I buy whole grain organic flax waffles and toast them. Then I mix some almond butter, baby sweet potato, chopped nuts, a bit of low-fat yogurt and a splash of orange juice into a mash and spread it on one waffle. Most of the time I put grated carrots into the mixture and sometimes I spread a thin layer of pure fruit jam (without sugar or artificial sugar or any other additives) on the top half and then squish the two halves together and cut them into appropriately sized portions each of my parrots. This is an absolute favorite treat!  


    Walnuts are a good source for thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, and the minerals magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, copper, and manganese with a smattering of other vitamins and minerals. They are also a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids.  Some people, including myself, are very sensitive to walnuts. I can eat one or two and my mouth starts to get sore. I have heard that there are some parrots who refuse to eat walnuts but will readily eat other nuts. It is probably that walnuts have a fairly high tannin level.


WALNUT SHELL (As a substrata in cage bottom)
    DANGEROUS PRODUCT!  Thankfully walnut shell is not as available as it once was for the bottom of bird cages. I recommend butcher paper or newspaper if there is a grate in the bottom of the cage. Walnut shell, corn cob, and other similiar sub-stratas that give people the illusion that the cage is clean, can actually develop high levels of mold and fungus in a short time and are therefore, not recommended. This is particularly true if people don't clean the droppings, food waste, and water spills on a daily basis. There are also numerous situations where parrots have ingested these materials.


    The game developed by Sally Blanchard for getting parrots used to being handled by several people. This works very well with young parrots, but can also work with older parrots. It works best when the parrot can't see his cage, especially if he is at all cage territorial. For these parrots, a neutral room works best, one where the bird has not established a territory. The basic idea is that the bird should slowly be passed from person to person. The person the parrot is being passed to should use the word "Up" to let the know the bird know what is expected of him. Each person does something special with the parrot. This can include verbal praise for stepping up, a good head skritch, singing a short song to the bird, or even a special treat like a pistachio nut or even a sunflower seed. After a person has held the bird for a minute or so, the next person has him step up using the word, "Up" and so on. The exercise should be playful and fun and involve anyone who wants to be in the parrot's life. It at anytime, the parrot starts to become tired of the game, it should be discontinued in a friendly manner. If at anytime the parrot starts to exhibit aggression, the person who has the parrot should place him on the couch or table and everyone gets up and leaves until he calms down. Most of all the person who the parrot has the strongest bond with should not rescue another person, or the parrot may learn to exhibit aggressive behavior to get to go back to his favorite person.     


    Wasteful is a very discriptive word for parrots and food. Parrots are wasteful eaters often only consuming a small portion of what they are fed. This is pretty much a fact of life when it comes to parrots and is particularly true when you are trying to convert parrots to a healthier diet. From my experience, African greys are the champion food flingers of all of the parrots. My late great Bongo Marie was a champion food flinger and I would occasionally find various pieces of food hanging off of lamps and other furniture as far as 10 feet across the room. 


    If your parrot is a perpetual soup maker in his water bowl, a water bottle will prevent him from drinking water that is full of dangerous bacteria. Make absolutley sure that you bird/s are using the water bottle before you take the water bowl away. Some parrots switch right away but others may take awhile to adapt and can become seriously dehydrated if the bowl is taken away too soon. The water bottle should be changed daily even though the water looks clean.  


    To encourage a parrot to eat on his own and become independent of being fed by a parrot or a person. Also it has a lot to do with developing the baby parrot's positive sense of security. The process of weaning should be gradual on the baby's timetable, not at the convenience of the handfeeder. Baby parrots will wean when they are secure and they should never be force-weaned. Force-weaning can destroy a baby's sense of well-being yet is has been one of many negatives in the “bag of tricks” of production breeders for many years. The goal of weaning is to create a secure young parrot who learns to eat on his own.


