If I had to put it bluntly, I’d say that
keeping parrots as companions in captivity is similar to trying to
pound a square peg through a round hole.
The fact that they do as well as they do is testimony more
to their adaptability than it is to our husbandry efforts.
Still undomesticated, parrots evolved to fly miles every
day, have unlimited social contacts with other flock members,
forage for food of their own choosing, bathe in a manner and spot
of their own choosing, remain active throughout the day shredding
plant materials, and mate and raise their own young.
Instead, even in the most benevolent of homes, this same
parrot remains for hours a day inside a cage, eats food of our
choosing served at times convenient for us, is dependent for
stimulation and activity upon us, is unable to breed and rear
young, and receives limited social interaction.
All that said, however, I am not against keeping parrots as
companions in captivity. That
already is a “done deal,” as they say.
Since keeping companion parrots is a reality that is
unlikely to change, we must instead do so as consciously as
possible, with a deep awareness of exactly what it is we are
asking of them. Life
in captivity always carries a measure of stress with it for our
companion parrots, and the wise parrot owner both acknowledges
this and works to implement whatever methods are possible to
alleviate any stress to their parrots that results from the
conditions of living in captivity.
David McCluggage, DVM writes in Holistic
Care for Birds, “We know from practical experience and from
scientific research that emotions affect the state of an
animal’s health, whether the animal is a human being or a bird.
The more intelligent an animal is, the keener its
perception of danger and the greater its stress.”
There is little doubt that many of the conditions in our
homes create stress for our parrots.
These include erratic feeding schedules, boring or
non-nutritive food choices, the unpredictable behavior of
children, placement of the cage in an “exposed” spot in the
home, the temperature in the home, and many others.
Many parrot owners, so used to ignoring their own stress
levels out of necessity in our jumbled and fast-paced world, often
do not recognize signs of stress in their birds. Many of us tend
to shrug off our own feelings of fear or emotional discomfort.
Usually, we have been taught as children to do so. If this is the
case, and we are not in touch with our own anxiety or feelings of
stress, then we need to train ourselves to look for and honor
signs of anxiety in our parrots, and take them seriously.
It is a valuable exercise to spend a period of two to three
weeks, observing your parrot as if you were taking a video of his
actions. In other words, strive for objectivity. Get acquainted
with what his body language looks like when he's startled or
scared. With many species, the feathers will be held tightly in
toward the body, the neck will elongate, and he may look rather
"wide-eyed." Anxiety in African Greys is often
demonstrated by dancing from one leg to the other while biting the
toenails of the elevated foot, or by twisting of the head in a
figure-eight motion while seeming to look upward.
Generalized anxiety or stress often results in lack of
play, fewer vocalizations, and sometimes-decreased food intake.
Extreme anxiety will result in the more obvious behaviors of
feather picking or phobia.
On the other hand, a relaxed, happy parrot will vocalize
frequently, eat hungrily, preen normally and find ways to invite
social contact with us. “Happiness behaviors” will also be
include tail wags, stretches that include the wing and leg on one
side of the body stretching at the same time, fluffed head
feathers, and wings raised together in unison as a greeting.
During your period of observation, make note of any
incidents that startle him or cause your parrot to look afraid or
anxious. Once you have a list of situations in which you have
observed fear or anxiety, then changes should be made accordingly.
For example, if he appears wary when visitors get too close to his
cage, then any future guests will need to be instructed to remain
a certain distance away until the parrot gets to know them better
through repeated visits. It
is important to socialize a parrot to new people, but this should
be done gradually and with sensitivity, if the bird happens to
have a shy or timid nature.
If his cage is near a stairway or a doorway where people
"appear out of nowhere," then his cage should be moved
to a quieter location, while still located in the living area so
that he can be near his human “flock.” If this is not possible, then family members will need to
learn to stop just outside of the room and verbally announce their
impending entrance, so that he is not abruptly startled when
people appear near his cage.
