Tailfeathers
Contact | Tour
where bird lovers gather
Bird InformationMessage BoardNetwork Home

 

Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Can you help me decide?

  1. #1
    Brand New Egg
    Name
    Gary
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    8
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Can you help me decide?

    Hello all. I'm new here, and I am hoping that you can give me some expert advice on choosing the right parrot species.

    I currently own a wonderful white-bellied caique. Her name is Pico, but I call her boo-boo. I don't know why I call her that - that's just what comes out of my mouth. She is very affectionate and sweet, and I just adore her. My only previous parrot was a lovebird named Lily'n. She was a great bird. You can see a video of her if you'd like. It's one of the most popular videos of a lovebird on Youtube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1AQ4GhHmsg (by the way, the woman in the video is my ex-girlfriend)

    Regarding the bird I would like to get, I believe I have it narrowed down to two species - either a male african grey (not sure which type) or a male eclectus. can't seem to decide which to pick, and I was hoping you could help. I have done a lot of research on the web for both of these species, but I was hoping to also get some input from people who have actually owned them.

    Here are some of the concerns I could use some advice on from actual owners:

    - Noise is the biggest concern. I live in one-half of a duplex and really don't want to get on the neighbor's bad side

    - Independence. I give my caique so much love and attention she doesn't know what to do with it all, and I know I have more to give to another bird as well. But I'm only one person. I live alone, work full-time, and therefore would prefer a bird who is independent enough to be left alone for most of the day.

    - Which bird would make the best companion bird for my caique while I am at work?

    - Regarding ekkies, I have read mixed reviews on the web. Some say they are aloof and almost boring. Others say they are very unaffectionate. Yet others say almost the opposite of these things. I don't know what to believe. I realize it varies with individual birds and how they were raised, but I would still like to some input as to what one can really expect from an ekkie.

    - Timneh grey or congo???

    Any other considerations you think would be useful would also be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Administrator Tailfeather Community Administrator
    Name
    Marie
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    4,657
    Thanks
    27
    Thanked 315 Times in 311 Posts

    Re: Can you help me decide?

    I know people who own CAGs and their birds can be loud - it really depends on how loud is too loud for your neighbor.

    The one I was around the most decided that screaming like a woman from a horror flick being murdered was going to be his noise for "I am bored, play with me". He also likes to pick up noises like telephones, alarm clocks, etc and repeat them throughout the day... at a slightly elevated volume to the actual item. He barks with the dogs when they bark and generally makes all sorts of goofy fun noises but a noise sensitive neighbor I am sure would hate him. Obviously, this varies by bird.

    Time... greys are very intelligent so have a pretty large time requirement from my understanding. I don't own one though, so i'm sure someone who does could give a better opinion on that.

  3. #3
    Banned Chick
    Name
    Sara
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Encinitas, CA
    Posts
    1,140
    Thanks
    5
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Re: Can you help me decide?

    I don't have a grey, but I do have 2 eclectus.

    Neither is particularly good for being left alone a lot. Both are prone to plucking issues.

    Eclectus pluck if they are bored, if their diet is wrong, if they are having allergy issues, if their environment changes, if they are hormonal, etc.

    Both my male & female are very affectionate, but a lot of times on their terms. Our female, Karma, LOVES me. She is currently hormonal, and only wants to be with me. Under normal circumstances, she doesn't bite, but right now she bites my husband every chance she gets. And she is constantly on the lookout for a nest spot. Our male, Romeo, is pretty affectionate most of the time. But he will suddenly change his mind about being cuddled or pet, and nip.

    Both make some noise. Karma has her alarm call, and Romeo honks like an angry goose. Both talk a lot. Romeo likes to mimic lots of things, not just voices. He clucks, quacks, honks, croaks like a frog, and meows. He makes the squeaky-toy noise. He mimics hiccups, burps, and likes to snore. He also likes to sing.

    Females are the alpha in the eclectus world. They can be a bit more bossy, and don't always get along with other birds.

    Then there is the diet issue. Eclectus have a longer digestive tract than other parrots. This causes them to absorb more, and can lead to things like fatty liver disease. They can NOT have artificial colors or flavors. The artificial colors can cause feather discoloration. They are also often allergic to the artificial ingredients, and can cause itching that leads to plucking. They are prone to food allergies in general. They need lots of fresh leafy (dark) greens, and foods high in beta-carotene. Vitamin suppliments are not usually a good idea. They tend to absorb too much, leading to toxicity issues.

    Signs of allergies or poor diet include: discolored feathers, plucking, over-preening, itching, twitching, toe tapping, wing flipping...

