Close To My Feathered Heart: Taming Your Parrot
Whether you have a parrot or another animal, I believe that this can be one of the most special and loving bonds. However, some people have difficulties with their parrots because they either need:
– to be tamed
– to be trained
– to be taught not to bite
It’s not uncommon to have a combination of these problems – an un-tame parrot is likely to bite out of fear.
I believe you can tame your parrot! And improve your relationship so that you both enjoy each other more so.
Taming a parrot requires getting past the emotional charge of fear that they hold. One of the best ways to do this is to work your way through the fear by spending 4 to 6 hours (or more) with them. It’s not to say that you have to engage with them all of that time. Your parrot should have a perch or play area (not their cage) where they can be comfortable, be in “common space” and have food and water available.
Being with you or being on your shoulder for so many hours day after day for a week or two (depending on their age and history – an older or emotionally damaged parrot will likely require more time) should make a huge difference in the level of comfort you both experience.
Keys to help you tame your parrot include:
1) Diet –
Make sure that your parrot ONLY gets seeds/treats when with you. Seeds in their cage, including a seed mix, means your parrots only eat what they want – the seeds, which are like candy to them, and you end up having to buy more food. This is because they don’t get the nutrition they need so they eat more, getting fat, and costing you more money.
Plus, you aren’t special!
Additionally, seeds impede a parrot’s ability to absorb calcium. If your parrot is calcium deficient, this can make them moody and harder to enjoy or tame.
The healthiest diet is about 70% pellets and 30% veggies. A seed-mix diet or an all-veggie diet is not recommended because it is difficult to provide your parrot all of the vitamins and minerals they need.
Keep seeds for special time with you!
2) Have patterns or habits –
Taming your parrot will be easier when you have a couple of things that you always do the same way. They like patterns or habits. For example, when I was taming Gail, my turquoise Green-cheeked Conure, I would get him in the morning every day, keep him on my shoulder and often take him to the park. I put a harness on him to keep him safe. At the park, we’d sit on a bench and I’d take a seed-mix out for him.
He got to the point to where he soon expected me to get him out of his cage in the morning (so he fought me less to come out) and he started to get himself ready for his seeds once I sat on the bench!
Gail became comfortable with me and even cuddled into to me about a week and a half in!
3) Clip their wings –
I’m one of the first people who likes to see the stunning and brilliant colors on a parrot’s wings; I also love watching my Hyacinth Macaw flying, she is majestic. However, when it comes to my parrot’s safety and training, I think that wing clipping is a must. When our parrots are flying into windows and potentially hurting themselves, or going into smaller parrot cages and hurting others, then clipping becomes a matter of safety and security for my flock.
Please be sure to either take your parrot to a groomer who knows what feathers to clip unless you have training yourself, as clipping the wrong feathers can cause your parrot to bleed and, in a worst case, be very seriously injured.
The same is true when I’m training a parrot. An un-tame parrot is unfamiliar with people. They don’t know how people will behave or what they will do, so they feel scared. Even though parrots don’t have their own houses in the wild, they do have territories and a parrot’s cage is his home or her territory. Trying to take an un-tame parrot out of their home is, therefore, a threat to them. A large hand attached to a large animal (the human) is entering their space and trying to take them away. This is why they flee and bite. It is a situation that call for protection, from their perspective, and this gets reinforced when their human tries taking them out of their cage again.
The same is true for us. We mean to be loving with our parrot, but when we try to pick up an un-tame parrot, we are bitten! We may not understand why our good intentions are drawing blood! Now we’re upset, our parrot is upset and when we think about one-another, we immediately feel fearful or attacked. We both have an emotional charge- or a fear-based association to the other.
The way to work past this is to use a glove or a stick to get your parrot out of their cage so that you don’t get bitten. Next, if your parrot’s wings are clipped, it will expedite the process of getting them past the fearful charge because they will have to stay with you or in your proximity. In other words, a parrot’s fear will increase if you get bitten and then don’t try to take them out of their cage again until tomorrow, when the cycle repeats. On the other hand, if you both spend time together and you both experience nothing – meaning that being with you and in your proximity has no negative outcome for your parrot, then your parrot will move past the fear more quickly. In this way, clipping their wings helps move them through their fear more quickly so that you can both start to enjoy each other sooner rather than later.
You can also tame your parrot without clipping their wings, but they tend to fly away and hide. The best place to tame is in a different room than the one their cage is in, but even so, your parrot will have to face her own fear of being with you if she has to stay nearby (or on your shoulder, depending on how comfortable you both are). A perch for her with food, water and a toy will show her that her needs are being met. She will quickly find that you are ‘safe’ to be around.
In addition to this, as you add patterned behaviors, such as feeding her a seed, singing to her and doing a few things that she likes, then she will learn, within a few days, what she can expect and the good things that are coming.
4) 4 To 6 Hours A Day For 2 Weeks
Make sure that you can give your parrot 4 to 6 hours a day for about two weeks. Giving him consistency is a must. You don’t have to engage with your parrot the entire time. On the contrary, it is great for you to both ‘live’ together, meaning that your parrot can play, eat and spend time in his play area while you are spending time doing what you need to do. This is a great way to enjoy his company and let him do his thing, and it allows him to quickly learn that being with you is enjoyable. Be sure to schedule times to engage with him, maybe every hour, so that you are creating positive and fun interactions too.
If you work out of your home, you can spend these hours with your parrot in the evenings. They can participate in your activities: if you take a shower, have them on a perch in the bathroom. If you are making dinner, cut a carrot or another treat and offer it to her, just make sure that you kitchen is parrot-safe. An enclosed kitchen may have smoke and fumes, for example from Teflon pans, that can be harmful or deadly for your parrot. Be sure that your parrot is not in an enclosed space in a kitchen to avoid smoke or other harmful problems. An open-concept kitchen in which the parrot can be away from the oven and closer to a living room is best.
Birds Will Be Birds
Of course, the size, age and history of your parrot will affect how long it takes you to tame your parrot. Parrots each have their own personality, and some are naturally more curious and interested in people than others. A happy parrot who has enrichment (things to stimulate his mind), a clean living space, good food and gets to spend time with you will be a friendly companion that you can bond to.
Have a questions about parrots?
As the author of “The Parrot Bliss Bond,” I love and welcome questions about having a parrot and creating one of the best experiences of your life!
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