Frequently Asked Questions

1) How do you ship birds?

We ship birds on the airlines. They are shipped in either wooden carriers or plastic pet kennels. They ride in a special climate controlled and pressurized compartment on the plane. They are not in the same compartment as the passenger luggage. We use the airlines because it is the fastest way to transport the birds from our place to yours. Although traveling is not that hard on them, we do not like to make them spend any more time than absolutely necessary in transit. For this reason we also look for the shortest route and always schedule direct flights if possible.

2) Is shipping hard on the birds?

It has been our experience that shipping is not hard on the birds. Being babies, the birds are used to new experiences and sounds almost daily. They are exposed to a wide variety of things while being raised in our nursery and home. As far as they are concerned, it is perfectly normal for them to get on an airplane on the 100th day of their life and go for a trip. About the only sign of any stress is sometimes on the post ship veterinarian exam, there is a slightly elevated growth of gram negative bacteria but this is a fairly normal reaction to being shipped. When they get to their new homes, sometimes it takes them a day or two to settle in.  Most of our customers tell us that their new pet bird steps out of the shipping container and acts right at home. Some even fall asleep in their new owners arms on the way home from the airport.

3) How much does it cost to ship a bird?

Arizona Parrots in Tucson do not want to make any money on shipping. We simply pass along what it costs us to ship a bird. There are three main costs associated with shipping birds. The largest cost is what the airlines charge. Other costs include a pet carrier $25-$65 and our certified delivery guy who takes the bird shipment to Tucson International Airport (TUS) for $50.  In addition a Vet Health Certificate  may be require by some airlines ($35).

It would be wise to call these airlines for more details: Delta Pet First 1-888-736-3738, Continental Pets Safe 1-800-575-3335 and Alaska Airlines 1-800-225-2752. These are the airlines we try to use. If you want to know how much shipping will cost, check to see which of these airlines ships from Tucson International Airport (TUS) in Arizona to an airport near you.  You can tell them that the shipment crate will weigh 8 pounds and the dimensions will be 22x12x15 … this will get a price quote very close to what it will finally be.

4) Can I save some money on shipping and can you ship by UPS or US mail, or…?

Sorry, we have no experience with UPS or US Mail on live shipments, as far as we know they do not do this.  In the past the only way your bird leaves our bird Ranch is in your car, or in the delivery truck that we contract to take birds to  Tucson International airport to be placed on an airline of your choosing.  Several airlines have  experience shipping animals including birds.

5) Have you ever had a bird die or get lost in shipping?

No. The worst that has happened is one time the bird missed a connecting flight, but the airline was able to get the bird on the next scheduled flight, and the  bird arrived safely and in good health with only a three hour delay.

6) Don’t the birds get hungry or thirsty?

We put lots of seeds and plenty of fruits and vegetables in the shipping container. The fruits and vegetables provide all the moisture the bird needs during transit. We also only ship babies that are old enough to survive the trip.   We supply enough food and water for the unlikely event that they get delayed at an airport overnight (because of connecting flight trouble).   We do not want to worry about them not having enough to eat or drink.

7) Do you ship out of the country?

We do NOT ship our birds out of the country. We have this policy for 3 reasons:

  1. Paperwork hassles
  2. Long flight/transportation times.
  3. Long quarantine times – sometimes up to 6 months. We feel this is just too hard on a baby bird.
  4. Few people are willing to pay for the extra costs involved.

8) How do you determine the sex of a parrot

With most species of parrots, sex of the bird can not be determined accurately by visual inspection because they have no external sex organs. To determine the sex of the bird, there are two common methods. One is surgical sexing which requires putting the bird under anesthesia, making an incision in the abdomen of the bird, and then inserting a small laparoscope and visually identify the sex of the bird.  The other method is much less intrusive and  involves taking a drop of blood from the birds cut toenail and sending it to a lab for DNA analysis. This is the method we use. We charge $35 for this service.

Most of our parrots at Arizona Parrots in Tucson can not be sexed by visual means. However Cockatoo adults sex can be determined by eye color at about sixteen months of age, a coal black color indicates a male and reddish brown color indicates female.

Some Cockatiels can be sexed visually by looking underneath the wings at the 8 longest flight feathers.  The female will have yellow dots and the male will not have yellow dots.

Interesting note:  Cockatiels in Tucson are generally very happy with the outdoor climate and some seem to be living freely around our ranch.

9) Which talk better – male or female parrots?

We do not believe that talking ability differs between the sexes – regardless of the species. We have some outstanding male and female talking birds, however, Cockatiels are an exception, Males are more likely to talk, but we do know of several female Cockatiels that talk.

10) Which make better pets – male or female parrots?

We get this question a lot. We believe that both sexes of all the species we raise make equally great pets. What kind of pet, a bird will make, has far more to do with how it is raised than what sex it is. For instance we have had as personal pets both male and female Macaws and Amazon Parrots, and they all became great pets.  Arizona Parrots keeps in touch with the people who buy our birds, and we have happy customers with both male and female of each species.  Almost everyone loves their birds and has found that gender was not important.

