Bonding is the crucial first stage in establishing a parrot/human connection. It is critical to establish a trust foundation in order to form a good relationship. A connection cannot exist in the absence of trust!

Contrary to common belief, hand feeding a newborn parrot is not required for it to connect properly with you. Hand feeding by a positive-based nurturer who has developed trust and offered direction from an early age is essential for a bird. Parrots, on the other hand, may create several relationships throughout the course of their lives. The earlier socialization and nurturing guidance are provided, the easier it is for a parrot to form new bonds.

Parrots, like humans, create various attachments with different people (and birds) throughout their lifetimes. Your bird may form a main relationship with you if you do the majority of the feeding, cleaning, and one-on-one engagement. Then there’s the possibility of a different relationship with your spouse, who may give special delicacies and periodic “hangouts” together. Your youngsters may form a new friendship by giving hilarity and distinctive activities. Then there’s the connection with other birds in the home, or even with the family dog. These are all remarkable and one-of-a-kind partnerships. My idea is that the more opportunities a parrot has for various pleasant associations, the healthier your bird will be. If you and your bird must part ways for any reason, a bird who has been encouraged to have multiple healthy relationships throughout its life will adapt much more successfully and make new bonds much more smoothly than one who has been kept in a “one person” mode. Parrots are highly social and sociable creatures by nature, and it is your responsibility as a caregiver to foster trusting birds.

So, how do we go about it? First and foremost, if you want to keep your bird’s primary bond strong, don’t get him a buddy! A true “pair-bond” will most likely form between two birds of the same species. During hormonal times, even in cross-species “buddy bonds,” birds can become territorial and aggressive toward their humans.

Second, while we love and spoil our parrots, don’t “spoil” them in the sense of not providing guidance. Parrots, like young children, want and require “rules” and guidelines for living. Ignore the majority of negative behaviors while strongly reinforcing the positive ones. Use “step up/step down,” play “the towel game,” and always provide lots of positive reinforcement (“Good step up!” “Good bird!” “I like that!”) Don’t resort to “quick fix” techniques, don’t lose your cool, and don’t personalize your bird’s perceived “mean” behavior. Learn about basic parrot behavior, practice positive reinforcement, and build trust. Your bonds will then be strong and healthy.

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