Thursday, April 05, 2007

Familiarizing Yourself With Different Parrot Species

Fascinated to the world of the fast-talking, fun-loving parrots? Are you contemplating on the idea of getting one as your pet bird? If you have plans of purchasing one in the future, then you must familiarize yourself with the different parrot species existing in the pet trades and pet stores today.

As defined, parrots are a very popular group of birds for possessing high intelligence depending on the degree of its socialization and training. Famous for its ability to imitate human speech and various sounds, these tropical colorful birds are mainly found in Australia and South America.

Having a variety of species, parrots differ in size and color. Some parrots are bigger and grander while others are smaller and typical. When it comes to colors, green is considered the most common shade of parrots and are usually wonderful pets for their amazing talking abilities. Several types of parrots are multi-colored—with a distinctive combination of bright blue, yellow, green, and white mixtures.

These birds are also characterized by having powerful hooked bills and feet meant for tree climbing. Mainly vegetarian, other basic foods of almost all types of parrots are includes fruits, chicken or meat and a lot of seeds. Although they belong to only one family of birds, parrot species have distinctive personalities and nature. Some of them are naturally friendly while some are moody and destructive because they pluck their feathers if they are bored or unhappy.

Parrot species include Macaws, Conures, Amazons, African Gray Parrots, Cockatiels, Cockatoos, Budgerigars, and Eclectus. Macaws are one of the most coveted birds in aviculture because of their comical and affectionate nature. Conures, on the other hand, are small cousins of the Macaw that has 2 sub-specie: Aratinga and the Pyrrhura.

While Conures are known for its variety of color and gentle personality, Amazons are famous for their superb talking ability. Considered as the most popular large parrots in aviculture that exhibits distinct personalities, amazons are often considered as delightful pets for imitating sounds well.

African Grey Parrots is probably the most intelligent parrot there is. Despite their intelligence, greys can be hard to handle because they are generally quiet, resulting to stress attacks and reactions.

Cockatoos are considered among the favorites because they are beautiful, smart, playful, cuddly, and good talkers. Although they are generally tame, cockatoos can be hard to handle because they thrive in too much attention.

Cockatiels are most common pet birds because they are easy to breed and are relatively inexpensive pets; Budgerigars or “parakeets” that are usually afraid of humans if not trained properly; and the Eclectus that are “sexually dimorphic” or the male and females look markedly different.

Disadvantages of Having Parrots for a Pet

Parrots can be pretty hard to take care of. Unlike other pets that can be left alone in their cages, parrots are restless creatures who you have to check up on a couple of times every day. Here are just some things that parrots can do to your home.

Parrots can be pretty messy

If you are the type that would like the house to be spotless, try to reconsider getting a parrot or any pet for that matter. Parrots can be really messy, even a small parakeet.

Their food can be flung everywhere even when they are inside the cage. Your floor can be filled up by pellets, seed, and nutshells. Sticky foods may also be plastered on the walls, on the bars of the cage and even at the ceilings. Foods will literally be everywhere.

Another problem that you may have are their poop, which you really have to clean everyday. And they are not that disciplined to only poop in one place. They actually poop everywhere, in bars, in their food dish and even with the toys that you give them. They may even poop in between bars, which may end up on the floor and sometimes even on you.

If you have a cockatiel variety or the grey breed, you will also have to contend with the powder that they have on their feathers. The feathers will stick everywhere. So, you really have to dust everyday.

Because of this, you have to scrub the cage, their dish and the whole of the area at least once a day to prevent bacteria from settling in and of course the bad smell.

2. Parrots chew on everything

Parrots love chewing wood. In fact, owners of parrots often give them wooden toys to play and chew with inside their cages. Parrots however are not satisfied with just these toys. When they get the opportunity, they will chew on everything that they get their hands on. They will puncture your clothes, your furniture, even your books.

This can be really frustrating especially if you are the type of person who wants a clean house. Parrots are not recommended in homes that have dainty and fragile furniture. They should also not be placed in areas where they can break things and chew on antiques.

Be careful with wearing jewelry because they will sure to grab it or chew it. Parrots love shiny things. They can claw the stone right out of your favorite jewelry.

