New Owner's Guide



My birds are physically examined at the time of hatch and have been monitored on a daily basis to ensure their health and well being. Any known abnormalities are listed under comments. As some health conditions can only be detected by an avian veterinarian, we urge you to take your new pet for a checkup so that you may receive an expert's opinion on the health status of your bird. If your veterinarian determines the bird is in poor health, please return the bird within the 3 day (72 hour) warranty period, along with the veterinarian's statement to us. Any laboratory testing the veterinarian may do must be performed within the warranty period for the bird to be covered in warranty. We understand that the results of these tests may not be available within the warranty period and will assume liability for results received after that time, as long as the testing was done within the warranty period. If any problems are found, we will, at our option, either replace the bird with one of equal value (as soon as they become available) or refund the full purchase price. We do not assume liability for veterinary expenses you may incur.

The purpose of this warranty is to offer protection to the purchaser for a health problem that is not capable of being diagnosed at the time of the sale. If a condition is noted during the warranty period, please return the bird to me. We reserve the right to take the bird to an avian veterinarian of our choice for further examination. If our veterinarian determines the bird to be healthy, or ill or dead, due to neglect, malnutrition, improper care, or injury sustained after purchase, no refund or replacement will be given.

No warranty or liability is expressed or implied in the case of injury or illness caused by the bird to other pets or humans in the household.

Purchase Agreement

I ______________________________________the buyer, understand that I am purchasing a ____________________________________________hatched on __________________with band number __________(if any) Purchase price being $________________

I have read the above warranty. I take full responsibility for the proper care and feeding of the bird. I agree that there are no other warrantees, guarantees or liability, expressed or implied on the part of Robin Van Zeeland, Robin's Nest.

I also understand and agree that any and all veterinary or other expenses are mine. It is further understood that I will expect no monies or valuable assets from Robin Van Zeeland, Robin's Nest in the event of future illness or death. I have read this and understand that it is a legally binding contract agreement. I am also aware of any abnormalities or illness listed below, and I have assumed complete liability for these. I am also aware of the agreements (if any) that I have made concerning this bird.



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Buying Your Bird

For good pet quality and to minimize stress, look for a young bird that has been well socialized to humans. This does not necessarily mean hand-fed if the baby has been handled from a young age. In contrast, if hand- fed but not played with, hand-feeding is useless for taming. You are looking for a bond of trust. It's not impossible to form this with an older or non-tame bird but it will take much more patience and may never result in the same level of tameness. You may also want to consider a second hand bird, as many of these are very nice birds with stable personalities. Homes are needed where they will receive good care and attention. Check with your local humane society or parrot rescue if available. Some pet stores offer delightful birds that have no fear and have been handled from a young age. Unfortunately, most offer aviary bred babies that may not be fully weaned and have had no human contact. This is unfair to the bird and the customer if a tame pet is what is being sought. In my opinion, buying such a bird sets up a revolving door that will continue through generations if the store can count on numerous pity buys. Many avian vets or bird clubs may be able to refer you to a reputable breeder if you don't have a good pet store available. Reward those that breed in a compassionate and responsible manner.

It is totally unnecessary to hand feed a baby to form a bond with it. NEVER, EVER buy an unweaned bird. Things can backfire quickly if proper methods and conditions go unmet. It is also very unsettling for a baby to have to switch feeders partway to weaning. Babies should be fully weaned for about two weeks before being offered for sale. This means that any baby sold should be about 10-11 weeks old at a minimum.

Male lovebirds on the whole (and this is a generalization) tend to make calmer and less territorial pets. They also tend to be more outgoing as "family" pets. Some breeders will DNA sex birds on request if you pay the lab fee (can be done for about $20 per bird). Hens can also be nice but they are usually much more likely to become cage territorial when mature. If this happens, you need to work with your bird well away from it's cage and you will notice a BIG difference in behavior.

Look the bird over carefully. You should be able to feel the breast bone but it shouldn't feel "sharp." Too sharp means a baby is thin and may not be eating well on its own or it could be ill. Vent and feathers should be clean, eyes bright and the bird should be active rather than fluffed up on a perch. Babies may spend a good deal of the day sleeping but should be active when awake. Ask for a health warranty (similar to what's outlined above) and schedule a new bird exam with an avian vet. Most small animal vets have no experience with birds so you will have to seek out a vet that's avian qualified.

DO NOT fail to quarantine your new bird from any others you may have. One sick bird can put your whole flock at risk. It's just not worth it to cut corners. 30-90 day quarantine should be adhered to.

