Saturday, February 26, 2011

Taking My Parrotlet To Work

Hi Sandee

I have been a huge fan of your site and all the work you put into it and
your birds for quite some time. I've always been a huge fan of
parrotlets in general. I've had 2, one when I was in high school (mom's)
and one I just got a few weeks ago.

I had a question about traveling and your small travel cage. I work long
hours as a fire fighter, sometimes 48 or 72 hours at a time. I work a
mile from home. Do you think bringing my parrotlet to work would be ok,
or would it stress him out too much?

I also saw you sell the small travel cages. What would the cost be for
the smaller cage with shipping to zip code 04654?

Thanks for your time. I understand and appreciate you are very busy with
your feathered friends and all that, so I understand if you can't get to
this email right away. Thanks. :)


Hey Colby. Thank you so much for the nice compliments. I am so glad you are
so enamored of parrotlets! :)

Yes, you can bring your bird to the fire station as many people do bring
their parrotlets to work and most of them love the attention as well as
change of scenery. The small travel cage would not be appropriate as it
really is made for transport and is not big enough for a parrotlet to get
enough exercise for an entire day. The larger one would be better but
honestly if you had another full-size cage, that would be the best. Then you
could transport the bird in the small travel cage and it would have a place
with lots of toys and room to exercise during the day.

As for the cost with the shipping, I really can't tell you since all that
stuff in automated. I ship via the postal service to its cheaper than UPS or
Fed X. Sorry. Apparently my talents lie with birds and not business.

Btw, not sure if you have a Facebook page but I do have one for The
Parrotlet Ranch and I post a lot of blogs and information. You can also see
my speaking schedule and check our latest products.

I hope this helps and btw, thank you for being a fire fighter. I live in the
country in California and I know how important fire fighters are to my
health and well-being as well as my birds. I also think you guys are being
unfairly punished these days in the court of public opinion so THANK YOU
COLBY and I thank all of your colleagues as well.

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

Thanks for the quick reply Sandee. I knew the small travel cage wouldn't
be appropriate to house him, I was thinking just getting him from point
a to point B. The breeder I bought the bird from actually thought it
would stress him out too much and advised against it.

I suppose I could try it and see how it works. I have another cage at
home thats larger but would do the trick. I would obviously have to put
some new toys and stuff in it for him or transfer the toys from his
other cage over when I work here. I'm part time/per diem
dispatcher/firefighter and volunteer when I'm not here.

I was inspired after my brother was in a horrible car accident and the
fire department responded to use the JAWS. Their quick action ultimately
led to him surviving despite all odds. I've been on the fire department
since 2003 and have actually worked shifts so the chief could go fight
wild fires in Canada. I figure if I can give anything back to the
community that saved my brothers life, I have done all I can.

I've seen your Facebook page and "liked" it and read a lot of
information on there. I've had a bit of a problem getting my guy to eat
pellets. He doesn't go for them at all. I feed him the Volkman parrotlet
diet primarily and currently have him eating long-grain rice with it,
but no luck with peas and corn yet. Its a work in progress, but I'm not
giving up.

I live in Maine and we have 1 breeder who has parrotlets. I often
thought it would be neat to breed them myself to offer fellow Mainers
another option other than going to Massachusetts which is the next
closest breeder (Where I got my blue) I'm just worried about being
inexperienced and having no avian vets in the state at all if I had
problems. Then there is the problem of getting proven or bonded birds
to breed. I'd still very much like to do it but I'm adamant about it for
the aforementioned reasons.

Again, thanks for your input about bringing my parrotlet to work. It is
nice having contact with someone as competent as you. Its nice talking
to other people who are as "enamored" with these little feathered
creatures as I am. I honestly couldn't think of anything more rewarding
than raising my own for other people to enjoy but as I said, I am just
worried about the availability of help, and getting health certificates
for mailing them would be next to impossible without an avian vet.