A Way of Handling Your Pet Bird

Bird trainers have developed skills or techniques, and become experts in understanding the behavioral nature of the parrot. Several books, manuscript, and guidelines in promoting the positive angles to be on the win side in behavioral conquest of the bird have helped a lot of amateurs and pet owners.

Parrots are the most misunderstood birds in existence. It's up for you to get thru better relationships with your bird, for it is, what you make it so. Before knowing it, at a slightest trait overlook, this bird in your cage could create havocs of anxiety and frustrations in your life. Basically, parrots need real training, otherwise, you will one day find out, it becomes an undesirable annoying character stealing away every bit of your peaceful, chaos-free moments.

Basics in training start with the bird's character traits and instincts. Your first approach is to notice its biting habits and screaming. These are inherent to parrots especially if it seemed likely to be ignored. Like humans they develop into emotional outburst, and their tendency is to find an object to threw out their fits.

Instinctive biting and screaming loudly distract. Try to find out what causes such behavior. Every bit of undesirable action could be a reaction that actually comes from its surrounding environment, either from your very self, or from anyone among your companions inside the house.

Behavioral Aspects in Training

1. Let us deal into terms similar to psychology in humans.

*Operant conditioning, situation in training, on other domestics or your bird pet; reacting well in order to gain something positive, or to evade from something negative. Example: Directing your bird to whistle, if it mimics the action, you hand in its food. Next time, instinct to eat allows impulsive choice to obey, whatever you want it to do, a whip of your finger, or cue from your mouth.

*Bridging stimulus set an example, when a hand is raised to command the bird to perch in one corner of the cage, the demonstrative actions serve a bridge for the parrot to choose in abeyance following the hand cuing, because a toy is ready at reach.

2. Do not punish pets for any negative attitude or actions done previously.

Example: When it unties cage's knots (birds do kept biting and untying); long time before you discovered it, don't whip or deprive it of meals. Birds or animals do not know of past and future. Bird's instinct is to live or act "here" and "now," and never aware of anything done ostentatiously. Turn to let a parrot obey you on what it does at the moment.

A large scale of parrot species need to be captivated to insure you with one of the best pet favored by many households. Research where your pet originated in order to pursue utmost care in mutual relationships between humans and birds.

Adopt a Smaller Pet Bird

The bird with the scientific name Poicephalus Meyeri originated from the wilds of Central and Eastern Africa. Meyers have gone thru countless hybrids without having to consider instant look "standard" in plume color and other features. Meyer parrots appear to be of six sub-species; each looking perfectly similar with the rest, resulting to lack of dominant marks to distinguish each from the others.

It is believed that breeding has started from the wilds where the bird originated, and gone thru with disregard in the proper manipulations and considerations on the bird's total breed. Meyeri parrots are inferior in size compared to other birds, preferred choice for household pets. Being small saves you from preparing a large cage, conducive to smaller space in its foster home.

Like other parrots, there's no assurance that the Meyer will talk. It takes a lot of patience and determination to let it mimic in return to efforts done in training. The disadvantage of its having gone thru unprecedented hybrid processes is believed to have started while on captives in the forests; original breeders, mindless to focus on basic colors.

Later breeders have difficulty in their assessments; as to whether they could still resolve to come up with the desired feather color combinations, that may under mind a fixed determining appearance of the bird. They are less capable to detect how many species are scattered, making for a whole population of confusing inter hybrid in captivity.

Will All Jungle Parrots Become Extinct One Day?

There are many different types of species of parrots and many of them live in the jungle, these are known as jungle parrots. Some particular species of jungle parrots include, Amazon parrots, African grey parrots and Quaker parrots and are commonly kept as household pets in today's modern society. There is however a concern that many parrots are being taken from their natural habitat and sold on the black market for vast sums of money to hungry customers in the Western world. The jungle parrot population in African jungles, especially in the Congo is dropping at an alarming rate and many species are on the brink of extinction. Something needs to be done to stop this from occurring.

What Are Some Prevention Methods?

Several countries are realizing this important fact and are actually doing things to prevent poachers and hunters from capturing jungle parrots and taking them out of their natural habitats. There are organizations within certain governments who's sole task is to stop hunters and poachers from capturing native parrots. They have only been going on for a few years now but are already beginning to show results. Population numbers are rising among certain parrot species, however there are still many parrots being captured all around the world. The sad thing is that only a certain percentage of parrots actually survive the trauma they are put through after being incarcerated for extended amounts of time. When these jungle parrots are sent overseas to be sold on the blackmarket, they are squeezed into a thin cylindrical tube about the width of a tennis ball and sent off for usually a two or three day journey before they are released. Most don't make it.

