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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I would like to hear stories from other members about their mid-sized parrots, and why they love them. Therefore, I am starting this thread in hopes that others will share their stories about their mid-sized parrots.

I will begin by telling about Roni, my female senegal. She is the only mid-sized parrot in an otherwise small bird home. Two of our three little birds came into the family specifically to be my children's birds, but the third was supposed to be my small bird. He is so sweet that every one of us claim him as our second bird. However, I never have to worry that anyone else will claim Roni as his/her bird. No one else WANTS Roni. Roni, herself, would like to claim my son as her person, but he constantly reminds me that Roni is MY bird.

This morning we were sharing Chex mix. Roni's was just cereal with a broken up Brazil nut. Mine was the real stuff. As Roni totally enjoyed herself, eyes pinning while she scattered bits of mix hither and yon, and took the occasional opportunity to reach over and nip me, I wondered what it was exactly about this little brat that makes me adore her so.

Roni is going through a very nippy stage. This has made me quite sad because prior to reaching this age, she never bit, nipped, or pinched me at all. Sometimes the nipping is more than I can take, and I put her back into her cage. She has never bitten as I return her to the cage, but she always throws a royal fit. She screams, stomps, flaps her wings, beats up her toys, scrapes her beak against the cage bars. When she is finished with her fit, she politely comes as close to me as she can get and says, "Step up" or "Pretty bird", her usual way of asking to get out of the cage. She is generally calmer when she emerges, but recently she has taken to pinching me as long and as hard as I can tolerate, just once, soon after finishing her "time out", all the while staring right into my face. I guess she knows exactly what she can get away with. It would probably have been better if I had chosen a bird who is NOT smarter than I am. :shrug:

Yet Roni is the only bird I have who will agree to being petted as long as I want to pet her. She will turn her little head at every possible angle. She makes little noises like a duck, fluffs up, and snuggles against me, grinding her teeth, to take a little snooze.

She plays wrecklessly, screeching at the top of her lungs and hanging by one toe from her toys, and sometimes she falls off. :eek: She always gets up nanchanlantly, like she intended to fall all along, and takes after some other toy.

When the grass parakeets get down onto the floor, which they do often because they would be comfortable even on the ground, Roni worries about them, because SHE is not comfortable on the floor. She watches intently as I try to pick them up, and says, "Step up. Step up, bird." When I put them back where they belong, she is relieved and touches her beak to my face as if to thank me for saving them.

So what are a few unplanned body piercings when compared to that? After all, multiple ear piercings are still in style aren't they?
 

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Senegals and the "biting stage"

Nanay / all:

I have regularly read or heard mention of the "biting stage" with Senegals. How are old are they typically when this starts and do they get over it? I've always liked Senegals but getting bit scares me a little.

Back in the early 1980s, I had a Senegal that was probably a wild-caught one. He never really tamed too well. He would go on my hand if I cornered him in his cage but was unpredictable about biting. I seemed to be going to work every day with a new bite wound! But given that he was probably wild-caught, I assumed some or most of his biting was because he was never comfortable with humans. I eventually sold him to someone who wanted a Senegal for breeding.

I thought hand-raised Senegals would get around this biting problem but, from the sound of it, biting also happens for reasons other than fear. In fact, I'm wondering if hand-raised Senegals might even bite more because they are not afraid of people.
 

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Senegals, in my experience, are like all other parrots, really, in that they have a biting phase when they go through sexual maturity, about 1-2 years old. They are a little more prone to nipping in this stage than other species, but they are no worse than linnies, GCC, MBC, etc. Mostly, it's just dominance and posturing, trying to see if they can be the boss now that they're a big strong adult birdie! :giggle:

Mid-sized birds are really great for most people - mind you, I want and will have the giants as soon as I have the space - but for 99% of bird owners, I really recommend mid-sized birds as starter birds and lifelong pets. I think they are better than the small birds in many ways for first time owners, they're a little less intimidating in that they don't have to worry all the time. They're sturdy, hardy, and have big parrot personality in a small body. They have some meat on their bones and can handle more rough handling from little kids and new owners without much complaint and they won't get underfoot like a parrotlet or a parakeet (I've heard that story too many times :frown:) But at the same time, they're not overly loud and don't require a huge expensive cage.

