Head scratches are for friends!
By Lori Scott Pikkaart
Let’s pretend your pet bird is a roommate. Can you leave the room without her screaming for you? Does he bite without warning or for no apparent reason? Do you have to protect everything from being chewed? It’s true, birds sometimes make terrible roommates because they are technically not domesticated animals. You can take the bird out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the bird! Happily, taking time to understand a few things about their psychology can go a long way toward a more harmonious relationship. Here are some things your feathered roommate might tell you if he could.
I Don’t Like Being Alone
I took attendance, and found you missing! So I will scream, asking you to answer and hopefully come back to me. In the wild, we call to each other to make sure everyone is safe. There’s safety in numbers, so when we’re all together, I feel much safer.
I’m Hunted in the Wild
In the wild, I’m an animal that is preyed upon, so my instinct tells me to be on high alert. New things can be very scary to me. Hands that move fast or come up from behind me are frightening. If I’m on your shoulder and hear or see something potentially dangerous, I might bite you to tell you to get away, or I might fly away myself. Sometimes if I can’t get away from something that makes me nervous, I might pluck my feathers. With my excellent eyesight, I notice imaginably scary things all the time, like new nail coloring, balloons, reflections flashing on the ceiling, plastic bags, or balls that roll on the floor. You can tell I’m scared because I stand up tall and thin, ready to fly!
The cage or play stand or any place where I spend most of my time becomes mine. I have a need to establish territory. If you put your hand in my cage, it’s possible I might defend my space. I can’t help it – please don’t take it personally.
I Love You More than a Friend
If I spend a lot of time with only you, and you give me mixed signals, I might think of you as more than just a friend. You can tell because I might try to feed you or bite anyone who comes near you. If you want to just be friends, only pet my head, not other parts of my body. Be clear with me and put me in “time out” if I try to do these things. That will help keep our relationship much less complicated.
Mom I’m Bored
When my ancestors roamed freely, they spent much of their days and energy looking for food. I have this need to look for stuff, or chew to get to something edible, or dig a cavity out of a tree to make a home for my babies. Chewing keeps my beak trimmed, too. Give me a variety of toys to chew and some opportunities to forage and get exercise, and I’ll be a happier birdie.
Keep lovin’ your “birbs,”
Birdie mama to Percy, Pippin & Twitter