A Guide to Basic Parrot and Finch Care.

Your schedule can be anything you like! Build it to suit you and your lifestyle (bearing in mind certain points, such as the fact that you really need to dedicate your free time to your feathered pet), but know that parrots thrive best when given a very tentative routine.

If you can raise your pet parrot without routine, do so. This will save you a lot of trouble in the future. Parrots and finches both thrive on routine, which isn’t the issue. The problem arises when you – for whatever reason – cannot keep to that routine. So, for instance, if you have to stay late to work. Your bid might become stressed and begin to pluck. Or if you have to re-home the bird.

Staying away from a strict routine helps set your bird up for a healthy life.

A basic schedule involves:

  • Wake up
  • Training – five minutes
  • Breakfast (a warm, cooked meal and fresh produce works well)
  • Nap
  • Out-of-cage time
  • Lunch (whatever your base diet is)
  • Nap
  • In-cage play time
  • More out-of-cage time, or a walk in the parrot carrier
  • Training
  • Dinner (cooked meal)
  • Quiet time with you, such as watching the telly or reading together
  • Bedtime snack (serve something light and warm, which makes them feel sleepy)
  • Undisturbed sleep in a dark, quiet room for 12-13 hours

Please do NOT clip your bird’s wings. This takes away the ‘flight’ option of a parrot’s instinctive ‘fight or flight’ reflex, leaving it only with the option to bite. Clipping wings also promotes health problems such as obesity and liver cancer, as this is a pet bird’s most natural form of exercise. In the wild, these creatures are designed to fly 30 miles or more foraging for food, so it makes sense that climbing doesn’t do it in terms of moving around.

Learn  more about cage set-up, how many birds to buyhousehold dangers, dealing with bites, parrot feeding and diet, avian body language, emergency bird care, the yearly moult, yearly costs, and what is a good starter bird – plus the inevitable pros and cons of buying a parrot.

As an example: Our flock wakes anytime between sunrise and 10am. They are quiet as mice until they hear the first cough or squeak from the bed, at which point the humans are obviously awake and therefore it is breakfast time. They squeak and shriek until the humans finally emerge. This can take a long time for a birdie’s liking.

Breakfast is served either in the cage or out of it, depending on the humans’ schedule level of attentiveness. It is usually followed by a snack of millet or a nibble from a foraging bead. When the birds tire of that, the humans attempt to feed the birds their greens. This is rejected by the parrotlet, although it is a more popular offering with the canaries and cockatiel.

The small blue one regards his offerings dubiously.

A short time of play follows the morning meal. The goal is to make as much of a mess of the living area as you can; don’t worry about the rest of the house, there will plenty of time for that later. Tables are the best places to work, as you can fling things over the edge for added effect. The medium grey one successfully splinters coffee stirrers into a hundred tiny bits – a most amusing game – and then sets to tearing up the foraging log while the small blue one waddles around looking for missed sunflower seeds (or preens).

Prime entertainment.

All this looking after your humans and keeping them busy is no easy feat, and surely deserving of a nap! You have one on a finger, only ever a finger. Naps last no longer than ten minutes, but never less than five as a rule – and you signal the end of them by delivering a well-placed nip (under the pretence of preening).

The small blue one has been successful in covering everything, even the human, in millet. Nap well-deserved.

The combination of sleep and food makes the small blue one BURST with energy, so post-nap he is stuffed placed back into his cage to burn off some of it off. Mishka prefers to spend this time watching the goings-on from a very safe distance, as this is often when I go into the study to work and let the oh-so-adorable oh-so-terrifying canaries out for a fly/bath. Sometimes, though, she comes in to help improve my productivity… but only when she thinks I’m lagging.

‘Facebook? What is this Facebook? I would like some millet.’

After removing Mishka from my laptop screen six times working for a little while, I put the canaries away and go back into the living area to entertain the small blue one at last.

He speeds out of his cage so quickly that he trips, typically, and spends at least five minutes flying madly around the room. Mishka joins in, as this is the perfect time for an undisguised panic (she might be eaten – by a tiny blue parrot!) until eventually they both calm down.

Mishka gets bribed down to the kitchen table with millet and left to gorge herself (best part of her day), and the small blue one is taken around the house seeking activities to amuse him.

Popular ones at the moment include:


Good for seven minutes… if there are things passing by. Four if not.

Eating his own personal keyboard.

It is only more interesting than the humans’ keyboards if there is millet involved. Good for ten minutes.

Bath time (at which parrotlets are notoriously poor).

It is clear he thinks that sidling around the edge with his wings fluffed out from his body is ‘bathing.’ Good for six minutes.

Soon after, the humans either make their evening meal or bring something home from the chippy… Chippy days are the best, in Mishka’s mind, as the delicious crispy saltiness is too much for a medium grey parrot to resist. If locked out of the room, she will flap wildly about until you let her in. If inside already, she will stand in your food. This is the only way to claim some for herself, because the humans are very cruel and don’t let her have any. Normal human food is unexciting, but chips, beautiful chips… they are one of two things Mishka is passionate about (and can you say millet?).

That look says she knows she is about to be forcibly removed from her beloved chips.

Dinner heralds more play, this time in the rest of the house as the humans go about their evening activities. This is the opportunity to put millet in the bedsheets, chew up the paper and boxes in the corridor, and poop on the furniture. Job well done if you manage all of it!

The parrots are soon put in their cages to calm down. Mishka retreats onto her chinchilla perch between 19:30 and 20:00, and nothing will save you if you disturb her at this point. Birdie cage papers are swapped now; perches cleaned, if needed, dishes washed and replaced, food and water replenished. The canaries have one last nibble before bed (Charlie sleeps in his swing, Pip prefers the far perch), and Ptak does all he can to resist bedtime. Cages are covered up and eventually they all settle down. Ptak comes out for one last cuddle – his humans cannot withstand his tiny, adorable squeaks – and then he goes back for the night more willingly.

This is the time to pose adorably so the humans are distracted from thoughts of your bedtime.

And so the feathered ones are asleep. In twelve hours, it’ll be time to start it all over again. Better go sleep so I have energy to keep up. Do your birds have a routine, or do you prefer to go without? They certainly do get grumpy when you don’t stick to it. 😉

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