Great ... billed Parrots


I was first introduced to the Greatbilled Parrot (Tanygnathus megalorynchos) through a newspaper classified ad in 1989. It was an unfamiliar species so out came Forshaw's Parrots of the World. Forshaw's account really impressed me.

I bought the bird which sexed out to be a hen but wasn't able to locate a male until 1990 when a shipment of birds came into a quarantine station in Los Angeles. The new bird was young with black eyes.

Serious Chewers

l soon discovered that these birds were quite destructive and required heavy duty wire in order to keep them caged. The pair seemed to settle right in to the daily routine. Unfortunately, just before the breeding season, I was forced to place my entire collection out on a two-year breeders loan due to an illness in my family.

With the collection gone, it seemed a good time to build the new aviaries that had been in the planning for years. I had gone on many aviary tours with my local bird duh, Capitol City Bird Society in Sacramento, and gleaned a number of ideas from fellow duh members.

New Aviaries

The new aviaries (patterned somewhat after those of co-author McKinney) now consist of three buildings with indoor cages connected to outdoor flights. The flights are made of ' 2 X 3 in., 12 gauge wire mesh and are


suspended. They measure 2 X 3 X 3 ft. inside and 3 X 3 X 4 ft. outside. The outside flights are 12 in. apart. The inside cages are 20 in. apart to allow for the hanging of metal nesting boxes that measure 24 X 24 X 11 in.

Nesting material is a 50/50 mixture of pine shavings and orchid bark. The birds chew this into a fine powder that can leave the birds with a rust color on their feathers. This also gives them something to chew on while brooding their eggs. I find that this mixture also holds moisture better than shavings alone. The nest box is left up year around but the pair does not use it unless they are getting ready to nest. In fact I don't see much interaction between the pair until they begin to breed.

Each building is equipped with outside overhead misters that are on a timer that goes off four times a day. The misters usually stay on for about an hour at a time. I find that the pairs like to bathe early in the morning.

Dietary Considerations

I have found that not much has been written about the diet and reproduction of this species. The first diet I gave consisted mostly of seeds. In a 1993 article on the Tanygnatbus parrot species, Dale Thompson said he felt that their diet should be made up of about 50% seed and 50% fruit and vegetables. I began to increase the fresh diet and experimented with their likes and dislikes. I started adding nuts on a


daily basis year around. They get only a couple a day hut I rotate the kinds. I use walnuts, pecans, almonds and coconuts, their favorite heing coconuts.

The only time I see preening between the pair is at breeding time. The rest of the year they seem to ignore each other. I beef up the diet at this time making sure they have a variety to choose from. I use apples, pomegranates, pineapple, mangos, papaya, melon, grapes, oranges and bananas. I occasionally throw them a whole lemon or grapefruit that they peel, eating the skin and leaving the fruit. By the way, they prefer the sour type of apples over the sweet Delicious. For vegetables I offer broccoli, cauliflower, sweet-potatoes, frozen mixed vegetables, carrots and corn on the coh (they eat the cob as well as the corn). I have found that they seem to like the stem part of grapes and often ignore the fruit, and to my surprise, when I put date palms into their flight area for chewing, they stripped all the leaves off and devoured the woody stem. This is one of their favorites. When giving pineapple, 1 give them the entire fruit. The first thing they go for is the outside skin and the green leafy stem.

I Spy

I have an enclosed porch on the hack of my house that 1 use to spy on many of my birds, I often take my morning coffee and cigarette out and sir and observe the pair for hours at a time. As you can imagine, I don't get a lot done on these days. I have noticed that courting usually goes on for about a month until they settle down to the serious business of nesting.


Jn 1994 the pair laid for the first time. Both clutches were infertile hut I left the eggs in the nest for the full 28 day sitting cycle. The hen sat tight, only coming out when l left fresh diet. At this time I was able to examine the eggs and get her use to the idea that I would he looking in the nest daily. I have never chased her off the nest.

In the Spring of 1995 she laid again.

The first clutch of two eggs was clear. I'm getting ve1y discouraged. To my surprise, she laid again in May, this time three eggs, r continued to check the nest at feeding time.