If you're planning on buying your bird a cage mate, you will have to cage them separately , side by side, for about two weeks (after quarantine is complete) before introducing them to each other in a third "neutral" cage. Rushing this can result in an overnight "murder" of the least aggressive bird. Additionally, never try to put a young male in with a mature hen. It's far too dangerous for the male.

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Introduction to Lovebirds

Lovebirds are smaller than Cockatiels but you wouldn't know it by watching them. They are far more active, preferring to do things like climb up and down ladders, hang from things, shred toys, and generally expend lots of energy rather than be mellow like a Cockatiel. A Lovebird often gets away with bullying a larger bird, and Cockatiels are an easy victim. Don't cage them together or allow unsupervised playtime.

Tame hand-fed lovebirds are curious, intelligent little birds, who love to explore pockets, climb down T-shirts, sit on shoulders, take baths in the kitchen sink, play with watches, eye-glasses, preen your hair, shred paper and investigate anything else that looks interesting. Sitting on your hand won't last long. They're just too busy to hold still.

Lovebirds should be introduced to new foods as soon as possible. Favorites include broccoli, spinach, corn on the cob and lettuce (not iceberg). Spinach should not be fed during nesting (binds calcium). Some fruits are also eaten but lovebirds tend to not be overly fond of fruit. I have had the best luck with apple slices and raspberries (which can make quite a mess). Fruit and vegetables may be easier to introduce if baked into bread of some kind. Corn bread works well. If at first you don't succeed, try, and try again. Lovebirds can live 15-20 years with good care. I give my babies pellets, diced veggies, cheerios and a small amount of seed and millet while they are weaning.

Most babies go through a short (2-3 week) nippy stage not too long after weaning. This is normal and can be worked through. DON'T give up on your bird. With guidance and consistency, you can overcome this behavior and reclaim your tame little friend. Most of this is purely exploration of their surroundings and this is done with their beak. Distraction is usually the best strategy. I have included an article in this pamphlet that can be very helpful with this problem. If you are still having trouble, call your breeder for advice.

Your bird will most likely bond with the person that handles it the most (regardless of whose bird you expect it to be).

BEWARE of interaction between your bird and other family pets. Lovebirds can wound or kill a Cockatiel or smaller bird. On the other hand, your dog or cat might love nothing better than a Lovebird sized snack. A cat scratch, however slight, can kill a bird within a few days even with antibiotic intervention. This can be a really heartbreaking experience. Don't give them the opportunity. Larger birds can also be dangerous to a Lovebird. Lovebirds can be fearless which isn't always in their best interest.

NEVER feed your bird anything that has been IN your mouth or allow your bird access to your teeth etc. The human mouth has bacteria that can cause a fatal infection in birds. It's TOO risky. Don't allow your bird access to your other pets water dishes either for the same reason.

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First Day Home

Setting up the Cage

Bar strength, spacing and overall size will vary greatly depending on what kind of bird you are getting. Not only do you have to consider the size of the bird but also keep it's activity level in mind. Lovebirds and Budgies need plenty of cage space because they are active birds. The small Budgie cages you see in pet shops should be used for travel to the vet or road trips only. Any cage you consider should have bars spaced close enough together that the bird can NOT get it's head between the bars. For a Lovebird, this means no further spacing than 5/8" and you will need to check corners and doors to make sure there is no hazard. A bird that's in too small a cage will develop phobic behaviors (screaming, feather plucking or maybe even self-mutilation). Long is much better than tall. Horizontal space is much better utilized. Double check corners where bars may converge and be an entrapment hazard. If a leg can slide down and become trapped, look for another cage.

Don't be tempted into buying a round cage. It is visually confusing to the bird and has no "safe" corners. The pet shop will also want to sell you many accessories to go with the bird and cage. Hookbill birds shell their seed and don't need grit. Mirrors, sandpaper perch covers, cage protectors, mite sprays and over the counter medications should be left on the pet store shelf. Nest boxes or happy huts should not be purchased for female birds unless you want eggs. They can also trigger aggressive, territorial behaviors.

Floor grates can be a good idea, depending on the bird. Some young birds are more prone to falls off of perches and they are better off with softer flooring. Newspaper or Carefresh are good cage liners but don't use corncob, crushed walnut or cedar (cedar is toxic to birds). They can be ingested and impact the crop. Pine or aspen shavings will work but it's harder to monitor droppings. Plain newsprint (non-colored) is best.

