Parrot Training

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I did my first training session for two cockatiels. They wouldn’t step on to the owner’s hands and always wanted to fly away. I spent 20 minutes and had them stepping up to everyone: the mom, 2 young girl kids, the kids’ friends and the older son. It was an amazing experience to see how they went from being afraid and timid towards their own birds to trusting them with just a little bit of encouragement.

I completely enjoyed it and wish I had more clients coming through that I could help have a successful relationship with their bird. I’m just starting to get comfortable in my own skin with training but by me training the client and having them interact with their parrots while getting positive results, definitely gives me a boost of confidence.

If you would like some help with your parrots please contact me. I charge 25 for the hour and in that hour we will quickly cover your parrots’ regular routine, dietary needs, last vet check and any previous medical issues, treats, training sessions and overall history. We will discuss the issue you need to be fixed and from there I’ll do an FA (functional assessment) with you and some suggestions on how we can improve your ABC’s (Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence) to get the desired response.

Contact me

Parenting Parrots

Uh Oh It Chews!!!!

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No animal, parrot, dog, cat etc will come to you knowing what is acceptable behavior in your home until you train it to know. Will a baby know not to hold on to that glass coffee table if you have never informed it not to? If you say yes, you must have miracle babies! Just like kids need to be taught right from wrong so do parrots. I can not stress enough how important training is.

An automatic thing for a parrot to do is use its beak and for those cavity-breeders chewing wood is a must. How will your parrot know to not chew the wood of an antique clock but yet you give it toys with the exact same material? Don’t you think that’s a bit of a mixed message? It’s hard because you definitely need to provide them with safe wood to  chew and maybe sometimes you would have an item in your household that is made with the same wood. Therefore your precious parrot is going to think that item is okay to chew too. So what can you do?

Scenario:
Sally walks into a clothing store just to waste time before her doctor’s appointment. “Hello?” She turns around in shock because she didn’t pass a sales person when she entered but the sound came from right beside her. No one is there. She turns back and continues to walk but then she hears it again, “hello?” She stops and is fuming because this isn’t funny. A salesperson comes from the back, “Oh, Hi, I’m sorry I didn’t hear anyone come in.” Sally says, “That’s okay but I keep hearing someone say hello, is there another person that works here?”

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The old lady pushes her glasses up off of the bridge of her nose and giggles. Sally is getting upset now as she isn’t finding this funny. The old lady walks pass Sally to the corner where there is a small bird cage but what Sally missed, is that inside that cage was a gorgeous little bird so tiny but such a beautiful gray and blue. The Lady says, “I’m sorry it looks like Lucky was just trying to get your attention.” Sally was in awe. Lucky was so pretty and Lucky could speak English! Sally inquired some more about Lucky and the Lady told her that Lucky was free to a good home that’s why she was at the front of the store. The Lady sold Sally on the bird telling her all the good stuff and a bit of lies such as she is low maintenance just needs food and water, change the bottom of her cage once a week and the extra bonus, she talks. Sally thought wow this is amazing! Such an easy pet for her little apartment. Poor Sally knew nothing about birds but the old lady basically told her everything, right? Sally agreed and took Lucky home.

The first week was great and then things started to change. Lucky wouldn’t stop screaming, Sally couldn’t get any sleep so she started covering Lucky’s cage and would keep it covered. Sally went back to the old lady to let her know what was happening.
“I’m sorry but the bird keeps screaming.”
The old lady said, “Oh dear child, the bird needs some attention, you have to take it out of the cage sometimes and just let her relax for a bit and then back into the cage,  she’ll be fine.”
Sally went home to do that. The first week was fine and then Lucky started chewing Sally’s things. Sally went back to the  store and said, “Oh NO, it Chews!”
The old lady told her buy some perches and you’ll be fine. Sally did just that. It worked for a week and then another issue would arise, this went on for about a month until Sally decided she can’t do this anymore and Lucky was brought back to the store to sit in her small cage and say “Hello” to the unsuspecting customers that came through the door.

