Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cool stuff on Parrot Instincts

I have a lot of talks last month with people about parrot behavior. Why do they do what they do? In its most basic sense, it comes down to one thing - Instinct. Okay, so what is it? Technically, the natural behavior patterns and responses to stimuli (including reflexes). Sounds kind of boring is not it? But that's why parrots do certain things.

Whether parrots in the rainforest, the plains, or your living room, they have the same instincts. Parrot instinct is hard-wired behavior that we must learn to work with and not against. Working with parrots and understand their instincts will help you get the mutual trust needed for a good relationship with your parrot development.

Instinctive behavior is not the same as learned behavior. Eg parrots some calls to communicate, but they learn to scream for attention. Parrots are master manipulators when it comes to compulsive behavior, they react to your actions and feelings and can easily see how "to press your buttons" but I'm going to stick with the basics in this article.

Prey vs Predator

The important thing to remember when interacting with parrots is that they prey. Dogs and cats are predators. Parrots are always looking for something that could eat. This victim mentality is to have them live. Predators are fast, faster parrots need to live.

That is why their eyes are on the side of the head and neck can rotate, so they can see almost 360 degrees around them. It's the same reason that fast movements usually too scared or put them on their guard. (Would a hawk, who come for lunch!)

Here are some common behaviors and instincts underlying parrots:

Fight or flight

You've probably heard about the fight or flight, it is never true for parrots. I'm sure they prefer to flee from danger, but can and will get ugly as they fly away is not an option. When parrots sense danger first reaction is to get away. Alex, my African Grey is a good example on this one. I call it "flying first ask questions later" behavior. If something scares him, he is off and flying. When cornered, he will actually growl or come in a striking pose.

April, Umbrella Cockatoo I, has a slightly different strategy. Fly them as threatened, but she does it, while screaming at the top of her lungs to the other members of her herd to warn. As she stretched, her first reaction is "push out" all her feathers and fully open its wings and tail. This is to make her look much bigger and scarier. So she would rock back and hisses loudly. Ok, it works. Do not mess with her now.

As wary of predators is why parrots prefer high places. A curtain rod or the top of the cage, among others, to favorite places. This way they are better able to spot potential predators. If you had to worry about the fact that someone's lunch you want to see them come out of the way first.


Parrots need to communicate with an audience. The herd in our house, or other birds, people or a little of both. Parrots are social animals and rely on each other to survive. A bird can warn hundreds danger. And the mass movement of a flock of birds in flight confuses predators, etc.

In our house, parrots needs attention from their human flock. If they do not get it, they will find ways to get it, there are not very pleasant for us humans. Parrots get lonely, self-destructive and may develop behavioral problems if not given enough attention. They must be spoken, played with and communicate with other members of their "flock".

Parrots are very "tuned" to their flock. It is true that if you are a high energy, are in a bad mood or are sick and not feeling well, your interaction with your companion parrot in different ways depending on what they "sense." Some say they are almost physically.

1 comment:

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