activities in their spacious cage. Parrots are also very keen on toys and particularly like swings, which often become their favourite places to hang out and relax.

Cleaning your birdcage 

You should replace the bird sand once or twice a week, depending on the size of the cage, the number of birds and their size. The bottom of the cage will also need rinsing out with hot water once each week. While doing this, you should wipe down the perches and toys using a brush or damp cloth and thoroughly clean the food and water bowls using hot water.
The cage also needs a thorough clean once every month: This involves rinsing the cage itself with hot water. However, you must never use strong household detergents!

Preening 

Parrots preen their plumage thoroughly several times each day. They also enjoy taking an occasional bath. They do not usually require any human assistance with this.

Beak care 

Your parrot should always have access to a beak stone and a strong, untreated branch. Parrots need to grind their beaks against a stone to keep them healthy. The Vita Fit® Mineral Maxi beak stone is ideal for this and also provides vital minerals, trace elements and natural calcium carbonate. 

Claw care 

If you place sufficiently wide, untreated branches in your parrot's cage, it will wear down its claws naturally. However, if its claws become too long, they will need clipping from time to time. Your pet shop, breeder or vet will be happy to show you how to do this properly.

Moulting 

Parrots need particularly high levels of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients when moulting. Moulting aid for parakeets and parrots and tasty Kräcker® sticks – designed specially for moulting – provide your bird with the additional nutrients it needs at this time.

Diet

The perfect diet 

Parrots in the wild mainly live in tropical and subtropical regions, with most species originating from South America and Australia. The staple diet of most parrots primarily comprises the seeds and grains of different plants. They also often find fruit, vegetables and fresh greenery in the form of grasses and wild herbs. The living conditions and, in particular, the range of food available differ greatly from region to region and different birds have evolved to survive on the foods available in their native habitats. An optimal, species-appropriate diet must therefore reflect the individual natural habitats of these birds. 

Vitakraft's varied range of food products has been designed to cater for the specific dietary needs of parrots: high-grade, sun-ripened seeds from the birds' natural habitats, supplemented with vital nutrients and other beneficial ingredients to provide an optimal, species-appropriate diet and ensure a long and healthy life.

Food types

Main food:
A main food such as Premium Menu will meet your parrot's basic nutritional requirements

Kräcker®: 
Tasty Kräcker® sticks have a number of functions in one: Birds have to work for their food like in the wild. This helps prevent boredom and is a natural way to occupy your parrot. Picking at the nibble stick also helps keep your parrot's beak healthy

Natural Snacks: 
VITA NATURE®. Tasty treats that cater to the birds' natural instincts, e.g. picking seeds from natural millet spikes

Treats: 
Snacks, such as Bisquiti® provide variety, serve as a reward and help to tame your pet and create a bond

Nutritional supplements: 
Pet food supplements, such as VITA Fit® Mineral Maxi or VITA Fit® Multivitamin, strengthen your bird and promote well-being. They help meet the specific nutritional needs that can arise during certain stages of life, e.g. during periods of growth, after illness or when laying eggs. They may also be beneficial for particularly active animals.

Feeding tips 

  • Remove the empty grain casings from the food bowl or dispenser on a daily basis and top up with new food 
  • Kräcker® sticks should be placed in your parrot's cage to nibble and peck on. This is a natural way to keep your bird occupied and exercises its beak
  • Provide a varied diet 
  • Provide fresh drinking water every day
  • Provide fresh fruit and juicy greens

Behaviour & familiarisation

Behaviour 

Parrots are one of the most intelligent and highly developed birds. The more attention you pay them, the more trusting they become. If you take the time to understand your parrot's needs and cater to them accordingly, you will soon strike up a close friendship.

A new member of your family

During the first few days, parrots need a little bit of peace while they settle into their new surroundings. To disturb it as little as possible, you should ensure that the birdcage is set up properly in advance. Once your parrot has moved in, you can remain nearby and speak to your pet in a soft voice. However, it is best to leave the parrot alone for at least a day. 
By observing your parrot's actions, you will easily be able to tell if it feels at home. A settled parrot will start nibbling on a few grains from its bowl or give its feathers a good preen.
Parrots are social animals that should be kept together with others of their kind. However, birds that are not familiar with each other will still need a little time to become friends. You may need to be patient. In the end, the decision on whether to accept a partner is down to the parrot itself.

