Bringing your new Eckie home

Bringing your new Eckie home

The long awaited day is finally drawing near. Soon it will be time to bring your new Eckie home. Our clients tell us they feel both elated and nervous. Some have waited a very long time for their new addition and are almost bursting with excitement and anticipation. Whether you are purchasing a baby or adopting an older Eckie, you want to make a good first impression and ensure you start your relationship off on the right foot.

Saying goodbye to everything they know

The most important thing to remember when you bring your Eckie home is that they may be very scared. They have left the comfort of their home and many are meeting their new family for the very first time. Some Eckies are lucky enough to live close to their new human flock, while others must travel great distances. Either way, it’s new, it’s scary, their carer or old family is nowhere to be found, their siblings are gone and they are all alone.

They have no way to communicate effectively and no one understands what they are saying. Some Eckies come from breeders or owners who understand their body language and know exactly what they want. They can communicate easily and know their every need will be met. They lived an idyllic life filled with love, friendship and routine. Now it is gone and they don’t know how to cope. They are pining for their family, breeder and siblings and are don’t understand why life has changed. I liken this transition to a young child being left alone in a foreign country. They don’t know anyone, their parents are gone and they can’t speak the language. The child would be terrified and our feathered kids are no different.

First impressions count

This may sound clichéd, but it’s true. First impressions are lasting and you want your Eckie to know that you’re someone they can trust. This is why it is so important to follow a few simple rules to help pave the way for a fantastic relationship.

The first week is going to be the hardest for both owner and Eckie. The owner wants nothing more than to snuggle their new kid and shower them with love, toys and all the goodies they have bought. The Eckie is overwhelmed by the change—their world has been turned upside down and they have no idea what to do, where they are or who to trust.

It is up to us as loving parents to put our own desires aside and do all we can to show our kids that we can be trusted and their forever home is going to be filled with love and happiness. To assist with this, we can prepare our family and friends for the new arrival so everyone understands what they must do during the settling-in period.

This is a short excerpt from our book: The Ultimate Guide to Eclectus Parrots. This chapter explains how to settle your Eckie into their new home. This is a critical time for both Eckie and owner. Follow our technique and you will be setting yourself up for success.

Included in this chapter:

  • Keeping the children happy
  • Selecting a primary carer
  • Local pick-up
  • Travel cages
  • Preparing your Eckie’s travel cage
  • Eckie Eve
  • The big day
  • Airport pickup
  • Using your Eckies name
  • The drive home
  • Home at last
  • Why won’t they eat?
  • Feathered extroverts
  • Kick back and relax
  • This is what we advise our clients to do
  • Don’t create a rod for your back
  • The all important routine
  • Tough nuts to crack
  • Please show your Eckie the respect they deserve
  • Your hard work will be rewarded

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Why the relationship between breeder and “aviary bird” matters

One of the things that really impressed me about Kirsten before coming to Australia was how involved she was with her breeding birds. As an Eclectus owner myself, I was always curious about what the parents of my Eckie hen was like. What kind of personality did they have? Were they quiet, curious or playful?

Unfortunately in the avicultural industry, it is a common belief that a breeder must not interact very much with their breeding parrots. “Feed them and leave them” was the phrase that I heard a lot. For other parrot species that may indeed be the case, however for Eclectus parrots Kirsten has proved otherwise.

Being a parrot lover, taking such a hands-off stance was something that Kirst could not do. Having raised her very first Eclectus pair (Red and Sprout), she was heavily involved in their everyday lives. They grew up in her home and she included them in many of her daily activities like cooking, cleaning and taking care of her son. To this day, Red still loves to be included when Kirst is preparing a meal – helping chop up fresh vegetables (taking small ‘tasting bites’) and talking extensively while we both work in the kitchen.

As she grew her Eckie flock, the routine stayed the same. Once they all had a large outdoor aviary to share she would spend a lot of time with them watching their personalities grow and seeing friendships and couples form. This became invaluable as they started breeding.

Having such a strong bond with her breeding Eclectus enabled Kirsten to know what personality traits her babies would develop

This insight helped Kirst to pair a baby with a client in a way that few other breeders have. During her interview process, Kirsten would try and understand what a potential client was like and what kind of baby they needed. If the individual was approved for one of her babies, then she could pair them up. Sometimes this process required the client to wait as much as a year before they could have a baby, but the results were worth it.

