How to Train Your Parrot to Wear a Bird Collar

How to Train Your Parrot to Wear a Bird Collar 0

Training Your Parrot to Wear a Bird Collar or Vest

Training your pet bird to wear a bird collar will reduce the amount of emotional trauma and fear that you’re your bird feels as you begin to tackle the feather picking problem. Before you start training your parrot figure out what motivates your bird.  Find a reward that your bird craves, whether it is a special toy or a delicious treat.  Enthusiastic verbal praise and "scritches" in favorite places are also great rewards for birds.  Schedule a short, daily time to train your bird to wear the harness.

Helpful Bird Collar Training Tips:

  • Use Clicker Training to teach your bird to tolerate you touching of its’ head & wings.
  • Keep the training session short and fun to avoid mental fatigue.
  • Pick a consistent time to practice, preferably on a daily basis.
  • If your bird becomes scared, back off and work on a skill that it has already mastered.
  • If you live in an area where

Training an Anxious or Older Bird to Wear a Bird Collar

  1. Place your bird on a table or a training stand in a location where it feels comfortable and can be attentive. Place the bird collar in your hand, hiding most of it. Show your bird tiny portion of the collar.
  2. When your bird becomes curious, make a peek-a-boo style game of allowing your bird to play with the collar. Immediately reward your bird for simply staying calm around the collar. Repeat this process several times, praising and rewarding each time.
  3. After your bird has shown consistent calmness and even curiosity around the bird collar, allow your pet to mouth the collar for short periods of time. Again, lavishly praise and reward your bird until it consistently allows the collar close to it’s body.
  4. Show more and more of the collar, quickly hiding it if your bird becomes scared.  Reward each progressive step generously until your bird is able to tolerate the entire collar in it’s view and on it’s body.
  5. Next, work on improving your bird’s sense of comfort with the collar being close and then touching its body. Always be very generous about rewards and keep the training session’s fun. Make a game of your bird's natural curiosity to speed learning. If your bird is playful, toss the collar and catch it making lots of fun verbalizations.
  6. Lay the collar completely out for your parrot to see. Undo the Velcro or snaps teaching your bird that the sounds are okay.
  7. Start working on placing the collar over your bird’s head at a pace that your bird can tolerate without to much fear.  If your bird becomes fearful, make sure you end the training session on a positive note. Praise each progressive step generously.
  8. Once your bird allows you to place the collar over its’ head, work on developing comfort with closing the Velcro or snapping the snaps. Generously praise this next step of progress.
  9. Observe how the bird collar fits and slowly adjust it to an appropriate fit. Allow your bird to observe you working with the clips and hear them clicking open and shut.  DO NOT allow the bird to become frightened. Praise the bird for cooperation and reassure it when fearful.
  10. Begin increasing how long your bird tolerates wearing the bird collar. Start slowly, possibly 30 seconds removing the collar before the bird becomes agitated. Praise each progressive step generously.
  11. Now, you want to teach your bird wear the collar without obsessing about ripping it off. Using a timer or stop watch, praise your bird every time you observe it not chewing at the collar, increasing the time so that your bird learns that it is expected to wear the collar without chewing it up.
  12. When your bird can tolerate wearing the collar for 5 minute segments, try moving your bird to different locations, maybe a play stand or on your shoulder.
  13. When your bird can wear the collar in most locations in its normal home environment, for 30 minutes try to walk away for short periods of time.

Remember, depending on the collar that you purchased, our UnRuffledRx Fleece Collars are designed as a preening alternative as birds. Please choose bird collars based on your birds chewing habits.

  • Diane Burroughs
How To Give A Parrot A Bath

How To Give A Parrot A Bath 0

By Diane Burroughs

If you love pet birds, you've come to realize just how messy they are!  Birds not only toss their food and poop like clockwork, they endlessly emit dust and dander.  Remember that healthy birds throw off feather dust and dander when you're cleaning up that mess!  Its important to know how to give a parrot a bath to keep your house clean and allergies at bay.

Bathing a parrot is easy.

