A couple of years ago, I wrote an article entitled "The Biggest Mistake We Make with Our Parrots". Following that post I wrote another article called "The Second Biggest Mistake We Make with Our Birds".
Both of these article explain ways we unintentionally sabotage our own efforts with our parrots. Our third biggest mistake is yet another stumbling block we place in our own paths. Sometimes we make things much harder than they have to be.
This mistake is made purely because we love our birds. It happens because we want them to have the best possible life with us, and we want to be the best parrot guardian and companion we can be.
These are absolutely noble intentions. Sometimes, however, we get a little lost in our mission. The third biggest mistake is about over-thinking everything.
Back when I had my first birds, there was very little practical information on parrot care. I admit I had to muddle my way through everything. Sometimes it feels like a miracle my birds survived my inept care in those early days.
Current parrot owners are educated about product safety and proper nutrition. We now have the benefits of advanced health care. But even with all these developments, birds themselves have not changed at all.
Today, when we are faced with a behavioral problem (the same ones that have always existed), we read and read and try to soak in all the information. In the end, it just leaves most people feeling conflicted because it is impossible to follow everyone’s advice.
Some of the emails we get here are from people who are desperate and pleading for help, and I know the biggest obstacle they face is themselves. Their confusion and panic is a result of applying too much pressure to find answers so they can be the kind of bird owner they expect themselves to be.
One common piece of advice you will find online when you are searching for the answer to a biting problem is to examine your actions in the seconds before you received a bite. This will tell you exactly what your bird is responding to when it chooses to bite you. This is true, but only when the problem is at its most formative stages.
More often than not, though, by the time biting is recognized as a “problem” by the average bird owner, it has become a default behavior by the bird; it just bites hands whenever hands are around. It doesn’t make any sense to suggest someone go back in time to revisit the very first event because when that first bite happens, what most people remember is the emotional and physical shock of being bitten and nothing more.
Furthermore, scrutinizing your actions before that first bite may not identify the problem at all. By the time a bird is so exasperated it has resorted to biting, the very presence of your hands might be reason enough to bite regardless of what they were doing. Your hands have probably been objectionable for a while, and the bite indicates a breaking point for the bird but not the starting point of the problem.
See how complicated this is getting?
Don’t waste your effort and sanity trying to go backwards in time to find the root of a problem; you aren’t going to find it. Even if you did, it is useless information. The solution to the problem is the same no matter how much stress and self-flagellation you endure about past events. You have to re-earn your bird’s trust. Period.
Move forward with the solution and don’t waste your energy looking backwards. Know that your hands are responsible for the problem and be conscious of their movements and how you handle your bird with them from here on. Prove to your bird through your actions that you and your hands can be trusted again. It’s a pretty straight forward and simple plan of action– and not at all scary.
Overthinking will only divert you away from what might otherwise be an obvious solution. By the time you find your way back to the basics, time will have passed and problems will have grown. If you allow yourself to feel panic, you will pass that stress along to your bird and compound the existing issues.
Behavioral problems happen, they always have and they always will. It is not a reflection on you as a bird owner unless you do nothing about it. Unnecessary worry and regret will interfere with the happy journey you are supposed to be having with your bird. There is such a thing as trying too hard.
Some additional reading for you:
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.