I appreciate your thanks for my service as a firefighter. It means a lot
and its always nice to get complements from the public about the work
and time we devote to helping others. I work as a driver for the
ambulance service as well and help out there when I can.

Dear Colby:

I know hundreds of people who have taken their parrotlets to work with them and but for one or two, I've never heard of a parrotlet getting too stressed over that. I ship them all over the world, they travel thousands of miles by car, I show them in various cities and I know people who take them on vacation regularly - never has there been a problem with stress. Indeed, people who take them to work with them report the birds absolutely love the attention from coworkers and the change of scenery. The small travel cage is geared for travel in that the bird does not have enough room to fly or gain momentum in order to get hurt.

The spare cage sounds like it would work and I would recommend setting it up independently of his home cage. This would be the most convenient for you and allow the bird to have a 'home away from home' in which he can feel safe and secure yet still have playtime.

I understand your commitment to give back to those that saved your brother. I was in a bad car accident almost 5 years ago - a rollover accident in my SUV. Had I not had on my seatbelts, I probably would not have survived and they too had to use the JAWS of life to get me out. Also, since I live in the country in California, twice I've had wild fires get within a few miles of my home and it was firefighters that saved my home as well as my birds' lives.

I have to admit I am not a big believer of pellets. I don't eat processed foods myself and I don't like feeding them to my birds. Especially when you realize that pellets were developed for the convenience of the owners and they are simply processed seeds (mainly corn which is not a normal part of a parrotlet's diet and is very much lacking in nutrition but its cheap) mixed with artificial vitamins. It is much better, in my opinion, to have your bird eat a wide variety of fresh, whole foods like fruit, vegetables, greens, legumes, grains, sprouts, nuts and seeds than to force them to eat pellets. Also, if the bird is a mutation, there have been many reports of kidney and/or high uric acid problems in mutation parrotlets that are fed a primarily pelleted diet. This may be because mutations process the pellets differently or that they are more susceptible to problems since they are not large consumers of water and being on a lower fat diet does affect hydration.

As for breeding, that is something only you can determine if you can do or not. I do understand the situation with not having avian vets conveniently located and I think that goes to show what a caring, knowledgeable person you are when it comes to these birds. Perhaps your situation will change in the future (although Maine is a gorgeous state and I could see why you want to live there).

In them meantime, I think it is awesome you care so much about parrotlets. If there is anything I can help with, do not hesitate to ask! Best of luck and perhaps you can send me a picture of your parrotlet near the fire engine for an IPS journal cover...:)

Sincerely yours,

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.

Parrotlet Picking Favorites

Hi Sandee,
I have been reading you blogs on facebook lately and I love the information you provide. I have a question that I am hoping you can help with.
My husband bought our pacific parrotlet september of 09 and he took a liking to us both, but recently we have noticed that he is very protective of me. He always choses me over my husband to land on and he attacks my husband if he tries to come close to me. Is there anything we can change to help with this?

Thank you,


Dear Amanda:

Thank you for your email. Sorry for the delay in my response but I’ve had a family emergency this week.

This behavior is typical for parrots and of course, since parrotlets are true parrots, this kind of thing can develop. I do note that you say ‘he always chooses me to land on’, so I take it his wings aren’t clipped? I always recommend keeping a parrotlet’s wings clipped for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, safety. Parrotlets can easily fly into a window and be injured or killed. They can also drown in a sink or even cup of water, can be stepped on, sat on, crushed, electrocuted if they chew on wires, poisoned from chewing on plants or other toxic items including metal or painted or lacquered wood, burned on a stove or if there is an open flame or even escape.

The next reason is behavioral. You cannot control a parrotlet whose wings are clipped and negative behavior is often the result. They often learn to bite by simply biting harder and harder until the person lets go. They can also become territorial and aggressive, which is what your parrotlet is doing. Parrotlets are kings of all they survey and if they are free flying around the house, the entire house becomes their territory and they will become territorial with their owners. After all, they can fly and you can’t so obviously they must be in charge!

