Sunday, March 30, 2014

Parrotlet Toe Injury

Hi, I have a question about a parrotlet foot injury. One of my parrotlets had the entire toenail of her front longer toe and has what looks like a pinched in black spot on her back shorter toe of her other foot. Her parrotlet friend likely bit her while she was on top of the cage. She is getting stronger each day with no further bleeding. I'm mostly concerned with the back toe that seems pinched with a black spot on it. The part of the toe beyond this injured spot is pink and the nail looks normal. Should I leave it alone and just watch it? Thank you for your time, Pam Dear Pam: Unfortunately, I'm not a vet and can't diagnose a parrotlet's medical condition especially online. If you are concerned about your bird's health, you should bring him to a vet for an examination. I wish I had more info for you but when it comes to health issues its always best to get a professional opinion from a qualified veterinarian competitent in avian medicine. Sincerely yours, Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S. The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner, A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest. Camaroonian Phrase

Sunday, February 9, 2014

International Parrotlet Society, Mexican Parrotlets,

So you close down and just take members money. I paid a long term membership fee less then a year ago. My Attorney will be in touch! Dear Mr. XXXX: Thank you for your email. According to our records, you joined IPS in October of 2011 and paid for a one year membership. IPS did not accept any renewals or applications after December 31, 2012 (your membership expired in October of 2012). IPS was closed after written notification to all current members in 2013 and offered refunds to those members. All remaining funds were donated to another 501©(3) organization as per IRS rules and the bylaws of the International Parrotlet Society. I believe you have confused our organization with another. If you have documentation to prove otherwise, a cancelled check or other instrument indicating you paid ‘for a long term membership less than a year ago’ please provide it as I am quite sure you are mistaken. However, if something ‘slipped through the cracks’, I will be more than happy to refund your money out of my OWN personal funds although I am under no legal obligation to do so. Sincerely yours, Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S. The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner, A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest. Camaroonian Phrase Sandee, Thank you for responding. Since the original notificaton of the IPS closing down I have sent numerous emails as to where to continue getting information. I was surprised that your site NEVER came up in any of my searches. Anyway, it was suggested I attempt one last time and make mention of the "A" word. (attorney) I am quite surprised it worked! So, I apologize for the deception and thank you for responding. I have a "Mexican" or to be more specific, Forpus cyanopygius cyanopygius, and I would love to get him a mate. However I can not seem to find him one. With no local breeders in my area that I have been able to find, and not sure of what I should actually be paying for one. (Chico was a rescue) I had been inquiring with IPS when it shut down as to this info as well as looking to learn where Chico had come from using his leg band information. (Another bit that IPS NEVER responded to) I truely hope you will be able to steer me in the right direction and I again apologize for my tactics. Sincerely, XXXX Dear XXXX: Once IPS was shut down, it was shut down. Disappeared. Gone from the web. There was no way you could contact us anymore unless you contacted me on my private email which you did. Threatening a lawsuit had nothing to do with it. I have a legal background myself and am not intimidated by threats of legal action especially when I have done nothing wrong. Besides, no one pays attorneys hundreds of dollars an hour to go after $25 especially since this would be a small claims court action at best. So no, your tactic didn’t work other than you finally used the correct address to contact me. I am unaware of anyone in the US who has Mexican parrotlets anymore. For more than a decade, I was the only one who had them. Before that, I worked solely with zoos, breeding cooperatives and members of the IPS Breeding Cooperative. All of those breeders got out of parrotlets in the 1990’s and I know of no one who breeds them in the US anymore. I worked for more than twenty years to preserve these birds but when the color mutations were imported in the mid-1990’s most people dumped their other species. The economy eventually put the rest of the breeders out of business and the zoos couldn’t manage them as they wished. Eventually they all became related, inbred and eventually died out, The last one I saw outside of my aviary was in 2002. I’m very sorry I don’t have a better answer for you. If I hear of anyone who has them, I’ll pass your information on to them. Sincerely yours, Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S. The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner, A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest. Camaroonian Phrase