    We discovered that Karma may have a wheat allergy. When she eats too much wheat products, she gets very itchy. I watch them diligently for signs of issue, and we don't try a lot of new foods. Harrison's pellets have been awful for Karma & Romeo. They are too high in fat, and caused lots of itching.

    There is so much more to say. Having eclectus works for us because I am home all the time. I can watch them, play with them, and interact with them.

  4. #4
    Moderator Tailfeather Community Moderator notredamebird's Avatar
    Name
    Danielle
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Baltimore, MD
    Posts
    5,890
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 7 Times in 6 Posts

    Re: Can you help me decide?

    Personally, I love african grays. I am calm and rational, careful, quiet, with a wry sense of humor. This is pretty much how Tolkien is too, so we get along great. We more or less just hang out -- neither of us has a really high energy level. I love how Tolkien can just chill, but occasionally do something really funny and dorky. For example, one day I turned around, and he'd decided that pot holders are for birds:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s6_Rs1N7tA
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDOzdzs0oiM

    I also love how observant he is, how he wants to understand everything, and how he gets into everything when I am cooking and or he decides to feel curious about a food or object. I also appreciate that Tolkien is affectionate but likes space. He steps of readily and loves to sit on or near me -- but he's not constant cuddles. He's reserved, until the cuddly mood strikes him (usually before bed) -- then he's so gooey and cute it's just sick.

    Tolkien's one flaw is his lack of confidence and assorted fears -- something I understand and don't hold against him. But this may surprise you about a gray, after you've had relatively fearless birds as pets. Tolkien is really cautious, even terrified, of events and objects he doesn't understand. For example, he hates most new toys. They're too scary!

    Likewise, Tolkien was an expert flier as a young bird. Then we clipped his wings. His confidence in flying was shattered. We let his wings grow back, but even now -- THREE YEARS LATER -- he believes he can't fly. He's done it a few times, especially when startled. But the rest of the time, he just sits there, thinking about flying, without taking off. Seriously, for minutes, he wiggles, leans, lifts his wings, and leans forward, only to conclude that the launch is too risky. Sometimes, he will make a kind of half-flying jump to an object that is close by.

    Regarding noise: All birds have the capacity to be loud, but grays are on the quieter end of the scale. Some grays learn to mimic very annoying sounds and may repeat them often. In general, however, they tend to grunt, grumble, squawk, and repeat words, rather than just scream incessantly. Tolkien is easily the quietest bird we have ... except for the really loud conure yells he learned from Wesley.

    Regarding attention: Tolkien comes out for a couple hours in the morning and 2-3 hours minimum at night. He is always let out at the same times. He does wonderfully with being left home all day, so long as we do not deviate too much from the routine. We have a sort of contract: he behaves all day, and we come home and let him out. If we try to swindle him, he always knows.

    Other problems: African grays are known for plucking and calcium deficiencies. They are scarily clever and get bored very easily. They definitely need a lot of stimulation and attention (although not constant contact, just time around you and exploring the world). They are notorious for being inflexible and fearful.

    That said, my personal experience has been quite positive. Tolkien's never pulled so much as a feather. And, with the exception of his odd little hangups, he's actually pretty friendly and flexible. He forgives really quickly. He doesn't do well if I deviate from our schedule (that is, if I try to cheat him out of his normal playtimes). But as long as I keep my end of the bargain, he is very pleasant and easy to handle. He loves my husband and bugs him; he loves me as much or more. So we don't have any one person bird issues. (We do with my conure.) I am not sure if we lucked out, or if our personalities and routine just fit really well with Tolkien's needs.

    Timneh or Congo: The rumors say that Timnehs are more easy-going than Congos and more likely to be friendly to multiple family members. Our experience with Tolkien fits this picture. However, it wouldn't surprise me if the supposed differences between the species were less vast than some websites make it sound. Most people are going on anecdote, and also just repeating what they've heard.
    Last edited by notredamebird; 03-13-2010 at 06:10 PM.
    Atrus---Wesley---Tolkien
    Catherine---Lúthien---Elwing---Tipti

  5. #5
    Brand New Egg
    Name
    Gary
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    8
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Can you help me decide?

    I love that name "Tolkien!" Lord of the birds...lol.

    Your post reminded me of another concern. I work until 7 pm, m-f. That doesn't leave a lot of time after work to spend with whatever bird I get. What time do your parrots usually retire at night? I'm guessing it's pretty early. My caique is usually ready to crash by 8 or 9 at the latest. I'd hate to not have enough time to give them in the evening before they hit the sack.

  6. #6
    Brand New Egg
    Name
    Gary
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    8
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Can you help me decide?

