-V- Glossary & Dictionary

    Perhaps it is reminiscent of the sound of waterfalls, but many parrot-family birds are stimulated to take a bath when the vacuum cleaner is on.


In female birds, the vagina is the section of the oviduct that opens into the left side of the cloaca. The vagina comes after the uterus and the shell gland. 


    The surface on each side of the shaft of the contour feathers. These are formed by the fact that the barbs of the contour feathers interlock with each other.


VEGETABLES (in parrot diet) 
In a parrot’s diet the ones with high levels of Beta-carotene are most important. These include carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, pumpkin, broccoli, peppers, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens. Should be 20- 30% of the diet. For basic nutritional information, look up each vegetable individually.


    For many well-nurtured companion parrots verbal praise and attention for a job well done is as good a reward as any food treat! 


    The opening of the cloaca. The orifice where waste passes out of the parrot and the opening for release of sperm and the passage of an egg is called the vent. Sometimes this opening pulsates for a short time after a dropping passes through it. 


    A bird’s grinding stomach or gizzard. I does such a good job that parrots DON”T need grit or gravel in their diet. It can even be harmful. This includes Budgies, Cockatiels, and other smaller parrot-family birds (see grit)


    While it is true that parrots disguise their ill health, if we are very observant, we will notice when something is off with them. With mammals many ailments are self-limiting. In other words, when we get a cold or a flu virus, we will get over it within a week or so as long as our immune system is working right. This is generally true whether we get medical treatment or not. This same principle does not necessarily apply to our parrots because many of their illnesses and/or infections are bacterial in nature and need to be treated. Without treatment, these problems can seriously compromise a parrot's health. Because of this, it is critical to take your parrot to a competent avian veterinarian if you see that your parrot looks sick.   


    One of the saddest problems that I see in the world of parrots is when people take one aggressive episode from their parrots as the beginning of a pattern instead of an incident. The vicious cycle begins when a parrot bites because of a situation. Instead of trying to figure out what preceded the bite and caused the situation, they allow themselves to become afraid of their parrot. The parrot senses that their caregiver is afraid and therefore, uncomfortable around them and this brings more more changed and mistrust from the parrot. This escalates the person's fear which escalates the parrot's mistrust, which makes the person more afraid. This continues until the parrot/human bond is broken and neither the parrot nor the person trusts the other. This may be one of the major reason that people "get rid of" their parrots. In a survey that was in the Companion Parrot Quarterly, the main reason that people stated that they would find a new home for their parrots. The saddest part if the person took the time to figure out why the parrot became aggressive in the first situation, they could have prevented the entire sequence from escalating.


    Minute hair-like structures lining the small intestine. Their purpose is to increase the absorption of nutrients. 


VINACEOUS AMAZON (Amazona vinacea)
    Also referred to as the Vinaceous-breasted Amazon. What a gorgeous Amazon! I have seen these birds on several occasions and got to really study them at Nancy Speed's aviary. These parrots are native to Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. They are an endangered CITES I parrot and are uncommon as companions in the United States although there are several people breeding them. 



- Basic information: Vitamin A is an essential element of a parrot's diet and should be about 30%. High vitamin A vegetables are one of the most important foods you can get your parrot to eat. Although there are fruits that are higher in vitamin A than others, fruits are not generally as good a source as vegetables for this essential nutrient. Vitamin A is essential for the proper function of many aspects involving a parrot's health and well-being including skin and feather condition, the respiratory system, and eyesight. It also is critical to help the body fight infection by keeping the mucous membranes healthy. Vitamin A deficiency be an underlying factor in problems in parrots from chronic infections to feather picking. Vitamin A deficiency was and still is a contributing factor in the early death of parrots particularly those on a total or near total seed diet.
- Most green, orange (excluding citrus), and yellow-orange vegetables and fruits are the foods highest in beta carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A during metabolism. 
- A general rule of thumb is ‘the darker the flesh (not the skin) of the vegetable or fruit, the higher the carotene content.’ It is carotene that converts into vitamin A when metabolized by the digestive system. Veggies can be fed raw but are probably more digestible if they are steamed or baked. However, overcooking can destroy vitamin content.
- Vitamin A deficiency is common in parrots who are on seed-only diets.
- Vitamin A also needs to be fed via fresh foods if a parrot is on a pelleted diet since this essential nutrient is generally unstable in the manufacturing process - especially in regards to extruded diets (the crunchy ones that are processed at a high enough heat to destroy vitamin the A).
- The following are good sources of vitamin A.
- Green Vegetables
Kale, Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, spinach, broccoli, dandelion greens, water cress, beet greens, chicory, chard, parsley, green peppers, alfalfa, hot peppers.
- Yellow-orange Vegetables
Sweet potatoes, garnet yams, carrots, butternut squash, hubbard squash, acorn squash, hot peppers, red peppers, pumpkin.
- Fruits With Decent Vitamin A
Peaches, nectarines, apricots, Japanese persimmon, cantaloupe, raw plantain, papaya, sour red cherry. 
- Vitamin A is also available from eggs, meat, and many kinds of cheeses in the form of retinol but these should be considered as proteins to avoid feeding too high a level of protein.

