Birds are unusually perceptive. As prey animals, they have to be. They are constantly on the lookout for predators.
Birds remain safest in a flock setting because there are many eyes on the sky and ground in a vigilant watch. If a single bird becomes alarmed for any reason, ALL birds will take to the air in fear. Interestingly, this frenzied behavior sometimes occurs without a single alarm call being issued. The tension is FELT as clearly as any alarm call can be heard and is enough to set things into motion.
If we put that same perceptive species of animal into a human environment that is filled with tension and stress, what do you think the result will be?
In captivity, our birds consider their humans to be flock members and they have the same expectations with regards to safety as they would with their feathered flock mates. When things are not okay with us, we send out signals that are the same as those sent out by wild birds about an oncoming threat.
Consider how unsettling it would be to the captive parrot whose instincts are telling them that danger may be present because of the vibes that are coming off of us. Birds don’t understand the unreasonable expectations of your job or that your boyfriend is cheating on you – all they know is a sense that something is wrong, and that perhaps they are in danger.
In response, the bird screams, either issuing an alarm call to you in warning or in protest of their constant state of distress. A captive bird is not free to escape the tension. The more the bird screams, the more tense you become and it escalates from there.
The holidays are a particularly stressful time for many people. If you are taking your work stresses home with or are squabbling with a family member, consider the disruption to your parrot’s sense of security and try to tone it down. You will both be better for it.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.