Poi's are my favorite of the medium parrots, and Caiques, they're both very personable and friendly without being overly nippy or bossy. Besides, how can you NOT love a bouncing, fun loving Caique? :lol: Pionus are amazing birds, but shy and somewhat sedentary. Smaller Amazons (orange wing, lilac crowned) are great talkers but more one person birds and perch potatoes lol. Mini-Macaws are a blast, but you have to be able to handle the attitude and the beak, so no beginners there. Small cockatoos are wonderful pets, very cuddly, animated and good talkers, they're just far more needy and not for beginners. Let me know if I'm forgetting anyone! :rofl:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ron,

I didn't mean to paint an overly harsh picture of senegals. Truly, Roni is definitely trying out her beak now, but it doesn't hurt the way I think it COULD hurt if she was really trying to hurt me. I think she is learning how hard she can bite without hurting. I also think she is trying to develop into "adult" status in this flock, whatever that means to her. She has still never drawn blood nor left a dent or swelled place - no mark of any kind.

I have a book about poicephalus, and I try to do the things suggested in that book. I think the advice is good.

These are some generalities I have learned:
1) Poicephalus tend to have fear reactions and phobias during their adolescence. The most colorful species tend to have the most difficulty with these. Therefore, red bellied and senegal parrots often have more difficulty with phobic reactions than the other poicephalus species. This is a generality. Nevertheless, all other things being equal, you might expect a meyers or brown head to have less issue with phobic reactions than senegals or red bellies. I don't have either, but people on this site who have experience with meyers and brown heads could let us know if these are a bit steadier.

2) Poi babies who show stronger fears in infancy tend to continue to be more phobic throughout life, so if possible select a baby who is less fearful right from the egg. It has been my experience with all species of animals that fear can't be trained away. Maybe this is MY short coming, but go for the less fearful if you have a choice.

3) A bad reaction on our parts to a phobic reaction by a poi can establish the behaviors throughout life. People who are able to get a bird who is having a phobic reaction into a safe place where it can settle down have less liklihood of the behavior becoming a permanent issue than those who can't. This explains to me why it was so difficult for wild caught pois to ever trust people. They were probably captured as young as possible - maybe out of the nest. This would have been the worst possible time to scare them. All of the trauma of capture and shipping and quaranteen and selling would have just served to establish phobic reactions for a lifetime.

I love Roni. I have an odd sense of humor. I like quirky behaviors. I am as likely to be as attached to my ornriest students as to the sweetest ones. The llamas who are MINE in our herd are the ones the kids didn't want, and I love them for their idiosyncracies. We have one llama who watches the others in the herd as they go through performance courses. (This is a type of competition my kids and I do with the llamas.) If they do better than she does, she gets really jealous and beats them up. She seldom looses, but if she does, we have to pretend the better ribbons and awards are hers to keep peace among them. Perhaps you think I am being fanciful about my llamas, but I have many witnesses to this behavior, and it has occurred repeatedly. I have told people about it, and in so doing, some people have become afraid of her, but she is actually a total sweet heart to people, and she would never hurt anyone on purpose. She is actually a VERY sweet llama in the herd situation. She has a sense of fairness and won't let any of the weak, ill, or little llamas go without food. I think that because I like to talk about quirks people often get the wrong idea. I have heard people say they are afraid to handle her because I have shared these stories, but I can give her to a four year old child to show, and she is as gentle as a lamb.

I hope I have not caused you to be nervous about getting a poi, because I do think they are wonderful. They are somewhat quieter than some other mid-sized birds, though they do have a shrill contact call, but they don't use it much. They are, as Jenny stated, a great size for many people. They simply require understanding of their phobic natures and guidance as they mature.

The other night I scared Roni. For some reason, the alarm went off in the middle of the night. It wasn't supposed to be set. I wasn't where I normally am to turn it off quickly. I rushed past her cage to get to it, and I ran into her cage in the process. She started to react in terror. I think this is similar to cockatiel night frights, but I am not certain. I turned the light on and got the alarm sileneced, finally, and went to her cage and talked to her until she could calm down. Luckily for me, she was already contained within a safe place, her cage. If this reaction had happened while she was uncontained and unsafe, I would have needed to get a towel over her and get her into a safe place. This is why I play a recommended game called the "towel game" with her. We play peek-a-boo and other games with her in a towel. Hopefully, this way, if I ever need to move her quickly for her own safety I will be able to use a towel and she won't be traumatized further by its use. This is one of the things I mean when I say those of us with pois need to be prepared to handle phobic reactions.

