While my cockatoos were showering today, I took the opportunity to do something that I haven’t done in a while. I took out the grates and trays at the bottom of their cages, and stepped in. I went to the back of the cage and turned around, facing out. I stood there for several minutes enjoying the view, pretending to be a bird.
I stand up. I crouch down. I walk to each corner of the cage and just look around. I haven’t lost my mind. I have been doing this for years. I find it to be a most effective way of witnessing your bird’s environment from their point of view. We will never be able to see things exactly as they do because of their enhanced vision, but observing from this vantage point can lead to some important insights.
From this position, you see the cage layout differently and may choose to place toys and accessories in another fashion. You can see if house lights might be shining too harshly inside of the cage. You can see what they see when they look out the windows.You see how clean the cage is or is not. (With smaller cages, I squeeze behind them and look through the back bars. It’s important not to move the cage from its original position in the room.You want everything to appear to you exactly as it does to your bird.)
One of the easiest solutions I ever found to a bird’s behavioral problem came from this practice. I went to the house of someone who had an African grey that was perfectly happy and interactive outside of the cage, but was fearful and would bite and scream when going back in. Since the bird was also happy to be on a play stand playing independently and didn’t seem overly attached to the family, I had to assume the cage or living room was the problem.
The family’s teenagers had the bird in the next room and went about their business while I was there. I didn’t see anything in the living room or outside the windows that might be objectionable to a bird, so I started pulling apart the bottom of the cage. I’m pretty sure the lady who called me thought I was crazy.
I had been in the cage for a few minutes when I saw some brief movement out of the corner of my eye.The sounds that accompanied the movement were coming from the other room. I couldn’t understand how I saw movement in a room that the cage placement didn’t allow me to see.
I stood there feeling confused. Finally, I saw more motion and noticed a mirror that was placed on the wall that the cage faced. I had seen it earlier when I looked around the room, but it was easy to pass over as a potential problem because it was small and was placed on the wall far to the left. It just happened to reflect some of the activity in the adjacent room from this angle inside the cage. It showed fleeting glimpses of motion. It was easy to see how this might be unnerving to a bird.
I asked how long the mirror had been there and it was estimated that it had been put up just a month or so before the behavior began.The lady seemed embarrassed that she hadn’t connected the two events, but I assured her that it was easy to overlook something so seemingly unsubstantial. The mirror was taken down and within about a week the fearfulness subsided.
Standing outside of the cage, looking around, I could never have reached that conclusion. A few feet changed the view completely.It’s important to understand that sometimes even the smallest changes to your bird’s environment can cause discomfort. This gives us something to think about when trying to determine the causes of unwanted behaviors.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.
My african grey is happy because he always around the family i keep his cage in the kitchen and he out off the cage most of the time.
I BOUGHT A 2 YEAR OLD COCATOO NAMED POOGIE. HE SEEMS TO BE PRETTY HAPPY HERE, HE EATS VERY VERY WELL. ONLY PROBLEM IS HE WON’T TALK. HE SEEMS TO WANT TO SAY SOMETHING TO ME WHEN I ENTER THE ROOM, BUT HE ONLY MAKES THESE SMACKING SOUNDS, LIKE HE IS TALKING. AM I JUST IGNORANT ON TRAINING MY NEW BIRD HOW TO TALK? I DON’T KNOW IF I GOT A MUTE BIRD OR THAT I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO TRAIN HIM TO TALK? THANK YOU SO MUCH.
my african grey loves it outside his cage but he doesnt want to stay on it. what can a do to let him learn to stay on it ?
i have a blue and gold macaw his cage is in front of my big living room window and he loves to look out of the window and screams at the dogs to lay it down when they bark, we have free range chickens and he loves to imitate them and crow like a rooster, i let him out of the cage at least once a day and he sits on top of it and just talks up a storm, i did what you said and i see he has a great view of everything from the inside and out , he is a happy bird! love all the helpful tips!
@ Susan – The galah is more commonly referred to as the rose breasted cockatoo in the avian community here is the states and in a lot of the literature on the species. Both are correct, as well as the name “roseate cockatoo”..
Our African Grey is in a light room with lots of mirrors all on one side of the room. I can see now why sometimes he gets a huge fright and flies off his cage – because of the mirrors. However of all the places he has been in our house, he loves this room the most. He is most cheerful in the morning when my daughter cleans his cage, talks to him and prepares his food and when he is out of his cage but he generally sings whistles and talks a lot. His favorite game these days is playing with my children when they zoom toy dinky cars up and down the passage. He gets fully involved!! He has loads of character and we all love him. Thanks for your tips
Hi My DYH Amazon is only put in a cage in my room at bed time or if I have to go out, otherwise he has a perch in the livingroom and has free range. What he does sometimes is gets into screaming fits when we are in the kitchen making breakfast. He would normally just join us in the kitchen. He knows he is being bad because if someone comes out he will say “what are you doing”. Is he maybe doing this cuz he has siGht of us from the kitchen. Sunny is othErwise a charming friendly entertaining guy.
how can i stop my african grey plucking/losing feathers on her chest???
