Hello and welcome. My name is Jessie Zgurski, and Peggy is my Jenday Conure. This blog is where I post the articles I have written about wild and pet parrots. I have written primarily for “Parrots” magazine, but I’ve also written for “Companion Parrot Quarterly” and “Good Bird” magazine. I also post interesting links, videos, and articles about parrots and other animals as I find them. Occasionally, I post articles I have written for “Nature Alberta” about the wildlife of Alberta, and I sometimes share wildlife photos I have taken while travelling.

A bit about me: I’m from Alberta, Canada and have lived here my whole life. I’m originally from Lethbridge, but I’m currently living in Fort McMurray. I have also lived in Edmonton. I recently (May 2011) completed my Ph.D. in Ecology at the University of Alberta. I also have an M.Sc in Systematics and Evolution from the University of Alberta, and a B.Sc in Biological Sciences from the University of Lethbridge. I am currently working as a terrestrial ecologist with an environmental consulting company in Fort McMurray. I primarily do bird population monitoring work, which includes bird banding. I also spent two years working for an environmental consulting company in Edmonton,  and my work there included planning and conducting various bird surveys (including waterfowl, songbird, marsh bird, and raptor surveys). I also conducted amphibian surveys and wrote reports, including wildlife assessments for environmental impact assessments and reports on monitoring programs for bird species at risk.

I was previously a biology instructor at the University of Alberta, at both the North Campus (in Edmonton) and the Augustana Campus (in Camrose). In Camrose, I taught laboratories for a variety of biology  courses and I taught the lecture portions for courses in animal and human physiology. In Edmonton, I taught the lecture portion of a fourth-year course in Ornithology (the biology of birds). I also taught labs in behavioural ecology, techniques in molecular ecology, and systematics while I was a Ph.D. graduate student. While I was an M.Sc. student, I taught two different botany labs: one in plant morphology and one in flowering plant systematics.

I’m quite passionate about biology and my non-professional interests tend to be nature or animal oriented as well. I love to go birdwatching, hiking, canoeing, and horseback riding.  I love traveling as well and have been all over North America, New Zealand and central Brazil. I did a lot of bird watching while I was in Brazil and New Zealand and wrote several articles about the parrots from those countries for a few magazines. I enjoy watching and studying wild parrots and I have several as pets. My own parrots include  Patrick Perry (a Rose-crowned Conure), Ripley, (a Red-lored Amazon), Mitri (a Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo), Chiku! (Green-cheeked Conure cross), Pteri (a Blue and Gold Macaw), a Bourke’s Parakeet (Pinkie) and a Lineolated Parakeet (Purple 36). The Bourke’s and Lineolated Parakeets get along very well and share a cage. I also have two quail and an aviary full of society and Gouldian finches. Sadly, Peggy, the conure I named my blog for, passed away during November, 2015.

I also have two dogs (Felix, a Cairn Terrier cross and Micro, a Maltese), and two cats (Lola and Freya).  I also like riding horses, and I have an Arabian/Andalusian cross named Amigo. We do a lot of trail riding together. If anyone out there wants to contact me, I can be Emailed at jzgurski “at” ualberta “dot” ca.

The list of parrot-related articles I have had published are as follows:

1) An Introduction to the Lineolated Parakeet. Companion Parrot Quarterly, March 2006, Issue 69.

2) Living with a Maroon-bellied Conure. Parrots, December 2006, Issue 107.

3) Living with a Red-lored Amazon. Parrots, July 2007, Issue 114.

4) The Importance of Environmental Enrichment for Pet Parrots. Parrots, August 2007, Issue 115.

5) Meet the Kaka – the Kea’s Lesser-known Cousin. Parrots, November 2007, Issue 118.

6) The Behavior of Wild Amazon Parrots and its Implications for Companion Parrot Keepers. Companion Parrot Quarterly, Winter, 2007, Issue 71.

7) One Day of Parrots in Sydney Australia. Good Bird, Winter 2007, Volume 3-4.

8 ) A Trip to New Zealand: The Land where Birds Rule. Good Bird, Spring 2008, Volume 4-1.

9) Parrot Rescues. Parrots, May 2008, Issue 124.

10) Meet the Kea. Parrots, July 2008, Issue 126.

11) Clicker Training as a Tool for Managing Aggressive Parrots. Parrots, November 2008, Issue 130.

12) Play Behavior in Wild Parrots. Companion Parrot Quarterly, Issue 72.

13) The Evolution and Behavior of the Extraordinary Eclectus Parrot. Parrots International, 2009, Issue 2.

14) Living with a Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. Parrots, June 2009, Issue 137.

15) The Benefits of Fresh Foods for Parrots. Companion Parrot Quarterly, Issue 74.

16) In the Land of the Hyacinth Macaw. Parrots, February 2010, Issue 145.

