Blue and gold macaw playing with toys on top of a macaw cage.

How to Reason with a Parrot

How to Reason with a Parrot

There's no benefit to presenting your case as a whole. The reasons you choose to ask for a certain cooperation is irrelevant to them. Parrots don't look for reasons about the action. They look for reasons why you're presenting the request at all. It's not the what, it's the why.
Why should I step up? Where are we going? Why should I take that food/toy/branch/attitude from you? What happens then?

Parrots need information first.

We, the human, want our immediate results. Then we move onto the after affects. Unlike Tarzan, we're only interested in the next vine. But parrots, they extrapolate, categorize, and remember what happened the last time. They are looking to the edge of the rain forest where that last vine ends. Last time.
And it better not be somewhere they aren't interested in. Trick a parrot once. That trick will not play, again. Not smoothly.

Don't explain your actions. Let your actions be the explanation.

  • Butters, my big blue, gold, and attitude macaw.  She's a routine seeking girl. I dare not break the rules of any routine for expedience's sake. Obfuscation is a lie. She has zero tolerances for lies.
  • Snickers, dad's best friend. Male scarlet macaw, extraordinaire. If he sees any indication of any idea of any possibility of Butters going in a cage, he will become unobtanium. Conversely, if dad walks up to this big red chicken explaining himself, Snickers will hear dad out and step up and into a cage. "Hey, bud. You are such a good boy. I have to go out into the garage for a while. You have to go in your cage. I can't leave you out because you'll be a dickhead to your mom." Yes, that's one quote of many explanations. Snickers has accepted the fact that he will be in a cage if dad goes somewhere because he will be a jerk to me. He made that trade. He prefers keeping the option of intimidating me. And he'll pay for it in full when dad leaves. He intentionally decided to be a dickhead stuck in a giant cage.
  • Butters observing the caging, having discussed Snickers' decision to be a dickhead at will toward me, and the resulting caging at times, decides she'll also pay ahead of schedule. If Snickers is caged. Butters stays on top of his cage, leaving only for food and water bowls on tree stands. Then returning promptly. She's proven she does not need caging when we are doing other things in the house. I can go upstairs to write. Dad out into the garage for woodworking. She parks it. On purpose. Deciding to trade parking for playing. Fair enough. She explained herself.

In stable unstable human society, motivations are greyed out. For a human to look at another human and say, "I do not want to hear or see you now." followed by walking away, is unheard of outside kindergarten or argument.

In a flock of parrots, they wouldn't bother with anything but flying away. The other parrots left behind would know the simple fact. Actions have spoken explanations inside the flock. Do not take it personally and forage on.

Don't take it personal.

Not taking it personally is the key for a human inside a companion parrot relationship. Whether a bite or a flight, your parrot doesn't feel hatred as defined by a human. Snickers doesn't hate me. Even though he muscles me at most opportunities. It's not hate. It is a male scarlet doing what they do. Choosing territory followed by defining who gets in that territory. He's a bouncer and I'm not invited to his rave. I do not take this personally.

Not taking it personally is not an easy skillset for a human. Not caring what other species think is a parrot's finest.

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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