    Based on deprivation, this concept is o
ne of the absolute worst ideas that has been perpetuated in aviculture. The concept is that baby parrots will not learn to eat if they have anything else to do in their lives so they are placed in a cage with nothing but a bowl of food  ... no toys, one perch if any, and nothing else to do but eat. Of course, learning to eat is based on exploration, curiosity, and parental guidance. The weaning cage stifles any sense of curiosity and stunts the bird's emotional growth. Not only that but it often keeps the bird from learning to eat on his own.  Some baby parrots will starve rather than eat in a situation like this.


    The insecurity and dysfunction caused by deprivation and/or forced weaning, gavage feeding until weaning, and inadequate nutrition. 


    A digital scales if a very handy investment for parrot caregivers. Keeping a weight chart will help people to stay aware of their parrot's health. 


   This virus continues to be a concern for many bird keepers who keep parrots outside. However, I have been assured by several avian veterinarians that West Nile Virus is not a serious threat to healthy parrots. In fact, quality breeders in the south east who keep hundreds of parrots outside haven’t had increased mortality due to West Nile. People can minimize any threat by keeping their parrots outside only during midday when mosquitoes are less active. It is also important to drain any standing water that could be a breeding place for mosquitoes in your yard.


     Wheatgrass is sold as a powdered supplement or as a juice. It can often be purchased in flats of growing grass in health food stores or people can grow their own as long as they take care to avoid mold in the unsprouted seeds. It provides chlorophyll, amino acids, minerals, vitamins (A or beta-carotene and B12), and enzymes. Many claims have been made about wheatgrass being a superfood with all sorts of curative potential. Again as with other supplements, just because a little bit may be good, more is not necessarily better. Cats seem to really like to nibble on growing wheatgrass so if you have a cat, so if you want to grow your own and want to have any left for the parrots, you may need to grow it where the cat can't get to it. Althoug Eclectus and Greatbills shouldn't have processed supplements or pelleted diets, a little bit of wheat grass shouldn't be a problem in a diet of Fresh foods. 


WHISPERING (as a distraction) 
    I have found that many parrots will stop their screaming if there is a noise that distracts them. The noise should be made without giving the bird attention for the screaming. I worked with a Moluccan cockatoo years ago who stopped screaming the minute his caregivers started whispering to each other. He was far to curious about what they were saying to keep screaming. 


WHISTLING (as a distraction
    There is a belief that if a parrot learns to whistle, she or he is unlikely to talk. There is an element of truth in regards to some parrots. Parrots learn to talk to be accepted into our "flock." If they gain that acceptance by whistling, they may not learn to talk as well. However, if they learn to talk first and know that using our words to communicate with us fist, learning to whistle shouldn't stop them from talking. My late great grey Bongo Marie was an incredible talker and also an extraordinary whistler who could do low and high notes with amazing vibrato.


WHISTLING (teaching or as a distraction) 
    (see Whispering) Whistling works in the same way as whispering as a distraction to stop a parrot from screaming. My caique, Spike, would immediately stop his excessive, repetitive vocalizations if I started whistling because he loved to whistle. 


WHITE-CROWNED PIONUS  (Pionus senilis)
    In the mid 1980s I did a consultation with the first Pionus I ever met. The bird was a wild-caught White-capped that a man had purchased for his daughter who was in her early twenties. It didn’t take long for me to get the bird to trust me and sit on my hand. Her major problems was that she had never had a parrot and had no idea how to even pay attention to him. By the time I left, she was more comfortable handling the parrot and I was pretty sure that their friendship would become successful. These are one of the smallest Pionus and their colors are beautiful if they are on a good diet. The White-capped Pionus seems to get mixed reviews. Some caregivers report that they are delighted with their spunky outgoing personality. Others state that they can be quite pugnacious and pushy. This may be a gender difference or it may have to do with the way that individuals are raised and maintained as companions. 


