Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Musha Cay, Bahamas Pictured: Blue and gold macaws "Jersey" & "Chayko"
My friend Rosie, who is just 12 years old, has recently had a big interest in birds. She loves being around mine, and always asks if she can help clean cages (heck yeah!) and be there when we fly them in the arenas in every city before load in. I've actually loved her new found interest, because she reminds me to spend time with my birds at times that I wouldn't normally think to.
However, the most recent incident made me think of this blog post topic: Rosie asked if we could go play with the birds inside the trailer, since all the arena was already set up and shows were going inside. I said yes, and unlocked the trailer for her to play with Ace, one of our rose breasted cockatoos. I left to do laundry at the back of the trailer, and came back a little while later.
To my surprise, my buddy Ace flew AT me, not TO me. I realized he was mad at me, and he even did the same to Rosie. Neither of us were bitten (both of us had thick sweaters on so if we were, we didn't feel it) but I told Rosie we'd need to end play time so I could talk to Dave about Ace's behavior.
When I spoke to Dave about it, we both realized the top 5 reasons our parrots get mad at us, and I wanted to share them with all of you, because I think they're pretty basic reasons all parrots would get mad with their human companions.
Reason #1 - Not enough exercise time to get their energy out.
This is why Ace was mad with me. For the last two weeks we hadn't flown in the arenas because our RV trailer broke down, and we were either in repairs (first week) or getting a new one (second week) so we arrived in the cities too late to fly before the load in process.
Birds need to get their pent up energy out, just like you and me and just like ALL animals. I've seen the way the horses are on the show when they don't have paddocks or grassy fields to enjoy... the trainers have to at least make time to put them on a lunge line and lunge them so they get their energy out. The elephant trainer walks the elephants around the compounds we stay at, even if at worst case it's just the street, then they are walked there. Whatever the trainers have to do to let their animals get their energy out - they do it. This goes for birds to, and specifically amounts to flight time.
Reason #2 - Not enough quality time/attention.
This is the number one reason Bandit will normally get mad at me. However, I've found that taking him with me in the front seat on the weekly car rides/road trips helps him with this and makes it so that he doesn't punish me for not spending time with him.
Sometimes our lives get busy and we forget about our birds, we've got to find ways to make some extra time to spend with them, otherwise, that's a darn good reason for biting you, I think. I'd probably resort to that too if my husband never took me on a date!
Reason #3 - Not taking enough time to make your parrot's diet healthy.
I'm not the most patient person in the world... not even close... so sometimes I just get lazy, or tired, or make up some other type of excuse that satisfies my reasoning of just feeding pellets for the day instead of chopping up something fresh.
Of course, there are some days that make it impossible to feed fresh foods (travel days are a no-no for fresh stuff unless it's consumed before the birds enter their travel cages) but most of the time, it's just pure human laziness that we have to kick for the sake of keeping our birds healthy.
Reason #4 - No real sunlight or outdoor time.
I notice a drastic change in my parrot's mood if they don't get REAL sunlight (not from inside a window... I'm talking the good stuff here) as well as if we don't freefly them, or at least get them outside in their aviaries. Not only do aviaries take care of getting them essential vitamins from the sun, but it also gives them wind that helps with breathing, water for bathing and socialization time as well as having fun in a flock outside (remember getting out excess energy? It does that too!)
Have you ever noticed when you're sick for a while and you just stay inside... how good the sun feels on you when you finally go out in it? There's a reason for that.
Reason #5 - No rough housing time.
Let's face it, everyone likes to rough house a little. I even like to play a little game of tackle every so often with my husband. Birds need a little bit of fun and rough housing. Although Bondi's idea of rough housing is throwing blankets and things on her and that's as rough as she likes it, but our other birds love rough housing and need it.
Even when our two Camelot macaws are backstage, I will go up to the cage and talk to them in a way that gets them into play mode, and kneel down by their cage. They will then rush down to the bottom and say, "Hello!" and start playing with one another, crawling on top of each other and doing what I call "dog piling" which they just love - it's their favorite game and something I've played with them since they were babies.
So if your parrot is lashing out at you, it might be the same reasons I find when my parrots do so with me. It's never "random" and it's never your parrot's fault... they don't lash out for no reason. Sometimes it just takes you longer to figure out the reason!
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.