Many people who see Barney on his bicycle have questions, and we are sure that many folks do not get a chance to ask. So, here are a list of the most common questions we here in the rough order of popularity.
Barney likes to talk a lot, but he has a limited vocabulary. His favorite word is “Hello” and he will often greet everyone on the trail (and occasionally no one) with a nice loud “Hello”. He has many voices that he uses for the word both male and female.
He also says “What”, “What is it”, “Oh” and does a loud wolf whistle. Many times he will laugh or chuckle, and will enter into the conversation with extensive nonsense sentences. You will listen and are sure he is saying something real, but unless it is in a language we have never heard we think it is just his way of participating in the conversation.
Barney was about 10 years old when he joined our family in 2012. We think that we are his 3rd family. The person who had Barney before us had him for about 5 years. He married and moved to Florida and was unable to keep him. His brother was going to keep him with another bird but that did not work out.
When we took him to the vet for his check up, the vet felt that he was about 10 years old at that time. So as of 2018 he is about 16 and in his 6th year of biking.
The only way to know for sure is to do a dna test (or find an egg in the cage). We have not had a dna test done. However the person who had him before said he was a male and the vet felt that that was correct from some minor characteristics. We do not plan on breeding Barney at any point so ultimately it is not important to know for sure. Most Amazon Parrots are Sexually monomorphic, that is males and females look the same.
It is Barney, and we did give him a new name when he joined our family. We just thought it was a good bird name.
Barney is a Yellow Naped Amazon Parrot. You can learn more about his species here
Yes, he gives all indication of liking to go on bicycle rides a great deal. Anyone who has had a large parrot will know that you cannot make them do something that they do not want to do. Barney is always happy to go into his “Fun Cage” but some times does not want to come out.
We can also tell by his behavior when he is happy. He will be active and engaged, vocal and looking around with interest. Barney likes to see new things and enjoys people. We do put in a toy, and a block of wood to chew on as Parrots really love to chew.
We also make sure that he is hydrated by giving him a grape every 30 mins or so, if he is not thirsty he will not take it. If it is too hot we will put a shade on the top of his fun cage. If it is above 90 degrees or below about 55 we do not take him out. A little sprinkle is fun, but we do not go out if it looks like rain.
Barney enjoys saying Hello to people as we bike, but sometimes after a while he will be all talked out. Please do not be offended if when you see him he is quiet.
My standard answer to this is “We are running away from the circus”, but the real reason is more serious. Amazon and most other parrots need a lot of stimulation. Generally they should be out of their cage to interact 2 hours or more per day. They also need social interaction with many humans so that they do not become totally focused on a single person.
We bike with Barney because it allows him to be outdoors where he would be in nature. He gets to see other people, birds and animals (he will often say hello to the geese he sees in a park or along the bike path). It is also good for Herb as he gets his exercise which as you may have noticed is a need that he has. It has had a side effect in that it is also “Socializing” Herb and Debbie as they get to have many more conversations than they do without a parrot!
Of course another reason is that is is just darn fun. It makes Barney happy and us smile.
Barney is normally a very content and friendly bird, but all birds will bite. Parrots have very strong beaks that they use for cracking nuts and chewing wood to make a nest cavity, so a bite from a large parrot can be painful and will break the skin. Therefore, when you visit Barney you will note that for his safety and yours he will stay in his cage. Please do not put your fingers or other objects into his cage.
A parrot may bite as instinct tells them to defend their nest environment, and their cage fills that role. They may also bite if they are frightened, or to defend others in their flock. There are documented incidents of a parrot attacking and driving an intruder from a home if they feel threatened. These reports are almost always about an Amazon Parrot.
To date the only person who Barney has bitten is Herb himself. This can happen if Barney is out of his cage and too excited, or feels that his relationship is threatened by another person. This is normal parrot behavior, and he will give clues that he is getting too excited or worried, and then we just let him settle down for a bit. Sometimes when we do have to move him from one place to another we will use “The Stick of Power” which is just a perch that he will step on and off of.
The first thing every morning Barney has a piece of Herb’s multi-grain toast. This is probably the high point of his day!
Barney eats a pellet mix that has a good mix of the nutrients that he needs. This is supplemented with fresh water and fruits an veggies. His favorite fruits are, banana, apple, grapes, peach, mango, pineapple, and pear. His favorite vegetables are peas in the pod, sweet potatoes, baked potatoes, carrots, and his most favorite, sweet corn, best on the cob. He does not like strawberries or green beans.
Amazon parrots tend to get over weight, so you have to be careful about how many treats you give them. They love peanuts, almonds, etc, but those have lots of fat so you have to be stingy with those. They cannot have salted items like potato chips. He loves noodles, but again, too many empty calories so we are careful.
Amazon parrots are also prone to a vitamin A deficiency so we make sure that most every day has a carrot or bit of sweet potato in his treat bowl.
On the road we will give him small grapes and pieces of apple to keep him hydrated. We do not accept snacks from visitors as a general rule.
Amazon Parrots are tropical birds, but actually have more of a problem if it is too hot than too cold. Of course being birds they cannot sweat to keep cool. We don’t take him out if the temp is above 90F. Of course they are not designed to live in the arctic either. WE do not take him out if it is colder than about 50F. We can tell by his behavior if he is too warm or cold and take steps to help, mostly we just do not go out if it would be out of his comfort zone.
That being said, there are Yellow Naped Parrots living wild in Stuttgart Germany for more than a decade, and successfully reproducing. Stuttgart hits zero most winters just like it does here. Some people play with them in the snow which they reportedly love. We will have to see about that. I would not expect to see Barney on the trails over the winter however.
Shouted from a distance when getting dark “Is that a rabbit?”
Asked in broad daylight “Is that an African Grey?”
“Do you know you have a bird on your bike?”
“Is that a real actual bird?”
“Are you trying to sell the bird?”
“Are you riding around to try to find his owner?”
“Does he like to dance and listen to music?”