Speaking of Parrot Hormones - Part 4
Part 3 of this Series can be found here.
- Materials and Foods
Available food and nesting materials affect nesting behavior in all birds; hook-billed, soft-billed, predator and song. There's a direct correlation between the number of necessary materials at the ready and how wild birds will conduct their mating, nesting, and family building.
Mammals of all sorts are affected by food sources and material sources. Abundant locations providing all the needs nearby are locations filled with flocks. Foods for energy and egg production with materials to create safe nesting environments flip the switch. It is that simple for companion parrots.
What do we do with that idea?
I am not a fan of modifying foods flippantly. I'm not a real fan of transitioning parrots to a pure pellet-based diet either. Balance and health come from balance and healthy choices. If your parrot is sharing good food with you while eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, healthy nuts, seeds, and some pellets (10%) of the whole, you've got great balance. If you have yearly blood panel draws to see the literal results, and they are good, you've got great balance.
- Do not utilize feeding changes to influence perceived hormone issues. Healthy feeding is the front line to healthcare. And modifying something that isn't broke to fix something else that really isn't broke, just inconvenient, won't work.
- Materials send messages as well. Nesting, shredding, and enclosures all express an available safe place. If your companion parrot is enjoying these things, and finds balanced calm from them, please don't remove all of them due to perceived hormonal issues. You've balance in your flock.
- It's never a good thing to throw off balance for the short-term annoyance. It's the balance that will help rectify that miscommunication.
The real problem with perceived hormone issues isn't the hormones at all. It's the unreasonable expectation that we can eliminate something that is intrinsically part of our companion. Hormone flux is a natural state and phase in the life cycle of a healthy, aging companion parrot.
Parrots are affected by a myriad of influences. Some of those we may not even be aware of directly.
- Direct communication. Being informed on comings and goings. Parrots need information about their flock family consistently.
- Biting, lunging, possessiveness, random nipping, dog chasing, digging, shredding, cage defensiveness. It's easy to point a finger at the calendar and the parrot and say, "Oh! They're hormonal!" and immediately start taking away things to "Get them to stop". Which adds to the problem, because that removal of food or items may send a completely different message to your companion parrot.
Utilizing food or the removal of food to influence your parrot's behavior sends a clear message. You, their flock leader, will use their needs to control them. You are literally telling your companion trust isn't the basis, performance is the foundation. Food material is not a tool for control. It is a direct line of communication.
There are hormonal issues for specific parrots, like cockatoos, that can literally threaten their life. That is not what we are discussing here. That is extreme mental and physical breakdown of one of the most emotional, cognitive and empathetic of the great parrots. These wonderful companions require a complete re-balancing with the help of an avian vet.
Our conversation over these last few articles revolves around companions that "act up" seasonally or cyclically. The real answer to it all is the simplest. When they act out of balance it is up to us to keep the balance to everything around them. We must defend their lifestyle and continue through the issues. Modify by observation.
These times we may lose our companion to their own need to be left alone. It's hard to trust that choice. Our once loving, cuddly boisterous bird is now irritated, grouchy, and wants nothing to do with any one or thing. Our companions may fight and require separation. That is modification by observation. Keep the balanced consistent lifestyle around that change.
Haven't we all had one of those days or periods in our own lives where we just weren't ourselves? Our friends and family gave us space. They checked in on us, but they did not change how they love us, we still felt their reach and care. They remained balanced and consistent while we were not.
AviCalm and products of that nature may work. I have heard stories of success. Behaviorist described modification may work, I have heard stories of success. But before you begin changing, modifying, reacting and controlling a perceived issue, allow some time for your companion to be this way inside their consistent unchanging normal balanced lifestyle as they know it. Give them a chance to communicate to you. And then listen. Leaving expectation out of the conversation will lead to stronger communication and a better understanding of your companion.
We can't get all of this right, and we can't control it all either. A relationship is a give and take, a balanced compromise emotionally. We have to trust our companions sometimes, as we ask them to trust us.
When Jimmie, my Yellow-Naped Amazon starts getting what I perceive to be hormonal, he becomes completely awake and aware of his surroundings on the one hand, yet obviously unaware of danger on the other. He is curious. He wants to be with me more. He follows Maradona Roco, a male Mealy Amazon, around. He takes chances. Risks fights. Is often totally on edge and nervy. I need to be careful when what he may perceive as being too close to other parrots because he may intervene by Landing on me and biting to stop me, to drive me away. It is a very intense time. And loud. Maradona Roco, Jimmie and Coco, the small sulfur-crested Cockatoo can get very loud. This ‚hormonal‘ period seems very pronounced in the three parrots above. The Cockatiels, the Lovebirds, the Greys and Laura-Lei, the female Yellow-Fronted Amazon lady seem to have an easier time of it.
My Parrots are aged from 25 – 45 years. The others are from 5 – 8 years old.
Carol Buess on