Bathing your pet bird

  • By Michelle Beckley
  • 01 Oct, 2015

Bathing keeps your parrot happy & healthy

Blue & Gold Macaw who gets bathed daily
Frequently parrot lovers ask us how often they should bath their pet bird and how they should do it.

Kookaburra Bird Shop bathes their birds everyday first thing in the morning. This provides the birds with stimulation and keeps their feathers clean. We use warm filtered water in a mist bottle that has never been used for anything but water. I suggest you label your bird's mist bottle so that you don't accidentally bath your bird with something other than water.

During winter months we may bath the birds here multiple times a day because the air becomes very dry with the heater on. We usually have the last misting around 3 PM so that they do not get chilled while sleeping.

You can bath your bird in their cage or use a shower perch and mist them in your shower. If you are going to mist in the shower, please take your bird in a couple times so he will be comfortable with his new surroundings.

Kookaburra Bird Shop's Blog for Help with your Feathered Friends

By Michelle Beckley 22 Oct, 2015
These feeding instructions are what Kookaburra sends home with every bird we have sold since 1979. These are for most species of parrots. Keep in mind some species do eat slightly different ratios and different diets. If you are unsure, you are more than welcome to contact us and we can advise you on your bird’s diet needs. We have updated them rarely over the years, but usually there has been research or new information that makes us adjust how we feed.

The following pet bird information should be used as a guideline and it is what we have done with our own birds. We have birds that are happy and healthy and have been fed a variation of this diet for over 30 years.

These guidelines take into consideration that many pet bird owners have a very busy life and Kookaburra believes that making feeding easy helps people keep their birds for their entire lifetime. The ratios are a guideline and remember that birds are scavengers so variety is the spice of their life, but to much variety can lead to imbalances as well. You need to really pay attention to what your bird is actually eating.

Avian Veterinarians recommend feeding 50%-70% pellet or extruded diets, 20%-30% fruit & veggies, and 10%-20% nuts and seeds. The problem with birds is that if you stick that all in their cage they will pick out what they want and then become imbalanced. How do you get the ratio correct with little waste and so you have a happy bird? Here are some feeding methods that have worked for 1000s of clients over the years and you then end up with the correct ratios.

Every morning we feed our birds fresh fruit, vegetables, or cooked mashes* that we leave in the cage for up to 2 hours. Leaving them in the cage longer will lead to bacteria and mold growing on the food and can lead to a sick bird. Depending on the size bird we feed 1-3 tablespoons of these items. Store favorites include cooked sweet potatoes, apples, oranges, dark green leafy vegetables, berries and other seasonal fruits and veggies. We feed one item at a time so that your bird eats that item and doesn’t pick out his favorite item and leave the rest. Never feed onions, mushrooms, avocado or rutabagas. We avoid pits & seeds of most fruits as well.

Once we have removed the breakfast and cleaned the dish, we then put the appropriate amount of pellet mix in our birds cage. We usually mix 2-3 brands of pellets to assure that our birds are getting a variety. If they throw copious amounts of food out of their cage, we feed less. Most people over feed their birds which leads to waste and extra mess. We leave the pellet mix in the cage all day and then put their soft food, fruit, or vegetables on top of what pellet is left over from the day before. If you are not a morning person, you may feed the soft food, fruit , or vegetables in the evening.

Once a week, instead of pellet as the dry food we feed a high quality seed mix. We call this seed day and our birds love the foraging aspect of the seed mix. Feeding a seed mix once a day leads to birds eating the variety in the seed mix since they soon figure out that they only get this once a week. This method leads to your bird consuming most of what is in the seed mix and wasting less of it. Seed day will be messier than pellet days, but the joy your bird gets will make up for it.

Fresh filtered water is always provided for our birds. Keep in mind that parrots do not consume very much water, so you won't seem them drinking much.

*cookable mashes include but are not limited to: Crazy Corn and Wordly Cuisines. We usually cook up the entire bag and freeze the extra in snack bags or ice cube trays.
By Michelle Beckley 14 Oct, 2015
Tickles was a morbidly obese Quaker Parrot who came to us with a recommendation from Dr. Anna Osofsky to have him converted to a better diet for extreme health reasons. I say “was” morbidly obese because Tickles is no longer morbidly obese and on a much healthier diet. This is a true success story!