Set up your cage before you put the bird in so that you aren't adding extra stress to an already nervous bird. Let the bird get used to it's new surroundings in a quiet corner for the first several days so that it can settle in and get comfortable. Birds need 10-12 hours of dark, quiet rest per night. If the cage is in a family room that's used late into the evening, plan on using a cage cover. This may not be necessary in a dark room that's not drafty. Window ledges, kitchens and bathrooms aren't typically good places to place a cage. A window may make a bird feel too vulnerable and kitchen cooking fumes and temperature changes aren't a good thing. Windows can also be drafty and have big temperature changes between day and night. Birds shouldn't be around air fresheners, cooking fumes, nail polish/remover, cosmetics or hair sprays. A more complete list of hazards follows this section.

Wait a day or two before adding toys. A new home is a big and stressful adjustment. WAIT a day or two before handling your new bird but no longer than that. Your baby needs a few days to feel safe and he will also be missing his clutch mates. If he is clinging to the side of the cage nearest you and wants to come out - open the door and give him the opportunity to step onto your hand by himself. Use the command step up when he does this (or whatever command you decide to use). If after 2-3 days this hasn't happened, get him out of his cage and into a room by yourself and away from the cage with no distractions. If you want the bird to bond to the entire family, take turns doing this, but don't overwhelm the bird by trying to all handle him at once - especially during the first week while he is trying to get used to his surroundings.

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Important Notes:

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Biting Problems?

My Lovebird baby used to be SO sweet, why has he started biting and what can I do about it?

The first thing I will tell you is that Lovebirds tend to go through a nippy stage just after weaning. This starts out as a natural exploration of their surroundings with their beak and, if not handled correctly, can quickly turn into a problem.

NEVER, EVER hit your bird or use other punishing behaviors. You don't want to destroy the trust your bird has in you.

You do need to maintain control of the situation. Laughing, yelling or prolonged scolding will only reinforce this behavior. Putting the bird back into its cage for a time out will only train the bird to bite when it wants to go back to its cage. The best response is to try distraction methods. Wear jewelry that your bird can't hurt or injure himself on to keep his beak busy or keep a millet spray handy for out of cage time. Dangly earrings may not be a good idea. Keeping your birds wings clipped will also help a great deal as will practicing step-ups on a regular basis to retain your position as flock leader. Taking no action at all will only cause the problem to intensify.

Biting can be caused by displaced aggression. If you have placed your bird in a situation that has it stressed, it may bite you if it can't reach the cause of its upset. On a similar note, if your bird is very bonded to you, it may bite you if it can't defend you from other family members. Or, it may defend you by chasing other family members away from you. A Lovebird can clear a couch fairly quickly.

Lovebirds are very territorial. Hens will aggressively defend THEIR cage territory and this is an instinct that you just can't overcome. If you force the issue, you will get bitten and it will be YOUR fault. Some of my birds continue to come happily out of the cage and others are trained to step up onto a dowel until they're out of the cage. Once outside, they return to their normal friendly selves. If you have a broody unmated hen, you can try moving and rearranging the cage, but you may just have to wait till her hormones have settled down a little. If the hen lays eggs, she should be allowed to sit on them for the normal incubation time before moving and rearranging the cage. Never give a Lovebird a nest box unless you want to encourage egg laying.

Always work with a bird away from its cage. If your bird is not comfortable with what you want it to do, SLOW DOWN. Birds cannot be dominated like cats and dogs. We have to work with the instincts they have. The more time you spend with your bird, the better your relationship will be.

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After shave & cologne
Airplane glue
Art supplies
Boric Acid
Brass Polish
Carbon monoxide
Carpet Fresh or similar
Carpet Solvents
Cats & Dogs etc.
Ceiling Fans
Charcoal Lighter
Color Printed Paper
Cooking Appliances
Cooking Fumes
Copper Cleaner
Curling Irons
Diazanon (DDT)
Drain Cleaner
Dry Erase Markers
Electric Outlets
Epoxy and Cements
Fabric Softeners
Firearms & Shells
Flea Bombs
Floor Polish
Hair Spray
Hair Dye
Hand Lotion
Hardware Cloth (zinc)
Garden Sprays
Gasoline, Glass Windows
Jerks & Drunks
Knives & Scissors
Large Mirrors
Lighter Fluid
Magic Marker
Moth Balls
Nail Polish
Nail Polish Remover
Nitrogen Dioxide
Non-Stick Pans (overheated)
Open Water Containers
Open Doors & Windows
Open Toilet Lids
Oven Cleaner
Paint & Paint Chips (lead)
Paint Remover & Thinner
Perm Solution
Photo Supplies
Pine Oil
Pins & Needles
Potting Soil (mold spores)
Prescription Drugs
Rat & Mouse Poison
Raw Poultry or Meat
Roach & Ant Killer
Rodent traps
Rodent Droppings
Scented Candles (oil)
Self Cleaning Oven
Shoe Polish
Silver Polish
Solder & Fumes
Spot Remover
Spray Starch
Suntan Lotion
Stain Remover
Teflon (pans/appliances with Teflon coated parts)
Tobacco, Topical Medications
Toxic Houseplants (list attached)
Toilet Bowl Cleaners
Upholstery & Rug Cleaner
Vaseline (petroleum)
Wasp & Hornet Spray
Wax (floor & furn.)
Window Cleaner (use vinegar)
Wood Preservatives
Unasked Questions