    Maybe I should go find a wife to share bird duty during the day: lol

  7. #7
    tweet Breeding Shannon's Avatar
    Name
    Shannon
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    New Orleans, LA
    Posts
    2,542
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Can you help me decide?

    Quote Originally Posted by boo-boo View Post
    Maybe I should go find a wife to share bird duty during the day: lol
    Great idea! Just make sure to find a bird lover. My husband won't even touch my birds!

    I don't really feel qualified to offer Grey advice because I've only had Willow for 6 months, but I will say that she has been such a joy to have around. She's calm most of the time, and other times she is hanging upside down in her cage and bashing her toys around and screaming like a lunatic. She makes noises often, but her noise level rarely gets to an unacceptable volume. I live in a duplex and her cage is on the adjoining wall and the neighbor claims he never hears either bird. Like Danielle, I feel a Grey is a perfect fit for me because I'm a very calm person. Unlike Tolkien, she is not terribly nervous of new things. She will jump on a new toy 10 times faster than my cockatiel, who is a huge chicken.

    I go to school full-time right now and it keeps me really busy. I'm on campus from about 11-7 four days a week, and Willow handles it just fine. I get her up as early as I can so she can have the most out of cage time possible, usually 1-2 hours, and her bed time is 11pm, and she knows it. If I don't have her in bed by 11pm sharp she gets visibly uncomfortable...silly girl. At night, she gets out for about 4 hours, so we are still managing a minimum of 4 hours out a day.

    I do my best to keep her entertained and busy while I'm gone, so she has to forage for all of her food. I usually pour food in her bowl, cover it with foot toys (her favorite), and then wrap it in a few layers of newspaper and poke a few holes in the top. She also has a bucket and an extra bowl on the left side of her cage that I fill with foot toys, and each day I throw treats in there while she's watching. I usually hide a few nutriberries, almonds, and sprinkle some pepita seeds in there. I do it hoping it will encourage her to play, and I think it does.

    I think Timneh vs. Congo is a preference. I went with a Timneh since they are supposed to be slightly less neurotic (although, I *really* think the way you raise them has more to do with neurosis, than anything) and because of their smaller size. Willow is almost a year old and her weight has stabilized around 260-275 grams. A congo is going to be closer to 600 grams, and I guarantee they will eat more! The size difference is really huge, in my opinion. I also like Timneh's because they have smaller beaks, which means less damage to my skin if I get a bite! Lastly, they are going to cost less to feed. Willow is on Harrison's High Potency, which is supposed to be the best out there, and it runs $38 (with tax) for a 5lb. bag at my vet's office. She goes through about a bag a month. I think a full grown Congo would easily go through double that.

    Hope I gave you a bit of insight into my life with a Grey.

  8. #8
    Moderator Tailfeather Community Moderator notredamebird's Avatar
    Name
    Danielle
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Baltimore, MD
    Posts
    5,890
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 7 Times in 6 Posts

    Re: Can you help me decide?

    Quote Originally Posted by boo-boo View Post
    I love that name "Tolkien!" Lord of the birds...lol.

    Your post reminded me of another concern. I work until 7 pm, m-f. That doesn't leave a lot of time after work to spend with whatever bird I get. What time do your parrots usually retire at night? I'm guessing it's pretty early. My caique is usually ready to crash by 8 or 9 at the latest. I'd hate to not have enough time to give them in the evening before they hit the sack.
    Your schedule doesn't sound too different from ours. My husband and I work eight hours a day, and we have a one+ hour commute to and form work. This means we are absent from about 7 am to 5 or 6 p.m. Two days a week I work from home, but I pretend to be gone for most of the day, so that there is a consistent routine. I want a consistent routine because I want the birds to know when "quiet time" is and when "look for mamabird" time is. We live in an apartment, so constant contact calling would be a bad thing.

    Most days, I get up 2-3 hours before work (I work on my doctoral dissertation during these hours, and get ready for work.) I let out either Wesley or Tolkien for private time while I type. Then I let them both out while I spend an hour showing, getting dressed, preparing their cages for the day, packing lunch, and so forth. Then I put them both away and give them treats (this is my "signal" that I am leaving). Then I go to work. Whenever I get home, I let them out for the next 2-3 hours. I vary this time depending on what is going on. And I find that as long as both sessions are fairly long, the birds are flexible about time and length. What they won't let me do is put them away for bedtime if it is still light outside.

    During one or both of these sessions, I also let the cockatiels out. They are very low maintenance, since they form a flock. They come see me if they want to, or not.

    I am constantly worrying that this is not enough attention. However, everyone seems very happy and bright-eyed. So this plan is working, more or less.