How to tame your parrot

Your new housemate will have settled in somewhat after about a week. Now is a good time to start familiarising it with the human hand. This is best done using a treat, such as a Kräcker®: Hold out the nibble stick in the cage and speak to the parrot with an encouraging tone of voice. It will usually approach your hand after a short period of time and start nibbling on the treat. By repeating this action on a regular basis, your bird will start to associate your hand with positive things like treats. 

Training

Some parrot species imitate the noises from their surroundings and their partners. Although this natural behaviour is particularly prominent in grey parrots, other species, such as macaws, cockatoos, Amazons and lories, can also learn to speak very well.
If you want to teach a parrot certain words or short sentences, you should repeat the name or phrase on a daily basis. Parrots are particularly attentive and receptive in the late afternoon and will often become "chatty" of their own accord at this time. A parrot that is paying attention will cock its head to one side and appear to be listening with interest. It usually takes a long time until a parrot says its first word, and it will often do so when you least expect it!

Peach-faced Lovebird

Alternative Title

Rosy-faced Lovebird (not to be confused with Agapornis fischeri, Fischer’s Lovebird, which also has a peach-coloured face)

Scientific Title

Agapornis roseicollis

Appearance

The wild Peach-faced Lovebird is approximately 15 cm high and has a light green body, red/pink cheeks and chest, and a bright blue rump. In captivity, a number of colour varieties have been created that differ greatly from the wild species, such as those with a variety of green shades, a pied colour pattern or the predominantly yellow Lutino. Juveniles are identifiable by a darker beak. The sex of lovebirds is not easily determined although the females tend to be slightly heavier. The key to a harmonious pairing is generally not dependent on the sex of the bird, but whether or not the birds share a mutual affinity.

Origin

Western Africa. In its natural habitat, the Peach-faced Lovebird tends to congregate in small colonies around water sources in arid regions such as steppes and dry, open savannahs.

Behavior

Peach-faced Lovebirds are active birds that need plenty of space to fly, climb and move around. They are also social birds and tend to bond with one individual, so should always be kept in pairs. Once they have become accustomed to one another, Peach-faced Lovebirds get on well together although they can sometimes be aggressive towards other birds, especially smaller ones.

Fischer’s Lovebird

Alternative Title

Not to be confused with Agapornis roseicollis, which also has a peach-coloured face

Scientific Title

Agapornis fischeri

Appearance

Fischer’s Lovebird is a very popular domestic bird. In captivity, a number of colour varieties have been created that differ greatly from the wild species, such as white and blue varieties or the predominantly yellow Lutino. In its native form, however, the Fischer's Lovebird has a green back, chest and wings and an orange-coloured face, which becomes more of a golden yellow on the chest. An adult Fischer’s Lovebird can reach approximately 14 cm. Although the females are slightly heavier than the cocks, it is impossible to tell whether an individual is male or female through plumage alone. For a harmonious pairing, however, a mutual affinity between the birds is more important than their sex.

Origin

Fischer’s Lovebirds originate from northern Tanzania. They dwell amongst groups of trees and shrubs that are isolated and surrounded by grasslands. On their search for food, however, they will often eat cereals from farmland.

Behavior

Fischer’s Lovebirds get on well together once they have become accustomed to one another although they can sometimes be aggressive towards other birds, especially smaller ones. These active birds need plenty of space to fly, climb and move around. They are also social birds and tend to bond with one individual, so should always be kept in pairs.

Senegal Parrot

Scientific Title

Poicephalus senegalus

Appearance

Adults have a charcoal grey head and grey beak, and eyes that appear particularly bright due to this contrast. Most of the body is green apart from a V-shaped patch of yellow on the belly which extends to its lower feathers and tail. They are known as "monomorphic", meaning that Senegals of both sexes are identical in colour. Therefore, the sex can only be determined by examination by an experienced vet.

