In the Life of a Parakeet
“He has become a part of our life now,” a touching line from the interview that we had with Mittu’s family; a 22-year-old ring-necked parakeet.
17th September is International Pet Bird Day. And to celebrate this special day of our feather companions, we set up a quick interview with one of our oldest bird clients, Mittu. We sat down with Novita and her family to discuss his amazing life since day one. So, preen your feathers and check this remarkable conversation.
CVC: When did u have Mittu and how did you get him?
Novita: We have Mittu since 2002. He was found in the balcony by our family friend; they caught him with towel and showed him to us. My brother and I were in kindergarten that year, we got excited seeing a parrot, and we fell in love with him right away and decided to keep him with us. We named him Mittu. 22 years later, he is still a loving and playful pet bird and couldn’t wish for any better.
CVC: How is his day like?
Novita: Mittu’s day goes pretty much like us, he sleeps in the cage at night, but I should say he would be the last one to sleep. In the morning, he will wake us up with all the sounds. We usually let him out of the cage for him to walk around the whole house with us, and in between, he gets treats and does sleep in a corner when sleepy, sometimes he even sleeps with us near our pillow during our afternoon naps. When he’s thirsty, he gets into the cage on his own for water. When we leave the house for work or so, we put him back to the cage as we don’t normally let him out when no one is home. When Mittu is alone at home, he just sleeps and saves up his energy for our return.
CVC: Was there a time that he was very sick? What did you do?
Novita: Yes, usually when we hand him over to a caretaker for a few days for out of a country trip, he becomes extremely quiet and kind of sad though during those times, his appetite reduces and becomes less active. Then once we are back, it will take him a week with all the normal routine to get all active and back to his naughtiness. Only once we had taken him to The City Vet to groom and get a general check-up.
CVC: How is he with the rest of the family?
Novita: Mittu is like a family member to us. He’s very close to my mom as he always wants to be pampered by her. With me and my brother, he’s all fun; we share food, enjoy life with all that naughtiness and love to sing together. With my dad, they always fight (hehe), he’ll bite and chase him away from my mom, yet he loves my dad too.
CVC: What is the secret of keeping Mittu healthy?
Novita: There is no secret as such, we share love, and our only prayer is to have him forever.
CVC: How can you rate your relationship with him?
Novita: This question is hard; I will rate him 11/10. He has become a part of our life now.
So, is there a secret to maintain this long and healthy life of a pet bird? Bet, there isn’t! However, there is a conversion method that we can share for bird parents especially with “seed junkies” parrots that have become fixated to a particular food item, normally sunflower seeds. By providing a balanced diet, we are sure that you and your cuddle buddy will have a long-term relationship like Mittu.
This “conversion period” can be often challenging, so we have highlighted some effective suggestions for parrot owners who struggle to provide a balanced diet to a spoiled bird. It is important to realize though, often these parrots are seen as “sick birds” which usually suffer from secondary diseases as a result of seed junkies’ malnutrition background. At this stage, they should be allowed to eat whatever they like (within reason), the goal is, to gradually introduce them into a proper diet, such as Zupreem or Harrissons pellets.
Follow this routine in converting “seed junkies”:
- Estimate the amount of seeds eaten in a day and only present half of it; then monitor the bird’s condition whilst trying the following: ‘weed’ the mixture, change the balance of seeds away from the sunflower seeds and gradually increase the amount of new pellets.
- Fooling their Sense of Taste. Fresh fruits and juices are ideal in the beginning of “conversion period” as a top dressing on the seeds & pellets combo, in case your bird seems to be still reluctant to eat more pellet, crushing and grinding the pellets into a powder form has been also seen to be very effective with stubborn birds.
- Consider Interval Feeding. Instead of leaving food in the cage all day, try introducing meal times; like 30 – 60 minutes access three times a day.
- Move the cage by placing new food items close to their favorite toys.
- ‘Monkey see, Monkey do.’ Parrots will often take and investigate tidbits which they see the owner eating. Being able to see other birds eating a better diet may help, as well as seeing you eating and chewing their new ‘good food’ (or pretending so!)
- Change the Photo-period. The natural photoperiod for many birds is 12 hours light, 12 hours dark. In captivity this is extended in the home by early risers and late-night television. Covering the cage from 9pm till 9am can change a bird’s behavior and sometimes help with establishing new feeding patterns.