Our testimonials page is full of clients who have been matched perfectly with a baby Eclectus – because of the time Kirsten spent with her breeding kids.

This interaction has not inhibited their breeding. Red – one of our best breeders – often hatched and raised 3 babies at a time. All of her babies and in fact all of our babies raised here at Parrot Haven have always been extremely healthy with very strong personalities.

Kirsten has always believed that if her parrots were happy, then they would breed happy babies–and that has proved true every time

We have recently taken some video footage of us in our communal aviary which shows the kind of relationship that we have with our kids. Not only do they enjoy our interaction with them but sometimes it is difficult for us to leave as they simply will cling onto us and not want us to leave the flight!

Aviary Time from Parrot Haven on Vimeo.

Having this kind of bond with our parrots is absolutely heartwarming and we wouldn’t trade that for anything. Now that our kids are retired we’re able to enjoy a perfectly healthy ‘pet’ relationship with them because they have always been treated as members of our flock. This has helped their transition from breeding to pet happen seamlessly.

If you are looking to buy an Eclectus parrot – please do as much research as you can about any potential breeders you wish to purchase from. Not all breeders are the same and in our experience, many breeders can be downright deceitful. It is important to ask any potential breeder the kind of questions that will help you ascertain whether or not they are worth their salt as an aviculturist. If you have any hesitation about a breeder, then move on until you find the right one. When you do find a reputable breeder then spread the word. Once enough people start demanding better standards in the industry then the industry can make a change for the better!

Purchasing a parrot online

Parrot Haven babies are always in high demand. There have been times when clients have waited over 8 months for one of our precious babies. Sometimes we receive emails from people wanting to buy our Eckies from different countries. They are disappointed when they discover they can’t buy our baby and ask if we can recommend a breeder who raises their babies in the same manner we do. We provide them with a list of questions to ask breeders, to ensure they are buying a healthy, well socialized baby from a highly experienced aviculturist.

The joys of technology

There are many places people can find parrots for sale online. Sites ranging from specialist breeders  websites to forums and even free ad sites that allow people to post pets for sale along side bus tickets.

When looking for a companion parrot – we always encourage people to arm themselves with as much knowledge as possible before they commit to a breeder. This knowledge not only helps them care for their parrot to the best of their ability, but also prevents them from being scammed by people posing as breeders. Some people have little to no experience hand raising parrots, sadly, it is the baby parrots who are affected.

Know your breeder

It is extremely important to understand who you are buying from. The internet has revolutionised many industries – opening the way for people to conduct business so much easier. However it also provides more unethical people a mask to hide behind. This was proved to us recently by an individual posing as an experienced breeder. This person claimed to be a specialist breeder with many years experience. We knew this was not the case and when we chose not to promote his newly started breeding business we were met with verbal threats of physical harassment. The email we received was so disturbing that we were advised by our lawyer to report it to the police.  We were deeply disturbed by his defamatory comments and threats of harassment. We worried what type of environment the baby parrots were being exposed to. How was this affecting them and shaping their upbringing?

When buying a pet parrot online it is important to exercise caution. Whether you choose to buy direct from a breeder, a pet store or an online ‘trading’ site – do your homework. Take the time to ensure the person you are buying from really does have the credentials they promote. This may save you from a great deal of heart ache later.  Here are some tips we recommend:

Know who you are dealing with

While talking with the person you are interested in buying from, try to ascertain who they are as a person. This may sound strange, but it’s an important step because you want to find people who are committed to their craft and raises their babies in a loving, caring environment.

Baby parrots are in the breeders care 24/7 for many months. The aviculturists hand raising technique and the time they spend with their babies helps shape the baby parrots developing personality

Ensure your chosen breeder has a great deal of experience working with  parrots. You want to feel comfortable in their ability as a breeder because you will need to turn to them when you have questions as your parrot grows and matures

We set up a forum dedicated to helping our own clients and others who were unable to receive the help and follow up service they required.

Sadly, some people are merely intent on making a quick sale. We advise people to buy from a breeder who truly cares about their babies. One who understands the personalities of their breeding parrots and babies. One who can match you with your perfect feathered friend. I believe it is very important to choose a breeder who has spent many years working and specializing with your chosen species of parrot.

We have met a few people via our forum who bought a parrot and later discovered the breeder did not offer the follow up service they claimed on their site. This is where doing your homework pays off.