Origin

West Africa, e.g. Senegal and Gambia. Senegal Parrots are birds from open woodland and savannah environments.

Behavior

In the wild, the Senegal Parrot is a relatively shy and timid bird. The domestic bird, however, responds well to taming and can become very friendly. It is only when incubating eggs that it prefers to be left alone and can occasionally become aggressive if disturbed. In their natural habitat, these small, sociable parrots generally live in pairs or small groups.

African Grey Parrot

Alternative Title

There are two universally accepted subspecies, the Congo African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus erithacus) and the Timneh African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus timneh).

Scientific Title

Psittacus erithacus

Appearance

As the name suggests, the general body colour is various shades of pastel or slate grey, although the tail is bright red. This parrot grows to around 35 cm. They are known as "monomorphic", meaning that African Greys of both sexes are identical in colour. Therefore, the sex can only be determined by examination by an experienced vet.

Origin

Equatorial Africa. The African Grey Parrot is endemic to forests, coastal mangrove forests and bordering savannahs of these region. By day, the parrots forage for food in pairs or small groups; by night, they roost in larger groups.

Behavior

Like all parrots, the African Grey is very social and should not be kept alone. Although quite shy and retiring by nature, they are also inquisitive and incredibly intelligent, and can be tamed with a degree of patience and understanding on the part of the owner. The range of tricks and behaviours they are able to learn is truly astonishing! They will often, however, become attached to just one person. African Greys are arguably the most talented mimickers of the parrot world. They have been known to imitate and distinguish between different human voices and even the calls of other animal species.

Special features

African Greys are very long lived and can reach the age of 70 or above.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Alternative Title

There are a number of sub-species distributed across the various native habitats. Differences between the sub-species are subtle, generally relating to size and slight variations in colour.

Scientific Title

Cacatua galerita

Appearance

With its total length of around 50 cm, white feathers and handsome yellow crest, the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is a rather impressive creature. The sex of this cockatoo cannot be determined from its plumage. However, if you look closely, you can discern slight differences in the iris colour of the male and the female. Males typically have almost black eyes, whereas the females have a more red or brown eye.

Origin

Australia, Tazmania, New Guinea. In the wild, the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo lives in pairs or small groups generally in wooded habitats or on the edges of forests. It does, however, also eat cereal and fruit crops, and is considered a pest in some areas because of the damage it can wreak.

Behavior

Cockatoos are intelligent and sensitive birds, requiring a great deal of one-to-one attention from their owner. Their gentle, affectionate temperament makes them a popular pet. The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo has arguably the best talent for vocal learning and imitation of all the cockatoos. In some cases, they are also able to learn small tricks, which is indicative of their need to be kept busy. Cockatoos are very social birds. If regularly left alone and not given sufficient mental stimulation, they can become lonely and even develop behavioural problems. Cockatoos have a very strong beak that they like to use, which can unfortunately cause them to be quite destructive. Provided they are given plenty of chew toys and other suitable objects in their cage, however, this should not become a problem.

Blue-fronted Amazon

Alternative Title

Also called the Turquoise-fronted Amazon, Yellow-winged Parrot and Blue-fronted Parrot

Scientific Title

Amazona aestiva

Appearance

The Blue-fronted Amazon is a mainly green parrot with blue feathers on the forehead. The green feathers tend to be darker green at the edges. The parrot also has yellow regions on its head, chest and wing speculum. There can also be red feathers on the speculum and rump. Whilst there are relatively few overt differences in the plumage of the two sexes, females can often have a somewhat paler face, although this is not a completely reliable indicator. The sex can only be determined reliably by examination by an experienced veterinarian.

Origin

The Blue-fronted Amazon is mainly found in the forests and woodland of Brazil and Argentina, where it lives in pairs or small groups. By night, the birds roost in larger groups.

Behavior

The Blue-fronted Amazon is easy to tame, even when kept in pairs. It is an active, lively and social bird that is usually monogamous with one partner for life. This Amazon parrot can be quite raucous and loves to chew.

Special features

If keeping indoors, a relatively high humidity (60 to 70%) is required. Blue-fronted Amazons also like bathing and taking showers.