This is a situation that many have found themselves in. Educate yourself before getting any pet. If you purchased your bird from a pet store, think back were you told tehy may chew your furniture? I would bet NOT! Anyhow let’s fix your chewing problem. 3 ideas:

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1) Do not provide the same type of wood you have in your household for your antiques as appropriate wood for your parrot to chew on as toys.

2) Train your parrot NOT to touch items that are special to you.

3) Remove all your precious items when the parrot is out so they don’t have access to it. (This is the BEST option)

It sucks when people are misled but this happens to people all the time and it’s the parrot that ends up suffering. Chewing/beaking is a part of a parrot’s behavior so don’t be misled, be prepared for it and set your parrot up for success before you set them up for failure. There are a lot of different type of wood perches/trees that your parrot can explore, giving a variety of textures will definitely help with keeping them busy and stimulated. You also want your wood to have some hardness to it so it presents a challenge. Woods that you should never give your parrots are boxwood, oak, yew, black walnut and wisteria. Also any wood that has been treated can not be used either.

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I hope this post helps!

Parenting Parrots

Target Training

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You have just finished clicker training your parrot. You see it looking for the treat after it hears the click, so now your ready to move on…. NOW WHAT? WHAT’S NEXT?

Target training is your next best bet. Why? If you target train your parrot it will be easier to get your parrot to move from one place to another or get him/her to go where you want him/her to go. This is a convenient tool to have in your back pocket regardless if you have an amazingly obedient parrot. This is great to even teach tricks with, I’ve taught turn around with it several times. Another example of its use is if you have a parrot that doesn’t want to come out of its cage, you can target it out with the stick once it learns target training. It’s very useful!

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To start target training you need 3 items not including yourself and the bird.
1) A clicker (only needed if you are doing clicker training)
2) Target stick (I use a chopstick)
3) The bird’s favorite treat

You start by placing the target stick as close to the bird’s beak as possible (I would start this training in the parrot’s cage) but far enough that the bird has to open its mouth and touch it. Now different things can happen here, your bird can fly away to the other side of the cage or it can lean away from the stick or it can ignore it or just automatically touch it. Hopefully it’s the latter but if not, that’s okay. If your parrot flies away then we need to work on Trust exercises before this. Usually I would have just said to keep moving the stick to wherever the parrot goes until it finally touches the stick.  Then you would click, remove the stick and give a treat however this wouldn’t be very good for your parrot in the long run because it would be exposing them to”Flooding” and we want to stay away from that. So if your parrot is flying away, you need to stop here and go read this post first.

If your parrot is leaning away, you can keep the stick there and wait for the parrot to look at the stick (the parrot makes an acknowledgement of it) then click, remove the target stick and give a treat. You will continue doing this until the bird gets comfortable enough that when you do put the stick in front of its beak, it will nip at the stick. BINGO! Once the parrot does that, we are on the right track….

If your parrot ignores it, you can touch the stick to the parrot’s beak, click and give a treat. You want to be careful with this one, don’t overdo it because you don’t want the bird thinking your suppose to touch him/her and that’s how it receives the treat. So make sure you only do this a few times and give the bird a chance to touch the stick on its own.

Hopefully you are lucky and the parrot just touches the stick but that’s a hit and miss, it all depends on how well your parrot was socialized before you. So you place the stick in front of the parrot, he/she touches it, the exact moment they touch it, you click and give a treat. (If the parrot won’t take a treat from your hand – go back to the previous mentioned post or just drop the treats in the food bowl – your choice!). Once your parrot gets the hang of touching the stick when it is right in front of it, you’re going to slowly put more distance between the parrot and the stick therefore causing the parrot to have to move two or three steps to touch the stick then you’ll click and give a treat. Gradually extending the distance until you are able to put the stick anywhere in the cage and the parrot will move around the cage to touch the target stick. VIOLA! You have succeeded in teaching your precious feathered friend how to do target training!

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Thanks for the support!!!

Parenting Parrots!

