Re: African Grey & Eclectus

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Posted by Mary N. on March 10, 19100 at 21:07:58:

In Reply to: African Grey & Eclectus posted by Devin Brown on March 10, 19100 at 13:12:06:

Hi Devin!

RE: “rolling the dice” behaviorally
To have the best chance of having a wonderful companion parrot, I recommend you obtain a FULLY WEANED youngster from a breeder or reputable bird store that socializes their babies. By socialized, it is usually meant that the caregivers play with, talk to, and otherwise interact with the babies, the babies have appropriate toys to play with in and out of their cage, they are not gauvage (tube) or “power” fed during handfeeding and are abundantly weaned (let me know if you are not familiar with abundance weaning), and they are not maintained in a teeny little cage where they can hardly move about. In other words – have they been cared for the way you would like to be cared for if you were a baby bird?

Well socialized babies tend to be more secure in themselves and their environment, curious about their surroundings, and more adaptive to changes. They appear to look upon humans as “good guys” and tend to be more cooperative and affectionate. Birds are very intelligent creatures. They go through developmental stages that are similar to those of human children, and like human children, respond well to an upbringing of “nurturing guidance” (a Sally Blanchard term). Also like human children, an upbringing of low attention, fear or rough or insensitive handling can result in problems that the new owner will have to contend with and fix later on.

If you are unable to locate an eclectus breeder who practices socializing techniques, or if your only realistic source is a pet shop where you are unable to determine or participate in how the bird was/is cared for, be sure to start your own program of socialization and “nurturing guidance” as soon as your baby comes home. It will not be too late.

RE: Size of the bird
The size of your eclectus (and therefore possibly the subspecies) is a preference that is totally up to you. We have a pair of SIs because we wanted smaller birds – (our pair are our first birds!) and because we like the way they look. Other people like larger birds, or like the way the Vos looks or the Red Side, or Grand or whichever.

Get what YOU want.

If you are concerned about problems with one bird intimidating the other because of size, one can never really tell – just as with people. What matters most is the personality of each bird. Some macaws are pals with CAGs and some little birds boss around their larger counterparts. Some birds are incompatible with each other and will never be friends. If you take the time to properly introduce your birds, you will increase the likelihood that they will at least tolerate each other – and may even become pals.

RE: needing lots of attention
Sally Blanchard (by the way, if you aren’t familiar with Sally Blanchard – she is a parrot behaviorist whose theories, methods and techniques make a lot of sense to me. There are other very good behaviorists “out there” as well) mentions three kinds of attention, Focused, Casual and Ambient. Focused is the most direct, hands-on kind – such as playing with your parrot. Casual is “hanging out together” – maybe with the bird on your knee while you read or watch TV. Ambient is the bird is in his cage or on his tree, and you are nearby but doing something else. All are important to the well being of your parrots, but in different levels. For example, if you have a child, you don’t spend every minute right next to the child, holding his/her hand or playing with him/her. Sometimes you do that, sometimes you watch while the child plays, and sometimes you let the child play by him/herself without you in the room. It is the same with parrots.

As with children, what is important is the QUALITY of the Focused time together. I work 10+ hours a day in a home office. My husband is gone 12 hours a day, including the commute. The birds get to entertain themselves in their cage during this time – but as soon as I am off, out they come! I play with and talk to them for a while (focused), then onto the playtree they go while I clean their cage (ambient). After that, they want to hang out with me while I watch some TV read (casual and focused mixed). Then Al comes home and they get some focused attention from him, then back to casual…. Their out of cage time with the mix of attentions is about 3 hours each evening. On weekends, of course, there is lots more time to spend with them!

This would go for eclectus or Greys. I don’t think eclectus need more attention than a Grey. My parents have 2 CAGs and I think they spend as much time with them jointly and severally as we spend with our 2 eclectus. The attention “schedule” you describe sounds like it would work OK to me.

