Heart of America Game
Breeders' Association

Questions & Answers on Raising Parrotlets

In the May 2000 issue of the Heartland News, David Hennessee, a member from Clinton, Arkansas wrote the following on Parrotlets.

Parrotlets are one of the smallest species of parrots and should not be confused with lovebirds. Parrotlets are true parrots and do have the ability to talk. They are native to Central America and Mexico. They are intelligent, are very playful, and most have the same habits as larger parrots. Most are green with shades of yellow or blue blended in. They are easily sexed due to the males having more color on the wings and forehead. I personally like Green rumps, which are very tiny and have brighter colors even though they are somewhat more nervous than the Pacific. This makes them harder to train and breed. Single males seem to make the best pets, but I have a Pacific feamle named Debbie that can keep me amused for hours on end.

Parrotlets don't require as much attention as the larger parrots and can be left alone for long periods of time without any ill effect as long as they have plenty of toys to help keep them amused. They are very quite, so you don't have all that screeching and growling that sometimes accompanies the large parrots. They are very disease-resistant as long as you keep them clean and give them a wide variety of fruit and vegetables to eat. Parrotlets have been known to live for more than 30 years. What more can you ask for in a companion bird?

1. When did you become interested in Parrotlets?
I have raised various cage birds for more than 20 years, but I just couldn't deal with the noise and chewing of the large parrots. About a year ago, I saw the tiny parrotlets at an auction in Girard, Kansas and just had to have a pair. To date, I have hand-raised ten babies from this first pair.

2. In what size cage are your Parrotlets kept? What do you do to promote their breeding?
I keep my breeders in a 2'x 2' cage. When the cage is bigger, they seem to want to play around too much and won't get down to the business of raising babies. I use lovebird breeder boxes placed in front of the cage for my convenience. Two or three inches of shavings are placed in the bottom of the breeder box. I also remove most toys and swings from the breeder cage to help keep their minds on breeding. They always need things to keep them busy or they will get bored very easily.

3. What do you feed these birds?
I feed pre-packaged Cockatiel feed which I supplement with lots of fruits and vergetables. They love variety and will eat almost anything you cook for a family. They need cuttlebone, and the breeders will eat a lot more of it right brfore starting to nest. Grit really isn't necessary, but I always make it available to them anyway.

4. What changes in their diet do you make during the breeding season?
I give my breeders more protein-type foods and make sure they hae plenty of cuttlebone.

5. How many eggs will a Parrotlet hen lay?
A hen will usually lay 6 to 8 eggs, laying once every other day. This can be a problem as a hen wants to start setting after she has laid the first egg.

6. How long is the incubation period? How are the baby Parrotlets brooded?
Incubation usually lasts three weeks. I leave the babies with the parents for about two weeks. If there is a big difference in the size of the babies, I will take the larger ones out a little earlier. I use a styro-foam incubator as a brooder. I set the temperature at 90 degrees. As the birds start to feather out, I lower the temperature about five degrees per week. I hand feed them every four to five hours with the last feeding at around 10 pm. Their first feeding is at 5 or 6 am. The babies should start eating solid food when they are approximately five weeks of age. At that time I move them into a small cage in a warm room and continue to hand feed them a couple of times a day until I am sure that they are eating well.

7. At what age do you sex your Parrotlets?
Most babies can be sexed as soon as they develop wing feathers; the males have blue on their wings.

8. Why would you recommend a Parrotlet as a companion bird?
Anyone that has ever been interested in having a pet bird that will sit on your hand and entertain you should try a Parrotlet. They don't make any noise or have the need to chew that so many hookbills have. For me, that makes them so much more a desirable pet.

May 2000 The Heartland News