Bird Articles

I hope these articles that I have written will be helpful as you attend and care your Feathered Kids or as we refer “Fids”.  Fids, as we have to treat them all as 3-6 years old kid, free from responsibility but are filled with innocence and love and just like our own children needs our full attention as they go on their own as years progresses, and just like our parents, bird owners will in some many way influence their behavior in dealing with others-their actions will always be a reflection on how we have shared our love to them.

Articles written are based from my own personal experiences and I am not in way contradicting others who have bird experiences in their own right.  What works on my side will be the one that I will use and share. 

Thank you all and I hope to write more for others to enjoy.


by Francis D. Hilario

There is often a misconception about birds and the use of their beaks. When a bird approaches with his beak, a person’s initial thought is often that the bird will bite. However, a bird’s beak is a “third hand”, which is used as a means of balance or to move from one place to another when the bird does not feel like flying. A person’s sudden reaction to this may actually cause the bird to bite.

Was the bird really intending to bite the person or was the bite caused by the person’s misinterpretation of the bird’s actions? Unfortunately, most often times, it is the latter. Unless you see other signs, which may include constriction of the bird’s pupils or his top head feathers up, his most likely not intending to bite you; he is just trying to cling and use his beak for support.


(not from your own perspective, but from your bird’s)
As interpreted by:
Francis D. Hilario – PIJAC – Certified Avian Specialist (CAS)

Why can’t my bird be petted just like my friend’s bird? Why does he scream? Why is he turning my furniture into mulch? Why does my bird suddenly bite? Why is he not stepping up? Why is he an okay bird sometimes and then at other times he is not? How can I approach a cage-bound bird? Why, why, why, why?

These are just a few of the so-called “negative behaviors” of the pet bird. But the question that I usually ask is: “Do you think it is really negative behavior?” In my own opinion, this is not a negative behavior, but rather, just the bird’s natural response to its environment.

Let’s examine the aforementioned questions in detail and hope that my personal experience and interpretation of their behavior can give you an idea on why the bird may be acting the way it is.

1) My bird can’t be petted like my friend’s – One thing you have to understand is that no two birds are exactly alike when it comes to behavior. Just like humans, they have different traits unique from one another. We react according to how our parents reared us to adulthood, the environment we live in and the people around us. This is the same thing with the birds—the breeder needs to help and prepare the bird to be as sweet as possible by hand feeding, training them and introducing them to the outside environment. If your bird is not properly trained then you are in a situation in which you have to go back to stage 1 and re-introduce your bird to get used to human interactions. Start with verbal approach first—get him or her used to your voice and slowly pet him or her once in a while and you will be surprised that as days progresses you will be able to pet that bird just like your friend’s. Another approach that I do with this kind of bird is train the bird in a room where you can dim or adjust the light. They can’t see at night, so they will focus more on your voice. Start stroking the bird (with your dim light adjusted so you can see where he or she is) as he or she gets used to the stroking, increase your lighting and soon he or she will not just get used to your voice but with your physical presence as well. This is a big task but if you have the “CUP OF TEA” to share with your bird then you both will be okay.

C – onsistency,

U – nderstanding,

P – atience,

Of – fering reward and freedom for your bird and not to mention the

T – ime you spent with the bird and the kind of

E – nvironment your birds has, will

A – lways give you the sweetest bird.

You also have to consider a few factors as to why your bird can’t be petted–reasons like: the bird is at its peak of hormones or your bird is maturing (and just like our growing teenager kids, they want to be on their own).

A piece of thought that I usually give to those who want to have a bird, birds truly were meant to fly and they are not really our dogs who want to be petted every now and then. Don’t get frustrated if suddenly a cuddly bird bites, it is their nature and it is up to us human to know when we need to respect their true nature.