If someone claims to have 5 or 10 years experience, ask for testimonials from their past clients. If they have been working in the industry for a long time they will have a solid clientele and a good reputation with many testimonials.  Ask the breeder if you can contact 3-4 of their past clients. Don’t feel strange contacting them. If a client is happy with their parrot, they should be more than happy to promote the breeder.  Ask about their experience with the breeder. Do they provide a good follow up service? Do they truly care about their babies and their clients? Are they knowledgable and professional. If you have any doubts or the testimonials sounded false, move on to the next breeder on your list. This is a big decision, you want to know you are buying from the best breeder possible.

Be respectful

Professional aviculturists are extremely busy, their life revolves around their parrots and spare time is a rarity.  We always appreciate clients who email us first to organize a time to chat. If you do call, be sure to ask the breeder if it a convenient time to talk. A little courtesy goes a long way and I know we are more likely to part with one of our precious babies when the client shows respect.

It is important to have a list of questions to ask your breeder. Take the time to write these down before you call.

You can learn a lot about a breeder simply by talking to them. Those who are truly passionate about their parrots will stand out. This is not something you can fake, true commitment comes from the heart. Be sure to contact a number of breeders, never buy from the first place you call. This will help you compare different breeders and find one that is right for you. Don’t feel bad about asking the breeder questions. A professional breeder who truly cares about their birds will understand why you are asking. They want to know their baby is going to a loving, forever home and will be more likely to part with one of their babies.

Follow up

Maintain contact with your breeder during your babies hand raising process.  Emailing is a great way to do this. We setup a forum for exactly this reason, we wanted our clients to be a part of their babies life and watch as they grow and develop. Ask for photos of your baby as they grow. Always be polite and acknowledge that you appreciate their time. Again, professional aviculturists are very busy. On average, Kirsten receives between 50-60 emails from Eckie owners asking for help and advice – some emails come from breeders with questions about their neonate Eclectus parrots. It takes time to respond to everyone – she does this while caring for 25 Eclectus parrots and writing her book. So be polite and respectful. If you think of questions you forgot to ask while on the phone, ask them via email.

If needed, schedule another phone call as a follow-up. This helps the breeder appreciate that you are excited about your new parrot baby and committed to your decision. It will also help them get a sense for who you are. When Kirsten was breeding, she would get to know each of her clients individually, talking with them sometimes on a daily basis via our forum. This helped her find the perfect baby for her client. Every parrot is unique, no two are the same and an experienced, caring aviculturist will want to know their baby is going to a home that suits their personality.

When the lines of communication are open, then it’s a good sign that you are dealing with a person who is honest and wants the best for their baby parrot.

Be safe

Sadly, the selling of unweaned parrots and birds who have been raised poorly by inexperienced ‘breeders’ occurs all too often. We  actively help  people nurse sick parrots back to health or assist those who have bought unweaned parrots. This is the down side to aviculture, some breeders may not take their responsibility seriously, to the detriment of both the parrot and the new owner.

If you see an ad that looks suspicious or unethical (such as an ad for an unweaned parrot), please take the time to report it to the site administrator. The selling of unweaned parrots is grossly unethical and ultimately dangerous to the poor baby parrot. Aviculturists must take their responsibility seriously. Raising a baby parrot is hard work, it takes a great deal of knowledge and skill to ease them through their different developmental stages. Professional breeders know how to raise large, healthy parrots. Please, don’t buy unweaned parrots, leave the hand raising to the professionals.

If things go wrong

Some people buy a parrot from a seemingly reputable breeder or individual and things go terribly wrong. We had a forum member who this happened to. It turned out the baby parrot she bought was in poor health and almost died because he had been weaned far too early. This resulted in astronomical vet bills. The correspondence between the “breeder” and the buyer escalated into a heated situation.

If you have purchased from a breeder or individual who has threatened you in any way, then you need to report the incident to the local police. They can file an incident report and if needed pursue the matter further.

Needless to say, any breeder who uses threats – no matter how empty – should be avoided.

Help improve the industry

Sadly, there is a harsher side to aviculture. Kirsten has recieved countless emails over the year from people who have purchased unweaned babies, birds from inexperienced breeders and even those who rescued abused parrots. She has actively helped educate people, sharing her knowledge so that people demand nothing but the best from their breeder. This education goes beyond care and maintenance for Eclectus Parrots – we try to educate people so they may make a good decision when it comes time to buy a baby parrot.