Kookaburra Bird Shop has a 100% success rate for diet conversions, but I thought Tickles may be the bird to change those statistics. He was definitely a challenge due to his obesity and bad test results. His triglycerides were 10x’s normal and his blood plasma was all lipids. You would think he would have been on death’s door with those test results, but other than being really fat he acted like a normal quaker parrot and his feathers look normal. He proves once again that annual test results from a proper veterinarian are really important to your bird’s health and well being.

That is some background information on this case just so you understand why diet is so important to pet birds. Variety is the key to all pet bird’s health, but what exactly does that mean? How do you make sure that your pet bird is getting that variety. There are several methods that work and I don’t believe there is 1 right answer, but I do have methods that have worked for me and my clients over the years so that was what we were using with Tickles.

In the past we called the process “pellet conversion” and you may see that on some of our old literature. I have since changed it to “diet conversion” because this is more of a complete name for what we are doing. The end result is a bird that is consuming 40-60% pellets, 10-20% cooked or fresh foods, & 5-15% quality seed mixes. We have ranges depending on season and sometimes we know that life can get in the way of perfection.

Those of you who have purchased your bird from Kookaburra Bird Shop were given a list of instructions that when followed results in these ranges. We send you home with birds already on a very good diet and truly believe it is the best that you can do for your pet bird. If you haven’t revisited your take home instructions in a while, now is a good time for you to find yours and go over them. Feel free to ask us when you are in the shop and we can give you a new sheet if needed.

I digress, so back to Tickles and his diet conversion story. First off I want to make it clear, that his parents were not bad parents. Tickles had trained them into feeding him a high fat mostly sun flower seed diet even though they were offering him other items. He was a classic case of having an abundance of variety to eat, but only eating what he wanted because plenty was being given to him. This is the main problem with seed diets. If your birds ate everything in the bag of seeds, he would actually be on a fairly decent diet. The problem with this presentation it that they don’t do that. Most people feed way to much and the bird then throws out what it doesn’t like and ends up only eating one or two items in the entire bag. Bags of seeds are not some evil that must be avoided, but rather something that needs to be closely monitored. Most people do not have the time or patience for this and a pellet diet is much easier for them to monitor.

Tickles wasn’t eating any pellet foods, fruits, veggies, or cooked diets. Our goal on diet conversion is to get him eating mostly pellets and fruits & veggies. Some seed could be added later. Because of his health issues, it was very important that he didn’t lose to much weight to fast or he could end up with kidney or liver problems.

Diet conversion at Kookaburra Bird Shop last from 10 to 14 days and consists of weigh ins and close monitoring. We don’t like them to lose more than 10% of their body weight and want them stabilized before they go home. We have the advantage that your bird will be watching all our birds eat which is one of the main reasons our success rate is so high. This is where Tickles’s unique situation posed a new challenge for us.

Tickles weighed 156 grams when he arrived at Kookaburra Bird Shop. Normal weight range for Quaker Parrots is between 80-120 grams. We were not able to feel his breast bone. The normal procedure is to weigh them in and then start with feeding exclusively pellets. We use a mix of several different brands and check the bird several times daily to see how he is doing. At his first nightly weigh in he had clearly not eaten any pellets and was down to 153 grams. This was all very normal. It is not unusual for the first 24 hours that the bird does not eat anything at all.

Day 2 is when things became a little more of a concern. Tickles had not eaten and was down to 148 grams. His behavior was normal and he was active and talking we weighed him again at night and he was down to 146. Since this was more than we like to see we gave him a little seed mix and moved him next to a piggy conure who was staying with us. We rearranged his bowl and noticed he like one of the brands of pellets more than the others, so added more of those to his bowl. He started eating the pellets, but was still losing weight. From days 3-7 he was eating pellets, but steadily losing weight. Which was a concern because under normal circumstances birds stop losing weight at this point.