My suggestion would be to get your bird’s wings clipped and not allow him free rein of the house. He will soon settle down and go back to being manageable.

Best of luck and I hope this helps!

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

Friday, February 25, 2011

Parrotlets and PBFD

I know all parrots are able to get pbfd but what I was wondering is, is it like PDD and uncommon in parrotlets or is it easy for them to catch?

That's really a question for a vet since I only have anecdotal or subjective information based on what I've heard. I have to say, however, that in almost 30 years of breeding parrotlets, I can only remember one parrotlet being suspected of having PBFD but that really doesn't mean anything as far as its pathology is concerned. I can say that generally speaking New World birds have less of issue with PBFD than Old World birds but again that is very general and not a scientific analysis.

Sincerely yours,

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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

PDD or Fatty Liver Syndrome?

Hi Sandee,

I have a 6 yr old female green rump. She has been healthy most of her life up until the past 6 months. I'll try to keep this breif... But she has gone through many tests and doctors now. The only test that came back abnormal was her bile acids. She has something wrong with her liver apparently. Also, she got some xrays done and it shows a massive growth inside of her that is pushing on other organs causing a respiratory click, and straining when trying to defacate. The vets could not determine exactly what this mass was inside of her and she is too small and sensitive to go through a barrium series/endoscopy. I have done so much internet research and am just exhausted with this whole situation... $1600 later.... She is behaving pretty normally. But she still has the breathing and defacation problems, also her belly is extended.

She has been exposed to a couple other birds in her life but hasn't come in contact with them. Also she has eaten a lot of nuts in the past (high fat I know) but she is now on seed only - and I am trying to get her to eat lowfat pellets (not working well.) She'll eat fruits and veggies sometimes though. I also give her an herbal detox supplement that she drinks easily.

So, can you possibly make any assumptions about this? Thank you in advance for your help.

Betsy the worried mama.

Dear Betsy:

Thank you for your email. I am terribly sorry to hear about this situation with your parrotlet. I must say although I have almost 30 years experience with parrotlets, I am not a vet nor am I qualified to diagnose your bird. Since you are working with your veterinarian I can render my opinion which you should discuss with your veterinarian.

PDD is rarely found in parrotlets. That doesn’t mean it can’t be, I just know of only 1 bird that ever had that diagnosis and that was a bird that was in a pet shop that had an outbreak. PDD is characterized by the passing of whole foods, especially seeds, which the bird cannot process due to the inability of the proventriculus to function. It does not manifest as tumors or growths and tremendous progress has been made in both the diagnosis and treatment (there is now a test available) in the last few years. Avian bornovirus is the agent responsible for this disease and many birds have been treated with Celabrex to extend their lives. However, I do not believe this is the problem with your bird.

There is an old saying that I love to use “Don’t look for zebras, look for horses.” In other words, the most common or most likely scenario is the one to look at. In this instance, it would be liver failure or fatty liver syndrome. Although I would also suspect it could be a tumor or even an malformed egg that is stuck in the uterus, but I am assuming your vet has ruled out the latter possibility although in a female bird of that age, that would be my first suspicion. Parrotlets are very tiny and have very quick metabolisms and a high fat diet can result in FLS in a relatively short period of time. My guess would be that is the problem with this bird and I would focus on seeing if that issue can be resolved.

Changing her diet this late in life, particularly to pellets, is going to be very difficult but it is something worth trying although I have to admit I am not a big proponent of pellets or other processed foods. I don’t eat them myself and I don’t believe they are healthy for birds but that is something for you and your vet to discuss. After, all pellets are just processed seeds (usually corn which is low in fat but very high in sugar and something I don’t eat myself) plus artificial vitamins. I would recommend a diet rich in whole, real foods – lots of fresh vegetables, greens, fruit if you can (parrotlets are not big fruit eaters), grains, legumes, sprouted seed, etc. You might also check into holistic treatments such as aloe detox or milk thistle but only under a vet’s direction. Dr. Dave McCluggage is a certified holistic vet and has been one for more than a decade. You might want to see if you can contact him or ask your vet to contact him. I would also check with the Association of Avian Veterinarians to see if they have any recommendations for holistic vets.

