Why I avoid Cockatiels, Lovebirds and Budgies (Parakeets)

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When I first started breeding, I began with Cockatiels and Lovebirds. Fortunately, I have a neighbor/friend who had been breeding parrots much longer than I have. She is blessed to basically have her own private veterinarian because her husband owns a zoo here in west Phoenix. I still remember her telling me that if I wanted to breed parrots, I needed to sell all of my tiels and lovebirds, disinfect thoroughly, let all sit vacant and let the AZ sun cook any residue, and then go buy my parrot pairs. I respect this lady greatly, so I followed her advice.
I also started reading and listening more about bird viruses. This is what shaped my strong anti bird mart opinion. This opinion has put me in bad light with other bird breeders who support bird marts, but I still stand by it. Carolyn Swicegood (landofvos.com) once said to me in an email me that selling your birds at a bird mart was equivalent to playing Russian Roulette with your flock. Her main caution was about PDD.


One email that I saved was a conversation between Scott Lewis of Old World Aviaries and Laurella Desbourough. They were discussing why we can expect the viruses to be more prevalent among tiels, lovebirds and budgies. Why? This is how veterinarians have explained it to me...Here are the reasons in their email that were given for naming these 3 species:
  • these are inexpensive birds, thus their bodies are rarely submitted for a necropsy when one dies, and 
  • these birds are often bred in colony situations, year round
  • breeder birds are not routinely tested for diseases such as polyoma
  • these three types of birds in pet stores MAY come from large bird farms where they are flock bred and these flocks may contain the disease in a latent form...letting some of these healthy birds be carriers.
  • cockatiels appear to be able to be subclinical carriers periodically shedding APV throughout life instead of clearing the disease and budgerigars may take up to 2 years to clear. Lovebirds have a high incidence to PBFD which, in turn, makes them more susceptible to APV.
Another conversation took place on Laurella's wonderful Ekkie email chat lists.  Some key points that I learned from this list were this:
  • Never buying any food items from open bins, and never buy toys or perches that cannot be disinfected prior to use, and never exposing the eclectus parrot to lovebirds or budgies or cockatiels UNLESS those birds have been tested for polyoma virus.
  • All vets are not equal either. Some are more experienced. Some are more thoughtful. Some are more money oriented and will act accordingly...buy this, do that, test for this, etc. A really good vet will work with you and work towards what is best for your bird or birds
  • If an eclectus parrot contracts the disease as, say an 8 month old youngster, and doesn't die but recovers, it can carry the seeds of future death within it. The virus can wall up into a special viral ball, and later in years, when the bird is stressed sufficiently, that bird can come down with polyoma and die of polyoma, just like the babies.
  • how the polyoma virus can wall itself off somewhere in the body and later when the body chemistry changes due to continued stress...the viral ball opens up and the virus attacks the bird, which was fatal in this case.
  • Visits to bird marts, stores, etc. by eclectus breeders with youngsters at home are also a danger as the virus can be transmitted on clothing, shoes, hair, hands. This means a change of clothes and a total body shower would be the order of the day after such visits. Clothes go thru a disinfecting wash...and shoes also disinfected or tossed out to prevent transmission of diseases.
Finally, an article on Scott Lewis' website was also very enlightening.
This article is good on how to introduce new birds into your collection http://www.oldworldaviaries.com/text/styles/screening.html  AvianBiotech is a wonderful company that will disease screen for you at a moderate cost to the bird breeder.

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