I have my birdies sitting on my dresser and behind their house is a mirror. Also across the room behind my bed the whole wall is a mirror they love to fly over and sit on my headbroad which is shaped like the peak of a house and slide down it like being on a sliding board. Mirror don’t seem to bother them at all. I quess it is what they are use to. They fly from room to room. In the living room they have a large bird tree in front of sliding glass doors they sit there in the morning and look out. They like to fly in the front room and sitt on the arm of the sofa and look out. then fly back to bedroom. Of course this is done only when I am home. But they have freedom to be a bird as much as can be in a house. I love my feathered family they always make my day with lots of smiles.
Thank you for the info on bird cages. We too have an Indian Ringnecked Parakeet female and white with red beak. She was the sister to our s who accidently got out side and we lost him…so my son and wife got tired of this one and gave it to us only it came with many maladies…The daughter had beaten the cage with a fly swatter when it got loud. it stayed in a huge messy cage with about only peanuts to eat for a year…. She has melted to us but still doesn’t like me, a female…she loves my husband…no fear. I connected the fly swatter ordeal with that . Now although she talks and flies to him but if she lands on me she brings blood in face or wherever she can hit…I dodge her a lot… We love her but would love to have her out more but she attacks me. We have to limit her outage with only him. I would love to know if there is anything to do with this cage thing too….she is most defensive of it even with him. How do you diffuse an abused bird without just allowing her free blood for awhile til she learns you won’t hurt her? any new ideas will help…she loves to tear her paper up immediately each day a whole days work…LOL she eats well and loves her treats and calls when we are in the kitchen…she is very intelligent but not kindness unless she wants it. Please HELP! Thank you if you can aid us. She needs more interaction but no can do. I just realized she is 8 yrs old…is that too old to be helped? and you will laugh at the name they gave her…Yes….Serenity……..who totally isn’t serene at all…LOL we get some good laughs at that for sure…LOL Thank you again….would appreciate hearing back from you @ Sunnysday63@hotmail.com….God bless Joyce Guy
Terri – my conure quacked like a duck too. I think it is just a green-cheek thing. They are soooo cute aren’t they???
Dear Patty, I reall enjoy reading your articles. They are full of bird-wisdom and great ideas. I patticularily like the idea of checking out one’s bird’s eye view. However, one thing bothers me a bit. You contiually call galahs “rose-breasted cockatoos”. Please call a “rose-breasted cockatoo” by its proper name: GALAH. Thanks.
Thank you for your insight. We just moved to a new home. I was given my African grey when she was 10 years old. She bit like a fiend and constantly screamed with the previous owners. I tried several rooms until I found she was most comfortable in my bedroom. In our new home she has selected the kitchen alcove for her new home. In the kitchen she gets to interact with everyone that walks by, including the dogs and the cat. To make matters even better, she has stopped biting and has added new songs, noises, and words to her already huge list of sounds.
Dear Chat Your assent where to place our bird’s cage and understand how they see the world from the bird’s perspective is 100% right. And here ie my story: I am parrot breeder more then 20 years, and some times, like you wrote, i make things that an outsider would think that i am a crazy lady.But all what i do is promissing my parrots convenient. So, I got a THIMNA, she was 6 month old, and total wild.In very short time she learned to speak and came to me to scrach her head or give a kiss. In the summer all morning i put her cage of Pancho in a certain place outside in the verandah, and before night back to the house.After 5 years one day i decided to make her a biger cage. I thought to bild it in the verandah neer the window, so that i can see her from my kitchen. In my verandah is a big table and around are shurbs and garden. The small cage was standing all day from my left side when i was sitting by the table to drink my coffe.The new place what i planed for the cage would behind my back. In the mean time was opened a small space between the shurbs, so i decided to make for Pancho good time so that she can feel like in the jungle and placed here cage between the shurbs.I set to drink my coffe by the table, and the cage was front of me. In a moment Pancho began to run from one side to the other in her cage, noise angry and nervously.I tried to schrach her head,spoke to her, but nothing helped.So i put her cage back in the house.She immadiately calm down. In the next day the procedure was the same.I drink my coffe and began to speak with my bird.I told her that i see that she want to tell me something,and i try to understand it. So I took her cage and placed in the reguler place in my left side from the table, so she can see me like before.Like yesterday in the house, olso to day she calm down in a momente. I was very proude of two reasonsOne that my bird tried to tell me how she feels, and secondly beacuse i understood her, and can change my bilding plan. So i bilt a big cage for Pancho in a space of the left side from the table, so she can see me all the time from her regular and faver viewpoint. Conclusion: to see the world from the bird’s perspective is very impotand With best regards Eva
I have an African Grey named Sky – he is a year old and has picked up alot of sounds like a dog barking, my house, alarm being put on and off and when it start screaming and he evn knows the car alarm. He says hello sky and 2 or 3 other words. My problem with him is when i take him out of his cage after work when i get home he is happy to sit by me and when i get up to go somewhere he follows but he doesn’t like being petted and i have a TERRIBLE battle getting him back in his cage at bed time. What can i do to get him to want to go back to his cage. He has a huge cage in the main living area so it can’t be about space.
