Helping Your Parrot to Accept Change

I am resistant to change.  It is my nature.  I try not to pass that trait along to my parrots, but I have to work really hard to avoid it.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I said: “Boy, I should’ve done this sooner.”   A lot of my hesitation has stemmed from my concerns about how the birds might respond to certain changes. 

I’ve worried about moving because the birds are happy where we are.  I worried about starting a new job because they had become accustomed to my scheduling at the old one.  I worried about moving them into that bigger, better cage because they seemed content in the one they are in.  A parrot needs the stability of routine and a schedule.  True.  But they also need to be adaptable enough to be able to handle the changes that come with life.

A parrot in the wild that cannot adapt, will not survive.  Food sources and nesting availability are always a challenge , but it is especially true now that natural habitats are so threatened.  Wild parrots have to learn to make do with what is available to them and improvise where necessary. A captive parrot’s happiness in our homes depends on their ability to adapt to our changing lives and schedules.  It is our job as their caregivers to make them comfortable with and accepting of change.

If you had a baby, would your parrot be overcome with jealousy?  If you buy a house, would he be able to handle the new surroundings?  If you were no longer here, would your parrot be able to transition into a new family without too much trauma?  These are all typical life situations that could throw your unprepared parrot into a tailspin.  Adapting your parrot to change will build a confidence in him that will help him overcome the hurdles that OUR lives throw at him.

My parrots have moved with me several times without incident.  They have all had their cages upgraded.  My schedule has recently changed and now I am back from work at 7pm or 11pm, either time is fine with them as long as I make the necessary preparations. 

They are fed twice a day: when we get up in the morning and then again after I get home from work.  Their main out of cage time is either before or after I work.  This has become their routine.  They are surprisingly resilient creatures and I always feel silly at having worried so much.

One of the main things I do to keep them open to change is to keep them well socialized.  They are all handled by a number of different people and are not afraid of strangers.  I make sure they get time away from their cage and play areas to experience and be comfortable with new surroundings. 

I like to take them out with me whenever possible.  Linus, my umbrella cockatoo, LIVES for these moments, as it is his desire to be the center of attention at all times.  Even my shy goffins cockatoo, Theo, enjoys the change of scenery.

Since life seems to love throwing curves at us, and since our parrots are subjected to these changes, everyone will benefit if they are confident and experienced enough to roll with the punches.  Make sure your parrot has the tools it needs to be happy no matter what or where.

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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