People often ask what the most common problems are that parrot owners seek behavior consultations for.
In my experience, lack of trust is among the most common problems parrot owners have with their feathered friends, or that parrots have with their owners for that matter, 🙂
“Lack of trust” is of course pretty arbitrary in itself, but this often manifests itself in a variety of observable ways, such as biting or fear responses. As always, carefully observing our parrots and respecting what they try to tell us with their body language at all times is key to maintaining trust between us and our birds.
Everyone who knows me also knows that i am an advocate (to say the least) of teaching animals various husbandry behaviors, such as taking medicine from syringes, voluntary nail trims, and similar behaviors, using force free training techniques. I want to do anything and everything possible to reduce potential stress.
So, what’s the next best thing? Say if, for some reason, I would have to forcefully restrain an animal, maybe one that isn’t tame yet, for example to administer life-saving medicine one time a day for two weeks. I first have to catch the parrot in a towel and then force it to swallow potentially very bad tasting liquids. There is no way getting around that this will be an extremely stressful and unpleasant experience, and likely also one that will damage the relationship I have with that bird. But there are more layers to this story, and things we can do to lessen the damaging effects in every day life.
Do you like being hugged by your significant other, or maybe another family member or close friend? It can be a sign of affection and release lot’s of cozy oxytocin; a hormone that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy, help us bond, trust each other, and even reduces stress. I love hugs, especially a really tight one!
So imagine if a stranger walked up to you on your way home late at night and grabbed you. You beg him/her to let you go but they refuse, and maybe even squeeze you harder.
Can you just feel your stress levels rise in this scenario? I know i can. And yet no physical harm has come to you. Just a very tight “hug” from stranger who is much stronger than you, refusing to let go. Why do we instinctively react negatively to this but not expected hugs by close friends? What’s the difference? It all comes down to control.
When talking about training and behavior; misunderstandings easily happen. When translated into real life and actual training, misunderstood information can not only result in us not getting the results we want from our hard work, but in some cases it might even lead to not so pleasant experiences for the animals that we are training.
One way of preventing these misunderstandings and understanding each other better is to speak the same language: in our case, that means using correct training terminology.
So first of all, parrots can scream for a number of reasons. Because it’s fun, because they are scared, because they’re trying to get someone to leave… Same behavior, different reasons.
But specifically screaming for attention is a very common problem, since parrots are the social animals that they are. In fact, calling to each other to keep in touch is one of the reasons they developed those loud voices to begin with!