I get a lot of questions by email or see questions posted on the Birdtricks facebook page and other parrot forums from people wanting to get help for their bird’s problems: “my bird screams all the time, how do I stop it?” Whether the nature of the problem is behavioral or medical, it is almost impossible to give accurate advice without being able to witness the problem personally. Whether you are seeking the advice of a consultant or are trying to figure out where to begin on your own, certain information is crucial to diagnosing the issue at hand.
When you are seeking help for a problem, remember to consider the following information:
- Species – Always be sure to mention the exact species of your bird. Rather than saying you have a macaw, specify a scarlet macaw, for instance. The personality distinctions between a scarlet and a blue and gold can be vast and handling recommendations will be different.
- Age – Knowing the approximate age of your bird will help the person advising you to determine whether or not a behavior is relative to the onset of sexual maturity. Parrots go through many phases throughout their long lives. If a bird is older, chances are it has been practicing an undesired behavior for longer, or the environmental causes of the behavior have in place for longer, and it gives a better picture as to how ingrained this behavior in the bird might be.
Your bird’s history:
- Captive bred/hand-fed vs wild caught – This speaks to the amount of socialization your parrot may have received before entering your home. In the case of the wild caught parrot, there may be long standing trust issues based on his first contact with humans being a traumatic one. Certainly, it would be understandable for this parrot to develop problems down the road.
- Re-homed/rescued – The re-homed parrot, even those coming from an excellent home, could be suffering from abandonment or grief issues due to the loss of his previous owners and may be slow to settle in to your home. The rescued or abused parrot will come with plenty of issues and it takes a special home and owner to cope with their needs. This is very important information to divulge.
Your bird’s health:
- Existing medical conditions – When your bird is sick, it will affect how well your bird cooperates with you and reacts to his environment. When your bird’s behavior is out of the ordinary, a trip to the vet is always the first step.
- Diet – A poor diet will dramatically affect your bird’s behavior as it’s general health deteriorates, or as it suffers loss of energy and vitality. Someone advising you will ask pointed questions about your bird’s diet.
- Sleep schedule – Your parrot needs about 10 hours of undisturbed sleep every night. Think how crabby you get when you’re tired! This is an important consideration when assessing a problem.
This is a broad area to cover as environment pretty much encompasses everything your bird experiences. Some things to be aware of are:
- Cage size/placement
- Household members, their ages and level of interaction with the bird
- Other pets
- Other birds, their ages, species and order of arrival into the flock
- Lifestyle of the owners
The smallest things can have a huge impact on your bird’s behavior. These things are easily overlooked in the process of conversation. Often things or events have to be pried from the owners because they seem to be inconsequential to them at the time. You must understand that all of these bits and pieces fit together to form the larger picture that your bird sees and reacts to. Always try to look at the things around you from a parrot’s perspective and be very aware of your bird’s reactions to the people, things and event in its life.
BirdTricks has a great catalog of courses that can guide you through specific problems. Applying the techniques taught in the BirdTricks courses will be more beneficial to you when you know the whys behind your birds behaviors. When you enter into any kind of training, your success rate will increase if you understand the value of background information.
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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