Exotic Pet Insurance – Why is it important to have one?

Exotic Pet InsuranceIf you own a parrot, or are thinking of owning one; the first thing you need to realize is, that it’s one of the most sentimental human – animal companionships in the world. This blog post aims to explore why this is the case, and why it’s extremely important, that you take the sufficient steps towards effective parrot care.

They will talk to you, feel you, and know you…

Well-known for their high degree of intelligence, and their phenomenal ability to communicate with humans; the high demand for parrots can be attributed to the human – animal connection, being one of the most sought after bonds world-wide. With the Congo African Grey being the most popular compared to its Timneh Grey cousin, the world of parrots is diverse and beautiful, consisting of; Amazon’s, Budgie’s, Caique’s, Cockatoo’s, Macaw’s and more.

The idea of an animal with the ability to ‘talk’ to humans is essentially what is most attractive about owning a Parrot. However, parrots – in particular the African Grey’s- are extremely sensitive animals, requiring a degree of attention that can be likened to caring for a young child. Requiring at least three hours of interaction per day. In most cases parrots will form a very special bond with their companion family (human guardians).

The bond you have with your parrot is a result of mutual empathy, but more specifically their ability to know you beyond your actual words, to the point of experiencing your emotion to such an extent that when you’re sad, they will most likely be sad too. We strongly advise not purchasing a parrot for the sake of ‘conversation’, because it is indeed a relationship that requires a uniquely attentive bond.

Exotic Pet Insurance: surely you understand by now!

Besides their emotional vulnerabilities, Teflon Products such as kitchen pans, other household accessories, and beauty tools are extremely toxic to parrots. Once these products are used their particles become airborne and are deadly to your feathered friend. On top of this maintaining a healthy balanced diet of mixed feed, fruit, vegetables, and protein, in conjunction with a minimum of two hours exercise outside of the cage each day is essential to effective care. Should your parrot become ill, the costs of treatment can increase exponentially forcing you to make some difficult financial choices, as well as additional emotional stress.

Given that parrots can live well past the age of 50, as well as a growing number of illness related deaths such as hypocalcaemia and air sacculitis; taking out insurance is an option that can help owners manage the costs of looking after their parrots should they become ill.

ExoticDirect offer insurance for a wide range of parrots including African Greys, Macaws, Amazons and more. They also cover smaller birds including cockatiels, parakeets and more. They have been established since 1996, follow the below URL and receive an incredible 10% on whatever package you require:


Saving Macaws in Costa Rica

The Ara Project

Saving Macaws in Costa Rica - Great Green Macaw ParrotThe Ara Project was established in 1982 and is dedicated to saving the macaws in Costa Rica: Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus) and the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) are both native to this country. The population of this magnificent parrots has been affected by both; unsustainable capture for the pet trade and loss of habitat.

The Ara Project is a Costa Rican licensed, government-supervised organisation operated by the non-profit organisation Asociación El Proyecto Ara.  Its main goal is to reintroduce macaws throughout Costa Rica.  The project is professionally staffed and open to the public with a reservation.

For reservations at Manzanillo our Great Green Macaw release site on the Caribbean please email: manzanillo@thearaproject.org, or call 8971-1436.

To see released Scarlet Macaws and visit our breeding centre at Punta Islita on the Pacific please email: islita@thearaproject.org, or call 8505-3336.

You can also volunteer or donate to the project and help save wild parrot chicks from poachers by visiting: https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Protect-Macaw-Chicks-From-Poachers

Contributing to the project

Saving Macaws in Costa Rica - Scarlet Macaws in flightScarlet Macaw chick Rose hatched in Rural Costa Rica by captive bred parents, released by The Ara Project. Unfortunately Rose did not get to fledge as she was taken by poachers.

Each year, Scarlet and Great Green Macaw pairs have their chicks stolen. This time of the year is critical for the parrots and their chicks as poachers will try to take them again, illegally. By donating to the project you can help saving the macaw chicks. Your donation will help The Ara Project team to:

  • Recruit locals to safeguard the nest boxes
  • Use camera technology for cover surveillance
  • Put team members in the field to monitor breeding activity and protection of nest boxes
  • Increase understanding of the macaw’s plight through education
  • Work with the relevant government agencies to ensure that the macaw’s protective status is enforce.

