Lisa Woodworth and Sheba
Temple Aviaries
Health and Training

Settling in to the New Home, Family and Surroundings
by Garry Lee

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The first week can be very strange and unsettling for your new mate. He or she has been up-rooted from its human parents who fed, nurtured, cuddled and made this little bundle of colourful feathers feel very special.

Responsibility to continue the education training and affection that have been an important part of your young companion parrots life now becomes your responsibility.

All good companion parrot breeders introduce the words “step up and step down” to their babies as part of general handling when removing them from, and replacing them back into their hand rearing boxes and cages.

 One very important thing to remember is the way that a companion parrot responds to your affection. While we stroke, scratch and generally play with them, most companion parrots respond by nibbling your finger with their beak, while licking it with their tongue.

I have found this to be so with all of our companion parrots from cockatiels to the larger Cockatoos and Eclectus and all types in between. If the breeder has not told them that this is a natural occurrence, most new companion parrot owners find this action frightening or very un-nerving especially those that have been bitten by a parrot in the past.

Pulling your finger away each time they want to hold it, could at first cause the parrot to think that this is a new game and grab for your finger. Your continued actin plus verbal responses like screeching or startled utterance will indicate to the parrot your fear, which will lead to biting not play.

I believe that there was a need to explain this part of companion parrots behaviour, early in this article so that the new owner fully understands what is happening and why. 

The following information is from literature that we give to all new parents of our companion parrots. This information helps them to understand some basic procedures as well as helping to settle the bird into their home.

Tips and continuous training.

  1. The most important thing when correcting a bird’s behaviour is to NEVER hit the parrot. Hitting a parrot can injure it because their bones are hollow and fragile or worse possibly kill it. Besides hitting only makes the parrot fear you and may well bite in self-defence.

  2. Do not use gloves. Although you may be afraid of being bitten, gloves scare parrots and make them more likely to bite. Perches and towels are better training tools.

  3. Continue the "step-up" command with your parrot. Place your hand (knuckles up) under the birds belly, using gentle upwards pressure encourage your parrot to step up onto your hand by saying, "Step-up." Do this every time you take your parrot out of the cage, or want to pick it up. Do not just grab. This command also helps when you need to correct your bird’s behaviour My Sulphur Crested Cockatoo “Buddy” says “Step-up” automatically when he wants to be picked up.

  4. Keep your bird off your shoulder! Your bird should not be allowed to be above your chest height, because they can start to feel dominate there. In the wild, a parrot enforces its dominance by being above everyone else. By keeping your parrot below your shoulder, you are saying, “I am the boss.”

  5. When your parrot is doing something that you don’t like say “No” in a firm (but not screaming) voice, put it in its cage (do not forget the “step-up” command) and cover the cage for twenty minutes. Parrots are social creatures and do not like being left out and will catch on quickly that “bad” behaviour gets them no attention.

  6. Do not forget to reward your parrot! When your Parrot is being good take it out of the cage and tell it how good it has been, scratch the parrots head and play with it. Your parrot will respond to training if you reward it more often.

  7. Do not reward bad behaviour. Taking the bird out of the cage when it is screaming will tell it to scream for attention. Screaming at your parrot to tell it to be quite will amuse it and encourage it do it more. They actually like to see your response.  CAUTION! Make sure that your parrot is not screaming because it needs fresh food or water or has injured its self.

  8. Do not take your parrot out of its cage when you are uptight, or angry. Birds are sensitive to our emotions and get scared of us when we are not calm and relaxed.

  9. As with all animals Parrots need time to adjust to its new family (re-read the first chapter) Your Parrot won’t settle down overnight completely, but with patience, your new companion will become part of your family.

Bonding With Your Family

 Bonding is an important part of introducing your new companion to the family. Each member of your family needs to spend time with the parrot getting to know it and to bestow love and affection. The handling and time that the parrot spends with the family needs to happen every day for the rest of the parrot’s life. They are now part of your family just like your own children. The mental capacity of a parrot is equivalent to a 3 to 5 year old child and responds accordingly. “ Don’t believe me? Wait till you have had one fore a while” 

A bird that bonds only one member of the family can and usually does become protective of that person. We have been told stories by various parrot owners (some hilarious), about over protective parrots. Things like biting when they tried to cuddle their human partner, flying at people when they were near the parrot’s chosen human mate, thinking that the house is their domain, because they are aloud to fly everywhere at free will. This is not always the case! However, worth mentioning so if it should happen you know why.

Sleep time

All birds need at least at least twelve hours sleep a day. In the wild birds go to roost as the sun goes down and rise as the sun comes up, and are nosiest at these times of the day. With companion parrots they are in a situation where we humans do not follow this pattern of sleep, and are normally taken out of their cage to be handled and loved when they normally sleep.

Try to move your companion’s cage to that part of the room with less traffic and noise to disturb their sleep. We also cover our personal companions each night with a plain cover, leaving a few inches at the bottom of the cage uncovered to allow light in and visibility of the world outside of their cage encase they become startled.

Companion parrots make great mates.

Reprinted with permission

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