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Let's Talk About Grooming
Posted:9/1/2013 12:00:00 AM

Companion animals benefit greatly by living with humans….. It has been proven,  life expectancy of a domestic cat living in the wild is less than one year yet exceeds 15years as a companion. The life span of an Amazon Parrot in the wild is less than 10 years but can exceed 50 years as a companion. With the joys of living with feathered pets, comes the responsibility of making sure we help them in achieving their maximum life expectancy.  One of the ways we do this is by keeping them properly groomed. Wing trimming, beak and toe maintenance are essential in helping to keep them healthy and safe.

When one of us sells a baby to a new family, more often than not we hear “we want our bird to fly free” or “does it hurt?” or “why do we have to clip the wings?” Here are some of  our reasons for insisting on feather grooming……..It doesn’t hurt any more than getting your hair cut………it doesn’t take away the birds’ ability to fly, it just keeps them from gaining altitude……it helps to keep them from flying into a ceiling fan….it helps to keep them from flying out of the door…..drowning in the sink or toilet…..getting burned on or around the stove and hot foods… helps to keep them from getting stepped on…..sat on….or used as a play toy for your dogs and cats… helps to keep them from flying into windows and mirrors and breaking their necks……and the list goes on and on…….

People think nothing of leashing their dogs or putting a fence around the yard or providing a run for them. Spaying or neutering a dog or cat doesn’t inhibit its’ “true nature”. But the thought of trimming their bird’s wings appalls them! Go figure…..


We normally trim the first five flight feathers on a bird…..this is dependent on the weight and muscle tone. Heavy bodied birds usually do not require additional feather clipping……birds that have been allowed free flight usually need additional feathers clipped. How often this needs to be done depends on the new feather growth, so visual checking is necessary……usually every three to four months is an average.


Because of the physical structure of a bird’s foot…. two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backward, it must be able to open its foot completely to be able to climb around on the cage. If the nails grow too long, your bird may not be able to climb from place to place in its cage……..If your bird would become frightened and not be able to get loose from the bars, a leg or toe could be broken, or a toenail could get pulled from the nail bed. Super long toenails can also get caught in toys causing injury. Also, having your bird professionally groomed provides an opportunity for the groomer to check the condition of your bird’s general foot health.


Beaks need attention as well as the aforementioned. This is something you should not attend to yourself…..only a professional Groomer or a Veterinarian should maintain the beak. Normally, your bird maintain the beak itself….You may periodically notice your bird rubbing its beak on a perch or possibly the bars of the cage….This is positive because he is keeping his beak in good repair. Sometimes you might notice a “peeling look” on the beak, this is quite normal. I equate this with how our fingernails can slough off sometimes.  A beak that is unusually overgrown or soft often needs Veterinary attention. Most often an overgrown beak indicates a nutritional issue. For some birds, a longer than normal beak is just the way God made them.

Paula and Beth do an excellent job as our Groomers. They have many years of experience and are well able to evaluate the wellbeing of your bird as well as being acutely aware of your bird’s demeanor when brought in for grooming. Some birds are very stressed and/or frightened when brought to us …..Most birds do extremely well when groomed, but some have a few issues. Paula and Beth pay very close attention to these signs and sometimes have to forego grooming until the bird is calmer. In a few severe cases, they will recommend a Vet be the one to complete the grooming. This is rare but can occur. Birds that are regularly groomed normally have no problems. Our entire grooming process is quick, efficient and done with the comfort and security of the bird as the top priority.


Posted:8/1/2013 12:00:00 AM

Birds can certainly be a messy lot. It seems as soon as you clean the cage it is a mess again. We recommend a weekly cleaning of the cage and the perches.....this also is a good time to check over the toys to make sure they are clean and pose no safety problems. Daily cleaning of the bottom and daily washing of the water bowls will keep a fresh sanitary living environment.

The respiratory system of a bird is very efficient and sensitive. Birds are extremely sensitive to toxins found in household cleaners so it is important to choose one that is safe to be used around your bud....Be sure to read the labels and warnings on any products you plan on using. There are specific ones we sell here at The Bird Shoppe.

We have POOP-OFF...POOH -RADICATOR and our own KENNELSOL....We sell it in a spray bottle and you can bring the empty bottle back for a refill. There are others on the market but we choose to sell these three types. It is so much easier to have a daily routine to keep your pet healthy. Remember, birds normally do not smell or have smelly droppings. If you find this to be a problem, you need to seek the opinion of a professional. Clean water bowls that have been washed in hot, soapy water can do wonders in keeping your bird

I mention this again, because it is so important that the bowls be clean and the water fresh....they soak their feet, soak their food, wash and soak their toys and use it as a potty....please don't let them drink it too...yuck....Our rule of thumb here at The Bird Shoppe is "If you won't drink the water, don't let your bird drink the water either."



Food Glorious Food!
Posted:6/1/2013 12:00:00 AM

It seems as if I am not thinking about food for my family and myself, I am thinking about food for my pets as well. This might account for the lovely rotund body I proudly have, but I prefer to think of myself as “Rubenesque” like the lovely plump females the artist Rubens  painted.


ADVANTAGES - vitamins and minerals are already added, provides lots of protein, less waste, sometimes less mess, cost is somewhat less than seed….and seed moths are not as abundant

DISADVANTAGES – could have a vitamin toxicity in some birds…not liked by some birds, treated like a throw toy by many, protein can be too high and cause kidney issues.


As I have covered in several past discussions, I feel the best diet is one of variety, Seed is not a four letter word and many wonderful healthy seed mixes are available. It isn’t like “back in the day” when seed was limited to mostly millet and hemp and black oily sunflower seed. It normally wasn’t fresh and that was the mainstay of their diet.


