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Parrot Breeding - Are we doing the right thing?
John Valsamis B.SC., D.V.M.
a) Captive Bred Birds
Commercial Breeders - distribute to pet store, publicly, and other suppliers
Hobbyist - distribute to pet stores and public
b) Wild Caught
Legally Imported - wild caught from Africa through France
Illegal or Smuggled - very small number, especially Canada
Who - Bred for
- More common groups:
Amazons, African Greys, Cocatoos, Conures, Macaws, Budgies, Cockatiels, Lovebirds
- Increasing popularity:
Poicephalus spp, Pionus, Caiques, Quaker Parakeets, Lories
Where - Commercial aviary, hobby aviary, pet store, government aviary
When - Year round
Why - Human-animal bond, breeding as a hobby,
propagate endangered species
- rare species - Hawkhead, Cape Parrot, Hyacinth etc.
- more common species - African Grey, Blue Fronted Amazons, Double Yellow Headed Amazon etc.
- small pet species - Budgies, Cockatiels, Lovebirds
2. Pet Birds - more common groups
Amazons - require attention
- excellent talkers, species dependent
- may form individual bonds - aggressive during breeding season
African Grey - require attention - very intelligent - excellent talkers - high strung
- may form individual bonds
Cockatoos - require attention - crave physical contact, ie: Umbrella Cocatoo - can be noisy and destructive - mate aggression
Conures - enjoy attention - generally poor talkers - can be noisy and destructive
Macaws - require attention - extremely intelligent
- can be noisy and destructive - aggressive during breeding season
- require large cages
- Non-profit groups ie: World Parrot Trust, R.A.R.E.
What - Birds increasing in popularity
- Jardine's Parrot
- Brown-headed Parrot
- Senegal Parrot
- Red-bellied Parrot
- Meyers Parrot
- Blue Crowned Conure
- Mitred Conure
- Red-masked Conure
- Jandaya Conure
- Sun Conure - Peach-fronted Conure
- Black-headed Caique
- Blue-headed Parrot
- White-capped Parrot
- Bronze-winged Parrot
- Dusky Parrot
- Monk /Quaker Parakeet
- Alexandrine Parakeet
- Derbyan Parakeet - Moustached Parakeet
- Dusky Lory
- Rainbow Lory
- Red Lory
Where - The Commercial and Hobby aviary account for the majority of pet birds in the pet trade. A smaller, but significant proportion are produced by pet stores themselves.
When - Year Round
- Using artificial light ie: Gro Light (Sylvania),
- Power Glo(Hagen), Vita Light (Duralight)
- Natural light
Why - Human Influence
a) To fulfill human-animal bond
b) To propagate endangered species
These goals can only be achieved through:
Quality Breeding Stock
- keep current
- keep excellent managment F.L.A.W.S.S. (food, light, air, water, space, sanitation)
- keep honest
Quality Breeding Stock
The genetic background is critical when choosing a pair of birds for breeding. Inbreeding is defined as the mating and production of offspring by closely related parents. When unrelated birds are bred, the resulting offspring are outbred. Physical and psychological characteristics can be influenced by genetic factors. For example, mutations in colour are generally the result of continued inbreeding. Unfortunately, inbreeding increases the likelihood of birth defects and increases susceptibility to disease. The various budgerigar and cockatiel colour mutations are two excellent examples where show quality selection exceeded the desire to select for reduced birth defects, increased disease resistance and longevity.
The potential maximum duration of life for a species is of extreme importance to bird owners. Below are some examples of suggested longevities of a few selected companion species.
Ritchie, Harrison and Harrison (1994) Avian Medicine Principles and Applications (Wirgers Pub F.D)
Identification: Banding, Microchipping, photographs and tatooing, D.N.A. Mapping
a) Correct size - too tight, too loose, too heavy
Aluminum - easier to remove, may be crushed by large psittacines, initials wear down
Steel - difficult to remove, can lead to serious injury if removed inappropriately - must use for Hyacinth and Green-winged Macaws
c) Information - improves visual information
- sexing bands; males banded on right leg, females banded on left leg
- breeder's initials
- year born
- identification number
- Tiny glass coated beads
- virtually impossible to remove
- great for stud book coordinators
- great for managing large aviaries
- more costly
- smaller species may require a general anesthetic - difficult to trace, data bank only with each individual microchip company
Photographs and Tatooing
- high quality close-up photographs are necessary, therefore more costly photographic equipment is needed
- not very reliable
- tatoos difficult to find and read
- Accurate, expensive
John Valsamis B.Sc., D.V.M.
Dr. Valsamis went to the University of Guelph for his undergraduate studies, and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology/Zoology in 1986, and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1990.
Dr. Valsamis began breeding Budgies and Cockatiels as a teenager, and eventually bred large Psittacines while at University which he continues to do today.
He and his wife, also a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, operate Britannia Animal Hospital where Dr. Valsamis specializes in avian and other exotic animal species.