If a friend comes over who is wearing a hat that scares the
bird, you will ask him to remove his hat. In other words, the
owner must become a student of the young parrot’s body language
and do whatever it takes to modify the environment or situations
in order to insure greater comfort for him.
The owner must also learn to anticipate and avoid any new
situation or object that is likely to scare the bird.
It is predictable that many parrots will find at least many
of the following to elicit fear:
Anything that seems to appear out of nowhere,
especially from above.
Sticks, ropes, brooms, ladders, hoses
Unbroken or extended eye contact
A new fingernail or hair color, especially if this
is a bright shade
Costumes or unusual clothing
Hats or strange headgear
New over-head track lighting or large pictures
recently hung on the wall
Shaking out blankets, rugs or other large pieces of
Loud noises from construction equipment, remodeling
activities or fireworks
Since the bird will spend the majority of his time in his
cage, the importance of correct placement can not be overstated.
As indicated above, it should not be in any very busy traffic
pattern, although it should remain in the living area.
For most parrots, it should not be located in front of a
window, either. Unexpected things happen outside of windows, and
raptors will stare at parrots through windows from the outside.
If the cage is next to a window or sliding glass doorway,
perhaps it can be shifted a little to either the left or the right
so that at least half of the cage is against the wall. If the
latter is not an option, than a light colored sheet can be used to
cover about 1/3 of the cage and clamped in place so that the
parrot has a place to go to retreat if feeling threatened or
In addition to considerate cage placement and
protection from things known to frighten parrots, the following
measures can reduce stress for captive parrots as well.
some time actively teaching him something. This too will serve
to reduce his overall anxiety.
Clicker training is an excellent idea.
This is fun for both owner and parrot, and will help to
teach him to focus his attention. Often, birds that startle
easily have difficulty focusing clearly on tasks for very
long, so distracted are they by their own anxiety and
perceived need to be "watchful" at all times.
Clickers can be ordered from www.clickertraining.com.
Basic information about clicker training, as well as specifics
about how to begin, will also be found at that website.
Another site with great information is www.clickingwithbirds.com.
This website invites parrot owners to join an Internet
discussion list that concerns itself with clicker training for
parrots specifically. In
addition, the Good Bird
Magazine, available from www.goodbirdinc.com
is a wealth of information and idea for training parrots.
Once you have completed the initial steps to the practice
of clicker training, you can
teach your parrot many things, such as to retrieve a ball,
climb a ladder, or push a cart.
Clicker training can even be used to teach a parrot to play
with toys, or to desensitize him
to a new toy, since the sound of the clicker delivers
immediate reinforcement. These
short sessions will use up physical and emotional energy,
which will relax him and create
in him a feeling of success and accomplishment...feelings
which have often been
extinguished or never fully developed in hand-reared
him to some piece of soothing music. I recommend using Stephen
Halpern's Spectrum Suite
for this. This idea is based upon techniques for self-hypnosis
and meditation in humans. Simply described, if I meditate for
20 minutes every day to a particular piece of soothing music,
then after a few months all I will need to do is to hear the
music to experience again the feelings of relaxation and
peacefulness usually felt during and after meditation.
This works just as well for parrots. Once you have the
piece of music, watch for times
when your parrot is resting and relaxed and put the music
on to play. Also play it when
you put him to bed at night. Eventually, he will be
"patterned" to relax every time he
hears this same music. You can then use it during times of
high stress, such as before and after a trip to the vet, if you must
have any workmen come into your home for repairs, or
during the holidays when stress levels in homes are higher
poor diet will result in generalized stress.
Although arguments abound about proper nutrition for
parrots, it is generally accepted that parrots thrive best on
a wide variety of healthful foods, and that no one food (such
as a seed mix or pellets) should comprise the entire diet.
Improving the diet is essential to reducing stress in
many cases where the bird has often developed a deficiency of
essential fatty acids and may also not be getting enough high
quality complete protein. Increase the amount of fresh, raw
foods he gets to 30% of the diet or more.
The darker the color of the vegetable or fruit, the
more nutritional value it contains.
