Small pet birds and anything related by Pete Etheridge – aka – 'Stanton Birdman'

Posts tagged ‘small pet birds’

Is keeping birds in captivity justified?

Received an email recently from a fellow who was somewhat objective to keeping birds in captivity for which I promptly submitted the following reply.

I always respect other peoples opinions, irrespective of whether they clash with my own opinions or not. Everybody is entitled to an opinion and so should be.
In general I too disagree with wild animals being kept in captivity; they should have the opportunity to live out their life in the most natural way possible, as nature intended, in the wild running free. With regards however to animals kept in captivity, whether birds or anything else I do have my own opinions that go some way to justifying such things… long waffle coming up.

Many of the animal establishments around the world, zoos, safari parks etc. most often work together in captive breeding programs. For example the breeding of endangered species such as the Bengal tiger and giant panda in captivity can help to some extent to assuring such breeds remain on this earth for years to come; however this only goes part way and should be undertaken with the intention of returning healthy animals to the wild – of course some type of ‘close to wild as possible’ upbringing would be the only way to make it work.
Of course the most feasible option is for authorities around the globe to focus their attentions on protecting the natural wild habitat of these animals instead of allowing their destruction, and of course stop the indiscriminate hunting of such species.

The best way without a doubt to see wildlife – including birds – is within its natural environment, totally free for all to see if only they’d get off their respective posteriors and go and take a look.
Idleness is the downfall of society.
As for my speciality, exotic birds, if kept in captivity I believe they should be allowed to live as close to their natural habitat as is possible in a domestic situation and as such a large aviary with lots of space is the most suitable option. I do not keep any birds in cages (apart from the aviary which is just a big cage really) as I think it is cruel and unethical and should only happen on the rare occasion when some type of quarantine or hospitalization is required for their own well-being.

I do think however that to release an animal into the wild that has only ever known the confines of captivity would be both mentally and physically cruel to that animal, who would perhaps not survive for very long in the wild as a result. On the other hand to take a previously caged bird and introduce it to an aviary can work (and often does) in favour of the bird who would be elated with the new environment, but this should be done through the correct procedure of gradual introduction that progresses a little each day and does take a little time.
To then take that bird who has now got used to the relative freedom of the aviary and then put it in a cage is undoubtedly wrong, like a prison sentence that would most likely have a dramatic effect on the birds mental and physical health. The same would naturally apply to any bird that has only ever known aviary life, or any other animal in similar circumstances for that matter.

Agreed, the best way is to not have them in captivity in the first place.
It is a sad fact that most small animals kept in domesticity as pets for example in the UK are of tropical origin and as such their chance of survival in the wilds of Britain is somewhat limited, we are neither desert or rain-forest and any native species from such areas would find it very hard going in our temperate climate (global warming aside, we’re not tropical yet, although it’s only a matter of time) and would most likely find themselves suffering a long painful death as a consequence.
Yes there are feral communities of exotic or tropical birds in the UK and many other western societies but their fortune is a result of their sheer volume of numbers and any solo animal of exotic origin wouldn’t last very long.’

What do you think on the matter?

Keeping your birds warm in winter

I had an email today in response to my article on ‘Article Base’ enquiring about more information; here is the answer I gave:

In answer to your enquiry you’ll be pleased to know that it is not the cold that causes problems for your birds but wet and draughty conditions certainly will.

To give you some idea of what I’m on about my birds have nothing more than a standard 6 x 4 shed as their night shelter, but I have made a few minor alterations for their comfort during the winter.

Firstly I lined the inside of the shed, between the supports, with old carpet underlay which I stuck on with ‘No Nails’ adhesive but any decent adhesive will do. You don’t have to use carpet underlay as I did but any old foam, old carpet or anything you have or can get hold of will do to act as insulation.
I then boarded out the whole of the inside with 6mm ply board, this was reasonably cheap and was easy to cut to shape with either a jigsaw or standard saw, I attached it with normal nails.

That’s basically the only alterations I made, the shed already had felt on the roof so this made it waterproof. I use no form of artificial heating whatsoever.

I noticed that you have finches and canaries; as small birds by comparison to the others these need to eat more often to build up their fat reserves to help their bodies stay warm so it is vitally important that you make sure their is always a plentiful supply of food, and of course fresh water, for them at all times, and the chances are they will eat considerably more than in the summer to help them to stay warm.

I also find it helps to provide some type of artificial lighting in the winter evenings; it gets dark by 5 pm and then does not start to lighten until 7 am the following morning, that’s a massive 14 hours without light and your birds will only eat if there is enough light for them to see what they are doing. As small birds like finches and canaries need to eat more often to ask them to go 14 hours without food can and often will cause problems.

