Questions From A New Owner

Constance,I just finished reading your article, An Overview of the Eclectus Parrot, on the Internet.

After several weeks of research, I narrowed my search to an African Grey, or an Eclectus. Upon further review, I selected the Eclectus. I wanted a bird of great intelligence and talking possibilities, while at the same time a PRETTY bird.

I’ve placed a deposit for a female Vosmaeri Eclectus, and am expecting her arrival before the end of November. I am also getting ready to order the book, “The Eclectus – A Complete Guide”. I’m simply asking for help from anyone I can think of, as I want my new bird to have as smooth a transition as possible into her new home.

I’ve raised several purebred dogs, so I understand the concept of the “Alpha” position, and making sure one’s pets know their “place” within the household.

I also am aware that the female Eclectus will attempt to dominate the houshold! Can you offer any suggestions as to:

1) transitioning the newly weaned bird to her new home, which will include 2 dogs and 1 cat?

2) Proper disciplinary measures to be utilized on a bird?
I’ve met with our local bird club/breeder President, and she indicates to me to “blow in their faces” when they are doing someone wrong, and say the word “no”. Wondered if you could add to this?

This baby is nearly weaned, and was raised and socialized heavily in a family, including 3 and 6 year old boys, who had her out on the floor, playing all the time. In addition, they have at least one dog, and the bird was raised with the dog from day one. This baby, not long after birth, was placed in a glass aquarium, sitting in the middle of the family room, so she could always witness the TV, dogs, kids parents etc. interacting – in other words, the commotion of an average American family.

Knowing somewhat about how this bird was raised thus far, can you offer any further suggestions as to how to introduce her to her new home, as well as her new “animal friends”.

Also, one publication I read indicated that a 20″ X 20″ X 36″ cage is adequate for one Eclectus, but you seem to indicate that is too small. Could you elaborate on that a bit?

Thank you so much for your time.

Lori Hershey

Hi Lori,

Congratulations on your selection of an Eclectus. I’m certain you will never regret your decision.

In answer to your first question regarding transitioning the newly weaned bird to her new home, which includes 2 dogs and 1 cat. I hear from many bird owners who also own dogs and cats, and I always caution them about allowing the bird out of the cage if the dogs or cats are in the same room. I often receive telephone calls from distraught owners who, with trembling voices, tell me how “the sweetest dog in the world” killed their Eclectus. It only takes one quick movement to startle an animal enough to attack. We must not forget that dogs/cats and birds are natural adversaries.

I do not believe the young bird will have any fear of the dogs and cats, because she is still learning about her surroundings, and will quickly trust you, as her caretaker, to protect her.

You have obviously read the literature depicting the female as the dominant gender in the Eclectus species. I have a few pairs that would make a great argument for that generalization. However, most of the females I know of who are sold shortly after weaning, exhibit superior pet quality, and with continual reminders from the holder of the “alpha” position in pecking order (you), I think the female will remain a devoted pet.

You have asked about disciplinary measures to be used on a bird. I have read numerous suggestions for dispensing discipline on a bird; however, I am unsure as to the necessity unless you are having a particularly difficult time dealing with her.

The only form of “discipline” we have ever used on our youngsters is what is referred to as the “earthquake” or “wobble”. If the bird misbehaves or bites while being held, it is implemented. It only takes a few times for the bird to be taken off balance by the earthquake to “associate” it with bad behavior.

Since attention from her owner will be her main focus, if you need a stronger form of tough love, you can try placing her into her cage and ignoring her for a couple of hours. This has worked well with some of my older Eclectus, as well as with one Grey.

It is true that some pet owners “tweek” the beak of, or scream “no” to the misbehaving Eclectus. It is my opinion that they do not always understand this type of discipline, and may misinterpret it as meanness. I do not know how effective blowing in the face as you describe would be, but it is not part of our regimen.

Regarding the introduction to her new home, there are a few things you can do. First, you will find that she may be stressed somewhat and may appear lethargic and choose to stand in the same spot for the first few days. This usually passes once she becomes familiar with her new surroundings and people. A few softly spoken reassuring words when you pass her cage, as well as allowing her to take a long, restful afternoon nap each day, will help immensely. Unfortunately, this needed baby’s rest is often overlooked when the new owner becomes overwhelmed with his/her new baby, and lack of proper rest periods can result in a compromised immune system.

She may also choose not to eat during this introductory period, but good caloric intake is imperative. I suggest feeding her all her favorite things to maintain this high calorie requirement, such as cornbreads, oatmeal muffins, cooked pastas, toast and peanut butter, and if necessary baby formula.

During this stressful time, her antibodies will be fighting the effects of the stress, which will leave the door open for the spread of harmful bacteria. A good nutritional high calorie diet will help overcome this possible problem.

The cage size you describe is a bit on the small size, but if the bird is going to spend adequate time outside her enclosure, then it will be sufficient. Otherwise, you will want to invest in a larger cage.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Eclectus!