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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly about Pionus Parrots

Maxsmom

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Good afternoon everyone,
I just registered for this forum in order to thank you all for your stories and info about your pionus'. I am still considering one but I have a lot more to think about now. I was under the (apparently false) impression that they were suitable for apartment living. I don't currently live in an apartment but who knows about the future? It's something I need to consider. I'm also looking at poicephalus (namely red-bellied and brown-headed), Greys, Indian Ringnecks and Eclectus. I'm going to peruse this forum a bit more.. it's nice to finally find a forum with some activity!

-Dawn
Hi - It really depends on the pionus. One pionus I have would be fine in an apartment. The other would not. I think with any type of bird it comes down to the individual. Love both of my pionus parrots. Very different and both give me joy
 

Maxsmom

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I have fallen in love with Kobe. Oh what a wonderful description of your evolving relationship. Thank you so much for sharing.
After 1.5 years of researching what sort of parrot might fit in with Boo my English budgie and me, I had to wait a further 10 months to track down Kobe. I had decided on a baby for my first larger parrot as I thought they might be easier. How wrong was I! It was a bad year for Blue-headed Pionus babies in the UK – most breeders had babies dead in the shell or soon after. After repeated heartache, I almost gave up for the year but made one last ditch attempt and came across a single baby Blue-headed for sale in the autumn/fall. He was the last of a clutch that had been eaten by his father, so he had been brought in to be hand reared.

I felt instantly at ease with Kobe when we met. I adored him and doted on him. Things started going downhill and by the time he was 1.5 - 2 years old I was getting bitten a lot - deep and bloody bites. He was also loud – he and Boo would set each other off.

After a lot of advice I didn't agree with, I began researching as much as I could about behaviour and positive reinforcement training. I learned to respect his body language and to ask instead of demand. As my attitude changed, so did Kobe's. It's very rare for Kobe to bite now because I give him no reason to. The rare times he does is when the doorbell rings and he happens to be on me. He gets too excited and can’t help himself. If I have to open the door to someone, then Kobe knows to step up on a hand held folded rope perch so that I can safely carry him to his cage. This is the only time I have to use a perch to save my hands.

I used not to be able to skritch him through his cage bars or to pick him up from inside his cage. It has taken time and patience in earning his trust, but now I can do both with no problem. Kobe is also very quiet now. He never screams but he does do his awful microwave beep if I’ve been out of the room for too long.

He’s probably over bonded to me. He likes to be as close to me as possible at all times and watches me constantly. If I go to leave the room he’ll immediately follow. He’ll sit on my knee or hang off my shoulder (and to think at one point it was too dangerous to have him on my shoulder) and nibble my ears which makes me laugh - then he starts giggling in my voice which makes me laugh harder. I can now kiss him on the beak and head, and he’ll press his beak or head against my forehead and stay there for a while. He adores skritches and likes play wrestling with my fingers, although I’m careful not to over excite him.

He’s always been playful and curious. He’s especially fond of foot toys and playing with things he shouldn't – like paper clips, pens, pushing stuff on the floor, eating the mail, and being a general nuisance so I’ll come running. He was more active when younger but still keeps me on my toes. He likes nesting in cardboard boxes and in cupboards or behind “his” big cushion on the settee.

Kobe has a big vocabulary – he talks either in a little Donald Duck voice or in my voice. He copies all sorts of sounds like tearing tape, squeaky cupboard door, running water and the dreaded microwave or phone beeps.

Kobe’s wings have never been clipped and he’s an extremely fast and agile flier. I love watching him fly. I also love his scent that I catch every now and again when he gets a little excited. It smells like Gardenia and honey.

He seems quite timid in general, is always on alert and notices everything. He spooks quite easily compared to the extremely laid back Ollie. Kobe’s like my watchdog – he spots the postman first and immediately gives his high pitched alarm call. He’s not fond of most strangers. I leave him in his cage when people visit. If he shows calm behaviour then I’ll bring him out. Sometimes he will puff up big, spread his tail and slowly march up and down his perch, stopping every now and again to repeatedly yawn wide. Sadly he has taken offence to my brother and does this behaviour towards him. If he is out of his cage when my brother visits, he will stay far away puffed and repeatedly yawning. Once my brother inadvertently started walking towards him, and Kobe responded by flying to attack him.

