Sharon Bayeh from Sydney NSW writes: I have adopted two Quaker parrots through a friend that did not want them anymore. They are around 1 year old, and a little skittish. From a distance, they seem to want to interact with us people, but when we get closer they start to chirp and fly around the cage. I don’t want to stress them out, but how do I build trust with them?
Living with parrots of any kind can be a never ending routine of joy, surprise and just plain fascination. From throwing all stationary objects on the floor to chirping happily on your shoulder. Birds will always keep you on your toes! Interestingly enough, birds are one of the species that still maintain their wild instincts. Dogs and cats have been domesticated for 100’s of years with humans, but birds and other animals such as horses and farm animals have not. They still maintain their wild side, and therefore their wild instincts to survive.
By building trust and forming a bond with your birds, you will be able to teach each other so much about friendship, love and of course fun! Taking time to bond with your bird is essential to building a long-lasting and successful relationship. The strength of the bond between you and your bird will greatly influence the quality of your pet’s life, as well as your experience. They will see you as part of the flock, and will treat you as another bird in their family. The foundations of your relationship with your birds will determine how much you get out of each other. The key to unlocking your bird’s desire to be with you is trust and patience.
Nothing is more powerful than talking with your animals to build a bond. Learning to communicate with them in a telepathic and intuitive way, you can ask your birds so many questions to understand how they feel and what they want from you. You can ask them what do they like to do with you, what activities they like or dislike and how you can help them to trust you. The greatest part of animal communication is that you can both be clear about what you want in the relationship. There is a mutual exchange of respect and understanding. Being transparent with them helps them to build that important trust. Without that animal communication, you will be doing a lot of trial and error and can set the relationship back at times.
CREATING A SAFE SPACE
Birds are a prey animal – their whole life is governed by the fight or flight response. They must feel their home and their space with you is safe and free. They need to know that it is really their home. They can do what they wish at any time, especially when they are out of the cage. This can be achieved by slowly building up their trust in your space. Start with sitting in a chair near their closed cage. Just sit quietly; you can observe them or read a book so they don’t feel the intensity of your attention on them. Practice this daily at different times of the day, so they get used to your presence around them. Once they are not threatened by you – they are chirpy and curious about you, then open the cage and allow them to come to you. Let them come out and explore (obviously in a closed room). If they wish to interact with you, then you can give them scratches and maybe a few treats too – this will show them interacting with people and exploring outside can be safe and fun. They see their cage as a safety zone, so you need to show them that the rest of the home is just as safe for them too.
The more you spend time together, the more comfortable they will be to interact and play with you. Grooming and cuddling with members of their flock is important for establishing bonds and strengthening their flock. Start slowly by letting them come to you – let them jump up on your hand in the cage instead of prompting them. If they are nervous about you invading their cage, you can wait until they climb out and then try to get them to jump up. The more they feel they have some choices in being held and cuddled, the more they will trust you and wish to be with you.
Once they are comfortable being held and sitting on you, you can give them lots of cuddles and scratches. Each bird is going to be different with what they like, so try different things and see what they respond to. Many birds love being scratched on the back of their head, and some do love a belly scratch too! You may find this will become the best part of your bird’s time with you.
Nothing gets a bird more excited than play time! Have a variety of toys there for them to play with. Some noisy toys can be in their cage, but if you want them to be comfortable being outside their cage, then you can put some different special toys on their day stand. The noisier and more fiddly the better. Birds love to destroy things, so giving them wood pieces and coconut shells are great for them to break apart with their beaks. It also stops them from destroying your furniture! If you wish to get them interacting with you more, take some of the puzzle toys and sit near them. Play around with the puzzles, and really get present with them. Your birds will get curious with what you are doing and are more likely to come over and join in. Your attention is focused on the toy instead of them – they feel less threatened.
Birds are highly visual and audial. Whilst they are very observant, they love sound. They are especially sensitive to frequency of sound. Through my clients’ birds, they have explained that each sound has a frequency of energy, and a bird can sense that energy as well as absorb the sound. This is why you may find they love it when you croon to them in a loving voice, but will screech when there is an argument happening around them. And of course they love music! Each bird has a genre they like, you will have to play different songs to see what your bird likes. Hopefully they like the same music as you, otherwise I am not sure you want to hear heavy metal all day for your bird to enjoy!
Living with birds truly is a special relationship. There is a lot of communication involved, lots of fun to be had and you will learn so much from your birds. They have a wisdom that other species do not. Whilst they can be strong and defiant, they are also very fragile. Maybe this is why humans are so attracted to birds – deep down they feel the desire to protect the vulnerable.