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What made Casper pluck his wings?

For years, Casper the African grey lived happily alongside DOT SCHWARZ’s other parrots. Then suddenly he grew depressed and plucked his flight feathers. Why?

Cock of the walk: Casper has always been a confident greyI’ve been proud of Casper, my African grey. He lives an enriched life for a captive parrot. He has human and bird companionship, a conservatory indoors and an aviary outside. He enjoys a varied diet. So what went wrong? What caused him to pluck his primary and secondary wing feathers so that he was unable to fly?

I enjoy showing off my well-socialised African greys. Artha hatched in 1999 and Casper 18 months later. They’ve always been friends. Artha met Casper at their joint breeder’s house before he was weaned. I had a bird on each shoulder. Artha hopped across my back and groomed the baby’s eyelashes. The first night we brought him home some weeks later, the two birds insisted on sharing a cage. However, they’ve never bonded to the point of mating. Read more...

I’m scared of birds!

DOT Schwarz uses some bird-taming knowledge on her bird-fearing friends

Dot and her friendly lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo PerdyYOU might have had an experience similar to this one. Our friend Jay Griffiths is a writer. She was visiting us after a sojourn in some exotic, far-off places including jungles, deserts and mountains. Perdy, the lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo that was just one year old at the time, flew enthusiastically into the sitting room and landed on Jay’s lap. She jumped up, screaming, and rushed from the room. I followed, “Surely you’ve seen parrots in the wild?” I asked.

“That’s quite different. They’re not flapping around indoors,” Jay said. She couldn’t be coaxed back to the sitting room until Perdy was shut into the conservatory with the two African greys. Read more...

Deadly tendencies

Male-on-male fights for dominance in a shared aviary can be a common occurrence, but what makes a parrot kill its mate? ROSEMARY LOW explains why the bad decisions of birdkeepers and breeders can cause parrots to attack and kill their partners

Rosemary got a shock when she heard her Duivenbode’s lory had killed its mateONE mistake and the bird is dead. What am I talking about? The introduction of new birds. The mistake is usually on the part of the person responsible for the care of the birds, often due to inexperience. Unfortunately, sometimes it is due to downright untruths told by the seller.

Let me give some examples. A few days ago I received an email from someone in North America. He said that he had just purchased a male of a rare species of cockatoo – and did I know where he could find a female?

Immediately, alarm bells started to ring. It is well known that many male white cockatoos (Cacatua alba) that have been hand-reared have never been socialised with their own species. They do not have normal instincts and their behaviour is... I was going to say unpredictable, but sadly it is fairly predictable: they will kill females. Read more...

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