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Wings 'n Things on PetLifeRadio.comSusan Chamberlain, host of Wings 'n Things

Susan Chamberlain
Bird Expert, Author & Columnist

Household Safety Audit

Roberta Fabiano

Roberta Fabiano

A "Household Safety Audit" takes you on a tour of accidents waiting to happen around your home! If there's mischief to be found, your bird will find it! Learn how to reduce risk of avian injuries and how important it is to have a plan in case of fire or natural disaster. Guest Roberta Fabiano, accompanied by her mitred conure, Ratchet, joins the show for a rousing round of 'Featherbrains', a quiz game all about birds! See how many of the multiple choice questions you can answer! Then join us for a spotlight on cockatoos!

Questions or comments? Email


Announcer: You’re listening to
Announcer So, why do seagulls live near the sea? ...  Because if they lived near the bay, they’d be bagels (bay-gulls)!  [laughter]  Welcome to Wings ‘n Things, where you’ll find real answers to real questions about everything you want to know about pet birds.  Care, feeding, bird products, travel, and more:  everything to make your frequent flyer a happy camper.  From parrots to parakeets, cockatiels to cockatoos—you’ll have a bird’s eye view of everything you need to know about your feathered friend.  So, spread your wings and get ready to fly with your Wings ‘n Things host, bird expert and author Susan Chamberlain.
Susan Chamberlain: Hi, welcome to Pet Life Radio.  This is Susan Chamberlain, your host of Wings ‘n Things.  During this segment we welcome Miss Roberta Fabiano and her Mitered Conure, “Ratchet,” on the show.  Welcome, Roberta.
Roberta Fabiano: Welcome Susan, once more. 
Susan Chamberlain: We are going to be doing a household safety audit during the first part of the program.  Then, we’re going to introduce you to “Featherbrains,” the first bird-brained quiz game.  We’re going to have some fun with that!  See if you can answer some questions, and you can play right along with us.  We’re going to have “Species Spotlight,” featuring cockatoos, and then we will see if Ratchet has anything to say to us.  Do you have anything to say today, Ratchet?
Roberta Fabiano: [urging Ratchet] Let’s say hello, ask Susan “What’s up?”
Ratchet: [small squawk]
Susan Chamberlain: Well there she is, chattering away.  If you want to see Ratchet and Roberta, just go to YouTube and check out “Parrots 4 Ever.”  You’ll see Ratchet acting like a little rock star, flinging her guitar around; you’ll also hear Roberta singing some of her original songs.  Roberta is also the lead vocalist and guitarist with the legendary Peter Duchin Orchestra.  She is mom to Ratchet the Mitered Conure.  And Roberta’s song “Dogen, Connor & Tupelo” is featured on the video “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.”  You can hear the song on YouTube, and you can also sample it on Roberta’s own website:
            OK Roberta, let’s talk a little bit about safety.  You know, the other day I went downstairs holding Bogart, my Red Lord Amazon, and I hardly noticed that the ceiling fan was actually spinning below us, because we were up above it.  Now, Bogart’s a very stable bird, but as we moved downward it dawned on me that he was in danger.  What if I had stumbled, or what if a hawk or crow had landed on one of the skylights above the staircase?
Roberta Fabiano: Right.
Susan Chamberlain: He could’ve taken off in a panic, and he would’ve gone in only one direction:  down! 
Roberta Fabiano: Because he’s clipped.
Susan Chamberlain: Yes; even if he wasn’t clipped, he’s pretty heavy--
Roberta Fabiano: How heavy is he?
Susan Chamberlain: Bogart is probably over 600 grams, which is pretty heavy for an Amazon parrot.  But then, Bogart doesn’t eat to live—he lives to eat.
Roberta Fabiano: [laughs]
Susan Chamberlain: But that’s one of the things that you might not always think of.  You think of birds flying up into a fan, not falling down into one.  So I made a mental note to be sure that the fan was off next time I was carrying one of them down the stairs.
Roberta Fabiano: Right, I don’t blame you.