Parrotlet Babies Dieing at Weaning

Hey Sandee, We recently bred our Parrotletts and hatched 6 babies. We kept them with the parents until they were 19 to 22 days old. They were all very big and healthy looking and starting to get feathers except one which stayed kind of small but was still healthy looking and getting feathers just like the others. We removed them from the brood box as they became old enough to start hand feeding them so they could get used to being handled. They would be hand fed three to four times until their crops were full and they seemed fine. Once they were taken away from the parents they stopped chirping like they were asking for food. It has been about 7 weeks since they hatched and we lost two this past week. The others are also looking like they are not getting any nutrition even though they are eating until their crops are full. They are being fed the same food through a syringe that the other baby cockateels and parakeets are being fed with and they are doing fine. The person feeding them and taking care of them is an experienced handler and has raised all types of baby birds to weening with no problems on the same food she is using now. It is a mixture of Zupreme for baby birds some peanut butter and vitamin supplement blended together until smooth and soft with no chunks in it. Is there something they should be given or do you have any suggestions? Thanks Richard and Linda Dear Richard and Linda: So sorry to hear about the loss of your parrotlets. Baby parrotlets need to be fed 5-6 times a day not 3-4. Also, they need to continue to be fed while they are weaning. Most parrotlets are not beggars or criers like cockatiels therefore it is imperative you watch their weights not just go by begging as they will starve to death. You can’t tell if they are gaining weight by looking at them, only by weighing them. They should be weighed daily before their first feeding. If they are being fed enough food 5-6 cc’s at a time and are being fed at least 5 times a day, I would have them checked by a vet. They could have polyoma as the symptoms you describe are consistent with that viral disease. Also, it is NEVER a good practice to mix various species of birds together particularly cockatiels, budgies and lovebirds which are often asymptomatic carriers of polyoma and beak and feather. Best of luck with your birds! Sincerely yours, Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S. The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner, A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest. Camaroonian Phrase

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Green Rump Dark Spot on Beak, Doesn't Like Being Touched

Hi, Sandee! I have a 6 month old Pacific parrotlet named Pocket who is just thriving - very bonded and quite the talker! A few weeks ago, I acquired a sweet green-rumped parrotlet (hatched 10/19) from XXXXX. "Pookie" seems to be adjusting well. He calls me just like Pocket does when I get home from work, and hops quickly onto my hand when I put it in the cage, ready to eat out of my palm (he and Pocket are in separate rooms). I just have a couple of minor questions, if you have time. - the inside of the very tip of Pookie's lower beak is very dark/black. Is that just a normal coloring thing? I know they also have issues with beaks becoming too long, so he's already getting bee pollen granules, which he seems to like. - any suggestions on how to get him used to head scritches? Pocket loves them, but Pookie does not want to be touched. He doesn't hesitate to take seeds which are held between my fingertips, but does not want to be touched by those same fingertips. I was going to ask about getting him to eat more veggies and fruit (so far he eats Nutriberries, millet, hulled sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, oats, and broccoli), but I got out your book and found some great ideas! I've also ordered some birdie bread mix which I've read that parrotlets like. Just a side note - I bought each of them a "snuggle pillar" from an Etsy site called Happy Wings, and they both sleep under them. Much better than the tents or wreaths, which I would think get pretty messy! I'm really loving both of my birds! Just sorry it took me so long to discover parrotlets! Take care, Mary Dear Mary: Thank you for your email. Green Rumps have very delicate beaks which makes them more fragile and easily susceptible to bruising and is one of the issues I believe contributes to some of their beak problems. Although I cannot see the beak, I believe it is probably a bruise which may grow out in time. Kind of like when you hit your fingernail with a hammer, it takes a while for the beak to grow out completely and lose the bruise. It was a serious bruise, it may not grow out but it will not affect the bird. He can still eat, climb, play etc. As for being physically touched, that is completely the preference for individual birds. While you can 'work' on trying to gently touch the bird it may or may not come around. Generally speaking, most Green Rumps are not as physically affectionate as Pacifics and don't like physical contact. Contrary to the assertions of people, Green Rumps are not 'sweeter' than Pacifics. They are just more timid and shy and therefore less apt to be confrontational and nip. However, being shy and timid also often keeps them from wanting physical contact. Hope this helps! Sincerely yours, Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S. The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner, A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest. Camaroonian Phrase

