Blue And Gold Macaw Rose Breasted Cockatoos also called Galahs Moluccan Cockatoos

Tips From:


Vitamin A

Vitamin "A" can be a big problem! Not enough can be a deficiency (problem), to much (problems again). But if you give me vitamin "A" made from beta carotene, my body will only use what I need, and get rid of the rest! No harmful build up! It works the same way on humans, so take care of yourself and me. I'm expecting you to feed me tomorrow, and please be on time.



PS. Carrots are a good source of beta carotene, I like them in my corn bread, and try not to burn it, I will Know!

Zinc Toxicosis

Zinc is essentially a required trace mineral, however high levels are toxic and most often fatal. Galvanized and or welded wire contain zinc, especially new wire or new cages. To lessen this you can wire brush your new cage to remove any particles, flakes, or chips of zinc, and then wash your new cage. It is wise to wash any new cage prior to putting your new bird in the cage just in case the new cage has been in contact with harmful air born bacteria, viral agents, or other unseen contaminates. Older cages can give off laden zinc, like when a piece of fruit such as an orange slice sits on the bottom of the cage. The citric acid from the fruit will pickup the zinc residue, and then the bird eats it. Not a lot of zinc there, but over time small amounts can and will add up to something more toxic. Also PVC, padlocks, hardware used on doors, and bird toys often are made with dog chains, chrome links, that white rust residue on new wire, and other such things all containing small amounts of zinc and or lead along with other various metals that can become toxic as well.

Hemolysis (the destruction of white blood cells) is caused by zinc. How zinc is able to produce hemolysis is not known.

In 1982 pennies began to be minted from 94 to 98% zinc. Zinc Toxicosis became recognized, when young animals swallowed these pennies.

Symptoms include: excessive thirst which lead to excessive urine in the poop (polyuria), weight loss, weakness, falling off the perch, ataxia (losing one's balance), anemia, hyperglycemia, seizures, feathers color change, scratching, itching (after parasitic presents has been ruled out), feather plucking has also been a reported symptom (I've seen this first hand), depression and death. Acute toxicity also includes, weight loss, diarrhea, ataxia, recumbency, and death. Chronic cases include lethargy, dysphagia, and depression.

Zinc Toxicosis being controversial with the avian community. Some vets feel it is under diagnosed and often miss diagnosed. A neurological disorder is just one of the miss diagnoses given among others (due to a bird falling off it's perch, losing one's balance), and often Zinc Toxicity or Toxicosis is over looked all together.

Your vet can not see the cage your bird is in nor the surrounding circumstances, this must and should be presented by you, as a responsible pet owner. This in it self often will help your vet to get a much clearer picture to what could be the cause of illness in your pet.

What to do if you suspect zinc, ask your vet to test for it. A very small blood sample is required. You can also safely treat for it as we do, detoxing a bird will only benefit the bird by removing zinc and other toxins you maybe unaware that your bird even has.

There are products on the market that can detoxify a bird, such as the aloe based products. Alloy Cleanse and Metaltox are two products used by us at Sweet Acre Bird Farm twice a year each for zinc, lead, and other toxins. This is part of our regular maintenance plan. We use the Alloy Cleanse first which binds to harmful particles and passes them safely out of the bird, then we follow up with Metaltox and sometimes even Hemotox (another great detoxing product especially for the blood) to get the toxins out of the blood and bones of our birds. The great thing is these products are so safe they can be used during breeding season.

There are other products on the market besides the ones we have mentioned, and I have heard they work very well also for detoxing and chelation of zinc, lead, and other harmful stuff. We have shared with you what we have used and it worked well for us and our feathered friends.

"Marvin" says don't give up after all he's a Goffin too!

