Baby Indian Ringneck Parakeet asking for food.

The Power of Undivided Attention

The Power of Undivided Attention

I remember being the first kid with a color TV in town. I remember our Atari and PONG gaming. I remember thinking what a great idea! I also remember that was when things changed in my family and with my friends. Not necessarily in a bad way, it just all changed. We ate dinner a little faster to go watch a TV show. Which cut short all our stories of our days we would share. My sisters and I didn't go outside, we fought over the two controllers of the Atari. Three girls divided by two controllers equals a lot of whining.

Most humans understand, if not embrace, the new divided attention of humanity. Who hasn't had a walking conversation while checking a cellphone? Some choose the virtual reality of gaming to reality itself. Slicing up their days by 8-hour patches of virtual combat or movie themed war. We may sit in the same room with the gamers, but in the end, we are alone. Their attention is divided, and they aren't even aware of that division. We get together only to have some visitors scrolling their cellphone while talking with us. They are with us, but not totally.

Our new society of divided attention is normal to humans.

Personally, I don't like it. I have been known to ignore my phone or leave it behind. I don't do selfies and I don't carry it in my hand when out and about. It's for communication needs. And those needs are pretty strict. Ask my kids.

"WHY DON'T YOU ANSWER YOUR PHONE!?!" I get that a lot. 

Companion Parrots do not understand divided attention. For a companion, it is frustrating, and impossible to understand. Parrots do not live a life of undivided attention. They are fully connected and fully aware of themselves, their world and those they love. Our parrots murder our cellphones, controllers, and other button ladened communication devices, keyboards, and computer mouse for a reason. It divides our attention, and they know it. Why should they appreciate that? It is the thing that removes the communication they thrive on.

There is no auto pilot for parrots. There is no halfhearted living with a companion parrot. There is no parrot that is a pet. Companion parrots are not complicated. Parrots are hard. They are hard because parrots do not rationalize one thing in their lives. And they certainly won't understand why you've left to talk on a cellphone. Which is why when that cell rings, your bird may start screaming. This isn't a game, it's an attempt to stop the divided attention.

Snickers our scarlet macaw has a fabulous technique when we think we are getting away with serving him divided attention. He flies at the bathroom door off the main bird room, lands as hard and loud as he can, and hangs off the frame with one foot. He chews on the frame, climbs on the door with the loose foot and looks at us. Message received Snickers!

Yes, we as the humans are pulled in all directions. Some directions are out of our control. Some because we just want that direction. But we didn't buy a pet when we brought home our parrots. We made a lifestyle choice. And this lifestyle REQUIRES practicing undivided attention with our birds. It's no different than a 3-year-old child who has gotten really good at running and controlling their physical choices. You can't successfully share your life with a fully mobile and choice driven toddler utilizing divided attention. You can't build a successful relationship either. Even if the Christmas cellphone commercials tell you otherwise.

When you are with your companions, be with your companions. Quality of time is more important that quantity. A parrot is in the here and now. They place the same value on five minutes well spent as 15 minutes well spent. It's a small statement that yields huge success. Ask your companions to join in your reality.

We all need less virtual and more reality.

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


  • My Yellow Naped Amazon, Jimmie has trained me well: he attacks phones and bites me to save me from the enemy (drop that thing and run!)

    Carol Buess on

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