Looking At The World From A Bird’s Perspective

Posted by Bird Tricks on

While my cockatoos were showering today, I took the opportunity to do something that I haven’t done in a while. I took out the grates and trays at the bottom of their cages, and stepped in. I went to the back of the cage and turned around, facing out. I stood there for several minutes enjoying the view, pretending to be a bird.

I stand up. I crouch down. I walk to each corner of the cage and just look around. I haven’t lost my mind. I have been doing this for years. I find it to be a most effective way of witnessing your bird’s environment from their point of view. We will never be able to see things exactly as they do because of their enhanced vision, but observing from this vantage point can lead to some important insights.

From this position, you see the cage layout differently and may choose to place toys and accessories in another fashion. You can see if house lights might be shining too harshly inside of the cage. You can see what they see when they look out  the windows.You see how clean the cage is or is not. (With smaller cages, I squeeze behind them and look through the back bars. It’s important not to move the cage from its original position in the room.You want everything to appear to you exactly as it does to your bird.)

One of the easiest solutions I ever found to a bird’s behavioral problem came from this practice. I went to the house of someone who had an African grey that was perfectly happy and interactive outside of the cage, but was fearful and would bite and scream when going back in. Since the bird was also happy to be on a play stand playing independently and didn’t seem overly attached to the family, I had to assume the cage or living room was the problem.

The family’s teenagers had the bird in the next room and went about their business while I was there. I didn’t see anything in the living room or outside the windows that might be objectionable to a bird, so I started pulling apart the bottom of the cage. I’m pretty sure the lady who called me thought I was crazy.

I had been in the cage for a few minutes when I saw some brief movement out of the corner of my eye.The sounds that accompanied the movement were coming from the other room. I couldn’t understand how I saw movement in a room that the cage placement didn’t allow me to see.

I stood there feeling confused. Finally, I saw more motion and noticed a mirror that was placed on the wall that the cage faced. I had seen it earlier when I looked around the room, but it was easy to pass over as a potential problem because it was small and was placed on the wall far to the left. It just happened to reflect some of the activity in the adjacent room from this angle inside the cage. It showed fleeting glimpses of motion. It was easy to see how this might be unnerving to a bird.

I asked how long the mirror had been there and it was estimated that it had been put up just a month or so before the behavior began.The lady seemed embarrassed that she hadn’t connected the two events, but I assured her that it was easy to overlook something so seemingly unsubstantial. The mirror was taken down and within about a week the fearfulness subsided.

Standing outside of the cage, looking around, I could never have reached that conclusion. A few feet changed the view completely.It’s important to understand that sometimes even the smallest changes to your bird’s environment can cause discomfort. This gives us something to think about when trying to determine the causes of unwanted behaviors.

Author 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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31 comments

  • My african grey is happy because he always around the family i keep his cage in the kitchen and he out off the cage most of the time.

    nina on
  • I BOUGHT A 2 YEAR OLD COCATOO NAMED POOGIE. HE SEEMS TO BE PRETTY HAPPY HERE, HE EATS VERY VERY WELL. ONLY PROBLEM IS HE WON’T TALK. HE SEEMS TO WANT TO SAY SOMETHING TO ME WHEN I ENTER THE ROOM, BUT HE ONLY MAKES THESE SMACKING SOUNDS, LIKE HE IS TALKING. AM I JUST IGNORANT ON TRAINING MY NEW BIRD HOW TO TALK? I DON’T KNOW IF I GOT A MUTE BIRD OR THAT I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO TRAIN HIM TO TALK? THANK YOU SO MUCH.

    IRMA PARKER on
  • my african grey loves it outside his cage but he doesnt want to stay on it. what can a do to let him learn to stay on it ?

    stef on
  • i have a blue and gold macaw his cage is in front of my big living room window and he loves to look out of the window and screams at the dogs to lay it down when they bark, we have free range chickens and he loves to imitate them and crow like a rooster, i let him out of the cage at least once a day and he sits on top of it and just talks up a storm, i did what you said and i see he has a great view of everything from the inside and out , he is a happy bird! love all the helpful tips!

    barb on
  • @ Susan – The galah is more commonly referred to as the rose breasted cockatoo in the avian community here is the states and in a lot of the literature on the species. Both are correct, as well as the name “roseate cockatoo”..

    Patty on

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