"Chicken Wings"

Incidentally we received a Goffin Cockatoo some time ago that we tried everything under the sun to get this bird to stop plucking herself. She was such a severe case that she was chewing into her own flesh at times. We used to call her "Chicken Wings", because she would hold out her naked wings (resembling a set of plucked chicken wings at the super market) and run across the floor of her cage. Despite the naked featherless body, she could charm the socks right off of you. She had no tail and seemed to be biting at herself as though she itched, all the time. We had her checked for parasites inside and out, none were found. We treated her with calming remedies of all kinds, for every three feathers she grew she plucked two, still better than she was, but not good enough for me. We even tried a collar, to stop her from plucking, which I found to barbaric. The collar almost seemed to make matters worse, she stayed in a state of irritable behavior. My husband made her special perches low to the ground for her not to fall, and he rotated toys as we do with all our birds to prevent boredom, unless they have a particular favorite. We played music, at times it did soothe her and made her a bit more content, but even that was not long lasting. I truly believed this little bird crossed my path for a reason, and I was determined not to give up! Finally I ran a crossed an article about toxic metal causing skin irritations, there at last I was on the right track, after treating her with Alloy Cleanse, Metaltox, and an herb of my own milk thistle (that cleanses the liver). There perched a feathered non itching lovely Goffin Cockatoo, now even more of a charmer than before. The years we didn't give up truly paid off, just to see her not plucking, itching, or biting herself was worth all the time and effort. Joeley has reappeared where Chicken Wings once stood. Joeley seemed to be much more relaxed, we were very lucky she didn't have nerve or follicle damage at the sites she so severely plucked and chewed often making herself bleed.

We hope that this article may help someone else with a plucked bird, especially if you have ruled out everything else, give what we did a try. Our little feathered gal was worth it all, and I know if anyone else has such a case, yours is too.

"Marvin" says don't give up after all he's a Goffin too!



Folex is a safe odorless carpet and stain remover that can be used in a room where birds are kept. I would never spray a cage or bird with it but have used it in my bird room and home safely for over 15 years. Best of all it works! With so many unsafe cleaners on today's market it is nice to know there is a safer way to go. I have found it at Walmart as well as Home Depot and other stores. With all the products being offered on the market today it is hard to know what is safe around our feathered friends. I did call the company to see what exactly is in it and although they wouldn't reveal the formula they assured me it is very safe and it has proven to be for the many years I have used it. It is my thinking that the formula used would be to easy to copy and thus Folex understandably didn't want to reveal it.

On a sad note we had a customer that had a local carpet cleaning business came in and cleaned his carpets, he had birds in one of the rooms and soon after had a bird bleeding from the nose. The carpet service said they had never had this happen and were sure there cleaning chemicals were safe. He rushed his bird to a local vet and found that it was likely the chemicals used caused this. The next day he lost his bird and a necropsy was preformed revealing the chemicals did indeed cause the birds death. The company could not deign they were at fault but did not know there chemicals were harmful. They paid all vet bills and now use Folex when in a home where there are birds. They also paid the cost of the man's bird but sadly how can you put a price on something you love. It is better to be safe then sorry, when in doubt leave it out.

In today's world with so many new products that are supposed to be safe around our children, how do we really know? It seems to me that allergies in children are on the rise and it makes me wonder if this is not one of the reasons.

Coming soon more from "Marvin"


When the cold weather hits be prepared, a full bird is a warmer bird. Feed extra food and add things like popcorn, wheat bread, corn bread, corn on the cob, rice checks, cheerios, vanilla wafers, cornbread (more than usual, among other things) even peanuts can be added. I prefer almonds, walnuts, and pecans, because they are more nutritious than peanuts. Of course for smaller birds feed things that they can eat such as walnuts shelled (an example of one of the many things that can be fed to smaller birds as well) where as your large birds can crack them the smaller ones need help.

I use red lens heat lamps to warm them in addition to covering them. The red lens allows them to see to forage for food at night to keep themselves warmer, they also give off heat, and the red lens is not nearly as hard on their eyes as a bright white light would be thus allowing them a much more peaceful sleep.

