Understanding Parrot Behavior

How Parrots Learn to Behave

Dr. Susan Friedman

Training your Parrot

Understanding and Guiding the Behavior of Parrots

How Parrots Learn to Behave

By Phoebe Greene Linden, SBBF, California and
S.G. Friedman, Ph.D., Utah State University

Published in Bird Talk, May 2003 – reproduced with permission

 “Please, come look at our bird! He does the funniest things before he comes out of his cage. We need to know if all conures act like Marty.” The two young girls, Marty’s caretakers, were particularly keen to have us see Marty’s antics. So we watch the bright little blue-crowned conure (Aratinga acuticaudata) as he scampered around his large cage. When Marty reached the top of his cage, the girls began an accurate recitation of his actions.

“Watch, watch,” they told us, but our eyes are already fixed on the active bird which paused momentarily to make sure his audience was attentive. “First,” the girls told us, “he climbs onto his swing, see? Then he swings over and grabs the cage bars, then he slides down to his water bowl.” True to their words, Marty did exactly that. Once at the water bowl, he dunked his head, shook it, and the girls squealed with glee. “Yes, yes, that’s what he does, he splashes us! Now watch, he goes to his bell and rings it,” Marty yanked the bell, “then he sticks his foot out for us to touch.” Out came the little guy’s foot, which they softly touched before he pulled it back in. Then he headed quickly to the door of his cage.

“Now he wants out,” they explain, and the little guy hopped onto an offered hand. “Do all conures do this?” they ask. “Is he normal?” “What is he doing?” Their questions tumbled out. “Why do you think Marty acts this way?”

Marty’s Behavior

While Marty preened his pretty tail, we assure them, no, not all conures act this way, but Marty certainly did. Not all conures perform as Marty like this because Marty’s actions are not related to innate behavior common to all members of his species. His behaviors are the result of learning, which results from his individual experiences living with his girls.

We told them his actions are “normal” for a very smart little parrot with some very enthusiastic teachers. “But we didn’t train him to do any of this,” they protested. The training has been mutual, we explained: Marty has trained them to react enthusiastically to his sequence of behaviors and their positive reinforcement of his actions has trained him to repeat these actions. Marty has learned that, after all this fun in his cage, he then receives the best reward of all – valued time outside his cage. 

Marty’s training is beneficial and fun.  After all, why get out of the cage like a boring “regular” bird does when you can splash your caregivers and make them squeal with delight by spicing up the routine? The science of behavior, called behavior analysis, tells us Marty acts this way because the girls’ responses are following each of his behaviors are reinforcing to him.   As is often the case, the girls taught Marty to behave in complex ways without even realizing it.  Many parrot behaviors are inadvertently taught to them.

Unfortunately, this is also true with many unwanted behaviors, as well. Even small reactions after a behavior, such as hand-wringing, muttering and expressions of concern, can reinforce the behaviors, without any awareness on our part at all.  The more we realize how our responses influence our birds’ behavior, the more we can reinforce those things we want them to do more and ignore those things we want them to do less.

 What is reinforcement, Really?

When we travel around the country to speak to parrot caregivers, we talk a lot about positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement and we’ve seen how easily the terms are misunderstood. After all, the words “positive” and reinforcement say the same thing twice, and don’t the words “negative” and reinforcement have exactly the opposite meanings?  Well, we can’t argue with that logic, but these are scientific words with very particular meaning. If you know the meanings of these terms well, you will use them more deliberately and effectively.

A reinforcer is anything that immediately follows a behavior that serves to increase the frequency of the behavior in the future. Reinforcement is the process of delivering reinforcers.

As you can see, a reinforcer has two characteristics:

  • First, it is something that immediately follows a behavior.  Therefore, reinforcers are a special type of feedback or consequence.
  • Second, reinforcers increase the probability that the behavior they follow will be repeated in the future.

Parrots learn from feedback in the form of consequence in the form of consequences, just like humans.  They experience consequences of their behavior and decide whether to repeat it or modify it in the future. Just like us, parrots strive to make their behavior “work” according to their own perception of what “works” means. 

The girls’ squeals of delight and gentle touches followed each of Marty’s free-spirited antics, and the fact that he repeats these behaviors daily tells us that these consequences function as reinforcers for Marty’s behavior.

When you think about it, reinforcers can either be added (+) to a situation immediately following a behavior or taken away (-). 