Susan Chamberlain: You know, they’re like two-year-old kids when it comes to their surroundings, they want to try everything.  And, they could get spooked and fly off.  That’s an obvious danger.
Roberta Fabiano: Absolutely.
Susan Chamberlain: When I lived in Florida though, I used to babysit for a Peach-Faced Lovebird named Rosie, and I used to keep her in a guest room and let her fly around; I’d always turn the ceiling fan off.  Rosie would fly right up to the ceiling fan and jump from blade to blade to make the fan spin around.  [laughs]  It was really cute.  But, it’s one of those things.  In warmer climates you leave your fans on all year, so you don’t think about it—but let’s start now!  Birds out, fans off!
            What are some of the safety precautions you’ve taken with Ratchet around the house? 
Roberta Fabiano: …I have to think about that.  I don’t usually leave fans on.  I do have a couple of fans—especially, in her room there is a fan, but I make sure she’s locked in the cage when I have that on. 
Susan Chamberlain: You’ve got all kinds of things around here; you’ve got your own recording studio.  We are recording this in Roberta’s very own recording studio, so Ratchet’s sitting here with us, with all these wires and microphones, and everything else. 
Roberta Fabiano: She doesn’t usually chew on wires, so that’s good.
Susan Chamberlain: Oh, that’s a good thing.  I guess supervision is the key.  Ratchet’s kind of a “Velcro” bird anyway, she just sticks to you.  But windows—open windows are an obvious danger, because birds can escape.  Closed windows—birds can fly into a closed window, and be hurt.
Roberta Fabiano: Right, that’s if they’re not clipped.  Actually, if I open a window in my house, I have screens. 
Susan Chamberlain: Screens are very important.
Roberta Fabiano: I think that’s a good idea to keep screens on your window.
Susan Chamberlain: Yes, I think it’s very important, too.  But I’ve gone into some New York City apartments up on high floors, and they don’t have screens. 
Roberta Fabiano: That’s not safe for anything!
Susan Chamberlain: No, it really isn’t.  But I guess bugs are not an issue up there, though gosh, I’d worry about pigeons flying in, there.  Wouldn’t you?
Roberta Fabiano: Absolutely.
Susan Chamberlain: Or even Peregrine Falcons in New York City.
Roberta Fabiano: That would be wild.
Susan Chamberlain: Wouldn’t it?  Someone told me about a week ago—you know how we’re always afraid, we put up decals in our big windows so the wild birds don’t fly into them?
Roberta Fabiano: I do that.
Susan Chamberlain: That’s very important.  Especially if the sun hits your window at a certain angle; it just looks clear, birds think they can fly through it.
Roberta Fabiano: That’s right. 
Susan Chamberlain: I just heard a terrible story from somebody.  They said a hawk flew into their window, and didn’t stop—the window broke and the hawk kept coming. 
Roberta Fabiano: Oh my gosh!  So what happened?
Susan Chamberlain: It was flying around the house!  She was like, screaming; and finally got the hawk out of there.
Roberta Fabiano: Was the hawk harmed at all?
Susan Chamberlain: She doesn’t know, it flew out.  I mean, it was a big hawk, those are dangerous.  [laughs]
Roberta Fabiano: [laughs] That’s exciting!
Susan Chamberlain: You would think it’s exciting, most people wouldn’t!  But, I think clipping birds’ wings is sometimes controversial.  But I need to say that I am in favor of clipping birds’ wings, because I think any detriment to the bird is overcome if the bird has a strong relationship with its pet human.  And, the risk of escape and injury are just too great. 
Roberta Fabiano: And we have to make sure they’re not clipped too short, because then the bird, if he’s trying to hop down--
Susan Chamberlain: Yes, he can’t glide. 
Roberta Fabiano: --and he’ll harm himself.  That happened to my Nanday.
Susan Chamberlain: You need to have a good professional clip the wings and leave enough so that the bird can glide down a little bit.  But even a clipped bird can chew through window screens, so make sure the screens are in good repair.  I think supervision is the key:  supervise your bird whenever it’s out of its cage.  And, keep toilet bowl lids down--
Roberta Fabiano: Because, even with the toilet bowl, when you flush you have to make sure you close it, right?
