-D- Glossary and Dictionary of Aviculture, Ornthological and Companion Parrot Information


    One of the activities that many parrots seem to enjoy is dancing with their caregivers with the music playing. Parrots are capable of moving or dancing to the beat of music. (see Snowball) 


    Dandelions grow as a "weed" in yards around the country yet it is one of the most nutritious edible greens. It is high in vitamin A, vitamin K, Calcium, and the antioxidant lutein, which is important for eye health. When you harvest dandelion greens for your parrots make sure it is from an area that has NEVER been sprayed with fertilizers, pesticides, or any other chemicals.


    Most people know about wooden duck decoys, but decoys have lured many other species to their deaths. A decoy is a live bird or an effigy of a bird used to attract other birds either for capture or shooting. This is effective because many birds are flock animals. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, market gunners and farmers used live decoys tied to stumps to kill many Passenger Pigeons and Carolina Paroquets - both of which are now extinct. Live decoys are still used now to illegally capture some parrots, especially African greys because they are birds that occur in large flocks and the birds in that flock gather around a fallen parrot making it easy to capture them. The tethered bird calls for help and their flock members come in great numbers to help or to see what is going on. They are then netted and grabbed mostly by their legs and stuffed into crates.


    One of several highly nutritious winter squashes (See Winter Squash) 


    A trust-destroying punishing concept used with biting or aggressive birds. This method was even suggested by Dr. Greg Harrison, a well-known avian veterinarian “to teach” parrots that aggression is bad. In on of his well-respected manuals, he stated that when a parrot is aggressive, it should be placed in its cage and denied affection or attention for 6 weeks. With information like this from a well-respected avian veterinarian, it makes my job to convince people about using trust-building methods A LOT more difficult.  


    Weaning parrot chicks by depriving them of handfeeding to force them to eat on their own. This technique can cause serious weaning trauma, which creates insecurity and may make babies more difficult to wean. Deprivation weaning can seriously damage pet potential.  


    Although it may be difficult to gauge, there is no doubt in my mind that parrots experience depression when their emotional and physical needs are not met. Parrots are social animals and loneliness can definitely create depression


DERBYAN PARRAKEET (Psittacula derbiana
    Also called the Lord Derby's Parrot. This uniquely colored parrot is from far eastern India and the bordering area of China. While the parrot is not considered endangered, some populations are declining due to poaching for the bird trade. When I first got into parrots, the members of the
 psittacula family were considered only as aviary birds. I find that if they are well-socialized as babies and handled consistently during their lives, they make great human companions. However, while they enjoy a bit of smooth stroking and an occasional hug, they are not birds that like having their feathers ruffled no matter how affectionate their human friend is trying to be. 


    Birds that a lay their eggs and will not replace any if they are removed or destroyed. (see indeterminate layer)


    It is important for people to realize that difference between diarrhea and polyuria, which is an increase in the amount of clear liquid in the dropping. This increase in liquid is usually a result of feeding fruits or vegetables and is NOT a sign of a health problem unless it is not related to food consumption. Unfortunately for years some people who don’t want to bother feeding healthy fresh foods say that they cause diarrhea so they won’t feed veggies and fruits. Some seed manufacturers used this rationale to sell more seed for years. 


DIET (Healthy Diet)
    (see Healthy Diet for Parrots)


DIET (Converting Parrots to a Healthy Diet)
    (see Converting Parrots to a Healthy Diet) 


    Parrots masticate and manipulate their food with powerful beaks before swallowing it so they usually only ingest the soft parts or small pieces of food. Once in the crop, the food goes through various digestive processes as it is metabolized. Food is then broken down by gastric juices in the proventriculus. Then the inside lining of the muscular ventriculus (gizzard) secretes a keratin-like fluid which hardens around food and aids in grinding any hard food. (Note: Grit/gravel is unnecessary in parrot diets because this keratin surface is hard enough to grind foods. Through the years, I have known of several parrots who have become seriously ill from grit/gravel impaction in their digestive system because they have been given free access to it in their diets.) From the ventriculus, food moves into the duodenum where bile secretions continue to break it down. Then it passes through the rest of the small intestine and into the large intestine for additional digestion. Finally, wastes are stored for a short time in the cloaca until they are passed from the body through the cloacal orifice or vent.