17) The Diversity and Classification of Parrots. Companion Parrot Quarterly, Issue 75.

18) The Nest Building Behavior of the Adaptable Quaker Parakeet. Parrots, July 2010, Issue 151.

19) Living with a Jenday Conure. Parrots, December 2012, Issue 179.

20) Personable Pyrrhura Conures: At Home and in the Wild. Parrots, March 2013, Issue 182.

21) Fascinating Feathers: Structure, Function, and Care. Parrots, June 2016, Issue 221.

Here are some photos of some of the animals:


Patrick Perry, a Rose-crowned Conure


Mitri holding a piece of wicker basket. He loves chewing up plain baskets.

Mitri chewing on his wicker basket


Peggy the Jenday Conure

Lucy on her boing

Lucy on her boing (I had Lucy for ten years and she passed away during 2015 at age 18).



Ripley the Red-lored Amazon


Pharaoh the mixed breed. We don’t know his breed or mix, but he’s an awesome dog! Very friendly. Sadly he passed away at age 15 during 2014.

Chiku! a Green-cheeked Conure cross.

Bourke’s Parakeet



Micro and Felix, the dogs.



My horse, Amigo.



Pteri, the Blue and Gold Macaw




  1. August 5, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    I’m glad I found your blog! I’m from Edmonton as well, just graduated from the U of A with a Bachelor in Animal Health (brand new degree, only two of us graduated with it so far). I’ve got quite a zoo as well, but lately I’ve been focusing on my birds (parrotlet, lovebird and 3 button quail) particularly since I am a relatively new bird caregiver and birds are so complex compared to dogs and cats! Also, I’ve been trying to reduce my lovebirds feather picking tendencies…. But I look forward to reading your blog 🙂

    • Jessie
      August 6, 2011 at 5:41 am

      Thanks for your comments and congrats on your recently completed degree!

      Feather plucking can be hard to figure out. My Maroon-bellied Conure plucked a bit for a couple of winters and then just stopped one year. I had increased the number of shreddable toys she had and gave her moer showers, but I can’t really say what exact thing made her stop.

      I don’t hear from too many other people who have button quail! I have four at the moment and they’re quite cute little things.


  2. December 19, 2012 at 3:42 am

    Hi – I just noticed you linked to my blog. I wanted to say thanks for the link and I am happy to meet another fellow bird blogger 🙂

  3. January 10, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    I am very grateful that you share your information, Ideas and writings! Thank you and please continue! Wishing you well in all things.

    • January 10, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      Thanks for your nice comment!

  4. Anya
    September 25, 2016 at 12:48 am

    Hi I came across your sight in searching for help in improving my Amazon red lords health. He was at one point being treated by someone as more of a conversation piece than a pet. He had plucked himself bald and though bold and full of much attitude requires a “bubble” from all but several people. He is very picky and has a tenancy to scream regularly. He has since grown back all of his feathers and tweets and talks all the time. He is still a picky eater, prone to screeching and can be frightened should someone come too close. He was wild caught and is about thirty. I’ve been introducing fruit into his all seed diet and his health has much improved. Do you have any advice so I may help him further regain full health and happiness?

    • September 25, 2016 at 2:15 am

      I’m glad to hear that his feathers have grown back! Feather plucking can be a hard habit to break. It’s definitely good to try to get him to eat foods other than seeds. Fruits are great because they can provide some vitamins but try to add other foods (like veggies, whole grains, and cooked beans) to his diet too. A lot of ‘seed junky’ birds seem to like things like corn, peas, cooked whole-grain rice, or cooked quinoa. All of these are somewhat seed-like and cooked quinoa in particular is a good source of protein. A lot of parrots like nuts too so try feeding him some chopped nuts. They make great treats, so feeding him nuts from the hand may help him learn to trust people a bit better. When trying to get him to eat different foods, just remember not to take him off of a seed diet “cold turkey” (i.e. by suddenly removing seeds) because some birds who have been on a seed diet long term might not initially recognize other things as food.

      Until he’s eating a more varied diet it wouldn’t hurt to offer him some “Prime” supplement (this stuff: http://www.petsmart.ca/bird/vitamins-supplements/prime-bird-supplement-zid36-1185056/cat-36-catid-400025). Sprinkle his dose on a fruit he likes. Just don’t sprinkle it on seeds with shells, as the parrot will de-shell the seeds (and thus lose the supplement). However, one your parrot is on a more varied diet, he won’t need a supplement. I feed my birds a pelleted diet which gives them the nutrients they need, so if you can get him to eat pellets, that would be great because you wouldn’t have to worry about him getting enough nutrients. I like to feed my birds some other healthful foods in addition to the pellets, since it seems to improve their quality of life.

      These are some tips on converting a bird off of an all-seed diet:


      While an all-seed diet isn’t healthful for a parrot, it is okay to give a parrot some seeds as part of the diet.



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