• Welcome to Avian Avenue! To view our forum with less advertisments please register with us.
    Memberships are free and it will just take a moment. Click here

Parrotlets the Good the Bad and the Ugly

CheckeredTail

Walking the driveway
Joined
7/10/18
Messages
153
Location
Michigan
Real Name
Tsushi
This is about my parrotlet Curtis, who died at age 8 of respiratory infection. I like the idea of bad first to end on a good note, so that's what I did.

The Bad: Curtis was aggressive and nippy with everyone who wasn't us, and was not willing to step up on other people's hands. He was often aggressively protective of anything he deemed "his". Paper Towel rolls, Kleenex, receipts, pill bottles.... anything he took a shine to! And he would get a bit flirty with that stuff too, so we had to spend time to sometimes discourage him. We were no stranger to beak based punishment or poop based punishment. If he was mad that we were taking something he wanted, he would fluff up and charge to bite! And usually would poop angrily on our tables or our things to show us his displeasure. He could be real brat sometimes. He would get loud occasionally, yelling at something he was unhappy about or interrupting phone calls etc. Not as loud as some of the larger birds, but certainly could be shrill and annoying once in awhile. He would make a mess of his food, and fling it around. Cleaning strawberry off the walls!

The Ugly: Sometimes, when Curtis was hormonal or just overstimulated, he could go from sweet and playful to a bad bite attack. Repeatedly viciously biting the same spot, ripping skin and drawing blood. He did some serious damage (for such a little guy) and pulled off a large chunk of skin once in awhile. This isn't OFTEN, I would say once every six months, but it was hard to deal with, since it was extremely painful and without warning. Overall, his size was the big drawback to the breed, even though small birds are easier to house and less costly to feed, they are more fragile. Fragile in the physical sense, being so small, and also, just less blood, and small body means if they need surgery, or they get something like a toenail bleed, you have less leeway. It's not easy to deal with medical issues in a bird this small.

The Good: Curtis was the light of our life, my wife and I's only bird. We travel about once a month for work by car and he was great at traveling with us, meeting people and seeing new places. We had a large travel cage, and a small one for the car. He was always so mopey and clingy when we left him with a friend to birdsit him for the weekend, and when we started bringing him more, he was much happier. He adapted well, he would play around in the hotel rooms, flying to us and hanging out in the front seat of the car, sharing some nice grapes with us by throwing them on our shirts. He loved to be with us and constantly wanted to play. He had a huge personality and was a somewhat limited but great talker. He would say "Hey baby!" "come here!" to get let out, tell us "easy, easy" to calm us down if we were upset, just like we would tell him if he was scared or upset. He would come when called, give verbal response when we would say his name. He would fly with us to the fridge and "help" when we prepared his veggies and fruit in the morning. He was potty trained (when he was on good behavior). He was not always cuddly, since his energy level was so high, he would usually want to just scramble all over us, up and down our hands and arms, but when he was ready to settle in and cuddle, he was sweet and would curl up and sleep right next to our hands. He loved to sing with us, he loved to watch movies and tv, he would mimic studio audience laughter to laugh at jokes. He was so smart and so loving. By the time he was 6, he was a lot easier for us to read, and a lot more mellowed out, we could avoid most bites by just reading his signals. As long as he was in a decently quiet environment, he was not a screamer. He was an attentive, and active member of the family, the always wanted to be involved, and almost always wanted to play with you.

In the end I'd say that having Curtis was super special, he was one of the most important relationships in my life besides my wife and he was great friend to me, even if he was sometimes a handful. If you have time and love to dedicate several hours a day, you can and will have a deep bond with your parrotlet. They aren't always going to listen or obey you, but honestly I don't think many parrots would, no matter the breed. That's more of a dog thing. Parrots are like a friend, you can tell them what to do or change, you can ask them to come and hang out with you, but can't really control them. But just like a friend, they can be there for you and show you tons of love.
 