  • For example, when Marty pushes his little toes through his cage bars, the girls added a gentle touch.  This addition to Marty’s experience, their touch, is a positive (+) reinforcer.  We know that because he continues to offer his foot to them, and their touch is an immediate consequence.  Although positive reinforcers tend to be things individuals want to get, the word positive means a consequence was added.
  • An example of negative (-) reinforcement is when a bird steps up to get away from a towel.  The bird steps up, and the towel is taken away.

The probability that the behaviors will be performed again in the future was increased in both cases by positive (something added following the behavior) or negative reinforcement (something taken away after the behavior).

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    What other examples of positive and negative reinforcement can you think of?  When you answer your bird’s call, that’s positive reinforcement: Something is added (your call) after the behavior (the bird’s call), which increases the frequency of the behavior (the bird’s call) in the future.  When you add a special treat to the cage bowl after your bird goes into its cage, that positive reinforcement too.

    Alternatively, when your bird steps onto your hand to avoid being pushed by your finger, that’s negative reinforcement:  Something is taken away (your pushing finger) after the behavior (stepping up), which increases the frequency of the behavior (stepping up) in the future.

    When your bird bites more to avoid being petted, that’s negative reinforcement too.  The solution is not to force your bird to be petted in order to show it its bites don’t matter.  Rather, use positive reinforcement to teach it that your touch is a reinforcer by pairing your touch with other things it already finds reinforcing, such as kind words or a treat food.  When you learn to use positive reinforcement effectively, force needn’t be used to teach any behavior.

    Three Fundamental Behavior Principles

    All behaviors produce consequences of one kind or another.  When we behave, the environment always “answers” with some feedback to inform us that the behavior worked toward some desired end, or that the behavior needs to be eliminated or modified in the future. This is how we use experience to learn, and this process works similarly for all animals, including our companion parrots.

    As parrot caregivers, we control many aspects of the environment that provide feedback to our birds. Behavior analysis has identified three basic laws of behavior that relate to understanding how to arrange our birds’ environments, including our reactions to them, to help them behave in successful ways.

    1. Behavior has function.

    It was Charles Darwin (1859) who first theorized natural selection as the process by which evolution produces genetic changes over generations. These changes function to improve a species’ survival in the long run.

    Burrhus Frederic Skinner (1938) took that theory further when he demonstrated in his laboratory that learned behaviors have function too.  Since those early experiments, many psychologists (behavior analysts) and biologists (ethologists) have demonstrated that learning is the process by which each individual changes his/her behavior to meets life’s ever-changing circumstances.

    The ability to learn functional behavior by experiencing consequences improves our survival during the short-run of an individual’s lifetime.  This is true for all animals, including our parrots.  They are biologically prepared to learn.

    One key to solving behavioral problems then is to consider the function of any problem behavior.  Of what value to the bird is the behavior? What consequence does performing the behavior produce?  How can that function be preserved but with a more desirable behavior?

    In Marty’s case, swinging, sliding, splashing, bell ringing, and foot wiggling all function to get lots of high-energy attention from the girls and freedom from his cage.  From charming behaviors like Marty’s to exasperating behaviors like chronic screaming, the function of any behavior can be found in the consequence that performing the behavior produces.  Understanding that behavior has function (and does not just pop out of our birds willy-nilly, with neither rhyme nor reason) will greatly improve the way we interact with our birds.

    2. Future behavior is related to past consequences.

    Not all parrots would find soprano squeals or having their toes touched reinforcing the way Marty does.  Reinforcers are a highly individual matter, and it is the future behavior of our bird that tells us what is reinforcing.

    The best prediction of future behavior is past consequences.  If a behavior continues to be repeated, something in the environment is reinforced it the last time it was displayed, including “bootleg” reinforcers from other birds or pets, children, or nature’s natural reinforcers (like scratching an inch).

    Regardless of what we think about the value of any particular behavior or the consequences we provide, the function the behavior has to the bird dictates whether or not the behavior will be performed again in the same way in the future. That is equally true for behavior caregivers consider wanted and unwanted.

    For example, a bird will scream or talk in quiet tones depending entirely on the consequence the behavior produced the last time it screamed or stayed quiet.  Too often, playing quietly yields nothing, but screaming gets everyone running. The behavior that produces the greatest reinforcement will be the behavior the bird chooses to display more in the future. With a clear understanding that past consequences predict future behavior, you can reduce screaming by reinforcing talking; reduce biting by heeding flashing eyes of warning; replace lunging by reinforcing perching.