2) My bird Screams – Screaming is just natural for the birds, especially in the morning. Why is it natural? It is because in the wild this is their way of saying, “The sun is up and we have another day.” Have you noticed that in the morning, we all tend to raise our voice? Now here is the question, why is he screaming a lot? He was not doing it before and now he suddenly screams a lot. First thing that you have to do whenever you see this kind of change of behavior is check his or her environment. Is his or her cage changed to a location that is now a busy area? How can your bird relax or get sleep if his or her new location is the busy place that he or she could hardly rest or sleep? Is his or her location right in front of something that is scaring him or her? I went to visit a place one time from a call stating that his sun conure is screaming at the top of his lungs ever since she placed the cage right in front of his Green winged macaw. Need I explain this one? Will you also be screaming if every morning you wake up, every angle you look at, you are seeing this big bird right in front of you and also scares you when he opens his wings? Right after, we moved the bird to a comfortable new spot and ever since then the screaming has stopped. Another question related to screaming, “Whenever my bird screams, I approached him and once I am around, the screaming stops? Is this right behavior?” For me this is wrong, you have just trained your bird to have a negative behavior. Approaching a bird while he is screaming in my experience is wrong, you, as the owner of that bird just falls into his own trick—him or her screaming will be his or her way of getting you close to him or her. So he or she will just continue doing it over and over again until you are in a situation that you can’t come to him or her and thus screaming continues. What I suggest to people, whenever their birds screams is to shout back, higher than your normal voice so he can see the difference that screaming results to higher pitch. Again, going back to the wild, if the voice is louder than theirs, they get scared and they will settle down as otherwise, they will be somebody else’s lunch. I don’t approach my bird if they are screaming, I approach them when they are in their best behavior, this for me, is a more positive approach. One more thing to consider, never ever change the time schedule that you have with your birds, if they are used to 1 hour play time every day and just because you are on vacation for 2 weeks and you want to make up it up for your bird and decided to spend more time with them in that two weeks. What happens after two weeks that you are back in the 1 hour play time with your bird? So, who is confused and will want more attention and if not getting it will show signs of bad behavior? It is the bird and we blame it all to them were in fact it is all your fault.

3) Why is he turning my furniture into mulch? – You have a parrot that has the natural instinct of chewing wood. In the wild, this is how they spend their time; this is how they trim their beaks and this is expected of them. So whose fault is it? It’s ours and not theirs. So how will you prevent it? Prevent it by providing them with wood to chew on and toys to play with and most especially move that furniture out of their reach. They don’t know that that is an expensive piece or one of your priceless collections.

4) Why does my bird suddenly bite? – Come on! There is a time when you don’t feel like talking or being approached even by your loved ones. That holds true with your bird, he or she woke up on the wrong side of the perch and just needs some space for himself or herself. I never approach my birds if I can sense that they are not in the mood to play or being handled. I must provide them with a bit of a time and they will settle down and once settled, they will be back to their normal selves. Another reason is if you are pushing them too hard, you are already being warned that they don’t want to be bothered and yet you continue, so what is the response? They usually give us 4 warning signs; 1) They will touch you to start with (little redness of your skin) 2) then they will nip (you will get a little impression on your skin); 3) then the bite (skin bruises and bleeding) and if you will still continue your action, is when you get 4) the chomp (deep bruise and more bleeding). One more reason that they don’t want to be touched and in turn bite back is that during their molting season, dropping feathers and having new feathers is so painful that a slight stroke hurts them. Learn to know when this time is, this way you will not aggravate your bird’s condition and you experience something that you will interpret as a negative behavior by your bird.

5) Why is he not stepping up? – Not stepping up can be of the few reasons; a) he or she has never been trained to do so, b) he or she prefers your left arm than the right arm or vice versa, c) he does back step instead of the front step, d) he prefers a stick than your arm and more especially e) he or she doesn’t want to be handled. These are some of the things you have to consider to be able to have your bird step up. Spend some time understanding your bird’s behavior before you introduce yourself, check what he likes in his food bowl and use that as a treat if you want to instill positive behavior. I always introduce varieties of nuts in their food dish and once I noticed that there is a particular nut that they like, I will remove that from the dish use that as their treat–a treat that will be able to help you a lot in behavior modifications.