Kobe used to get on with Boo – he used to copy everything Boo did. But sadly he doesn't get on with Ollie and acts as though Ollie doesn't exist. When Ollie has on occasion sidled over to him through the hanging toys to offer the beak of friendship Kobe has attacked him and pushed him off the Atom or Boing. This is something we are working on slowly. What I am pleased about is that Kobe won’t go out of his way to attack Ollie for no apparent reason and I still see them both preening at the same time with the same body language which is very positive.

What I have learned is that Kobe is not your text book Pi. He is not at all what I expected which only shows that each bird is an individual. What is exciting though is that even though bad habits can be learned, they can be unlearned again.
 

zuzanqa

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^ i second what maxsmom just said!
 

VickiNC

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I just registered for this forum in order to thank you all for your stories and info about your pionus'. I am still considering one but I have a lot more to think about now. I was under the (apparently false) impression that they were suitable for apartment living.
There are many pionus who are quiet enough for apartment living -- but that's not a guarantee that a particular pionus won't be loud at times. On the other hand, as a generalization, you're likely to find more quiet pionus than quiet amazons, conures, greys, cockatoos.....

From my experience, some species (especially bronze wings) tend to be quieter than others, and females tend to be quieter than males. Also, a pionus who is an "only bird" tends to be quieter than a pionus who is part of a large, noisy group. But again, there are always exceptions to generalizations.
 

dwright27

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Welcome to the forum Dawn. It seems that definitions and descriptions of any parrot species are trumped by individual personality. I have just agreed to adopt a Maxi and I also currently live in a house. I understand what you are saying about the future. I hope you find the perfect companion. Might I suggest that if you were able to look at an adult bird, you could be much more sure about actual behaviors and noise patterns you could expect. Not all adults, rescues, rehomes, and adoptions mean it's a problem bird. On the contrary, it's one of the few situations where you get what you pay for.
Hi Katy, and thank you for the welcome! Pionus' don't seem to be too common around here, and rescues seem to be dwindling as well. But, when I'm ready for a bird, I will absolutely look at rescues. I'm also going to have to read up more on all of the species I'm interested in. I've been told that greys are hyper-sensitive and scare easy, but I'm going to have to find examples of what is actually meant by that. I don't really mind getting a "one-person" bird either, as I'm single and whatnot. I know that could change, but anyone who ends up with me will know that my animals are a huge part of my life and we come as a package deal lol. I'll get him his own bird if he's jealous haha.
 

dwright27

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Hi - It really depends on the pionus. One pionus I have would be fine in an apartment. The other would not. I think with any type of bird it comes down to the individual. Love both of my pionus parrots. Very different and both give me joy
Thanks! I think I've fallen into that trap of reading, then reading more, until a once-difficult decision becomes an impossible one! lol
 

dwright27

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There are many pionus who are quiet enough for apartment living -- but that's not a guarantee that a particular pionus won't be loud at times. On the other hand, as a generalization, you're likely to find more quiet pionus than quiet amazons, conures, greys, cockatoos.....

From my experience, some species (especially bronze wings) tend to be quieter than others, and females tend to be quieter than males. Also, a pionus who is an "only bird" tends to be quieter than a pionus who is part of a large, noisy group. But again, there are always exceptions to generalizations.
Well, I have experienced the noise level of Amazons, Sun Conures, Macaws and Cockatoos.. and I don't think those are the birds for me. However, I am likely to inherit my dad's U2 some day, and even though she does have her screaming moments, she is still a great bird. I haven't experienced the noises of greys though, beyond talking and whistling. And nobody on youtube seems to want to post videos of their birds being naughty and/or really loud lol.

Having said all of that, I don't imagine that I'd ever have a large group.. Especially if they all need one-on-one time. I can imagine myself with, at maximum, four birds at any given time. And that includes if three of them are budgies lol. Currently I'm birdless *gasp!*
 

cetan

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I live in an apartment and have 2 Pionus (blue head and bronze wing) plus a green cheek conure and 4 parakeets. The first pionus was my older blue head who was fairly quiet until my green cheek taught him to yell. Both my boys are fairly quiet although the bronze wing is more vocal but he is only 18 mo old. Ususally there is a little flock calling in the morning but that is about it.
 

samson12

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I rescued my white-capped pionus Samson almost 2 years ago. When I got him, he had rarely been handled and was incredibly shy and territorial. He is 6 years old now and although he has come a long way, there's certainly good, bad, and ugly parts to owning him.

