- G - Glossary and Dictionary

GALAH (see Rose-breasted Cockatoo) 
    The Australian name for the Rose-breasted Cockatoo. In Australia there is an expression that 

GALERITA COCKATOO (Cacatua galerita galerita
    Also known as the greater sulfur-crested cockatoo. The largest of the sulfur-crested cockatoos and the nominate species. For the most part the Galerita Cockatoos are considered to be one of the gentlest of the 'toos. They were very difficult to find several years ago and although they are still relatively rare as companions, they are becoming more popular. Like many cockatoos, these birds have a tendency for overweight and should be fed a low-fat diet. 

   Galvanized wire is coated in zinc, which can be toxic to parrots if it ingested. When you buy a cage or outdoor aviary, it is best to avoid this type of wire and stick with stainless steel. While it is more expensive, zinc toxicity can create serious health problems and eventually even kill a parrot as it builds up in the bird's body. 

    Parrots are smart enough to manipulate us into playing games using their rules. The wise parrot caregiver learns to play the game but to substitute their own rules so their parrots don't always get the best of them. 

    According to a breeder I visited, clutches of some parrots will form "gangs" and actually harass other young parrots. I have seen this with Caiques and Hahn's macaws but I would imagine it happens with other parrots also.

GANG GANG COCKATOO (Callocephalon fimbriatum) 
    A unique cockatoo from the higher altitude old growth eucalyptus forests of southeast coastal Australia. Due to a loss of these loss of feeding habitat and clearing of the old growth forests, this unusual cockatoo status has been changed to endangered vulnerable. The male and female are sexually dimorphic. Although this bird is rare in aviculture, it is being bred in the United States but is even rarer as a companion costing around $15,000 if you can find one. I was lucky enough several years ago to be visiting a breeder who had two babies and got to play with them. They are genuinely one of the cutest babies I have ever met.

GAPEWORM (Syngamus trachea
    A parasitic nematode that infects the trachea of some birds mostly chickens and turkeys although it has been found in some birds kept in outdoor aviaries. The worms multiply and become so plentiful that the bird has trouble breathing. If not treated, the bird could die.The major symptom is distress with a continual stretching of the neck and sometimes the bird will kick at the throat with its foot. Treatment is usually successful with injections of Ivermectin. When I first got Bongo Marie in 1976, this was suggested as one of her many health problems because it was believed that some imported greys might have the problem. She didn't and I haven't heard of it in companion parrots or birds kept indoors. Don't worry - just about all parrots will stretch their necks out and many kick at their throat from time to time for one reason or another. 

    A begging behavior of baby birds that starts shortly after hatching. With parrots, this wide mouth begging also involves a repetitive begging call. Many finches have special "spots" in the inside of their mouths that trigger feeding from their parents. 

    Also called Tube Feeding. Feeding by inserting a tube down the throat and into the crop. This method bypasses any manipulation with the beak and teaches bappies nothing about eating. While all breeders and handfeeders should know how to gavage feed in case of an emergency, it should not be the primary method of feeding in a quality aviary. Years ago a production-type breeder screamed at me when I gave a program at her bird club. She said, "I feed 80 birds at a time. What do you want me to do throw up for them?!?" I think this clearly showed her commitment to raising well-socialized baby parrots.  

    With most parrots, it is difficult to determine their gender without having them DNA sexed. Consequently it is often difficult to know what characteristics are different in the males and hens of a species. But THEY know the differences. See Monomorphic (sexes the same)  and Dimorphic (sexes different). 

    Blanket, stereotypical statements about parrots such as All __ are ___. Very few, if any, of these types of statements ever apply to life with companion parrots. 

    The hereditary units of a chromosome. Although some of the traits of a parrot are genetic, a great deal of who they become and are is based on learning so teach them well!

    The scientific study of genes and heredity.

    A group of species with similar physical characteristics and genetic make-up. They all have a common ancestor. 

    Patterning and calming exercises that help keep companion parrots tame to the people in their lives. 

In the late 1970's I began to realize that my late great African Grey Bongo Marie was different in appearance than the Congo greys I was seeing. She was smaller and darker with more delicate facial features. After doing some research I decided that she was a true Ghana grey, a race of African greys. I saw a few more but haven't seen any for years now. The ones that came into this country were probably bred to Congo greys.