 WHITE-FRONTED AMAZON (Amazona albifrons)
    One of the smallest Amazons, White-fronts are sexually dimorphic; the hens have no red on the wings. Back in the late 1980s, I tamed several of these little gems for a local bird shop. One time I had seven in my house at one time. They were such enchanting little busy bodies; I couldn’t help but think of them as the Seven dwarfs. I think these curious parrots are absolutely delightful ... a literal handful. White-fronts can be excellent talkers but tend to have a somewhat comical voice. Out of the group I was working with, at least half of them went back to the bird shop saying a few words. I have met several babies and I came very close to coming home with one. I have enjoyed them so much, I am surprised that I never brought one into my life as a permanent companion


    Sally Blanchard's African grey parrot. Whodee came to live with Sally when he was about 3-4 years old. He had lived in several different locations in Colorado, including breeders, private homes and a rescue location before he arrived at my door step. He had a reputation of being a vicious biter and wasn't much of a talker. When I brought him home from the airport, I let him climb out of the carrier into his new cage and let him relax for a couple of hours. Then I calmly sat by his cage leaning into it a bit with an occasional glance at him. After making eye contact, I lowered my head and looked away. Then, withough making eye contact, I opened his cage and slowly placed my hand against his lower belly and held it there with no pressure. I said a quiet "up.'" He reached down and clamped his beak over my finger but didn't bite and kept the pressure the same. I left my hand there and he let go of my finger and stepped on my finger. From that point on, he has never been aggressive with me. One time he did bite me but that was my fault. I was in a hurry to leave the house and put Spike back in his cage. It was only when I was almost out of the house that it suddenly hit me that I had put Spike in Whodee's cage. Whodee was stalking Spike the way that African greys do and Spike was holding his ground. They were about 2 inches apart when I grabbed Spike off of the perch. Whodee took a swipe and my hand and I ended up with a small bleeding bite. As soon as I got Spike in his cage, I toned down my energy and brought Whodee out of his cage for a calm cuddle. Whodeed was not a "vicious biter" he was a grey who needed focused, gentle handling. It is true that Whodee is not a good talker. He has some sounds he really likes and says maybe a half a dozen words. I bird sit a grey named Topper who is an excellent talker, and sometimes Whodee will say a few words he has learned from Topper. One time when Topper was visiting and had left, I heard a grey say, "com-ere" and it surprised me when I realized it was Whodee. Whodee became a very hands-on parrot in the years he lived with me.   


    While most of the parrots we will deal with at this time have been domestically-raised, in rescue situations people will still deal with wild-caught birds. Some of these parrots will be tame and others won't. The most important aspects of working with these wild-caught birds will  involve patience and slowly working to win their trust. Even though these parrots have been in captivity for 20 years or longer, they aren't tame because no one has taken the time to work with them in a trust-building manner. 
- Back in the late 1980s, I went to a bird shop to tame a wild-caught Military macaw. No one had tried to handle him and he hadn't been out of his cage since he had been purchased from a quarantine station. They called him "slasher" because every time anyone came near the cage, he lunged at his cage bars to try and attack them. I was not exactly sure what I was going to do but I set up a small store room with everything I thought I would need. It was very difficult to get him out of the cage because the door was so small. I made the store owner promise to put him in a better cage so that it would be easier to work with him. Once I got him out of his cage using a towel and gloves, I wrapped him in the towel and took him into the small room and sat down on the floor. I had talked to one of the store employees because I wanted her to be able to work with the macaw after I did. I sat down with the macaw wrapped in the towel and quieted my energy as much as possible. The macaw was in my lap and I slowly reached through the towel and started skritching the macaw's head. I did this until the bird started to relax. I slowly removed the towel while I was skritching his head and he continued to relax. Within about 15 minutes he was on his back all fluffed up and totally enjoying the head skritches. Within another 15 minutes he was sitting on my hand. I continued skritching his head. A few minutes more, I was able to transfer him from hand to hand and was using a quiet "up" command to get him to step from one hand to another. At that point, I asked the store employee to slow down her energy and have him step on her hand. At first he seemed to snap out of his reverie, but then when she proved to be calm and as gentle as I was, he relaxed and let her work with him. The absolute key to my success with this macaw was based on the fact that I was able to slow my energy down enough so that the bird sensed no fear, confusion, or aggression from me. Since parrots match our energy, he was not afraid or aggressive with me. 