Some of these items are irritants, others can be deadly. Use common sense and don't take chances!

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Information is incomplete, but it does seem to indicate that the plants may cause ill effects.

Bonsai Tree
Heavenly Bamboo
Licorice Plant
Sago Plant

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These plants may contain any of a wide variety of poisons and may damage the stomach, heart and kidneys or other organs.

Arrowhead Vine
Asparagus Fern
Balsam Pear
Bird of Paradise
Blue Green Algae
Broad Bean
Candleabra Cactus
Castor Beans
Christmas Cactus
Coral Vine
Creeping Charlie
Crown of Thorns
Elephants Foot
Elephants Ear
Fava Bean
Glacier Ivy
Gold Toothed Aloe
Heart Ivy
Horse Bean
Indian Turnip
Indigo Plant
Jerasulem Cherry
Lily of the Valley
May Apple
Mock Orange
Morning Glory
Needlepoint Ivy
Nux Vomica
Pencil Cactus
Poison Ivy
Poison Oak
Poison Sumac
Poison Elder
Pot Mum
Ripple Ivy
Rosary Pea
Skunk Cabbage
Spider Mum
Sprengeri Fern
String of Pearls
Sweet Pea
Thorn Apple
Umbrella Plant
Virginia Creeper
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These plants contain irritation substances known as oxalates salts. Eating these plants may cause irritation of the mucous membranes, pain and or swelling of the mouth and tongue. Observe victim's breathing as swelling may block airway.

Calla Lilly
Emerald Duke
Marble Queen
Parlor Ivy
Red Princess
Saddle Leaf
Split Leaf Philodendron

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Touching the sap from these plants may produce a skin rash and itching.


Arrowhead Vine
Pencil Cactus
Candelabra cactus
Castor Beans
Creeping Fig
Gold Toothed Aloe

Indian Laurel
Indigo Plant
Pot Mum
Spider Mum
Sprengeri Fern
String of Pearls
Weeping Fig

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  African Violet
Aluminum Plant
Baby Tears
Bear Feet
Birdnest Sansevieria
Birds' Nest Fern
Boston Fern
Cactus-Except as Noted
Chinese Evergreen
Corn Plant
Creeping Charlie
Creeping Jenny
Donkey Tail
Dracaena Indivisa
Emerald Ripple
False Aralia
Fiddle Leaf Fig
Giant White Inch Plant
Goldfish Plant
Grape Ivy
Grape Mountain
Hen and Chicks
Hoya - See Wax Plant
Jade Plant
Janet Craig
King Palm
Lipstick Plant
Madagascar Dragon
Madagascar Jasmine
Madagascar Lace Plant
Maternity Plant
Monkey Plant
Moon Magic
Mother-in-law Tounge
Mother of Pearls
Norfolk Island Pine
Painted Needle
Parlor Palm
Peacock Plant
Piggyback Begonia
Piggyback Plant
Pink Polka Dot Plant
Ponytail Palm
Prayer Plant
Pregnant Plant
Purple Tiger
Purple Passion
Purple Velvet
Rubber Tree
Sensitive Plant
Snake Plant
Stag Horn Fern
String of Hearts
Swedish Ivy
Tahitian Bridal Veil
Ti Plant
Umbrella Tree
Velvet Plant
Wandering Jew
Wax Plant
Zebra Plant

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Alcoholic Beverages
Cabbage - raw
Milk products - can't digest
Mushrooms - allergic reaction
Onion - raw
Potato - All green parts
Rhubarb - Leaf blade
Tomato - All green parts

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Apple - seeds
Apricot - pits and bark
Black Locust - all parts
Cherry - leaves, twigs, seeds
Elderberry - all parts
Juniper - all parts
Oak - foliage, acorns
Peach - leaves, twigs, seeds (pits)
Pine - needles, twigs, sap
Sandbox Tree
Upas Tree
Yew - All parts

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