Should I take their Advice?

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When I first started being interested in Parrots – it was hard to find parrot training videos. YouTube didn’t have a lot and the worldwide web was not very helpful either. However over the years, it has ADVANCED so much it is amazing to see where we are today. The PROBLEM IS…. Some information isn’t the RIGHT information.

As much as I would love to sit here and bash other trainers and tell you to just follow me and I’ll teach you EVERYTHING you need to know, I won’t do that. How you train your parrots/animals is a personal preference and just like me you may start to follow one type of trainer and switch it up along the way.  I look at where I came from to where I am today and I’m extremely happy. I’ve read books, purchased e-courses, googled online, joined bird forums, joined parrot groups, made connections with breeders and I just continue to try to keep my network open. A lot of people have different opinions on what is wrong and right for parrots, I compare it to having kids, at the end of the day it is your choice. Some people are very opinionated so you have to be careful on how you approach the conversation with them or else it could turn into a very bad interaction very quickly… Like having a conversation about religion – OUCH! I try to stay away. I voice my opinion and I accept their opinion, if I can help better the situation someway, some how then I am all for it otherwise I can sometimes only be an ear. I love hearing people’s passion for their birds even if I don’t agree with all of their methods.

Anyhow back to the main topic: There are some methods some trainers use that are just not giving the parrot a choice and I think this is something you have to consider when looking at different trainers. The word is getting out there that positive reinforcement is the best training method to use, doesn’t mean everyone uses it correctly and completely understands the whole science behind it but as long as you’re following someone who is trying to implement that then you are on the right path. Things to look for…. 1) The parrot is being asked for a behavior not being forced or coercion into it. 2) The parrot and trainer is enjoying their training time today and both are being respected and last but not least – 3) The training session is ended on a good note, not with a tired or worn out parrot.

For example: To get a parrot to step up, you should press against their belly just above their feet. – IF you agree then you are unfortunately WRONG! That is NOT giving the parrot a choice and it is FORCING the parrot to do something. Next option is putting your hand in front of them and using another hand to cover the bird as shown in this video below… Again another method that is WRONG.

Now this trainer isn’t a bad trainer, he just isn’t educated properly.

Now in the below video you can see that I am not applying a hand over the bird nor am I putting pressure on his belly to step up. I’m not teaching you how to teach your bird to step up in this video but this is an example of how it should look and even I should have put my finger further out so he could have made more of a choice to step up or not.

This next video below is teaching how to step up onto the hand and it’s pretty close to what you want to observe… For example it doesn’t apply any pressure to the bird and they respect the bird once the bird moves away so it’s great to see…

Out of all 3 of these trainers the last two is who I would be interested in following. The last one gets my vote because it is actually teaching the step up process so you can see that there was no force applied. Not to criticize my own work but I would have to see how I taught the step up process before committing to following me. HAHAHA, Now I know I need to make a “how to step up video”. So, it is great to see the finish product but to make sure the trainer is teaching that parrot properly, I would have to see how it was taught in the first place. This is the only way to know if you should be taking advice from a trainer or not.

For one more example if the trainer tells you, “It’s okay just keep taking the bites and eventually the bird will stop biting you.” This is a trainer you do not want to follow. Or if the trainer says, “You need to show the parrot who is boss or who is in control or show them that you are the dominant one.” This is a trainer you do not want to follow. Again these are just my opinions but I’m telling you this because I’ve been down this road already. I used to be one that would say, “If the bird sees that you do not react from the bite, it will eventually stop” because that was what I was taught. However now that I’ve gotten more informed I can see how wrong that statement was and how you could definitely be making your situation worse. The sad thing about this is that people are giving this type of advice in all the bird forums and so forth. My hope is sooner than later people will learn that this method is called “extinction“. Although “extinction” can work, it is a very hard procedure to follow as before it works the bites will get harder and harder and harder. I don’t know about you but I rather a nip over a bite that draws blood any day so how long will you be able to “take that bite” for? It’s better to find another way. This is just one of the examples that is very bad advice.