    While it has not been legal to import parrots into the United States for over 20 years, some older wild-caught birds are now in need of new homes. Many were successfully tamed, some went into breeding programs, and others have been kept all of these years without anyone ever trying to win their trust. Regardless of these varying degrees of tameness, these parrots can usually still be won over with the trust-building concepts of Nurturing Guidance. Sally now has a book on working with Re-homed Parrots.


    see parrots in the wild 


    A period of time in a young bird’s life when certain learning must take place or the lessons may not be learned or learned as competently. This is the major reason that early socialization is so critical to the emotional and physical health of young parrots.


WINDOWS (dangers of or cage placement)
    There are several aspects in regards to having parrots and the windows in your home. The first is whether or not to put a cage or playgym next to the window. Most parrots adapt very well and enjoy a window view of the world outside. If a parrot is somewhat wary at first, put a gym there for part of the day to let him adjust gradually. Make sure that your parrot isn't kept in a west facing window where the sun beats down on the bird. If there is a bird feeder outside of the window, is there a chance that it would be an area where a hawk could fly down to catch a bird?  The next situation to consider is fledgling a bird, whether is is young or mature. Flying is natural for parrots but the finesse of it is learned. As you teach your parrot to fly, be sure and take him around the rooms that he will be able to fly and point out the windows to him. It helps to hold him and gently thunk his beak into the window so he learns that it is there. The better he learns where the windows are the less likely he is to fly into one and injure himself.  If you don't have a screen door, it is a good idea to have one so you have double door protection from your parrot flying out.


    Wing flapping is an excellent way to provide exercise for a parrot that doesn't fly. It improves their chest muscles, their respiratory system, and their overall health.

    see Wing Quivering and Eclectus toe tapping 


    Wing quivering or flicking is one of the physical signals used by chicks to beg for food. It is also a preflight posture. In companion parrots, wing quivering can be a way the bird says “Come pick me up.” These normal behaviors are not to be confused with the problematic wing flicking behavior of eclectus. (see Eclectus toe tapping.)


    There are strong opinions about whether or not to trim parrot's wings and there are people who are adamant to the point of being rigid and abusinge about not trimming wings. Althoug I believe that parrots are healthier with full wings, I think there are some situations where a parrot is safer with his wings trimed. it. I believe that whether a parrot's wings are trimmed or not is the personal choice of the parrot's caregiver depending on their situation. If you do have your parrot's wings trimmed, I recommend always trimming both wings so the parrot stays balanced. I also recommend taking the 4-8 primary flight feathers starting from the end of the wing and not from the wing area next to the body where the trimmed fearthers can irritate the body. The number of feathers trimmed depends on the body type of the parrot. Actually many slim bodied birds can still fly quite easily with with all the flight feathers trimmed because they can widen their tail for lift. Trimming wings is no guarantee that some parrots can't fly. Feathers should not be trimmed too close to the feather follicle.


Wings are not just for flying, but also for balancing. Therefore, both wings should be trimmed equally. Also, parrots hold their wings in specific positions to communicate and display.

This term is sometimes used to describe the pulsating motion of the vent after pooping or it can also be evident during sexual hehavior. (see pulsate)


   In the U.S., the best known of these highly nutritious vegetables include Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Hubbard, Pumpkin, and Spaghetti. These squashes are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, folates, omega 3 fatty acids, copper, and vitamins B1, B3, B6, and B5. As with sweet potatoes, one of the advantages of these cooked squashes is that you can "smash" other foods, including pellets, into them adding even more nutrition and making a parrot more likely to eat the other foods.    


    (see Verbal cues) Words that a parrot associates with a particular action or other words if he is a talking parrot.  


    While some imported birds came into this country with various worms, lice and mites, they are  uncommon in companion parrots who receive quality care and live inside. Occasionally, they are found in aviary birds especially birds that have contact with the ground.




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