- H - Glossary and Dictionary

The natural environment in which an organism lives and all that it encompasses. 

    When a young bird is still learning from its parents, it is said to imprint on its habitat. As a young parrot matures and leaves its parents, the bird will have a tendency to search for similar habitats to establish as its territory.

    Mostly a "caique thing" that is probably a displacement behavior for the leaf bathing that is natural in the wild. Spikey LeBec became infamous for his hair surfing behavior at conferences and seminars. In fact at one convention, he made over $500 for avian medical research by hair surfing on various people's heads for to $10 a piece. Everyone got a photograph of Spike on their head. 

HALF-MAST EYES (see Eyes and Health)
    If a parrot’s eyes are half closed (the lower lid raised up over the eye) and the parrot is not napping, it is most likely a sign of illness. The half-mast eye is often caused by swelling in the sinuses. Of course, there will often be other signs of illness including drainage from the nostrils, swollen eyes, loss of energy, and fluffed posture. (See Signs of a Sick Bird) 

HALF-MOON CONURE (Aratinga canicularis
    Also referred to as the Petz' conure and the Orange-fronted conure/ Literally a hand-full of cute. These are the smallest of the Aratinga conures. 

HAMBURGER (as a food for parrots)
    Hamburger is a 
NO-NO food for parrots because of its high saturated fat content, greasiness, and potential for contamination such as e-coli bacteria. (see Beef)

    The ability of a person to have their parrot readily step onto their hand with a simple verbal command or cue regardless of where the parrot is
Generally speaking, once people lose the ability to have their parrots step on their hands, the relationship begins to suffer. This is one of the reasons that I highly recommend stick training. By using a stick or branch for your parrot to step on if he has decided not to step on your hand, you still have control of getting the bird to respond to the "up" command, when the parrot becomes more agreeable, he will most likely step on your hand again.

    Babies who are fed, raised and weaned by humans instead of their natural parents are referred to as handfed. Buying a handfed baby doesn’t necessarily guarantee a well-socialized baby parrot, or in some cases, even a tame parrot. However, a quality breeder who believes in the critical importance of early socialization and abundance weaning will have delightfully tame and well-adjusted babies who make great human companions. Of course, the continued success of the babies will depend on their positive interaction with the people who adopt them.

    If you have never hand fed a baby parrot, don't do it without expert supervision and observations of many babies being fed. It is not easy if you have never done it before and novice handfeeders can actually injure their babies or even cause their death. These problems include but are not limited to; crop burn, under feeding, mixing the food wrong, yeast infections, bacterial infections, impacted crops, perforations of mouth and throat, and the inability to recognize serious health problems. From years of experience and from seeing and hearing about many problems, I seriously believe that it is UNETHICAL for a breeder or bird shop to sell an unweaned bird to a novice. (see Crop Burn and Temperature of Food) 

    Handfeeding is not only to get nutrition into a baby parrot. A positive handfeeding experience also gives babies a sense of security and helps encourage independence. Handfeeding traumas are usually caused by production raising techniques such as gavage (tube) feeding, food deprivation to force weaning, crop burns, and poor early socialization including feeding without handling or affection.

    I have met parrots with many different handicaps. Sometimes a parrot will develop a handicap in the egg because of a lack of proper management from the parents or the breeder. This can involve problems with temperature or humidity. In some situations, a baby can be injured in the nest. Poor early nutrition can also create problems with proper growth and bone development. Of course, all manner of accidents can also create handicaps in parrots. The most amazing aspect of living with handicapped parrots is the fact that they rarely act as if they have handicaps. The Goffin's pictured below lives with Barbara and Bruce Bailey and has damaged and deformed legs and feet. With a little help from her friends, Jordy leads a happy life. 

HANDLING (mishandling)
    The way parrots are handled or mishandled by the people in their lives has a great deal to do with their trust levels.

    There are some companies that manufacture specific products to be finger fed to weaning baby parrots. While the idea of finger feeding foods with your fingers to baby parrots is important, they are usually made from a "chemical soup" of ingredients that are just NOT health for parrots. Feeding soft warm chunks of veggies, sweet potatoes and/or globs of cooked oatmeal or other grains are much more nutritios and work every well to make a baby happym healthy, and full. It will also acquaint the baby with fresh foods which should be the vast majority of a parrot’s diet. 