I wish you the best of luck with this bird. She is very lucky to have such a caring owner.

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

Hi Sandee,

Thank you SO much for your response! I have felt so alone and frustrated during this whole ordeal and you are the only person who has given me hope and confirmation about my bird's condition. I have a couple more questions for you, please?

The reason why I suspected PDD was because she has had two occurences of undigested seeds in her droppings. When I first took her to the vet, they sent me home with oral baytril. After the first dose, she vomited and became deathly sick. (Later down the line I realized she probably got sick because her liver couldn't process it - you think?) She spent the night at the vet, was tube fed, and given injections of baytril. Then once I got her home and she began eating seeds again, I noticed she had undigested seeds in her droppings. She tested negative for giardia - and it went away after a couple days. A few weeks later I took her to get a FOURTH opinion where they finally did x-rays (definitely not an egg - but they said possibly a tumor or liver enlargement but couldnt tell for sure without further invasive tests), a bile acid test (finally now we see an abnormal test result), and attempted to draw fluid from her abdomen. Needless to say it totally stressed her out - and once again she had undigested seeds in droppings that lasted a couple days. I spoke with a couple people to see if this was a symptom of stress, but no one confirmed that. So my suspicion of PDD rose higher. What is your opinion on the undigested seeds occuring after high stress situations?

I suppose all other symptoms point to FLS. Her feathers are dull, and her bile acid level came back as 288 (vet said normal is 50 but she was not fasted.) The vet told me she would die within a few weeks and that was on January 6th. I have let her feathers grow in so she can start to fly a little more and get more exercise that way but she is so heavy she falls straight down. My next question - if she has FLS, will the liver gradually shrink back to normal size? And also, why do you think the vet didn't diagnose her with this? They sent me home with a supplement called "Booster" by "Heal-X" (have you heard of this?) and they recommended putting her on a series of weekly high doses of antiobiotics!! I declined the antiobiotics. They also recently called to suggest another bile acid test and I declined that as well.

I will get in contact with Dr. McCluggage and try to get his opinion as I think holistic treatment is the only way to go. In the meantime, please let me know your additional thoughts on the above....

Thank you so much for your time!


Dear Betsy:

Undigested seeds is a very serious thing as it means the body is unable to process food. That doesn’t happen because of stress. It can be a symptom of several things including PDD, liver failure or avian gastric yeast. I have to admit I am very surprised that your vet would prescribe injections of Baytril because a) there is no sign of bacterial infection and b) Baytril is very hard on the liver. Everything in this situation points to fatty liver including the scientific tests. Nothing has shown this to be PDD (and again, there IS a test) and stress would not cause that kind of shutdown.

As for recovery, I can’t answer that. We know humans do not always recover from liver failure and we know a lot more about human medicine than we do avian. We also cannot do things like transplants in parrotlets.

My belief is that the dog-cat-human (i.e., mammal treatments) do not work on birds very effectively. We have much more knowledge and experience with them and their reactions to medications. Birds, especially parrotlets whose livers are so tiny, just don’t handle those kind of modalities very well. I would recommend contacting Dr. McCluggage and working on holistic cures for fatty liver. It will not cause harm like medications can so if it doesn’t work, you are not contributing to the problem.

I hope this helps and please let know how things go.

