Selecting A Baby Parrot

A large portion of the study on the local availability of good-talking species may be conducted at home. Check your local newspapers, phone books, and favorite bird periodicals for breeders or dealers. Call ahead to enquire about the availability of chicks of the desired age and kind. To visit the birds at certain aviaries, you must make an appointment.

A pet parrot may be a costly, (sometimes) invasive, and long-lived purchase. Don’t make a hasty choice. If the dealer is nearby, leave your checkbook at home on the first visit, and avoid dealers who seem to be under pressure to make a rapid sale. Dealers who are most concerned with the quality of families into which their infants are placed are more likely to have done a complete and successful job all around, including critical early socialization.

Don’t go to too many businesses or aviaries in one day for the sake of the birds. Bathe and change clothing and shoes between facilities if feasible. Respect shop etiquette, which may involve being asked to wash or disinfect your hands and walk through disinfectant before handling a specific infant to reduce the possibility of illness transmission. Don’t annoy the birds by waving your fingers at them.

Look for a very young bird, ideally one that has only been weaned for a month or less. If gender is essential to you, request that the baby’s gender be verified by DNA testing. This procedure is minimally invasive, needing just a drop of blood from a toe nail cut. However, do not dull all of the bird’s toes because babies, especially baby greys, require sharp talons to avoid phobia-inducing falls during their first klutzy year.

Look for an interactive bird that is interested in sights and sounds. Look for a baby who puffs out its head and neck feathers, stretches its wings (singly with a leg out or both shoulders stretched straight up), bobbles its head up and down solicitously, or wiggles its tail from side to side. These easily observed happiness behaviors indicate that the bird is paying attention to what is going on. Look for a bird that exhibits these behaviors in response to your voice, especially if the bird is still young and the feathers are not fully opened. If the bird is old enough to show iris movement in contrast to pupil movement, look for one that frequently shows excitement by narrowing the pupils. This is known as “pinpointing” or “flashing,” and I believe it is an important indicator that this bird is interested and motivated to communicate.

A new owner may feel most confident about the bird’s age and socialization during hand-feeding if he or she chooses a baby before weaning and visits frequently, usually once a week, to handle and interact with the bird. Speech training can begin before the bird is weaned, but I prefer to have the baby weaned by experienced professionals for the bird’s health and safety.

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