    A group of small parrots from tropical southern Asia. They are in the genus Loriculus. They get their name from their unusual habit of sleeping upside down and spend some of their waking hours upside down too. In the late 1980s, I saw several of these parrots for sale in various bird shops in California. Their pointy curved beak is an indication of a fruit eater and they also forage for nectar and flowers. I often wondered when I saw them, if the bird shops were aware of their special dietary needs, which would be pretty much similar to lories.  Many unusual parrots have special diets and witout understanding them the health and lifespan of these birds would be minimal.

    Most happy companion parrots love toys and playgyms that they can hang from and be very acrobatic. Playgyms hanging from the ceiling can stimulate climbing exercise because they have some of the motion of trees. All of my parrots from the late 1970s have always had and loved hanging playgyms of one kind or another.

When people are aggressive towards their parrots, the parrots often respond with aggression. Their aggression towards people is often based on fear and usually escalates if people respond to their aggression with returned aggression. It can be a vicious cycle that destroys a parrot's pet potential. If a parrot is biting because of a traumatic situation, fear and loss of trust, the chair exercise is the best way to win your parrot's trust again.

    For some years, various parrot “experts” and a great deal of bird training literature stated that parrots were hard-wired and that little of their behavior depended on learning. These erroneous concepts were based on a basic lack of knowledge about bird biology. It this information was correct, wild parrots would not have to have such a long period of instructive socialization from their parrot parents to learn their social and survival skills.

    Hybrid of Green-wing and blue and gold macaws.

    Some screaming from parrots is acceptable. If an exuberant parrot screams because he is happy to be alive, the people in his lives should be happy about it too. 

    I have mixed opinions about harnesses and leashes on parrots and it seems that the parrots do also. Whether they are in a harness or not, companion parrots that are outdoors still need constant supervision and protection.

    A famous and prolific bird and animal artist. Considered to be a minimalist. When asked about how he saw birds, he said, "I don't count the feathers, I only count the wings." The serigraph of the Carolina Peroquet below is the only parrot portrait that he did, although many of his prints and posters had a parrot among other birds and animals. He died in in 2007 at age 82.  I was lucky enough to have a show of my Rare Hardwood Bird Sculptures with him and become friends with him and his artist wife, Edie. He had the best Wood Duck that I ever sculpted.

    Sally Blanchard’s description of the way most companion parrots are still toweled as if they are being attacked from behind. This can be very threatening for a prey animal. 

    Bird eating hawks such as falcons, sharp-shins and Coopers can be very dangerous to parrots kept out doors or companion parrots who are not caged or held when they are outside. It is unusual, but not unheard of, for Buteos such as red-tailed hawks to take birds as foods since they are normally small mammal predators. (see Cooper's hawks)

HAWK-HEADED PARROT (Deroptyus accipitrinus
    This unique parrot, which is also called the Red-fan Parrot, is the only one in its genus. It lives in the tree canopy of the Brazilian rainforest. It has a reputation of being very aggressive and territorial in the wild. It is not considered to be threatened in the wild at this time. Young Hawk-heads are usually agreeable human companions. However without proper socialization, nurturing guidance, and proper management from a knowledgeable caregiver, these parrots can become problematic as they mature. The major problem is aggression towards people other than their favorite person and aggression towards other parrots. Is this true of every companion Hawk-head. I am sure it is not as there are certainly caregivers who extol them as wonderful companions. I have heard many people compare their behavior and personality to that of caiques. Caiques also have a reputation for being very territorial and difficult at times, yet many of them make wonderful human friends with the proper guidance.

HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS (signs of illness) 
    Some of the basic signs of illness in a parrot are fluffed up feathers, lumpy posture, half-mast eyes, nasal drainage, puffy eyes, and wide postural stance. If a bird exhibits any of these symptoms for a day, you need to consult withyour avian veterinarian. For a more extensive list of the signs of illness or disease in a parrot, go to Signs of a Sick Parrot. Sally now has a Parrots Made E-Z publication about Parrot Health

Please see my Articles on Nutrition in the Articles Section.
    We need to make healthy food choices for our parrots. Giving parrots too much of aSmorgasbird of all different foods is usually not a good way to get a nutritious diet into them. They will not always choose what is good for them. Put nothing but high vitamin A veggies in the bowl a few times a week so your parrots get this nutrient no matter what they eat. Mashes with healthy ingredients are a good idea because everything is mixed together in such a way that the parrot cannot reject part of his diet. If a food is healthy for you, it is most likely healthy for parrots but you have to know what foods are really nutritious. Percentages given are approximate and there is some overlap. (For information about individual foods, check that item in the Glossary.)