Susan Chamberlain: I would.  If you have little birds—I know someone who lets her lovebirds fly all around the house—they’re pretty small.
Roberta Fabiano: How do you find them? 
Susan Chamberlain: I don’t know!  [laughs]  I don’t know, they could certainly hide.  Chewable household hazards include electrical wires, lead curtain weights, toxic houseplants, painted or stained wood objects, cigarettes—we don’t want any cigarettes around here, anyway—medicines, cosmetics, cleaning products, leather treatments.  I think a good rule is:  if you wouldn’t eat it yourself or permit a human baby to eat it, keep it away from your bird.
Roberta Fabiano: Also, avocado and chocolate. 
Susan Chamberlain: Avocado and chocolate, no good for birds. 
Roberta Fabiano: I know people that argue that though; I wouldn’t go there.
Susan Chamberlain: No, why take a chance?  If you’re going to err, err on the side of caution.  One thing that’s very interesting though:  African birds seem more affected by avocado toxicity than South American birds. 
Roberta Fabiano: Really?
Susan Chamberlain: It really makes sense, avocados grow in South America and not in Africa. 
Roberta Fabiano: So maybe—well, I still wouldn’t take a chance.
Susan Chamberlain: No, I wouldn’t take a chance either.  No, no, no, never.  So, no avocados. 
Roberta Fabiano: Yes.
Susan Chamberlain: Got bird?  No avocado.
Roberta Fabiano: Right.
Susan Chamberlain: One time a parrot rescue volunteer responded to a call about an African Grey that had escaped during a fire.  The daughter had lit a candle in her bedroom and the curtain went up, and the rest is history.  They got the Grey out, but he had escaped when he was being transferred into a carrier.  So, when I got home I counted the pillowcases—I keep pillowcases under the birds’ cages in case of emergency.  If there’s a fire, you can put a bird right in the pillowcase and get it out of the house.  And the fabric will block at least some of the smoke; using a pillowcase is often easier than trying to work a carrier in an emergency; and you can transfer the bird to a cage or a carrier later when you’re in a secure, escape-proof area.  But that story had a happy ending:  the bird was found across the street under a car.
Roberta Fabiano: Alive.
Susan Chamberlain: Yes, alive.
Roberta Fabiano: Not under the wheel or anything! 
Susan Chamberlain: But, you know, have a plan; I think you need to have a plan, in any case.  If you prefer to use a carrier for your emergencies, keep it readily accessible.  Be sure you can open and close the door without fumbling; be sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are working in your home; and use candles very carefully, if you use them at all. 
Roberta Fabiano: And, don’t use the scented ones. 
Susan Chamberlain: No, don’t use scented candles around your birds, because they can be sensitive to some of the aromatic oils in scented candles. 
Roberta Fabiano: And what about fireplaces?
Susan Chamberlain: Fireplaces generally vent to outside, but if you have a smoky wood fire going, I would relocate your bird to another area of the house.  You know how you feel yourself when you’ve got all that wood smoke going on—it dries out your throat, makes you sneeze; people with asthma are often bothered by wood fires.  I would keep the bird out of the room with the fireplace in it, if you’re doing a lot of burning wood.
Ratchet: [squawk]
Susan Chamberlain: Ratchet seems to agree with that.
Roberta Fabiano: Yes.
Susan Chamberlain: But then, you don’t want to be burning and have the bird right up above that room, because the air will just go right up there. 
Roberta Fabiano: Are birds smart enough to know not to fly into a fireplace?
Susan Chamberlain: Well you know, that’s really a good question, because in the wild birds are smart enough to fly away from fire.  In our homes, it’s a whole different thing.  While they have some of their natural instincts, you would think that they would be smart enough.  But their perspective is different in a home, so make sure you use a fireplace screen.  Don’t take a chance.  Or keep your bird in its cage if you’ve got the fireplace on.  You know, why take a chance?  It’s just not worth it.