If your parrot will not eat fresh vegetables and greens,
leave his dish of seed or pellets
in the cage for now, but also provide him twice a day with
a chopped salad of fresh, raw
foods, into which additional seed has been mixed.
In time, once he has gotten used to the
appearance of the fresh mix, he will begin to forage
through that mix for the seed it
contains. Once this begins to occur, the dish of seed can be removed
from the cage. Initially,
the fresh mix may contain 50% seed to prevent him from getting too
he learns to also eat the fresh vegetables and other items
this mix contains. As
acceptance grows, the amount of seed should be decreased to
between 5% and 10%.
I have no argument with the value of a quality pellet, and
believe that most parrots
should enjoy them in their diet.
However, pellets are devoid of certain classes of
valuable nutrients, such as essential fatty acids and
enzymes, and should not comprise the
whole diet. Fresh
greens, vegetables, seeds and nuts are excellent sources for
It is also important to make sure that a source for
complete protein is provided in a
form the parrot will consume.
Pellets are a good source of protein.
legumes and grains can be served in combination and will
provide a complete blend of amino
acids, the building blocks of protein.
Or, small amounts of low-fat cheese,
scrambled eggs, or well-cooked organic chicken or fish can
cases where a parrot exhibits chronic stress, it may also be
beneficial to obtain digestive enzymes and sprinkle these on
his food. A good product sold for use with birds is Prozymes.
available from a variety of mail-order sources. Some parrots
simply do not absorb nutrients from their diets as well as
others do, and this can lead to increased nervousness and poor
feather quality. Enzymes are extremely important for good
emotional and physical health, and the provision of such a
supplement can increase nutrient absorption, resulting in
better all around health.
African Greys, Senegals and Jardine’s Parrots who either
feather pick or exhibit chronic stress can be provided with an
essential fatty acid oil supplement once or twice a day. You
can give him between three and six drops twice a day. Adequate
essential fatty acids are not only necessary for good plumage,
but are needed for optimal brain function. Each nerve cell in
the brain is covered with a myelin sheath, which is composed
of essential fatty acids. It's possible that some birds have a
higher need than others do for these nutrients. This is
especially true of African Greys, who eat the fruits of the
oil palm in the wild, which are especially high in essential
fatty acids. Senegals and Jardine’s Parrots also enjoy food
sources in the wild, which are similarly high in fat.
This type of supplement can be found in the health food
store refrigerator section. It can be placed on a small square of bread or other
rituals and predictability in every way possible. Parrots love
rituals because they enjoy being able to anticipate with
certainty what is going to happen next. The issue of
predictability is closely related to their innate need as prey
animals to feel safe. In the wild, most things are
predictable. The sun rises and sets without fail.
Even the land dwelling animals in the area will tend to
behave in predictable, cyclic ways...foraging and resting at
certain times of the day.
It is only predators who are unpredictable, appearing
out of nowhere. Thus, for a parrot who has learned to feel
anxiety, any method that you can use to create predictability
will be helpful.
One way to do this is to develop a flock language. Say the
same things to him at
appropriate times. When you feed him, "Are you
hungry?" When you give him water,
"Do you want some fresh water?" When you leave,
"Bye-bye...I'll be right back." The
more you talk to him in context about predictable
happenings, the more secure he will feel. If he hears a noise that startles
him, label it for him and reassure him: "That was just
the gardeners! Bad gardeners! But, you're okay."
Rituals are created between owner and bird as a sort
of "social duet" that forms over time. Bedtime rituals
can be especially reassuring. Here, each night I make warm oatmeal
and go around the room spoon feeding each bird in turn. Then, I
extend to each their own special bedtime “good by” before
covering their cage for the night. My Meyer's Parrot lies on his back in my hand while I scratch
the back of his neck. Then I proclaim he’s the handsomest
Meyer’s without feet I’ve ever seen, place him back on his
perch, and cover him up. As I approach my Blue and Gold Macaw, I
demand dramatically “Give me a kiss!” to which he responds by
clasping a cage bar with his beak so I can deposit a kiss on it.