Good: With people he trusts, aka my boyfriend, Samson is wonderful. He's loving, playful and genuinely wants to spend all of his time with you. When my boyfriend is not around he's tolerant of me. He'll perch on me, maybe preen me, and sometimes lets me scratch his head. He is incredibly smart and I have taught him lots of tricks.

Bad: I'm not sure if Samson just thinks he's above me in our flock or if he's genuinely a one-person bird with my boyfriend but if he's with Dave I am typically chopped liver. He's also incredibly cage aggressive and we typically use you a stick to pick him up, but there are times when he will let you use your hand, though we're always reluctant to test that. He's usually quiet, but if he wants attention and my boyfriend is in the apartment, he won't hesitate to let out ear-piercing screeches until he gets his way.

Ugly: Samson bites to bleed. When he bites you, he doesn't mess around. He usually twists his head to break your skin, but he always gives warning looks and sometimes gives warning nibbles before he resorts to a hard bite. There are times, however, when he'll want his head scratched and then suddenly turn on you and bite, then return to wanting his head scratched. Samson has to be the center of attention and when we put him too close to our other bird, he's not always friendly, but will tolerate her presence.

Throughout the good, the bad and ugly I'm truly glad we rescued Samson. He has come so far, especially with me, and his playful nature puts a smile on my face every day. I also have a rescued Moluccan King Parrot, but I'm hoping to get a baby sometime in the future.
 

VictoriaVague

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I'm completely in love with Maxi Pi's but this thread helps me to realise that they will have to stay on the dream bird list
 

Katy

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Yes they can be tough. i think the males are harder to deal with....raging hormones and all. Gizmo has been a very good boy for about 4 months now. But I always watch him.

This morning, I had my hair all the way up in a ponytail on the top of my head. I bent over to check his water was clean before I left the house. I guess it enraged him or he thought it was a monster. He kind of jumped onto it and started to try to bite it, but it was nothing but a ball of hair. It was a good reminder to ALWAYS know where he is in relation to you.

I laughed at him and told him that wasn't very nice. But it was really no big deal.
 

Caz Omega

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My White Capped Pi (named Budgie) is still very young but I have found he tends to be a one person bird. He has bitten my mom and my daughter, although my daughter is still able to take him out the cage and return him to it. He is a very quite bird most of the time and talks and whistles quite a lot in a soft raspy-ish voice. He has the typically sweet smell, which can be offputting to some people as it is quite strong. He likes to nibble on my ears and loves to be scratched on his head and under his beak, but generally on his terms. Of all my birds he tends to be the quietest and least screechy of the lot but also isn't the most cuddly. To me they seem to be more independant but scare easily, the conures scare him off without even trying even though he is 3 times their size. If you prefer a 'one man' bird, that is quietish (no parrots are quiet) and more independent, then this type seems to be it from my experience.
 

Ecostudent21

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Hello There,
Along with our 15 year old Tiel, and our two budgies my partner and I have and 8 year old white cap pionus named Zen. We love her dearly and here is her good bad and ugly.
GOOD: Zen is a darling honey scented bird with a beautiful body of feathers. She loves to be scratched and preen my partner and myself. She adore playing in his long hair and cleaning his beard and eyelashes. She absolutely loves almonds and enjoys a lot of time out of her cage on her stand. She is hilarious having a bath in the sink and mimics my laughter when she is content.I just love when she fluffs up and waits for a thorough head scritching. Due to being re-homed twice before us she adapts well to new environments and change. Sometimes too well! Which Brings me to the bad!
BAD: She is a very curious bird and has to be re positioned on birdy sanctioned areas dozens of times a day due to her curiosity of any new object, general boredom and/or nesting behaviours. This can be incredibly frustrating! Also she is a lovely birdy but many people do not see that as she yells a lot at new people entering the home. Generally though she warms up quickly unless you are scared of her.
THE UGLY: She can be known to bite. Especially me. She has drawn blood once on my friend due to being scared but usually just gives a good pinch with a lot of warning. I have learned to watch her body language and only get bit now if I must move her for her safety and she doesn't approve lol! Sometimes she gets nasty if she knows I'm putting her in her cage but typically is well mannered and sweet.
-Ecostudent21
 

Lisidou

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image.jpg The love of my life is our sweet Grady. She is a White Cap Pi.
3 1/2 years old.

