Early Avian Development: A Breeder's View of Important Behavioral Stages


The exact prescription that guarantees parrots' success as human companions is yet unidentified. The large number of parrot species kept as pets and the widely divergent rearing techniques commonly classified as "hand feeding" complicate the formula. The following discussion introduces observations gleaned during readying young parrot chicks for long-term life in the human household.

While not impossible, it is more difficult to change adult birds' behavior than it is to encourage young birds to comply with the rules and behaviors necessary for life as human companions. Therefore, behavioral work starts with young chicks. In order to produce the highest quality handfed birds possible we at the Santa Barbara Bird Farm spend considerable time, energy, talent and resources on the following:

Pre-Natal Conditioning

Careful selection and earnest care of


breeding birds are essential to raising high-caliber domestic parrots. A brief overview of the housing and husbandry techniques used at the Santa Barbara Bird Farm (established in 1973) is given. The complexities of nursery management and the care of young hatchlings are mentioned in a most abbreviated fashion.

Early Socialization

Ways to build trust as a condition of socialization are discussed. Eating as a social behavior, the development of dexterity as an element of weaning, and the importance of exploration are reviewed.

Fledging and Transition

Most young parrots transition to a new home at or around their fledging stage. Stresses commonly seen during fledging and transition are examined. Five recommendations to alleviate stress are suggested.


Avian Adolescence

Precedent to sexual maturity is sexual immaturity, a place in time when many birds become unmanageable due to clients' unfamiliarity with the dynamics of avian adolescence. Helpful hints designed to enhance success for parrots and persons are explored.

Pre-natal Conditioning of Parent Birds

Before we form or espouse opinions, interview clients or sell a young bird, before all other concerns we place those factors contributory to the health and caliber of our breeding birds.

We select the members of our permanent breeding collection carefully. We have a strictly closed flock and have not added any breeding pairs for a number of years. Were a positively irresistible pair to happen along they would be subject to quarantine after testing by an avian veterinarian. We hold our breeding collection in the highest esteem - they are the beloved backbone of our entire enterprise and we value each as an individual, as well as an essential...