The Well Trained Human - - - by Pakshi Davies



You parrots have rights, as any living creature does.  One of those rights is to “be a parrot”. 

As the least-tamed, least cuddly bird here at SevenParrots, I was elected by the others to write an article about training, boundaries, and expectations.

Please don't expect us to be little winged people.  We simply don’t see things the way you do, and we don’t want to.  You must allow us to make noise, be messy and destroy things. 

You can help us to channel our natural behaviors so that they don't make you crazy.  You can encourage us to vocalize at times that are more convenient to you.  You can give us cages and place to play that are parrot-proof and easy to clean.  You can help us develop good manners by giving us potty training.  You can channel our destructive tendencies by giving us lots of amusing and varied toys that we can chew, shred and otherwise destroy, and by limiting our access to delicate furniture and things that we shouldn't chew on.  But channeling a behavior is not the same as stopping it.  We will always want to make noise and destroy things - and we just can't help being messy.

You must not require that we perform on que.  You certainly will enjoy us and will often be entertained by us, but if you demand that we dance, sing, talk, or do anything just because you tell us to, you are going to be disappointed.  Parrots do what we want when we want to, and for our own reasons.  Entertaining you just isn't a priority for us.

We deserve clean, fresh food and water.  You should never force us to eat things we don’t like, or that aren’t good for us (sugar is a good example).  You should never offer food to us that you wouldn’t be willing to put in your own mouths.  If it isn’t good enough for you, it’s not good enough for us.

A bird who is eating, preening, sleeping or otherwise occupied with important “birdly business” should not be interrupted or forced to change activities.  You don't get to decide what is "important".  We decide what is important for us, using our own wisdom and eons of instinct.  It’s one thing to invite us to come and play, but quite another to demand it, especially if we're doing something else important.  You risk a nasty nip for your bad manners – and you'll deserve it.

We should not be forced to associate with people that we have taken a dislike to.  I’m not talking about family members (where even we parrots must learn to be tolerant).  I’m talking about “Uncle Joe” who visits occasionally, talks too loud and likes to poke his fingers into Polly’s cage.  If Polly doesn’t like Uncle Joe, you need to find ways to distract Uncle Joe and not force Polly to defend herself (which she will do if necessary).

We birds are very sensitive to routine.  Once you start a routine involving us, it’s important that you maintain it as much as possible.  As an example, I’ll tell you about our mealtime routine.  Some time ago, Mom started having me "join them" at the table when they eat in our dinette (which is close to my cage).  The dinette area has small bay window, and Mom placed a window perch there for me to sit on during meals.  I quickly learned the routine; I know that when I see or hear plates and glasses being arranged on the table, that soon I'll be taken over to the perch.  I also learned that sitting there at dinner meant I'll  be offered bits of whatever the humans are eating.  After one week, the pattern was set.  Now if you have the gall to eat in the dinette without first bringing me over, you are serenaded by a cacophony of angry screeching.  And when I do this, am I being “bad”?  No.  You are the bad ones for being so rude as to exclude me from the dinnertime socialization I have (rightly) come to expect.

You cannot expect us to be disciplined and stay within reasonable boundaries if you are not willing to be equally as disciplined and respectful.  Birds are smart and we resent it when you demand more than you are willing to give.

A final word about this, and one that may shock you:

When (not “if”, but “when”) you are bitten by your bird, you should adopt the attitude that you did something to deserve it.  Then it’s your job to figure out what boundary you have violated, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.  99% of the time, you did deserve it. 

A healthy, well socialized bird does not bite without some provocation.  So, if your bird bites you, teach yourself to say “That was my fault” and then set about learning how not to get bitten for the same thing again.  It does no good to blame us; you can only change your own behavior and reward us when we do what you want.