Eclectus Center International
Companion Eclectus Care
Wing Clipping Eclectus Parrots copyright November 2000 L. Desborough
Birds' wings are designed to enable birds to fly. Bird's wings do serve other functions though, and that is not always taken into account when the wings are clipped. Wings provide a means for the bird to secure balance on the perch and to enable ease in walking and running. Young Eclectus parrots under one year of age are still developing their skills in perching, climbing and flying. When the wings are clipped at the time of the bird's first flight, the bird has a great deal of difficulty in developing normal climbing and flying skills. This in turn inhibits the development of self confidence in the bird. It may cause in some birds a great deal of insecurity which can be displayed in less than desirable ways.
Wings also serve as insulation for the bird's body. If you notice, Eclectus parrots do not have a thick undercoat of down, but rather a thin down undercoat. When the wings are hard clipped on young birds, a part of their thermal control is removed. (Hard clipping is cutting all the primaries close to the base of the feathers.)
Daily grooming of the feathers is the bird's way of keeping its feathers clean and functional. Unkempt and unorderly feathers make flight difficult. Birds have an instinct to groom their feathers. Eclectus parrots will work on their feathers after each flight or handling. When wings are hard clipped, the cut ends of the feathers dig into the sides of the bird and become an irritant, encouraging the bird to work on them often and try to remove the problem. Such daily efforts to remove this irritant can lead to chewing on the cut ends which can lead to feather chewing and plucking. I would not recommend a hard clip on an Eclectus parrot.
I would recommend that Eclectus parrots not be clipped until they have had at least one month of daily flying exercises. At the time the bird is ready to go home from the breeder, I would then clip the primaries, starting at the mid point of the longest primary and making a slanting cut towards the outer edge of the secondaries, such that only the outer half of the primaries is removed. This will enable the bird to make a glide across the room or from the cage top to a chair or to the owner. This cut will not gouge into the sides of the bird and will still allow for restricted indoor flight. By the way, I would NOT take any bird outdoors unless it is inside a cage or carrier, whether or not its wings are clipped. Many hazards exist outdoors: Hawks, dogs, cats, cars and stranger abductions all pose a danger to your bird.
We do not clip the wings of our pet Eclectus parrots at all. When they are outside the cage, they are free to fly about the house, from one end to the other. They will do this to exercise, and then they end up on a shoulder or on top of the computer monitor or onto a counter where we are working. They will also fly to us if we call them. We do not have a lot of people in and out the doors and no small children. I would not recommend flight pet Eclectus in households with small children or with a lot of people going in and out the doors.
There are house rules when Eclectus are unclipped. Lids on all pots. Pots on all burners. When the stove is in operation, all birds are in their cages. Toilet lids are always kept down. Check door tops before closing doors. Pay attention if you are going outside that a bird is NOT on your shoulder. Don't leave tempting items laying around, fruits, packaged treats, interesting equipment with bright colored buttons, pencils, watches, and jewelry. Don't leave any food containers with lids sitting on the counter tops. The birds will remove the lids to get at the contents. Don't leave windows and doors open unless there is a sturdy screen in place. Of course, you never leave poisonous materials around. Our house rule is that whoever lets a bird out of the cage is responsible for that bird during the time it is out of the cage and is responsible to return the bird to its cage.
A HEALTHY DIET FOR YOUR COMPANION ECLECTUS PARROT L. Desborough 2-2001
In the long run, the basic good health of your eclectus parrot depends upon what you do or do not feed the bird. Over the years, when we have received older eclectus from pet owners, we have often found that they were not in the best of health due to poor nutrition. These were loved birds, not cast offs. They received what their owners believed was a good diet. However, there were certain problems with those diets. This has caused us to be concerned about proper diet for companion eclectus. Stick to what nature has provided; it works. Working with eclectus parrots for over 18 years we have found the following to be important considerations for companion eclectus.
1. Feed each day a varied diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, sprouted seeds, and dry seeds.
2. Feed a good quality natural colored pellet in small amounts three times a week.
3. Avoid all manufactured foods (human or bird) containing preservatives or color additives.
4. Avoid all seed mixes or treats containing added vitamins, preservatives or color additives.
5. Avoid fad diet items such as blue-green algae and home remedies with unknown effects.
6. Avoid fatty foods such as french fries and processed foods such as hot dogs, bacon, etc.
7. Read the label of any item you plan on feeding your bird and follow 3, 4, and 5.
8. Be sure to provide dark leafy greens such as commercial dandelion, endive, or swiss chard.
For the morning feeding we serve one cup full of soft foods to each young bird under 3 years of age. Young birds are still growing and developing during this time and need excellent nutrition. This cup will contain a base diet to which other items are added. The base diet is as follows:
Sprouted sunflower (sprout just showing), sprouted safflower, sprouted wheat, corn, kale.
Defrosted yellow corn, defrosted green peas, chopped apple, chopped celery, 2 to 3 grapes.
Wash well and rinse well all fresh vegetables and fruits. Additional items for the soft food dish might include: broccoli, zuccini, cucumber, green beans, bell peppers, crooked neck squash, pear, kiwi, various melons with seeds, pomegranates, papaya with seeds, fresh cranberries, blueberries, cherries, etc. Sweet potatoes and yams (baked hard not soft) are relished as is fresh yellow corn on the cob. Chard and kale can be cut in « inch strips.
For eclectus parrots under six months of age we like to provide half an ear of fresh corn on the cob as a daily item, spiked on a stainless steel rod attached above a perch, and one spray of millet too.
We provide the natural color pellets in a separate bowl, about one tablespoon per pair youngsters.
We also provide « cup of Volkman Custom Eclectus Mix, which contains a great variety of seeds, with some nuts, dried fruits, coconut, red pepper, dried vegetables, and no additives.
Companion eclectus can share items from your meals as long as they are well cooked and not touched by human mouth (we do not want to add our gram negative bacteria to their systems). They love scrambled eggs, small pieces of chicken (minus the skin) or fish, baked potatoes, cooked veggies, spaghetti and pastas, unprocessed cheese, plain yogurt (unsweetened), whole wheat toast, and some birds will even eat soup. The bird's main food consumption should be its own food.
Obviously, you do want to feed the bird at a routine time in the morning, somewhere between 7 and 9 am, and a routine time in the evening. Soft foods can remain in the food dish from morning till evening, but should be removed then. Always wash food bowls before replacing food items.
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