Roberta Fabiano: I met someone that had a pot of boiling water on the stove, and her bird flew into it.  How could a bird just not know any better?
Susan Chamberlain: Well, the bird doesn’t know that that’s a pot of boiling water.
Roberta Fabiano: It doesn’t feel the heat?
Susan Chamberlain: It might not feel the heat until it’s too late, and it might not make the connection that the heat is coming from there.  Birds in the wild don’t live around hot springs, they don’t know to avoid that.
Roberta Fabiano: Well, the bird survived.
Susan Chamberlain: Wow, that’s amazing.  The feathers must’ve protected it.  Certainly, very important; very scary.  So when you’re cooking, cover those pots, keep your bird in its cage.
Roberta Fabiano: And don’t use Teflon.
Susan Chamberlain: No, don’t use Teflon.  Well, Teflon is a brand name—Teflon’s a biggie, you don’t want to use Teflon or any other non-stick cookware or appliances.
Ratchet: [squawk]
Roberta Fabiano: I know we’ve said that before, but we can’t say it enough. 
Susan Chamberlain: No, we have to say it during every program at least once.  Non-stick cookware and appliances are coated with a product that contains polytetrafluoroethylene.  When it’s heated it emits fumes that will kill birds quickly.
            One of our bird club members had a strange experience with her birds:  one of her lovebirds got her foot tangled up in heavy weight paper towels.  You know, we think that it’s a really safe cage liner, but the bird had chewed holes in the toweling and got the paper just wrapped around her leg. 
Roberta Fabiano: What happened?
Susan Chamberlain: Well, the owner was able to get it off.  But if she hadn’t been home, the bird might’ve lost a leg, or been horribly stressed.  Heavy duty paper towels don’t rip easily.
Roberta Fabiano: I’ll tell you, the other thing I had with my Nanday is, I had a woven blanket over its cage at night, and that was not good, I learned.
Susan Chamberlain: No, they can get their toes caught in the loops.
Roberta Fabiano: That happened to him. 
Susan Chamberlain: And that’s not a really good thing.  Use something smooth, cotton, like a sheet; that will work nicely.  Birds will probably eventually make their own holes in it, and you can just replace it.  And you have to be careful, there’s some dangers that you can’t see, too.  Viruses, bacteria, mold; keep a separate cutting board for your bird’s fresh fruit and vegetables; disinfect your counter regularly; change your dish towel daily; use disinfectant on sponges and cloths when you wipe off counters.  It’s good for your bird, and it’s good for you.  It’s just safe food handling.  And aerosols, powders, and other chemicals dispersed into the air—not good for your bird.  Use them behind closed doors.  And automobile air fresheners, you know, if you have the little green Christmas tree that stinks up the car?
Roberta Fabiano: Never!  That makes me sick.
Susan Chamberlain: Make sure if you’re transporting your bird, you don’t have one of those in your car, because those stink.  And car rental companies might use fabric freshening products inside their automobiles, so be very careful if you’re renting a car and you’ve got your bird with you.  Ask for a hypoallergenic car; that would be a good thing.  And non-smoking hotel rooms.  Take a look around your house, and imagine as I do, an Amazon uprising… or a band of marauding macaws moving through the rooms… curious cockatiels and carpenter cockatoos… do your own safety audit.  Assess the potential for damage to your house and danger to your birds.  No way you’ll ever be able to remove every hazard from your home.  Someday a reader is going to call in or email and tell me about a parrot that’s cold-cocked itself with a ping-pong ball!  You know?  It’s always something.  If there’s trouble to be found, they will find it. 
Roberta Fabiano: I bet.
Susan Chamberlain: And it’s up to us to keep them safe.
Roberta Fabiano: They’re like three-year-olds, don’t forget.
Susan Chamberlain: That’s what they are, for ever and ever!  OK, we’ll be right back with “Featherbrains.”  We’re going to take a short break and get ready for the first ever bird-brained quiz game.
