Poll
Why does a parrot like to chew wood?
To condition his beak. 1
For relaxation. 2
For nutrients. 0
Just because he can. 3
Total Votes: 6
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Chewing wood
Posted: 25 November 2007 09:49 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Could anyone please tell me their opinion on why parrots chew wood?  Yeah, I know, sounds like a dumb question.  But it’s deeper than that.  We all know that parrots chew on wood to keep their beaks in condition.  But, why do they seem to relish it so?  My Timneh African Grey eats a popsicle with me most evenings.  He will break off bits of the frozen treat until the stick is exposed.  Then he totally forgets about the popsicle and goes to work on its stick.  He even closes his eyes when chewing, as if this, ‘meal’, is the most wonderful thing in the world.  He ends up leaving a pile of splinters on the floor, the couch, or my shirt.  Once done, he starts asking to go to bed; he’s done for the night. 

Please give me your take on this behaviour.

Cheers, Cindi Eppers.

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Posted: 26 November 2007 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Cindi

Parrots chew on wood for various reasons. As you mentioned, it cleans and grooms the beak, exercises the jaws, etc.
It is also a good source of minerals and enzymes, bark and fresh boughs having lots of nutrients (the reason fresh wood is preferable). John Stoodley used to provide twigs with his parrots’ meals because he believed they aided in digestion perhaps. Especially the bitter tannins.
Our birds also chew as an instinctive “nest preparation” phase every season. At times like those it is necessary to provide more chewing wood since not having some can frustrate hormonal parrots, or prompt them to begin chewing on household furniture, cage wire, other dangerous items (including sometimes their own plumage.).
Wood and parrots coexist in most environments: they eat it, play with it, make tools out of it occasionally and give birth inside it depending upon species. It is such an easy thing to find in captivity, it is a shame if owners do not make the effort cool smile  cool smile  cool smile

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Posted: 27 November 2007 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Hello, I’m sure that you and yellowfronts are right in all the multiple reasons for parrots chewing wood.  When yellowfronts wrote ‘nest preparation’ it might be thought that the birds were preparing a soft bed to lay their eggs on, and for chicks to nestle under parents, but I remember hearing about another very practical reason for this - by filling a deep tree cavity with wood chips to a depth of around 6 feet or more (2 metres), parrots in areas prone to heavy rainfall are allowing for a space below eggs or chicks which might flood but keep the eggs or chicks safe.  Hopefully the water would then slowly drain away.  Perhaps others out there could remind me which birds it was - Palm Cockatoos, Lear’s or Blue-throated Macaws?

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Posted: 27 November 2007 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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And I agree that most parrot just seem to enjoy chewing! 

This pic shows a White-bellied Caique stripping off willow bark.  The way our group of Caiques do it they seem to be finding something just under the bark which is attractive to them - and they like everything they are given such as apple, buddleia and ash.

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Posted: 28 November 2007 02:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I remember hearing about another very practical reason for this - by filling a deep tree cavity with wood chips to a depth of around 6 feet or more (2 metres), parrots in areas prone to heavy rainfall are allowing for a space below eggs or chicks which might flood but keep the eggs or chicks safe.  Hopefully the water would then slowly drain away.

Dear Alison,

You’re right about Palm Cockatoos sometimes filling their cavities with wood and that this may relate to the probability of flooding as you suggest.  What’s unusual about them is that some or maybe sometimes all of this wood is actually brought to the nest site and deposited inside by the parents.  Thus they create a platform inside the cavity.  Although lovebirds and monk parakeets are the well known exceptions, parrots bringing nesting material to a cavity is generally quite rare.  For Blue-throated Macaws, they may occasionally build up such a platform as they’re serious chewers inside the cavity, but very often this shredded palm trunk is pushed out of the entrance and piles up as a sort of apron around the bottom of the tree - see attached example.

All best,

Jamie

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Jamie Gilardi
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