This summer I had the opportunity to meet Chris and Misty, a couple that Dave Womach worked with on a behavior consultation involving their moluccan cockatoo. They were at the Womach’s house graciously offering their time to disassemble some of the indoor cages for the Womach’s final move to Idaho.
In talking to them, I realized that Dave had managed to drive home a really important message during the consult. Chris said to me that he was relieved to find that the source of the problem was him and not the cockatoo. I was thrilled to hear that, most people do not look at the situation so open-mindedly.
When there are problems with our birds, almost without exception, a human caregiver is at fault. I know that is hard to hear. No one wants to consider that they might be responsible for screwing up their bird. However, it is an admission that everyone, myself included, has to make before moving forward to a solution: WE are the problem.
Issues with our parrots come in many different forms. The vast majority of health issues are traced back to inadequate diet and exercise, lack of proper lighting or an unclean or unsafe environment. Behavioral issues like fear or aggression will eventually be traced back to our handling of the bird, and our inability to read their body language. Ultimately, none of these problems can be blamed on a bird that sits caged among humans. They have no control over anything. They can only object.
The fact is that birds are very adaptable and always do well in homes where their security does not feel threatened and they are well cared for. If your bird isn’t doing well, you are missing something.
I am sure some people reading this are already getting defensive, but please don’t. This isn’t an attack on anyone’s merits as a bird owner and it is actually good news!
Everyone taking the time to read this obviously loves their bird deeply and does their very best to care for them and provide the best of everything. As I have said many times in the past, we are humans who do not read body language well and can only manage to perceive things in a way that is limited to our human experience. Our journey with birds has been a short one and our knowledge is very limited. We are going to blow it repeatedly. It is inevitable. It speaks very highly of the birds in our care that they are willing to bend again and again to make things work with us.
Your bird is not defective. In fact, he is operating perfectly and in exactly the manner a bird should in a difficult situation. His behavior is symptomatic, a reaction to situations thrust upon him that weren’t of his own making and are beyond his control. Don’t expect your bird to change to solve the problem. WE have to make the changes.
The good news is that since we have created the problems, we can fix them. It is a lot easier to fix yourself than something else, especially when you have no idea how that something else actually works.
To do it, though, we have to put our egos behind us, drop the defenses and take Chris and Misty’s sensible outlook on their bird’s behavior. We can solve the problem by addressing our own shortcoming as caregivers. Are you willing to look in the mirror for the solution to your bird’s problems?
You can start to make the difference by clicking here: One Day Miracles
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.