He still felt chunky, was still talking and acting happy, just continuing to lose weight. In every other diet conversion I have performed over the years, the birds start eating and their weight stabilizes once that has started. Tickles was so obese that the good diet was causing him to reach his normal weight more quickly that we liked. Upon consultation with Dr. Osofsky, we decided that Tickles could have 1 nutriberry with his pellets to help slow down his weight loss. This helped stabilize the weight loss and Tickles then weighed in 126 grams for several days. We accepted the 20% weight loss because Tickles had been so fat. After 14 days, Tickles was another successful diet conversion and I expect Tickles will eventually stabilize around 100-110 grams, which is a normal quaker weight range.

His owners have taken him home and are weighing him twice a day. They have been given instructions and so far Tickles is doing very well. I am crossing my fingers that the diet helps his next vet check up and his tests are in normal ranges.

Generally birds take 7-10 days to convert. This was my first truly obese bird to convert to a better diet. The lessons learned here were many. Sometimes you need to err on the side of caution so they do not have other health problems associated with dropping weight to quickly.

Diet conversion can be done at home but is much more difficult. You don’t have the advantage of all the other birds eating the diet you would like your bird to be on. We are here 10 hours a day and can monitor everything that is going on with your bird. If we need to weigh several times a day to verify they are eating, we can do it. It is our job and the birds in our care are our primary focus. We have access to all kinds of bird food which makes it easy for us to switch if one isn’t working for your bird. When it’s all said and done we will send you home with the foods that worked for you bird. I hope to keep my 100% success rate, but I am a realist and someday there will be a parrot that will be more stubborn than I am! I am happy to say for Tickles he was not that bird.

By Michelle Beckley 11 Oct, 2015
Quick and Easy Birdie Muffins

1 box Corn Bread Mix

1/2 cup Shredded Carrots

1/2 cup Dried Greens - can be purchased at Kookaburra Bird Shop

2 Eggs (Shell and all)

1- 4 oz Baby Carrot Apple Juice (can substitute Almond milk)

Place Eggs, Carrots, Juice and Greens in blender until egg shell is finely crushed. Mix with cornbread mix. Place in mini muffin pans and bake at 400 F for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

I like to find the paper wrappers for the mini muffins and give the entire muffin to my birds. They love to forage and shred the paper.

You can substitute the green & carrots for seed mixes. I find that small bird seed mixes work best with muffins. Feel free to be creative. Your birds will love you more :).
By Michelle Beckley 08 Oct, 2015

2 eggs with shell crushed finely in a blender

1/2 cup mashed sweet potato (I prepare this the night before by steaming or boiling until very soft then mashing.)

1/3 cup honey

4 Tbsp melted coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

2 1/2 cups almond flour

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup raisons or chopped dates


1. Preheat oven to 325.

2. Line mini muffin pan with paper liners (24 muffins).

3. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric beater to thoroughly combine all ingredients EXCEPT almond flour, walnuts, and raisins.

4. Stir in almond flour until well combined.

5. Stir in walnuts and raisins.

6. Spoon batter into muffin cups. I use 2 teaspoons. Makes 24 mini muffins.

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Number of Servings: 24

I leave the muffin papers on so that my birds have the added fun of shredding them while they eat the muffin.
By Michelle Beckley 08 Oct, 2015
Household hazards are more prolific during the holidays. Many reasons account for these facts. Most of us are cooking, entertaining, decorating, cleaning, and enjoying the season. With the festivities come many hazards for our pet birds that we bring into our households. In this blog I am going to cover the most deadly that kill our pet birds every year. With a little planning and thinking you can have a safe holiday season.

With most holidays comes cooking and baking. Kitchens are death traps for birds. You can avoid many accidents by following a few rules. First and most important your birds should not be in the kitchen during cooking. Fumes from kitchen sprays are toxic. Teflon is a big bird killer. If your bird inhales teflon fumes, he will die. Teflon includes most nonstick surfaces that can be found on pots, pans, toasters, waffle irons, griddles, cookie sheets, or baking pans. I recommend that people with pet parrots replace their nonstick cooking utensils with stainless steel, iron, or copper. If you have a nonstick pan, at sometime it will release toxic fumes. If you are not sure what the surface of your cookery is, please bring it by the shop and we can help you identify what it is. Expense doesn’t make a bit of difference in the toxicity of nonstick surfaces.