Female Announcer Sitting on a branch overlooking the parking lot, the pigeons watched as a Mercedes pulled in below them.  “What do you think?” one bird said to the other.  “Should we put a deposit on that car?”  [laughter]  Stay perched!  Wings and things will be soaring back, right after these messages.
Announcer A Frenchman walks into a bar with a parrot on his shoulder.  The bartender asks, “Where did you get that thing?”  The parrot replies, “In France.  There are millions of them.”  [laughter]  Don’t have a canary!  Wings ‘n Things is back with more great words on birds with your host, Susan Chamberlain.
Susan Chamberlain: Welcome back to Wings ‘n Things, right here on Pet Life Radio.  I’m your host Susan Chamberlain.  We’re joined by Roberta Fabiano and Mitered Conure, Ratchet; and we are about to play “Featherbrains.”  This is the first bird-brained quiz game, and we’re going to see if Roberta’s going to be thrown out of the nest; if she’s the weakest beak here, or if she’ll know the answers.  They’re all multiple choice, so just play right along with us. 
Roberta Fabiano: Can I have Ratchet answer for me?
Susan Chamberlain: You can have Ratchet answer for you.
Roberta Fabiano: OK, Ratch!
Ratchet: [squawk]
Susan Chamberlain:  There she goes!  Some birds are hybrids.  The definition of a “hybrid” is:  A) a mutant; B) a cross between two different species; or C) cousin Ed [sp].
Roberta Fabiano: I think it’s more like—no, I won’t say it.  [laughs]  I think it’s… hybrid is a cross between two different species.
Susan Chamberlain: You’re right, Roberta!  It is a cross between two different species.  An example is the Catalina macaw… but we’re not so sure about cousin Ed [sp]. 
            OK, now for our next question.  Which bird is not a species of parrot?  A) the Kea; B) the Kaka; or C) the Cherry Headed Condor.
Roberta Fabiano: Let’s see, the Kia—that depends on how it’s spelt, because there’s a car of the same name.  The one thing I know doesn’t exist is the Cherry Headed Condor, so that’s my answer.
Susan Chamberlain: Well, you’re absolutely right.  There is no such thing as a Cherry Headed Condor.  Keas and Kakas, however, are related to parrots, and they’re members of the genus Nestor.  They’re native to New Zealand, and the Kaka is extinct. 
Roberta Fabiano: What did that look like?
Susan Chamberlain: I don’t even know—I don’t know that I ever saw a picture of it.  But Keas are great big brown birds with hooked bills, and they cause all kinds of damage.  When people drive into parks where they are, they steal the windshield wipers off their cars, and they’ve even been known to chew on tires and flatten them. 
Roberta Fabiano: They don’t fly, so how do they get on top of cars?
Susan Chamberlain: I think they fly like turkeys do.  They hop, they jump.
Roberta Fabiano: I thought they were flightless parrots.
Susan Chamberlain: I don’t know, we’ll have to look that up and put that in a later show.  But I did see some video, I’m not sure if it was the “Look Who’s Talking” video; but they showed some Keas, and they were on top of a car, and they were just stripping—it had a vinyl roof on it—and they were just stripping the vinyl right from the car.
            Question number three.  To prevent a bird from flying, you must clip its: A) sere [sp]; B) primary flight feathers; or C) greater under-wing coverts.
Roberta Fabiano: I’d say B, the primary flight feathers.
Susan Chamberlain: The sere is the skin around the nostrils, and the under-wing coverts are small and short and do not enable flight.  So yes, Roberta, yours is the correct answer.  You’re doing great.
            The Alexandrian parakeet is so named because it was kept as a pet by: A) Alex Trebek; B) Alexander the Great; C) Alexandra De Markoff.
Roberta Fabiano: Well, I don’t think Alex Trebek has been around long enough for a parrot to have been named after him, so I think Alexander the Great.
Susan Chamberlain: Absolutely right.  Alexander the great had Alexandrian parakeets; they were brought to him by explorers to the east.
