Developing a great connection with your parrot starts the first day you bring her home. Behavioral problems of all kinds can be avoided by having a keen eye, creating an exciting environment, and demonstrating respect.
Fundamentals of Parrot Partnering
You need room to move–so does a parrot. Remember: your friend has to spend many hours in her cage. Be sure to provide lots of toys, but not so many as to crowd the cage. Rotate the playthings every week or two and be sure to check the playground daily to ensure safety (no sharp edges or small pieces).
Your parrot likes a change of environment as much as you do–release her from her cage as often and for as long as you can. And remember, studies show that parrots form pair bonds; in essence you are her mate. Think about a perch in every room so your parrot can always be with you. For smaller birds, an untreated wicker basket and for larger birds a tree branch or piece of PVC piping.
A parrot’s diet ought to consist of fresh fruits and vegetables, pellets, and seeds. A balanced diet with lots of fresh food is very important. There is much information on the internet about appropriate percentages for each species. Feeding can also contribute to environment–concealing food in toys or under various items makes her work for her food, and is a great source of entertainment.
Toys and Games
Toys are an important part of any parrot’s life. Toys are a form of environmental enhancement, used to maintain captive animals’ health in zoos and breeding programs as well as in homes. The fact is that parrots in our homes don’t have much to do. No foraging, no avian interaction, no offspring rearing, etc. They need something to stimulate their minds and their bodies, and toys provide that. Puzzle toys are great for developing problem-solving skills. Rope toys are great for hanging on and gaining good balance.
You should be part of the entertainment. Fetch, hide and seek, shape/color identification–interactive games are as important with parrots as they are with small children. They help create a strong bond between you both and promote intellectual development.
Parrots are extremely intelligent. A wonderful way to get them to use their intelligence is by spending time every day in training. Clicker training is a great way to train your birds to do both fun and necessary behaviors. The parrot learns to repeat the behavior he was doing when he heard the click, and, thereby, can learn to do many tasks on cue. The internet has many sites that explain clicker training.
Parrots live in neat little pairs. This is why most parrots have a favorite person even if they are tended by all family members. Some species are more likely than others to prefer one person. Within these pairs, each parrot is more or less equal. Parrots do not use force to dominate one another. When we try to use force with our parrots, we get one of two results–either the parrot retreats from us, or it fights back and we get bitten. Neither is the result that we want. What we do want is a parrot who respects us and enjoys our company.
Parrots enrich our lives and it is up to us to be the best companions we can be for them. It can be a challenge, but the end result is a rewarding partnership between parrot and person.