    We know that parrots have exceptional eyesight, but there is evidence that they also have very good hearing and can pick your particular sounds that are important to them in a cacophony or many other sounds

    Many metals are toxic to parrots; lead, zinc, cadmium, nickle, etc. If you even suspect that your parrot has ingested something with lead or another heavy metal, take your parrot to the vet IMMEDIATELY. If the metal is still in the crop, the particles can usually be flushed out of the crop. Once it is further down the digestive system, it can cause serious health problems and cost a lot of money. 

The theory that we have much more control over our companion parrots If we are always taller than they are and therefore they have to look up to make eye contact with them. There is a great deal of disagreement as to whether this concept is actually legitimate when it comes to parrot behavior. I think that there is an element of height dominance in regards to companion parrots and their caregivers. However, if a parrot is provided with Nurturing Guidance, the caregiver should not have a problem with the bird being higher than they are.  I have seen obvious height dominance in feral Amazons and certainly with people and their parrots.

In 1896, Bostonian socialite Mrs. Augustus (Mary) Hemenway took up the mission and formed the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Hemenway was outraged by the slaughter of entire flocks of birds for their plumage, many in the recesses of the Everglades and South Florida. Florida had become the primary hunting grounds for plume hunters, where the change from abundant birdlife to scarcity and sometimes extirpation was occurring with incredible speed. At the time the primary use for the plumes of such birds as egrets and herons were used for millinery. The plume were better during breeding season and the plumes were chopped and ripped from the birds and they were left to die during breeding season. In some cases, whole birds were placed on hats and fans for fashion including Carolina Parakeets. In 1896, Mrs. Augustus Hemenway and her cousin Miss Minna Hall, two wealthy Boston matrons decided to organize their forces to end the slaughter of birds for hats. The two women invited prominent society women for afternoon teas where they urged their guests to boycott bird hats. This was the formation of the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Outraged Americans in state after state founded Audubon Societies to combat the feather trade and advocate bird protection. They waged the first truly modern conservation campaign. In 1900, just four years after the women hatched their strategy over tea, the U.S. Congress passed the Lacey Bird and Game Act. This legislation helped bring an end to the heedless slaughter of plumed birds in Florida and elsewhere.

(See Iron Storage Disease)

    One of the most nutritious seeds, hemp seeds are an excellent source of minerals for all birds. They are packed with the amino acids that make quality proteins, essential fatty acids, and natural Vitamin E, calcium and a wide range of other important minerals. The healthiest hemp seeds still have the hull on them. 
   Don't worry about parrots getting high off of hemp seeds. It is the leaves of the marijuana plant that contain THC, the ingredient that makes people high. The leaves can be toxic to parrots, but the seed is not only safe but one of the most nutritious seeds that you can feed. In doing research, on one list I read a message from a woman who was beyond alarmed that anyone would consider feeding an "illegal drug" to their parrots. To me, this ignorant morality was totally misplaced. Hemp seed that is sold as parrot food is sterilized, which means it won't grow marijuana and parrots don't get high off of the seed. Hemp seed and hemp seed used in parrot foods is a positive healthy ingredient. Obviously parrots shouldn't have access to marijuana plants or smoke. 

    An excellent source for Essential Fatty Acids. (see Essential Fatty Acids) Can be purchased in health food stores.

  A female bird of any species. Companion parrot hens often lay eggs and as long as they get good exercise and are on a good diet with natural calcium, that should not be a problem.

    Encapsulated bundles of nerve endings occurring on the tongue, beak tip, cloaca, feather tract skin, wings and legs of a parrot. While these nerve bundles create sensitivity to touch, they are also considered to be vibration detectors, especially the ones that occur throughout the legs. These nerve bundles make a bird particularly sensitive to movement in a tree or on the ground where they are sleeping, nesting, or foraging, and give them early warning to flee from danger or predators. Herbst’s corpuscles may be one cause for traumatic responses to earthquakes. Parrots most likely feel the earth movement before we do. These vibration detectors may also influence night frights common in several species of parrots. Placing these parrots in a secure sleeping cage with padding on the bottom can help prevent night frights and injuries from them.


HEREDITARY (see Genetics, Mutations) 
All of a parrot’s physical characteristics and some personality traits are inherited from their parents. However, a great deal of their behavior has to do with early socialization and learning. 


An individual animal that has the characteristics of both male and female. See Chimera


HISPANIOLAN AMAZON (Amazona ventralis 
Endemic to the island of Hispaniola and the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic - also occurs on Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands due to relocation. They were studied extensively in the hopes of understanding more about the severely endangered Puerto Rican Amazon. Because of deforestation, this Amazon is considered to be vulnerable. Not common as a companion parrot. They are one of the smaller Amazons and are considered to be quite noisy. I lived with one for a few years as a rescue and didn't find it to be any noisier than most other Amazons I have met. I thought that Captain was a delightful little parrot and enjoyed his company until I found him a new home. These parrots seem to be more available as companions in Canada.