What About Education?

There is of course light at the end of the tunnel. Many reserves are being created that are tightly secured to stop poachers from getting in and capturing many of the jungle parrots that call these habitats home. Because of these newly created reserves, the parrot numbers have begun to climb and are finally showing results. Breeding centers are also helping to increase parrot numbers by introducing new parrots in to the wild that have been bred in captivity. Probably the most important scheme taking place is the education of children in schools throughout Africa and South America. These schools are designed to teach children to care for the wildlife and to show them how important it is that parrots in the jungles are kept alive and in the wild. Our children will of course be the driving force in the next generation and if they have a sense of pride and respect for the wildlife, then we can say that all the jungle parrots have a fighting chance at a future.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

First Aid For Your Exotic Pet Bird Or Parrot

Although you cannot dial 911, you should have your Avian Veterinarian's phone number close at hand. When a bird is sick, he or she hides it well because in nature, the flock, out of fear of disease, might harm a bird that appears ill so as to protect the flock from all becoming sick.

Therefore, by the time you notice signs of illness in your parrot, the bird may have already been sick for some time. Be in touch with your bird's personality and characteristics that are "normal", so that you will recognize any signs of "abnormal" behavior.

What should you watch for as "abnormal" behavior?

* Respiratory distress of any kind, difficulty breathing.
* Lack of appetite. You may notice food untouched or clean water that normally is used to soak food in.
* Sleeping and "puffed" up. The bird will always have his eyes closed when you walk by, or does not open his eyes as quickly as usual, so that you notice that he's sleeping a lot. He has a "puffy" appearance.
* He sits hunched on his perch or goes to the bottom of the cage and does not perch and his feathers appear fluffy, not smooth.
* He's quiet, not talking or calling.
* You may see runny droppings or lack of droppings in the cage bottom.
* You should always be aware if you notice nasal discharge or runny eyes and any vomiting should alert you although regurgitation is not always a sign of disease. Regurgitation can actually be a sign of "affection" or courtship behavior. However, vomiting is much messier in general and is not as solid as regurgitation. The bird will shake his head and therefore "spray" when he is vomitting, as opposed to a more solid pile deposited in the cage or on you.

In addition to illness, any trauma should be evaluated by a Vet, in addition to any abnormal swelling or growth on your bird. If your bird were to suffer a seizure, prompt Avian Veterinary care is required as it would be for any bleeding the bird suffers. In a female bird, reproductive issues can develop such as egg binding or continual egg laying, and these too require a call to your Vet.

Establish a relationship with your Vet so that if you need him in an emergency situation, he knows you, and your bird. He should have a well bird weight on file for your pet and that's the best place to start when examining a bird who is ill. If you believe you have a sick bird, do not wait. Prompt medical attention is a life saver. But is also a good idea to have a birdy first aid kit.

Your birdy first aid kit can be purchased complete with many items that you might need in case of an emergency. However, you can also put one together on your own. It should always include the following items:

Styptic Powder This should stop any bleeding from a broken blood feather, toenail, or injury. I also keep Liquid Band Aid on hand. I use Bandaid Brand as it has little smell. NO, THIS IS NOT THE BEST THING FOR A BIRD TO SMELL OR CHEW, but when your bird is in an emergency situation with bleeding, it does work and may be necessary when styptic powder won't stop the bleeding. If it's a smaller bleed, and you do not have styptic on hand, I recommend you try flour or cornstarch in an emergency.

Heat Pad or Lamp Heat is very medicinal to birds and a sick bird may not be able to maintain his own body temperature until you can reach medical care. Ideally, some type of tub or small cage works best. Be sure the bird still has access to food and water easily. MONITOR how you provide heat so that you do not overheat your bird.

Bandage Material This can be used to apply pressure to a wound until you reach medical care.

You might also want to have close by a TOWEL to be used if it is necessary to restrain the bird.

Something to sanitize a wound such as IODINE or BETADYNE.

And it's always recommended to have an adequate BIRD SAFE CARRIER ready, should you need to travel to your Vet's office, or to quickly get your bird out of your house should an environmental emergency develop.