    A pathogenic parasite that lives in water and can infect parrots. Some parrots who have giardia are not symptomatic while others can develop severe itching resulting in feather picking. The normal feather picking pattern usually starts on the bird’s sides underneath the wings and on the shoulders. People used to think that Giardia was only common in cockatiels but this parasite has been found in just about every companion parrot species. The drawing below is of a scarlet macaw that had a severe giardia problem that was not diagnosed until the bird became a serious feather picker due to the skin irritation it suffered.

    An instructional game to play with parrots. Once parrots learn interactive games with their caregivers, these games or "tricks" can often distract the bird from negative behaviors into praiseworthy behaviors. "Gimme four" is as simple as gently pushing up one of the parrot's feet and sayin "gimme four." Repeat is 4-5 times each session and have a session at least everyday. It can be amazing how quickly a parrot can pick this up. One Mollucan cockatoo learne "gimme four" after about 8 repetitions accompanied with praise. 

    Also called the ventriculus, the lower part of a bird's two part stomach, the gizzard is an organ in the digestive tract of birds that acts as a food grinder in their absorption of food. 

    Sally Blanchard’s recipe for a parrot mash that consists of whole grains (toasted low salt whole-grain bread can work), mashed sweet potatoes, and non-fat yogurt mashed together with other nutritionally valid foods. 

GLAUCOUS MACAW (Anodorhynchus glaucus
    A close relative of the Hyacinth macaw. This macaw is presumed to be extinct as there have been no records of sightings since 1960.

GOFFIN'S COCKATOO (Cacatua goffiniana
    Also known as the Tanimbar Cockatoo because they are native to the Tanimbar islands of Indonesia where they are near threatened because of habitat destruction and capture for the pet trade. Goffin's cockatoos are one of the most popular companion cockatoos. As a smaller corella, they are an easier companion for some people than the larger cockatoos. However, if they don't receive behavioral guidance they can be just as problematic as far as feather problems, screaming and aggression are concerned. Well-loved and well-behaved Goffin's can be very clever and often have a delightfully clownish personality. 

    Also called wolfberry. Goji berries have been used by Chinese herbalists for thousands of years and have recently been hyped as a super food. They are usually found dried or dehydrated and the quality of processing can determine the actual nutritional content. Goji berries are rich in antioxidants, particularly carotenoids such as beta-carotene and also have many vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. They are high in iron, which may be a problem in feeding too many to parrots. 

GOLD-CAPPED CONURE (Aratinga auricapilla ) 
    The Gold-capped conure is native to areas of Paraguay and Brazil. They are threatened in their natural habitats because of habitat destruction. As companions, these medium-large conures are quite sociable and playful. They need lots to do with play and foraging opportunities. They can learn a few words but are not know as prolific talkers. Their noise level depends a lot on their household and guidance. 

    Goes under several names throughout the world. Inca berry and cape gooseberry are one. This berry is rich in polyphenols and carotenoids and they are believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They are also a good source for the minerial phosphorous and vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6, B12, and for a fruit are high in protein.

GOLDEN CONURES (Guaruba guarouba)
    Also called Queens (for Queen of Bavaria Conure) These highly sociable conures are CITES appendix I and are now seriously endangered in the wild, It against the law to transport them across state lines without a permit. I have had the extreme pleasure of visiting Nancy Speed's aviary and standing in a building with close to a hundred of these conures. The sound was defining and high-pitched but the birds were breathe-taking. I have seen many Queens before but never so many in one place before. Again as with most endangered parrots, these parrots have declining wild populations because of habitat destruction and poaching for the pet trade. Populations of this species suffered severely when a dam and highway was built that divided their roosting grounds and that was enough to threaten the Queen's "flock traditions" resulting in a downturn in breeding success and populations. 

GOLDEN-SHOULDERED PARROT (Psephotus chrysopterygius
    The Australian Golden-shouldered Parrot is also called the Anthill Parrot because it nests in termite mounds and anthills. This parrot has been extirpated from much of its range and is considered endangered due to the burning of its habitat for cattle raising. 