Sincerely yours,

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Identifying These Parrotlets

HI I have been given your email as im confussed about what speices I have. I was sold 3 pairs of delicate parrotlets. (one dilute hen being there!)
All hens are deffinate GR delictaes. But one cock bird has alot of blue (and has heavier to hold!) his rump and wings have alot of bright blue and i noticed an emeradl wash near the eyes. Attached are the only pictures I have taken, I will take more when i move them outside when weather gets better (don't want to stress them out too much) The other cocks are deffinate green rumps they have theire green rumps with the blue 'wash'. and the wings dont show as much blue in as this unknown cock bird.
Hope you can help!!!
Many thanks
Hayley x

Dear Hayley:

Thank you for sending me these pictures. I do believe you have cause for concern. I bred wild-caught Green Rump deliciosus and these birds are too big to be pure species. The largest of the deliciosus should be no more than 20 grams – 18 is the average. Also, deliciosus should have very tiny little beaks, which these birds do not have. Hens should have a lot more yellow above the cere and it should be much brighter. They should also be a softer paler green. The blue is much too dark and much too prominent on the male and the tiny bit of feathering around the eye of the male, along with their deeper coloring, lack of bright yellow on the hen and the long, slender beaks make me think these birds are hybrids crossed with Spectacles.

I am sorry. I wish I had better news for you but it is my opinion that these birds are not pure Green Rumps, let alone deliciosus and that the other species is Spectacled.

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Leaving a Parrotlet While On Vacation


I have a cute little parrotlet who is three months old. We have a cabin and go there for the weekend quite often. Will the parrotlet be okay home alone from Friday night through Sunday evening with a visit from a neighbor on Saturday? What is the longest you can leave a tame friendly parrotlet with a once-a-day pet sitter before you need to be concerned about them becoming unsocialized?

And then when we go on vacation for three weeks over the summer we basically have three choices of where to leave her: 1) the breeder we got her from where she will be safe but probably not handled much, 2) my inlaws, where she will get lots of human interaction but probably not be taken out of her cage regularly, and my father in law smokes, not in the house but you can smell the smoke on his clothes—how bad is that for a bird? and 3) we could try to get a neighbor girl who has a budgie take the parrotlet into her house. She probably would play with it but a parrotlet is a lot different from a budgie and she is only 9. Any ideas of which would be best?

Thanks for your insight.


Dear Monica:

A few days absence should not be a problem however your bird may ‘punish’ you by ignoring you for a few days or not being as friendly. He will get over it.

As for your choices on vacation, it is always best to leave the bird in its own home where it is comfortable and have a professional pet sitter take care of it. They will follow your instructions to the letter, if possible, they will send someone familiar with birds and there is no chance that the bird will be exposed to diseases as it can in a pet shop, vet’s office or at a home with another bird.

I would not want to place her back with the breeder because of the disease risk as well as the lack of handling for that length of time but that is up to you. I have babysat people’s birds they have received from me with no problems.

Being in your parent’s house might not be so bad however, smoking is deadly to birds and not just the smoke itself. Nicotine is extremely toxic and if it is on the hands of someone handling the bird, it can kill the bird.

As for the child, I would never leave a pet with a 9 yo for that length of time. Especially if there is a budgie in the house – budgies are known for carrying a lot of diseases.

My recommendation? A professional pet sitter at home.

Sincerely yours,

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Taming a Parrotlet, Aggressive Behavior

Hi Sandee,I just recently adopted a 3yr old untamed Pacific Parrotlet. I have no experience with these birds and not sure where to start. I know he's a little stressed being in a new environment but he is eating. I plan to get his wings clipped next week and have stocked up on food and toys. The taming is where do I begin? I can't even put my hand in the cage without him having a fit. Should I allow him to adjust to his new surrounding as its only been two days? I just want to make him as comfortable as possible as its stressful for the both of us.

Thank you,


What do you mean by ‘untamed’? Was the bird hand-fed and then put in with other birds? Or is this a parent-raised bird that has never been imprinted or socialized?

Sincerely yours,

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.