Another big toxin that claims the lives of many birds every year is petroleum based home scents. I have not met a plug in device that isn’t toxic to birds. If you plug in scents around your home, they will not only be detrimental to your birds but can cause headaches in humans as well.

Please remove any of these kind of devices. Candles and inscence can, also, be toxic to birds. Most everyday candles use petroleum based scents, which are toxic to birds. You can find candles that use essential oils and they are a better choice if you must have a scent in your home. I have used these over the years and not had a problem with them. I burn one candle in a large well ventilated area. I do not burn it for more than an hour. I use lightly scented candles that have essential oil written on them. The absolute safest way to achieve holiday scents in your house is to slowly simmer a pot full of cinnamon sticks. For variation you can add pumpkin spice or try different spices. I have tried pine needles and used the savory as well as sweet spices. This works very well, but you do need to monitor the pot so that it doesn’t burn dry.

Decorations can pose a threat to birds if they ingest them. Tinsel does not travel through the digestive tract very well and can become wrapped around the intestines. Many ornaments have unsafe metal and paint. Poinsettias are a very poisonous plant. Basically keep your parrot away and off all holiday decorations. Not only will they destroy them, but they are potentially toxic to them.

Guests can pose a threat to your birds as well. Most people respect a parrot’s beak, but there is one in every crowd that believes he/she knows everything about birds and insist on handling yours. If you are have a large get together, you may think of boarding your bird to protect him from these unruly people. You can then burn as many candles, cook with teflon, and clean with strong disinfectants. We have many one and two day boarders at the holidays and it is safer for everyone.

I have listed just a few of the deadliest holiday hazards. Unfortunately I will hear of more this season. Accidents are one of the incidents that can cause death in pet birds. Being extra careful during the holidays can make them happier for everyone!
By Michelle Beckley 05 Oct, 2015
Summer vacations are just around the corner. I wanted to give you a simple check list to make travel easier for you and your parrot.

Suitable carrier - you will want to make sure you have a suitable way to transport your bird. I like a carrier that can be easily covered to keep your feathered friend calm. Many birds do not like to see on coming traffic. Letting your bird out in the car is not recommended. Air bags can easily kill your bird when deployed.

A treat is nice to have to reward your bird when he has been good. Dry fruit is an easy treat and easy to carry in the car. Apples & oranges are great for long travel because they give your bird moisture without the mess of a water bowl spilling.

Bottled water or a small covered bowl with water. You never know what can happen and it's best to be prepared.

Paper towels. You just never know when you might need one. Keep them handy.
Interstate Health Certificate if you are crossing state lines. You need this for various check points if going to other states. Call your veterinarian for more information on this.

Going for short drives to a park or around town will get your parrot used to traveling and can keep his/her stress level down. You want it to be a positive experience for your feathered friend. Bringing your bird to a parrot play date at Kookaburra Bird Shop, LLC and giving them a treat while they are here is very fun for them.

Birds who don't like their carrier are usually only in it because they are going some place not fun IE for a wing & nail trim or to the vet. Can't really blame them for not wanting to get in their carrier.

Miranda, our Scarlet, loves her carrier and can't wait to go for a ride. She gets mad if she sees it and doesn't get to go out and about. She loves to travel and your bird can learn to as well!

By Michelle Beckley 01 Oct, 2015
I have had parrots for my entire life. G.G., one of my personal pets, a Severe Macaw, has lived with me since 1988. He went to college with me, and has been through a divorce, and a new marriage. Through all of these life changes, he has lived in many abodes and shared his life with several other people and pets along the way. We have never been evicted because of his noise, even though he is not what most would consider to be a quiet parrot.

In his first years with me, we were at college. This is the point in my life where my bird and I first experienced apartment living. I knew that G.G. and I should be away from other people because of his noise. The distance was necessary to avoid annoyance of neighbors, and probably an eventual eviction. With all of these things in mind, I went looking for a corner or end unit, so that he would not have to share common walls with other people.