    3. To change behavior, change the environment.  

    Behavior is what an animal does, not what an animal is.  Labels like “is aggressive,” “is spoiled” and “is well-behaved” do not tell us the bird is lunging, refusing to go into its cage or willingly goes to strangers.  We can’t directly change aggression, spoiledness, or maintain good behavior because those labels have no tangible for,; however, we can change specific behaviors. Also, “is” labels can be detrimental when trying to understand our parrots, because they imply that the source of the behavior is inside the bird rather than the relationship between the bird’s behavior and the environment.

    Yes, the relationship between behavior and the environment is very clear in our daily lives. When we slam the door and the window breaks, we close the door more gently from then on. While behavior is primarily a function of its consequences, the events that occur before a behavior is emitted, called antecedents, also influence how animals behave.

    • For example, rain facilitates breeding behaviors in birds whose young depend upon fresh foods; sunset facilitates roosting behaviors; and a squawk or raised foot facilitates the intruder bird’s retreat.  In our homes, the antecedents we provide influence behavior too. An open hand facilitates stepping up; a dish of water facilitates bathing; the phone ringing facilitates a quirky “Ellooo!”

    We caregivers should carefully examine the environments we provide for our parrots to make sure that our homes stimulate behaviors conducive to companionship.  Whenever these adaptive behaviors are displayed, we must be quick to reinforce them. 

    • When we carefully examine the environment our birds inhabit, it’s easy to see that we are not the only factor that influences our parrots’ behaviors.  Nor does every behavior need modification.  

    For instance, one of Linden’s aviary birds yells out every time a hawk crosses the sky. Once the first bird starts, many follow. We can modify that noise to the degree that we can modify the environment.  Sometimes they quiet down when we go outside and show the birds that we see what they see. Other times, we just wait it out – when the hawk soars away, the birds quiet down. Either way, understanding that the source of the behavior is in the environment (including our own bodies) helps empower us to make wiser choices to work with a behavior or accept it as it is and change our expectations instead.

    In this way, we are all part of one another’s environment. No parrot caretaker is an island: Our birds have the power to influence our behavior too. The way in which our birds influence us should be examined in the same way we examine our influence on them.

    However, as the designator trustee of materials and education, humans are responsible for the outcomes. Food, lighting, showers, sleep and household activity levels all influence behavior. And the more adept we are at managing the environments our parrots inhabit, the more effectively we can protect and teach them.

    Marty’s Future Behavior

    A few months after our visit, we called to check on Marty and received a glowing report. Marty has improved his cage exit routine by doing even more behaviors that win adoring praise. He has an expanded chain of behaviors that he does when his is outside of his cage, too:  He climbs a ladder, chases a ball, rolls over and scampers onto the handle of his favorite table-top basket when he is ready for a treat.

    For Marty, these behaviors function to get him several valued reinforcers, including enthusiastic attention, physical exercise and mental stimulation, both inside and outside of his cage. The girls’ attentive behavior is reinforced by Marty’s clever, energetic friendship, as well. Perhaps some other caretaker would describe Marty as demanding, spoiled or manipulative.  Focus on the things he does in order to really know Marty and appreciate the relationship he and his girls have developed with positive reinforcement.

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      When we arrange the environment to reinforce desirable, adaptive behaviors, we rightly change our teaching emphasis from overpowering to empowering and from force to facilitation.  This is accomplished best by understanding that behavior is a function of its consequences and its antecedents, many of which can be controlled by us, the caregivers. Given the longevity of human and parrot relationships, the learning path before us is wonderfully winding and long. We make the best use of that path by realizing that between our birds and ourselves, we are all teachers and learners with every interaction.

      Ten Ways to Promote Adaptive Behavior

      1. Describe what your bird does, not what your bird is.
      2. Identify what you want your bird “to do,” instead of “not do.”
      3. Arrange the environment to stimulate activity and mental stimulation with enrichment items.
      4. Identify what your birds’ reinforcers are by observing what it chooses to do.
      5. Catch you bird being good more time each day than you can count.
      6. Reinforce behavior you want to see more often
      7. Ignore behaviors you want to see less often.
      8. Change what you do to change what your bird does.
      9. Replace force with facilitation – give your bird a reason (consequence) to do what you need it to do.
      10.  Empower – don’t overpower – your bird – healthy animals need to be able to affect their environments too.

      Words To Know

      BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS – The scientific study of learning and behavior.

      REINFORCER – Anything that immediately follows a behavior that serves to increase the frequency of that behavior in the future.

