- I - Glossary and Dictionary

    The idiot factor is a term defined by Sally Blanchard as one of the reasons that many professionals in the parrot world recommend feeding pellets as a total diet. Veterinarians and other avian professionals have seen so many parrots who have serious malnutrition issues that it is difficult for them to believe that anyone can feed their parrots properly without a manufactured diet as the total diet. While I believe that there are people who will never understand anything about nutrition and consequently feed their parrots foods that are unhealthy, I also believe that among  many parrot caregivers who educate themselves to to do the best for their birds and will learn enough about nutrition to feed a healthy diet of fresh foods and not highly processed pellets. 

ILLIGER'S MACAW (Ara maracanna or Primolius maracana
    Also called the Blue-winged Macaw. One of the Mini-macaws, these birds are fairly rare in aviculture when compared to the more known smaller macaws. It is only in the last decade or so that they have become more common in aviculture. In the wild, they are considered to be near-threatened in their native habitats in Brazil and Paraguay. A population that occurred in northeaster Argentina may have become extirpated from that range. Although this is a generalization, I have found that the Illiger's can be a bit more sensitive than the other mini-macaws. The people I have talked with who live with these colorful little gems, speak highly of them being affectionate, playful, and entertaining.

    When a parrot is a baby it essentially has no immune system. There is a gland on the cloaca called the bursa of fabricius, that “reads” the environment and develops the immune system accordingly.  Once the immune system is formed, the bursa of fabricius dissolves into the cloaca. (see Cloacal sipping and Bursa of Fabricius) Some production breeders will routinely give their baby parrots prophylactic antibiotics and this can also prevent the immune system from developing properly. This may result in a parrot that can't fight disease and may die long before its time.

    Some parrots (in my experience, particularly umbrella cockatoos) will ingest non-food matter. This can include grit (which parrots don’t need!), wood pieces, toy parts, cloth fibers, and much more. This material is not digestible and my cause impaction in the digestive system. Parrots do NOT need grit or gravel in their diet and it was not (maybe still isn’t) unusual for veterinarians to find parrot gizzards impacted with grit or gravel.

IMPERIAL AMAZON (Amazona imperialis)  
    The largest Amazon is uniquely colored with purple and green plumage and a vast array of other color shades. This seriously endangered Caribbean Amazons is endemic to the higher altitudes on the island of Dominica where it called the Sisserou. Conservation efforts from the 1970s on have increased the populations of this rare Amazon but they are still limited to less than 250 parrots. The Imperial Amazon is the national bird of Dominica and appears on the national flag. Despite government protection, this magnificent bird is still threatened by habitat destruction and illegal poaching for the pet trade. Hurricanes are also a serious threat in this part of the Caribbean.  In 2017, Hurricane Maria devestated Dominica and it was amazing that any of thse beautiful birds survived in the mountains. Both resident Amazons, the Imperial and the Red-necked Amazon suffered when the hurrican devastated the fauna of the island. It is still difficult to know exactly how many of these birds survived even months after the hurricane.

IMPRINT (Imprinting)
    A behavior term often used to describe an instantaneous bond or rapid learning in young animals. For example, certain species of birds will follow the first relatively large being/object they see within a short time of hatching. This happens during a specific time frame and if it doesn’t occur during this “window of opportunity” it most likely will not happen. Parrots do not form relationships through imprinting but through social bonding.

    "Falling in love” and buying a parrot without any consideration about how it will fit into your life ... sort of like meeting someone in a singles bar, falling in love and getting married the same night. The chances of it working out are about the same. 

    The last known Carolina Parakeet, Incas, died in the Cincinnati Zoo on February 21, 1918, nearly four years after the last known Passenger Pigeon, Martha, died in the same aviary cage.

    Eggs hatched in a heated, moisture controlled device with no parental brooding or care of the hatchling. Incubators became "the way" to raise baby parrots because of the ignorant belief that a baby raised by its natural parrot parents would imprint to them and not make a good pet. This concept showed a total lack of biological knowledge. However, it is important for breeders to have an incubator and know how to use it in case the parents reject a baby and/or won't raised it. 

    Baby parrots go through various somewhat predictable stages on their way to maturity. These include fledging, weaning, and gradual independence from parental supervision to integration from the family unit into the flock. Proper learning, socialization, and reassurance is essential during these stages. Understanding something about these stages will help in understanding the behavioral development of companion parrots.  A well-socialized companion parrot is a parrot that has enough independence to feel secure with the people in his life and with time spent by himself in his cage.

