Instilling Confidence In Your Bird

Posted by Bird Tricks on

As a human being, I have witnessed, and experienced, how seriously a lack of confidence can hold a person back in life. The belief that one is not up to a challenge or living in fear of possible failure can be debilhitating, and the result can be a life of missed opportunities.

Any intelligent being that has the ability to weigh up a decision also has the capacity for doubt. Doubt can be useful in keeping oneself safe when the odds aren’t in your favor – sometimes a risk is not worth taking. However, doubt is sometimes directed inwardly, where it is not the circumstances that make one uneasy, but the questioning of one’s own ability to make a sound decision or to successfully complete a task. Lack of self confidence is a fear of oneself, and often it is in our own best interest to push ourselves to confront the things that make us uncomfortable, or even afraid, so that we might live a more fulfilling life..

Many captive birds live very structured lives. We feed them and provide them with forms of entertainment. We decide the convenient times for out of cage play. We put them to bed when we are ready to settle down for the evening. There is little decision making in their lives. They have few experiences where they are naturally inclined to learn through trial and error. Without life lessons, they will continue to be wary and avoid stepping outside the box. Experience breeds growth and without it, there is fear of the unknown.

I believe that many of the phobias our birds experience are rooted in a lack of confidence that has resulted in fear.Your bird’s level of self confidence will impact all of the most important areas of his life from his interactions with humans, to his use of the toys that your provide, to his willingness to eat the foods that are good for him.

There are three critical parts to creating an environment that will build a bird’s confidence:

  • 1) Allow your bird plenty of experiences in life. The most confident birds invariably are the ones that are the most experienced: a bird well socialized to humans, a bird that is not over-protected and sheltered from life, a bird whose life that is not made simple because we perceive them as simple creatures. Try not to think in terms of making life “easy” for your birds. Instead, look to making it interesting. The more experiences a bird has that have a positive outcome, the less wary it will be when approaching new things.
  • 2) Allow your bird opportunities to learn. Many of the toys available today rely on the need to develop a skill.  Foraging toys require that a bird mentally calculate a series of moves that will allow them access to the food inside. Puzzle toys, or toys with moving parts, will teach a bird that: “if I do this, that will happen.” It is important to note that they will play with, even labor over, these toys even without a food motivator. This fact will tell you how important mental engagement is to a bird. They will work for food, but they will also work to learn. Confidence grows as a bird overcomes each hurdle and completes each task.
  • 3) Teach your bird to play independently. Your bird should be happy at play when it’s inside it’s cage or on a playstand without your involvement. You should encourage independent play even when you are at home and available to your bird. This will increase the understanding that independent play is expected and that your presence in the house does not automatically mean that your bird will be spending time with you. It will learn how to productively occupy it’s own time. When a bird lacks the confidence to engage in activities separately from its owner, it will become increasingly dependent on your in all areas.

As your bird matures, the combination of its experiences will determine its demeanor. The more you broaden your bird’s boundaries of discovery, the more adaptable it will become. You will find yourself with a bird that is comfortable, confident and eager to explore what the world has to offer.

Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.


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11 comments

  • My Galah won’t play with toys. I have tried so many different types and nothing works. any suggestions on how i can help her realise it is a fun thing to do?

    Sarah on
  • Dear Marileze,
    I think you could set your scared conure up where he can watch you eat and work etc. you could eat when you put his dinner in the cage so you eat together. If you take him somewhere new, you may be the ‘constant’ or the safe part of the environment and he may bond a little there.
    He may like to be in the shower with you, having his shower while you have yours?
    Nicola

    Nicola on
  • Dear Marileze,
    I think you could set your scared conure up where he can watch you eat and work etc. you could eat when you put his dinner in the cage so you eat together. If you take him somewhere new, you may be the ‘constant’ or the safe part of the environment and he may bond a little there.
    He may like to be in the shower with you, having his shower while you have yours?
    Nicola

    Nicola on
  • Great posting! I know I’m on the right path with my blue crown conure (18 years old, a rescue and now adopted by me one year ago). When I first brought him home he DID NOT want to be touched, now the neighbors come over JUST TO SEE and PLAY WITH HIM! I loved the comments as well. Thank you for your website and DVD/CD offers – very helpful.

    Brenda Allen on
  • Patsy, Sometimes it can take months for my Amazon to get interested in a toy. I usually set a new toy outside his cage but in sight for a week or so. I’ll put somewhere I can leave it without moving it for a few days then when I think about it I’ll move it or turn it over. Just something to change the view. Then I’ll move it to his cage. Sometimes he’ll play with it right away & sometimes he’ll ignore it for months….then he’ll decide it’s his favorite toy. I’ve just learned to go with the flow. (He’s got me trained!) Sometimes with larger toys when I put it on or in his cage I’ll put treats on it for a few days. I’ll also remove & replace larger pieces of nut shells. Even if they don’t have any nut meat left in them he still seems to enjoy chewing on them. I do have to take them out for a few days & then put them back. Otherwise he ignores them. Silly bird!

    Sue Ellis on

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