So be careful of who you decide to take advice from: trainers, friends, bird forums etc…. Just always ask yourself…. “Is this advice Empowering the bird or forcing the bird?”.

We want to always EMPOWER our pets. I hope this helps!

Parenting Parrots!

My Faithful People

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Hi Guys,

I have been so busy with the two full time jobs that this blog, my kids, my own life and my parrids were all neglected! GREAT news though! I promise I’m back for good this time!

You can expect 3 posts a week from me and if you follow us on YouTube – parentingparrots, we post one video a week.

So I need a favor… On my site I don’t have an option to send out a mass email so I am asking all my subscribers/followers – my faithful people to please go to my contact us page and send me a quick message so I can get your email. No, I won’t be filling up your inbox with spam LOL! I actually just want to send out my gift to you which I promised that anyone who followed me would receive something from me and I have finally got it worked out. If I already have your email then you will receive an email from me. If I don’t then please do the above steps so I can get your thank you gift to you.

FYI – I’m starting to do Parrot training/consultations and Parrot sitting. I don’t have it all worked out as yet but if interested just send me a message and I’m sure we can make some arrangements for me to assist you while getting my footing settled!

Thank you guys so much for your patience with me this past year and I hope my knowledge, my parrids and my mistakes will help give you laughs and joys and of course education.

Parenting Parrots

What time is it?? It’s Training Time!!!

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What time is it? It’s training time!
What time is it? It’s training time!
What time is it? It’s training time!

It’s Parenting Parrots’ Training Time!!

Hey everyone! I think it’s time we focus on getting your parrots trained or at least listen to me get my parrots trained hahahaha. So when I decide it’s training time which happens once or twice a day depending on my workload, there is a few things I have to make sure I have.

1) Quiet space

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Our training room

You need a quiet spot to start training as you want your parrot’s undivided attention. Now when I say quiet it may not be completely quiet but as long as it is quieter than the rest of the house with minimal distractions, it should work. I used to train in the living room with the television off and that worked perfectly.
2) Clicker

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My clicker – I’m missing the orange button in the middle but it still works

We clicker train however if you do not have or want to clicker train than you can always skip this step. I believe in clicker training as I learned about it from www.birdtricks.com. I have been very successful with using it and my birds look forward to a treat once they hear that clicker. I have this clicker currently however I have been through quite a few clickers over the years and as you can see in my personal picture, my clicker is missing the orange button. This clicker is cheaper so if I need to replace the one I currently have I would get this one, as this is what I used to have but lost it.
3) Treat

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Positive reinforcement is what we are focused on here. When you go to animal shows, you will see the animal do a trick and then receive a treat. Well if it is successful for professionals, why can’t it be for the average person? So we do the same thing. They do the trick, you click and give the reward. If your bird will not accept treats from your hands, you can put the treat in a food bowl or offer something else the bird would like. Read this post to understand what “reward” I did with Ringo to get him used to me being near him. I offered him more space when he would display calmness ( got that from birdtricks). I then removed my hand as a reward once he stepped on it (I think I made this one up hahaha). I find that a food treat works best because it’s easy to understand as it is something that they will not receive except for when training. To figure out what treat to give, do what I did in my above picture, get a variety of treats and see which one the bird picks first, second and third. This will give you an idea of what treats you can train with. In the above picture I have, (in clockwise) sunflower seed, pine nuts, peanuts (not a good option), spray millet, walnut and an almond.
4) A watch

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I train for 10 – 15 minutes. Since I don’t want to go over time, I always have a watch or my cell phone or something with the time on me, so I know when to stop. Even if the parrot looks like they would want to keep going I do not pass the 15 minute mark. 10 minutes is my time, however if I feel the parrot wants more I will do 15 but that’s it. You don’t want to “overstay your welcome”. It’s better to stop before the bird wants to stop, that way you are ending the training on a positive note instead of a restless, frustrated or getting fed up note.
5) A parrot that is ready to start eating