When I moved into my new corner apartment, I placed G.G.'s cage as far away from the other apartments as possible. When he did have his noisy times, this allowed his voice to shout out into the common area that really didn't pass through other apartments. The upstairs neighbors could hear him, but they had a yappy dog, so they didn't complain. I learned then that an upstairs unit is better because the vocalizations tend to travel up as well as out. I also tried to look for neighbors who had pets of their own. Pet owners, of most kinds, don't mind the noise of a bird from time to time. On a related note, I did find out that most apartments do not require a pet deposit for birds. As birds become more popular and cause damage to apartments, pet deposits will probably become more common for bird owners.

When G.G. and I lived in quieter living quarters, I would leave the TV or radio on during the day. This would keep G.G. company as well as mask any noise he would make. Another good trick I discovered was to feed the wild birds outside the apartment. I found that most people could not tell the difference between the calls of the wild birds and my pet parrot. Another benefit of feeding the wild birds, is that the wild birds tend to be noisy the same times that my parrot was. I was amazed by the amount of people who were surprised I had a parrot living with me. They had never heard him, or at least they thought they hadn't.

Keeping bird safe plants in the room is another trick I learned. The plants help muffle his noise as well as keep the room's humidity up. I am always amazed when I remove the plants from the room for watering, how much more noisy my bird sounds. Curtains on the windows are yet another way to muffle his noises. The curtains allowed me to regulate G.G.'s sleeping as well. He received ten to twelve hours of sleep at night to avoid a cranky parrot, and he did not wake up at the crack of dawn to disturb anyone.

I exercised and let him be rowdy at times that would not upset other people. I turned the radio up and sang with him around five to six PM at night, which most people didn't even notice. We did birdie aerobics at this time at night too. He would flap up and down on my arm until his breathing increased greatly. When we finished with all this noise and exercise he was quiet for most of the evening. I am not a big fan of covering the cage to stifle a parrot's noise. In most cases, they will develop a nonstop screaming problem. I do, however, think you can control when their noisy times will be, by letting them be their rowdy selves at set times of the day. G.G. always looks forward to this time of day, which generally lasts from thirty minutes to an hour. Note: This time can change if it bothers a particular neighbor. Find out when they aren't home and let your parrot be noisy then.

Bathing and playing can help keep your parrots quiet. After a bath, G.G. has been known to preen for hours. A new toy is also a sure way to keep him quiet. The more intricate, and the more things on the toy to shred, the toy the better. Though, if all else fails, when we are having a noisy moment, shredded paper is great. I always leave this as a last resort. If I give paper to him all the time, then it doesn't work. He gets bored with it.

As far as keeping the carpets clean, I always had my parrot's cages on some sort of a mat. The mats that you use for under office chairs are almost the perfect size for a medium size cage. Later on, when my Goldie's Lorikeet came to live with us, I saw how mats were a necessity. Tile floors are preferable with Lorys if at all possible, but apartments almost always have carpet. A good steam cleaner is almost a must when parrots live in carpet environments. I have both a regular size steam cleaner and a hand held model, and find that each type is well suited to different aspects of parrot cleanup. Steam cleaners are indispensable with Lories, especially. I also found that "Poop Off" cleaning solution will get just about any bird mess off the carpet and the little scrubby end on the bottle can work miracles.

Always be careful with the placement of your parrot's cage. A cage with some sort of skirt or seed guard will help guide your placement. You don't want your parrot to chew any walls, molding, or anything else that he shouldn't. Try to keep your parrot at least six inches away from any wall. It is very important that your parrot doesn't damage anything in an apartment and if he does that you fix it completely. If apartment complexes feel that to many units have been damaged by parrots, they will either not allow them in the future or have hefty deposits.

If you are in an apartment, and are thinking of getting a medium to large parrot, please wait until you can find an apartment that is more appropriate for the parrot of your choice. I hear of so many people who don't think ahead, that are being forced to find new homes for their birds. These are always sad stories. If you are living in an apartment and having some problems with your neighbors, talk to your apartment management. Many times there are other units available that will be more suitable for you and your parrot.

Over the years, I have turned down many nice apartments when the location of available units was not suitable to my parrot. It may take more time and you may have to pay a little more money for the right apartment, but it is worth the extra time, money and effort. When you and your parrot are adjusting to a new environment together, you will be glad you were able to avoid the added stress of upset neighbors and apartment management.

