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Development of the skeleton and feathers of dusky parrots (Pionus fuscus) in relation to their behaviour
  1. N. Harcourt-Brown, BVSc, DipECAMS, FRCVS1
  1. 1 30 Crab Lane, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG1 3BE


A clutch of fve dusky parrots (Pionus fuscus) was observed from hatching to fully grown. They were examined radiographically from 16 to 45 days of age, a few days before the cessation of bone growth, and the development of their feathers and their behaviour were also studied. It was observed that when growing birds were removed from the nest and placed singly on a flat surface they would stand up and walk about until restrained; normally these birds would move very little and lie in an intertwined huddle that supported their relatively weak growing skeletons. At 50 days old they would climb to the nest entrance, retreating if scared. From day 51 the parrots flapped their wings vigorously inside the nest box, and they emerged at 53 days old when nearly all their large feathers had finished growing. These findings may help to explain the high rate of juvenile osteodystrophy in hand-reared parrots; premature exercise could lead to pathological deformity of the long bones, especially the major weight-bearing bone, the tibiotarsus.

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