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Questions about Parrotlets

Discussion in 'Parrotlets Place' started by BrianB, 2/22/17.

  1. BrianB

    BrianB Strolling the yard

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    Hi there - just joined after finding this site while researching parrotlets. I have a pair that I bought a few weeks ago. The breeder showed us the back feathers to indicate who was male and female, but I have a feeling they may both be the same sex. Neither of them appear to have had much human contact, and have only ever eaten seed. For the first two weeks both would go to the far back corner if I approached the cage. I always approach slowly and speak calmly to them. Now that will sit on the perch, but they keep an eye on me and if I move too fast off to the corner they go. They seem to be the best of friends and the worse of enemies. They are constantly side by side, they preen each other, though the one that is supposed to be female seems to do this more often. They eat together, and if one goes to the food dish and the other doesn't follow, there is a tongue lashing. They also go through periods each day where they scream at each other. I tell people it's like an old married couple. They sit together, then they scream and flap at each other, then they sit together again. I've observed the larger one that is supposed to be the female trying to mount the smaller one. When the smaller one does this, it looks like a lazy bird climbing over the other because it doesn't want to fly around. There is a nest box, and I know they have been in it because I see the shredded paper around the cage.

    Is this kind of behavior normal ?

    The other thing I've noticed it that they only eat seed. They don't seem to know what fresh fruit or vegetables look like. I put a small piece of carrot on top of the food dish to see what they would do, and they flung it off. I put some greens in but they totally ignored them. The seed blend I give them contains small pieces of dried fruit, but they won't touch it. I even tried some egg food just for a little variety and they ignored that as well. I'm hoping as time goes by that they continue to calm and become more trusting. In the meantime, I'll keep offering veggies like I do to the other birds and hopefully they will start to eat some of it.
     
  2. Calpurnia

    Calpurnia Sprinting down the street Celebirdy of the Month

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    First off, welcome to the forum! We would love to see pics of your new p'lets!

    I'll start by saying the rump feathers (likely what your breeder was calling the "back") are not a good indication of sex on their own. Both sexes can have colored rumps and eyebrows that vary in intensity. So the presence of a colored wing edge is your most reliable measure. In most mutations this will be a dark cobalt. Males will have the edge but females will not.

    Their behavior - preening each other, sticking together like glue, occasional bickering, with random bouts of crazy activity - sounds pretty normal for a bonded pair of p'lets. Their wariness of people also sounds typical of a bonded pair. They have each other so there is little incentive to befriend people.

    My only concern here is the fact that you are providing them with a nest box i.e. encouraging them to breed at this time. Not only are they not on a good diet (and so can't be in optimal physical condition), but there is always a concern that they are related since you bought them from the same breeder. Finally, do you know how old they are? Even if they are in good health and unrelated are you sure they are old enough to be breeding without issue?

    Parrotlets can be incredibly stubborn and difficult to convert to a good diet. I recommend trying out a few different conversion methods (slow weaning, controlled cold turkey, different presentations, etc) for a few weeks at a time to see if you can find one that works. I'd also recommend converting them to a base diet of pellets along with their fresh foods.

    Other than that, it's nice to see you being patient with them! Wishing you the best of luck!
     
    Jobot and JLcribber like this.
  3. BrianB

    BrianB Strolling the yard

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    Thank you so much for the reply. I decided last night to block off the nest box to prevent any unwanted and possibly unhealthy clutches. Good advice. I'm going to continue to try different foods to see what they might be interested in and go from there. Maybe some long green things like parsley to entire them to nibble and chew, then go from there.

    I've learned to take things with a grain of salt when it comes to breeders at the local bird marts. I always ask if the birds I'm interested in are from different clutches, but sometimes they have so many birds crammed into one cage they have no idea who came from what breeding pair. I get it that they only care about the sale. If I'm looking for the same species, then I'll buy single birds from different vendors to make sure they aren't related. I asked one vendor when was the last time he had treated his Lady Gouldians for air sac mites and he told me they were from California and they didn't have that problem.