    Regarding Grey neurosis: I have to say, I agree with Shannon. Grays have kind of funny way of viewing the world. They seem to err on the side of caution. They're calm and seem to want to understand how the world works -- which may be why calm, thoughtful owners like them. But they don't have to be neurotic. Even Tolkien, with his fear of new objects and reluctance to fly, is really quite a good sport about everything else. Actually, he's far more easygoing than my conure, who I ought to have named Mr. Clingy.

    Here's an example that might illustrate how they seem to work. Tolkien was sold to a pet store as a sick baby parrot. We bought him because he had some challenges during this time, which made him hard to sell, and I didn't want him becoming the "pet store" bird. The owner was too busy, and already had a semi-neglected "pet store bird." And, of course, being dopes, ee got attached to him, because he was so ridiculious and pitiful, and really sweet.

    Well, when he finally weaned, I came to pick him up. We hadn't been able to visit him for 2 or 3 weeks, as we'd just moved across the state. (I came back just to pick him up.)

    When I arrived, they had stuck him in a cage that was too small, with one perch (which he'd destroyed). He was in their bird room. At some point, a shopper had reached into the cage and just grabbed him with her hand. Needless to say, she was bitten, dropped him, and made a big fuss. I don't know which of these factors scared him. But he was super terrified and aggressive. He lunged at me, he lunged at the owners, everyone. I called my husband and said, "Well, they've ruined him. He's completely mean now." I had been thinking of all the stories I'd read about how you make one mistake, and supposedly greys just kind of melt down and are never the same.

    Well, I got him into the car and drove home. This took four hours. I carried him inside and popped open the travel cage. I offered my hand, expecting him to make it bleed. He stepped right up. Then he said Hi to Jeremy. Then he played on our bed for a while, before being shown his new cage. No lunging, no biting, no shyness, nothing.

    He was absolutely back to his old self. The only thing causing his psycho behavior was something in that bird room he'd decided was a threat. Once the worrisome thing was gone, he reverted to his usual, happy self.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by notredamebird; 03-14-2010 at 06:04 PM.
    Atrus---Wesley---Tolkien
    Catherine---Lúthien---Elwing---Tipti

  9. #9
    Brand New Egg
    Name
    Gary
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    8
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Can you help me decide?

    Shannon,

    Thank you for your response. That's very encouraging. It's good to know that it's possible to lead a busy life and still have a happy bird!

    I think I'm leaning towards a timneh instead of a congo too because of the smaller size. They seem harder to come by though. It may be tough to find a breeder without having to drive a couple of states away.



    notredamebird,

    Jeez. You almost made me cry! Knock it off!

    Seriously, that was a wonderful post!

    At least I don't have to worry about long commutes. I live four blocks from where I work. It takes me a whole 7 minutes to walk home from work.

    I also like your statement that "I let out either Wesley or Tolkien for private time while I type. Then I let them both out while I spend an hour showing, getting dressed, preparing their cages for the day, packing lunch, and so forth."

    I have never owned more than one bird at a time. The fact that you let out only of bird during your typing time makes sense to me. It gives much needed one-on-one time with each bird. I like that!

    "Grays have kind of funny way of viewing the world. They seem to err on the side of caution. Grays have kind of funny way of viewing the world. They seem to err on the side of caution. They're calm and seem to want to understand how the world works."

    That sounds just like me! I'm sold! It's going to be a grey - probably a timneh!

  10. #10
    Moderator Tailfeather Community Moderator notredamebird's Avatar
    Name
    Danielle
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Baltimore, MD
    Posts
    5,890
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 7 Times in 6 Posts

    Re: Can you help me decide?

    One thing you should know about the two bird situation ... Tolkien is not very sweet about his main rival, Wesley the conure. They have a non-aggression pact that is based on the agreement that

    (1) they don't come within a certain distence of each other (a few feet);

    (2) I don't place them on the same side of my body or the same surface;

    (3) Tolkien isn't in a particularly sneaky or murderous mood.

    I have to be careful with them when I have them out together and have to keep one eye on Tolkien. Tolkien, though a sweetie pie, can be unaccountably murderous toward Wesley, and occasionally very sneaky. Wesley's a stinker too, but his behavior is less intelligent and more reactionary, and therefore more predictable. It's also louder: he feels the need also to keep an eye on Tolkien, and is loud and squawky when informing me of Tolkien's activities.

    MA! He's looking at ME! He's right THERE!

    The two are better behaved, even angelic, when apart. They even seem especially happy when they come out separately, since they have me all to themselves. (They are also ticked off if they figure out I've snuck one of them out for individual time, and not included the other. For this reason I make separate playtimes before dawn or after dark.)

