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How to Care for a Hookbill Bird

Hook-billed birds are the ones in the parrot family—from petite parakeets to massive macaws. Here’s some stuff you should know if there’s going to be a hookbill in the house.


  • Step 1: Before bringing your bird home, do your hookbill homework! What are you looking for in a bird? Consult bird books and magazines at your library, bookstore, and pet store. Look online for hookbill websites, too.
  • TIP: Although hookbills are generally considered 'talking birds,' not all hookbill species can talk.
  • Step 2: Different breeds have different needs. Research them carefully—you may be in for more than you expected!
  • TIP: Some of the larger hookbills, such as parrots and macaws, can live for decades. Be prepared to write Polly into your will if necessary.
  • Step 3: Make sure your hookbill’s cage is the biggest you can afford. For some parrots, a walk-in cage is best.
  • TIP: Most hookbills should spend part of every day outside their cages—with clipped wings, of course. A 'play gym' on top of the cage makes a great playground for your bird buddy.
  • Step 4: Different hookbills need different cage accessories. A swing will be fun for a parakeet; a rope perch will make a nice change for a parrot. A pet store or website can direct you to perches and toys for your particular bird.
  • Step 5: Feed your bird the correct diet—again, after doing your homework. Some hookbills, like lories, need fruit. Cockatiels eat a lot of seeds but also need fresh veggies. And many parrots can be offered small amounts of almost any healthy 'people foods.'
  • TIP: Steer clear of junk food for any bird. 'Bird treats' are mostly empty calories, and just because a hookbill can eat 'people food' doesn’t mean it should.
  • Step 6: Your feathered friend will need fresh water daily—both for drinking and bathing. Rinse and refill food and water bowls every day, and mist her with lukewarm water from a plant mister.
  • TIP: Make sure your bird mister has never held anything but water.
  • Step 7: Give your hookbill the vitamin-mineral supplement that’s best for her. Most hookbills prefer having supplements added to their food, not their water.
  • Step 8: Change the lining of your hookbill’s cage every day if possible, and give the whole cage a thorough cleaning once a week. Better cage hygiene equals better health for your bird.
  • Step 9: Hookbills thrive on company! Spend as much time with your bird as you can. Take her out of the cage and handle her as much as possible—but at least once a day. Talk to her a lot, even if she says nothing back.
  • Step 10: With these basics under your belt, your home will be a hookbill haven. Your bird will be lucky to have you—and vice versa!
  • FACT: Alex, a famous African grey parrot, could hold real conversations, label colors, and count up to six objects.

You Will Need

  • A hook-billed bird in search of a great owner
  • A birdcage
  • Bird bowls or dishes
  • Bird toys
  • A variety of bird perches
  • At least one bird swing
  • A spray bottle for water
  • A u201cplay gymu201d for the top of your birdu2019s cage (optional)

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