LSA

Rollerblading along the road
Joined
4/20/18
Messages
4,319
Location
Parrotian Castle
Real Name
Leslie
Recently, a parrotlet in need came to our house. This is my first parrotlet. He still has 2 weeks of quarantine left. When I open the quarantine room door, he calls to my other birds... especially my Sunday conure.

I have 3 conures and my Sunday conure is a major food flinger. She's in a "seed-guarded" cage bigtime.

I removed the seed guards from my WCP's cage and there is a shower curtain behind her and a stationary bowl for her "stew." (I used to say "pellet stew" but anything, chop, seeds, shells, etc. gets dropped there.)

SO FAR, Chirps has not proven to be a food flinger, but I want to be prepared before it's too late. Are cage seed guards skirting out several inches enough or should I get a SEED CORRAL for him, too?

I've avoided the "bag" thing, because my other birds are "bag trained" so am concerned that there'll be a problem when he moves into the birdroom in a coupla weeks.
 

Hawkward

Meeting neighbors
Joined
12/11/18
Messages
34
I just wanted to say how very helpful this thread was in preparing me for my parrotlet. The first post is so so very true! They are cute birds, and I think as they are getting more popular people are buying them thinking they are small, and thus budgie like, but that is so not true. BIG PARROT little body. My fella, Cosmo, is a nibbler for sure, and if I hadn't been warned, and expected it and read up on ways to handle it, our start might have been rocky. I have had Cosmo for less than a year, but here is my own list thus far -

THE GOOD:
For me this is their BIG personality. My bird makes me laugh every single day. He is such a clown, so silly and cute. He recently started mimicking my laugh, and often at the most awkward times, like when I say, "Don't do that" and move him, his response is to laugh gleefully then fly and go back to doing whatever naughty thing he was doing. Which cracks me up, and makes it hard to stop him, and I think he knows this. He also surprised me, as I would say "give me a kiss" and now he leans in and makes the kiss sound in reply! He is just so cute, and I have a feeling most parrotlets are this smart and adorable. I also think he is very quiet FOR A BIRD. What I mean is he does not constantly chatter, and he can go long stretches playing in his cage without much noise. Also a plus are his small poos - something not often considered when getting a bird, but less mess is certainly good! I also think parrotlets moods are easy to read, you know when he is happy or when he is unhappy, scared, curious - you really can tell. When he is in a good mood it is time to get him out and play, and when those little shoulders go up and that head goes down, you know he doesn't want to be disturbed. I think communication like this is very good, especially for a bird noob like me.

THE BAD:
I have not had a bird since I was a child, so my experience is limited, but he can be very clingy. I work at home and so try to have him out as much as I can. But when I am working he will flock call whenever I walk near the room. When I do have him out he wants on my hands or shoulders. I have gotten him perches and playstands which he won't use. If he is out of the cage he wants on me, and he wants entertained too or my fingers get nibbled. Only once he has been out for a long time does he finally settle down, and will be content to sit on my shoulder and make cute beak grinding noise in my ear. This is not an independent bird. And having been a cat person my whole life, this is taking time for me to get use to. This may not be bad for many, but if you aren't ready for it, it can be a little overwhelming.
He also bites and nibbles. A lot. A LOT.

THE UGLY:
They bite a lot! A lot a lot a lot a lot a lot. This is not a budgie that may nip you when scared. They bite to communicate. They bite when excited, mad, scared. He will bite and move my finger if he doesn't want to step up. Occasionally I get bitten because he pooed on my hand and he is mad about his own poo lol. I have two small bruises on my fingers as I type this from a disagreement we had about me removing old fruit from his cage. It is very "my way or the highway" with a parrotlet.
They bite so often I don't even notice most of it any more. This coming from someone that use to be terrified of a budgie bite lol. Some people have had luck with a "gentle beak" technique. My bird laughs and goes back to nibbling. It isn't always hard, I would say most are more like firm nibbles. Doctor Jekyll is ok, but watch out for Mr. Hyde! They are also stubborn. Very.