GOLDIE'S LORIKEET (Psitteuteles goldiei) 
    These colorful little gems are from the highlands of New Guinea. I have met about a dozen of them and think that they are one of the most delightful little birds I have seen. They are not noisy and are very sociable little acrobats.

    Famous English bird illustrator (1804-1881) who illustrated many Australian parrots and birds from around the world.

    Basically gout is a disease where the kidneys aren’t working properly and there is a high level of buildup of urates in the body. Articular gout can cause painful swelling of the legs and feet. Visceral gout involves a build up of urate crystals in and around the internal organs. While excessive consumption of protein is often blamed for gout in parrots, I agree with others who are concerned about all the chemicals and artificial ingredients in manufactured parrot diets. It is my belief that these are and will be a major cause of health problems in parrots ... including gout. 

GRAINS (in parrot diets)
    Whole grains are an important part of a parrot’s diet. Some grains that are highly suggested are amaranth, flax, and oats.  Cooked Quinoa is a wonderful part of a parrots diet but it is a seed and not actually a grain.

    GSE can be used as a safe and natural disinfectant to wash and soak various fresh foods to remove a host of dangerous bacteria.

For the most part grapes are sugary empty calories for parrots although they do have some vitamin C and vitamin K.  CAUTION: grapes are considered to be toxic for dogs so if you do feed them to your parrots, make sure that they don't feed them to your dogs.

    A term used to describe a variety of small, long-tailed parrot family birds from Australia. Most are in the Genus Neophema and its group includes: Blue-winged Grass Parakeets, Elegant Parakeets, Orange bellied Parakeets, Rock Parrots, Scarlet-chested Parakeets; Turquoise Parakeets, and the Bourke's parakeets. These parrot-family birds are often kept in outdoor aviaries but some are successfully kept as companions

I personally do not like grates in the bottom of my cages. I think it makes the cages very difficult to clean and prevents cage floor play opportunities. 

GRAY-CHEEK PARAKEET (Brotegeris pyrrhopterus)
Often called the "Pocket parrot", the gray-cheek was a common and very popular little parrot before importation stopped in 1991. The gray-cheek is from Peru and Ecuador west of the Andes. Due to capture for the pet trade, they have suffered a serious decline in their native habitat. These birds that were imported by the thousands seemed to arrive tame. I worked with a lot of them and as far as handling, they were fast to learn and accept human companionship. One of the serious problems is that these personable parrots were prone to avian tuberculosis and few imported birds lived a long healthy life. These little birds are accidents waiting to happen as they love to explore and also seem to think that they are big birds and often go after larger parrots. Gray-cheeks also have not bred well in captivity so they can be difficult to find as a companion. One possible problem with the gray-cheek as a companion is that it can be very noisy for a bird its size. They are smart little birds and a knowledgeable caregiver can teach positive behaviors to keep their noise at a tolerable level.

GREAT-BILLED PARROT (Tanygnathus megalorhynchos) 
    The largest and most common member of the Tanygnathus family, the Great-bill is a very unique parrot with its own personality. Probably the parrot that is the closest in personality and behavior is the Eclectus. Like the Eclectus, they are not a parrot that likes to have their feathers ruffled by their caregivers. Tame, well-socialized birds can appreciate gentle stroking and a bit of hugging. Companion great-bills like to be where the action is and are true spectators of what goes on around them. It's wild diet  consists of various native fruits, flowers, berries and nuts and great-bills in captivity do well on a diet of fresh foods. For the most part, great-bills are great eaters and love their fresh foods. As with the Eclectus, a diet that primarily consists of pellets is NOT recommended. In fact many of the people who are knowledgeable about these parrots believe that they should not be fed any pellets. The Great-billed parrot is endemic to several islands in south-east Indonesia and the Philippines. Several of the islands have their own sub-species. While it is fairly rare as a companion, its wild populations are not considered to be threatened at this time. These parrots are crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk) and may also be nocturnal to some extent. I am generally a night person and at one point considered getting a Great-bill to keep me company in the evening.   


Green beans are not one of the most nutritional veggies but they do have vitamin A, C, and K so they are a great food to feed parrots. My parrots enjoy them because of their play value, texture and the fact that they can hold them in their foot.