      REINFORCEMENT – The process of delivering reinforcers.

      POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT – When something is added following a behavior to increase it.

      NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT – When something is taken away after a behavior to increase it.

      LEARNING – The process by which each individual changes his/her behavior to meet life’s ever-changing circumstances.!

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        Understanding Parrots: Why Parrots Do What They Do

         

        by Sibylle Jonson

        Training your Parrot

        “I am so angry with my parrot! … He (or she) won’t do what we want him to do … In fact, he seems to do EXACTLY what he is NOT supposed to … is he trying to wind us up?

        He is driving us CRAZY!”

        Does that sound familiar to you? My feeling is that it does. Once we understand why our feathered friends do what they do, we are less likely to be angry with them and are able to build a relationship together from which both benefit (you and your pet).

        First of all – parrots are not dogs. 

        In the wild, groups of dogs have their “top dogs,” and the “under dogs” generally understand that.  The occasional “fight” might break out to establish dominance, but once the top dog wins, the “under dog” is submissive and the “top dog” leads the group (until another dog wins the “war of dominance”).

        Through training, we humans establish a dominant relationship over the dog.  Unless they lose respect of us (feel they are superior and should be “top dog”), they will  try to please us.  They will roll over, sit,   fetch – whatever they understand you want them to do – just to keep you happy and be in your good graces. Such submissiveness is not typical parrot behavior …

        Parrots have different relationships in the wild. They generally form very close relationship bonds that are far deeper than our own.  Parrots are strictly monogamous.  Rarely, some “reshuffling” happens, if they find that their current relationship doesn’t “yield” any young.  If they lose their partner for whatever reason (death, capturing, etc.), they will also seek another mate.  But other than those situations, they generally mate for life. 

        A pet parrot will usually find his “mate’ amongst the people he lives with for whom he will display typical bonding behavior. This may entail regurgitating food for them; crouching down and flaring the wings, while making funny noises – which is basically an invitation for you to mate with them. For all intends of purposes — this is his or her chosen mate.

        Of course, this will also cause problems in some house – as they tend jealously “guard” their chosen mate from competitors — like spouses and other mates! :”Dive-bombing” competitors is quite typical. Bringing in another bird into a home if you already have a bird that is bonded with you — is also likely to cause jealousy aggression. As far as your parrot is concerned — you are his (or her) mate and your loyalty is expected.

        As far as they are concerned, we belong to their flock and are on equal footings.  They won’t try to  please us (except for offering us half-digested food!); and generally only do what they themselves want to do. In the wild, pairs will feed each other as a sign of bonding, but also this is caused by the basic need that one partner has to provide food to the mate that is incubating eggs or is keeping the nestlings warm and can’t get off the nest to feed themselves without endangering the chicks… Everything they do is driven by basic natural instincts…

        If there is any behavior your pet displays, that you don’t like – all we can do is eliminate the possibility of this occurring, provide alternatives and encourage (reward) desirable behavior …

        My parrot is destroying our home!

        In the wild, parrots fly from tree to tree, chew on branches and plant matter. While doing so, they likely derive some nutrition benefits, this will keep their beaks trimmed, and they may at the same time “personalize” their nesting / home site – akin to us decorating / personalizing our own homes.  In between chewing, they may preen themselves or their mate, forage for food, call out to communicate with their mates – if they get bored, they are likely to look around to see what is worth exploring.

        Parrots in our homes will do all of the above.  This behavior is innate.  You can’t change it.  This is how they are.   Those who don’t understand this behavior, get angry at their parrot for doing … well, for doing what comes naturally.    We may shout at them, maybe even throw stuff at them (hopefully nothing that could hurt them!) ; or we may punish them by keeping them locked up.  But in reality – they didn’t do anything wrong.  This is how they are. 

        Okay, that doesn’t solve anything … does it.  How can I prevent him from destroying the home?

        The answer is to bird proof the home.

