Just as we humans do, parrots can sometimes suffer from social anxiety. Even for a socially well-adjusted bird, they may experience some nervousness in new situations. To prevent problem behaviors, discomfort, and stress to your bird, it is important to go through some steps in appropriately socializing him. There are several situations that you should be aware of when socializing your parrot. These situations and special circumstance include:
- you, the owner
- household pets
- other birds
Introduction to Children
Children can be loud and energetic, which can frighten your parrot. This stresses him unduly, and may even lead him to acting out in fear and biting or scratching. Socializing him to children involves teaching the children as much as teaching him. Caution children to make smooth, quiet movements toward him and to keep their voices down. Never let them play with your bird without your supervision. This will protect both the child and your bird.
Introduction to Outsiders
Some birds are very sociable by nature and enjoy interacting with outsiders. They will talk to your friends very quickly. Others are more cautions, and many even have a type of social anxiety. You should strive to make them feel comfortable with outsiders, but don’t unduly stress him. Have a friend who is very tolerant and understands birds to be the first to try to befriend him. Only expose your bird for short periods, letting him recoup in between friend attempts.
Once he accepts one outsider, you can introduce him to others, one at a time. Never let anyone tease him, or get loud and aggressive toward him. Teach them how quietly approaching him if they do not already understand nervous birds.
Developing a Relationship with You, the Owner
When you first begin your attempt at building a relationship with your bird, remember that you are a stranger to him. You know you have wanted him and love him, but he does not have a clue about who you are. Begin by being very quiet around him, feeding and caring for him gently until he begins to trust you and then to see you as his caretaker and someone he can trust.
Interaction with Other Pets
If you have another pet, such as a cat or dog, it is crucial to introduce your bird to him or her. Never, ever, leave them unattended with your bird when he is outside his cage. It is even wise to remain in close proximity when they are in the room even with him in the cage. They may try to jump up or climb up to investigate and hurt your dear bird.
Relating to Other Birds
If you have other birds in the home, or will be taking your bird around other birds, such as at shows, it is important to get him acclimated to being around other birds. It is best to do this by starting him out with just one other bird. Choose a quiet, non-aggressive bird for his first introduction. Be sure the bird is not one that is intimidated and non-assertive. You don’t want your bird to learn to be a bully. At the same time, you don’t want him bullied. Watch carefully as they interact with each other.
Once he is accustomed to a single bird at a time, introduce him to being around a couple of birds at one time. Gradual introduce additional birds until he is comfortable with however many birds he might have to tolerate.
If you don’t plan to have him around several birds at one time, you won’t need to do the last step. However, it is important that he tolerate other birds for such things as vacations, vets visits, and visits from friends who have a bird.
Socialization is merely a matter of teaching. In the wild, his parents teach the young parrot, as he stays with the mother for a prolonged period. He gets instruction in taking care of himself, so has a confidence that gives him social prowess. For the young bird hatched and raised in a hatchery, he does not get this teaching. It is up to the humans in his life to give him that teaching.
- Shared Responsibilities – Both the breeder and the owner are responsible for training the young bird. Training should begin upon hatching and continue throughout the young bird’s early years.
- Learning Survival Skills – In the wild, the bird learns how to hunt for food, how to manipulate food for survival, such as cracking nuts, etc. The ability to care for itself gives the bird confidence in its ability and helps it develop socially as a viable part of the flock. In captivity, the owner must fulfill that role.
- Potential for Behavior Problems – Any lack of teaching can cause the bird to develop behavior problems. The owner needs to be aware of this potential and address them as necessary.
I’d like to thank Pets Sensation for their contribution, read more about them here: www.petssensation.com!