Identification of Male Pacific Parrotlet

Dear Sandee, My name is Judy, and I am from Wisconsin. I am asking for your help and expertise. I lost my beloved little parrotlet last Sunday. He had been my trusted and faithful companion for the past nine years. He succumed to an accident, and I am absolutely heart broken. He was an exceptional bird with a big personality and heart. My life will not be the same without him. I had been to a local pet store to pick up seed for our cockatiels nine years ago when I first spotted my little Beaker in a fish tank. He looked so tiny and lost. When I approached, he followed me everywhere. When taken out of the tank, he immediately climbed on my shoulder and stole my heart. It was love at first sight, and he came home with me that day. I am looking to purchase another little bird to love. I have enjoyed your book on parrotlets and wonder if youl have birds for sale at this time. Also, I am confused about the sex of my little Beaker. Beaker was a green celestial parrotlet that the store sold to us as a male. He was olive green with a very faint small area of turquoise blue just behind the eyes but not on the head. His face and underside were lighter with a slight yellow wash. His back side and head almost seemed to have a very light grayish wash. He had absolutely no blue on or under his wings, He did have cobalt blue with indigo highlights on the back rump when you moved his wing feathers. His primary feathers had no blue and from the underside were grayish. The underside coverlets were emerald green. He was a little smaller and shorter than my daughter's green female parrotlet. She is more pear shaped (seems wider below the chest extending into pelvic area). Beaker was sleek all the way. However, when he puffed up, his chest appeared wider. We have pictures that we have posted, and are getting conflicting responses as to Beaker's sex. I have been told that some male green celestial parrotlets do not have blue on their wings. Is this true? Other say that evidence of a cobalt indigo rump, even though no blue was on the wings, is still indicative of a male. We have also been told that both male and female celestial can have the cobalt-indigo rump, The only way to differentiate the male from the female is by the absence of blue on the wings. I did look at Beaker's wings after he died. There was no significant blue anywhere on his primary top and underside feathers. The coverlets on the under side were emerald green but only one tiny feather among the coverlets above the first primary feather on each wing had a faint turquoise wash--but only one little father in the underside coverlet of each wing. Is that significant? Now, I am totally confused at to Beaker's sex. I would greatly appreciate your expert advice and am hoping that you have that little bird that we are so desperately are looking to adopt into our loving home. Thank you, in advance, for you help. Judy Dear Judy: I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your bird. It is always so heartbreaking to lose these little guys. Nine years is a long time for a parrotlet to live these days and I am sure that every day with you was filled with kindness, love and happiness for your little guy. I hope you can find comfort in that. I do not breed parrotlets any longer as more than 30 years of hand-feeding parrotlets has given me terrible arthritis in my thumb so I can no longer depress a syringe and feed them. The male Pacific parrotlet is one of the easiest birds to visually sex. Even in color mutations including the albino, the dark cobalt blue on the wings, rumps, backs and streaks behind the eyes are always distinctive and easily observed. In albinos, this coloring can be seen when the bird is placed under a UV light where the color is striking and vibrant. There is no mistaking a male Pacific. Unfortunately, anyone with a keyboard, an opinion and Photoshop can be an expert when it comes to being on the Internet. Now, females from the subspecies of Pacific known as ‘lucida’ often have blue on their rumps, backs and streaks behind the eyes but rarely on the wings. Even if they do, it is always much fainter than the blue on males. This is often the case where people think they have a male because the rump is dark blue but the wings are green; again the bird is not male at all but a female lucida. Unfortunately, hardly ANYONE who has parrotlets these days ever saw a single wild-caught parrotlet. I raised wild-caughts for 15 years before they were no longer allowed to be imported. As someone who saw them come directly out of quarantine (plus we had NO color mutations in the US at the time) ALL male Pacifics have dark blue rumps, wings, backs and eye streaks. If any of those parts of not blue, the bird is a hen. If you are still confused you are welcome to send me a picture. I can identify your bird in an instant. Sincerely yours, Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S. The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner, A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest. Camaroonian Phrase