Parrots Of The World

People differ in their opinions of which parrots are more well-liked. Some look at the trendy parrots. Others consider the most prevalent in the pet stores. Some speak of which is more popular in this country or that, but of all the parrots of the world, the 5 most often dubbed popular are these.

1. Parakeets: The common Parakeet, Budgerigar to be more precise, is from Australia, and is often chosen as a pet for children or those who are beginners at bird care, partly due to its low price. Colorful little “Budgies” are hardy, require little space, and are much lower maintenance than larger birds. They are very intelligent, and although content to whistle or sing quietly, some do learn a few words. The name “Budgerigar” comes from the Australian Aboriginal name for the parrot. It means “good eating” but most “Budgie” owners would be horrified to hear you say so. Among the many parrots of the world, this is probably the least expensive in both initial and upkeep costs.

2. Cockatiels: Another Australian species, these medium sized parrots are known for sophisticated whistling and singing. While they can be taught to speak, many people find that the birds would rather whistle, and mimic random sounds, such as a ringing cell phone. A disadvantage to the cockatiel is that it uses a powdery substance to keep its wings water-proof, so owners often find their fingers dusty after handling the bird.

3. Sun Conures: Among the parrots of the world, Sun Conures are one of the brightest. Their plumage is red, orange, yellow, blue, and green. Sun Conures have been known to talk well, but beware! These parrots often screech and scream rather than talk. Their 12 inch length means they will require a smaller cage than larger parrots, but you and your family may require earplugs. If you train your Sunnie to lower its voice, you will enjoy its antics, as these parrots tend to be playful.

4. Parrotlets: Parrotlets, especially Pacific Parrotlets, are one of the smallest known parrots of the world – about 4 inches in length! They are also one of the most pernicious and spunky of all the parrots of the world. These tiny parrots learn to talk in a voice that sounds like that of a robot. This tiny voice, their size, and the fact that they do not scream, make them ideal for those who need a quiet companion.

5. African Greys: African Grey Parrots are probably the most intelligent of the parrots of the world, and indeed, of all birds. These parrots are not as colorful as some. They are mainly grey, as the name implies. They do have a bright red or maroon tail, though, depending on the subspecies. African Greys excel at mimicry, sometimes learning as many as 1-2000 words. They learn other sounds, too, and may quickly learn to imitate a jet engine if you walk through an airport with them. Among the many parrots of the world, these may be the most demanding. Just like your toddler, these birds get bored and want their owners to provide entertainment. If you are looking for an intellectual, loyal, and affectionate parrot, the African Grey is probably a good choice.

How Many Different Parrots Are There?

All told, parrots of the world number more than 350 different species and subspecies! Due to loss of habitat, climate changes, hunting, and the trade in live birds as pets, some parrots have become extinct. Others are listed as threatened, or are on the “endangered species” list.

Life Expectancy

People who purchase a parrot, purchase a commitment that is likely to continue throughout their lives and beyond. Most parrot owners are already 20 years old or more, and parrots themselves often have a life expectancy of more than 50 years. Some live to be nearly 100 years old. Added to that long life expectancy, many parrots of the world tend to bond with a single person. If that person breaks the bond in some way, the parrot may die.

How To Keep An African Grey Parrot Happy

I’ve recently been handling lots of new clients in my parrot training business, coaching them through issues and spending a lot of time thinking about why parrots end up having problems when it hit me… African Grey Parrots are the 2nd most likely parrot to develop behavior problems; Second only to the Cockatoo.

But unlike Cockatoo’s who are in my opinion are not a good bird for the regular parrot owner to own because of it’s nature… African grey Parrots don’t share the Cockatoo’s same nature. So why do I have so many clients who’s African Grey’s have problems?

So I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on this topic with you…

There are a lot of things involved in keeping an African Grey Parrot happy that normal people would like to believe. Most of my clients think they can just walk into any pet shop that sells hand fed baby African Grey’s and think their bird will end up being perfect. Oh… if they only knew how much more was involved.

African Grey’s can tend to be a skittish type of parrot that spooks easily, gets stressed easily and develops lots of phobias and behavior issues. But there also the smartest breed of bird and through proper handling can be nothing short of amazing.

