Mixing Birds with Infants

Toco Toucan "Rocko" with Dave and infant Sydney Capri.

I've been asked a ton recently how my birds are responding to the newest addition of our baby girl, Sydney Capri, who is currently a month and a half old. Our situation is quite different than most... first, whenever we are here at home in Florida it's ours and our birds "time off" from performing and having any sort of schedule. So they spend all their time in their outdoor aviaries and/or our 200 sq ft bird room unless we randomly bring them in the house to hang out for a bit, but usually we do all our hanging out with them in their space as Dave (my husband) is super allergic to the birds. Hence why freeflying outdoors is such a great activity for us and a great way for us to spend time with our flock in a way that doesn't stuff Dave up! Second, our birds were raised not to expect anything in particular on any type of schedule. We raise them in what we call the "gypsy experience" which is explained in detail in our Total Transformation Seminar Series. In a nutshell, it is our lifestyle - constantly exposing them to new people, places and things. So because things are constantly changing for them, their life hasn't really 'changed' dramatically enough for them to respond negatively to the newest addition. All the birds know she is around, and they all reacted a couple days before I gave birth by being moody, loud and unfriendly to my visiting mother. The day I gave birth they were silent (and I gave birth at home). And afterwards they were back to their normal selves - my mom said it was as if they knew it was happening, or sensed something going on. Animals are so receptive, I wouldn't doubt it. They all have looked at her through the aviaries but don't think much of her - for two years traveling on tour throughout the US, Jinx (blue throated macaw), Cressi (african grey) and Bondi (rose breasted cockatoo) were socialized with crowds of thousands in preshows where they would sit on people's arms or shoulders for pictures. Some of our bird's routines in our shows require kids to be on stage and "help out". Many require adults of all varieties (flying through hoops that random people hold nightly, etc) so our birds are more than socialized with just us or our friends and family. It's not new for them to accept and befriend someone new. However, I've also been hesitant to get Sydney too close so early on. Her reflexes are still working so that unpredicted movement around birds isn't the best combination... but she has met our three sun conures, our toucan Rocko, and our rose breasted cockatoo Bondi. So slowly but surely she is being more and more introduced. I don't plan on too much introduction (hands on type) until she's quite a bit older... unless we do a photoshoot or something down the road! My first introductions have been with well, myself, being a first time mom... holy world upside down... and my dog and cat. Plus visiting family and friends. The cool thing is, the first months of my pregnancy I was still performing on stage and so I did not have a quiet pregnancy and Sydney can sleep through anything! I've actually brought her outside to see the birds in the aviaries when she was fussy and she has fallen asleep even if they are screaming their heads off about something. So the noise isn't any type of issue and we never attempted to mask it. She is totally unfazed by the noise of birds (moreso than me!) So short answer: no, our birds are not acting weird or jealous, they're really unaffected based on our lifestyle. And I will continue to slowly introduce her to them - I want to make sure every interaction is positive so to set them all up the ultimate success in the long future... I don't want to give Sydney any reason to fear them nor the other way around with my birds (who would be hard to do that with anyway!) all in due time!

Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.

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