The Meyer's Parrots or Brown Parrots (Poicephalus meyeri) have gained popularity as pets for a variety of reasons ....
Suitability as Pets
A well-socialized Meyer's Parrot generally has a sweet personality - quite similar to that of the popular, and generally better known Senegal Parrot. Although some opine that the Meyer's may have a little milder disposition than its cousin.
Hand-raised Meyers are generally friendly, affectionate and playful. It is important to familiarize and socialize them with the entire family, or they will bond to one person only. Well-socialized Meyer's Parrots enjoy being the center of attention and generally make great family birds.
Meyers adapt readily to new surroundings and should be well adapted to many novel experiences at a young age. Adult birds are less adaptable to unfamiliar environments and dietary changes.
They become more independent as they reach sexual maturity. Adult males may become aggressive during breeding season. (Please refer to hormonal behavior page for information.)
Generally, they are not demanding birds and are happy to keep themselves busy with their toys for stretches during the daytime. A spacious cage that accommodates plenty of toys and still allows your pet room for moving around is a must - particularly for any bird that is confined to a cage for longer stretches during the daytime. Those birds who spend most of their time outside their cage do fine in smaller cages, as long as they can still freely flap their wings and have some toys to occupy themselves with.
Calls / Vocalizations
These parrots are generally quiet and unlikely to annoy neighbors, which makes them a good choice for apartment dwellers.
Their natural vocalizations consist of screeches, or when they are alarmed they will growl which can then escalate into shrieking cries. They may also mimic sounds they hear in their environment.
Even though they are not the greatest talkers, they may learn to say a few words.
Care and Feeding:
Meyer's Parrots are active little parrots that love to climb and play. It is important to make sure that they get 10 to 12 hours of undisturbed sleep a day.
They need to be provided with a roomy cage with the following MINIMUM dimensions: 20" long x 20" deep x 18" high. Ideally, it should be closer to 40" long x 20" deep to 32" high with a bar spacing of 5/8" to 3/4". The smaller the cage, the less time a bird should be forced to spend in it. You have to remember, that a cage is not just a place to "store" birds, but it should be your pet's home -- it needs to be able to move around freely, flap its wings -- and should have room for lots of toys to entertain your pet with. Amongst their favorite toys are love swings and boings. Don't overstuff the cage though -- your pet should have sufficient room to fly or at least flap its wings.
Since these little parrots like to climb, cages with horizontal bars (at least on two sides) work best as they will allow your pet to climb around more easily. Offering a separate play gym either on top of the cage or as a separate item, will provide a safe place to hang out when your pet is out of its cage.
Natural wood perches are always best, but it's also a good idea to keep a grooming perch in its cage as well, to keep the nails naturally groomed. A filled food and water dish should be available at all time. They like to bathe -- so a bath house with a textured bottom or a shallow bathing dish are favorites. Some birds like to shower under a slow running faucet. Provide a breeding box if you have a compatible pair and wish to breed them. Some birds may like a box for roosting -- which is especially important in places where it gets colder as a roosting box offers some protection from draft and chill.
Their natural diet includes fruits, berries, flowers, seeds, nuts, as well as the occasional insect. They may also forage on cultivated crops.
Captive birds need a varied diet to stay healthy. To start with, it's important to choose a high-quality dry parrot mix containing a mixture of canary grass seed, white / red / yellow millets, oats and groats, niger seed, linseed, as well as thistle, anise, rape, sesame and safflower seeds. Some mixes contain dehydrated fruits and veggies, as well as herbs / greens.
Dr. Harvey's Bird Food Mixes or Lafeber are convenient options that lack many of the harmful additives that are commonly found in commercial mixes and have a great variety of quality ingredients (including dried fruits, veggies, herbs / greens and even superfoods, such as bee pollen!) - in short: myriad nourishing ingredients that are not found in other commercially available bird mixes. However, our biggest grievance with their products is that they use sulphurated dried produce (a process which also requires chemicals), but it is very difficult to find mixes with unsulphurated fruits and veggies. You could just buy the seeds, nuts and grain mix and buy human-grade unsulphurated dried produce / greens as well as bee pollen and mix them in.
Even organic trail mixes (WITHOUT CHOCOLATE!) work great. With a little creativity you can put a mix together that offers superior nutrition without the chemicals typically found in commercial brands.
Of course, fresh drinking and bathing water should always be available.
Also please check out this webpage:
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
Training and Behavioral Guidance:
Pet parrots generally present challenges, such as excessive chewing - especially at certain stages in their life. They do discover their beaks as method of "disciplining us" once they are out of the "baby stage" and they can generally be somewhat naughty, and it really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established. Undisciplined parrots will chew on electric wiring potentially causing house fires. They regard anything in your home as a "toy" that can be explored and chewed on; destroying items that you may hold dear or are simply valuable. Even a young bird that has not been neglected and abused requires proper guidance; this becomes even more challenging when it involves a rescued bird that may require rehabilitation.
- Web Resources: I put together web resources for you to help you understand your pet bird and properly direct him. Please visit the following website to learn more about parrot behavior and training.
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