            Next question:  This parrot, an occasional visit to the American Southwest, is the subject of a reintroduction program in New Mexico.  Is it the  A) Great-Billed parrot; B) Thick-Billed parrot; or C) Red-Spotted Racket-Tailed parrot?
Roberta Fabiano: I don’t really know, but I’m going to take a wild guess that it’s B, the Thick-Billed parrot.
Susan Chamberlain: You are right!  The Thick-Billed parrot, a former resident visitor to the Southwest, has been released in limited numbers to the U.S.  Breeding in the wild, however, has not been noted in the United States. 
Roberta Fabiano: The only reason I thought it was that was because you and I went to the Queens Zoo, and we saw them there.
Susan Chamberlain: We did. 
Roberta Fabiano: And they’re still there, so everybody can go there.
Susan Chamberlain: Yes, it’s the Queens Zoo in Corona, New York—isn’t it in Corona?
Roberta Fabiano: Flushing, it’s by the old World’s Fair area.
Susan Chamberlain: And it’s just a lovely zoo, and they have a beautiful Thick-Billed parrots exhibit.
Roberta Fabiano: Yes.  And great aviary you can walk through. 
Susan Chamberlain: They do.  And they have really nice Thick-Billed parrots T-Shirts, too, I bought one.
Roberta Fabiano: So did I.
Susan Chamberlain: OK, next question.  Some birds are sexually dimorphic.  This means:  A) they’re sterile; B) you can tell apart male and female by looking at them; or C) you’re likely to see them on late-night cable TV.
Roberta Fabiano: [laughs] Who came up with that one?
Susan Chamberlain: [laughs] Well, we don’t have a writers’ strike here. 
Roberta Fabiano: That’s a good thing.  So, I think it’s B, because I know with the Eclectus, that’s the only parrot I know where you can definitely tell the difference, because the male is a certain color, and the female is another.  So, dimorphic is the word, I think.
Susan Chamberlain: Yes, it is.  You are right again.  “You can tell male from female by physical characteristics, such as beak or feather color, or the markings.”  The Eclectus parrot is a great example:  the female is bright red with a bluish-purplish chest, and the male is a beautiful brilliant green.  Senegal parrots are also sexually dimorphic.
Roberta Fabiano: Oh, I didn’t know that.
Susan Chamberlain: My two little Senegals?  If you look at the male, the vent feathers on the male are a gold color, and the vent feathers on the female are green. 
            Ok, question number seven.  A barbule is:  A) an infection; B) the individual spike on a feather; or C) a species of parrotlet. 
Roberta Fabiano: All right, I’m going to say B again, because that’s what I thought it was.
Susan Chamberlain: Barbule.  Yes, a barbule is the individual spike on a feather.  Again, Roberta, you’re going seven for seven!
Roberta Fabiano: Does this mean I get to keep my parrot? [laughs]
Susan Chamberlain: [laughs] It does!  The bird who played “Paulie” in the movie of the same name was:  A) a Blue-Headed Pionus; B) a Blue-Fronted Amazon; C) or a Blue-Crowned Conure.
Roberta Fabiano: Blue-Crowned Conure.  That I know!
Susan Chamberlain: That she knows, that was Paulie.  Feather shafts are composed of:  A) plastic; B) bone; or C) keratin.
Roberta Fabiano: Keratin.
Susan Chamberlain: Ok, you’re absolutely right.
Roberta Fabiano: But, Keratin is made out of what, though?
Susan Chamberlain: Keratin is also present in human fingernails, it’s a protein.
Roberta Fabiano: Now I’m going to ask a really stupid question:  what’s the name of… oh no, wait, “creosote.”  [laughs]
Susan Chamberlain: [laughs] We could’ve had that as one of the answers, I guess.  Now, the Long Island Parrot Society’s ‘Parrot Expo 2008’ will take place on: A) July 20th; B) October 11th; or C) December 25th. 
Roberta Fabiano: Well, it’s always in October, so I would have to say letter B.
Susan Chamberlain: October 11th, yes.  The Long Island Parrot Society’s ‘Parrot Expo 2008’ will take place on October 11th in Freeport, New York.  Go to for more information.
