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Amazon Parrot Care - Guide to a Happy Healthy Amazon

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Amazon Parrot Care - Guide to a Happy Healthy Amazon

Post by Dammam on Tue Apr 07, 2009 9:13 pm

Family: Psittacidae Genus: Amazona

Amazon parrots are delightful pets and beautiful birds!

Amazon parrots are highly intelligent birds, very outgoing and renowned talkers.They adapt well to captivity, adjusting easily to their cage or aviary.

A single bird will tame quickly, bond to its keeper, and may soon begin to mimic the sounds of its keeper's voice as well as many other sounds in its environment. They like to preen and be preened, and just enjoy your company in general. Males and females make equally good pets.

Description:
These stocky green birds are medium to large in size with a short, somewhat rounded tail. The identification of the different Amazon species is aided by the brilliant splashes of color you see on their heads, napes, necks, wings and tail feathers. The variations of these 'splashes of color' range from reds and yellows to blues and even lilacs. Each species has it own striking coloration. Amazon parrots are beautiful birds!

Young Amazon parrots have a dirty gray brown iris. This will change within 2 to 3 years to a red, red-orange, or chestnut-brown. At that point, it is very difficult to determine the age of an Amazon. The sex cannot be reliably determined by physical characteristics in any of the Amazons other than in two species; the yellow-lored Amazon, Amazona xantholora (rarely seen in the trade) and the white-fronted Amazon, Amazona albinfrons. The sex on all others must be determined by either a surgical probe, endoscopy, which can be done by many veterinarians or by a DNA testing, usually a blood sample or a few plucked feathers sent to be diagnosed in a lab.

Distribution:
The Amazon parrots are from South America and Central America, including the West Indies. Different species range in many different areas. Some range in the tropical forest climates, having constant high temperatures and humidity while others range in areas of the tropical savannah climates with short dry periods.

Care and feeding:
The personal hygiene of your Amazon includes a weekly shower to help keep it's plumage in good shape. This can be accomplished with either a hand held shower sprayer or a hose with a fine spray head and lukewarm water. The wings should be kept trim if you want to discourage flight and to prevent the loss of your pet through an open window or door. The beak needs to be trimmed if it becomes overgrown or deformed. There are many mineral blocks, lava blocks, and other beak grooming items available at your pet store to help your bird keep its beak in shape. A variety of concrete type perches are also available to help the keep nails trim, but they should be trimmed if they become overgrown.

Foods available for Amazon parrots include formulated diets, either pelleted or extruded, seed only diets, and parrot mixes which offer a mixture of both. There are pros and cons to feeding only a formulated diet as well as feeding only a seed diet. A formulated diet provides a good nutritional base so does not require the addition of vitamins, however it does not contain the phytonutrients (antioxidant pigments) that are found in vegetables, fruits, grains, and seeds. Phytonutrients are believed to boost the immune system, help a body to heal itself, and to prevent some diseases. Also amazons can become bored with it due to the lack of variety. A seed only diet offers much more variety but requires additional vitamin and calcium supplements. Amazon parrots need not only nutritional requirements met but also variety for psychological enrichment.

An Amazon diet consisting of a basic parrot feed mix with supplements is generally regarded as suitable. Supplements should include sprouted seeds, all types of fruits such as apples, pears, plums, cherries, grapes, oranges, bananas, mangos, papayas, and even berries such as strawberries and blueberries. Vegetables are also good supplements such as carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, many garden vegetables, and even dandelions and chickweed. Amazons are prone to vitamin A deficiency so high foods like dark green leafy veggies, carrots, mangos and sweet potatoes will help insure a long life for your bird. Do not feed avocado as it may be toxic to birds! Additional proteins can be offered about every 1 1/2 weeks such as cottage cheese, hardboiled eggs, and even canned dog food.

Housing:

A cage best suited to adequately house an Amazon parrot would be between 39"- 59" (100-150 cm) high and have a floor space of 23"x 39" (60 x 100 cm). This size will provide room for lots of movement as well as space for perches, food dishes and a variety of playthings. A room to adequately house 2 Amazons need a ceiling height of at least 70" (180 cm) and a minimum floor space of 39"x59" (100 x 150 cm). Perches should be 1/2" to 1" round or square as well as a various sized fruit tree branches. Playthings can be such things as climbing ropes, chains, bells, parrot swings and wooden or other bird toys.

An outdoor or breeding aviary needs to have a protected shelter that can be heated and cooled where necessary. It should be no smaller than 59" - 79" (1.5 - 2 m) high with a floor space of 39"x 39" (1 m x 1 m) and have an attached flight cage. The flight should be 79" - 118" (2 - 3 m) long with a perch at each end. A climbing branch and a bird bath are nice additions too.

Maintenance:
The basic cage care includes daily cleaning of the water and food dishes. Weekly you should wash all the perches and dirty toys, and the floor should be washed about every other week. A total hosing down and disinfecting of an aviary should be done yearly, replacing anything that needs to be freshened, such as old dishes, toys and perches.