THE FUNNY:
Wiggle neck! Oh, it is to be discouraged I know, but when they do do it, is it the goofiest looking thing! It makes me laugh so much. And the noise of the bags as mentioned. I can't even get a tissue to blow my nose without my parrotlet screaming up a storm about the noise it makes pulling it from the box, it is hilarious! Their little rants are also so funny, flapping their wings and running in circles lol.



I rambled a lot, but maybe some bits of it will be useful to other noobs considering a Parrotlet. :bpletm:
 

LSA

Rollerblading along the road
Joined
4/20/18
Messages
4,319
Location
Parrotian Castle
Real Name
Leslie
Mine is the sworn enemy of the budgies! But I confess, it's funny when Chirps thinks he should be in on EVERY cell phone call. The way he gets so excited and wiggles his wings makes the preening and ringing ears worth it.

Unfortunately, Chirps has already tried to fight all three conures and my pionus. He must think he's the biggest bird in the room when he's actually the smallest! I have to be extremely careful because Glenn, IRN, will kill him if Chirps tries to fight him.
 

WhoaNellie

Meeting neighbors
Avenue Veteran
Joined
12/15/11
Messages
32
Location
WA state
Why can't you keep them in flocks? Don't most wild birds of all species live in flocks?
They do live in flocks in the wild. I think they could probably live in a small flock in a large aviary. I've had birds that are known to be aggressive, but do fine in a large outdoor aviary that has enough space.
 

PrincessBirdAZ

Meeting neighbors
Joined
6/13/19
Messages
38
I've had a female blue parrotlet for almost a year now. She's my first bird and I love her! Her name is Mantis, after the Guardians of the Galaxy character. This thread helped me a lot in terms of preparing myself to get her. So here's my experience. Keep in mind, she is my first and only bird. So I have little to compare it to:

The good: Super. Cuddly. She's so social and so affectionate. It melts my heart. Her favorite thing in the world are the day I decide to "sleep in" in the morning, and I open the cage. She will fly on me, curl up against my chin and just sit there beak-grinding. Have I mentioned how smart she is? She can learn any trick I'm not too lazy to teach, haha. And she's an incredibly acrobatic flyer. Flight training is probably her favorite enrichment and it shows. She's calm -- lots of training will do that -- and easy going. And she loves meeting new people: will immediately jump on their shoulder to say hi. She also isn't cage aggressive or a lot of the usual negative aggressive tendencies people associate with them because I've basically tamed her inside her cage. She knows that my hand belongs there.

The bad: Gets bored of toys easily, and her favorite enrichment is clicker training. I love doing it, that's not the issue. But it does put a lot of extra stress on my training. And though I wouldn't classify her as aggressive, I trained all aggression out of her, she just stands her ground when I DO mess up. And rightfully so. But she still has a temper: She hates random objects. And when she sees something that annoys her, she acts it out on the first thing near here, usually me haha. It's not really painful, but one behavior I wish she would get over. She's quite the attention screamer when I'm home. But when I'm gone, she's quiet as a mouse.

The ugly: none. In hindsight I may not recommend a parrotlet to most first-time bird owners because most people getting interested in birds may not be patient or interested enough into training them. But if you are, you get such an amazing and lovely and especially LOVING friend in return.

It sounds like you are the parrotlet whisperer. I wonder if you have any pointers for the rest of us on how to "train the aggression" out of parrotlets. Maybe it could help with other birbs, too? It sounds as if clicker training and "taming her inside her cage" might be useful as well. Do tell...
 

birdbird

Checking out the neighborhood
Joined
9/13/19
Messages
4
I love my boy Henry!! I've had him for almost 3 years.

The good:
CUTE. He is the cutest thing in the universe. He's so small, every thing he does is cute, even when he's super angry.
SMALL. He can't get very loud, so even when he's freaking out and screaming, it doesn't bother me at all, and I don't have to worry about my apartment neighbors hating me. Also because he's so small, if he is being mean or annoying I can easily just plop him back in his cage.
SMART. He is interested in me, and if I come over to his cage, he will come right up to me and start making kissy sounds. He's very curious and he loves foraging toys. He figures out foraging toys much faster than the budgies. He loves untying knots, and I didn't teach him how to do that, he just does it.