    There are many materials that parrots can ingest that will become impacted in their digestive systems. These can include but are not limited to grit (not necessary and often dangerous for parrots), ingested rubber toys, cloth and rope fibers, and shredded wood. If these problems aren’t discovered, several problems can occur but the major problem is erosion of the lining of the digestion system resulting in the inability to properly absorb nutrients.


DIMORPHIC (Sexually Dimorphic)
    Dimorphic is a term that describes when genders within a species don’t look alike. The classic example within the world of parrots are the male and female Eclectus although there are quite a few others with less distinct features.


    These foods are so high in pesticide residue that they are best fed organic

1. Celery

2. Peaches

3. Strawberries

4. Apples

5. Blueberries

6. Nectarines

7. Bell peppers

8. Spinach

9. Kale

10. Cherries

11. Potatoes

12. Grapes

(Toxic chemicals in everyday products - See chemicals)

    Discipline is considered to be a form of punishment, however, in regards to parrots, The only use of “discipline” that I advise is a short verbal reaction such as “no” and a short (no more than 2-3 seconds) “evil eye” to communicate immediate disapproval for unacceptable behavior

    There are several ways you can work to keep your parrots healthy and disease-free. The most important is a healthy diet with a variety of fresh foods. Another is keeping them in a clean environment. Yearly veterinarian check ups and a vet visit when you think something is off are also critical. Not exposing them to other parrots that may have disease is also important. (see Exposure to unknown parrots)  

DISPLACEMENT BEHAVIORS (Displacement activities)
    Replacement behaviors developed as a substitute when a natural behavioral response can not be completed. Displacement behaviors are common in companion parrots who continually have their instinctive behaviors blocked. Generally speaking, these activities seem inappropriate for the situation. Parrots who receive quality guidance are less apt to

    Sometimes even tame parrots go through difficult stages for one reason or another. This seems to be more true with young birds when they reach their independence stage and, for some reason, seem to need to test us. Teaching positive behaviors that can be rewarded is one of the best methods to stop unwanted behaviors. When a parrot misbehaves, giving a cue for positive behavior can “change the channel” and redirect the negative behavior. Distracting negative behavior can also make a parrot stop the previously patterned behavior and wonder what is happening. Years ago, one example of distracting negative behaviors became obvious to me when I worked with an 18-month-old previously tame cage bound/cage aggressive Green-winged macaw. He had not been out of his cage for at least a year and his caregiver was afraid of being bitten. As I reached in his cage, it was obvious that he was going to bite me. I grabbed a TV Guide with my left hand and simply held it in the air. I didn't use it to threaten the bird in any way ... I just held it up in the air away from the cage. The macaw had been 'programmed. to bite because when he didn't want to come out of his cage, all he had to do was threaten to bite his caregiver and she went away. She gave up trying because both the parrot and the person's behavior had become patterned. Something as simple as holding my hand up with something in it distracted the parrot from his normal behavior long enough for me to reach in the cage and ask him to step on my hand. Because he was distracted, he immediately went back to old successful behavior and stepped on my hand. I praised him and gave him an almond. Once the woman saw that this was possible, she realized that she, too, could change her behavioral pattern to change his. 
    Other simple distraction behaviors are two basic games or "tricks" that I recommend teaching parrots. One is "Gimme four" and the other is " Eagle Boy (or Girl)." With "Gimme Four", the bird is taught to lift his foot on cue and with "Eagle Boy", the bird is taught to spread his wings on cue. These are both entries in the Glossary. Eagle Boy (or Girl) is particularly effective with cockatoo screaming. If the caregiver notices the warm up or wind up to a screaming episode and has taught this "trick", they can say "EAGLE BOY!" and distract the bird from continuing into the screaming behavior. When the bird responds by spreading his wings, he can reap the reward of enthusiastic praise.

    The majority of parrots are active during the day (diurnal) but some are crepuscular (active at dawn and twilight) and a few can be nocturnal (active during the night time). Patagonian conures, cockatoos and great-bills are examples of parrots that can be diurnal, crepuscular and nocturnal. If you are a night-owl, one of these parrots might be a good choice for a companion.

