Enormous strides have been made in the care and understanding of our companion parrots as researchers continue their studies of wild parrots. Through observing the different species, we now do less improvising and have come to understand why many behaviors exist and how we can adapt to make our birds happier in our homes.
In order to best utilize this research, you must understand that the birds we have in our living rooms are not domesticated. They are wild animals – tamed, but still wild. The process of domestication comes through hundreds, even thousands, of years of breeding out any traits that are undersirable or unsuitable to life in human society, and the strengthening of those that are preferred. Of the larger, longer-lived, parrot species, some are only perhaps three generation from the wild. And many of us have birds that were wild caught prior to the 1992 importation ban. I have one.
The reason that this information is important is to help you acknowledge the fact that you are living with a wild animal. It sounds dramatic, but it’s true. Instinctively, your bird is no different than one living on its own in the great outdoors. It is ruled by the same laws that govern a wild parrot’s life, with the exception of its acclimation to humans.
Wild behaviors are evident in nearly everything your bird does. The observation of wild parrots can lead us to the answers to most of our parrot questions: Why does your bird become aggressive during certain months? (witnessed in wild birds’ breeding and territorial behaviors) Why is your parrot determined to destroy things in your home? (witnessed in breeding and nesting behaviors) Why does your bird want to be a part of all activities in the house? (witnessed in social and flocking behaviors) This is just the tip of the iceberg.
When you are considering bringing home a new parrot, I always recommend that you intensively research to understand the traits typical of that species and to get a sense of the likelihood of compatibility with your household and lifestyle. People who own parrots of that species are surely going to be a good source of information. However, some of the best information you will get will be from the study of wild birds. From the diet, feeding and foraging behaviors to the rearing of their young, wild birds have provided us with more practical knowledge in the care of our companion parrots than any other source.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.