So even though I could sit here for weeks writing 743 articles on all the different things you need to do to make sure your African Grey Parrot is happy.

But instead I’m going to focus on just one thing… TOYS!

Now don’t go clicking off the page just yet because you think you know that your African Grey needs toys. I’m not trying to be condescending, and I know you already know that toys are important.

But do you know how often your African Grey’s toys should be rotated or changed? And better yet are you changing your birds toys frequently? Has your African Grey had a toy in his cage for longer than a month or two?

These are all important questions to ask, because African Grey Parrots are extremely intelligent and need to be placed in stimulating environments to remain happy.

This means they need their toys constantly rotated in and out of their cages. They need their toys hung from different parts of their cage.

You should be constantly searching for different shapes and textures of toy for your African grey to interact with. Toys that are chewable, destructible, touch to chew, easy to chew etc.

The key to a great stimulating environment boils down to rotating your African Grey’s toys at least ever 2 weeks. And if you see a toy isn’t being touched or destroyed first see if changing up it’s placement in the cage works… often that’s enough to get the bird to start playing with it.

If rotating the toys location doesn’t work, and you still don’t see the toy getting destroyed, than you should give up on that toy, remove it from his cage and replace with something different.

If you don’t… you risk the chance of an otherwise intelligent creature getting manic and bored and a bit psycho on you in the near future.

How To Start Building A Bird House

If you enjoy spending time around birds then you may want to build a birdhouse or two. Building a birdhouse is a great way to become a companion of birds and add some attractiveness to your landscaping as well.

Birdhouses are fun to build and they are not expensive at all. You will want to construct a birdhouse that is easy to clean. It should be sturdy, cool, and rainproof as well. Because it is your birdhouse you can use your imagination and build one or more any way that you want. This could include different sizes, shapes, and colors.

Stay away from using metal to build your birdhouse. Metal can become very hot when the sun is beating down on it. Wood is the best material to build it from. You want the roof to have enough pitch to shed water. By giving it at least 3 inches of overhang you will keep water out of the entrance.

You should add several holes near the top of the birdhouse for ventilation especially on hot days. The house should be constructed with screws to make it easy to take apart when you clean it. On the inside you want the walls to have grooves to help baby birds be able to climb to the opening of the house.

When facing the opening keep in mind which direction the wind normally blows. To help keep it cooler place it in an area that does not get as much sunshine. If your birdhouse is going to be in direct sunlight painting it white will help reflect the sun.

Otherwise you can use lighter colors or whatever you feel blends into the surroundings more naturally.One other thing to consider is predators such as squirrels or cats. When placing a birdhouse you want to keep it away from the jumping range of these animals. You can do this by suspending it suspended from wires. Mounting the house on iron poles or wooden poles with sheet metal to guard it will help protect birds as well.

Birds Cages - How To Choose The Right One

So you're faced with the hard decision of choosing a bird cage for your bird? Well, there are multiple things to think about, but this article will discuss the 3 most important issues involved in that decision. If you abide by the guidelines discussed below, you'll find a great cage at a great price that you're truly happy with. There's a lot to think about - not just the dimensions of the cage and the spacing between the bars. However, that is a great place to start, so let us cover that first in this article.

Choosing the right size cage & also making sure the bar spacing is safe

This is the very first issue you need to consider when shopping for bird cages. You can't even look at the other details or features of a cage until you've determined it's the right size of cage and has the right bar spacing. As a general rule of thumb; the bigger the the cage is the better, as long as the bar spacing's not too wide. At our web store, we separate birds into 3 categories; small birds, medium birds, & large birds. These categories slightly overlap because some birds fit into the high end & the low end of 2 different categories. For example, Lovebirds fit into the small birds category, but they also fit into the medium birds category.

For your education, let us quickly give you the minimum dimensions & maximum bar spacing measurements for most species of birds:

Small birds (i.e. Finches, Canaries, and Parakeets) should be in a cage that is no smaller than 18"(W) x 18"(D) x 22"(H) and they should not have bar spacing that's wider than 1/2".

Slightly larger small birds (i.e. Cockatiels, Lovebirds, and smaller types of Conures) shouldn't be in a cage smaller than 20"(W) x 18"(D) x 24"(H) and they're bar spacing shouldn't be wider than 3/4".