6) How can I approach a cage-bound bird? – Let me tell you, this is the most common problem that majority of the bird owner has. They find difficulty getting their bird out of their cage, it has always been a struggle and not to mention bites from here to there. How do I approach a cage bound bird? First things first, why is this bird cage bound? Chances are, this bird never had to play outside his/her cage and thus resulting in the cage being the safe haven because the outside environment may pose as a threat. As bird owners, we need to know that they have to be out of their cage once in a while (just like us, we need to go to the mall, movie theater or some other places so we can be relaxed and have some tuning ups. This is the same thing with the birds, they may not have those credit cards you have to shop around with but they need to be out of their cage and be in their play gym to get that relaxation that they need. Can we correct a bird that is cage bound? Absolutely yes, you just have to make sure that they are safe once they are out of their cage.  As the starting approach, be part of his/her domain. What I normally do with this kind of bird is I talk to them outside their cage first and as days passes by, I introduce a part of my body to their cage and make them aware that I am not a threat to them. If I can pet them while they are inside their cage, then I will do so, I will not even bother taking them out of their cage by force. They will step out of their cage once they feel they are safe. I usually transfer the cage bound birds in a cage big enough to have half of my body in there so I can play and interact with them. So in a way, be a part of their domain first. It will not happen over night but that bird will give way to the point that one day you can have them out of their cage on their own. Once you are able to take them out of their cage, allow them to have a play time outside their cage and remember, your bird is not a piece of furniture in one corner of your house, they need attention and care and I think being part of your household, they deserve one.

7) How can Night Frights be avoided? For us who show birds, this is one of the things that as much don’t want to be experienced by our show birds. Any flight feather or tail feather lost prior to the show is a big loss, regardless of our bird being on it’s top condition, if he or she is missing something, that bird will be having a hard time competing and even worse, we have to pull him or her out of the show arena. Now the question, how can we avoid it? Can we really avoid it? In a sense, we can’t really avoid it but we can minimize the occurrence. Some bird owners prefer covering their birds with a blanket at night and some turn the lights off so they can have a full rest. The question is, which of the two approaches is better. In my opinion they are both okay but the problem there is when there is a slight movement or noise, the bird’s initial response is to react and one reaction by one bird is a reaction of all the birds thus causing night fright and then injury to some of them. How do I approach this in my aviary? As these are truly wild (regardless of us domesticating them) there will and will always be that wild instinct from them. In the wild, at night, their only sole vision is the shadow cast by the moon and the light from the moon gives them this safety as they can still see what is going with their surroundings. So what do I do to replicate their natural environment? In my aviary, the light is off and I don’t cover their cages with a blanket but in one corner of the aviary, I have a night-light that serves as their moon. This night light was installed in the aviary so this way, they can still see a glimpse of their environment and yet still provides them the comfort level they need at night. I have never had any night frights in doing so and I think it is worth a try on your part to do so. Total darkness, in my opinion, makes the bird not that comfortable at their habitat.

If you are planning to have a bird or already have one….understand your bird just like what you want to be understood.

We are

C – aring, cuddling and hand feeding a bird is not an easy task,
O – bviously it’s a commitment and responsibility to take.
C – ockatiels will be an excellent choice. Believe me as I own some.
K – nown to be the best bird companion in life, it is also a pet, a friend, and healer at the

same tiime.
A – dorable and affectionate they are or even amazing as you hear it talks.
T – o treasure more than gold, even I can’t describe the happiness it provides.
I – ntelligent enough to imitate whistle and mimic other sounds.
E – asy to train that makes worthy of your time.
L – ike a friend that you can trust and will be there to provide one if needed.

L – earn not to neglect cockatiel in the cage but treat them nicely,
O – r show them to others with pride for no bird will bite you unless you gave them good

reason to do so.
V – alue their presence and loyalty in return you will gain something.
E – very cockatiel is calm, clever and confident.
R – emember to own them is your choice….
S – omehow to care for them is a must for they deserve to be loved like humans and proudly

I may share that I am a Cockatiel Lover myself.


Why do we choose Parrots as the newest member of our family?

By: Francis D. Hilario

Frandelhi’s Flyers


As man needs a house for shelter; food to survive; a partner to be taken care of; a home to start a family, Parrots are just the same. They all need whatever we need to be able to live.  They all feel whatever we feel.  That is why we keep them as part of our family.