My Swiffer Duster really is no contest for oily feather dust.    The oily feather dust is a little sticky and it repels water thereby keeping a wild or outdoor bird from getting soaked and chilled.  That oil makes bird dust stick to everything, though.  The more you bathe your bird, the more of that messy dust goes down the drain.

At, we've got 4 Powder Down birds, birds that essentially throw off an oily based dust.  In order to manage the endless mess, we've developed a bathing routine for our birds.

How To Give A Parrot A Bath

Schedule Bathing Procedure

We offer a fresh water bath for each of our birds daily.  The easiest way to bathe our birds is with a shower perch.  

The heavy duty suction cups stick to a smooth surface shower wall. Our birds love the warm, gentle spray of a shower and we love washing feather dust right down the drain.

 Weekly About once a week, we use Natra Pet Bird Bath Spray to loosen more stubborn dust and debris from individual feathers.  This product contains Vitamins A, D & E as well as natural preening oils to moisturize the skin.  We notice that our birds feathers are much cleaner, softer and more vibrant in color after using the bath spray.  The natural preening oils promote healthy preening and relieve itchy skin. 
Monthly (or less) Every once in a while, and certainly no more than once a month, we do a deep conditioning style bath using Parrot Shampoo. The parrot ph balanced, low suds lather deeply cleans and conditions each feather thoroughly and its gentle on the skin, too.  Parrot shampoo cleans heavily soiled feathers and more thoroughly removes the protective dust - so you definitely don't want to over do it.  We use it before a vacation when our birds will be in the car for a long trip or when our birds have become very soiled for one reason or another - like Smokey bathing in a dirty water dish.
Parrot Respiratory Problems

Parrot Respiratory Problems 0

Thousands of pet birds around the world die from parrot respiratory problems or illnesses, many of them caused by ordinary substances that are commonly found in the air. Know the signs of avian respiratory distress and seek immediate treatment.  When a bird is experiencing respiratory distress it may have the following symptoms:

  • Open mouth breathing
  • Potential clicking, rattle or gaspy sound
  • Tail bobbing with each breath
  • Lethargy, Weakness or Fluffed up appearance
  • Rapid, shallow or conversely, deep, slow breathing
  • Coughing
  • Poor appetite

Bird’s have much higher energy needs for their body size compared to humans, and so they are much more efficient at absorbing elements out of the air they breathe. This gives them the benefit of being able to absorb much more oxygen out of every breath, but also means that they absorb far more of the toxins that are in the air.

This, coupled with a relatively weak immune system means that birds can contract an illness, degrade and then pass away within just a few days. In some cases the whole process can take less than 24 hours.

Aspergillus is a fungal infection or growth that is the cause of thousands of pet birds every year around the world.

Tiny spores or microbes float in the air, which if breathed in by your pet can result in a serious upper respiratory infection needing immediate veterinary attention and treatment by anti-fungal and antibiotic medicines.

Birds affected can take months to get better as symptoms only really start to appear in the later stages of infection. If you see signs of distress such as open-mouthed breathing or a continually bobbing tail (a sign of labored breathing) then you need to get your bird to the vet immediately.

You can help to avoid these types of infections by making sure that your bird lives in a dry, naturally lighted and airy environment and that cage lining is changed regularly.

2. Cigarette Smoke

Cigarette smoke is far worse for your bird than it is for humans. Apart from the fact that the average bird has less than 5% of the body weight of a human, their over absorbent lungs make cigarette smoke a virtual cocktail of lethal chemicals, such as nicotine, tar and whatever the individual manufacturers put in.

Apart from that, the airborne particles of ash from smoke lodge in your bird’s lungs making them susceptible to other illnesses such as Aspergillus.

As a rule, if you are a smoking household that like to partake inside the home, then you should keep your bird outside at all times, as air in one room eventually makes it’s way to every other room and your bird will pick it up.

While not in the same league as cigarettes, smoke from incense also falls into this category.

Apart from being a very strong smell that your bird probably won’t enjoy, the smoke is still full of toxins and ash particles and over time will have an effect.