He then gets a bedtime almond.
My middle-aged male Yellow-naped Amazon receives simply a
very respectful and loving “good night” from a distance. Each
one receives a special bedtime salute, unique to them, and is sung
to as I cover them. It doesn't matter what type of ritual you
develop, just that it's the same every time. This serves to create
a great sense of safety in parrots.
Morning rituals are also important. A parrot should
be greeted each morning upon being uncovered, or awakened, as if
he is a special and important member of the family. This greeting
takes only a minute or two. Never should the morning greeting be
merely perfunctory. If
you carefully observe the people you know who are really great
with parrots, you will see that one reason for their ability has
to do with the fact that they focus solely on the bird,
appreciating every quality as they speak softly to them.
Slow down, really look at your bird as if the rest of the
world didn’t exist and greet him, letting him know that on this
new day, you find him exceptional and valuable.
Include him in as many social family activities as
possible, within the above guidelines of safety. Parrots are
social creatures, and being part of social activities helps to
create a greater sense of safety. You might use a tabletop perch
or a basket and bring him to the table with you during mealtimes.
When you take a shower or get ready in the morning, you can bring
him into the bathroom on a portable perch. Just being in there while you dress will give him some
satisfaction because he will instinctively understand that you are
"preening" and he is being included.
Closely guard your own emotions about him and his
problems. I can't write enough about the empathic nature of
parrots. Often, when a parrot has problems with chronic stress, it
is because the human with whom he lives does not know how to
alleviate his own stress. Parrots
in general, but especially African Greys, know how we feel.
They know when we
are worried. If, when
we interact with them, we allow ourselves to think about problems
and our own stressors instead of focusing on them, the bird will
experience this as a "danger" signal. Parrots in the
wild watch each other closely for any sign that danger is near. So
in tune are they with each other, that an entire flock can turn
direction "on a dime" when flying.
Similarly, they watch us for signs of danger.
Many clients will say to me,
“Oh…but I’m not acting
in the words of Gretel Ehrlich in Intimate
Nature: the Bond between Woman and Animals:
"Animals hold us to what is present, to who we are at the
time. What is obvious to an animal is not the embellishment that
fattens our emotional resumes but what's bedrock and current in
us: aggression, fear, insecurity, happiness or equanimity. Because
they have the ability to read our involuntary tics and scents,
we're transparent to them and thus exposed – we are finally
Thus, since they are so adept at reading
“our involuntary tics and scents,” our own relationships with
them, and their sense of safety will benefit greatly if we can
leave our worries and fears behind when interacting with them.
If you must worry…worry when away from the parrot.
When in his presence and interacting with him, banish those
thoughts and focus on his positive qualities.
to train yourself to get into the habit of "catching him
in the act of being good." If he eats food, praise him.
If he drinks water, praise him. If he preens or plays with a
toy, praise him. If this type of ambient positive attention is
provided consistently, the parrot will receive the consistent
feedback that he needs regarding what is expected of him to be
successful in your home and this too will allow him to relax a
of the most powerful tools for reducing stress in a parrot of
any age, but especially a young bird, is to feed him warm,
soft, nutritious food from a spoon at least once every day.
Most hand-reared parrots were never spoon fed when young,
since the practice of using a syringe is so popular, but they
can learn to enjoy this if the owner is willing to be
persistent about offering it on a nightly basis.
The majority of parrots reared for sale by breeders or pet
stores are weaned too early, in addition to being deprived of the fledging experience.
Early weaning helps to insure
an early sale, which maximizes profits. In order to
accomplish this, the hand-feeder eliminates
feedings according to an arbitrary schedule that will insure that
parrot is weaned as early as possible. The huge problem
with this practice is that hunger and anxiety become closely
linked in the minds of baby parrots.