11)  What do you feed your birds?

The young babies that are being handfed receive a special diet that we mix ourselves.  As the babies start to wean, they are provided the same diet our breeder birds get which is a mix of 25% pellets (Polly Treasure Parrot Paradise pellets (many colors)), 40% seeds and 35% fruits and vegetables (we mix it ourselves). We try to introduce the babies to many different foods,  in an effort to get them to start eating on their own and for the nutritional balance this provides. We believe that parrots are very intelligent creatures with a highly developed taste.  Parrots in Arizona enjoy and benefit from having a varied diet. We have found from personal experience that the more variety you can provide the healthier your bird will be. It is for this reason that we do not feed only  pellets. Below is a list of some of the fruits and vegetables your bird will most likely have tried before you get it from Arizona Parrots:

apples, oranges
bananas, melons,
grapes, pears, kiwi

corn, beans, peas,
carrots (cooked slightly in microwave. soft but crunchy)
yams (cooked the same as carrots)
broccoli, spinach (fresh), kale, mustard greens
bell peppers, potatoes (cooked or mashed)

Rice, Pastas, Grains
long grain rice, noodles, 12 bean soup (we just cook it up and then drain it)
bread (they like this, we just give them small pieces now and then)

cooked eggs
cooked chicken

Our four favorite vegetables to feed our birds are:
Yams, Carrots, Broccoli and Spinach

12) Is there anything my bird should not eat?

Harmful Plants (first source)

Amaryllis – bulbs
American Yew
Azalea – leaves
Balsam Pear – seeds, outer rind of fruit
Baneberry – berries, root
Bird of Paradise – seeds
Black Locust – bark, sprouts, foliage
Blue-green Algae – some forms toxic
Boxwood – leaves, stems
Buckthorn – fruit, bark
Buttercup – sap, bulbs
Caladium – leaves
Calla Lily – leaves
Castor Bean – also castor oil, leaves
Chalice Vine/Trumpet vine
Christmas Candle – sap
Clematis/Virginia Bower
Coral Plant – seeds
Cowslip/Marsh Marigold
Daffodil – bulbs
Daphne – berries
Datura – berries
Deadly Amanita
Death Camas
Deffenbachia/Dumb Cane – leaves
Eggplant – fruit okay
Elephants Ear/Taro – leaves, stem
English Ivy berries, leaves
English Yew
False Henbane
Fly Agaric Mushroom – Deadly Amanita
Foxglove – leaves, seeds
Golden Chain/Laburnum
Hemlock – also water the plant is in
Henbane – seeds
Holly – berries
Horse Chestnut/Buckeye – nuts, twigs
Hyacinth – bulbs
Hydrangea – flower bud
Indian Turnip/Jack-in-Pulpit
Iris/Blue Flag – bulbs
Japanese Yew – needles, seeds
Java Bean – Lima bean – uncooked
Juniper – needles, stems, berries
Lantana – immature berries
Lily of the Valley – also water the plant is in
Lords and Ladies/Cuckoopint
Marijuana/Hemp – leaves
Mayapple – fruit is safe
Mescal Beans – seeds
Mistletoe – berries
Mock Orange – fruit
Monkshood/Aconite – leaves, root
Morning Glory
Narcissus – bulbs
Nightshade – all varieties
Oleander – leaves, branches, nectar
Philodendron – leaves and stem
Poinsettia – leaves, roots, immature
Poison Ivy – sap
Poison Oak – sap
Pokeweed/Inkberry – leaf, root, young berries
Potato – eyes, new shoots
Rhubarb – leaves
Rosary Peas/Indian Licorice – seeds
Skunk Cabbage
Snow on the Mountain/Ghostweed
Sweet Pea – seeds, fruit
Tobacco – leaves
Virginia Creeper – sap
Water Hemlock
Western Yew
Yam bean – roots, immature roots Harmful Plants (other sources)

Autumn Crocus/Meadow Saffron
Beans – all types if uncooked
Bittersweet Nightshade
Bleeding Heart/Dutchman’s Breeches
Bracken Fern
Broomcorn Grass
Candelabra Tree
Cardinal Flower
Cherry Tree – bark, twigs, leaves, pits
Chinaberry Tree
Crown of Thorns
Euonymus/Spindle Tree
False Hellebore
Ficus (weeping)
Four O’Clock
Glory Bean
Ground Cherry
Honey Locust
Indian Licorice Bean
Jerusalem Cherry – berries
Johnson Grass
Kentucky Coffee Tree
Mango Tree – wood, leaves, rind-fruit safe
Mountain Laurel
Mushrooms – several varieties
Oak – acorns, foliage
Peanuts – raw
Pencil Tree
Pine needles – berries
Rain Tree
Red Maple
Sandbox Tree
Scarlet Runner Beans
Sorghum Grass
Sudan Grass
Tansy Ragwort
Yellow Jasmine
Yew (Amer, Engl, Japan) – needles, thistles

Sources: American Medical Association Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants ; R. Dean Axelson, Caring for Your Pet Bird; Gallerstein, Gary A., DVM, The Complete Bird Owner’s Handbook; Garry Gallerstein, Bird Owner’s Home Health and Care Handbook; Greg and Linda Harrison, eds, Clinical Avian Medicine and Surgery; Gillian Willis; Wade and Carol Olyer Parrot Pleasures, Safe Wood Products and more .