    Green tea is a powerhouse of nutrition and something that parrots can drink in moderation. It is rich in a powerful antioxidant called catechin polyphenols. Green tea also contains vitamins A, D, E, C, B, B5, H and K, as well as amino acids, protein, caffeine, folic acid, and fluoride. It does contain some caffeine but far less than black tea and coffee.  There are those that believe that giving parrots - particularly macaws - green tea a few times a week can work as a preventative so that birds don't develop Iron Storage Disease. This is because the tannins in the tea prevent the absorption of iron. (see Iron storage disease) 

Dr. Greene was a prominent "aviarist" in the late 1800s and the author of Parrots in Captivity published in 3 volumes from 1884-1887. Thankfully, during his time he was an outspoken critic of the ignorant concept that African greys didn't need to drink water.

    One of the most nutritious foods for parrots. The best ones are dandelion greens, collards, turnip greens, mustard greens, and kale. Spinach, chard, and parsley are high in vitamin A but have oxalic acid, which binds the calcium in that food and makes it unusable.

GREEN-CHEEKED AMAZON (Amazona viridigenalis) 
    Also known as the Mexican red-headed parrot and the red-crowned parrot, this Amazon, which has been a mainstay in aviculture in the United States, is now down to less than 2,000 birds in its native habitats in northeastern Mexico. This is because of habitat loss and capture for the pet trade. Because its range is relatively close to the U.S. border, this Amazon is one of the most commonly smuggled parrots. As with many Amazons that were once very popular, the Green-cheek is not as common as it once was. I have met several green-cheeks who were very accomplished talkers and singers although they don't have a reputation for being one of the best talking Amazons.

GREEN-CHEEKED CONURE (Pyrrhura molinae
Probably the best known of the personality-plus Pyrrhura conures or parakeets. These little parrots live in the forests of west-central and southern Mato Grosso, Brazil, through northern and eastern Bolivia to northern Argentina and northern Paraguay. They are still considered to be plentiful in the wild. These high-energy little birds are common in aviculture and several color mutations have been bred, although I still like the originals the best. 

GREEN-WINGED MACAW (Ara chloroptera
The largest of the Ara genus, this macaw is often called the Red and green Macaw in the wild. It is endemic to the woodlands and forests of central and northern South America. While it is not considered to be endangered at this time, its habitats are shrinking and the bird is illegally poached for the pet trade. This large macaw is considered by many to be the best companion macaw and it has a reputation for being a more gentle bird than than the other macaws that are often kept as companions. I have met dozens of these birds. I tamed quite a few wild-caught green-wings back in the 1980s and early 1990s and found that with lowered energy, it was very easy to win their trust. Babies are incredibly sweet if they are well-socialized and well-socialized youngsters who are provided consistent nurturing guidance are definitely one of the most spectacular parrot companions. They are intelligent, playful, mischievous and very affectionate. It amazes me that I never lived with one in my life, I am so fond of them. 

Greetings are very important for parrots. If you have been gone and return home, always say hello to your parrot whether he is screaming or not. Actually not greeting a parrot when you come home often helps create a screaming problem. 

Parrots DO experience grief at the loss of their parrot, animal, and people friends. If  Just be loving, gentle and patient and they will come around.  If you adopt a parrot that is grieving take time to win his trust – the chair exercise works well with grieving parrots that don't know you yet.

Ground rock, shell, or gravel, which is sold as a digestive aid for birds in captivity. Grit (or gravel) is not necessary for parrot-family birds and may actually be harmful.  Parrots masticate and manipulate their food with their powerful beaks before swallowing so they are usually only ingesting the soft parts or small pieces of food. Once swallowed, the food goes through various digestive processes. In the proventriculus, gastric juices break it down. Then the inside lining of the muscular ventriculus (gizzard) secretes a keratin-like fluid which hardens around the food and aids in grinding any hard food. Grit/gravel is not necessary since this keratin surface is hard enough to grind foods that parrots eat. I have known of several parrots who have become seriously ill because of grit impaction in their digestive system because of free access to grit in their diets.

Guavas are high in Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Folate, Potassium, Copper and Manganese and the parrots that I know think that they are yummy. So do I!




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