In the wild, no adult parrot wants a chick to be calling
for food because this attracts the
attention of predators. Babies are fed constantly, rarely ever wanting for food
long. Further, as more breeders allow their pairs to raise their
young through weaning
and fledging, observations accumulate that prove what we
long suspected… that adult
parrots will continue to feed their chicks even after they
are weaned, solely for the purpose
of providing reassurance or nurturing if the chick encounters a
experience as it becomes more independent.
The chick not only does not experience
hunger, but it receives feedings even when it only needs to
be nurtured or reassured.
Contrast this reality with the common rearing practice of
according to a schedule, which can leave a parrot chick
incredibly hungry for hours at a
time, as he learns to manipulate food in order to feed
himself. Further, to
anxiety caused by the hunger that he instinctively
understands to be unnatural, he also
receives no feedings simply for the purpose of reassurance
as he meets the challenges of life
in a pet store or new home. Thus,
hunger and anxiety become inextricably and
forever linked in the mind of the parrot.
This is why so many adult parrots do not eat well when
feeling anxious. In
consulting cases than I care to count, close questioning
reveals a pattern of eating that
results in a hungry bird.
An anxious young parrot will eat enough to keep himself
and maintain his weight, but will not eat enough to reach
satiety, the point that usually brings a greater sense of
relaxation. In some
cases, a young bird weaned through
deprivation weaning techniques will become food
independent, but will have a permanent
behavioral disability as a result.
Whenever circumstances cause anxiety for such a bird, he
eats less than normal. This
results in an edge of hunger, which causes more anxiety,
which results in poorer eating
habits. This is one reason why anxiety in parrots is so difficult to
overcome and the key
can simply be to feed them a supplemental meal by spoon
during more stressful times.
Such feeding not only results
in a full crop of warm food, which results in a decrease
anxiety and greater relaxation, but triggers on
an instinctive level a feeling of being
nurtured and safe.
Owners of any anxious bird should get into the practice of
looking to see if the
parrot’s crop is empty at different times of the day.
This is quite easy to tell.
African Grey, look at the line of the neck as it descends
downward and meets the chest.
If this is a smooth line, then the crop is full enough. If there is an indentation where the neck
meets the spot where the chest begins to swell outward, and this
indentation is there
most of the time in this anxious bird, the implementation
of supplemental feeding should
be considered. Often,
when fed a little warm food, anxiety diminishes to the point
the bird will eat more on his own. Thus, anxiety and stress
can be reduced or eliminated
simply by feeding warm, mushy foods once or twice a day.
A feeding spoon can easily be made by dipping a plastic
spoon into a small pan of
boiling water until the plastic is soft enough that the
sides can be bent upward. Warm
cooked oatmeal is a real favorite. It’s okay to add a
small amount of pure maple syrup
and a little low-fat milk.
While parrots are said to be lactose intolerant, this
amount will do
no harm and seems to be much enjoyed…thereby providing incentive
to the parrot initially
reluctant to enjoy this. Other foods that can be used are Vitamin
A baby foods, such
as sweet potatoes, winter squash, and carrots, or other cooked
cereals. (Baby food cereals should not be used because of the iron
Make sure to cool the mixture to between 108 and 110
degrees Fahrenheit. A cooking
thermometer (a metal probe with a digital or dial read-out
at the top) must always be used
to insure that the delicate tissues of the mouth and crop
are not burned. African birds tend
to be rather fussy about food temperature, and if it drops
below 105 degrees, they may be
less interested. Thus,
when trying to teach a bird to accept this practice, temperature
may be critical.
It can take real patience and persistence on the part of
the owner to teach a previously
weaned bird to enjoy this.
However, it’s worth the work. The value of this practice
captive parrots who are experiencing any difficult
circumstances can not be
triggers a bird to re-experience the comforting feelings it had as
in a manner that nothing else can. If the bird is fed just before
bed, it will insure that
he goes to bed with a crop full of warm nutritious food,
which can in turn encourage
more relaxing sleep.