If you want a mid-sized bird, I think a poi is still a good choice. I do believe, if you can find one, the best choice for calmness is probably the calmest meyers or brown head or cape you can find in a clutch, but I am certain you can find a great senegal if you like them the best.

As I write this, my nine year old daughter is laughing, and Roni is laughing right along with her. She just fell off of her toys, and she is trying to get the focus off of her blooper and onto my daughter. I am so happy she is part of my life.

She is NOT my gentle bourkes or splendid. She will always be about six times the trouble they are together, but I wouldn't want to be without her. In fact, the owner of the bird store told me today that her meyers just laid an egg yesterday - and I'm thinking Roni should have a bird friend she can really play with. :biggrin5:

You have made such marvelous progress with Twitter. You really understand her needs. I am confident you would do well with a poi that has not been traumatized. The meyers are said to be the most thoughtful of the pois, just as the bourkes are said to be the most thoughtful of the small Australian grass keets, so perhaps a meyers would be a great bird to consider. Honestly, though, I think you can find a good senegal, meyers, brown head, jardines, or cape, depending on what fits your fancy.

I think one other thing people often overlook is a bird that has already gone through the adolescent stage. If you can find a sweet poi that needs rehoming that has already passed this stage, you'd probably be home free.

Again, sorry to have painted an unfair picture of senegals. I am sure the other senegal owners on this site can attest to their suitability as pets.

Actually, I just wanted to share some funny stories and hear other funny stories.
 
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Thanks for the info

Thanks to all for the info on Senegals. I don't know how soon I'll be getting one but I am "taken" by them, every time I see a tame one.

One question - does anyone have experience with a fully-flighted Senegal?
 

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lol! nanay, my senegal, Rista sounds just like your little Roni, she's a holy terror and an aboslute love bug :p She's 3 right now and i have her because her old owner couldn't handle the biting stage and didnt know how to handle it so Rista bites HARD when she really wants something shes not getting..like being with men :p she looves men. likes most women to but any man can pick her up and anyone in the way is toast lol but i do love her. even more so because of her quirky personality.

i let her get fully flighted for a couple months but the slightest noise freaked her out and she was NOT a good flier. so she'd hit walls :( she'd also fly to my other birds cage, a sun conure who'd love to be friends with her, but she wants nothing to do with him and tries to attack him. after she broke one of his blood feathers i gave up trying to get them to be friends :p npw they enjoy eachothers company from a distance lol

all in all though senegals are awesome but personally i wouldn't suggest them for anyones first bird :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Nanay / all:

I have regularly read or heard mention of the "biting stage" with Senegals. How are old are they typically when this starts and do they get over it? I've always liked Senegals but getting bit scares me a little.

Back in the early 1980s, I had a Senegal that was probably a wild-caught one. He never really tamed too well. He would go on my hand if I cornered him in his cage but was unpredictable about biting. I seemed to be going to work every day with a new bite wound! But given that he was probably wild-caught, I assumed some or most of his biting was because he was never comfortable with humans. I eventually sold him to someone who wanted a Senegal for breeding.

I thought hand-raised Senegals would get around this biting problem but, from the sound of it, biting also happens for reasons other than fear. In fact, I'm wondering if hand-raised Senegals might even bite more because they are not afraid of people.
I know this was posted long ago, but I have some additional answers to these questions.

Roni is now nearly eleven months old, and I believe she is coming out of the nippy adolescent stage. I don't know if she has just aged through it, or if it is due to the fact that I have finally become much more consistent in the way I respond to the nips. (A teacher and long-time animal trainer of various species should not admit she was ever "inconsistent", but I experimented with several ways of responding, because this was a new experience for me.) Now, any time she nips too hard, I simply say, "that hurt" in a calm voice and return her to her cage. She seldom nips now. She began this nippy "testing" stage sometime in early November or thereabouts, so the worst of it only lasted about three months, slightly less maybe.

