Do Parrots Need A Daily Routine?

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I was reading a thread on a parrot forum the other day that questioned if parrots have a need for routine. One of the posters took control of the discussion and went on to claim that it was very important to a parrot’s emotional health that you maintain a schedule and do things at the same time every day. She said this is what you need to do to keep your parrot feeling secure and comforted.

Most of the posters fell in line with this thinking except one, who received quite a smackdown for his assertion that parrots are adaptable and able to accept change. As usual, chaos erupted and the learning stopped at this point. I suspect it was his last post in this forum.

So who is right? I am with the guy who dared to buck the system. However, the lady promoting the need for routine was very right about one thing: parrots need to feel secure.

As parrots are prey animals, they can be most at ease when they are familiar with their surroundings. It makes it easier to spot things that are out of place and may signal danger. However, the reins of a schedule will eventually cause a parrot to feel less secure.

In the wild, the only real constant in a parrot’s life is the rising and setting of the sun and even that will change seasonally. Food and water sources dry up. Fires, flooding, drought and severe weather can dramatically change the terrain and force a bird to look for a new home. A wild bird that cannot adapt will not survive.  Why do we think our companion parrots are incapable of it?

For the companion parrot, life is further complicated by the ever changing lives of their human caregiver. Because our parrots live in the human environment, they are subjected to moves to new homes, changes in our work schedules and the occasional addition of anything from new furniture to new children. Birds that are unable to cope with life in our homes will not be secure.

Doesn’t it make sense then, that we should not make them rigid in their expectations by delivering each daily event at the same time and in the same way? Shouldn’t we be trying to make variety familiar to them so when new things happen, they are comfortable with it?

You cannot guarantee that the life you lead today will be the same in five years, no matter how stable you consider yourself to be. Keeping your bird on a routine will only make him less able to cope with the changes that your life will inflict on him. Prepare him now by making him okay with whatever prevails.

 

2 comments

Bernee Brawn

I am a dog person, a serious dog person for over 40 yrs. Just over a year ago I bought a Severe Macaw… probably should have had my head examined!!! He is a cool bird, a wonderful member of our family and I have learned so much about the care of this critter by reading everything I can get my hands on. Just like in the dog world opinions on everything are from A-Z, do this, don’t do that…. so far what has worked for us is to split it right down the middle. My boy is on a sorta-kinda schedule, he gets up with the sun and goes to bed when it goes down. Breakfast is sometime around 8 am, but could be 9 if the morning is going crazy. Dinner… sometime around 4 or 5…. sometimes earlier, sometimes later. But he always has something in his condo to pick at. With the dogs, I learned not to stick to strict schedules for everything. My dogs go with the flow pretty well and don’t stress out when things have to run differently. I don’t rush home for a strict dinner time, it might just be late tonight kids. They live and they eat just fine when I get there. I travel now and then, and Rocket (the bird) has to go and stay with a birdbabysitter. I know their schedule will not be the same as mine. So far, both people who have kept him have been very complimentary about his level of patience. He adapts well… I hope it continues to be like this, but if not, we will adapt to that as well. So far, so good….

Bernee Brawn
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I have always wondered if birds needed a routine. Relieved to know that my crazy schedule is okay for Louie

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