If your young parrot will not eat pellets, consider
ordering some Harrison's Hand Feeding Formula and spoon feeding this either by itself,
or mixed with the oatmeal, or
some Scenic Diet Hand Weaning Pellets, which are soaked and
fed by hand. This can
invaluable for birds who do not eat well on their own and
will not eat pellets. This
exceptionally high quality formula preparation and can help
to heal any nutritional
deficiencies that exist in parrots who eat poorly or who
have previously eaten a poor diet.
Provision of this formula should be on a temporary basis,
served once a day until the bird
has reached the point where it is eating a nutritious diet
with eagerness, and shows no
reduction of food intake in reaction to stress.
I have two female Greys here, both of whom I raised. I
often use them as an example
of how greatly parrots can differ in their genetic make-up.
They are from the same
parents and were the only two chicks in the clutch. They
are both female, by DNA
testing. They hatched on the same day. They spent the same
number of days with the
parents (four weeks), and were subsequently fed, fledged,
weaned and raised exactly the
same. Marko is the sassiest, most brazen and assertive
female Grey I have ever
encountered. Her idea of fun is to fly over to the pot rack
above the stove when I'm
working in the kitchen and throw the pots and pans down at
me. She laughs as she does so.
If she's not able to do that, she climbs inside a pot and amuses
herself by talking what
I call "echo talk."
Her sister, Chloe, is a stressed out, anxiety-filled bird,
who is much less active. The only
factor that can account for their different personalities is
genetics. I noticed at one
point that Chloe, although not losing weight, often looked
as if her crop were empty. In
addition, I noticed that her plumage did not look as good
as Marko's does, even though
they are fed exactly the same. I began to feed Chloe
Harrison's Hand Feeding Formula once
a day, and it has made a significant difference. She is calmer and
her feathers look
much better. I
intend for this to be a temporary intervention only.
We certainly do not
want to encourage dependence in parrots.
We want them to eat independently.
at certain times, with certain individuals, this is a very
about creating a separate sleeping cage in a spare room.
This cage need not be very big, and often a collapsible
travel cage suffices nicely. It need only include one perch and two small dishes. It
should be covered at night on at least three sides. Put it in
a room where there is either a comfortable chair or a bed for
you. At night, before you put him to bed, feed the warm food
by spoon, and then take him to his sleeping cage and place him
in the cage but leave the door open. Give him a small amount
(one tablespoon) of a good quality seed mix, or other treat
that he really likes. You can read a book or just visit
quietly with him. In other words, the idea is to create a
quiet, reassuring interlude for the two of you. Put on the Spectrum
Suite CD. It doesn't
matter exactly what you do...just that it's a short period
during which you both relax together in a pleasant
Then, begin to take him up there during the day at some
point and do the same thing.
Maybe at those times when you feel yourself like you could
use a 15-minute break. Go
up there and take him with you, again putting him in the
cage for a treat, or even on top
of the cage. Play the music.
Over time, this will pattern him to see this room and his
sleeping cage as a little "oasis." Then, when life is
stressful and lots is going on and you
see him start to look a little tense, you can take him up
there for a short siesta...just an
hour or two in the middle of the day. And, again, play the
music for him. That way, during
the holidays or other really busy times, he will have a respite.
parrot who frequently experiences stress or anxiety may
startle easily and will often break incoming blood feathers
when he falls. These
should not be pulled unless it is absolutely
necessary. By that, I mean that they won't stop bleeding.
Usually, a broken blood feather will stop bleeding on its own
within 15 minutes. If it doesn't, you can gently restrain the bird and
apply pressure right at the point where the feather emerges
from the follicle. Do
not use Kwik Stop, or any other product sold for the
purpose of stopping bleeding. This product is toxic and should
only be used on toenails clipped too short, not on skin or in
instances like this. If, after 15 minutes, you simply can't
get the bleeding stopped, then you may have to pull the
feather or have a vet do it. During this period of
observation, confine the parrot to his cage to keep him quiet.
In cases like this, do consult with your veterinarian while
you observe the bird. If
determined that the feather is not going to stop bleeding,
or there is concern that it might
begin bleeding again, and a veterinary visit is necessary,
then remain calm and reassure
your bird during the trip to the vet.