You can cover cages with bisque and other plastic sheeting just beware that when the sun shines on it you can have the green house effect, so remember to roll up a side or two early in the day or you can cover cages with sheet like material (cloth, but with no loose threads that birds can reach) if you are away and it warms up unexpectedly you will not have to worry about the green house effect. I recommend clear for bisque (no black) white to light colored cloth (no dark colors) so the birds can still experience day light and not be left in the dark, "day and night" (daylight hours being a very important factor in a good breeding program, as well as an over all wellness for all creatures).

Remember also if temperatures really dip those of you whom use PVC perches, those pipes can freeze and little birdie feet will stick right to them. A few years ago I knew of a case where a Macaw had to have part of his foot amputated because of this very thing. We use larger perches than required by each species of bird in our aviary, because that way they can actually sit on their feet with their feathers covering over them. Wooden perches are not going to freeze like PVC.

Above all clean fresh water is vital, don't assume that ice in the bowl is going to melt, you make sure they have water. This is important for all creatures. So people think I'm obsessive about my birds, that's OK I probably am, but I will not drink yesterdays stagnate water, so why should I make my birds, dogs, cats, and other animals?

Please note this is a simplified form of how I care for my outside birds. It doesn't include what we do for our chicks in the nest in the case of an emergency or how we deal with hypothermia should it arise. In the case that the parent birds get off the nest during the night, I can tell you the light in itself often helps a scared pair of cockatiels or other birds find there way back to the nest, eggs, and chicks in the dark.

Nail Clippers

UW-C7 Jeffers Cat Claw Scissors  $2.99

From: Jeffers Pet Catalog  

There are many wing & nail clippers on the market but this is one of my favorite for birds, not because they are cheap but because they work so well. The above is just one place I know they can still be found, they are small and reliable. We also use them at the vet clinic where I work part time. Recommended by: Lisa Sweet

Nail Grinders

Dremel 4.8V MiniMite Cordless

Lightweight and compact for precision and control, it works great for grinding down birdie nails with no cord that the bird might grab or chew. They have others on the market with more power but I find this one to be great for bird nails.You can find them at Walmart as well as other stores for about $19.00, battery charger and all. Does the job when I want the nails rounded instead of just a blunt cut.

Blood feathers are found on all birds from time to time, what are they, well the beginning of a new actively growing feather, nourished by blood. Covered with a thick shaft that will flake off as the feather grows. They are caused by the natural molt that every bird goes through, every year and sometimes several times in a year. Depending on the birds environment, temperature and time of year a molt can fluctuate. Molting is kind of like a dog shedding the old coat and growing the new. It doesn't happen all at once, so your feathered friend is never featherless but will drop old feathers over a period of weeks as new ones are coming in simultaneously. Due to the fact a blood supply actively feeds the new feather through an artery you must be careful not to break one.
In serious cases it is always good to have "Kwik Stop" on hand to stop bleeding and the local veterinarian number at hand, in the rare instance that you can not stop the bleeding. On white or the very light colored birds they will look pink and in darker colored birds they will resemble an ink pen having a dark bluish color to them. To the new pet owner they often are said to look like straws sticking out of their bird, sounds funny but actually is quite a good description of them. As for the bird this can cause irritation and in some irritable behavior. As soon as the molt is over the bird will return to normal. You can help minimize the irritation by misting your bird to help the feathers open and grow faster. We recommend doing this early in the day so they don't go to bed damp and don't do it in a cool environment.

"Peace to all Creatures Great and Small,"

Love, Marvin

PS. I do believe in Santa!

My list is near my cage and even though you didn't ask, "I do love acrylic toys."

Marvin is out Christmas shopping!


We'll catch up with Marvin next month as he will be getting ready for his spring cleaning and the breeding season. He is unavailable at the moment, (out shopping) last seen racing through a pet shop in a Barbie doll car with credit card tucked under his wing!

Coming soon more from Marvin. Also check our winter page for other important hazards as well as our danger page. Marvin recommends "Traveling With Your Parrot"

available baby birds and others

current available breeder birds



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