    Neither of them dislikes the cockatiels, perhaps because the cockatiels are complete pacifists who just kind of flit in and out of the situation. The tiels aren't revivals and there's no bad blood.

    This is just a possibility to keep in mind about moving from a 1 to 2 bird household. Especially since your caique is likely to be more bouncy and in-your-face than the gray.
    Atrus---Wesley---Tolkien
    Catherine---Lúthien---Elwing---Tipti

  11. #11
    Brand New Egg
    Name
    Gary
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    8
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Can you help me decide?

    Quote Originally Posted by notredamebird View Post
    MA! He's looking at ME! He's right THERE!

    Haaaa! I can see how that could be a problem. On the other hand, it's also kinda funny. I'll keep that in mind. The other thing I wonder about with two birds is the possibility that they will be pretty noisy - feeding off each other, if you will.


    Shannon, I meant to ask you - what's with that crazy avatar?

  12. #12
    tweet Breeding Shannon's Avatar
    Name
    Shannon
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    New Orleans, LA
    Posts
    2,542
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Can you help me decide?

    Yes, Timneh's are harder to find! There are a few breeders around me, but I didn't like them. It took me about a month to find someone I liked, and they were two states away in Alabama. Honey and I just kenneled the dog and made a weekend trip out of it. I didn't get to meet Willow until I picked her up, which isn't ideal, but it worked out well and the breeder was great.

    I found two in Minnesota, but I don't anything about them. Now is around the time of year to put a deposit on a baby! http://www.birdbreeders.com/BreederSearch.aspx

    The crazy avatar is the cover from one of my favorite books, Lullaby, by Chuck Palahniuk. It seemed fitting for a bird board.

  13. #13
    Brand New Egg
    Name
    Gary
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    8
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Can you help me decide?

    I want all of you who have catered to my questions to know that I really appreciate it. You have been very, very helpful, and you seem like good people. I don't want to be a blabbermouth or burden you folks in any way, but please bear with me a little longer. Actually, I intend to pick your brains until you can't stand me anymore!

    Notredamebird, I re-read you first post on this thread and something hit me that I didn't think of the first time I read it. You mentioned that you clipped Tolkien's wings, and his confidence in flying evaporated. Well, this has nothing to do with my caique's confidence level, but your mention of wing clipping reminded me of something that's been bothering me for months.

    I bought my caique last summer. She was a flier, and I wanted to get her wings clipped in order to more easily bond with her. After the bonding process had sufficiently progressed, I intended to let her fly again. But here's the problem: I brought her to a vet to clip her wings, but instead of clipping her wings the way they should be clipped, he clipped all ten flight feathers (way too many for a caique, IMO), and he clipped them ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE BASE! She narrowly avoided several serious injuries in the days following that. It has now been about 9 months, and she shows no sign of being even close to being able to fly again. I would check her feathers, but she totally freaks out whenever I try to open her wings to look at them. She hates that! She makes such a huge, panicky fuss that I don't dare even try anymore. I'm worried that those flight feathers won't grow back, and she'll never be able to fly again. I'd feel terrible if that were the case! What a huge mistake I made taking her to that vet!

    Will they grow back?

  14. #14
    Moderator Tailfeather Community Moderator notredamebird's Avatar
    Name
    Danielle
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Baltimore, MD
    Posts
    5,890
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 7 Times in 6 Posts

    Re: Can you help me decide?

    If all they did was cut the flight feathers too short, they should grow back. If the wing itself or the areas that produce the feathers were harmed, then you might have the feathers fail to grow in, or the might come in crooked.

    However, I doubt a vet would have botched a wing clipping that badly.

    Tolkien has a perfectly good set of flight feathers. He just believes he can't fly. He still glides to the floor just as though his wings were clipped -- even though he has every single one of the feathers that he used to possess.
    Atrus---Wesley---Tolkien
    Catherine---Lúthien---Elwing---Tipti

Remove Ads

Similar Threads

  1. How do you decide?
    By tashafreewoman in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 10-16-2008, 01:00 PM
  2. Help me decide
    By CloudFlying in forum Other Budgie Topics
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 02-04-2008, 11:34 AM
  3. help me decide!
    By Aimee R in forum All Animals
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 12-20-2007, 01:17 PM
  4. Trying to decide...
    By Neecy in forum Other Parrots
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 08-08-2007, 01:30 PM
  5. I need your help to decide!!!!
    By candi33 in forum Other Cockatiel Topics
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 04-02-2004, 06:07 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Message BoardNetwork Home