Roberta Fabiano: If you love parrots, you have to go to this.
Susan Chamberlain: I know, it’s really great.  Ok, Roberta, you know what?  You got them all right! 
Roberta Fabiano: Cool!
Susan Chamberlain: So you don’t really need the tiebreaker bonus question, but I’m going to give it to you anyway, in case some of our listeners would like to know what it is and try it out with their friends.  Ok:  New York State was one of the first to enact a ban on selling wild-caught exotic birds within the state.  I what year was this law enacted?  A) 1992; B) 1996; or C) 1986.
Roberta Fabiano: I really don’t know the answer, but I’m going to take a wild guess of 1996.
Susan Chamberlain: No!  One wrong, although you got all the others right.  New York’s exotic bird ban was enacted in 1986.  The Wild Bird Conservation Act--which was a Federal law--of 1992 banned most imports into the United States.  So, New York was ahead of the loop on that one.
Roberta Fabiano: Good for New York.
Susan Chamberlain: Well, thank you for playing “Featherbrains” with us.  It’s so much fun, isn’t it?
Roberta Fabiano: Yeah!
Susan Chamberlain: It really is, especially when you have a bunch of people doing it.  So, we hope you’ve done it too; make up some questions and email me some at  We’re going to take a quick break, and then we’ll be back and tell you something about cockatoos.
Susan Chamberlain: Ok, we’re back.  This is Susan, your host of Wings ‘n Things on Pet Life Radio.  And as we promised, we’re going to talk a little bit about cockatoos.  Those are the big white birds with the yellow crests, the salmon pink birds with the darker salmon crests, and the all white birds. 
            Cockatoo owners just love their birds.  These gorgeous white, peach-tinted, or yellow-crested creatures are prized for their beauty and loving natures.  It is this loving nature that is very often the cockatoo’s worst enemy.  Never let a cockatoo know that it can get more attention than it’s already getting!  This advice came from a friend who’s worked in the pet industry for more than 20 years.  New and potential cockatoo owners should repeat this phrase daily.  They buy the birds, love them to pieces for the first few months:  and then real life comes along, and they have to leave the bird alone while they go to work or partake in some other time-consuming activity.  The cockatoo is bereft and begins to exhibit unacceptable behavior, emitting ear-shattering screams or plucking its feathers. 
            The secret to a successful relationship with a cockatoo may be psychological.  Get the bird accustomed to spending 5 or 6 hours a day inside its cage, in case you have to be away from home regularly.  Because cockatoos crave company, leave the television on when you’re out of the house.  Cockatoos possess a great deal of beak dexterity and strength; they must be provided with challenging toys and cages with secure welds and locks.  Some owners insist that their birds have learned to pick padlocks, so they’ve switched to combination locks. 
            One sign of a healthy cockatoo is the presence of a talcum powder-like dust on the feathers and beak.  Allergy or asthma sufferers are advised to consider another species.  Cockatoos are susceptible to Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, also known as PBFD, and should be tested for its presence prior to purchase.  Symptoms of this disease include clubbed or deformed feathers, malformed or overgrown beak and nails, and lack of dust on the beak and feathers. 
            Feed your cockatoo a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh produce.  Some cockatoos, particularly the Rose-Breasted, are prone to fatty tumors.  These birds should not be permitted to overindulge in fatty seeds or other high-fat foods.
            That’s all we have time for on this episode of Wings ‘n Things, but next time we’ll talk about some of the individual cockatoos.  I want to thank Roberta Fabiano and Ratchet for being here.
Roberta Fabiano: We had fun, thanks for having us. 
Susan Chamberlain: Ok, thank you.  I’m Susan Chamberlain on Pet Life Radio; this has been Wings ‘n Things, and thank you for listening!
Ratchet: Goodbye!
Announcer  Join us every week on Wings ‘n Things with your host Susan Chamberlain, and get a birds’ eye view of everything there is to know about pet birds, and how to make your frequent flyer a happy camper!  Wings ‘n Things, only on


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