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Diminishing Parrotlet Lifespans

Greetings Sandee, I read on your blog that Parrotlets used to live to 20 or older but now usually only make it to 10. I was wondering why that might be, and two possible causes came to mind. First, maybe it's because all the birds have become more or less inbred since 1992. Second, maybe the grains their pellets are made from are having an effect. Soy and corn have become mostly all GMO in the last twenty years, and virtually all our wheat now comes from a hybrid that was developed in the 1970s. This wheat has been giving a lot of trouble to a high percentage of us humans who eat it (see "Wheat Belly Blog" online). So maybe, since birds are such fragile creatures, which have never eaten these grains in the wild, these "frankenfoods" are having a negative impact on them too. My 6-year-old PP "Cootie" loves quinoa, so I've been increasing the amount of that that I give him. Opinions? I really enjoy reading your blog! Vickie Dear Victoria: Thank you for your message and your very kind words. The problem with shortening lifespans in parrotlets in captivity has to do with several factors. Yes, many of the birds are inbred and closely related. This happened before the Wild Bird Conservation Act but certainly that was part of the problem. I remember a friend, prior to the passage of the WBCA in 1992, bought 3 Green Wing macaws. One came from California, one from Florida and the other from Texas. DNA testing proved all three birds were related. So it isn't just because of the WBCA, it also had to do with a limited genetically diverse captive population prior to its passage. The second biggest problem was human greed and ego. When the color mutation Pacifics started being imported back in the mid-1990's many people got rid of their other species and normal Pacifics in order to breed pretty new colored birds. Not only could they make 10 or more times the amount of money per bird as a normal Pacific or Green Rump or Spectacled, they also could make new colors by combining them, therefore 'creating' new mutations that gave them recognition and 'fame' for lack of a better word. By the time people realized that the mutations were so plentiful that their prices had fallen into the basement, it was too late to breed the other species as most were all but disappeared from American aviculture (especially the less common species of Mexicans and Blue Wings). Mutations are genetically abnormal birds. In the wild, Nature usually 'weeded' out these birds. However, we humans like the abnormal colors so we bred more of them which, with mutation breeding, means lots of line-breeding (if you are doing it 'right') or more often than not 'inbreeding'. Line breeding means breeding cousin birds and inbreeding is breeding siblings and parents to offspring. Very few of these people outcrossed them to normal or wild-type parrotlets. Again, by the time people realized they were getting incorrectly sized birds, bad feather conditions and loss of fertility as well as birth defects, it was too late to find normal, wild-type Pacifics to breed out some of these genetic defects. As for GMO's and that kind of thing, I have no idea. I'm not a scientist. However, I do know that unless you are feeding pelleted diets, most bird seeds to not contain a lot of GMO's. Most pelleted diets are manufactured from corn, something I have avoided for more than a decade to feed both myself and my birds due to its low nutritional value and high sugar content. Most bird seeds do not contain soy. But, even if it did, I would say it would be affecting ALL birds not just parrotlets so I doubt that has as much to do with it. As for being 'fragile' nothing could be farther from the truth. Parrotlets are little tigers. They are aggressive, territorial and not only survive in very harsh environments where everything eats them, they are thriving and expanding their range in their countries of origin. Indeed, in a lot of places they are considered 'pests' in that they nest under the eaves of houses, in attics, barns and are often seen in cities hanging out much like pigeons in the US. Not to mention they also descend upon farms destroying all those crops of grains, wheat, sunflower, etc. So they do indeed consume grains in the wild. Hope this helps! Sincerely yours, Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S. The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner, A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest. Camaroonian Phrase

