Can you change your pet parrot’s name – yes; should you change it – my opinion – no, not under ordinary circumstances.
If you haven’t yet watched the Cornell Lab of Ornithology video entitled “How a Parrot Learns its Name in the Wild,” you should definitely take the time to look it up. There is a growing amount of research into the science of parrots’ names, which is pretty cool.
Personally, I won’t change my birds’ names. Whatever they come with is there to stay, particularly if they seem attached – e.g. repeating it lots, or responding positively to me calling to them.
There is one circumstance where I will break this rule, and that is when a parrot’s name causes it distress. It’s something I’ve seen and heard about in some rescue cases. One person I know of had a parrot who would melt down at the sound of its name. She changed it completely, and the bird was able to move on from its traumatic past.
When I read about parrots naming their babies in the nest, I think about captive-raised babies who were deprived of parent interaction. Some birds are lucky enough to be raised with human-given names. But I worry most about the ones who aren’t, the ones who are never named – particularly hand-reared babies who are bred to become pets, but not named until long after they’ve weaned and moved onto their new homes. As people, we identify very deeply with our names. What kind of neural connections and mental developments are missed when a nestling isn’t named?
If you’ve adopted a parrot with a name you just can’t stand, consider changing it to something similar-sounding instead. For instance, Pluto to Plato. I find that it also works to make up a nickname, such as Maverick to Mavi. And if your bird suddenly reveals itself to be the opposite sex, you don’t necessarily have to revert to a different version. Honestly, the birds don’t care. Their names are more important than getting the gender pronoun right. My cockatiel, Mishka, turned out to be a male – but we referred to “him” as a female all her life. It would be very confusing if someone started calling me “Harry” instead of Sarah, so why would I do it to my birds, who – while not human – are still very intelligent?
What do you think about naming your pets- change the name, yes or no?