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Grayson eating a treat

What I do, is feed them their daily portion and if there is food still in there in the morning, I won’t train. I wait it out until all the food is gone out of their cage then I train when it is time for them to eat again. If the food is all gone in the morning, I will do a morning training session. If the bird is almost ready to eat again, food treats will be a perfect reward however if the bird is full, why would it want more food?? Even if it is their favorite food. Once your full, your full! If I’m not sure when they finished last, I do have a scale that I put them on to weigh them. I keep a chart of their normal weight and what is good training weight which is apparently 10% less than their normal weight. (If you do not have a scale – click on the link and buy one because it is SO worth it). I use a scale for monitoring their weight as it will tell me if they are sick and it comes in handy for training so a MUST BUY!!!

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My bird scale

Once you have all these things in place, you are ready to start training!!! And remember if you have any issues or questions, you can reach us by clicking on contact us. We respond within 24 h0urs!

Parenting Parrots!

Parrots Shower too, you know??

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Piper on the shower perch

People always seem amazed when they find out exactly how much work goes into taking care of a parrot, but yet these same people are not amazed at how much work goes into taking care of a dog. Why the different reactions?

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I think because dogs have been domesticated and is a “normal” pet to have, everyone has adjusted to the way of living with them. Parrots are becoming more and more popular as each year goes on however they are still far from being able to declare as domesticated and maybe because of that, misconceptions have followed them for years. “Birds are pets that stay in a cage all day long and all you have to do is give it some toys, a food bowl and a water bowl”. NOT!!! Sorry to disappoint anyone however everything you do for a dog, you have to do for a parrot. So one thing that I wanted to cover today was showering. Parrots shower too, you know? They have bath time!

Some will automatically use their water bowls as their bath water when they need a good washing. Others may decide when you are washing dishes is a good time to jump on in. You may have to force some to take a bath until they learn how to enjoy it however either way it has to happen, it has to happen just like having a dog.

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Grayson, african grey

How often you decide to bath your parrot is really a personal choice but because we are Parenting Parrots we treat our parrots as close as possible to how we treat our toddlers. So technically bathing everyday is what should be happening but of course it doesn’t, as I want to give them a chance to do it themselves. Which means… I bathe them as often as possible usually that’s once every other day. In the summertime, I try to stick to this and I like to do it in the morning around 11am after their morning training and breakfast. So then they have all day to preen and dry off, help keep themselves busy. In the winter time I only shower them twice a week. When I have to go to work obviously this is not an option and I work too early to even give them a quick bath so that sucks but if your parrots bathe themselves anyways then you really don’t have to worry about this.

I used to spray mist them in their cages but then other stuff would get wet and it just seemed like a disaster. So I’m trying this shower perch. Right now they’re all timid on it and act shy. The size I have is a small which seems to work okay for most of the parrots however Grayson, my african grey needs a bigger size (medium) as there’s not enough room for him to stretch out his wings and enjoy himself. Boss, the lovebird needs a smaller perch as she just falls right off and since Nyx always takes her showers when I’m washing the dishes she doesn’t use the perch.

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Boss and Nyx in the sink

Bathing your parrot helps to keep the dander down. Lovebirds and African Grey parrots can make a lot of dander (I think Indian Ringnecks do too). Dander is an informal term for a material shed from the body of various animals, including humans, which have fur, hair, or feathers. The term is similar to dandruff, when an excess of flakes becomes visible. Skin flakes that come off the main body of an animal are dander, while the flakes of skin called dandruff come from the scalp and is composed of epithelial skin cells. Quote from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dander.

The main thing to consider here is that dander can cause allergies if not controlled. I have an air filter for this but i still need to control it by making sure that the birds are constantly taking baths. IT HELPS OUT A LOT!!!