Parrotlet Aggression with Other Animals

Hello, I am thinking of getting a parrolet and have read that they can be aggressive towards other animals and that they would need to be separated from other pets. I have a dog and a cat. Would this mean that I shouldn't consider bringing a parrolet into my home as I would have to keep them separated? Thank you. Angie Dear Angie: Thank you for your email. Yes, parrotlets can be aggressive and territorial with other animals, however, your parrotlet is in MUCH more danger from your dog and cat than they are from the bird. Dogs and cats are predators and it is part of their instinct to kill other animals especially small birds. They may not do it when they are together for 100 times but that 101 could be the time they decide its time to eat the bird. Furthermore, cats have bacteria in their saliva and claws that can kill a bird with one bite or one swipe. This doesn’t mean you can’t get a parrotlet (I have/had several dogs and cats with no mishaps because I am careful. So long as you have a good sturdy cage, keep them physically away from one another, keep the parrotlet’s wings clipped and always supervise them when the bird is out of its cage, they will be find. Hope this helps! Sincerely yours, Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S. The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner, A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest. Camaroonian Phrase ________________________________________

Proper Temperatures, The Parrotlet Handbook, Breeders

I have had birds many years ago and am thinking about getting a parrotlets. I am currently the RESPONSIBLE parent of two dogs-a cavalier King Charles spaniel and a papillon plus I have two horses at home. I am reading about the parrotlets and would like to order the handbook you offer for sale. There is a dear, sweet parrotlets in the XXXXX where I buy my dog food. They are improving and renovating their store but while things get finished, this little, young parrotlet seems a bit chilly because they don't have the windows in yet around their aviary/bird sales area and I almost want to buy this parrotlet to get him in a warmer environment. It bothers me so much to see this! Anyway, I always want to be an informed owner so that is why I may call soon to order your handbook because I want to provide correct care. Do you sell parrotlets still?? I thought I saw somewhere that someone said they weren't selling them anymore but it could have been a different farm. Thank you for your time. Kathy Dear Kathy: Thank you for your email. No, I am no longer breeding parrotlets. 30+ years of hand-feeding thousands of baby parrotlets has taken its toll and I can no longer hand-feed. I can't comment on whether or not this particular bird is being cared for appropriately or not since I am not there. However, parrotlets can easily withstand temperatures into the 60's and much lower (even 40's) if they are acclimated. Furthermore, windows make things colder not warmer as glass is not well-insulated. In fact, it is a myth that these birds require hot temperatures as they most certainly are in much greater peril when they are too hot rather than too cold; the areas that they come from rarely get above 85 or 90 degrees. Anything above that can kill them unless they have lots of water and the ability to cool themselves. I am in the process of revamping my website and I hope to have that done shortly. In the meantime you can order my book from or can send me a check in the amount of $15 to The Parrotlet Ranch, PO Box 2842, Aptos, CA 95001 and I'll be happy to send you a signed copy. Hope this helps! Sincerely yours, Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S. The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner, A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest. Camaroonian Phrase