        • Cover or remove items that your parrot wants to chew on or may otherwise soil (the back of chairs, the top of furniture, for example). We placed towels or blankets on chairs and other “perches” our parrot has chosen to spend time on during the day. Those towels get put into the wash when soiled and that resolves the problem of chairs being covered in droppings; plus it saves the items from being damaged by the parrot’s beaks. (Note: the bigger the parrot, the thicker the covering needs to be to prevent damage from busy beaks.) … If you have nice sofas / arm chairs, you may consider this solution: – This patented design consists of a quilted and fitted protective cover for your arm chairs and sofas with extra attachments that will entertain your pet – so it will turn your favorite evening place into a safe and fun place for your pet as he or she spends time with you after work, and protect your furniture.
        • Electric wires / cables are huge attractants for them and we get so upset that they chew on them (knowing that this is dangerous for the parrot, plus a fire hazard).  However, they don’t understand the danger associated with doing so.  As far as they are concerned, this is something interesting for them to explore and exercise their beaks on. We save ourselves the frustration of having to constantly watch them and “save them” by hiding electric wiring or covering it up.  Covers are available in some places.  We ourselves didn’t find it when we needed it, so we got clear plastic tubing at Home Depot (plumbing department), cut a slit into it and covered any electric wiring (for example on our hanging lamps) with this.   It doesn’t look bad, since it is clear – and it does the job of protecting the wiring.
        • Now that you understand their need to chew – PROVIDE ALTERNATIVES!  Create bird areas in different parts of the areas he usually spends time in; provide lots of toys  and opportunities for foraging.   (My parrot LOVES boxes, for example, take some crumpled paper and hide treats and small toys in – and he will be busy for hours …)  He likes to go into the boxes and then talk.  He obviously loves how different his voice sounds while in the box …  This always makes us laugh.  Now, when he is in the box he will first talk and then laugh, which keeps us all in stitches.

          Yes, there are lots of upsides to bird ownership — the laughs we get out of it are an important one. The loyalty and love we get from them is the other … On the other hand, there are the messes, destruction and noise … It’s all a trade-off …

        Provide bird-safe play areas around the home

        We bought acrylic panels at Home Depot (our favorite place) and covered the top of cabinets with them – and places toys and boxes on there … Make-shift “bird areas” are the best and cheap to boot.  For strong chewers, natural tree branches will give them an alternative to chewing on furniture (hopefully).  Because parrots will do what they want to do – all we can do is provide opportunities for them to do what they are designed to do by nature  – chew, play and be messy, which takes us to the next point …

        Parrots are messy!

        By nature, birds will drop food to the floor. In the wild, there are huge ecological benefits for them to do so.

        Some plants heavily rely on birds to disperse their seeds so that new plants can grow away from the parent plant. If it weren’t for the seed dispersal by birds and some mammals, new plants would grow so close to the parent plant that, eventually, there wouldn’t be any space for the root systems to expand. The plants would not be able to survive. Birds carry seeds away and drop them in other areas, where there is plenty of space for the seeds to grow into trees or bushes.   This will also benefit the birds as they will have more plants to feed on in the future in the area, they reside in.

        I was hoping that one day my parrots would understand that no tree will ever grow out of the dropped food — but that is wishful thinking. It “ain’t” going to happen!

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          So next time when you see them do that, understand that this behavior is innate.  You really can’t change that.  Look at the bright side – you will benefit from the exercise associated with cleaning up after them.  However, you can make the clean-up easier by putting the feeding dishes in an area that is easy to clean. Lately, there have been developed bird feeders that also make it more difficult for birds to drop foods to the floor, like the Tidy Seed Bird Feeder. But that is just all one can do about it.

          Potty training: I am generally not in favor of potty training; particularly if done to the extreme (pooping only on command when outside the cage). It is simply not healthy for birds to stop themselves from defecating. Training birds to “hold it in” can lead to serious health problems, such as cloacal prolapse, as the feces builds up inside the digestive system and puts pressure on the internal organs as the droppings build up inside. Occasionally, a bird may incur life-threatening kidney damage waiting for that verbal command. One known death as a result has been documented. God knows how many people never realized why their pet bird died. It is a dangerous practice.

          However, what does work is identify the areas your parrot usually likes to poop and place newspaper (or packaging paper / newsprint) underneath it. It is simple enough to remove it when soiled. Bird owners get to know their pets. For example, I know that as soon as I let my pet bird out in the morning, he will do his “big” business. So, I hold him over a trash can; he does what he needs to do (usually within seconds) and then I let him go wherever he wants.. We also get to know the signs of a pet bird preparing to poop (they will crouch down, for example). When a bird owner sees that, they quickly hold the pet bird over a trash can (for example) and the pet bird will relieve himself without making a mess.

          It is also possible to train parrots to poop in a designated area – via positive reinforcement (rewarding desired behavior).