    A bird who will continue to replace damaged or removed eggs until their clutch is complete. However, once they start to incubate the eggs they will not replace any more eggs. Cockatiels are indeterminate layers and will continue to replace eggs if they are removed. This is why it is important to let single hens keep their eggs until they lose interest in the infertile clutch. When cockatiels lay too many eggs it can rob their bodies of calcium needed for other bodily functions and cause serious and even fatal consequences. 

    An incredible organization founded by parrot lovers to educate indigenous populations about their native parrots, to study and protect parrots in their native habitats, to prevent smuggling and to re-capture and reintroduce parrots back into their native habitat. Three people who have been prime-movers in this organization are Dr. Stewart Metz, Barbara Bailey, and Bonnie Zimmerman. Also known as Project Bird Watch.

    see impaction 

    There are many infectious diseases in parrots some are bacterial and others are viral.  It took a long time for avian medicine to reach the level where research is identifying what causes various diseases and even how to treat them. 

INSECTS (As food for Birds)
     Several types of insects and insect larvae are sold as food for both captive birds and wild birds. Meal worms are the most common and many parrots like to eat meal worms. I used to buy them for my parrots when a local bird shop carried them so they were easy to get. Both of my double yellow-head Amazons loved them and made pleasure sounds while eating them. Paco the hen, savored them by peeling them and eating them very slowly. While Rascal, the male, gulped them down whole. The difference in the way they ate them fascinated me and I have always wondered if this was a "gender thing" since they had the same parents and were raised in the same manner a year apart. Every now and then I find a "bird seed moth" and give it to one of the parrots as a special treat. Another live insect food sold for birds is called "tiny wigglers" - aka fly larvae and known by most people as maggots. Most of these live insects are sold for insectivorous aviary birds that depend on insects as their complete diet or at least a major part of their diet. 

    The major result of raising parrots with production ethics and little or no emphasis on early socialization is intense insecurity in many companion parrots.

    Innate behavior which is inherited and generally species related rather than learned behavior which is acquired throughout an individual’s life but primarily when a parrot is young. 

    The extremely important focused time spent with a parrot teaching new behaviors through play and patterning. This is an extremely important aspect of keeping a parrot tame and establishing mutual trust.

    Over the last 20 years science has taught us a great deal about how intelligent parrots are. Although there has been other important research, thank you Alex and Dr. Pepperberg for showing us that the term “bird brain” is a complement and not an insult. 

    The fairly thin skin and feathers covering a bird. 

    The initial stages of a behavior that indicate the intention of the parrot. For example, if we watch carefully we may notice that most parrots will behave with a certain restlessness and have specific movements before they start to scream. If we pay close attention, we can actually stop the screaming by distracting the behavior before the parrot actually starts to scream. Another example is when a parrot squats down and flutters his wings. This can signify his intent to fly even if his wings are trimmed. In this situation, the behavior may have become a request for someone to come and pick him up. 

    If you look at the bottom of your parrot's lower beak chances are you will see a little opening at the bottom. My guess is that this is probably there to keep the lower beak from cutting off the esophagus and the trachea as the bird eats. Roxi-anne, my Bare-eyed cockatoo, shows off her Intermandibular space in the photo below.

    A psychological term used to explain the fits of rage that some people seem to have that seem to be out of proportion to the situation. Road Rage is an example of this type of situation. Another trait of this condition is that once the rage passes, the person often acts as if nothing ever happened. The belief is that at least some cases I.E.D. could be related to a lack of serotonin in the brain. When I read about this in a news magazine, I was amazed at how similar some male cockatoo behavior was to the characteristics of this situation in humans. Some male cockatoos will go from being calm into this sort of flash rage, attack at will and then go back to being as calm as they were before "something" set them off. Skippy, a male lesser sulfur-crested cockatoo exhibited this behavior. A friend of mine sent him to me to "straighten out." The first day he was no problem at all, but the second day I was taking him around the house to show him the various rooms. I couldn't figure out what he would have suddenly been afraid of, but out of nowhere, he suddenly started biting at my face and hands. Even though I had heard of this behavior and had witnessed it in other parrots, it shocked me. (see Nurturing Manipulation)  

    Both a wonderful and horrible source for parrot information. Learn to know the difference. The anonymity of many forums, chat groups, and Facbook groups allows people to make inaccurate or vindictive posts without having to take responsibility for them. Recently a friend of mine went onto a forum to ask for advice about a beak problem with her Hahn's macaw. The bird wasn't sick and showed no sign of being sick. She and her husband are knowledgeable bird caregivers who purchased/rescued the bird with his normal beaked brother. They knew he had a health problem with his beak because he developed an e-coli infection in the nursery. No one really listened to her question and instead they attacked her because she had not taken the bird to a vet immediately. The bird didn't need to see a veterinarian since he had NO symptoms of being ill. All he needed was to have his lower beak trimmed so that it wouldn't overshoot the upper beak. I groomed birds professionally for over to 20 years so I went over and helped them trim the beak and let them know that they would have to do this on a regular basis. Yet she was criticized and condemned because she hadn't taken the bird to a vet. 