DODO (Raphus cucullatus)
    The Dodo is probably the most famous extinct bird. This flightless bird was a part of the pigeon family and was native to Mauritius, an island in the Indian ocean. The Dodo was a large bird weighing up to 45 pounds. It was rarely hunted for food because it evidently had a foul taste. Evidently habitat destruction was not a cause for its demise since it was gone before man changed the landscape of Mauritius. The name of this bird has become synonymous with dull-witted and stupid. The truth is that they lived on an island without animal predators and, therefore, had not evolved any defenses against them when they were introduced to the island by explorers and settlers. The species vanished from existence in the mid to late 17th century.  Unfortunately many have followed its footsteps to oblivion and many more will before man is through with this planet.

    Genetic sexing of birds using blood or feathers. The safest way to learn the gender of your monomorphic parrot. 

DOG FOOD (Feeding dog food to parrots) 
    For years some breeders and veterinarians recommended feeding dog food to parrots. Dog food should NOT be fed to parrots. It has the wrong protein/fat ratios, is not formulated for a bird’s needs, and can have unacceptable levels of bacteria and other contaminants that dogs can tolerate health-wise but parrots can't. It is also too high in iron and can contribute to Iron Storage Disease both in Softbills and Parrots, which can be fatal.

    A well-trained, well-behaved dog may be safe around parrots but close supervision is still essential. A poorly-trained dog that shows aggression can kill a macaw or any other parrot in a heartbeat. I know of far too many such situations.Introduce any new animals with great care and intense supervision. Some parrots love to call the dogs over to their cage and feed them the food they don't want. 

    Parrots who are raised in captivity. The fact that a parrot is domestically-raised is no guarantee that the bird will be tame, socialized, emotionally healthy or physically healthy especially if they are raised by breeding using production techniques.

    Domesticated animals and birds include horses, cows, chickens, cats, and dogs.. Parrots have not been continually bred in captivity long enough to be considered domesticated with perhaps the smaller parrot-family birds as an exception.

    Dogs and cats are domesticated companion animals. This means that their instincts and personality have been altered by hundreds or thousands years of living with and being bred by human beings. Parrots are NOT domesticated. The first parrot-family birds to be considered domesticated will be most likely be cockatiels and budgerigars that have been bred in captivity for many generations.

    Sticking your face for a parrot kiss when the bird is in or on his cage can be a BIG mistake. This may also be true if other people are around – this I know from personal experience. 

    This mantra is a recipe for disaster with companion parrots. I agree wholeheartedly that we should not 'FORCE' a parrot to do anything he doesn't want to do.  However, we need to to provide our parrots with guidance and we need to be able to handle them and this requires making them step on hour hand or letting us take them out of their cage. The purpose of verbal commands or cues is to give parrots a clear message about what we expect from them. If a parrot accepts our guidance, we don't have to force them to do anything. Sometimes we may have to cajole them into doing things but if we do it in a friendly manner.

    The Double-yellow head is probably the quintessential parrot. I think that when many people think of a parrot they think of a green parrot with a yellow head. (This may not be as true as it used to be with the fame of Alex, the African grey parrot) Double yellow-heads were my first parrots and I have always loved their gorgeousness, spunk and out-there personality. Although they are often considered one of the more excitable Amazons, and there is a lot of misinformation and generalizations about their behavior, I find them to be very intelligent and trustworthy parrots if they have been raised and maintained with Nurturing Guidance. 

    The verbal command or cue used to get a parrot to step off of your hand. However, the major importance of this command is to provide a clear message to the parrot so that the person can maintain hand control of a parrot throughout the bird’s life.

    These are the soft and fluffy feathers closest to the body and under the contour feathers. They lack the barbule hooks that "zip" other feathers together. Because they don't attach to each other, they provide better insulation. Most parrots have natal down before they molt into their first adult feathers. For some reason when a down feather is molted and it goes flying in the air, it often ends up on the parrot's  forehead making any bird wearing it look like a 

    Air flow in a parrot's area is very important, especially in an area where multiple parrots live. Drafts used to be blamed for just about anything that made a parrot sick. While a parrot that is in a continual cold draft (including air conditioning blowing directly at them) may develop a health problem, normal moving air in a household is not a problem. Stagnant air can be more of a problem. In fact air flow is a good thing, especially on a hot day. Drafts are overrated as a problem to birds! When I got my first cockatiel many years ago, the bird shop told me that I should walk around the house with a candle and if the candle flickered at any location, I shouldn't place the bird cage there. The candle flickered almost everywhere. Healthy parrots have no problem with airflow in their environment.  If I had believed that air flow was a problem, I never would have had a bird. Of course, parrot cages should not be placed where an air conditioner vent blows directly on them or by a drafty window in winter. The same goes for forced air heating blowing directly on a parrot. 