Parrots are known to be intelligent and social pets.  They have the ability to speak, imitate our voice and respond to our commands.  Just because we keep them, it does not mean that they are just another piece of furniture in one corner of our house.  Let them feel that they can trust us and be their best buddies. We are not their masters and we do not keep them to ease our boredom. Rather, they are the newest member of our family that can share our moods and even feel the ups and down of our lives.


In my house these parrots will always find a place to live, air to breathe and space to spread their wings and fly.  As for being a part of my family, you would not believe that some of them are RESCUED BIRDS … they were given up for adoption because they…


R – etained their wild traits like biting and screaming as they are neglected by their guardians.

E – ven lack of attention may cause them to react in an unfavorable manner.

S – ome are sold and resold to owners who have no idea how to take care of them and others are

C – aptive and caged for a long time that if you approach them they might hurt you.  Others are

U – nfortunate if their owner died or becomes ill or in

E – mergency situations they were given up for adoption while others are

D – angerous as pets because they have behavioral issues that owners no longer want to keep



B – ring one home and

 I – guarantee you, the

R – espect you will get from others will give you a

D – eserving accomplishment that will

S – urely encourage others to do the same.


No one will understand how they feel unless you take them out of their cage and try to interact with them.  …. since I see them having potential, I train them as THERAPY BIRDS


    T – hey never talk behind our back and will offer us loyalty.

H – elp us understand our feelings and will show us pure emotions of love.  They can…

E – ven lessen our feelings of isolation and loneliness.

   R – educe our stress and will help us manage our anger by being more patient.

A – ccept us the way we are, don’t care what we look and poor or rich we are.

   P – arrots always develop trusting relationships with us.

  Y – ou will always have smile in you once you see them showing their traits and not to mention

being happy and content.


B – rings out our nurturing instinct and makes us more caring.

  I –  n times of need, they are there for us for comfort.

 R – eady to entertain even the people who don’t like birds.

 D – eserve all of our love and understanding.

 S – ource of comfort and will always make us feel needed, safe and special.


and others to be SHOW BIRDS


S – howing them in Bird Shows and attending one to those who don’t breed or show will allow

you to know

H – ow important it is to have an idea on what are the qualities that makes

O – ne bird stands out from the other.

W – inning in shows (even being recognized) will tell you that a Breeder/Exhibitor is successful

in making sure that he/she is breeding birds for the purpose of improving the quality of the

birds we have right now.


B – eautiful as they all are, we are all trying our best to the

I – nterest of the bird species and all the

R – esponsible owners and breeders that we

D – edicate our time and effort in improving the best we can all offer

S –  o our FIDS (Feathered Kids) will continue being a part of the world we all live in.


         Smart as they can be, show them comfort in your hands and they will follow your command.  They all have the liberty of flying, I never clipped their wings but I let them fly around in and out of the aviary room or play area, often they love to play and entertain big crowds.  They are also used as pet therapy at homes and Outreaches.  Well behave and healthy parrots reflects the personality of their owners.  Give them proper care  like bathing, proper diet and send them to avian Veterinary if needed.  Biting is their nature so you have to approach them in their best mood and touch them like you are  caressing someone you care for.  It will take a little time to train them to imitate your voice and sounds that they hear;  mimicking different words and phrases is what they are known for.  Reward them whenever they follow your command (but don’t spoil them).  Don’t ignore their presence.  Companionship is what they are known for.  Social life and interaction with the family and other people will keep your Parrot live longer.


I don’t think one will find rescuing, adopting, training and showing birds a difficult task to attend to, we just have to be ready for a commitment that will take lots of time, in return, you will be able to experience the joy of having a parrot in the family.  Get one, I assure you, you will love it.


A Novice’s Way of Saying “Thank You!”

Francis D. Hilario



Bird showing, to a lot of people is a big question.  Not just question—questions.  But what is bird showing?  What are the things that truly make this one stand out to be that special hobby that an individual has?


