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Ask Marc: Feathered Friends

Marc Morrone answers questions about bird food, talking, cages, and nail clipping.
Martha Stewart Living Television

I have a 1-year-old parakeet. I feed her carrot and apple baby food. Is it okay to give her rice cereal?
A bird can eat almost any human food as long as it's in moderation. There are two important exceptions: avocados and chocolate. Birds should never be fed either one. But as a treat, feel free to indulge your bird with a bit of rice cereal.

I have a parakeet who is very friendly and can say a few words, but she only talks when we aren't nearby. Why is this?
Birds respond to positive reinforcement, and when your bird was alone, she learned that making noise brought you closer to her cage. When you're nearby, she already has your attention, so she doesn't need to speak.

Where did you get Dante? I have always wanted a raven or a crow. Do they make good pets?
Crows, ravens, and all corvids are good pets -- provided you have the large amount of space they need. However, crows, ravens, and birds native to the United States cannot legally be kept as pets. It is permissible to keep those birds native to other countries that were born in captivity. Dante is an African brown-necked raven bred in the United States by a breeder specializing in these birds.

I have a white dove that I got last year. Can you tell me what I should put in her cage to keep her happy?
Doves are social animals that grow unhappy when living alone. The best addition to her cage is another dove; males will get along famously with each other, as will a pair of females. They are large birds so be sure the cage is big enough for them to turn around comfortably, and to jump back and forth. Most cages made for parakeets are too small for doves.

Should you clip a parakeet's nails?
Only clip a parakeet's nails if they become too long. Because of parakeets' small size, you'll need to have a professional do the job. Placing a concrete perch in the bird's cage will help keep its nails trimmed, but be sure there's only one; if all the perches are concrete, it will hurt the bird's feet.

Comments (2)

  • 21 Sep, 2011

    i found a parakeet in my backyard what do i do and i was thinking buying two more is that ok

  • 20 Mar, 2011

    Marc, noticed on a recent episode that someone had two budgies in a cage that had only plastic perches. You did not mention that plastic perches create bumble foot in budgies which can eventually lead to their death. And, that natural perches (such as branches from safe wood from the garden or a pet store), or rope perches are more comfortable and healthy for birds who have who are on their feet 24hrs 7days a week. Also perches should have variable diameters to give relief and lessen arthritis.