They would probably enjoy having each other around while you are at work. A radio or TV on would be a good idea. Just make sure the channel selected isn’t full of loud bangs or crashing or other “scary” noises. Once the birds are acquainted, you can place their cages fairly close together so they can be entertained by each other’s antics.

RE: Feather picking
A well socialized parrot on a good diet in a suitably sized cage receiving good care, exercise and attention at home is not likely to feather pick. People say eclectus are pickers – but I have heard the exact same thing about Greys. The health and personality of the bird and the care from his humans are much more important in this regard than species or subspecies. No matter what kind of parrot you have, always be on the alert for the beginnings of a feather mutilation problem. If it happens, it is much easier to stop when identified early.

RE: Noise
As you know, all parrots make noise. As a well known parrot behaviorist once remarked (Liz Wilson, I think, but don’t quote me – I am terrible with names) If you want a quiet pet, get a fish….I thought that was funny….Eclectus like to do the morning and evening squawking “thing”. That is pretty much a normal parrot behavior. Your two birds could get into a screeching session together just being happy and making noise. Otherwise, although they can screech loudly, eclectus are not particularly noisy – they chatter, talk, whistle, make all kinds of noises, but they tend to not be loud “upsetting the neighbors” kind of birds.

RE: Male eclectus and female/male other parrot species
I think this would depend again on the personality of the individual bird. Eclectus and greys are totally different species from different continents with different courtship and breeding needs and signals. I don’t think you would have a problem from that perspective (female CAG loves male eclectus). I don’t think you would have issues of territoriality (except normal ones like MY cage, MY spot where I am sitting, MY human is playing with ME right now) or dominance (except normal ones developed by which personality is more dominant over which).

Some final notes-
Eclectus are not strong pair bonding parrots. This means that they are more likely to bond with and be friendly to many different people. While they can have a “favorite person”, they are rarely bonded to one to the exclusion of all others.

Also, be careful of stereotypes. These are often old myths that started back when aviculture was even younger than it is now, and people had really no clue how to care for their parrots’ needs mentally or physically. You are doing the right thing by doing research about eclectus and trying to learn about having a 2 parrot household.

Good luck to you – and feel free to ask lots of questions!

Hope this information has been helpful to you.

Al and Mary
Cabby and Chardy (SIE)

: Which one tastes better?

: No, seriously, I have owned my Congo African Grey for about a year and he's 18 or so months old. I have, of late, fallen in love with the beautiful Eclectus parrot, as I'm sure all of you have. My girlfriend demands I get a male, which is fine with me, but I was wondering if there is any particular chemistry that is known to occur with Greys and Eclectus (Eclecti?)

: A pet store up the road has a Vos male and he's the cutest, quietest, most affectionate bird you can imagine. He is not for sale, but I am basing my ideal Eclectus on him. I've only been an bird owner for a year, but I fully understand that it's a roll of the dice as to how my Eclectus will turn out behaviorally. I also know that you CAN tell to a degree before you buy.

: Between Vos and SI, I understand the SI tend to be smaller, which would probably make him closer to my CAG in size (he's small for a Congo), but is this better?

: I've read that Eclectus need lots of attention. This may be a problem. I work about 50 hours a week. I try to get in a few minutes of quality time every morning and evening, and my bird hangs out with me when I watch movies or work on the computer, and I sometimes leave the tv on during the day, but is the attention needs of a CAG comparable to that of an Eclectus? Would they enjoy each others' company? (in separate cages of course)

: Feather picking is a major, major concern of mine. In fact, it may affect my decision as to whether or not to buy an Eclectus. If my Eclectus started picking his feathers, I would not get rid of him, but I want to do everything in my power to give him a relaxed and happy home.

: A bit of info about my situation:

: I live in an apartment, so noise is an issue, however, the walls are VERY VERY thick, so it's not the primary concern.

: I refer to Ybarra, my CAG, as a 'he' although I don't know his sex for sure. My girlfriend suspects he is a she because he tolerates her (as opposed to loving her) so might a female CAG act differently around an Eclectus than a male CAG?

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