I don't know much about his history. I was told when I got him that he was untamed. I do know that he was bonded to a mate that died a couple months ago. The previous owner mentioned trying to work with "Ezra" but had very little patience and gave up on him. The last week or so he seems to be settling in abit. When we're alone I close my bedroom door and allow him to come out of his cage and venture around which he really seems to enjoy. I talk and sing to him but he's still very jumpy, goes into attack mode when I try to change out his food. I have a little cozy corner that he attacks if someone comes near the cage. I'm not sure where to start or if I should just continue with what I'm doing...letting him adjust.


All parrotlets are aggressive and territorial of their cages. Its part of their nature and how they were designed to survive in the wild. After all, they come from places where spiders are bigger than they are and they are eaten by almost everything so they must be very aggressive and protective in order to survive. I always tell people to teach your bird the ‘step up’ command and remove them from their cage before cleaning, changing toys, etc.

One of the reasons people like me hand-feed parrotlets is to imprint them. Parrotlets are not domesticated birds like cockatiels or budgies but are still very much wild animals that behave on instinct. If they are not imprinted on humans, they will not be tame. Hand-feeding parrotlets is extremely burdensome, time-consuming and labor intensive. Baby parrotlets need to be fed from the time they are 10 days old until they wean at 6 or 7 weeks of age every 4 hours, every day, all day. I charge $100 for a green Pacific and without counting the cost of food, electricity, vet bills, etc., I get paid less than $1 per bird per feeding. So we are obviously not getting rich doing this – it is because in order for these birds to be the best pets, they must be imprinted. After they are weaned, they bond with the person or bird they spend time with. If this bird was simply placed in a cage and ignored, it did not establish a bond with people so it probably is fearful of people since we are predators and they are prey. Again, its all about instinct and how Nature designed them to survive in the wild.

It is possible to tame a bird that has not been imprinted or handled but it takes a lot of time and patience. When we had wild caught birds, we would wrap them in a small towel and gently hold them talking to them, stroking them and getting them used to people. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it doesn’t.

So, there are no easy answers. I would make sure the bird’s wings are kept clipped, keep chatting and vocalizing to him. You can wrap him in a small towel and work with him while you are watching tv. All of these things may help, they may not. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, he does sound like he is getting more interaction and I’m sure you are taking excellent care of him. Perhaps he will come around enough to step up onto your finger or ride around on your shoulder. That would be a huge step forward for him but again its going to take time, consistency and patience on your part.

Best of luck and I hope this helps.

Sincerely yours,

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Plucking Parrotlet Pair


I have to say that I read your blog and it is very informative. I have two parrotles-one male and the other female. For the first year I had them they were fine and caged together. They are very bonded together and close. Both are around 2 years old and I got them at 10 months old. After a year the male started plucking the female around the neck and on the back. I had to separate them and I only separate them during the day when they don't play together or eat together. At night I don't separate them because they call for eachother and the male finds it hard to settle down and sleep without the female-as they snuggle together. I tried more shredding toys, more playtime, and it seemed to help the plucking problem a bit, but I still cannot keep them together during the day. Do you think it is bordom, hormones? Or both maybe. they play together during the day when I can watch them and they have a ball together. They are really two peas in a pod and love eachother otherwise. I put their two cages close together. I also give them plenty of fresh food, they like quinquoa, sprouts, and I give them Goldenfeast, and Volkmans seed-no pellets. Any advice would be appreciated. I just love them so as they are such sweet adorable birds. The avian vet seems at a loss as I don't think they are that knowledgable about parrotlets I have to say.


Dear Shelley:

Thank you for your email. Actually, the behavior of your birds is quite normal and one of the reasons I never recommend getting two parrotlets of the opposite sex and keeping them in same cage unless you are going to breed them. You take two healthy adult birds of the opposite sex give them good food, a secure environment and they will do what Nature designed them to do – which is breed. Your male’s behavior is what most breeders of parrotlets refer to as ‘foreplay’ but since your birds are not set up for breeding, they are behaving abnormally. This can result in continued feather destructive behavior or worse things like aggression which can lead to injury or even death. The calling to one another is bonding and what all flock members to – after all, birds are flock animals and they do call to one another when they roost at night. This is about survival and safety in numbers not emotional bonding that we humans like to think it is.