Currently G.G. and I are living in a house, which is preferable to an apartment when you have parrots. However, based on my past experiences, I do know that living in an apartment can be a pleasant experience for you, your parrot, and your neighbors. It just takes some careful advanced planning, and a little bit of common sense. Sometimes life takes turns that we do not expect, and we have to make some sacrifices. Giving up your parrot because you have to live in a small apartment doesn't have to be one of them.

*Special note: G.G. passed on with a brain tumor in 2006. His memory lives on with all the help I can give others. He was a great teacher.
By Michelle Beckley 01 Oct, 2015
In general, birds do not create a smell. However, sometimes what you feed them can create unpleasant odors. We recommend you change your birds bedding a minimum of weekly if you are using a manufactured bedding (check with us to make sure the bedding you are using is safe). If you are using paper towel or newspaper, it is recommended you change that daily. Uneaten broccoli needs to be removed from the cage ASAP or it can generate a very unpleasant odor. If your bird's poo has an unpleasant odor, I recommend you take him to you veterinarian to have a check up.

We use a small crock pot with filtered water and a couple drops of essential oils to have a calming aroma in the large area of our shop. There are many different blends you can make yourself or purchase. Essential oil is the key phrase you are looking for. If your product does not say 100% pure essential oil, it may not be safe.  We use essential oils from New Directions Aromatics .  They have a wonderful selection of blends and organic scents.

You can find essential oils in many health food stores and natural grocery stores. There are several online venders that sell them as well.

I have never had an issues with this method, but I have no control of what people do in their home. When dealing with birds, I always caution "less is often times better". You do not need to use gallons of essential oil. Use it very sparingly.

Erring on the side of caution, I have the crock pot in a separate room than what the birds are directly in. Please use caution and remember, while this has worked for me there are no 100% guarantees.

**I wrote this article originally several years ago, while we still use the crop pot we use an essential oil diffuser as well.  When it's really humid I use this one.  They have start up kits as well.

If you are wanting to add some humidity to your house, Amazon has several different essential oil diffusers that work really well as well.
By Michelle Beckley 01 Oct, 2015
Tornado season in Texas can be very scary and dangerous for your pet birds. Being prepared is some of the best advice I can give you. You may have a very short time to act and having a plan and safe route is imperative to you and your pet's safety. Every household is different and every plan will be different. Having a plan can mean the difference between life and death.

Please feel free to add your safety tips to the blog comments on the bottom of the page.

Any tip that can help someone is greatly appreciated.

Here is a quick list of items to have ready for emergency situations.

Carrier with water bottle attached - clean and with a towel or paper towel in the bottom ready for quick evacuation. It is best to have 1 for each pet.
Clean towels - I like to have hand towels and a larger one to cover the carrier. You may need to wrap your bird in a towel to get him in the carrier.
Bottled water - have enough for you and your pets for a few days
Apples, oranges, and ziploc bags with your birds food & treats

Know where you are going to stay to be safe. Have a plan that everyone in your household knows. Having your children have responsibilities in the emergency plan can help keep them calm.

Don't forget to remain as calm as possible and take a deep breath if you need to. Your bird will feel your anxiety and this can make him even more scared than he already is.

The Red Cross Tornado App has some great pointers. I just downloaded it so that I can be warned ahead of time. I haven't used it yet, but a good friend recommended it. It has a feature that let's you notify people when you are safe after the storm has passed via social media & e-mail.

In most cases you will be fine after a couple hours. It is always better to have your bird ticked off at you for a change in routine than lost forever.
By Michelle Beckley 01 Oct, 2015
Frequently parrot lovers ask us how often they should bath their pet bird and how they should do it.

Kookaburra Bird Shop bathes their birds everyday first thing in the morning. This provides the birds with stimulation and keeps their feathers clean. We use warm filtered water in a mist bottle that has never been used for anything but water. I suggest you label your bird's mist bottle so that you don't accidentally bath your bird with something other than water.

During winter months we may bath the birds here multiple times a day because the air becomes very dry with the heater on. We usually have the last misting around 3 PM so that they do not get chilled while sleeping.

You can bath your bird in their cage or use a shower perch and mist them in your shower. If you are going to mist in the shower, please take your bird in a couple times so he will be comfortable with his new surroundings.
Share by: