|ARE YOU PREPARING YOUR BIRD FOR THE FUTURE?
by Bonnie Kenk
||Under the right conditions, i.e., good nutrition, good lighting, daily environmental and foraging activities and lots of love, parrots are very long-lived creatures. Let’s face it, unless you got your bird when you were a small child, it will probably outlive you. Are you preparing your bird now to live in someone else’s home?
PEAC frequently takes in birds that enter our foster flock following the death of their owner. Some of these birds adapt readily to life in a new home if their former owner prepared the bird with the necessary skills to successfully transition to a new home. Successful skills include, stepping up on a hand/stick/towel, learning independent play, learning to remain on a play top or play tree, and acceptable levels of vocalization among other behaviors.
One bird in particular prompted this article. He lived with someone for 14 years. In his 15th year of life, he was sold to a family with small children. Because he wasn’t properly prepared to live in a new home, he ended up biting one of the children and eventually was turned over to PEAC. This bird had been allowed to have the run of his house for the first 14 years. He was extremely territorial around his cage and would only come out on his own. Any hand placed in or near the cage while he was in it was promptly bitten.
His first owner wrote 12 pages of instructions on his likes and dislikes. Her instructions were almost impossible to duplicate. Her lifestyle was such that it was conducive to his “needs.” Most people could not provide for him in the manner he was accustomed to and he learned to bite and scream incessantly for attention.
Parrots thrive when taught basic life skills using positive reinforcement training techniques. Tame, hand raised parrots retain all the wild instincts and behaviors of their free cousins as even todays parrot babies are likely less than 3 generations from wild caught birds. As their stewards, it’s our responsibility to teach them the skills to live successfully in our homes. Having a daily routine is helpful in teaching your bird the limits of daily life and what to expect at certain times of the day. This doesn’t mean you need or should do each daily activity at exactly the same time each day. It’s not wise to structure your day around your bird. Sure, you always need to attend to his needs, which include time out of his cage with his human(s). Just don’t do it according to a strict time schedule. Birds need consistency, not predictability. Prepare him for the time when you’re no longer around and he has to cope with life with another human. If you do this now, his transition to another home will be oh so much easier.
It is a good breeder’s responsibility to properly socialize baby parrots in order to prepare them for life in our homes. It is a parent’s responsibility to prepare human children for life as adults. And it is our responsibility to prepare our parrots for life without us.