Tamborine Aviaries

Australian & exotic parrots for hand-reared pets & breeding birds

More of my articles available on Sun Conures, Agapornis: Lovebirds, King-Parrots, Purple-crowned Lorikeets, Alexandrines, Quaker Parrots. All previously published in print.

'Red-winged Parrots' by Lyle Holmes explains some little-known facts about this underrated bird, based on personal experience.

" It would be hard to find a more strikingly beautiful bird than the male Red-winged Parrot, and although the species is named for its flashy red wings, they certainly take the prize for having the most brilliant green of any parrot".

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'Port Lincoln Parrots' by Lyle Holmes is a complete guide to this hardy Australian species.

"Port Lincolns are terrific eaters and will accept almost anything you could feed any parrot! Being very opportunistic, as evidenced by the fact that they still exist in large numbers in the wild, newly-aquired aviary birds will adapt very quickly to accept all foods supplied."

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Insecticide for Parrot Nest Boxes


Long-acting pyrethrin (natural) or permethrin (synthetic) insecticides, even those with an ‘Insect Growth Regulator’, are the most useful. For example, Cislin, Coopex, Avian Insect Liquidator.

The nestbox interior should be thoroughly sprayed or dusted and then aired before placing the box in the aviary with the birds. Not recommended are organophosphates such as Malawash, Gammawash etc. as these are potentially very toxic to aviary birds.

Note that pyrethrin, the natural plant extract, causes extreme discomfort, stinging of the eyes during preening for example, if applied directly onto the bird. It should only be used on the nests, perches, aviary frames etc., NOT on the birds themselves.


Permethrin powder such as Coopex™, when applied to the inside of the nestbox, gets into all the cracks and spaces in a wooden nest box and causes no harm or discomfort to the birds. Permethrin powder can be applied to the nest box by rubbing the powder over the entire inside of the box or at least the areas that you can reach.


If you can remove the box from its mounting bracket, place enough powder into the box that will coat the inside surface e.g. a level teaspoonful, and then rotate the box upside down ensuring that all inside surfaces are covered including using your finger to force the powder into the joins and corners of the box. Open the box and tap out the excess powder, then rehang the nest.

A level-teaspoonful added to the nesting material, e.g. fine hardwood mulch, is also useful.


This article is based on information provided by one of Australia's leading Avian Veterinarys (RD). Products referred to are available in Australia, and specifically the state of Queensland where Tamborine Aviaries is located.

Treatment of Lice and Mites in Aviary Birds


Scaly-Face Mite (Cnemidocoptes pilae)

This is a common parasite of budgies, neophemas, polytelis spp, finches and canaries. This mite generally invades the skin around the face i.e. around beak, nares, eyes and around the feet, hence its name. In finches and canaries it is known as ‘tassel foot’ due to the long tassel like projections of debris on the toes often forming webbing or pads between them. Spread /transmission is by direct contact.

Diagnosis - is by observing the tunnels made by the mites in the skin debris giving a honeycombed appearance and by finding mites or their eggs on skin scrapings.

Treatment - For individual birds or flock control use Moxidectin™ (Moxidectin has superseded Ivermectin as the preferred treatment in birds as it has better suspension in water, has less side-effects, and has almost no taste which deters birds from drinking water containing ivermectin products such as Ivermec™ and Avimec™.


Red Mite (Dermanyssus spp)

These mites are blood sucking mites. They live off the bird and climb on after dark for a blood meal. They are very common in nests and nest boxes. Juvenile deaths prior to fledging are common, often at fourteen to twenty one days of age. Death is due to anaemia. These mites will bite humans and are what people actually mean when they say ‘bird lice’.

Diagnosis - is by observing the mites in nests or nest boxes or when feeding on the bird. (Mites are only red after ingestion of blood. They are ‘pale tan’ if unfed and black if aged blood is present). A piece of white cloth placed around the perch or in a nest one evening and checked the next morning will often show the presence of mites as very small red dots.

Treatment - Pre-treat nest boxes and logs, by completely dusting the inside, with a permethrin powder e.g. Coopex™. Use Moxidectin™ for control of mites actually on the bird, or weekly spraying of the aviary buildings with a liquid permethrin e.g. Blue Ribbon™, which can be purchased in up to five litre containers.


Feather Mites (Ornithonyssus species)

Quill & Epidermoptic Mites (Syrinophillus, Dermatoglyphus, Pterolichus, and Amalges species)

These mites rarely produce disease. Baldness in canaries and Gouldian finches may be due to Epidermoptic mites and responds to Moxidectin and Permethrins. Moxidectin has replaced Ivermectin as the preferred drug to treat external parasites (and some internal parasites) in aviary birds. Moxidectin has improved suspension in water and none of the side effects of Ivermectin.


Lice - There are two main groups of lice:

  • biting (Anblycera)
  • chewing (Ischocera)

Rarely is severe disease due to feather lice. They can produce pruritis (itching) and decline in feather quality but rarely does it cause actual feather loss. These parasites generally spend their whole life cycle on the host. Many are host specific.

Diagnosis - is by observation of the mites on the skin or plumage. Holding the wings up to the light and transillumination often facilitates diagnosis. The feather lice eggs will appear as tiny white dots on the underside of the wing feathers and can be wiped off with your fingers.

Treatment - three-weekly spraying with a permethrin spray should produce control. The natural plant-extract pyrethrin is extremely irritating to aviary birds’ eyes and mouth if sprayed directly on them as they use their head and beak to preen their feathers after application. It is far less annoying to the bird to use the synthetic equivalent permethrin which does not sting their mouth and eyes. Permethrins should also be used in and on all nest boxes in powder form or as a liquid spray.


This article is based on information provided by one of Australia's leading Avian Veterinarys (AG). Products referred to are available in Australia, and specifically the state of Queensland where Tamborine Aviaries is located.


Liquid Consistency of Hand-rearing mix for Parrot Chicks


Hand-rearing food should be given runny (soup consistency) when the chicks are first taken for hand-rearing as re-hydration is the most important thing for very young chicks. As well, some hand-rearing mixes continue to expand (absorb water) during a feeding session so you should watch that the mix doesn’t become too thick, which can happen in just a few minutes. A simple test is to hold up a spoonful and watch as it drips from the spoon. If the mix does NOT drip, add water, (and check the temperature). Most parrot chicks like their HR mix to be heated to around 36 degrees to 40 degrees celsius. Use a digital thermometer to be sure of the temperature every time, and don't rely on a procedure that 'you've always done' without testing, or some ridiculous test like putting some on your skin.


‘Impacted Crop’ is something you should not risk by feeding a HR mix that is too thick. This is where the food is too solid and ‘sets’ in the crop, becoming indigestible. This requires a crop flush to move or remove the food. Unles you are experienced in hand-feeding parrot chicks, including fixing any problems, see your avian vet.


Hand-feeding from a spoon is safer as the chick can control the amount of food it takes and simply pull away when it has had enough. Unlike a gavage, or crop needle, where the food is injected directly into the crop.


Plastic syringes are less messy than a spoon, and the food is fed only into the beak, but they are not accepted as easily as a spoon by some parrot species.


At Tamborine Aviaries, we feed chicks with whatever method suits the species. Finally, temperature and consistency are not as important as chicks approach the weaning stage as they become more accepting of variations in their diet which they need to do as they wean. L&RH.