In my own personal experience, bird showing envelops a lot of things—the dedication to the hobby, the camaraderie one gets from the others, and the purpose of creating birds according to the set standard.  But for me, the most important aspect of bird showing is how a newcomer (novice) will look back to those who have helped him or her in making their hobby a success beyond one’s imagination or expectation.  It is a fact that no matter how good a bird is, if one doesn’t pay attention to how to set up a pair, his or her pairings will be no good.  Pairing a bird from someone who took their time to set up a pair in creating a bird that is close to the standard, however, is already an advantage.  All you have to do is to sit down and see what one bird needs to produce a bird that will be better than the parents.  It is a challenge but it will be lessened since you have birds from those who helped you along the way.


I have been a breeder and exhibitor for quite a while now (more on the Fancy Pigeons back in the Philippines) but since my migration here to the US, I have started breeding Cockatiels.  Cockatiels that I bred in 1994 were not show quality, and only since late 2008 have I started to purchase birds from the likes of Judy McElveen, Josh Maple, Julia Allen, Julie Mitchell, Alyssandra Young, Diane Baxter, Pat Tucker, Penny Morgan, Wendy LaBanca and Lisa Grimes—advanced exhibitors who have excelled on their own right in the field of showing cockatiels.  I have bought Cockatiels from them—all of them, without hesitance, entrusted me with their birds.  I may have bought some from them and a few was given to me as a gift so I could start my own family of cockatiels.  I may have not mentioned other great cockatiel breeders/exhibitors out there but the pedigrees of the birds I received carry their names, proof that “greats” create “greats.”


You may ask me why I am writing this note.   I wrote this as a way to acknowledge—and to say thank you—to all who helped me see the difference in the quality of Cockatiels I have had from 2009 and on.  The mentioned advanced breeders/exhibitors, as well as who I have not had a chance to purchase birds from but whose willingness and unending response for all the questions I had so I can better understand the breeding of cockatiels, I am forever grateful.  I know it will be a long way for me on your level but with confidence and pride from your birds and your shared knowledge, I will be there.  I assure you that I will not disappoint you and I will improve the quality of birds you have given me.  In my knowledge and experience gained in this hobby, I will produce baby cockatiels that others will admire—not only for their beauty but for the standard that the Cockatiel Society is aiming for.  I will make sure that you all will be proud that I have done what a newcomer (novice) should be doing for this hobby—a hobby that, when the time comes, will be mine to pass on without the hesitancy.  I will pass it to the best of my ability.

Thank you from me to you all.


Why am I a Pigeon Fancier?

Francis D. Hilario


This is one of the many questions I’m asked whenever I show or fly my racing pigeons. A question I, too, have asked myself when I started this hobby—a hobby that was halted by my migration here to the US but is slowly creeping into my busy schedule.

Last year, after attending a pigeon show, that love I had before was triggered and I found myself back to breeding pigeons again, in hopes to show and race them again, just like the old days.

As I observed my pigeons in and out the loft, I began to see why I loved this hobby in the first place. It’s from these birds that I realized some facts of reality in our daily life because of their behaviors—behaviors that I will try to explain in my own personal interpretations and hopefully give you all an idea why I enjoy the hobby and to show you why being a Pigeon Fancier is fun.


Love rituals – the male (cock) courts, then kiss, and then they do the thing.

Partner for life – once partnered, they will stick to one another unless one is no longer present in the loft. The cock at times will coo/flirt with another hen (especially if she is sitting on the eggs) but in the long run will not replace her partner as there will always be only one hen for him. Only when a fancier (breeder) gets involved that this relationship comes to an end.

Protects their nest box – both cock and hen will make and attend to their nest box and will protect it if anybody tries to be closer, will get a flip from their wings. They alternately does the incubation of their two eggs with the hen doing majority of the incubation (cock usually does it from 10 am to 4 p.m.).

Father feeds the young – they alternately feed their babies religiously but as the babies mature, the cock usually does more of the feeding. If there is an event that a hen is lost during the rearing days, the cock can attend to their babies at a higher percentile of survival for the babies.

Knows their home – unless the law of nature is involved, a pigeon (especially the homing ones) will find their home. A characteristic that can’t be explained but is one of the things I admire most about pigeons. They will find the place they consider as their home. If you release them and did not come back home, that bird doesn’t deserve a place in your loft, that bird belongs to somebody else’s home.