The sweetest angel of a bird ever.

She is actually my daughters bird and I have to think that one of the reasons she is so sweet is that she lived in the college dorm with my daughter for her first year. They were constantly together.

She loves both of my daughters as well as me but the "relationship" is different with each one of us.
Not sure what position we all have in her flock though.....
I bought her when she was just finishing being weaned and my younger daughter and I picked her up from the breeders as a surprise gift for my oldest daughter.
We let her keep eating mush baby food from a spoon as long as she wanted it. This was her special time sharing breakfast with us. (Actually my daughter)


She rode in a travel cage for 3 hours in my younger daughters lap so this is why I think she is bonded with her. When that daughter leaves, Grady cries for her but is so excited when she comes back. She can be gone for months to college and still Grady is thrilled to see her. She recognizes her car when it drives up.

The older daughter must be her "mate" because Grady will only on rare occasion actually bite her, though not very hard. Just to say no, I don't want to come out or whatever.

Me, she never bites and she seems to be the most attached to me. I love that. :)
But.....I am so crushed now. Daughter has graduated and now has a real job. Though I am thrilled for her success, it is so sad that she has moved out into her very own place and of course Grady has gone with her.

I am now waiting patiently on a blue headed baby that I plan on bringing home when it is weaned in a few months.
I know this one cannot replace the void that sweet Grady has left and I pray that it will be as sweet and personable as she is!

I won't be stuck in a dorm room studying for hours on end with the new baby so I sure hope it will be as sweet......


Bottom line....Pionus are the absolute best little bird!

I have an Amazon too, a Blue Front named Webster. He is 27 years old and I have had him since he was a baby too. He is awesome also and I love him. But there is something really special about Grady that has totally stolen my heart!

Good: Everything!
Bad: Cannot think of a single thing except that she is gone now.....her Mommy, my Daughter, graduated, got a real job and moved out with her!
Ugly: me wanting to go steal her back and change my locks!
 

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Begone

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What a wonderful description and story of a Pi @Lisidou :heart:
I'm so sorry that you don't have Grady around all the time now, but I hope your new BH will be nice too.
Welcome to the forum! :)
 

Lisidou

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Lord have mercy!
I took the almost 3 hour drive to visit my baby BH and came home with a baby White Bellied Caique!
This one will be my younger daughters and she is already in love.
Reason I post it here is because though this little guy is fabulous, he really makes me appreciate the sweet laid back nature of the Pi's!
This guy is ALL over the place, plays, plays, plays, amazes me the activity level of this bird.
Like a toddler that has just learned to RUN!
My BH Pi should be ready to come home with me when I am there on a business trip Sept 18....I will let you all know how he is! So excited....
Here are pics of the baby Pi as well as Tucker, the new WB Caique trying to snatch my my Fathers toast!
 

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atomicfriday

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Pionus are wonderful birds. In my experience they take longer to bond and show all of their individual personality, and they can be moody but it passes as quickly as it comes on and you learn to easily read them. My Bebe loved me and was always on my shoulder no matter what I was doing. She always took showers with me and loved scritches. However she did not take to strangers well and would scream if they approached her and would act scared. People she would fly to id quickly remove before she changed her mind about being friendly. In the beginning she would fly at my bf and bite him but they ended up becoming great friends. She was so lovable and sweet, but she could be noisy with screeching and honking. I thought she was a male for two years until she laid an egg. She had the most beautiful feathers and was an awesomely skilled flier. She did not chew except my clothes, she even spoke a few words and was a huge food hound. She was the best bird for me in every way and I will always miss her.

For those wondering about greys, I rescued one after my Bebe passed and he has been here over a year now. He is much quieter as he never makes "bird sounds" unless a towel appears and then he is a velociraptor. He talks a lot and makes beeps, whistles. He walks most everywhere and chews on everything. He's bit me a few times for no apparent reason. He was shy at first but now loves scritches and will step up most of the time, will do anything for an almond. He is cool and he has a home with me but I do not have a bond with him like I did my pionus.
 

Danelle

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Hello. My name is Danelle, and as we're currently researching birds, I found this thread and am glad I did.

