Acclimating New Birds

How To Transition Plants | A Beginn...
How To Transition Plants | A Beginners Guide To Plant Acclimation

Now that my services have grown into the “matchmaking” sector, it seemed to me that we should discuss the transfer of a bird to a new home, whether it is a hand fed baby being adopted to a new house or an elderly bird going to a second home. This is a difficult moment for any bird, but you can assist ease the transition for both your new bird and the rest of the family.

It is critical to plan ahead of time. A pet parrot should never be purchased on the spur of the moment. Adopting a companion parrot is just that: ADOPTING a new family member; they are not used automobiles that can be sold in when you grow bored! They are alive, feeling, sensitive creatures who should always be treated as PERMANENT family members. I’ll never forget my first trip to a local bird exhibition after relocating to the Northwest. It was winter, chilly and wet, and I saw people leaving the expo with small infant African Greys tucked under their jackets. Inside, there was a salesman selling plenty of lovely baby Grays at a low price – evidently, many people couldn’t resist. Because no one appeared to have brought a carrier, they didn’t seem to be “planned” purchases, but rather spur of the moment purchases. I’m curious how many were returned to a lovely cage, complete with new toys and the right diet? I’m guessing not many. It’s a lethal combination: adorable, inexpensive, and baby! I’m sure not many people had done their homework, researching African Greys and bird care in general.

Another popular scenario is the “petshop rescue” – the miserable bird at some pet store that knows nothing about birds – there he is, in a small cage, eating sunflower seeds with no toys, wedged in between the hamsters and snakes, while the resident shop cat climbs freely about the store. So you take him home on a whim.

So, whether it’s the irresistible newborn, the sorrowful ill-cared-for rescue, or a genuine well-thought-out carefully selected new addition – there he is, arriving through your front door, eager to spend the rest of his life with you, his ever loving devoted family!! So, how can we get from terrified outsider to pleased feathery child?

First and foremost, prepare. Set up the cage, toys, and food ahead of time so he can go right in and not have to hang around while everyone else scrambles about looking for bird things. We usually recommend placing a bird’s cage in the busiest section of the home, so he may be the focus of attention. However, young birds want some room, quiet, and solitude while settling in, so give him a comfy secure spot where he may watch, but from a safe distance. Of course, he should have gone to the vet first, and quarantining him for at least one month away from any other birds is always advised. As a result, this may not be his permanent residence, but rather a “pit-stop” at the beginning. To make him feel protected, you may drape a towel over the rear and one side of his cage. If feasible, include some of his former diet into the new (delicious) meal you’ll be presenting.

Learn as much as you can about not just his food, but also his preferences in toys, play time, bed time, and daily routine. Maintaining some consistency allows for an easier transition period. Many parrots dislike radical changes, so take it slowly. Introduce him to everyone in the family, but avoid doing too much “hands on” activities at first. Spend more time sitting by him, chatting to him, and giving him snacks. Don’t push him or expect quick adoration. Build trust by using “step-ups.” Play “The Towel Game” for interactive fun while also assisting future demands for vet or groomer handling.

Set a consistent routine for your new man. Feed him plenty of fresh vegetables as well as warm cooked grains and beans. Warm meal is “comfort food,” and when served by hand, it helps enhance the relationship. Spend some time with him at the dinner table, ideally on a stand. Watch TV with him and preen his head feathers as you lounge on the sofa. Include him in a variety of family activities to help him feel at home. If everyone is gone to work or school during the day, leave a radio or TV on and provide him with a variety of interesting toys that provide both chewing exercise and mental stimulation. Before you leave, speak with him and assure him that he is safe and that you will return. When you return, greet him with a warm hello and a big hug. If you have other birds, try to keep the flock in order. It won’t help him relax if the other birds are resentful of the new guy’s attention. Always address your primary bird first – first out, first kissed, first fed, and so on. Allow the birds to gather only after you’re certain that everyone gets along. It’s helpful if the first time you’re together is on a neutral new stand where no one is territorial. If you expect the two to eventually share a cage, keep in mind that it will take time and patience – you don’t want the new guy to be intimidated by an overbearing dominant “resident” who thinks he runs the show.

Remember not to make the mistake of completely adoring the bird at first, then ignoring him once the novelty wears off. He’ll undoubtedly require extra attention in the beginning, but try to strike a balance right away to avoid rebound issues later on. So be prepared, take your time, build trust, and have fun getting to know one another. This is the start of a wonderful lifelong friendship.

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