    A term coined by Sally Blanchard to describe a parrot’s excited response to and encouragement of dramatic response from their human flock. A classic example of this is when people reinforce screaming behaviors by either giving the bird treats to try and quiet the bird or run over screaming at the bird to try to get him to stop screaming. Either one of these can increase screaming.

    Both positive or negative responses that may be dramatic enough to provide a reward that encourages rather than discourages negative behaviors.

    Defecation and urination both occurs when the waste matter in the cloaca is passed through the vent. There are 3 parts to a parrot's droppings, urine (1. the outer liquid part, 2. Urates, the pasty white or cream colored middle section and 3. the more solid fecal matter- the color is based on what the parrot has been eating.) Droppings are one way to determine the health of a parrot. However only parrots on a seed-only diet will exhibit the photos/drawings of a "normal"" dropping in most publications because droppings reflect what the parrot has been eating. For example, if your parrot has eaten watery fruit (grapes, apples, etc), his or her droppings will have a higher liquid content. If the bird has been eating berries, the droppings will be reddish or purple in color. Sweet potatoes and squash can give the parrot a brownish color. Some pellets can translate into very solid, clay-like droppings. However, if a parrot has several unusual droppings that are not food related, a consultation with an avian veterinarian is in order. There are a few colors that you need to be aware of because they may mean serious problems. Tomato-soup colored droppings can signify heavy metal toxicity. Black or tar-colored dropping can mean internal bleeding. Pasty lime-green droppings can be a sign of psittacosis or liver problems. A clay colored dropping may indicate digestive problems with involvement of the pancreas. Lumpy droppings can be caused by incomplete digestion, which has several problematic causes. If a parrot has undigested seed in its dropping, a vet visit is in order as it is with the other problematic droppings mentioned above. 

DUCORP'S COCKATOO (Corella) (Cacatua ducorpsii
    Also known as the Solomons Island cockatoo. A small cockatoo that has a reputation for being more independent than many other cockatoos. These cockatoos are becoming more available and more common companion cockatoos.

DUKE OF BEDFORD (1888-1953) 
AKA The Marquess of Tavistock - An English nobleman who was a well-known aviculturist and writer. He is the author of 
Parrots and Parrot-Like Birds in Aviculture which was published in the 1920s. He had a feral flock of Budgerigars on his estate and evidently he went out with his shot gun to protect them from a predator raptor and died from an accidental self-inflicted wound.

DUSKY CONURE (Aratinga weddellii
    Dusky conures are a medium sized conure and are not one of the more common conures, however the people I know who have them can't understand why they are not more popular. If properly socialized, they can be very sweet companions and have a reputation for being quieter than some of the other conures. One of the Dusky Conures I knew loved to do somersaults in his caregiver's hand. 

DUSKY LORY (Pseudeos fuscata
    The only species in its genus, the Dusky Lory is a beautiful bird that is one of the most popular companion Lories. They are busy, playful, and very curious birds that need a fairly large cage for their size because of their high-energy.There are two color phases; the yellow phase and the orange phase. Dusky Lories are endangered in their native habitatsin Indonesia and New Guinea.

DUSKY PIONUS (Pionus fuscus
    As with all of the Pionus, these parrots are not particularly gorgeous until they are on a good diet and in good lighting. Then they are stunning. Duskies are one of the smaller Pionus. The Dusky Pionus that I have known seem to be a determined little parrot. Pionus, including the Dusky, have a reputation for being quiet birds. However, this can depend a lot on early socialization and proper behavioral guidance. Some Pionus will continue their baby begging "machine-gun" repetitive calling into adulthood. This is particularly true with birds that have been  totally gavage-fed weaned too early or who have been force-weaned. 

    The title used by Board certified (American Board of Veterinary Practitioners) avian veterinarians. There are still many qualified avian veterinarians who have not become Board certified




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