Ensuring wild macaws can raise offsprings like Rose is critical for the future of these endangered macaws.

If you wish to learn more about The Ara Project visit: http://thearaproject.org
If you wish to make a donation visit: https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Protect-Macaw-Chicks-From-Poachers

Thank you for reading.

Parrot Essentials



African Grey Parrots need our help to survive.

African Grey Parrots

African Grey Parrots PetitionAfrican Grey Parrots are almost extinct and have become a rare site in the wild. In the past 40 years over 1.3 million Grey Parrots have been legally exported. Many of the birds are poorly treated and die before export, as a result, the true number of parrots take from the wild is estimated at well over 3 million. Shocking!

Recent study in Ghana shows that the African Grey Parrots’ population has declined by 90 – 99% in recent years. Falling number are driving trappers to move into ever more remote areas to find parrots to catch.


Despite collapses in numbers, much of this trade remains legal.

African Grey ParrotsA number of African countries have recognised the crises and are making efforts to give the African Grey Parrots maximum protection under international law.

Later this year at the 17th Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP17) from around the world will meet in Johannesburg, South Africa. At this conference the parties will decide how wildlife can – and can’t – be traded around the world. Alongside Elephants, Rhinos and Lions, the fate of another iconic African species – The African Grey Parrots – will be decided.

World Parrot Trust will be in attendance at the meeting to support the process; by signing the petition you will add your voice to their support efforts.

Now is the time to ACT and stop the export of African Grey Parrots forever.  The message to CITES is: Move the Grey Parrot to Appendix I and end the trade in wild birds of this Globally Threatened Species.


Thanking you in advance for supporting this cause.
The team at Parrot Essentials.


Do parrots understand what they say?

Talking African Grey Parrot

Arthur & CasperI sometimes take Artha and Casper my African Greys who are well harness- trained on shopping trips in town. Why wouldn’t captive birds, who in the wild would travel kilometres each day, enjoy a change of scene? When strangers accost me with Artha and Casper, one on each shoulder, the first question that I’m asked is, ‘Does he talk?’ Yes, I reply but not on demand. Sometimes Casper, if he has liked the look of the questioner, might go ‘Wheep’ – once they are out of earshot. I believe that Wheep means ‘Hello,’ in African Grey language. Why, oh, why cannot I get them to speak on cue? Help is on hand.

Barbara and DelbertBarbara Heidenreich, one of America’s foremost bird and animal trainers, has, for the last few years been producing DVDS on every aspect of training companion parrots using the most gentle and successful methods of positive reinforcement. One of the series is how to get your parrot to talk. The DVD is a corker; not least from the pleasure of the additional second disc which records 18 parrots speaking with space to add your own. Barbara dismisses some current myths; gives good advice on acquiring a talking bird and then, after teaching various strategies for success, she finishes with a chapter on training her yellow- naped Amazon Delbert, to sneeze on cue.

She begins by dispelling some myths – like the one that all parrots talk. They do not but many will, if they’re given the right conditions. Myth: if you whistle to your parrot it won’t talk. Not true. Barbara took a poll of 900 bird owners. 78% kept birds who whistled and spoke. That males speak more readily than females can be true of some species like cockatiels but usually, it’s an individual bird who may or may not be a talker.
If you are fortunate to be choosing your baby bird and particularly wish a talker, Barbara suggests Congo Greys or Timnehs. Among the Amazons, Yellow-naped, DYH and Blue-fronted Amazon are known for good mimicry. She discounts a reputation for aggression amongst Amazons and considers aggressive behaviour results more from poor or wrong training than a species characteristic. Of the small birds, budgerigars and Quakers will also talk. Although their intelligence is outstanding, cockatoos and macaws will never speak more than rudimentary human language. There are always exceptions; the DVD shows various birds speaking, some charming shots of a ringneck talking and kissing a plush toy, a macaw talking to herself in a mirror.

