Pet birds become stressed for a range of reasons and show signs of their stress and anxiety in sometimes life-threatening ways.
Vetafarm, Australia’s leading innovator in companion animal health and welfare, is proud to launch Parrot B-Calm, the world’s first complete parrot calming pellet diet, and put a spotlight on pet bird stress, anxiety and wellbeing.
“Whilst there are pet bird calming supplements on the market, Parrot B-Calm pellets are the only complete diet that has calming effects and provides the rest of their nutrition as well,” said Dr Tony Gestier, Avian Veterinarian and Director of Vetafarm.
Parrot B-Calm is a functional complete diet formulated by avian veterinarians that provides balanced nutrition and supports the reduction of stress and anxiety with natural ingredients. Made with the amino acid L-Tryptophan – a natural precursor for the synthesis of serotonin in the brain – the non-drowsy and non-sedative action is balanced with fresh Australian whole grains, vitamins, minerals and turmeric to support your bird’s health and wellbeing.
Vetafarm’s resident parrot trainer Carmen McGill has been working with birds for more than 30 years and rescue parrot Miranda was the worst rehabilitation case she had ever seen. The beautiful Macaw had been severely traumatised by a bigger and stronger male bird, did not trust anyone and could not fly.
Miranda nearly died from blood loss due to self-mutilation, repeatedly ripping out her tail feathers and screaming. Carmen spent three years rehabilitating Miranda, which took a lot of patience, love, tears and determination to win the parrot’s trust.
Halfway through Miranda’s rehabilitation, Carmen began trialling Parrot B-Calm.
“Within a week I could clearly see a difference!” she said. “Parrot B-Calm took the edge off – it wasn’t making her sleepy, just more relaxed.”
Today, Miranda has all her feathers, a boyfriend named Ares and laughs a lot, just like Carmen! And she can fly! “Of course, behavioural training is still required as Parrot B-Calm is not a ‘fix all’ but an aid for birds who are stressed and anxious,” she added.
Covid pandemic increased bird ownership and impacts bird health
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Carmen has seen an increase in parrot ownership, but now that people are going back to the office, their feathered friends are home alone and stressed from boredom and separation anxiety.
Symptoms of stress in birds include excessive screaming/vocalisation, over-preening/cleaning or plucking feathers, walking around the cage incessantly, doing somersaults (head flips), flattening their feathers and trembling, or other behaviours that are out of the ordinary.
“Parrots are highly intelligent and need mental stimulation,” said Carmen. “If they are left in a cage with no stimulation, they become bored and start exhibiting behaviours that are quirky and potentially harmful.”
Moulting, mating, over handling and changes to environment or routine, such as a new baby or pet, can also cause stress in parrots. Plus, a poor diet, lack of exercise or even interrupted or insufficient sleep can trigger stress.
“The correct parrot diet involves parrot pellets, fresh fruit and vegetables. Nuts and seeds can also be used as treats in moderation,” said Carmen. “I highly recommend Parrot B-Calm for stressed and anxious parrots. A correct diet is vital in supporting a parrot’s mental and physical wellbeing and combined with behavioural training achieves amazing results!”
Tips for managing and preventing stress and anxiety in parrots
Carmen shared some training tips to manage stress and anxiety in parrots.
- Patience and calmness are always required when dealing with a stressed and anxious parrot. Understanding the source of your bird’s stress is very important.
- Make sure the cage is a suitable size with the right components, including multi-level tree branch perches from the top to the lower level of the cage. Half covering the cage with shelter enables your bird to hide from any threats, helping them to feel safe.
- During times of change, such as moving location or routine, transition slowly giving your bird time to familiarise them with these changes.
- If you’ve been together with your bird for long periods of time, you can reduce the effects of separation anxiety by giving your bird time alone, then gradually extending the time alone to prepare them for the change.
- Provide a calm environment in your home with reduced noise to minimise their stress.
- Regularly provide your bird with foraging enrichment. Foraging is the instinctive behaviour of searching for and obtaining food. Foraging enrichment can involve hanging fresh vegetables and fruits around the cage. Look for ways to make your bird work for their food.
- Regularly provide other stimulating activities that involve chewing, shredding and playing. Natural leaves, branches and gum nuts are great for chewing. Observe your bird and offer different toys to keep their beaks busy.
- Minimise over handling of your pet parrot. If they start to bite, they are communicating that they have had enough and need some quiet time in their enclosure.
- Make sure your bird has fresh water daily and the correct diet as mentioned above, including Vetafarm’s Parrot-B Calm. Feed Parrot B-Calm to the ratio of 10% of their body weight. This is important as an inadequate diet can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiency triggering stress and illness.