13) So what IS safe for my bird?

House and Outdoor Plants

Acacia Aloe
African Violet
Baby’s Tears
Bamboo (Our parrots in Arizona love Bamboo)
Christmas Cactus
Cissus/Kangaroo Vine
Corn Plant
Donkey Tail
Dracena Varieties
Ferns (asparagus, birdnest, boston, maidenhair)
Figs (creeping, rubber, fiddle leaf)
Figs (laurel leaf)
Grape Ivy
Hen’s and Chickens
Herbs (e.g. oregano, rosemary, thyme)
Jade Plant
Monkey Plant
Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
Natal plum
Prayer Plant
Purple Passion/Velvet Nettle
Schefflera (Umbrella)
Sensitive Plant
Spider Plant
Swedish Ivy
Wandering Jew
White Clover
Zebra Plant

Trees and Bushes

Source: Gillian Willis
Citrus (any)
Norfolk Island Pine
Nuts (except chestnut and oak)
Palms (areca, date, fan, lady, parlour)
Palms (howeia, kentia, phoenix, sago)
Sequoia (Redwood)

Sources: Birds USA Magazine; Gillian Willis; Wade and Carol Olyer, Parrot Pleasures, Safe wood products

14) What about Teflon?

Following are excerpts taken from the paper:
TeflonTM poisoning: The silent killer
by Darrel K. Styles, DVM
Hill Country Aviaries, L.L.C.

Teflon poisoning, or more correctly polytetrafluoroethlyene (PTFE) intoxication, is a rapid and lethal gaseous intoxication and can affect all species of birds, especially smaller species of birds.

The only clinical signs of illness are birds starting to drop off their perches or displaying severe respiratory distress such as open-mouthed breathing, tail-bobbing, or even audible respiratory rales (raspy breathing sounds) followed quickly by death.

The cause of PTFE toxicity is gaseous emission of the material from nonstick cookware. The brand of cookware does not have to be Teflon. Any brand of Teflon-type non-stick cookware, such as Silverstone™, can result in intoxication. Also, cookware is not an exclusive culprit; this toxicosis has been caused by heat lamps coated with Teflon backing as well as range-burner or eye backings that are coated with the substance.

PTFE toxicity occurs because the coating is overheated. This usually is a result of forgetting that the cookware is on the stove and leaving it empty or letting the contents overheat and dry. The excessive heat causes Teflon coating to enter a gaseous state. For humans and other mammals, the PTFE gas is innocuous in the concentrations reached. However, birds are exquisitely sensitive to the gas and are quickly overcome by the vapor.

All types of birds are affected, from finches and canaries to macaws and Amazons. The smaller the bird, the less gas required to manifest the effect, so small birds are at greatest risk. The best course is prevention. To avoid this catastrophe, be careful of your Teflon coated surfaces. Some vets and aviculturists advocate eliminating the cookware from the home. I think this is a bit extreme, but I advise using some common sense and taking precautions.

First, I recommend not keeping birds in the kitchen for several reasons. (Arizona Parrots also agrees that it is best to not keep birds in the Kitchen).  Not only are they subject to PTFE toxicity, but I have seen some severely burned birds who were much too curious around mealtime and investigated the fried chicken too closely while it was still in the pan. Secondly, watch your Teflon; don’t leave the cookware unattended. As long as the material is not overheated, it is generally safe to use. When the cookware begins to age or is damaged, dispose of it. We all have those pans in which the non-stick surface now sticks. Just get rid of it (Besides, it’s a pain to have to scrub those pans, which just damages the surface more.) Do not use Teflon-coated heat lamps for any reason; it just isn’t worth the risk. These lamps generally will state that they are coated with Teflon on the label. They cannot be relied upon to maintain a nongaseous state.

Finally, if you suspect a pan has overheated, but your birds show no immediate signs, remove them from the area and monitor them over the next 4 hours. If no signs appear, then you can feel relatively comfortable about averting disaster, and a vet may not be necessary.

15) How long do the birds take to wean?

Weaning time varies by parrot species and also depends on how much experience the person has that is doing the hand feeding.  For most cockatoos expect 4 months, this also applies to the large macaws. We wean our Greys,  and Eclectus around 100 days. One of the biggest mistakes we can make is weaning a baby too early, so we take our time and allow the babies to tell us when they are ready.