Install the light in such a position so as to get light into the night shelter without your birds being able to make contact with the hot bulb and burn themselves; if you have a security area between your access point to the night shelter and the access point to the birds area then install it there, if the barrier is solid then remove some of it and replace it with aviary mesh or clear Perspex so the light will penetrate into the birds dorm. If not then install the bulb in the dorm but fence it off with some aviary mesh to stop them getting to it and of course make sure any power cables are out of their reach too, you know they are bound to chew such things if they can.

Allow your birds about 7 to 8 hours of darkness to let them sleep by switching the light on and off manually or fit a timer to do it automatically; this is what I do. I bought a cheap electronic timer (only cost me £3) and set it to switch the light on as it gets dark (about 4.30 pm in the height of winter) and off about 7 to 8 hours before dawn (about 11 pm to 12 midnight in the height of winter).

Of course you will need to get rid of the ice that should be their water and replace it with fresh water about 2 or 3 times a day, and keep checking the food supply. Also try and close off their access points to the outside once they are all in the night shelter if you can, this will help prevent draughts and keep them inside where it’s dry and draught free til you let them out in the morning.

To summarise in the clearest way; I’m sure you have noticed that even when it is bitterly cold if you have your winter gear on in still and dry conditions you’re quite comfortable, and it’s only when it’s windy or wet do you feel cold. It’s exactly the same for your birds.

The above things might seem like a lot of work but they’re not really, and are just a few basic and easily achieved precautions, and well worth that bit of extra effort for your birds’ sake.

Last winter we recorded some of the lowest winter temperatures on record, often below minus 10 degrees. With the added precautions above I had no winter casualties whatsoever, and I also have finches (plus budgies, cockatiels and Java sparrows) in my exposed outdoor aviary.

I know this has seemed quite exhaustive but I sincerely hope the information helps to ensure you have a casualty-free and successful winter of bird-keeping.

If you’d like a bit more information then please do not hesitate to contact me at or
More info about bird keeping can be found on my website at
or any of my blog sites:
and also

To your success!
‘Stanton Birdman’

Small Pet Birds – Grass Parakeets of Australia

Yes I know it’s took me a long time to get around to this as I promised it months ago.  I’ve been so busy it has had to take a back seat for a while and even now it is not much more than a previous post but with pictures and links added in, but at least you will be able to access more info about these beautiful little parrots.

Australian grass parakeets are popular as pets or aviary birds due to their colourful markings, small size and placid nature. About the same size as budgerigars; they do however command a premium price by comparison but are well within the reach of most enthusiasts. There are about 6 popular species of grass parakeet used in aviculture.

All the species of Australian grass parakeets are closely related to the budgerigar but unique in their own separate ways. When kept as domestic birds they have very similar requirements to budgerigars; same type and size of nest box, same or similar type of food etc. so their requirements are easily met.

Originating from the grasslands of their native land as the name suggests, these are beautiful little parrots in a good variety of colours; often the iridescence of their plumage makes them even more attractive to the bird keeper. Also their calm and placid nature is an added attraction along with the fact that they are not prone to annoying squawking and often emit nothing more than a just audible chirp, making them ideal in flats or apartments where a quiet pet is beneficial.
Grass parakeets are readily available on the market but due to their desirable characteristics and appearance you will find that demand often outstrips supply. So don’t expect to pay less than £30 each and often more; not a bad price really but quite steep when compared to their nearest pet neighbours, the budgerigars which can often be picked up for £10 or even less.

A bit more information about grass-parakeets (or grass parrots as they’re also known) is available from ‘’, ‘’, and ‘’.
The most common species as pets are the bourke (bourke’s parakeet), scarlet-chested (splendid), turquoisine, elegant parakeet, rock parrot, blue-winged parakeet, and the red-rump. Search for any of these in a good online image search and you will notice immediately why they are so desirable to bird keepers.

Neopsephotus Bourkii

It is claimed that of all the grass parakeets these are the easiest to keep in captivity, as they are very undemanding. They originate from central and south-western Australia and are approximately 7.5 inch 19 cm long. Bourke’s parakeets are considered by some to be rather dull due to their brown colour but they do have a pink front and blue on the wings, there are some brightly coloured mutations however such as the rosy bourke, and all have a calm and charming nature.

Click here for a related video.

More stuff on the bourke can be had by going here or alternatively click this link.


Neophema elegans

Native to southern Australia the elegant grass parakeets are olive-yellow in colour with a blue band across the forehead and along the edge of the wings and are about 8.75 inch 22 cm long. Very popular as captive birds with many keepers throughout the globe.