Goes straight home or doesn’t hang around – a “must” to go straight to the loft and should not hang around the area as that eliminates some racing clock time and you end up losing the race.


Pigeons were used in weddings not for the look of the white pigeons (purity as others says) but rather because of the above reasons, they reflect one’s love and intimate relationship with another. It is from these reasons as well that I am a pigeon fancier as they have taught me some of the thing that I need to know as a father.


Why not try to be a Pigeon Fancier yourself? See for yourself what I am trying to say and you will be surprised, it is truly one great experience and not to mention you might be able to see some behavior that is unique to them and yet applicable to our daily life.


Enjoy and have some fun!


To Clip or Not to Clip Wings

Francis D. Hilario


I train bird and have used them as a therapy bird whenever I come and visit Senior Houses or any Outreaches that I can attend to. I am one of those people who are against wing clipping and having birds on my shoulders – this is my own personal preferences-others for sure will have their individual thoughts on this so I must respect it like the same respect that I expect for mine. Allowing our birds to have a full wing is really giving them the freedom that they deserve – to fly freely and be a part of mother nature. Man’s role is to make sure that his bird’s flying distance is at a minimum and is secured. No matter how tame our birds are and no matter how they respond to our voice, once given the opportunity to fly- that is it… they will fly away. Birds we have are not like the homing pigeon that if they are kept in a cage for a short of period and flew away, their instinct is to go back to that place-a trait missing from our birds. We can lure them with seeds or from our voice but once they are distance away…we may not be able to have that bird back.

The question of clipping or not clipping is a very delicate topic – both have the pros and cons and it is a matter of what the owner’s cage set up is. Owner must be willing to accept the fact that if his bird flew away, he gave that bird some pointers on how to survive the outside (away from the comfort of his domesticated life). Majority of birds are forager thus I allow seeds once in a while in their cage floor so they can forage for their food and should by any chance he/she flew away, he can do the role of being a domesticated bird and a wild bird….the latter being learned from us who love them dearly.

Must I clip my bird? Only you as a bird owner can answer this. Nothing in the book for birds out there can tell you with is right and which is wrong. The question you just have to ask yourself is – just like what we did to our children – Will they be able to take care for themselves once they are out of our house? If you nod your head then nothing to worry – your bird will make it to the wild. They have that instinct in them that will make them be a part of mother nature– a place where they really belong… And just like our children, they will come back to our house if needed and if the circumstances tells them they can’t survive the life out there.


Saving My Bird… and Her Babies
by Francis D. Hilario
February 2009

Early one morning last month, I visited my aviary and discovered that one of my breeders had a night fright – a very unusual occurrence for my birds. I checked the cage and noticed that my Whiteface hen’s wing was all the way down and covered with blood. Checking her wing for any injury, I saw that her wing socket and tendon were all damaged.

I knew that taking her to the vet would cost her life so I made the kind of professional judgment I saw when I was a practicing OR Nurse… saving a life even at the cost of losing a limb. I hurriedly took my emergency kit and cauterized the bleeders (to prevent further blood loss) and partially removed her wing. Making that decision was hard but I knew how important it was. Everything went well and the procedure relaxed her.

This life-saving measure not only saved my bird’s life, but also t

he lives of her babies. Four eggs were incubating in her nest and that day, to my amazement, the male took over the job of incubating their eggs. This made me think that he was aware that she was injured.

The next day, I placed the female back in the breeder’s cage and, after a few minutes, she replaced her partner in incubating their eggs. As the days passed and their routines went back to normal, I heard the tweeting noise in their nest box. The first egg hatched, followed by the second and then the third one (the last one was infertile).

I was so happy and felt proud that I had saved my bird’s life as well as those of her babies! She may have less of a wing but she did not give up for the sake of her eggs (and soon-to-be babies). This made her more very special to me. Now she and her partner have three babies that are growing bigger every day. Soon they will flap their wings to say good-bye to their mother who never gave up in spite of being in so much pain and not having that other wing to give them comfort during their incubation period.

I am pretty sure that if the mother had died, I would have lost the three babies as well. This experience not only shows how my profession as a nurse saved my bird’s life but also that that my bird and I share an important trait – never giving up easily!