Daily Life With Your Parrot
article by Robert
Parrots are among the most intelligent creatures on
the planet, and their rightful position on the 'intelligence scale' may
very well be alongside the higher primates, or even, in some cases, in the
range of a two to four year old HUMAN child! Such a statement may startle
some people, who think of parrots as only 'bird-brained' imitators of
human speech. In fact, parrots are socially and psychologically complex
beings, and exhibit the same range of emotions that humans feel, like
love, sensitivity, anger, frustration, revenge, humor, pain, sorrow, fear,
loneliness, anxiety, excitement, happiness, anticipation, and, of course,
"Stanley" At Play
photo courtesy of Rick
I have seen all these emotions at work in our own birds,
and I am always amazed at the intricacy of their body language,
vocalizations, and facial and eye expressions. Their interaction with
their environment, other birds, and humans, is a wonder to behold, and I
never tire of their company. They are unique among animals in their
ability to speak human words, and even more unique is their ability to
understand what those words mean.
Some parrots have reported vocabularies as high as 300
words! True, not all parrots evidence the full capabilities of their kind,
but the fact that parrots even have these abilities at all is enough to
cause us to view them in a much different light.
What does all this have to do with daily life with your parrot? Well,
the fact that parrots have these remarkable abilities, along with their
complex social and psychological natures, means that their well being,
development, and happiness require many of the same things and conditions
that would be required by a small human child!
Like human children, they NEED to be held, to feel warmth and love.
They NEED companionship in order to avoid loneliness and depression. They
need reassurance and security. They need physical and intellectual
interaction with their environment and with other creatures, in order to
grow and learn and prosper. They need to escape boredom, and the
frustrations of being kept in a cage for hours on end. They need good
nutrition, and a sanitary environment...
The list of needs could go on and on, just as in the case of human
children. Are you beginning to see the implications of all this?
What your pet parrot will become, the quality of its life, the depth,
range, and development of its mind and emotions, its happiness or misery,
depend on YOU. Yes, that's right! YOU are the PARENT of a 'child' that
depends on you for its very life, and the quality of that life. Why you?
Because you brought this intelligent and sensitive creature into your life
and into relationship with a human being, and when you tame something
wild, you are forever responsible for it.
So how does this translate into daily routine? First, each day you must
provide for the physical well being of your bird. That means proper
nutrition, clean water, and a safe, peaceful, and sanitary environment.
And it means messes that you will have to clean up each and every day.
Second, you must give of YOURSELF: your time, your love, and your
attention. Without this, your bird will waste away in loneliness and
depression. Third, you must provide exercise and stimulation in the form
of time out of the cage, play, baths, toys, amusements, playgrounds, etc.
Fourth, you must provide training for certain words and tasks that your
bird must learn, eg. "up", "down", "stay", "no", etc. And fifth, you must
promote the health and development of your bird's mental and emotional
being through interaction with yourself and other humans, through
interaction with other birds and the environment, and through presenting
your bird with new challenges and experiences.
Parrots, like small children, love and need to play, and, if done in a
non-stressful manner, they also enjoy new experiences and people (eg. I
will sometimes take one of our birds to my work for the day). Of course,
each bird is an individual, and its own personality must be taken into
account when introducing new experiences. Birds will let you know if they
don't like something!
You may have noticed that I included the word "peaceful" in my above
description of environment. I have noticed that parrots have an uncanny,
perhaps even psychic ability to detect any anger, agitation, or "negative
vibes" that may be present. They pay close attention to the tone and level
of human voices, and they carefully observe your body language. No matter
how well I may try to hide agitation or a bad mood, they seem to detect it
every time! Likewise, you must learn to pay close attention to your bird.
Listen and watch. They communicate with voice, facial expressions, and
body language, just like humans.
P align="left">To summarize, the key points are to give of your love and time, and to
provide your parrot with a variety of daily experiences that will promote
its well being, development, and happiness.