Patience – A Virtue Or An Obstacle?

Blue throated and camelot macaws

When you have parrots, the word “patience” is always on the tip of your tongue. Their odd and unpredictable behaviors would send you straight to the madhouse without patience. Those moments of seasonal insanity would certainly push you over the edge without patience. On certain days, even normal events like the sun-up and sundown calls might not be endurable without patience. Patience has its place.

The definition of patience is this: The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. It is a saintly quality. Over the recent years, however, I have traded in my use of the word patience for a common phrase: NEVER GIVE UP.

We get a lot of people that contact us when they hit a wall with their bird. For instance, someone trying to convert their bird to a better diet might say: “I have been feeding him his veggies every day for a month and he hasn’t touched them.” One patented reply to that comment would be: “Be patient. Once he realizes how good they taste, he will come around.”

Another person might complain that their bird is stubbornly refusing to play with their toys. A common response might be: “Be patient. Once he realizes what they are for, he will come around.”

This is not untrue, exactly. These things can take time. But we are human and we need to see a light at the end of the tunnel – some small sign of improvement to encourage US to continue trying. Sometimes it just isn’t there.

This is when things start to fall apart. People start feeling desperate – sometimes they are angry because the recommended course of action isn’t working. They reach out once more to the avian community only to hear: “Be patient – he will come around”.

These words, while true in a sense, are not helpful (and I say this knowing I have used them many times.)

Alexandrine parakeet

When you are working with your bird, in ANY area, and you do not see progress, you have to consider that it is not the bird’s failing. If your bird is unresponsive to your efforts, you need to rethink the methods you are using. You are the director. Your bird follows your lead.

Recommending patience at this point might be counter-productive. It doesn’t make sense to continue doing something that has over and over again proven to be fruitless. When you are seeing no positive results from your work with your bird, it doesn’t make any sense to continue on that path.

Stop, rethink your plan and move forward in another direction.

While patience might be necessary while you accomplish your goals with your bird, it isn’t the quality that will get the job done. Perseverance (forward momentum) and ingenuity (clever problem solution) are the major players while patience plays a support role.

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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