The elegant grass parakeet on video

More information from ‘AvianWeb‘ and ‘Wikipedia

Red rump
Psephotus haematonotus

Originating from southeast Australia and found in flocks or pairs in open country, also frequenting suburban gardens and parks but avoiding the wetter heavily timbered areas and coastal regions. A medium sized parrot of about 25 – 28 cm 9.75 – 11 inches and emerald green in colour with yellow underparts, the actual red-rump only applies to the male of the species.

Red rump on video at ‘YouTube

Red rump at a our old friends ‘AvianWeb‘ and of course ‘Wikipedia


Neophema chrysostoma

A migratory species that breeds in Tasmania but sees the winter out in southeast Australia, found in flocks of up to 2000 before migration but usually in pairs during the breeding season. These little parrots are about 20 – 22 cm 8 – 8.5 inches and mainly olive green with a blue band to the forehead and edge of wings and yellow belly (very similar markings to the elegant but the blue banding is less profound).

Here’s a video with the blue-winged grass parakeet in it.

More stuff on the blue-winged can be sought from ‘AvianWeb‘ or alternatively ‘Wikipedia‘, or if you like try both.

Neophema splendida

Also commonly known as the scarlet-chested parakeet and often confused with the turquoisine due to similar markings. About 7.5 to 8 inches 19 – 20 cm in length. As their name implies these have a scarlet chest but also a yellow belly and underside, bright blue (often iridescent) head and wing edges and a deep green back and rump. Considered by some to be the most beautiful of the grass parakeet species and so making them very popular in captivity. Native to western new south Wales and interior western Australia.

Watch splendid grass parakeet at ‘YouTube’

More details by going here and here

TurquoisineNeophema pulchella

Once common throughout eastern Australia but now mainly found in the north eastern areas. Approximately 20 cm 8 inch long. Also a desirable and popular pet due to its calm and placid nature (a trait that seems common in all grass parakeets) and it’s wonderful iridescent turquoise colouring to the crown, face and edges of wings, green back, often orange-yellow chest and red belly.
A bit of a movie star is the turquoisine, here are not one but three vids for you:
Vid 1
Vid 2
Vid 3

Of course these entries wouldn’t be the same without our ‘Wikipedia‘ and ‘AvianWeb‘ links.

View the pictures connected to this post on ‘Facebook’

Hope this has satisfied your curiosity, more Aussie birds will be up here one day but I can’t promise when, after all it took me long enough to get this one on here, so just watch this space.

Stanton Birdman gets its own hosting


Just a quick not to tell you that ‘Stanton Birdman’ on its own hosted site is now live.  So instead of ‘’ you can now also choose to go to ‘’.

This is paid hosting and will allow me more freedom with the site to do as I please, I hope not to disappoint.

However the ‘Stanton Birdman’ blog site (the one you’re reading now) will continue alongside the new site.

I am still working on the new site so at present it lacks some of the material contained here, but the posts will be the same; in fact most of the posts found here are already on there.  It will be worth visiting both sites as there are slight differences, as I say, my own hosting gives me much more freedom; but I am still working on the build so there will be many changes in the coming months.

You’ll find the new site at but please continue to visit here at also, and don’t forget my similar blog at

Looking forward to a rewarding future!



Pet birds – Wing clipping

Today I received an interesting email from someone who bought a budgie from me recently asking about wing clipping and if I knew how to do it.

Although I am aware of the procedure, wing clipping is something I have never actually done in practice.  I’ve kept birds for well over ten years and never actually clipped any wings.  It suddenly dawned on me that for such a simple procedure I wondered myself why I have never actually tried it in over a decade of bird keeping as a main hobby.

The simple answer is most of my birds are housed in a large outdoor aviary so I’ve never had to, and although I have kept a number of birds in cages as household pets I have never considered actually clipping their wings.

Some would argue that the procedure is cruel and unnecessary, whereas some would argue that all pet birds should have their wings clipped.

All I can say is it is a matter of personal preference, the bird feels no pain or loss whatsoever apparently and it does prevent them from flying away as with clipped wings they are unable to get any lift, and also if attempting to fly from a height they’ve climbed would simply glide to the ground with no pain or injury incurred.  If they attempt to fly it would go some way to preventing injury by crashing into windows and other inanimate objects.

So it’s up to you.  If you wish to tame your bird then wing clipping will help but if like mine your birds live in an aviary in a semi-wild state then there is no need.

The procedure is simple with just a trimming of the middle section of the primary feathers on each wing.  It would be quite easy to do yourself but if you are unsure then the best bet is to call in the professionals.

Below is a few videos I’ve found that will show you the procedure, just click on any or all of the links to access them, the diagram above will also show you where to clip.


