Avian Expert Articles

Why A Routine Helps The Flock & The Caregiver

African grey parrotsCaring for multiple parrots can be a daunting yet rewarding task. At this point in my life, I live with five African grey parrots as well as a caique. At one point I was caring for 23 birds. Many of them were cockatiels, which was easier because they were able to flock together in a huge cage, while my specially abled cockatiels had an adapted cage with horizontal bars and ramps to make things easier for them. Now with larger birds, it means individual cages, play stands, night cages, and some days even carriers. That equates to a lot of cleaning.

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African greys Emma, Abby, and Sam enjoy hangtime on their play gyms.

Benefits Of A Flexible Routine

March 2020 marks my 44th year of living with various species of parrots. I have always had a daily routine. This routine has kept me sane and has helped to maintain a healthy lifestyle for both myself and the birds in my care.  They know what to expect from me, and I know what to expect from them. If their typical behavior is off, I know to monitor them a bit more closely to make sure all is well or if I should contact my avian vet.

I know a lot of people do not like the word routine and advise against it. I do not mean a strict routine of exactly 1 or 3 p.m., but I do mean a soft routine of somewhere between 1 and 3 the birds know what is going to happen. It’s less stressful on them, and it gives me time to be a little slower when I need to be. It has also allowed us to adjust to lifestyle changes that have happened over the years with ease, such as moving, job changes, and even deployments.

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Birds in their night cages.

Starting The Day

Our daily routine starts with retrieving them from their sleep room. This room is in a quieter part of the house where I can control noise, temperature, and light to provide the hours of uninterrupted sleep they need to maintain good health. They have smaller cages that are equipped with a favored toy, appropriate perch, pellets or Senior Nutri-Berries, water and have their own cover.

Each morning, the blinds are raised and covers removed. The birds have a few moments in the cage to wake up, stretch, move around and let loose that mega-poop that we are all too familiar with.

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The flock enjoys relaxing in their sunroom/birdroom
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Sammy takes in the sun.

One by one they are taken out into their sunroom. Once Abby and Sam have a clear view of where they’re going, they actually take flight and go to their cages or trees themselves. Emma, Stirling, Sydney, and Ollie tend to be a little bit lazier and wait to be carried in to be put on the trees. While they relax on their trees, I am busy putting food in their bowls, giving fresh water, checking old toys for safety, and adding new toys in if needed. Once I am done, each parrot gets transported to their cage to go in, eat, and start their day. The radio is turned on, and I return back to their night room to clean cages and set up for the next night.

The birds are content for a bit in their cages while eating and throwing food. I get the chance to finally make myself a cup of coffee and get their bowls in the dishwasher. By the time I am done, so are they. Abby makes a contact call to let me know they are ready to come out to their trees again.

Activities After Breakfast And Into The Afternoon

Abby is the ringleader here. Everyone else is quiet, sitting on their door perches, waiting for me as Abby sounds off. They remain on their trees playing with toys, preening and talking while I am busy with emails, orders, and clients.

Somewhere around 1 p.m., they start to snooze off and the bird room falls silent. Just about an hour later, the room starts to come alive with robust calls and screams of life. Shortly thereafter, the birds are moved back to their cages to carry on their day as I carry on with mine.

Weather permitting, sometimes we have added activities, including going outside to sit by the pool in their carriers, riding on the golf cart to interact with neighbors, or open the French doors to the enclosed porch and sit out there to get some fresh air.

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Sydney enjoys a healthy meal.

Prepping For The Night

As night starts to fall, the birds are once again on their trees, and I start my nightly routine of removing food, water, and changing papers in the cages for the next day.

Each night the birds are offered a nice selection of vegetables, grains, nuts, and some fruit. I refer to it as mash. The ingredients for mash has been discussed and varied over the past few decades.  This is offered on their trees versus in the cages, because it is easier to clean the tree than cage bars.

Once they are done eating, one by one, they spend a little time with me on my chaise lounge as the others play on their trees. As we finish up our time together, they are then transported back to the sleep room where they are given a once-over to make sure they healthy. I gently check nares, ears, eyes, bellies, feet, and feathers. Once cleared, they get to snuggle back up on their roosting perch and tuck in for the night. As I can hear beak grinding from the sleep cages, I wind up a little snow globe that plays “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” tell them, “Love you. Have good birdie dreams, and I will see you in the morning,” then exit the room. Stirling will say, “good night,” and every once in awhile, I will hear, “love you,” back.

Nothing To Change

Even though the parrot’s day is over, I still have some cleaning to do. I return to the sunroom to sweep floors or vacuum, depending on how much fun they had during the day throwing food and destroying things.

With our routine the birds never have to fear that they will not be fed, stuck in their cages, or ignored. Sydney, Emma, Stirling, Abby, Sam, and Ollie are allowed to be parrots; be messy, be loud. They are kept clean, well-fed and taken care of.

I, on the other hand, sometimes need a spa day after taking care of my flock. I need to be reminded I am, indeed, human — not some giant grey bird walking around. With that said, I would not change a thing. My parrots have always been and always will be, my world.

4 thoughts on “Why A Routine Helps The Flock & The Caregiver

  1. I love your setup, it looks like it’s great both for you and the birds.
    And I’m with you on a routine; I’m not a drill sergeant, but it keeps me in line and my CAGP. I have a question: why does Sydney have red plumes around his neck? I’ve never seen a CAGP with red plumes around the neck.

  2. Loved reading this. I’m not sure how you manage. Some days it seems every waking moment is spent doing something for Baron. Thank you!

  3. Thank you Lisa for a great article. My days are spent much as yours. I do not have sleep cages, but I have a birdroom. I clean the bottom of as many cages as I can before putting my guy/gals to bed most nights. I have blinds that I close, and cover a few cages. Tell everyone good night, prayers, etc. The next morning I wake them when I hear my Moluccan or U2 start calling and I go start saying “Good Morning” and checking each bird. Mid-morning I pass out small (thumb-size for large-size birds, smaller for small) piece of “Good Seed” bread with supplements. Some of the birds are allowed to fly in their room or throughout the house. Lunch or seeds (once a week) are passed out. I do my errands in the afternoon. The larger birds rotate in getting out just before bedtime. Bed-time treats are passed out, and good nights said.

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