The collecting and keeping of more parrots than can be cared for properly. Hoarding is a psychological problem that does not improve without extensive therapy. Birds can be seized and relocated and friends can help hoarders clean up their property, however recidivism is incredibly high  Unfortuneately there are people who will defend and enable the hoarder despite obvious proof in regards to the abuse and neglect of the hoarder's birds. In one situation, the photos that Animal Control presented showing dead mice in food cups in the cage, dead birds in the trash, dying birds, and other sickening abuse, one enabler stated in defense of the abusing hoarder that Animal control photoshopped the evidence. How appalling and absurd.


    In the last several years Holistic Medicine has become more popular in the treatment of parrots. Alternative treatments include acupuncture, cold laser treatment, homeopathy, herbal and flower remedies, essential oils and using specific foods to treat ailments. However it is critical to not take on any holistic medicine, etc without making sure that they are safe for your parrot. There are several very competent veterinarians who use principles of holistic medicine in their practice.


    Spikey hopping on Christmas cards that Sally sells on her on-line site under products on the website.


Substances made by the body that stimulate or regulate the activities of the glands and organs of the body. The proper production of hormones has to do with quality fresh food nutrition as does all of the workings of the body and brain. 


    If a companion parrot is allowed to form a strong sexual bond to its human caregiver, the bird may respond to the simplest triggers and become sexually stimulated. If this happens frequently and beyond breeding season the parrot can stay in hormonal overload. This means that the parrot’s body remains flooded with hormones (not just sexual hormones) for long periods of time. This can result in serious damage to internal organs. 


 Please see the article on this topic in the Articles Section of this Website. Most of our homes are a minefield for parrots with dangers everywhere. It is up to the caregiver to learn as much as possible about these dangers and to protect their parrots.


    Back in the 1950s, the Howdy Doody show was often sponsored by Poll Parrot shoes. The shoe companion had a parrot as a logo. However, Poll Parrot shoes never settled on a specific design for the parrot so all of the memorabilia is different. 

    The people who form the family group in a companion parrot’s life. Most companion parrots will respond to the people in their lives as members of their flock.

    While humidifiers are an essential part of a parrot's environment, especially in very dry areas and during winter. it is essential that the humidifiers MUST be kept clean. It is recommended that water is changed on a daily basis and the humidifier should be cleaned 3-4 times a week. Humidifiers that are not changed and cleaned frequently can actually put out dangerous bacterial and fungal organisms.  

    Most parrot-family birds come from areas of high humidity and our homes are normally too dry ... especially in the winter with forced air heating. Frequent bathing and a quality humidifier that is kept clean can make a major difference in a parrots respiratory system and feather condition. 

HUMMING (as a calming distraction) 
When a companion parrot is agitated, it often helps for the people around them to slow down their energy. When I lived in California, my parrots really freaked out with earthquakes whether they were little ones or big ones. If I rushed in to see if they were ok, they stayed freaked out. If I calmed myself and slowly walked into the room and sat on the floor and hummed without even looking at them, they all relaxed and climbed back on their perches. Humming may also calm down a very excited bird who is in overload.

HYACINTH MACAW (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus
The largest of the macaws and considered to be the largest parrot, although the male New Zealand Kakapo can outweigh the Hyacinth macaw by up to 7 pounds and the Scarlet macaw has a proportionately longer tail. The Hyacinth has an incredibly strong beak that can easily crack macadamia nuts. These macaws are often referred to as 'gentle giants' but they absolutely need guidance to stay that way. A companion Hyacinth in control of his own life may still be a 'pretty sight' but can be very difficult to deal with on a daily basis,

    In the wild, some Hyacinth Macaws pick through cattle dung for predigested nuts. It is interesting that although hyacinth macaws do pick through 'cow patties' for palm nuts, it seems that they prefer to do this after the palm nuts have been washed clean by the rain and then become dried by the sun. Hopefully no one will get the idea to merchandise cow patties with nuts in them for companion Hyacinths. 

The offspring resulting from breeding two different and separate species.  It is interesting to note that hybridizatio within the same family doesn't result in “mules” and the offspring can produce offspring. Hybridization has long had a negative connotation with many naturalists and scientists. In fact the word comes from Latin hybrida which is from the Greek hubris — a term meaning arrogance against the gods.




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