Every now and then I will see Grayson take a bath in his water bowl, which is too small for him to bath in but I love the fact that he is taking his hygiene into his own hands. I especially see this when I’ve been at work the whole week. Boss always uses her water bowl or she will go visit Piper and bath in his water hahaha. Nyx used to bath in her water bowl but now that I have her with me every time I wash dishes, I haven’t seen her use her water bowl in a long time. Piper and Ringo use their water bowl just not as frequently as I would like. Marlee and Rasta bath every day in their water bowl so sometimes I don’t bath them as I make sure I give them fresh water first thing in the morning and as soon as they bath I switch it out but I will be getting them another bowl of water just in case they bath one day and I’m not home to change it. Sometimes I turn on the vacuum to see if they will go bathe in their water on their own, I have yet to be successful with this. But rumor is, to encourage a parrot to bath, turn on the vacuum.

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Ringo in the shower

My biggest pet peeve about this shower perch is that I wish it had grooves. When the birds first go on it, they slip and slide before getting their balance. This seems like the typical shower perch as every one I look at lacks grooves or if it doesn’t lack grooves it costs almost 50 bucks. I will continue to use this perch as once they get a grip they don’t fall off. I keep it low now and very close to the tub so if they do fall it’s not a far drop. My favorite Parrot shop has shower perches that do have texture on the actual perch so if I get really annoyed I might try one and then I can do a comparison review.

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Sorry Rasta wouldn’t stay still so I could get a good picture

Otherwise I have no complaints as it beats having them in the actual tub. I would recommend every parrot owner to invest in a shower perch but of course some people prefer just having them in the sink or misting or letting them bathe themselves. Whatever your method is please just pay attention that your parrot is bathing or getting a shower at least once a week at the very minimal. I know people who take their parrots into the shower with them and have them sit on the railing to catch the mist from their actual shower. That’s cool, if you don’t mind being watched hahaha. I’m shy, so I like my own shower with no eyes but its a good way to bond with your parrot by bathing together…

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Marlee, green naped lorikeet

There is bath soap out there for parrots however I don’t use any because if they were in the wild, they wouldn’t be using it. So there you have it, parrots shower too!!

 

Parenting Parrots!

It’s my Parrots’ Paradise!!

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Or should I say Paradise for my parrots? Either way it is a parrot’s dream! A place to go to find all that is needed. A place that I know has safe toys, tools, carriers, food, everything for my feathered friends. It is:

http://parrotdiseperch.com/east/

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I have been a long time customer of Parrotdise Perch. I get my Harrison’s from there along with my bird bread mixes, toys, toy parts, training material, playstands and cages. Grayson, my African Grey parrot has been enjoying his A & E Victorian cage for 4 years now with no issues. I also got our bird carriers from there, our java playstand and all of my training perches. Definitely an ONE STOP SHOP! GO THERE!

I have been to many pet stores such as P.J Pets, Petsmart and Pet Valu however none of them have even come close to the product selections at Parrotdise Perch. Even the customer service you will receive from the owner can not compare to any of those main pet stores.

When in need, I can get advice. The owner Kathleen is an amazing owner, who loves to engage her customers and makes sure they are getting the right information. So when I shop there I know I can bring true questions for her to answer. It’s great going to a store knowing the owner has her own birds so therefore she can really help with suggestions and give sound advice.

She doesn’t allow birds in her store which as a bird owner you have to respect as toys can get contaminated. I’m happy to know that my toys are fresh and not being exposed to any other birds. Shopping at those other pet stores, can put your birds at risk and I’m sure none of us have really taken in the fact that some illness that  birds can catch can be airborne.

I wish I had a negative thing to say but I really don’t except that  I have only clicked with one other person that has worked for her and all the rest I can do without. As long as your interacting with her though, you know you are getting genuine customer service. Sometimes her prices can seem a bit pricey but that’s what I have to deal with for being lazy and not making my own toys hahaha…. I have shopped around for harrison’s and she is right in the same price range as the other places that carry it.

So overall I say PARROTDISE PERCH is a place to check out!!! 5 out 5!!

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a pic of parrotdise perch’s old store.

FYI a lot of her toys are unique, so that makes it another reason to go there!

Parenting Parrots!