Part - 1 cover art for the Speaking of Parrot Hormones Essay Series

Speaking of Parrot Hormones - Part 1

Speaking of Parrot Hormones - Part 1

Life in the wild and what that means to parrots, their hormones, and their nesting drives does not exist inside the human dynamic. These are two distinct and powerful lifestyles. When the subject of hormones comes up there is a general tendency to discuss companion parrots and those issues as if they were experiencing the influences felt by wild parrots. They aren't.

The wild parrot's perspective.

  • In the wild, parrots experience the sun, wind, barometric pressures, weather patterns, seasonal UVA/UVB influences, seasonal food source changes, seasonal location changes and seasonal available materials changes.
  • In the wild water sources change location, quality, and abundance.
  • Every element for a wild parrot is in flux at all times. It is the flux of these things, and the meanings behind the sum of the whole that sends the messages that affect the hormones of parrots.
  • Wild parrots do literally have hormonal seasons.

Companion parrots have a different hormonal flux, not necessarily related to seasons. Because our controlled environments, limited unnatural outdoor settings, controlled food and water sources send no strong synergistic messages of flux.

The companion parrot's perspective.

  • The companion parrot lives in abundance of food, water, materials, and controlled temperatures and weather. They are not influenced by nature's messaging.
  • Outdoor aviary living may deliver the sun, but not the changing environmental. In the wild flocks setup in their locations with outreach distances for foraging and safety perimeters. Their daily support and care of their two perimeters delivers messages of changes via fellow migrating animals.
  • Companion parrots live in controlled, consistent, abundant, limited environments that send fewer and weaker messages. Their hormonal seasons are rather wacky due to this lifestyle.
  • A companion parrot's hormones are influenced strongly by diet, darkness/sound at night, materials, age and their fellow flock members.
  • Every parrot has their own genetic makeup for these tendencies as well. Our companions are not domesticated and bring forward instinctual drives. These drives they may not recognize.
  • They will not fully or successfully practice (as their wild cousins) these tendencies since there is no natural context to support their actions or need to act.

It's complicated. They have drives that are not supported or explained by their environments. We think we can influence these drives by applying wild parrot principles to a companion parrot's world. Which is akin to speaking Spanish in Germany. Someone is going to misunderstand some intentions.

What to do for the differences.

  • Companion parrots need 12 hours of dark, year-round. How a lifestyle is managed by the human in the room to get that done varies. Making sure companion parrots get their other 12 hours in the best of the day's sunlight is mandatory.
  • Balance. It's all about balance. In the wild Spring and Fall tend to be the seasons of breeding. Why? Because these are the two seasons least balanced. Spring is bursting at the seams in all directions with food, light, weather and rains. Fall is bursting at the seams in all directions with food changes, light changes, weather and rain changes. These two seasons in parrot native geography offer huge flux and change. Balance is off and hormones switch on.
  • Our companions will express their frustrated instincts inside a consistent abundant lifestyle through aggressive, sexual and nesting actions that seem inappropriate. It's always Spring in a house. Clipped wings, limited room and the controls put in place to keep them safe rarely offer the two-tier distances parrots look for instinctively. 
  • Stop with the fatty nuts and seeds. Fatty foods tell a parrot it's Spring. 
  • Stop with the sugar. Even vegetables have sugars. Carrots have quite a bit of sugar to nutrition ratio. Sugar Snap Peas as well. Sugars energize a hormone flux. Sugars are Spring. Keep grapes to a bare minimum.
  • Age comes into play, finally. Older parrots are past the hormone problems. An old cockatoo may well have the right and ability to eat those nuts, thank you very much. 

This isn't about hormones; this is about the messages being sent to our parrots in a companion's lifestyle. This is about context and a parrot's ability to express their instinctual drives inside a new set of rules. We need to fix the messages they are receiving and the context they are allowed to use to express those instincts.

Read Speaking of Parrot Hormones - Part 2 Here

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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