Social Behavior
Generally Amazon parrots are reasonably calm and peaceful, getting vocal only in the early morning and in the evening as it starts getting dark. They are very social birds and a single parrot will make a wonderful pet if it gets plenty of attention. This is until about the age or 4 or 5 when they reach sexual maturity. At this time, if the parrot is left alone a lot it may become restless, may start feather plucking and in general show signs of psychological distress. A female may even start laying infertile eggs. In their natural environment, this is the time when they would begin to find a mate and pair up. Living with a mate is part of the social pattern of the Amazon parrot. The key here is the amount of attention you pet needs. This may be the time to consider getting a mate for your parrot if it seems to be distressed and you cannot spend more time with it. Sometimes pairing is the only satisfactory solution even if you do spend more time with it and it still remains distressed. This will depend a lot on you and your bird.

Amazons and children can mix very successfully if the parrot gets used to the child, and the child learns how to interact with the parrot. However, sometimes a parrot can get very jealous of small children and so you should be on your guard. Amazons and other pets can also get used to each other and learn to accept each other. Again, however, be very careful to monitor all groupings of animals. An Amazon can be very dangerous to small pets such as hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, and even small birds. Close friendships are just as possible as deadly enemy behaviors. You won't know until the relationship unfolds over time

Handling/Training:
The Amazon parrot is the most rapid of all the parrots at becoming accustomed to it's new environment. Generally though, you should give a new arrival a few days to get use to you, your voice and it's cage before trying to handle it. A handfed baby will not need much taming and can often be handled right away, as it is use to human attention.

To be able to handle and train your parrot depends first on trust, so go slowly and be consistent. Amazons are most receptive to training in the evening and each session is best if limited to under 20 minutes with about an hour rest in between. Your first goal is to get the parrot to accept a treat from you, which will lead to it allowing you to gently scratch its head. Then you can begin to work on getting your parrot to step up on your hand. Depending on the tameness of the bird, these two steps can be instantaneous as in a handfed baby or take several weeks or longer for an untamed bird.

Remember that taming and training a bird takes patience, never 'punish' you parrot! This only serves to destroy the trust you've spent so much time building.; Once your Amazon parrot has gotten over its shyness, then you can work on speech training. Repetition and frequency are the keys here. Almost every Amazon parrot can learn at least a few words, although unlike the African Grey, the Amazon's mimicry sounds rather 'parrot-like'.

Activities:

Exercise and play are important activities for the physical well being and psychological health of your parrot. These activities help deter distress and prevent the problems of screeching and feather picking. Provide your parrot with lots of activities in the form of large link chains, bird ladders, parrot swings, ropes, fresh branches for gnawing and chewing, and rotate new bird toys on a regular basis.

Breeding/Reproduction:
Most Amazon parrots are not dimorphic and you will have to have them sexed by either a surgical probe, endoscopy, a DNA test, or a chromosomal analysis. The sexes must be confirmed and the pair must be harmonious, bonded with each other. They will need a nest box that is 31"-39" (80-100 cm) high with an inside diameter of 12"-14" (30-35 cm) and an opening of 4"-5" (10-12 cm), with some soft bedding material inside on the bottom of the box. In general the courtship will begin with the beginning of the warm season, generally in April or May, with the laying and brooding in the early summer. An Amazon female will lay between 2 to 4 white eggs and she will brood for 26 to 28 days. The hatchlings are almost naked, barely fluffy, blind and very helpless. It will take them between 70 and100 days to develop to the size and weight of their parents, have their complete plumage, and be ready to find their own food. Be sure to remove the nest box after the brooding until the next breeding season.

Because the Amazon parrots belong to a bird species that is threatened with extinction, successful breeding is helping to preserve the species and reduce the number of wild caught birds. There are no breeding regulations in the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom, though other countries might have restrictions and you should consult with the authorities in your country before undertaking breeding.

Potential Problems:
As with all parrots, signs of illness to be aware of are ruffled plumage, resting often with their head turned back, having no appetite, sneezing, discharge from the nostrils, cloudy eyes, and any change in the feces. Some of the common illnesses your Amazon could contract are internal parasites, intestinal influenza, coccidiosis, respiratory ailments, feather picking, and parrot fever also known as psittacosis. An ailing parrot should be taken to a avian veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

Behavior problems usually stem from something missing in the bird's environment. Boredom, lack of trust, lack of interaction with other birds or people can lead to problems like biting, feather plucking, and screaming. Try to develop a bond of trust and spend time with your bird to help avoid these problems.
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Re: Amazon Parrot Care - Guide to a Happy Healthy Amazon

Post by Dammam on Tue Apr 07, 2009 9:20 pm

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Re: Amazon Parrot Care - Guide to a Happy Healthy Amazon

Post by .bygafricans. on Thu Apr 09, 2009 1:57 pm

This information will surely help newbies like me Smile
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