Sunday, April 18, 2010

Feeding Picky Eaters - Green Rumps

Once again I'm asking for advice. I can't seem to get my green rumps interested in any fruit or veggies I've offered. I tried apples, oranges, spinach, carrots, broccolis, and fresh as well as dryed egg food with no luck. They will take whole grain toast. I have not tried cooked dried beans yet but today I did give them cooked rice. They at least played with it. I'm thinking that they my prefer their veggies cooked. What do you think?

Green Rumps are notoriously bad eaters. Also, if the previous breeder/owner did not offer a wide variety of fresh foods starting at a young age, this will certainly make it even more difficult. All I can tell you is to keep trying. You can feed them in bowls near their favorite perches. You can chop the foods very fine. You can bake them into bread and feed it that way. You can hang them on specially designed bird kabobs. You can sprinkle sprouted seeds on the top. You can try cooking it although I doubt that would do anything except make it easier for bacteria to grow quicker but that is up to you. Rice is good to feed because they steal it from farmers in the wild but certainly it isn’t cooked. It’s the grain they are interested in not the form of presentation. If they will eat rice, I would chop veggies very fine and mix it in with the rice. And playing with food is always a good sign – they play with it first and then they usually start eating it. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula and there are no magic foods. You just have to keep trying until they accept the food offered. It may take weeks, months or even up to a year or more. And even then, there are no guarantees. But as a long time bird breeder I’m sure you already know this. Just keep trying and making different offers and hopefully you will eventually figure out what it is they will accept.

Best of luck!!

Keeping & Breeding Green Rumps

I truly thank you for your kind offer to answer questions about Green Rump Parrotlets. You must understand that I’m not an amateur at this sort of thing. I’m 64years old and have been breeding birds of one type or another, off and on for about 55 years. I have worked with everything from pigeons and poultry to endangered species of South America. As a matter of fact, when I was living down there in Paramaribo, Suriname, I was seriously working with Purple Honeycreepers (or as they were called there, Yellow-legged Honeycreepers) and several types of Oryzoborus and Sporophila (Seedeaters), Euphonias and not so seriously with some macaws and parrots.

One Saturday while doing the weekly shopping for the family, I came upon an Indian boy selling birds on the sidewalk. The little green parrotlets were fascinating. I asked what they were called and was told they were Guianese Parrotlets. He said, I could identify the males and females by coloring. So I picked a male and a female, and paid the boy about 2 to 3 dollars(US) for the pair. Dump luck prevailed and the pair were on eggs in about 6 weeks. I was seriously working with the other species I had and only bought the Green Rumps because they were cute. I gave them no effort and so it was surely dumb luck.

This time I do not want to rely on dumb luck. I want to know what to do in case the pair I bought three weeks ago are not as willing to reproduce as the wild birds I bought 18 years ago. I have read the things you posted on the web site and think I have a good feel for what is required of me, but still have a few questions. So please allow me to ask the few I still have:

(1) First; in your "Breeding Parrotlets", when you say "Blue Wing" several times, are you referring to Forpus xanthopterygius, rather than the "Blue Winged Parakeet" listed as an alternate name for the Green Rump?

(2) Do you recommend plants (artificial or live) around the cage to create an atmosphere of isolation?

(3) What size nest box is best? The pair I had in Suriname used a deep box (about 6" x 6" x 14").

(4) I have read you suggestions on diet and have but one Question. Is there any fruit or vegies I should not offer? I once lost a pair of Euphonias feeding a fruit that was not native to South America.

(5) The pair I bought appear to be young, and I did not get their age from the seller. Is there any way to tell when they are about a year old?

(6) And finally, how long is incubation?

Well, that is enough for now. I'm sure I will have more questions at some later date. But I just want to do it right this time. And I want to thank you in advance of your answering.

1) I am indeed referring to Forpus xanthopterygius not the erroneous name of Blue Winged Parakeet. Although I do mention Blue Winged Parakeets in my latest book as a previous name for Green Rumps, it is for reference only. The genus of Forpus parrotlets were once called South American lovebirds at one time as well but the nomenclature has changed to correctly identify the birds. Both terms are archaic and incorrect as the birds are neither parakeets nor love birds but true South American parrots, of course.

2) I do not use plants in my aviary but do put barriers between the cages in order to give the birds privacy and cut down on their aggression. However, I would not see any reason not to include plants if you wished.

3) I prefer to use small grandfather-type boxes that are taller rather than deeper or wider. My boxes are 10” tall, 7” wide and 7” deep but the dimensions you use would work as well.

4) Other than avocado, which is controversial, I feed almost any vegetable and fruit. I do recommend feeding a diet higher in protein to Green Rumps and since they feed on flowers, I also provide lory dry powder and been pollen which helps increase protein levels and seems to have an influence on the birds’ tendencies to have problems with beak overgrowth.

5) No. You cannot tell the age once the birds are over 6 months old, unless they are banded of course. They could be 8 months or 6 years. No way to tell by looking at them.

6) 21 days. Same as most Forpus species.

Housing Retired Pairs Together

I have a few older pairs of Parrotlets I want to retire from breeding. I have a large outside flight that is 8' X 20' X 8' tall. Can I release them in it together. They have been faithful parents and want them to retire happy. Thanks for your help,

Thank you for your email. It has not been my experience that more than one pair of parrotlets (male and female) should be housed together and that includes birds that may be too old to breed, especially Pacifics, which I assume these are. Green Rumps or Spectacles maybe but not Pacifics. They are too aggressive and territorial and that instinct does not fade with age or time. I had tried to house retired pairs together in large flights although I confess they are not as large as the ones you are proposing – mine were 6’ tall, 6’ wide and 10’ long and were planted and I still had aggression problems. The most dominant pair attacked and bullied the others and no matter how many feeding stations, perches, enrichment items, plants and other things I placed in the flight, nothing stopped their instinct to drive away the ‘intruders’. This is very reflective of their behavior in the wild so I would doubt having a larger flight would make it safer. However, they are your birds and you certainly can do whatever you want to with them but my almost 30 years experience has proved that the instinct that made them such good parents, probably does not diminish when it comes to setting up territory and defending it from others. If you do decide to put them together I would love to know how it works out for you.

Sincerely yours,

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.