The bad: NIPPY. He uses his beak to communicate. He hasn't bitten me really hard in a long time, normally he just puts his beak on me as a warning if he doesn't like something, but even when he does bite hard it doesn't break skin. If he's sitting on my shoulder, he will chew holes in my shirt. He wants to bite everything.

The ugly: AGGRESSIVE. He hates other birds and is not afraid to attack them. I either have to closely supervise him with other birds, or else separate them completely. If he can see other birds, all he wants to do is attack them. He won't pay any attention to me if there is an Intruder Bird in his space (his space is all of everywhere). But, he doesn't mind people or other animals. Just birds.
 

Known Space

Meeting neighbors
Joined
6/6/18
Messages
69
It sounds like you are the parrotlet whisperer. I wonder if you have any pointers for the rest of us on how to "train the aggression" out of parrotlets. Maybe it could help with other birbs, too? It sounds as if clicker training and "taming her inside her cage" might be useful as well. Do tell...
Hi, thank you for your kind words.

I think, controversally, I may be a minority in that I do not support hand-rearing. I think hand-reared parrots may bond more quickly in the short term, but in the long term, the lack of modeling behaviors from their parrot parents catches up to them when their more negative behaviors are reinforced by or modeled after humans. And they may start seeing themselves as humans. And when a parrot forgets that it is a parrot, it can cause them to improperly socialize with us. A lot of what people call "overbonding" with their owners, which can lead to aggressive. I actually think is underbonding with everyone except for their primary caretaker.

I say this, because I think many of the more negative behaviors people associate with parrotlets, or parrots in general, are largely exacerbated by hand-rearing. And my little girl is not hand-reared. She was fully parent-reared, fledged and weaned by the time I got her. And subsequently, I took my sweet time to tame her, bond with her and socialize her.

Our daily interactions include training sections where I put my hand over, click, and reward. Physically put my hand on her, click, and reward. Open a wing, click, and reward, etc. And when she ever does opens her beak to warn me, I just hold my hand over her. This way she learns that no bite does anything. At this point, my completely parent-reared little birb allows me to just pick up with no problem.

I've taught myself to ignore her nipping from the day I got her. So by this point, she doesn't really bother with nipping too much. Generally though, the most important thing is to just read her well and to avoid creating situations that are harmful to our relationship.

She's equally bonded to my girlfriend and myself and is a fully integrated flock member. She doesn't get along with my pionus -- a difference in size and temprament will do that, since he's a RIOT (in a good way). But they're not allowed to interact anyway.

So basically, in short. I don't think I've done anything special. I train her a lot, and I continue to reinforce basic taming exercises, etc. And I live in a culture where hand-rearing is illegal so less likely to occur. So many of the "overbonding behaviors" are less likely to be a problem with me. And that perhaps counter-intuitively, by getting a parent-reared parrotlet and taking my time training her, I managed to get a bird that is calmer, more handable and more social in the long run.

I've repeated a lot of these things with my pi: taming inside the cage, etc. And I also only allow him out of the cage if he steps up when I put my hand in it. And I let my girlfriend take him out too. This way, he associates "hands inside the cage" with "being let out". So yeah, taming inside the cage and training them to enjoy hands in their cages has been beneficial to me.
 

alleykt123

Meeting neighbors
Joined
10/2/19
Messages
21
Location
Somewhere near Pasadena, CA USA
Real Name
Lana
With 2 rescues in my home (a cockatiel and linnie), I figured a parrotlet rehomed to me would be fine. After all, I’ve had small parrots in my life for about 40 years. I had no idea what me and the flock were in for...