‘Stanton Birdman’ – aka – Pete

How to be sure your small pet birds can survive the harsh winter conditions that will soon be upon us

Autumn will be here sooner than we know it; after all we are already at the end of August.  What happened to summer?  Last winter was pretty harsh with heavy snowfall here in the UK, so there’s a good chance that this winter may turn out the same.  Your tropical pet birds need to be suitably protected to withstand a harsh winter season.

Larger tropical pet birds are more likely to be able to cope with the freezing conditions but they still need some protection.  Small pet birds however will require good quality protection from the onslaught of winter, as their smaller size means that they will cool down much quicker than their bigger cousins.  Fortunately your small pet birds are quite hardy and are more than able to stand the cold than you might imagine as long as suitable requirements are met.  For example, in Australia where many tropical pet birds originate from the night time temperatures can become very cold in certain areas but the birds survive OK.

Have you noticed that when the weather is freezing cold you are usually quite comfortable if there is no wind and you are dry.  Tropical pet birds are the same; they don’t mind getting wet, they don’t mind cold wind or draughts, they don’t mind freezing cold temperatures, but they are not going to take them all at once.  As long as your small pet birds have had a good feed and built up a nice layer of cold-protecting fat they are happy.  So make sure they’ve got a plentiful and continuous supply of food to help them feel comfortable.

Another of my articles at ‘ArticleBase‘ offers more information.

Also don’t allow small pet birds like finches to go without light for more than a maximum of eight hours.  An automatic switch that switches on and off at pre-set times and connected to an artificial light source is a good idea, just be sure your tropical pet birds cannot come into contact with the bulb and burn themselves.  This is because due to their small size and active nature small pet birds like finches need to eat on a regular basis to keep up their energy and fat levels.  They will only eat if it is light enough for them to see clearly.

My article at ‘ArticleBase‘ will give you a little more information on this matter.

Tropical pet birds in an outdoor aviary need to build up their fat reserves to keep their inner bodies warm so if they have been breeding you must ensure that they do not breed during the winter.  The chicks would surely die in the cold conditions and raising chicks certainly exhausts their parents and diminishes their food supply much quicker than if they were not looking after youngsters.  The best way to prevent your small pet birds from breeding again is to remove the nest boxes at the end of summer regardless of how many clutches they have raised; don’t do it until any current babies have flown the nest though.

The tropical pet birds’ aviary will need to be dry and free from cold draughts.  This is not a necessity however as long as it is dry and draught free.  Artificial heating can be used as long as no fossil fuels are used to provide the heat, so no coal, gas or paraffin for example.

To ensure the aviary for your small pet birds is in good repair for winter, and to avoid having to work in the cold you need to carry out any repairs during late summer or early autumn.  To allow enough time before winter sets in it is necessary to inspect the aviary and fix any issues.  As long as your aviary is secure, draught free and watertight your tropical pet birds will be fine.

Cage or aviary – what is the best option?

This depends entirely on your own personal preference and what plans you have for your bird or birds.

I’ve recently sold some baby budgies and have been asked this question a few times and have always responded with the same answer.

If you want a companion bird, ie. one you can handle, tame and possibly train then go for a cage.  If on the other hand you would like your bird to live out as natural existence as possible then go for an aviary.  This is the basic jist of it but of course it does depend on your budget and the space you have available.

The majority of my birds live in a large outdoor mixed aviary at the bottom of the garden, but when I have babies to deal with I put them in a cage once they have flown the nest to try to keep them as tame as possible ready for sale.  This also makes them much easier to catch once new homes have been found for them.

A caged bird will become much tamer and more human-friendly because it will undoubtedly interact with people more often.  Whereas a bird in an aviary will live in a semi-wild state and will only be used to its main owner.

I do believe however that if an adult bird is taken from an aviary to be re-homed in a cage then this can have a psychological effect on it; after living semi-free in the aviary for so long this would be like a prison sentence to the poor bird.

On the other hand if a baby bird is first housed in a cage and has never known the relative freedom of an aviary then it will accept its existence as normal.  This will not then affect the bird psychologically in any way.  If the previously caged bird is then given the freedom of an aviary then initially it will wonder what’s gone off and will tend to stay put to start with.  After a day or so however it will then begin to explore its new environment and will soon get used to the change.

Unfortunately this wouldn’t work the other way and a previously free bird that is now caged will undoubtedly become depressed.

To summarise moving an adult caged bird to an aviary will generally be fine, but moving an adult aviary bird to cage is not a good idea.

The only exception to this rule is if the bird becomes ill it will and should have the solitude of a cage whilst it recovers from its illness, this also quarantines the bird so that if the illness is infectious then the risk of the other birds catching it will be dramatically reduced.