Friday, January 7, 2011

3 Common Myths About Parrotlets

Hello Sandee,

I stumbled across your page today while trying to gain some insight into my parrotlets. I live in the uk. I bought my husband a green parrotlet for Christmas, we were told he was being tamed but seems as though he has had little or no contact. I treated him the same way I tamed our budgie ( I am aware that they are completely different species btw) so thought maybe as I was getting no where fast that maybe I should seek advice from parrotlet owners/breeders as I was almost certainly going to have to tame differently to budgie taming.

I took it slow, spoke very calmly, even singing softly to him which he seemed to relax when I did so, I offered millet and found he certainly calmed down when using this method, he will let me get around an inch away from him, he'll happily eat the millet I am offering, he will even lean forward for it. I was told by the breeder NOT to clip his wings as We read it helps with training and bonding, We joined a parrotlet forum and were advised to clip his wings, I then asked the parrot centre near us if they provided a wing clipping service, who advised strongly against wing clipping and said parrotlets are very sensitive stressful birds who when young can and do die from stress, and that they strongly advise against wing clipping as they are delicate little birds who can be harmed very easily, so now I feel very confused! I was also advised to keep them together! We currently have a pair one blue female and one green male, and another green male. We are very very confused on what to do for the best! The advice we have been given so far has been so conflicting! Could you please let us know what is best for our little feathered friends, I was also advised against taming our parrotlets as the stress may kill them? Any info would be so appreciated. Many thanks,

Kind regards Gemma.

Goodness Gemma. I'm not sure where to start with this! So much misinformation!

First, you absolutely need to have the bird's wings clipped. There is no way you are going to be able to control this bird and get him used to you with out it. Also, it is a safety issue. Parrotlets are very tiny and can easily be injured or killed if they are fully flighted and allowed out of their cage. They can drown in a toilet or sink, they can get stepped on, they can burn on the stove, another pet could attack them, they can escape and never be seen again. They also become very territorial and aggressive when they are fully flighted. After all, they can fly and you can't so all they have to do is bite you harder and harder until you let go and then viola! They have now been taught to bite! So, in the interest in training and for the bird's own safety, clip those wings. Please remember that unlike larger parrots that can barely make it around a room, a parrotlet can fly very fast in a small area and if they hit a window or mirror, they will certainly break their necks or have a skull fracture. Also, unlike the bigger parrots, parrotlets can still fly very well even with clipped wings because they are so aerodynamic and will still be able to get exercise and not get fat.

I can't believe after all this time people still believe the myth that parrotlets are fragile little creatures that will die if they become stressed. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you don't believe me, stick your hand in a nestbox with a hen on eggs or has babies. She will rip into your hand and certainly make you bleed. I clip all my babies before they go home and that's at 7-8 weeks of age. Parrotlets are one of the toughest birds you can have - they are fearless and indeed, one of their biggest problems is that they are often too bold and will attack other birds including other parrotlets or even other animals. My Doberman learned a long time ago to stay away from those nasty little things with feathers and beaks because they bite! And they bite hard!

Obviously, this is the same for the taming question. If the birds were hand-fed and imprinted (socialized) then they absolutely need human companionship. Parrotlets are true parrots and just because they are small, it doesn't mean they don't need interaction with their owners on a regular basis. I have clients whose birds go to school with them, work, go on vacations, I myself travel with breeders (who are not tamed or socialized) on airplanes and by car all the time. I travel thousands of miles with my birds and they enjoy the change of scenery and the interaction of new things. A pet parrotlet that has been socialized and trained is one of the most loving birds you can keep. I have sold them to children, the elderly and people who are handicapped. They make gentle, loving pets and enjoy their human families. Indeed, most will cling to the bars of the cage and chirp until you take them out and play with them.

Ok, the last myth. I almost NEVER recommend that people get two parrotlets. Again, this is because they are aggressive and territorial birds and even if they are siblings, one will usually become dominant over the other and 'share' is not a word in the parrotlet vocabulary. The dominant bird will not let the other eat, drink, perch, play or even interact with you. They look at the other bird as a competitor or rival not a companion. If you do get two, you will have to keep them in separate cages and only allow them physical contact with one another on neutral territory and only if they are supervised.

Sincerely yours,

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.
The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner,

Join the International Parrotlet Society, – the World’s Largest and Oldest Parrotlet Organization

A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest.
Camaroonian Phrase

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