   Basic information: Vitamin B is mostly associated with proper nerve function but can also be associated with other health problems. There are several B vitamins that are necessary for good health
» Vitamin B1 - Thiamin
» Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin
    Vitamin B1 and B2 helps with various functions throughout the body especially involvin muscles, heart and nerves. These vitamins are also essential in producing energy. B1 is found in whole grains, cereals, potatoes, and some beans. The main source for B2 in parrots is leafy greens and digestible dairy products.
» Vitamin B3 - Niacin
    Niacin helps keep the skin, nervous system, and digestive system healthy and produces energy in the cells. Sources for parrots include well-cooked chicken, nuts, whole grains, and cooked dried beans.   
» Vitamin B5 - Pantothenic acid
    Pantothenic acid is needed for normal growth and development. Vitamin B5 is found in most fresh foods.
» Vitamin B6 - Pyridoxine
     Pyridoxine keeps the red blood cells, nervous system and parts of the immune system healthy. It also helps the body break down protein to make it usable by the body.  In the parrot diet, B6 is found in fish, chicken, potatoes, wheat germ, bananas, and cooked dried beans.
» Vitamin B7 - Biotin
    Helps the body make hormones and to break down protein and carbohydrates. Biotin is made by intestinal bacteria and is found in egg yolks, bananas, watermelon, and grapefruit (too acidic too feed to parrots often). 
» Vitamin B9 - Folate (Folic acid)
    Folate is important in the proper production of red blood cells and also helps the body make and maintain DNA. For parrots, folate is found in green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts, peas, cooked dried beans, and whole wheat bread. 
» Vitaminh B12 - Cobalamin  
    B12 is important for proper growth and development, healthy nervous system function, production of blood cells, and the body's proper use of folic acid and carbohydrates. For parrots, vitamin B12 is found in eggs, lean cooked meat, well-cooked poultry, and digestible milk products such as plain yogurt.

    Basic information: It is believed that parrots manufacture their own vitamin C and it is, therefore not needed in a parrot's diet. However, fruits and veggies that have vitamin C also have other nutrients that are important for a parrot's health. Parrots with some health problems may not be able to manufacture vitamin C and it is not a problem to feed vitamin C rich foods a few times a week. One problem in feeding too much vitamin C in the diet is that this nutrient helps to unlock the iron in foods. Since too much iron may cause iron storage disease in some parrots, it is a good idea to be careful about feeding too much iron in the diet. For this reason, you should not feed high iron foods at the same time you feed citrus. 

    Basic information: Vitamin D3 is necessary for calcium to be utilized by the body. This nutrient is not just a vitamin but it acts as a hormone in the regulation of bone health, muscle health, immune response, regulation of insulin and blood sugar, and regulation of calcium and phosphorus metabolism. Unfortunately this nutrient is not really available in foods that we feed our parrots, including such foods as salmon, sardines, shrimp, cod, cow's milk and eggs. However, with daily exposure to full-spectrum UV lighting either through sunlight or full spectrum lights, parrots can synthesize vitamin D. The glass that is normally in windows and doors blocks UV light so full spectrum lighting is recommended in the room where the bird lives and/or spends most of his time. 


     Basic information: Also known as alpha-tocopherol, vitamin E is a fat soluable antioxidant and is involved in immune function. It is available in wheat germ oil, vegetable oils, sunflower seed, almonds, and many leafy greens. Vitamin E is not stable in processed foods such as pellets and foods rich in vitamin E need to be fed in addition to any manufactured diets.


Basic information: Vitamin K is actually a group of chemically-related substances and their basic bodily function is proper blood clotting, but it is also believed to be necessary for bone health and proper calcium use. 
- Years ago, many conures had serious problems with blood clotting and internal hemorrhaging, too often resulting in death. This was related to a seed-only death diet and conures seemed to have serious problems with vitamin K deficiencies. They still do (along with other parrots) on a seed-only ar predominately seed diet.
- With a fresh food diet, this should no longer be a problem. Vitamin K is found in most leafy greens, parsley, peas, carrots, broccoli and other Cruciferous vegetables. Added information: other sources include alfalfa. celery, okra, cabbage, sprouts and asparagus. Leafy greens are the major source. Kale is a "power house" source for vitamin K
- All manufactured diets (pellets and treats) except for a few use the synthetic chemical Menadione as a source of vitamin K activity - it is not even vitamin K. Menadione is banned for human use and is a cheap and, perhaps, problematic, artificial source of vitamin K. It is banned in human foods and pet foods in several European countries because it is considered to be a carcinogen. I won't feed my parrots any foods with menadione in them. Pelleted manufactures who don't use Menadione usually use alfalfa in some form as a genuine source of vitamin K. TOPS Parrot Food (http://topsparrotfood.com/ which is the only pellet I recommend) lists Alfalfa Leaves and several other natural sources for Vitamin K) (see Menadione)

    Commands or cues given to a parrot who has been patterned to know what they mean and therefore, complies with the request. I believe that using specific and consistent words to guide parrots is essential to keep them tame and handle-able. 

    Whether parrots speak our language or their own, a lot of their communication is vocal whether they communicate through our or their own sounds. Of course, they also communicate through body language.









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