Our fourteen-year-old daughter is a "bird person" and, as her beloved bantam hen recently passed, she is now wanting to move up to something more advanced. We've been talking to avian specialists and pet store folks, and are being steered toward either a pionus or a crimson-bellied conure.

We have a fairly busy house, as we have four high-energy German Shorthaired Pointers that like to "monitor the street" and bark. They are velcro dogs, and bring me much love and joy. All were fine with the bantam hen being i the house, and one even lets the chickens ride around on his back.

Anyhow, I've been told that pionuses (we're considering a white-capped one) rarely bite, are quiet, are good "starter birds," are not as demanding of attention as some of the other parrots, and are family as opposed to one-person birds. Yet, the comments in this thread seem to dispute what I'm being told; the last thing I want is a bird that bites whenever it's annoyed or jealous, and hard enough to draw blood, at that.

We've also been told to consider a green-cheeked conure (and are looking at a crimson bellied conure), but I've been told they are loud and noisy and constantly chirp ... we want something quiet, as our dogs are, indeed, "bird dogs," and chirpy-birds will "flip a switch" in their heads and make them berserk.

Tonight, we visited a pet store that had hand-raised birds, and visited with a newly-weaned white capped pionus (or is it white crowned? it was a male, and the front half of its forehead was white and the rest of it was greenish) as well as two blue-headed pionuses. We also took out and played with a crimson bellied conure, also a very young bird. The white capped pionus was quite quiet, very curious, happy to sit on my finger and then move sideways up my arm to get onto my shoulder. He bit me once, but not terribly hard. He was very curious and interactive, but I did notice that when my daughter held him, he kept trying to get back over to me ... as this is to be her bird, it worried me that he was showing a preference for me. He seemed to have more "character" than the conure, but he also pooped a LOT.

The two blue-headed pionuses were both flighty and skittish, and one of them bit me hard enough to draw blood.

The green cheeked/crimson bellied conure, also a young bird, was extremely quiet. He/she sat on my finger and also my daughter's finger, but didn't seem quite as confident or curious as the white capped pionus. A very, very sweet bird that never uttered a sound and never pooped.

We were inclined to get the crimson bellied conure, but an avian person told me that even though this young bird was quiet in the store and in the visiting room, it would likely become very chirpy and noisy once we got it home, it matured, and grew comfortable here in its surroundings; he also said it would not be as confident around the dogs as a pionus would be.

I was inclined to go for the pionus ... until I found the comments in this forum, many of which talked about these birds being "one person" birds and also biting hard enough to do some real damage. I don't want a biting bird. And yet, I don't want one that will set off our dogs, either, by lots of "bird noises."

I would love to hear thoughts, and apologize if this is the wrong thread for my post. I'm new here!

Many thanks,

-- Danelle
 

Maxsmom

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Hi Danelle

Great of you to do thorough research before committing. I would not consider a pionus a starter bird. I am not sure starter birds exist . All companion birds bite. They are not domesticated animals like dogs and cats. One has to learn their behavior and most bites can be avoided. Yet, it is unlikely all bites would be avoided....especially with a pionus male.

I have had a white capped male pi for 2 1/2 years. He will be 3 in 3 months. He is a joy as his energetic antics are very entertaining. He is very acrobatic, bossy, independent and velcro. Male pionus can have quite a difficult hormonal teen period. One has to be committed to keeping a positive relationship and know that it is a phase. Many male pi, especially wcp, get rehomed in the hormonal stage. I can say that my commitment has paid off as I have a wonderful relationship with my wcp but there have been trying times. Mainly the bites were my mistake not his. In a way pionus ARE easier...less noise...but they can be noisy...independent...but he wants to be near me 1/2 time....they give pretty demonstrative warning of their mood. He speaks well and understands context....but not a lot of words. It is important to socialize them with several people when they are young but it is possible for them to choose one person. I have heard female pi are easier and less bitey than male.

I would be very careful mixing birds with dogs. Many people have both. My vet tells me more.birds.are injured by dogs than cats. I would not trust a dog with a bird....I would be very very careful with my out of cage time for the bird when the dogs are out and I would strictly supervise....regardless of type of bird.

I love your description of the wcp. The unibrow, the wide eye curiosity.....brings back memories.

My two cents. ....
 
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