Bird Behavior & Training
The following information has been provided by Dr. Jill M. Patt, DVM practicing in Mesa, Arizona. Dr. Patt has been keeping and raising exotic birds for years, providing her a unique knowledge and understanding that goes beyond that of a regular vet who does not have the benefit of daily interaction with birds / parrots.
Parrots as Pets:
Birds are fascinating, beautiful, incredible creatures that I have chosen to share my life with. I've enjoyed keeping and raising birds for as long as I can remember and they are greatly responsible for my becoming a veterinarian.
While I love these critters, I also understand how difficult they can be to live with. Before anyone acquires a pet bird they need to understand what they are getting into. Never acquire any type of pet on an impulse and especially a bird.
Studies have proven that birds are much more intelligent than our other commonly kept pets and they also are very long lived. These two factors often contribute to some of the problems we see in avian veterinary medicine. Because birds are so intelligent, they become board easily and this commonly leads to behavioral disorders such as feather picking and skin mutilation. (Please note that feather plucking/chewing can have physical causes.)
Their intelligence can also get them into trouble. As an example, it is not uncommon for a bird to learn that when they scream the owner comes to the cage and they quickly become attention yellers.
Also, because they often live for decades on very poor diets, we regularly see diseases associated with severe malnutrition. Therefore, I encourage anyone considering acquiring a bird to become thoroughly educated in the needs of the bird prior to bringing your feathered friend home.
Pet Potentials / Training of the Different Bird Families:
African Greys as Pets ... Amazon Parrots as Pets
Brotogeris as Pets (Grey-cheeks, Canary-winged Parakeets, etc.)
Caiques as Pets - Personality Traits ... Chicken as Pets ... Cockatiels as Pets ... Cockatoos as Pets ... Conures as Pets
Lories / Lorikeets as Pets ... Lovebirds as Pets
Macaws as Pets
Pigeons: Personality and Pet Potential
Turacos as Pets
Vasa Parrots as Pets
Keep your bird busy or otherwise he or she will keep themselves engaged, and you MAY not like what they choose to do!
Toys are an essential part of stimulating birds and keeping them occupied. They need not be expensive. For most birds, but the most destructive ones, small children toys are safe to use. They are usually made from safe / non-toxic materials and are easily obtainable from garage sales or thrift stores.
With a little creativity you can make interesting toys yourself. An empty pen hull makes a great toy for most parrots. Empty bottle caps (non-toxic ones, like plastic). Make sure your bird doesn't ingest any of it though. Most birds won't, but others will. For the latter ones, safe tree branches would be a great alternative ...
The following resources will be helpful: Environmental Changes .... Bird Proofing Your Home .... Foraging stops destructive behaviors ... Also refer to: Redirecting Negative Behaviors in your Petbird for some excellent tips and tricks.
Helpful Forums: They offer a great way of discussing your specific problems with experienced parrot behavioralists and benefit from their step-by-step guidance
- ABC's of Applied Behavioral Analysis: This mailing list is led by true professionals in this area who provide step-by-step guidance to bird owners who need help resolving behavioral problems.
- BirdClick: Led by people who have a lot of experience with behavioral problems, as well as simply teaching "an old parrot" (as well as young ones) new tricks. They use a "clicker" to train parrots.
Sexual Behavior in Companion Birds
Training your cat / dog to live with your pet bird
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