When people start demanding better service and care from the breeding industry, then things can change. Help encourage responsible breeding practices by interviewing your breeder and asking the right questions. When you find a reputable breeder, then spread the word. These people need all the support you can give.

Beware of Unethical Breeding Practices

During this past year we have received an alarming number of emails from parrot owners who purchased their babies from seemingly reputable breeders only to find out later that their precious babies had pre-existing health conditions. When they tried to contact the breeder later they were either completely ignored or they could not provide the owner with information regarding the health and condition of the breeding parents – because they did not know.

After a bit of research, we’ve discovered a couple of practices that we believe are extremely harmful – not only to the unfortunate people who purchase these babies, but for the treatment of the breeding parrots in general.

Selling Third-Party Weaned Babies
One such practice that two of our Parrot Haven clients had experienced was the selling of third-party weaned babies. Third party basically entails someone outside of the breeder whom you are purchasing from is the one who has hatched and in some cases raised the parrot baby. What this means is that the “breeder” that you are buying from has not raised your baby. In the case of one of our clients, the breeder they originally bought from did not even know how to contact the individual who originally sold them the Eclectus baby!

The dangers of this practice are fairly obvious. The most detrimental aspect being that it encourages an anonymous breeding industry where the quality of life for the poor breeding birds and their babies is often neglected.

Aviculture is a serious profession. You are dealing with very fragile lives and the life of any parrot cannot be treated with a ‘trial-and-error’ attitude.

While Kirsten has always had a passion for Parrots – she did not even approach breeding until she had done extensive research both with Parrots and with the species she wanted to specialise in – Eclectus. This research took her years, during which time she consulted with other experienced breeders like Rob Pollard who is well respected in the field.

Breeding requires a lot of work and total commitment for the people involved. Eclectus Parrots are very difficult parrots to hand-raise due to their finicky eating bahaviour. Because of this, a breeder who wants to earn a solid reputation needs more than just passion. They need to be committed to their passion. This is where the anonymity of third-party breeders creates problems.

Answers to questions like these are difficult to impossible to ascertain:

  • How passionate are they about breeding?
  • How long have they been breeding?
  • What is their breeding setup like? (i.e. how are their breeding parrots housed, cared for etc.)
  • What diets are the breeding parents fed?
  • What formula are the babies fed? (With a lot of ‘backyard breeders’ babies are fed baby food designed for human babies not parrot babies. Each parrot species will have their own dietary requirements so it’s important to feed the right parrot babies the correct formula.)
  • Have the breeding parents ever suffered health problems?
  • Was the baby parent raised or were they hand-raised from the egg?

Answers to these questions help the potential parrot owner decide if they even want to purchase from the breeder and if your breeder is selling a third-party baby then they may not even know the answers to these questions.

It is important to ask any breeder the question up front: “Do you raise your own parrot babies or do you sell parrot babies from other breeders?” If they do sell parrot babies other breeders, then the choice is up to you whether to follow up with additional questions regarding the health of the parrot parents and the baby.

No Follow-up Service
Another problem we’ve helped people with, is the terrible lack of follow-up service offered by some breeders. One of our clients purchased their first Eclectus from a breeder with seemingly high reputation here in Australia, only to find that they would not offer any follow-up service after “the sale” was made. In the case of our client, they incurred a vet bill of over $1000 only months after they brought their new baby home due to a pre-existing condition.

Unfortunately – unless people know to ask – they often find out too late that some breeders really have no interest in their own parrot babies once they are sold.

This is a terrible practice because ultimately the parrot babies end up losing. Breeders who are not committed to their own parrot babies are probably not interested in finding appropriate homes for their babies and will typically sell to the first person who calls. This is extremely sad as Kirsten has turned more people down than she has ever sold to. After 11 years of breeding, that is a lot of people!

If you are looking for a good breeder, be careful of any wording that may alert you to a low level of commitment from them. Often if they advertise that “all sales are final” or that “the parrot is your responsibility once you have them in your possession”, then chances are you should be very cautious.

A reputable breeder does not need to worry about what happens when their parrot baby is sent to their new home if they have done their work and found the perfect home in the first place. If they keep their breeding parrots in good health, there is no reason not to offer follow-up service. If they have raised their parrot baby on a balanced, top-quality formula, then again they should have no worries about providing follow-up service.