THE GOOD
After quarantine, I slowly introduced Henry to his new flock mates. He immediately developed a crush on Terry, the tiel, and even did his, “Aren’t I cute when I wobble my head” sexy dance. They eventually became cage mates...

THE BAD
Henry takes every opportunity to chase Howard, the linnie. Obviously they are always supervised for engagement when out of their homes.

THE UGLY
Cage territorial behavior...

I’ve been fortunate about the biting, really hasn’t happened. Well, with Henry. Howard gives a good chomp when stressed...
 

TheBirds

Walking the driveway
Joined
4/14/20
Messages
193
Two months in and I've got this to contribute...

The Good: The volume. He's very quiet and has the loveliest peeps and chatters, a PERFECT bird for an apartment or condo or where noise is an issue. The flock call he does when people come and go is very short-lived and not loud (relatively speaking). He also adores his little fleece cuddly (we take it out during the daytime to reduce the likelihood of him chewing on it) and he'll put himself to bed at night with happy little grumbles. He's very easy that way, no worry about covering the cage up! He's easier to house than the larger birds requiring more space, and is more portable too.

The Bad: Because he's so little, he poops a LOT. If you have him on you for ANY length of time, expect to be crapped on .. repeatedly. He's reluctant to eat fresh foods or pellets, and while he'll chew them up, they all ultimately just end up on the ground. Super awesome. He also has no interest in other birdy companions (which would be good if he were an only bird), and won't even bother responding to their calls.

The Ugly: Like some others have said, parrotlets use their beaks a lot. No joke! When reading other posts stating, "Big birds in a little body" I didn't realize it was bird speak for "Expect to get beaked constantly". It's like they've got an inferiority complex. I tried early on to teach 'step up' so we had that going for us, but he just flat out refuses if he doesn't feel like it and guess what .. I get beaked. He's only broken the skin once, and hasn't caused me to bleed, but is definitely turning out to be a more hands-off bird .. to the point where I can't get him out of the cage some days. He just seems content to remain where he is! The beaking isn't as bad when he's out of his cage, I guess he feels a little less secure and is less likely to kick up a fuss about being asked to step-up or handled And to be clear, to put my finger remotely *near* him (even at a respectful distance) results in the "lunge and beak". Needless to say, I wouldn't consider him a beginner bird nor would I say he's good for children (so although I got into birds for myself, my kids are disappointed they can't be more involved with our new pet).

---

It's tough because until you have one and experience what it's like, it's very difficult to form an opinion and determine if a parrotlet is right for you! These posts here are great but everyone's experience varies as do the bird's personality, adding to the confusion! I ended up acquiring a Lovebird shortly after we got Coco and being able to compare/contrast the two helps. The lovebird - although fearful of hands (which I attribute to a vet visit where he was, apparently, "difficult to catch" - cringe) - uses his beak a FRACTION of the time the Parrotlet does. The Lovie has tested my fingers a couple of times out of curiosity, but doesn't beak me (yet) when he's upset/fearful/stubborn. He's also MUCH louder (think 3 - 4x more noise than the parrotlet) and is more at ease when spending time on or with us. I steered clear of the slightly bigger birds thinking I'd encounter their beaks more than a smaller species (as I'm a bit of a wimp like that), but so far, that's proving to be false!
 

Hermesbird

Sprinting down the street
Joined
4/25/20
Messages
541
Location
NY
Real Name
Cat
I love all the advice on here, Does anyone know around what age to look for that "hormonal stage" I have a female BTW and she's going on 8 months so I wanna have n idea what to look out for.
 

Gigibirds

Meeting neighbors
Joined
2/15/21
Messages
44
What do you mean the good the bad and the ugly? There's only the good, the cuteness and perfection! (hehe, no I know how feisty they can be, but mine thinks that she is a perfect princess)
My baby is a 3-year-old female pacific parrotlet who is the sweetest, cutest, most amazing bird in the whole wide world!
Screen Shot 2021-02-17 at 1.21.36 PM.png Screen Shot 2021-02-18 at 10.12.08 AM.png
 
Top