Photo by Dave Location: Orlando, Florida On back: Congo African Grey "Cressi" and Galah "Bondi"
I recently joined a really great parrot related forum. A user named Cheryl asked for advice on how to properly socialize her six birds and I ended up writing to her about how I socialized my Congo African Grey, Cressi, with my Rose Breasted Cockatoo, Bondi. They are of the same size and are now living happily in a cage together.
Anytime you bring a new bird into your flock, it must go through a 30 day quarentine. This is essential to maintain the current health of your flock. Cressi was kept in a separate air source from our other birds. Our other birds were kept in our Florida room. So for a period of 30 days, Bondi and Cressi merely saw one another through glass doors. After that period, we introduced Cressi to the florida room to join the flock. She was in a separate cage of her own and we began to take her and Bondi out together and into our entry way of our house. It is a wide, open area with plenty of room for them to fly and play.
When introducing new birds to one another, I always make sure to do so in a non-territorial area that is wide open. Birds tend to take onto the "Fight or Flight" moto. I have found that birds that are clipped are less likely to socialize as fast than a bird who is fully flighted. This is because the clipped bird feels like it only has the option to fight if something goes wrong. In my situation with Bondi and Cressi, they are both fully flighted as were they at this time of introduction. I have done this with clipped birds and will save that talk for a later entry... I believe for the bird to know that it can get away if it feels too threatened is a huge benefit for the bird to feel comfortable in getting closer during the socializing process (at least from what I have realized in my own personal experience doing so). First, I find the right place to introduce the two birds. I would not try to introduce all your birds to one another at once. There's no way you will catch everything that happens and it will just be a personality overload! With Cressi (CAG) and Bondi (Galah) they were competent fliers and of the came general size. We have a very open entry way in our home and chose to use it for the socialization process. Neither bird was dominant in this area and it had enough room in it for either one to fly away to safety. All birds will be comfortable at some point - it is finding that point. Some birds will prefer to be merely 2 feet away from one another, while others will need a good 20 feet just barely within sight. Work from your birds comfort zones, always gently pushing but not forcing. A breakout will happen if your bird is made to be too uncomfortable so it's important not to force the friendship. We kept Cressi and Bondi in separate cages at first. They saw one another and began to mimick each other's sounds. We would have them out together and they would fly. We have various railings in our house (it's two story) and they would always fly to opposite railings in the beginning. Eventually, they began to get closer and closer and enjoy one another's company more and more thus bringing them closer together. We made sure neither had the chance to strike the other and never rewarded or comforted when aggression was present. I also found it worked to love on one and let the other walk up and love that one too. I got Cressi and Bondi to stand so close they were touching feathers doing this and they didn't care about the other bird's presence because they were both receiving equal love and affection. This didn't happen within a couple days I may point out - this is a process that can take months depending on your birds. Once Bondi and Cressi were comfortable outside of their cages and flying around, we introduced them at the same time to a brand new cage. And when I say at the same time I really mean at the exact same time. Dave handed Cressi onto a long perch that stretched across the cage which is what I did with Bondi at the same moment. The environment was new to both birds and neither felt comfortable or "at home" so there were no territorial, dominance or aggression issues whatsoever. Also, when I say these two birds were comfortable together outside of their cages, I really mean that too. Check out the following image to see how comfy I mean these two got! This is where the birds need to be if you're going to plan on housing them together. Also, the housing needs to be big enough for them to be able to get away from the other bird - always. I've raised related birds who love one another but even siblings get sick of each other sometimes and it's bound to happen.
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Orlando, Florida Cuddling: Galah "Bondi" and CAG "Cressi"
Dave and I each stood holding one bird and placed them in the cage on a level perch at the exact same time. The environment was new to both of them so there was no territorial or dominance issues at all to deal with. There are 4 food dishes, 2 on each side and we felt that if they had a bickering, the less dominant bird could still get to food since it was all around available.
However, it's funny... Bondi and Cressi have their "sides". Bondi chose the left side, Cressi took the right. They share the entire cage but when you go in there at any given time and they aren't eating - they are on their sides!
Bondi has this habit of pacing when she is eager to come out and she only paces half way! It's like there is this invisible wall in the cage which can be pretty comical. I need to get it on video because words do it no justice... Here is a video of Bondi and Cressi recalling to me together...
I hope this helps at least begin your journey to socialize your birds together. I think the most important aspect is for neither bird to feel dominant during the process.
The whole idea with socializing is to reward your bird (whether with a treat or attention - depending on what is a reward to your bird) for getting close and showing a calm demeanor with the other bird. If they both get rewarded for the same behavior, they will catch on that the other bird is okay to be around and may eventually begin to enjoy its company. The clipped birds I socialized were 3 macaws (two blue and golds and a military) and once they were socialized, they still preferred to be on their own, doing their own thing. Each bird will be different.
Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Orlando, Florida Shown: Galah "Bondi" and CAG "Cressi"
Above is a photo of Bondi and Cressi sharing a cage together as they are now properly socialized.
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.