Many owners make such an experience more
stressful for the bird because of their own fear.
about providing an outdoor aviary for the parrot.
This suggestion often meets with initial rejection by
parrot owners who believe that their weather does not permit
the use of an aviary. However,
this is rarely the case.
A good friend in Ohio installed a beautiful
powder-coated hexagonal aviary for the daytime use of her six
parrots. True, use of this is prevented during much of the
winter, but she has never regretted the purchase for a minute,
so great are the benefits.
I live in a climate that reaches 115 degrees on the hottest
days of summer and extends down
to 22 degrees Fahrenheit during winter.
However, I can usually find a way to use
my outdoor aviaries for at least a part of most days.
Today was quite warm, but my Blue
and Gold Macaw had a wonderful time outdoors from 7:00 am
until noon, when the
temperature had reached 90 degrees and it was time for him
to come in.
Simply put, there is no substitute for fresh air and real
sunshine. Parrots evolved to live outdoors. Even we, as
thoroughly domesticated humans, can feel the difference made
by time spent outdoors. If I sit in front of the computer
all day or even stay indoors, I
accumulate some tension. However, an hour outdoors does
wonders for me. Parrots are
no different. I have several outdoor aviaries and I don't
know what I would do without
them. My birds come inside from a period outdoors so much
more relaxed and happy. I
also think it benefits them greatly to get a respite from
him plenty of stuff to tear up and destroy. He should have a
new "project" every day to alleviate boredom and use
up some of that energy. Rotating
toys is great, but what parrots really need is something new
to destroy every day. I usually give my clients a shopping
list as follows:
Food skewers made by Expandable Habitats, also
available from www.birdsafe.com.
Fun Rings in all three sizes (4", 5" and
7") from Fowl Play Company (www.fowl-play.com).
A vast array of toy making parts from www.featheredkidsnstuff,
www.birdsafe.com and other
Cooked whole artichokes, whole cooked sweet
potatoes, whole pomegranates, large leafy greens, fruit in halves,
whole carrots with the tops on, big chunks of corn on the cob,
etc. - all for skewering.
The food skewers can be used to make either a new toy each
day, using the toy
making parts or a true food skewer for tearing apart. The
Fun Rings can be used in the
same manner. You can put a frozen bagel on one in the
morning and hang it in the cage
before leaving for work. The largest Fun Ring will
accommodate a whole roll of white,
unscented toilet paper for shredding. Toy parts can also be
strung on these. Get creative.
Give him something new to look forward to each day to tear
apart. Again, this will help
him to learn to focus, but will use up some of that energy
that might otherwise go into anxiety.
The usual cautions pertain, however. It can be difficult to
predict what will and will
not frighten a parrot. If any of the above ideas does scare
him, then hang it outside the
cage the first few times so that he can simply get used to
looking at it. Don't worry about
the waste...it will be worth it in the long run.
consider trying Bach Flower Remedies and standard homeopathic
remedies, under informed
guidance. A few homeopathic remedies that can help nervous,
anxious and fearful birds include Chamomilla, Hypericum,
Ignatia, Lycopodium, Pulsatilla, and Silica. However, none of
these remedies should be used without the counsel of someone
who regularly uses them. Both David McCluggage, DVM in
Colorado, who wrote Holistic
Care for Birds, and Joel Murphy, DVM, in Florida, author
of several books, do telephone consultations. These types of
remedies are gentle, have no side effects, and can be
exceptionally effective in such cases.
The vast majority of behavior problems are the
result of poor environment and diet.
Following the suggestions above will go a long way toward
the prevention of problems with your companion parrot, and will
serve to help alleviate any stress-related problems that may
already exist. Our companion parrots deserve our compassion.
We do our best by them when we care for them in a manner
that takes into consideration the difficulty of the task we ask of
them…to join us in our world, learn our language, eat our food,
amuse us, comfort us, and allow us to clutch and hold onto a
measure of their beauty and wildishness.