Medium birds (i.e. most Conures, Timnehs, and smaller Amazons) should have a cage that's at least these dimensions; 22"(W) x 20"(D) x 28"(H) and should have bar spacing no wider than 1".

Large birds (i.e. Congo African Greys, most Amazons, smaller Cockatoos) should have a parrot cage that is at least 32" x 24"(D) x 30"(H) & the bar spacing should be no wider than 1".

The biggest of the big birds (i.e. large Macaws, large Cockatoos, Toucans, and Hyacinth) should be in a cage no littler than 38"(W) x 30"(D) x 48"(H) & they can get away with spacing that's up to 1-1/2" wide. Most large parrot cages feature 1" bar spacing & that is just fine.

If your species of bird isn't named above, just find a species above that's similar in size to your bird & follow the dimension & bar spacing guidelines shown.

Choosing a good quality cage & not spending more than you have to

This is another hard aspect to face. If you have owned a generic bird cage before, you know you do not want to go through that again. The majority of first time cage buyers get a very cheap, generic cage, but they usually don't make that mistake twice. Some of the top brand names around are Kings, Avian Adventures, Invision Cages, Animal Environments, California Cages, Cages By Design, Liberty Cages, Visionary Acrylic Cages, & HQ Cages. At our web store we offer what we consider to be the very best 3 brand names available, but we have heard good and bad about all of them. The reason we offer the cages we offer is for the following 3 solid reasons;

1. The manufacturer's stand behind their cages & warranties,

2. The materials used are truly tested safe for birds (most manufacturers do not do this), and

3. We've offered or seen every brand name listed & have decided what ones we think are the most solid. Most cages offered by the brand names listed above are within approximately the same price range, so you just have to look around & see what fits you budget & your bird's specific needs. A great place to do research is within online bird forums & bird discussion boards. You can talk with other bird owners who've tried the brand name you're considering & they will gladly offer feedback on the cage that you are looking at. We do offer a bird lover's forum & the website address is listed in my biography at the bottom of this article. I urge you to visit our forum and others on the web as well, they provide great insight into what cages would work best for you & your bird.

How to choose the best retailer to buy from

This is the third and final part of this article, but it's only listed last because of how important the 2 factors listed before it are. This too is a very important part f your decision making process. If you can find a reputable store front in your region that offers top brand name cages at decent prices then that may be a good place to start. However, you will probably find that most pet supply store fronts that are offline are either extremely high priced, or they do not have any true parrot cages at all - they strictly offer small economy boxed cages that aren't large enough for the smallest of birds. This is because local store fronts have a very tough time competing with the internet retailers. Local store fronts have multiple overhead costs that need be buried into their product prices, and online stores do not have much overhead at all. So once you look locally, you'll most likely be on the web cage shopping. Now that you are online, how do you decide who you can trust? That's a great question, and not an easy one to answer. There are a few really good indicators that you can use to make a good judgment on who the trustworthy web stores are; One of the ways is something we previously discussed; head to the bird forums - if other people had a pleasant experience with an online store, you're likely to as well. I also recommend checking the sites you visit for positive customer testimonials. Web sites that do not post positive customer feedback they've received, probably haven't received any positive feedback. If you had one single customer contact you to tell you how great of an experience they had, wouldn't you place that testimonial on your web store? The last way to help determine whether a business is solid or not is to make sure they take all major credit cards, and not strictly PayPal. A site that takes all major credit cards strictly through PayPal is a red flag in my opinion. You may be wondering why on earth that's a red flag, well consider this; if a web store takes all major credit cards and the credit card companies receive too many complaints from their customers, they can actually lose their credit card processing account. That's right, the credit card processing company will actually pull their account & not let them take credit cards anymore. This then forces that online retailer to strictly offer PayPal or Google Checkout as their payment method. All internet retailers should take all major credit cards, and if they do not, it may be because they have lost their credit card processing account because of excessive customer complaints. I'm not saying that a web store shouldn't accept PayPal as a payment method, they should, but they should also be taking credit cards directly through the store's shopping cart as well.

Well, we have now covered what I consider the big 3 issues to consider when choosing a cage for your new bird. Again, there are many other factors, but these are the most important in my opinion, and if you follow these guidelines you will be very pleased with the decision you make. Plus, your bird will be proud of the decision you make on his behalf!

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