    A term to describe a well-socialized curious parrot who readily accepts adventure and change in her or his environment. 

    The essential or intrinsic value of an animal generally indicates that the value is not based on financial worth. While rescue parrots may not have a great monetary value, with gentle nurturing and patience, they can develop a tremendous intrinsic value to the people in their lives. My late great African grey, Bongo Marie was an example of this principle. She was very sick when she came to live with me and had little or no financial value, yet as she learned to trust me, she became a life-changing motivation in my life and lived with me and taught me about parrots for close to 25 years. She was one funky little parrot but she was priceless. 

    Most parrots exhibit some level of being neo-phobic or wary of the “new.” However when caregivers take the time to introduce now situations in a secure and friendly manner, the vast majority or parrots adjust very well to change with time and patience. If strangers try to "force" themselves on parrots, there is a good chance the birds may never trust them. (see Sock Monster and Strangers for new bird introduction information)

     Parrots on a seed only diet can suffer from iodine deficiency which can result in thyroid problems including enlargement of the thyroid which can cause pressure on close organs. One of the first symptoms can be a change in the voice of the bird and breathing problems. If it is not diagnosed and treated, it can eventually lead to death. Healthy foods that parrots can eat that contain good amounts of iodine are lower salt seaweed, yogurt, cod, eggs, and lima beans. 

    Not recommended for parrot homes. (see Ozone Generators)

    Too much iron in the diet can be a problem. However, there are many nutritious foods that contain some dietary iron that should not be a problem if fed in moderation. Foods that are high in iron include red meat (not a good food for parrots anyway), turkey, beans, lentils, soy beans, egg yolks, dried fruit such as raisins, iron-enriched cereals and grains, and some leafy greens. (See Iron Storage Disease below) 

IRON STORAGE DISEASE (Hemochromatosis) 
    Although for many years this has been considered to be a major dietary concern and cause of death in Softbillsand not of concern with parrot nutrition, this serious health problem as been found in some macaws and other parrots. The problem with parrots doesn't seem to be dietary iron in natural fresh foods but iron levels in manufactured diets and supplements.  There is also some concern that feeding citrus at the same time you feed iron-rich foods may increase iron absorption. I have been told the only treatment once the parrot has been diagnosed is phlebotomy (taking blood) over a scheduled period until the blood in the bird's system has been replaced. There is a theory that brewing green black tea and giving it to parrots to drink can help prevent iron storage disease in parrots because the tannins in the tea can prevent the absorption of iron. The tannins in tea can block iron absorption. There are a great deal more tannins in black tea than green tea. I give my parrots green tea in their water dishes a few times a week. While excessive iron in the diet may be a problem, the major culprits are considered to be over-supplementation in pelleted diets and iron in tap water. Tap water may be high in iron and using a filter may significantly cut back on this potentially problematic mineral. A healthy fresh food diet if much healthier for parrots than any artificial synthetic chemical supplementation in pellets, seed mixes or vitamin powders.

    Although bird extinction and serious population declines happens on all continents, species who live on islands are most at danger because their habitat is a confined microcosm. Island human overpopulation and deforestation has been a major reason for the extinction of many bird species throughout the world. Islands with no human populations were often decimated of their birds and other wildlife when people colonized the islands and brought with them their domesticated animals and potential predators. Populations of bird species endemic to islands usually occur in small areas with well-defined ecological niches and can quickly be decimated by natural disasters such as hurricanes and volcano eruptions. This is all particularly true of the rare and endangered parrots of the Caribbean. 

    A lot of people with parrots have admitted to me that when they get into a major argument that they parrot/s join right in. Of course, this is no surprise because parrots closely match our energy and the more agitated we become, the more agitated they become. I bird sat for an Amazon once that spent most of the time he was on top of his cage arguing with himself; first in the man's voice and then in the woman's voice and so on. There were no particular words because, no doubt, the arguments he heard were never about the same exact things.




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