So you have decide what you want to do with these birds. If you want them to stay pets, then they will have to stay in separate cages and when out together be supervised. If you want them to breed, you will lose them as pets and you will need to set them up for breeding and leave them alone. Unfortunately, parrotlets are not domesticated birds like budgies or cockatiels – they are very much wild animals whose behavior is influenced by instinct not behavior that has been influenced by human imprinting. As for this being parrotlet behavior, absolutely not true. This is true for almost all species of parrot – if these were two adult macaws, it would be the same thing.

Hope this helps.

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

Monday, February 7, 2011

Parrotlst's Sudden Death

I can't believe what happened tonight. I just found my two parrotlets dead on the bottom of their cages! I have, sorry had two female parrotlets. They were about 3.5 yrs old. I kept them in separate cages next to each other.

My question is... can a parrotlet die from loud noises? We had the Superbowl game on, and during half time we raised the volume, however the guest we had over said it wasn't extremely too loud. (We just got a 73" TV with surround sound.) It was loud, however, we could still hear each other talking.

I have three parakeets, one love bird and a blue and gold macaw, all in the same area as the parrolets. They are kept in our living room with the TV. All the other birds are fine.

When I went to cover them all for the night, I found each of the parrolets on the bottom of their cages dead. There are no signs of a struggle or any noticeable marks that would indicate cause of death. Having them both die at pretty much the same time is weird. I cleaned their cages this afternoon the normal way I always did. They were fine, and everything looked good, and was the same.

I haven't been able to find anything on line regarding loud noise being deadly for birds. I feel terrible about possibly being the cause of these two beautiful innocent little birds death. Please let me know if the TV being too loud could have caused their deaths. I don't want anything to happen to the other birds in the house.

Thank you for you time and help with this matter.
Extremely regretfully,

Dear Alana:

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your birds. While I am not a vet and certainly no one can definitively tell you what killed those birds without a necropsy, I can tell you I’ve kept and bred parrotlets for almost 30 years and I have never heard of a bird dying from loud noises. They are not the delicate wallflowers many people think they are and they originate from very harsh conditions in the wild so they are very strong, resourceful and definitely not easily stressed or otherwise compromised because of environmental conditions especially something as nebulous as noise. After all, they are true parrots and in the wild they would be surrounded by loud noises including other birds so I can’t imagine that one thing had anything to do with the other. I know as humans it is our nature to attribute cause and effect – like bringing your car in to have the oil changed and then your radio doesn’t work. We often draw parallels but really one thing had absolutely nothing to do with the other.

As I said, the only way you could possibly know what really happened is to have the birds necropsied. Something I would do btw since you have other birds in the house and it is extremely unusual for two birds to drop dead at the same time. It can mean anything from their food was contaminated (mycotoxin is mold found in bird seed and its colorless and odorless and not detectable visually) or there was something the birds breathed or, if they were housed together, it could be a viral, bacterial or other kind of fungal infection. No way of knowing without veterinary intervention.

Again, I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your birds but I highly doubt noise had anything to do with it.

Sincerely yours,

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Parrotlet Lifespans, Spectacle Parrotlet Availability

I am a parrotlet owner and have been doing some digging for research on parrot foraging, nutrition and lifespan but due to the lack of research on parrots and general and especially parrotlets, I havent been able to find real conclusive facts about parrotlet lifespans. I am sure this is due to the fact that they werent widely bred until recently so we may not even know for sure what is normal. My question for you is what is the longest you have known them to live?