3. Teflon Toxicosis (Pots and Pans)

Teflon fumes and parrot respiratory problems

 Image courtesy of Environment Working Group © 2003


In late 2003, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), based in the United States, found that <a href=””>Teflon Toxicosis</a> (or smoke inhalation due to the overheating of teflon pots and pans) is responsible for the deaths of thousands of pet birds each year, with the likelihood of many more cases going unreported.


It turns out that when heated to above 600 degrees Fahrenheit, the teflon coating decomposes releasing up to 6 very toxic gases, which not only kills birds also makes humans sick as well.

This has been called “Teflon toxicosis", and causes the lungs of birds to hemorrhage and then fill with fluid, eventually leading to suffocation.

It’s a sad fact that in order to keep your bird safe, it probably best to take all of your favorite non-stick cookware and replace it with either stainless steel or cast-iron, but don’t feel too bad, many a bird owner before has had to do the same!

4. Spray Cans, Aerosols & Cleaning Chemicals

Cleaning chemicals, such as ammonia or other caustic agents, including vaporised vinegar, if inhaled by your bird can rapidly cause death, even at relatively low levels. Bug spray, including mosquito repellant is even worse.

If you think of how a burst of flyspray or caustic cleaning agent will often cause a human to get watery eyes, sneeze or have a coughing fit, imagine the effect that the same inhalation will have on a bird who is many magnitudes smaller, and has super absorbent lungs to boot!

Apart from the toxic side effects of the chemicals, while coughing and sneezing the stress to the system is far greater for birds than humans, potentially causing serious distress and at worst, heart failure.

In all cases, you should be vigilant for signs of labored breathing in your bird and if sighted, get your bird to the vet as soon as possible.

How To Choose A Bird Carrier For Car Travel

How To Choose A Bird Carrier For Car Travel 0

African Grey Food Pellet

African Grey Food Pellet 0

By Diane Burroughs

The beautiful African grey parrot is considered one of the best talkers and it is understandably one of the most popular pet birds in the US. We, at have two greys.

The two most popular subspecies of the African grey parrot, the Congo grey and the Timneh grey (Psittacus erithacus timneh) have a very similar appearance, but the West African timneh grey is smaller, with darker, charcoal- gray plumage and a pinkish upper mandible and maroon tail compared to the battleship gray and bright red tail of the Congo grey. 

The care and feeding requirement of both birds are the same, and both can learn to mimic sounds and the human voice with amazing clarity. More than any other species, the African grey parrot can mimic the exact voice of individual people, while Amazon parrots, macaws and cockatoos and other parrots speak in a more generic "parrot voice."

African Grey Food

African grey Food

For such a popular species, surprisingly little is known about African grey food in the wild, although studies do suggest a range of foods and feeding behaviors. Research by the Rainforest Alliance confirms that wild African greys food is much like many parrot species.  Wild African greys climb up trees from branch to branch, instead of flying, to collects seeds, nuts, fruit and berries.

The vegetarian diet favors the outer layer of the oil palm nut and the red berries from the Cola tragacantha plant. Wild African grey food also contain grains and African greys have been known to do considerable damage to corn crops in western Africa. A paper (Juniper and Parr, 1998) published in the International Non-Detrimental Findings (NDF) Workshop at the Convention of International Trade In Endangered Species (CITES) claims the species’ preferred habitat is moist lowland forest, but it is also found up to 2,200 meters altitude in the east portion of its range. In this range, the birds feed on Elaeis palm fruit.

African Grey and Palm Fruit

But what does that mean to you? Providing African grey's with the best possible diet can pose some challenges if the bird is unaccustomed to a range of fruits, veggies and organic grains. As most owners of these birds know, greys resist change and can become fearful of new items in their environment--including new  foods. Fortunately, most grey owners these days own hand-fed and -raised greys that were produced in captivity, and these birds are more emotionally stable than their wild-caught counterparts. This being the case, they were raised eating fresh vegetables, fruits and pelleted diets like Harrison's Bird Food in addition to a sensible portion--if any--of seeds, sprouts and nuts. Gone are the days of rigid seed-junkie wild-caught African greys that would stubbornly refuse any nutritional, research based pellet bird food diet and only reluctantly eat some other fresh foods.

