What Your Parrot Wants You to Know to Embrace their True Nature
Parrots aren’t complicated. They’re just a lot of work, and misleading beliefs make the work harder. Stories and absolutes with qualifiers like, “I’ve been breeding macaws for forty years! You’re wrong.” Qualifying statements of grandeur that exhaust the senses because of one irrefutable truth. No one knows your life, lifestyle, location, income, beliefs, intelligence, or your parrot, like you do. No one.
Parrot people are emotionally based humans wanting connection and nurturing in their lives. Parrots are perfect for us quiet ones. Quiet ones have a harder time standing ground. So dedicated are we parrot lovers. The problem starts when we doubt what is right in front of us. Our bird, happy, healthy, and loving. Also playing inside a happy hut that a 40-year veteran breeder says will kill your bird. Your parrot has never chewed the hut. In seven years. Your bird isn’t destructive in that way. Your bird prefers the quiet spot and takes an hour nap in his hut every day. Ignoring it for the rest of his schedule. But now, you question yourself, and your bird. Which is unnecessary on all levels.
The thing about myths (and legends) is that the truth sits in the middle. And each of us and our parrots fit somewhere in that middle. The better our relationships with our parrots, the easier it is to find our true middles, and thrive there without stress or struggle. Humans love drama almost as much as parrots. The difference is parrots aren’t looking to be an authority figure in a moment. The Id and Ego of humans create a claptrap of mind numbing chatter unrelated to our reality.
Myths, legends, and other mind-numbing chatter about parrots:
- Don’t let your parrot sit on your head or shoulder. They are trying to dominate you. This one is dying out, thankfully. But it persists in the large bird arenas and groups. You’re not dominated. You’re now a tree. Stand still, your parrot is trying to get a good view of things from up there and think about those things. Quit wiggling.
- Don’t let a parrot flock call freely. They’ll build bad habits of screaming. Flock calling is communication. Parrots communicate constantly with a flock. Sounds from lulling mutters all the way to paint peeling 140 decibel opinions. It’s what parrots do. There are no bad habits, there is only you not answering the call. Try not answering a 5-year-old child after they’ve breathlessly expressed their intrigue. You can try hiding in the bathroom. It’s not going to work. Seeking a relationship of communication can not be a bad habit. Your bird wants a conversation. All good friendships need good conversation. Answer the call.
- Show your bird you are “alpha”. You can’t train a parrot if it doesn’t respect you. This one never works for one reason. There are no alpha birds in a flock. The entire idea doesn’t make their radar. What you’re doing is showing your parrot you are untrustworthy, and threatening. Your motivations aren’t about the whole, just about yourself. There is no training a companion parrot. There is only creating a trust that feeds the need for both of you to work together, building the rules in your lifestyle. A parrot isn’t looking for a boss. They’re looking for a partner. Even if you’re confused.
- Conservative wing clips are a great way to train a parrot. They can’t fly away. Wing clips aren’t a guarantee they won’t try to fly. Conservative wing clips are a great way to control a bird until their wing feathers molt to a new set. It’s also a great way to negatively affect personality and overall lifetime health. Done poorly, they stand the chance of injury in falling. In the chance they get out into the world, they have no chances to escape attacks. Feral cats, hawks, owls, and yes, blue jays if they’ve a mind and the angst, will all find a struggling to fly parrot a target.
- Clicker training parrot tricks require depriving food to be used as training treats later. This is old, but yet still exists inside some of the instruction books with clickers found online. Deprive your parrot of foods when they’re hungry. That’ll let them know you are untrustworthy. Feed your parrot normally always. Use one high value item as a training treat, only. Energy to learn requires food energy. Let’s agree here, never ever deprive your bird of meals for any reason outside of a veterinarians’ instruction. And when transitioning your parrot to new foods, never think, “Oh, he’ll eat it when he gets hungry enough.” That’s cruel. And counterintuitive for a parrot. Parrots will starve themselves before eating food that is unknown. Transitioning by introducing the new item as a new normal option takes time. It’s not a food swap. It’s a food option along with their familiar fair.
- When your bird bites you, it’s personal. They don’t like you. Don’t take a bite personal. Your parrot didn’t. It’s not you, it’s what you are doing, wearing, saying, carrying, smelling like, or your tone. That’s about it. A beak is a tool for communication. A parrot’s last resort. You missed the signals that came before. Before worrying about whether your bird can talk, worry about being able to understand their body language.
- Unweaned parrots are what you want to bond and train to be cuddly. Unweaned parrots are best left to their parents to wean. This myth was and is a sales pitch. All parrots are capable of a trusting relationship with a human, no matter their age. No matter when you met them. No matter where you met them. It isn’t the parrot’s responsibility to prove it’s intents. It is the human’s.
- Flooding (toweling and holding your parrot while petting until they stop fighting you) trains your bird to be tame fast. Flooding is assault. Some birds exhaust themselves in fear, others stress to the point of illness. Stockholm syndrome comes to mind. It’s a shitty way of going about introducing yourself to a Being that weighs grams vs your hundred plus pounds of self. Cheat a relationship, they’ll pay the price. It also calls to question what a relationship means to the person who is willing to force themselves onto another.
- Time outs in a cage are the best way to show your parrot they are being bad. Consequences are better than redirection. Communication is better than rejection. Put a parrot in their cage and walk away after a negative event. You’ve created no trust, no conversation, no optional choices. They will decide that being put in their cage is worth the cost of whatever they can’t have. You gave them no choice. And you just trained your parrot to believe that you are unreliable.
Parrots aren’t complicated. Parrots are work. They are loud, demanding, intelligent, confident, humorous, expensive, savvy, calculating flying Beings, and they are more than capable of out-thinking any of us. Try to keep up. Among other things.