          Parrots are loud

          They use their voices to communicate with their flock.   You can teach some of them to talk in a human voice, and if you do that, they are less likely to annoy you when voicing – but again that is ALL you can do. Whispering when they are calling, may also prompt them to stop, as they are trying to hear your voice … Some talking parrots that don’t have other birds around often end up using talking as their primary way of communicating. Our African Grey doesn’t know what other African Greys sound like — I don’t remember when he spoke “African Grey” the last time. He usually talks in our voices words that he hears a lot, or he meows (yes, we have a cat).

          Shouting at them when they are noisy will only make things worse – because now you are TRAINING them to be noisy.  They are happy about any attention – even bad one.  Anything is better than being ignored – in their point of view.  So your shouting, waving your arms around – your face turning red in anger.  Hey, as far as most parrots are concerned, this is a great show!   The more sensitive parrots are likely to feel threatened and terrified — and are likely to develop behavioral problems (including biting, feather plucking, phobias, excessive screaming, etc.) as a result. Whatever the effect is, it won’t be the intended one.

          Biting Parrots

          Can I teach my birds tricks?

          Yes, you can and many do – but, unlike dogs who learn things because they want to please their masters, birds only learn what they want to – either because their human teacher makes it fun or they know it is followed up with a reward. This could be a treat or some affectionate moments with their owner – the personality of parrots differ and what motivates one, may not motivate the other. Mind you favorite treats will ALWAYS do the trick.

          So next time you get angry at your pet — think how you can avoid this situation from reoccurring — this usually entails:

          • Accept that some items will be chewed on (unless you cover them up or remove them). Some repairs / restorations will have to be made in our house when we move out — but that is something we have already accepted as part of parrot ownership.
          • Provide fun bird areas throughout the house that he will want to spend time on — with lots of toys … Place them in areas you noticed your parrot likes to spend his time — or else, he will simply choose his own “bird area” – which could a couch or cabinet.
          • If your parrot lands on something that you don’t want him to – see if there is a reason why he does that. For example, our African Grey would perch on one particular lamp that gave him a perfect view to the guest corridor — so that he could “keep an eye” on those strangers. He would only do that when we were having visitors. He would otherwise never land on that lamp. So we placed a movable perch there (moving it even closer to the corridor, so that he could have an even better view of what was going on there), and made this his “good boy” perch. Whenever he landed on it, we would say” Good Boooooy”, lavishly praise him and give him a treat. He now likes to go on there instead. Alternatively, place something there that scares him — some “bird repellants” may do the trick. But that usually only works for a while. Those birds are smart. They eventually figure it out …

          Remove items that you don’t want your parrot to play with (destroy) – or that are not safe for your pet (please refer to “bird proofing your home.)”

          Develop a Relationship

          As you get to know your pet parrot, you will also be able to anticipate problems and once you do that, you can find the solution, which may entail removing or rearranging furniture, or placing a thick blanket over heavy items that your pet may like to sit and chew on.

          Over time those committed to their pet birds will work out the “kinks” and will be able to enjoy their pet parrots for the incredible beings they truly are …

          When not to get a pet parrot

          The biggest and probably insurmountable problem occurs if not all family members are committed to this new family member. Their constant shouting: “Shut that darn bird up!” will only make the situation worse for all – including for the bird.

          They will get upset about the changes necessary to keep the parrot and all your valuables safe. This will put stress on the parrot-loving person who wanted a parrot to begin with. Eventually, they will get disillusioned and may even hold the negative atmosphere against the pet parrot, resulting in neglect and potentially even abuse.

          In the end, it’s the parrot that suffers as he or she is likely to develop serious behavioral issues and ends up unwanted by everyone, including its previously so enthusiastic owners.

          That’s why it is so important — EVERYBODY in the household has to want this pet and has to be committed to making any changes to the home that are necessary to reduce conflict and keep the pet bird safe.

          If not everybody is on-board, please don’t bring a parrot into your home, but enjoy them in their natural habitat or when visiting zoos.

          Those of us who are extremely “house-proud” – with carefully selected valuable furnishings, fabrics, art work, etc., – would not be happy about the abuse the household items will undoubtedly go through when a pet parrot is around (the larger the parrot – the more damage they will do).

          It is possible to keep the birds in a designated room, maybe a sunroom or outside enclosure. But if this isn’t possible, and you are very concerned about damage to your household furnishings / items, a parrot may not be the right pet for you.

          As part of this journey: Next time you are angry — understand that the solution lies with you — not with your pet parrot.

          By Sibylle Johnsoneb

          If you are STILL considering parrots as pets, please visit the following websites for information:

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