Pet African greys have been known to suffer from hypocalcemia (low blood calcium), but feeding excessive amounts of calcium to this species is controversial. Certainly, it can be prudent to feed a fresh supply of calcium-rich greens and fruits (green beans, soy beans, broccoli, rhubarb, orange slices, dried plums and apricots, etc.). Another alternative is to offer your bird a water-soluable calcium supplement such as Avitech Cal-D Solve.

A research based parrot pellet like Harrisons Bird Food is ideal as the base of African grey food. A selection of fruits and vegetables as well as soaked beans, sprouts and a small portion of calcium-rich seeds and nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, etc.) will provide nutrition and mental stimulation to these highly intelligent birds.

These are many commercial diets on the market that will serve the African grey owner well. Crazy Corn mixes as part of the diet are very nutritious, as are the formulated diets by Harrison's Bird Diets and supplements by Volkman Bird Foods.

When feeding a pet African grey, remember the bird's keen intelligence and appreciation for mental stimulation. Consistently feeding a range of nutritious foods is the first step in keeping these birds happy and healthy.

Comments? Let us know about your Grey's eating habits.

Insight into African Grey Parrot Intelligence

Insight into African Grey Parrot Intelligence 0

by Phil Samuelson, Guest Blogger

Back in the early 1990s when I was an editor on a popular national bird magazine, I attended the American Federation of Aviculture annual convention in San Diego.


One of the lectures I was looking forward to was about breeding and enriching for African grey intellect. Greys, a species I had kept as a breeding aviary bird. A pair of Congo greys (Psittacus erithacus erithacus) a friend and I owned seemed to settle into their captive environment quickly and soon were on eggs. A typical elevated flight cage and nest box were used, and the diet was a standard seed mix supplemented with fruits and vegetables. Years later, when I acquired and paired up a male and female of the smaller African grey subspecies, the Timneh grey (Psittacus erithacus timneh), I came to realize all African greys were not created equal. The Timnehs would sleep in their nest box but never perched together, preened each other or seemed in sync as a breeding pair. Eggs never resulted. I was looking forward to the AFA lecture to learn more about this interesting, intelligent species.

Smart African Grey Parrot intelligence

The speaker was a man named Dave Blynn, from Georgia. Dave had bred numerous African grey parrots, and I found his level of success impressive. He was quick to recognize the keen intelligence of the species. Dave admitted that when he first started breeding greys he had little luck. This was back when parrot importation was wide open, and Dave's breeding stock consisted entirely of nervous imports. Once acclimated to captivity, the birds were sexed and broken up into pairs. They were fed a proper diet and given appropriate cages and nest boxes. Very little breeding occurred the first year, and most of the eggs were infertile.

 Faced with disappointing production, Dave had an idea. He gathered all of the pairs and gave them identifying marks with a nontoxic marker before placing them all together in a huge cage. Then, with a closed-circuit television, he observed the birds. He was amazed that many pairs separated quickly and paired with other birds. It seems that African greys--like people--appreciate a choice when selecting mates! Dave then broke the birds up again, this time with their chosen mates. A high percentage of the birds were on fertile eggs within months.

I found the lecture and slide show fascinating, and I introduced myself to Dave after the lecture. We became good phone friends and often had long conversations about birds. When Dave later tried his hand at breeding Vasa parrots, I had him write an article, and we published one of the first accounts of breeding this bizarre species.

African Grey Intellect makes for great bird tricks

But do all African greys possess a remarkable intellect? The answer is probably yes. Many bird fanciers know of Dr. Irene Pepperberg and her work with Alex the African grey parrot. When I had lunch with Dr. Pepperberg in the mid '90s, I asked her if she thought Alex was exceptionally gifted or just an ordinary grey. She considered the question and responded that she thought he was probably typical. She had started working with some younger greys and had found them similar. What many of Alex's fans probably never realized was that he was a feather chewer with a bare chest. African Greys are infamous for this self-destructive behavior, so Alex was certainly typical in that regard. He was an excellent talker, but still a bit nervous and maladjusted.

Don't sell the African grey parrot short in the smarts department. I suspect their mental abilities are greater than most bird owners think!