First of all take a good look at the seed. It should not contain an abundance of sunflower seeds and millet. Make sure it is clean and free of  bugs. Also, make sure it is fresh and hasn’t been sitting on shelves and in  warehouses. Make sure the packaging is intact with no holes, tears or rips.

Let’s talk about seed moths. Seed moths come from seed. Here is the good part of seeing seed moths. SEED MOTHS CANNOT LIVE IN CONTAMINATED SEED.  Unfortunately is has to be a bit more earth shaking than this to make me want to see flying things in my seed.

SEED MOTHS ARE ANOTHER SOURCE OF PROTEIN…no joke…in the wild, your little buddy would relish having a moth or two. HOWEVER, if you are like most of us and don’t appreciate  flying moths in your home or your bird’s seed, you can kill them by freezing your seeds for 48 hours.

Not all seeds are appropriate for all birds. There is no “universal, one size fits all “seed mix. Some of the seeds are too hard or too large for smaller birds and too small for larger birds. We will be quite happy to help you find the ‘right’ seed for your pet if you are having difficulty.

If you have a picky eater, you have your work cut out for you. Persistence is the key here. If your bird won’t eat fresh fruits and veggies, offer him an ample bowl of fresh fruits and veggies with water in the morning,( when he is the hungriest)  and remove the uneaten in the afternoon and replace it with a good seed, pellet, nut mix. Remember that birds are social creatures so sometimes it helps a finicky eater to eat something you like right along with him. Be persistent!Just because you offered something two or three times and it was met with resistance, don’t give up, birds are like children, it sometimes takes a while to get them to try new things, think back at what you eat now that you didn’t before and vice versa.

Just a tip…with all of the fresh fruits and veggies and threat of pesticides, my rule of thumb is: IF IT CAN’T BE PEELED, THEN GO ORGANIC. Berries are the main concern…bananas, apples, oranges, melons, cucumbers can all be peeled. Berries can’t and the contaminates can penetrate the fruit.

Don’t get sunburned while mowing your grass and weeding your gardens and flower beds…..remember “a weed is just a flower out of place”





Posted:5/1/2013 12:00:00 AM

It is quite often we are asked for advice about the perfect bird for an individual or for a family - sometimes as an addition to the established flock and sometimes it comes from a desire to have a pet larger than a keet or tiel but NOT as large as a

One of the first species that comes to mind is one of the Poicephalus species. This would be a SENEGAL, MEYER’S, RED BELLIED, JARDINE or possibly a CAPE PARROT. 

I personally LOVE the African Parrots - they seem to have delightful personalities, be extremely smart and love to play, even the cranky Congo’s can be endearing, when they want.

Just a bit of information about the location of the Poicephalus:






I think the popularity is due to their small stature and wonderful, playful personalities. They love to be held and petted and can learn many words.  These little bundles are not aware of their small size, about 9 inches in length and 125 grams…. quite stocky little bodies. They have personalities of much larger parrots. They love playing with toys and socializing with their families.

They are not “seasonal breeders” such as Amazons so they can be found almost all year round and don’t seem to have the hormonal surges as some species.

They are extremely active and love toys. They love anything they can chew and destroy - their little beaks are quite busy - cardboard pieces, cotton rope toys, leather strips and bells to name a few and most love to play  on a colorful  swing. They also take great delight in playing and sleeping on their backs, looking a tad like “road kill." They love playing with foot toys while laying on their backs also.

As far as nutrition, these little sweeties love to eat. They are very easy to feed because of the adventurous nature they will usually try anything at least once. Their beaks are quite strong  so don’t be misled by their small size. They can bite and really hurt. They love cracking almonds and pine nuts and love fruit and veggies.

We will have some Red Bellied Parrot babies and I think a Meyer’s  or two in the Nursery soon…..stop by and introduce yourself to these wonderful  little imps.

Now go and plant some beautiful flowers in your garden and Happy Mother’s Day





Enriching Your Bird!
Posted:4/1/2013 12:00:00 AM


It is so important to keep birds of all sizes mentally stimulated and physically active…..without proper stimulation and physical activity they can become easily bored and develop negative behaviors such as nipping, screaming and feather picking. Birds are very social creatures and require physical relationships…, it is common for a bird to bond to one toy that it finds particularly wonderful and you will find your buddy spending much of the time in the cage sitting close or talking with it. When choosing toys for your bird, make sure it is size appropriate and doesn’t pose a hazard while interacting.

Toys can be placed in several categories…..Foraging…chewing…..manipulative and enrichment. We recommend at least three toys that can be rotated……one being a tear up toy……one a foraging toy……and one a “beat em up” toy……Two are self-explanatory but the” beat em” up might need some explanation….We observe here at the Shoppe, as well as our with our own personal flock, toys that get extremely poor treatment….bells are rung with vigor and hanging toys that are pushed and shoved and tugged on with great gusto ….These are important because they provide an outlet for some pent up energy.

Foraging toys provide an opportunity for your pet to use their natural instinct to search for food….now, since your bud has been given ample amounts and varieties of food by you and searching for a tasty morsel or two not common behavior, foraging toys might not be met with much glee…..but keep trying, he will eventually find this toy engaging…..

Tear up toys are generally made form cardboard, soft woods such as untreated pine or balsa, woven strips of palm…..or knotted cotton ropes. The purpose of these toys is to be ripped, shredded and destroyed…..these toys have a pretty short cage life but provide and abundance of joy!

By having several types of toys available for your bird, you can rotate them about every two weeks allowing you to then clean and make any necessary repairs on the ones removed.

Now, for a little BIRD SHOPPE TRIVIA:

We are often asked about HYBRID MACAWS…..”What is a Camelot….or a Harlequin Macaw…..well here is some trivia to answer that burning question…..











Hope this provides some helpful information and a smile or two






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