    Here is a picture of my pair. The smaller one is supposed to be the male. It had beautiful blue feathers on the rump underneath, but I'm not going to stress him out to get a picture.
     

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  4. sunnysmom

    sunnysmom Cruising the avenue Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue

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    Your birds are very cute! I met my first parrotlet this past weekend and was pretty smitten with her. Hopefully, others with parrotlet experience can answer your questions soon. :)
     
  5. Doublete

    Doublete Jogging around the block

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    I just got my first p'let so have no real experience!
    They're adorable!
    Good luck!
     
  6. BrianB

    BrianB Strolling the yard

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    I took my Parrotlets to a local breeder I know and he said I do have a boy and a girl like I was originally told. He said there is a 5 or 6 month difference in age that accounts for the size difference, but they will catch up in time. The odd mating behavior seems to be a dominance issue that will settle when thy both mature a little and are closer in size. He gave me some suggestions for food to prepare them for breeding, but that breeding is at least 6 - 9 months away. He said that should be plenty of time to expand their diet.
     
  7. BrianB

    BrianB Strolling the yard

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    Well, I think saying breeding was 6 - 9 months away was premature. They have been at it almost non stop for the last week. Due to their size difference, I think they are trying to figure out how to get their pieces and parts together in a way that works. The female gets on top of the male, he gets on top of her. If fertilization takes place I guess it doesn't really matter who is on top. Only the female has been spending time in the nest box. The male sits outside and chatters with her, but hasn't gone in. No eggs yet, but she has made a depression in the shredded paper where she can sit. If everything is working the way it should, there will be eggs at some point. I'm not counting on them being fertile yet, but it is progress.
    I'm still trying to expand their diet. I give them a little bit of what I give the conures each day. I vary it so hopefully I hit on something they like. They really only seem to like seed, but I've seen a few things get tasted. I'll keep trying. All of the birds seem to love hemp seeds, so I've added that to the mix. I'm going to switch pellets and see if that helps any. Two of our conure pairs are working on late spring clutches. If these two end up giving me fertile eggs I'm going to have chicks all over the place come late May.
     
  8. Vicki

    Vicki Strolling the yard

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    It is hard to tell from the photo if either of parrotlet's is a male. The green one appears female and so does the other one but the leading edge of the wing is not visible. They seem young as their eye pupil iris is not defined. If you could find the irresistable food for them to try, (like California dried unsulfered organic fig cut in half) they may just attack that and it would begin their experiment with other foods besides just seeds. Were they sold to you as a bonding pair? Or have they been handfed? If they haven't been handled much it may be hard to get them to step up or be near you.



     
  9. Milo

    Milo Rollerblading along the road Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran BINGO BABY!!!

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    If they're only eating seed, breeding and laying eggs really puts the female in jeopardy. There's no way she has enough calcium in her diet to support egg laying. Each time a bird lays an egg it takes a HUGE amount of calcium from their body, if they don't have enough it will start to come from her bones.
     
  10. BrianB

    BrianB Strolling the yard

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    I've been giving them supplemental calcium. In the few days before she laid her first egg, both of them destroyed the top half of a large cuttlebone I put in the cage. I also give them a sprinkle of the powdered calcium on their food. I continue to give them veggies, even though they don't eat any. My conures love kale, carrot chips, and apples, so when I mix up their fruit and veggies I make a small bowl for these guys as well. I've been putting pellets in their dish with seed for months. I put the seed at the bottom so they have to get through the pellets to get to it. I believe the breeder only fed them seed and they simply don't know anything else. They ignored a millet spray the first time I gave it to them. It was like they had never seen one. They did eventually start eating it. I tried putting kale on top of their seed, hoping that if they pulled it out, they would at least be able to taste it and see if they like it. That just resulted in a bunch of kale all over the place. I keep trying though. Eventually I'll find something they are interested in, then I can build from there.
     

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