I also have another question regarding purchasing a spectacled parrotlet as a pet. I am not looking for one immediatly but am researching and preparing and was wondering if you breed them for pet homes and if so, how much are they?

Thank you in advance for your time

M. J. Roach

Dear Mary:

Thank you for your email. Let me provide you with a brief history.

Parrotlets have been in the United States since the late 1800's. The first pairs were bred in zoos starting in the mid-1920's. They have been kept as pets since the 1950s so they certainly are not recent additions to Amercan aviculture. Indeed, I have kept them for almost 30 years and the 1970's and 80's there were tens thousands of parrotlets that were imported including Yellow Face and Sclater's. In 1992, the United States cut off importation of almost all species of parrots except under extremely limited circumstances. The International Parrotlet Society was formed in 1992 and worked tirelessly to add color mutation parrotlets to the Approved List of Captive-Bred Birds and have been imported, again by the thousands, since 1995. They are one of the very few species of parrots that are allowed to be imported into the United States.

The reason there is little known about their lifespans isn't because of lack of research per se. The reason is, very few people other than myself have kept them long enough to make that determination. Most of the people who breed parrotlets these days have kept them less than 10 years - a mere blip on the radar screen of bird keeping. Indeed, there is no 'research' that can be done other than the actually keeping individual birds from birth to death and these days, that is extremely rare. I only know of maybe 6 people in the US that actually have that type of experience. Everyone else, particularly those on the Internet, have no personal experience and only repeat what they have been told or read. Unfortunately, on the internet, anyone can be an expert - all they need is a keyboard and an opinion.

When I stared with parrotlets in the early 1980's, I had wild-caught birds as did everyone else. Ironically, most people these days that have parrotlets have never seen a wild-caught bird let alone work with them. I did for more than a dozen years. Those birds easily lived more than 20 years although we were not sure how old they actually were. The reason we know they lived to be more than 20 years old is because we actually kept individual birds that long. Of course, these were adults when they were imported so we really don't know how old they were. We only know they easily lived 20 years or more. These days, they can live to be that age but it is extremely rare. Most parrotlets meet their demise from accidents, usually preventable, but even if they are protected, it seems 10-15 years is much more the norm. This could be for a variety of reasons including diet (I am a firm believer in fresh, whole natural foods for parrotlets not pellets or other 'fortified' diets). It could also be the natural progression of animals that are kept in captivity. Seems the more humans are involved with breeding animals, the more their lifetimes are shortened. This is true with pretty much all domesticated animals. It could be people are taking too many 'short cuts' with breeding - not waiting for the birds to be mature or it could be due to inbreeding. Color mutations may also have had an effect because they are genetically abnormal and in the wild, they would never have lived long enough to breed and pass on their defective genes. These days its almost impossible to find a normal Pacific parrotlet that has no color mutations in its background at all. But, since color mutations have only been around 15 years or less, no one can definitely answer that question. Perhaps we will have that answer in another 15 to 20 years.

I do breed Spectacles and was one of the first to breed them in the US when they were imported in 1992. I always have a waiting list for all of my birds and my list for Spectacles is months long. Unfortunately, my prediction made back in 1994 before any mutations were imported, has come true. That all the other species would disappear once people started breeding mutations. I charge $300 each.

As I said, I have bred parrotlets for almost 30 years. I have kept every species except Sclater's (only one pair was known to produce and they died, along with their offspring, in a house fire in the 1980's) and was one of the first to actually breed parrotlets. I also have awards for working with rare and difficult species such as Mexicans and have a first breeding award for producing the first of a particular subspecies of Blue Wings. I cofounded the International Parrotlet Society and have written 3 books on parrotlets including the most recent addition of Barron's Parrotlet Handbook. I also write for Bird Talk magazine and am a panel expert on parrotlets with Bird I give seminars and speak at national and international conventions on parrotlets as well as other issues involving parrots.

So, I hope this answers your questions. Thank you again for your email.

Sincerely yours,

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

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