Parrots Preferring Male/Female Trainers

Photo by Dave Location: Saipan, MP Cuddling: Blue and Yellow Macaw "Chayko"  

Something I have come across a lot in working with parrots is that I’ve noticed their gender tends to determine who they like more out of a couple. For example, the male birds tend to bond more to me while the females bond more to any of my male co-workers or husband for that matter. Take Chayko and Jersey, for example (two related blue and gold macaws). I remember naming Jersey (female) and wanting her to be “my bird” and like me best while Chayko (male) was a bit more outgoing and spunky and I didn’t mind the thought of him clinging on more to Dave. Well, parrots have their own preferences and Jersey adored Dave while Chayko fell in love with me. Of course, we humans fell in love right back, how can you not?!  

Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Saipan, MP Cuddling: Blue and Gold Macaw "Jersey"

But I found it very peculiar. Although I could work with Jersey and put her on her back just like I did Chayko, she just had the preference of Dave over me and Chayko was the same with Dave where he preferred me.  When we trained these two macaws for our client later on, Jersey was very easy to touch train with the client’s staff while Chayko wanted nothing to do with anyone but me. He’d literally fend off any males that came around me and since the staff was unfortunately all males, that didn’t leave anyone to train so easily. Eventually, Chayko came around and he is able to work with males just fine but you can tell he has a bit of a preference. It could have been a background thing (we got them both at 6 months of age) but then I got a female African grey parrot and a male rose breasted cockatoo…  

Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Lacey, WA Getting Lovin': Congo African Grey "Cressi" 

I really wanted to have an African Grey to see what the fuss was about. Everyone talks about wanting one and all the ones I see in homes always looked so problematic I wanted to experience how easy or difficult it would be to raise one and avoid their common issues of being phobic, pluckers and more.   On the other hand, Dave really wanted another cockatoo and I didn’t. So one day, he surprised me with both. Cressi came from a business trip in Las Vegas, Nevada and Bandit was shipped from Louisiana.  

Photo by Dave Location: Holland America Line Kisses to: Rose Breasted Cockatoo "Bandit" 

It may have made a difference that Dave did most of Cressi’s hand feeding until towards the end and that he was the first one to pick her up and bring her home. And I was the primary hand feeder for Bandit – but man those two chose who they wanted and I ended up with the adorable pink cockatoo and Dave got my beloved African Grey. I’d like to know more about it as I hear and see birds all the time that either don’t like men or don’t like women – or at least have their own preference – and I can’t help but wonder how they can sense whose who and why they’re drawn to the opposite sex. Obviously, it’s not all cases (I know a male cockatiel whose in love with his male owner and vice versa with other parrots) but I’ve also noticed from raising them just the little personal preferences they have had and find it odd they’ve all been the same thus far. Just something I’d certainly like to learn more about.

Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.

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