Thanks Chet, Really great info. My Indian green parakeet even miaows like a kitten :) why?? and she wails like a puppy, actually! Never could figure out why? Keep us informed. Sonia
Hi Robyn, The lunging is a pretty clear sign that your bird doesn’t want to be touched. When he’s ready, he’ll initiate physical interaction. Regarding the flapping, that is one way most birds expend energy and get exercise. It’s unlikely your bird is afraid of flight. Some choose to fly more often than others and they will get to flapping up a storm instead. Sometimes they do actually lift off by accident, though. Patty
We found a irneck and after searching for it’s owners for months have since realized that we have a new addition to our flock. Initially when getting to know the bird I felt that it was very angry about being caged and decided one day to leave it’s door open (inside, of course) and the bird (Indy) seemed much happier but hated going back into the cage in the evenings. I continued to let her out during the day, but only on the weekends when she could be supervised. She is now out all day long 7 days a week but I have found that she appears to be scared to fly as she flaps holding onto the cage but never takes flight. The other day she must have accidentally let go and she quickly made a uturn back to her cage. She is very different from my other rnecks as she bows her head down and fluffing up her feathers she makes clicking noises. I ha e petted her on the back when in this pose but don’t feel confident as she will sometimes lunge towards me. What do you think this means? Does she want to be petted or is it her way of saying- leave me alone?
so where would the best place be for a bird? I have 2 quakers im not too sure on the sex on them One of them was my moms and she gave him to me. Recently I have noticed her bird feeding mine…my quaker has picked up bad habits from hers, what should I do? I have 2 seperate cages for them but I put them both in 1 cage to save on space can anyone help me and tell me what I ned to do?
We have an eight yr old blue-eyed cockatoo that loves to take beads (mardi gras type that aren’t metallic) and knit it in knots with a shoestring or ribbon. Keeps her busy more than any other toy. Anyone else ever try that?
My large Green Amazon is placed in the Bay Window each morning and loves to see the out doors and other birds fly outside.. She loves being outside on top of the cage and the door is always open for her to go in and eat and drink … She seems to be very happy to be in the Bay.. She is always real excited for me to move her to the bay each morning as i give fresh food and water her. She willing goes in the cage as i cover her up at night out of the bay window in another location.. she also has a view of the kitchen of everyone going in and out of the kitchen and she can see anyone in the living room …she seems to be happy and never leaves her cage when she is on the top of it…
Hi I have a problem with my 3 years scarlet macaw he is in a médium to large cage in the living room with a Open window view. But he pucking and chewing his feathers. I insert a new toy every 2 weeks take him out to the yard but his is agresive I need some help to help him to stop chewing and biting please email me to: email@example.com thanks
Thank you. Now I know why my babe is so happy… thank you for all information!!!
Mirrors in a bird’s cage are not a good idea. Probably the bird might have liked a mirror to look into occasionally to see itself reflected in all its many feathered glory. My Senegal enjoys looking at himself when he comes to sit on the back of my chair and he looks at the mirror on the plant stand behind the chair and grooms himself….. but that is very occasionally. But to have a mirror reflect something momentarily and at unpredicable moments and not be able to decifer what was reflected would be frightening. I also had a budgie many years ago who kept regurgitiating his seeds and food at the mirror in his cage and I stupidly did not realize he was starving himself to feed his mirrored mate. He was a rescued bird that I had found on a tennis court so I never knew his age but he died not long after that , his feathers grayed and no longer brilliant, and I never realized what had happened until I read that a mirror is not advisable for a single bird for company.
I am curious about a scarlett macaw. His daddy put his cage where it is before he passed away. I have kept it there so he might not be so heartbroke over losing his dad. What I’d like to know is why does he suddenly try to hurt me when I go to spend time with him? He tries to tear my ear off and he pulls my hair plus he tries to rip off my fingers and then the next minute he is a cuddle bug and won’t do anything mean. I try and play with him about 3 hours a day I make sure he has fresh cold water and fresh fruit also.
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