Barbara HeidenreichYou have to experiment to find what stimulates your bird to speak. Delbert, Barbara’s young Yellow naped Amazon is turned on by the vacuum cleaner. Music makes many birds sing and talk. Sound of water and bath time is another trigger. Some birds will speak when greeting another bird that was absent. Greys in particular, irritate their owners by floods of conversation when they are out of the room and silence when they come in. My Greys will sing and whistle to music whereas the cockatoos will dance. Putting words on cue means the bird will speak when you want to show off to sceptical friends and relations.

If you find a breeder who has parrot parents that talk, the offspring will be more likely, too. Before Delbert came home, Barbara asked the breeder to play recordings of birds speaking and also of her own voice. Baby Delbert at weaning must have assimilated these sounds for he began to use them at the age of 6/7 months Three years old when the DVD was filmed, he had a vocabulary of 50 sounds with ten on cue and more being learned the time.
You’ll watch many entrancing shots of Delbert’s speaking. Barbara noticed he copied her sneeze. This she wanted to put on cue. So whenever he sneezed, she straightaway reinforced and praised. Delbert likes his nut treats and extra attention so sneezed frequently. Barbara points out when putting a word or action on cue concentrate on just that one so as not to confuse the bird. Soon, whenever Barbara sneezed herself and said ‘sneeze’, Delbert copied her (Barbara, I hope you’re not offended if I say Delbert looks cuter than you do sneezing). Barbara began training the wanted behaviour with the action of her sneezing plus the verbal cue ‘sneeze’. As soon as Delbert responded she faded out her own sneeze action. In this training, you need to use a bridge, the signal to the bird that the reinforcement (food reward, toy or attention) is coming. Barbara uses ‘good’ as a bridge; other trainers use clickers. The importance of the bridge is in timing. If the bird says a desired word when you are out of the room, he needs to hear the bridge immediately and know the reward is coming.

How much do parrots understand what they are saying? Most carers believe they understand well. Much as a human baby learns to associate an action with a word, so do our parrots.

Here is an anecdote about Chaucer Grey who has lived with with Virginia Bush in USA for the last 17 years. Virginia told me: ‘Perhaps the most convincing demonstration of his intelligence — his ability to THINK clearly and independently — comes from the changes that he makes in the English terms and expressions that he hears me use, when he finds that these do not make perfectly good, logical sense. For example, one day when numerous things went wrong (a leak under the kitchen sink that turned into a flood, etc., etc.) he heard me say “Oh good grief!” time after time, in intense exasperation. After a few hours, he himself began to say “Oh … grief!” But he always left out “good”. A little later I heard him say “Oh, bad grief!”. A while after that he said “Oh awful grief!” . These were expressions that he had absolutely never heard anyone say. Thinking about the phrase he had in fact heard me use, “Oh, good grief”, he must have concluded that “good” did not make sense, for the situation in which I had used it, and entirely on his own he changed the expression so that it did make good sense. That’s clear, logical thinking — an excellent indication of intelligence.

Irene Pepperberg with AlexIn the controversy of how much they do understand, I firmly believe that they do. Barbara Heidenreich avoids that controversy in this DVD. But anyone who has watched Alex, Dr Pepperberg’s late- lamented Grey, asked successfully to pick out numbers, colours and material from a tray of 20 objects or who has had the tragic-comic-sweet experience of his bird nipping him, laughing loudly, saying, ‘Ouch, bad bird’ before flying off, knows perfectly well that they understand a lot of what they say.

I’ve had the experience of picking up the telephone – the caller asking for Wal and me saying, ‘Sorry, he’s out,’. The caller says but I heard him saying, ‘Hello, who is it?’ in the background. When told ‘Sorry, it was the parrot,’ the caller hangs up.

What has never been ‘proved’ in tests or research is the fact that a lone bird generally speaks more human language than a bird with other parrot companions. That has been my personal experience. When Artha Grey was a sole bird she had a vocabulary of 150 words, 40 of which she’d use in the correct context. For example, she only said, ‘Good morning,’ and ‘Good night,’ at the appropriate times of day. Once Casper Grey joined her, her use of English rapidly diminished. She has developed an irritating but endearing habit. When I ask her, ‘How does the doggie go? To which she used to reply, ‘Woof, woof.’ Now all she ‘ll do is to raise her wings and bob her head in acknowledgment that I ‘m asking her to do something which she’s politely refusing.