Over the years, Kirsten has provided so many people with help at no cost because she cares about the welfare of pet parrots. Often, when she has asked people if they have contacted their breeder, the response is usually “I tried”.

We work extremely hard to encourage positive change in the way that parrots are kept as pets and how they are bred. The best thing you can do as a hopeful parrot owner is be aware of the dangers. Look for the warning signs of an unethical breeder. Most importantly, interview the breeder you are interested in purchasing from. If they are worth their weight in gold – then they will respect that you care about the health of your future parrot baby and how they are raised.

Hopefully, when enough people can do this then perhaps these breeders may change their ways and in the end, the parrots will win.

Eclectus Parrot Diets – Do you know what your breeder feeds their breeding parrots?

When choosing a baby Eckie, it is imperative to ask about the health and diet of the parent birds.

The following  is a small excerpt from our book: The Ultimate Guide to Eclectus Parrots. This chapter explains the importance of choosing a top quality breeder and the   questions to ask when buying your companion Eclectus.

What diet are the parent birds fed?

Parent birds must be fed a top quality diet. The health of the parent birds directly influences the health of their babies. Feeding Eckies a diet lacking in calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals, will produce weak babies prone to illness.

Ensure that you purchase your baby from a breeder who feeds their breeding Eckies a variety of fruit, vegetables, proteins and legumes. Request a photo of their daily diet and photos of the parent birds. Their condition will help you gauge whether they are in good condition and excellent health. Look for shiny plumage, bright eyes, shiny black beaks on the hens, and bright orange beaks on the males.

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Choosing your Eclectus Parrot

Choosing your breeder

The first few months of a baby’s life are crucial. As an aviculturist, it is my responsibility to provide our kids with the best start to life, so they can grow up to become confident, healthy, functioning members of their human flock.

Aviculture is an exciting, yet stressful profession. It takes an immense amount of work to raise a well-socialized companion parrot. We spend countless hours with our babies, preparing them for life with their human flock. We teach them to step-up, step-down and basic harness training. We introduce them to their humanized world, build their confidence with noisy gadgets such as the vacuum cleaner, hair dryers and blenders, and take them on exciting car rides. Parrot Haven kids leave home feeling confident and self-assured. They know they are loved and demand nothing but the best.

No two breeders are the same

Every aviculturist raises their babies differently. Their feeding techniques may be similar, yet the environment they are raised in will differ. If you are buying a companion Eclectus, choose a breeder who spends a lot of time with their babies. This helps shape and mold their personality. We advise people to choose a breeder they identify with, someone they feel comfortable talking to. Your baby will be in their care 24-hours a day for three months. The home environment is going to affect their developing personality, and you need to know your baby is raised in a manner you are happy with. You want them to come from a home where they receive individual attention, are fed top quality formula and treated as a beloved member of the family.

Parrot Haven babies were always in high demand. We have turned away many potential clients due to the length of our waiting list. Our Eckie hens are now retired and we no longer breed. People express their disappointment, and want to know if we can recommend someone else who raises their babies the way we do. Many times we have people wanting our Eckies from outside the country, and we are unable to recommend anyone. So we provide them with a list of questions that we would ask breeders.

As future Eckie owners, it is a good idea to ask your potential breeder a number of questions. The following will help ensure that you are buying from someone who cares about their feathered kids, and raises them to the best of their ability.

Here are a few questions to ask a potential breeder:

  • Do you provide follow up service for the baby and if so, for how long?
  • How has the baby been fed?
  • What formula do you use?
  • What sort of personality does the baby have?
  • What sort of environment has the baby grown up in?
  • What diet are the parent birds fed?
  • Are you able to visit or view photos of the breeder’s setup?
  • At what age was the baby weaned?
  • Could you please tell me about the parent bird’s temperament?
  • Have the parent birds ever suffered from any disease or illness?

These are a few sample questions we provide in our book:  The Ultimate Guide to Eclectus Parrots.

Always try to be respectful of the breeder’s time, as no doubt they live busy lives with birds to care for and babies to feed. Have your questions ready. If they do not wish to answer some of the questions,  ask yourself why this is so.

I hope that this has been of help and I wish you the best of luck in finding both the perfect baby and the best breeder possible and remember, never settle for second best. The parrots upbringing, parentage, breeders experience and knowledge will all determine the quality of the bird you choose as a potential life long companion.

 

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