I believe she will still be prone to phobias for at least another six months. This is just the way it is with senegals. If she is frightened, she may bite with great force and would perhaps need to be toweled in order to be removed from whatever frightens her, so I continue to towel her in play in order to prepare her for this.

I do NOT believe most well-adjusted, hand-raised senegals will bite more because they are not afraid. I believe some senegal babies are just born with greater tendancies to phobias than others. Of the eight senegal babies I have seen at my local bird store in the last year, many of them from different parents, only one was what I would term "ultra phobic". That baby stressed about evenything, including simple, gentle hand-feeding, and I believe the folks at the bird store decided he was not to be sold as a pet. Of course, if those "ultra phobic" birds are placed into breeding situations, I would expect that it would be logical to assume they would pass this trait on to their offspring, and I do wonder how aviculturalists can ever expect to develop strains of better adjusted parrots if they continue to breed the least well adjusted adults, but that is another topic of discussion.

All of the other seven baby senegals developed into sweet birds like my Roni while at the store. She actually stayed at the store until she was older than all the others, and I assume all the others went through a nippy testing stage like she did. It is entirely possible that hers was the worst, because she was the oldest of the birds to be selected as a pet, due, I assume, in part to the fact that she must have been the second least friendly of all the eight babies so no one "picked" her until I came along. (Please note that she was never "nippy" as a hand-feeding baby. She never once nipped while she was in the store. She simply was not a bird who would come up to people voluntarily.)

I am pretty certain Roni may go through other nippy stages. It may be that as hormones kick in periodically she will become more testy. Additionally, I do not think I will ever be able to trust her around other people, because I am not willing to risk her biting anyone else, so I can't really attempt to "socialize" her to others.

However, it should be understood that in all of this test biting, she never once broke the skin or left a bruise or mark of any type, so even though she was a pain, literally, she did not do the type of damage she could have done, or would have done if she had been in a phobic state.

If you really like pois, Twitter, I think you can handle and enjoy one. Select one that displays the least amount of fear as a baby that you can find, or even select one that is over a year old and very gentle and outgoing. Your senegal, being wild-caught, would have been subjected to his worst life traumas during the critical period of development, when Roni's life was being carefully monitored to reduce stress, so the fact that he only bit you sometimes when cornered indicates to me that he probably would have been a very sweet bird had he not been through all of that. He probably made an excellent parent and produced very sweet, steady chicks who have been great pets.

I would also like to note that the bird store has had several other non-senegal pois, and only this one little senegal that they decided not to sell as a pet was less outgoing and loving initially than Roni. They had one brown head who was like Roni and went to an experienced bird owner, six brown heads who loved attention from anyone, three meyers who loved attention from everyone and were all sweeter than any of the senegals, and two brown necks or capes or uncapes or whatever they are supposed to be called who also were sweeter than any of the senegals. You can definitely find a poi that fits your personality.
 

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I love my Maroon Bellied conure Ziggy.

She is an absolute darling, and I must say, she pretty much rules my life.

I can't have friends round unless she approves of them, and she will quickly tell someone she dosen't like them, whether with a great big nip or a screech!

She loves cuddles and being played with. She is always calling to come out of her cage.

She loves doing tricks, and it really displays just how smart she is when she does her tricks. She can learn one in a matter of minutes.

Ziggs can also talk a fair bit. She mutters hello and I've heard her telling me 'carrot!' which means she's hungry for her carrot!
She imitates the click of my cellphone, and sometimes the dogs barking.

I thought I wanted a big bird until I got Ziggy. But she is a big parrot in most respects, except for size and voice!

Her bite can be big apparently (luckily I haven't felt the full power, but my friends have!) she holds her food like a big bird, she acts like a big bird, she cuddles like a big bird... but she's easy to fit in my home and doesn't make much noise.

I wouldn't give her up for a million dollars, I adore her with all my heart. She is the best parrot I've ever owned!

I think mid sized birds are fantastic! They don't bite as hard as the big ones, and are more affectionate and more 'parrot-ish' in my opinion that the small birds.

They are often quite quiet (compared the the big parrots) and can display all the traits of a large parrot.

Mid- sized parrots are awesome!
 
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