Blue-naped Parrot – bark chewing/peeling

posted in: Miscellaneous | 1

ParrotBlNp-peel bark [AmarSingh]

“I saw this interesting behaviour in some of the Blue-naped Parrots (Tanygnathus lucionensis). They would grip the bark of the casuarina trees, chew and peel it off. While watching, it was apparent that it was not easy to do (see Post 1-3). I have been trying to obtain a reason for this behaviour and, while reading around the subject, can offer some suggestions (no one is really sure):

ParrotBlNp-peel bark [AmarSingh] 1

“1. A common opinion is that parrots need to keep their beaks in good shape. The wood allows them to clean and sharpen their beaks. This activity is also credited with preventing beak overgrowth.

“2. Another option is they are looking for food and trying to find insects and ‘grubs’ under the wood or bark-boring insects (I did not see any evidence of feeding despite a fairly long observation).

“3. One view is that they strip bark to use as nesting material. However I did not see them keep the bark or collect the material that was dropped on the ground.

“4. Others have suggested they do it out of sheer boredom, but this is a rather weak opinion.

“5. One option I would like to entertain (apart from no. “1” above) is the shortage of nesting sites. There may be a strong desire to nest but not enough holes. Hence this is a ‘futile’ maternal instinct to generate holes.”

ParrotBlNp-peel bark [AmarSingh] 2

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
26-27th March 2017

Location: Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Habitat: Coastal region

  1. Lee Chiu San

    I would like to raise two points pertaining to Amar’s article above.
    First, I pointed out in another post on this website that I know from experience with aviary birds, especially parrots, that some play. I can think of no other explanation for their engagement in activities that have no feeding or reproductive value except that they find those activities amusing for their own sake.
    Second, for birds like the medium-sized parrots, a shortage of nesting sites can easily be addressed. A variety of nest boxes of different designs can be constructed at not very much cost, and they can be hung in suitable locations. Hopefully, the parrots will find a design to their liking and make use of it.
    The design of parrot nest boxes is a subject extensively covered in avicultural magazines and websites.
    Some parrots like cockatiels, budgies and even blue and yellow macaws are not at all fussy and will breed in any kind of box that is dark and large enough.
    Others demand a certain kind of shape and size. Some lorikeets for example prefer horizontal nest boxes that perhaps mimic the horizontal branches covered with epiphytes and tree ferns into which they tunnel to breed.
    Yet others have a habit of landing heavily, and often break eggs. For them, an “L” shaped box is mandatory. The parent birds come crashing down the vertical shaft, while the nesting chamber where the eggs should be laid is located safely to one side.
    Whatever the design of the nest boxes, steps have to be provided inside to allow the birds ease of exit. Pet parrots have been known to die inside nest boxes from which they could not climb out of.

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