Saturday, August 16, 2008

Defying "The Myth Of The Unmanegable Sexually Mature Male Amazon"

Defying "The Myth Of The Unmanegable Sexually Mature Male Amazon" by Shari Beaudoin

Shari Beaudoin has recently (August 2006) taken on the role of President for The Amazona Society. Although she lives and works with many companion birds, Amazons have always had a special place in her heart.

Along with her husband Terry and son, Troy, she owns and operates Parrot Island, Inc., a highly respected quality Parrot Specialty Store in the Minneapolis area.

Shari is a Certified Parrot Behavior Consultant with the IAABC /(International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants) /who does both telephone and in home consultations for companion parrots owners.

As an author, Shari is a regular contributor to The Companion Parrot Quarterly and Companion Parrot in Japan. Her numerous articles have also been published in Bird Talk, The Island Times, The Parrot Education Journal, The Amazona Quarterly, and numerous parrot clubs throughout the U.S., Canada, The Netherlands, Spain, and The U.K.

Shari’s flock consists of her beloved Double Yellow-headed Amazon, Lt. Columbo, two Black-capped Caiques, Scooter and Skeeter, a Vasa Parrot, Gadget, and a Hyacinth Macaw, Mateo. She also shares her life with a Standard Poodle named Leon and 12 beautiful Japanese Koi.

Defying The Myth Of The Unmanegable Sexually Mature Male Amazon

Lt. Columbo, my male Double Yellow-headed Amazon, Amazona ochrocephala oratrix, is the perfect myth buster when it comes to discussions regarding unmanageable, sexually mature, male Amazon Parrots, or what I call "THE USMMA's". Many people are of the belief that all or most sexually mature male Amazon parrots will ultimately become unmanageable, aggressive, biting screamers.

As of the date of this article, Lt. Columbo is 10 years of age, and sexually mature, yet he remains gentle, playful, vocal, outgoing, and friendly. He is not a one person bird, in fact he enjoys interaction with numerous people. So why is it that Lt. Columbo has not fallen into the "USMMA" category?

It is my belief that it is a comprehensive combination of many factors that have contributed to Lt. Columbo's indulgent nature. In an attempt to better understand why Lt. Columbo is the way he is - I will discuss a number of what I feel are the most important of these factors.

Veterinary Care

In the case of either a juvenile or an adult Amazon parrot it is important that the bird is in good health and maintaining an optimal weight. Poor health is often the cause of many behavioral problems. All of these problems may not be fatal or disease related, but many may cause enough discomfort to cause a bird to become sedate, unwilling to play, and down right cantankerous. Lt. Columbo receives annual well bird exams by a qualified Avian Veterinarian. During these exams he has regular blood work done and his annual polyoma virus vaccine along with a crop swab and a fecal smear. I have chosen to have periodic x-rays (every two years or so) to establish a good baseline for what is normal for him. I also pay close attention to the bottoms of Lt. Columbo's feet. Amazon parrots are solid, stocky birds and therefore can be prone to foot sores. I prefer to use rope perches or Vet-wrap (a spongy tape that sticks to itself) to wrap around portions of natural wood perches. I am especially careful to make sure that the perch he sleeps on (usually the highest in his cage) is soft. Wooden dowel perches, cement, or any perches that are rough on top or lack any variance in diameter, are very hard on an Amazon's feet. These perches force the bird's feet to remain in one position causing constant wear on one area of the foot. The feet can become almost raw on the bottoms. Often times when I talk to people with parrots in their teens and above (I have seen Amazons that are not even 5 years of age show foot problems), one of the first things I ask about is the condition of the bird's feet. I often wonder if some of these birds feet have become so sore and arthritic that it is painful for them to move around, causing them to become sedate and aggressive when asked to do so.

Determining A Healthy Weight

Amazon parrots are prone to obesity making it very important to determine the individual bird's optimal weight. Once you and your veterinarian have made this determination, your bird's weight should be monitored at home weekly with an accurate precision gram scale (accurate to within 1 gram).

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