Spectacled Parrotlet Breeders, Loss of Species and Adding Another Parrotlet

Hello Sandee: I purchased my 2 beloved Spectacled Parrotlets (sisters) in Summer of 2000 from Rachel(?) of ‘Little Big Birds’ in Maryland. I have tried to locate her recently and have been unable to find her or ‘Little Big Birds’. I tried the Link you provide but, no luck. Is she no longer breeding Spectacles? Do you know of any other reputable breeders of Spectacles? I live in Vermont and not sure that my babies will live to 15-20 as they are beginning to show signs of old age but they’re still happily acting like Parrotlets – yacking away and always exploring. Thanks for any info you can provide on Rachel and/or other breeders of Spectacles. Best wishes Marcia Dear Marcia: Thank you for your message. Goodness, I think XXXXX got out of breeding parrotlets about 10 years ago. Very unfortunate as she was a wonderful lady who take excellent care of her birds. Even more unfortunate is the fact that there are almost no other species of parrotlets available in the US anymore other than color mutation Pacifics. I know of one person I can recommend that breeds Spectacles. Her name is XXXXXX and her email is XXXXXXXX. She is an excellent parrotlet breeder and I highly recommend her. Be sure and tell her you got her name from me. Best of luck! Sincerely yours, Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S. The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner, A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest. Camaroonian Phrase ________________________________________ Hi Sandee; thanks so much for your response. I have emailed XXXX but am so sorry to hear XXXX is not breeding anymore. She was an excellent source of parrotlet information. I am also sorry to hear there are not more Spectacles in the US. I wonder why that is. Anyway, I am not sure I’m looking to get another parrotlet currently because Bunny is pretty possessive of me and would probably be annoyed if I split affections with another parrotlet although I wondered about supervised ‘socializing’ time for both of them – she would certainly like someone who was more adept at preening her than I and my friends are. Anyway, thank you so much for your care for parrotlets. Best wishes Marcia Dear Marcia: The loss of all the species of parrotlets in this country is very simple and something that I sadly predicted back in the mid-1990’s. The influence of color mutations and their high prices caused people to dump all of the other species to breed pretty colors. People wanted to buy the pretty colored birds. That, coupled with a very limited population, especially with birds like Spectacles (which only 20 pair came into the country) and the fact the Wild Bird Conservation Act which will not allow normal, non-mutated birds to be imported is why we have nothing but color mutation Pacifics available now. While there a handful of these birds around, they are all inbred and in another 10 years or so, they will all be gone from the US as well. Very sad. Also, I never recommend getting a parrotlet as a companion for your parrotlet. They are aggressive and territorial and will look at the new bird as a rival or competitor. So, probably best to leave Bunny as an only-parrotlets. Sincerely yours, Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S. Dear Sandee: Thanks for your tip on companionship for Bunny. To be honest, I just could not see her being okay with any interruption to her supreme rule of the household. I mulled over a friend because she is slowing down and I thought this would perk her up but, upon reflection probably not in a positive way. She has developed a periodic ‘fainting’ which is frightening when it happens. She appears as though dead (eyes closed, body limp). I hold her, and in minutes, she regains consciousness, starts chirping and attempting (eventually succeeding) to scramble out of my hand. I have taken her to various avian vets – she is not egg bound, no tumors are felt, has not lost weight (if anything she has gained weight), her droppings look good. This seems like a neurological thing…In any event, I think she is too small for anything invasive or traumatic so, I think I will just enjoy her for however long she can hang around. I am very sorry to hear Spectacles did not take off – I realize now how fortunate I was to meet up with Rachael in 2001. Are you aware of any Parrotlet clubs/groups/owners in the New England area? it is nice to have contact with others who have some idea of how wonderful they are. Very best wishes Marcia Dear Marcia: Glad to be of help and I think you have made a wise decision. I’m sorry to hear about Bunny’s problems and I agree that its probably neurological and, unfortunately, untreatable. However, that doesn’t mean she can’t continue to have a long and wonderful life with you. Actually, the only reason you have Bunny is because Spectacles ‘took off’. There were only 20 pairs of birds imported 21 years ago and people worked very hard, in cooperation with the International Parrotlet Society to breed enough of them to even allow any of them to be sold into the pet trade. Had Americans been more like Europeans and continued to work with normal, non-mutated species along with the color mutation Pacifics, we’d still have plenty of birds. But they didn’t, for reasons I previously explained. There are many bird clubs in the Northeast unlike out West. While none of them are ‘parrotlet specific’ that doesn’t mean they don’t’ have a lot to offer as far as education and keeping abreast of legislative and regulatory issues. They also fundraise to support veterinary and conservation issues and, many of them have annual bird shows. Here is the URL to the Society of Parrot Breeders and Exhibitors that has a list of all affiliated clubs as well as the URL to North American Parrot Society’s affiliated clubs Both organizations are also very educational and offer a lot to members including bimonthly journals and, of course, information on bird shows. These days those are about the only clubs that are still going strong. Hope this helps and best of luck! Sincerely yours, Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.