One Person Bird

Bird that loves cigarettes
Bird that loves cigarettes

We’ve all seen it, and maybe you even live with one – the one-person bird. This is a bird that is too attached to one person and either avoids or attacks everyone else. Stereotypes claim it’s characteristic of African Greys, Cockatoos, or ———- (fill in the blanks), but it shouldn’t be characteristic of any species, and you may see it in any bird if he hasn’t been properly socialized and nourished. It’s another another harmful behavior that we unintentionally (or occasionally actively) encourage. Why? The human ego!! When our birdie pal bites our partner or chases our mother-in-law around the floor, we think it’s adorable. We believe it demonstrates how amazing a bird parent we are since our bird loves us so much that he only wants to be with us.

Unfortunately, when your bird is unable to interact with other people (or birds) and is completely reliant on you, you dramatically limit his environment. But what happens when you’re not there? These “love triangles” are one of the major reasons birds come to my adoption program. When you let this situation to deteriorate, you are frequently forced to divorce or give up your bird! You also make your bird’s life more difficult. He’s scared of the doctor, the groomer, and the bird sitter, so every inspection, wing trim, or boarding trip becomes a tremendous struggle for your bird and you. He doesn’t want anybody feeding him, stepping him up, or playing with him. His world is becoming smaller and smaller.

It all begins in the nursery. All the birds played together (supervised, of course) on one huge playstand while I was handfeeding infants, so they learnt to interact with one another. Two or three of us alternated doing the handfeeding. I gave infants to everyone who came in through the windows to meet as many people as they could. When someone adopted a newborn, I advised them to give the infant to everyone who entered their house and to ensure that all family members spend daily time with the child. This early socialization is critical for raising an emotionally healthy bird. The practice of meeting new individuals and visiting different locations should be continued throughout the bird’s life to maintain a stable, well-rounded birdie.

Clients tell me about breeders and pet stores encouraging them to keep their new baby away from everyone until he’s more grown and has formed a relationship with them. Throughout their lifetimes, birds may create a variety of relationships. I’ve been handfeeding Amber since she was 2 12 months old, and we have a really tight relationship – we’re “friends”!! But I’ve introduced Amber to many people and birds over the years, and she goes out “socially” rather often (you’ll always see her at the Portland Blues Festival). So when Joseph entered my life about two years ago, Amber welcomed him with open arms, and they now have a very unique friendship. Almost anybody may come into my home and either step up or pet Amber. She may be defensive at times, but she normally doesn’t feel frightened by new people in most settings (unless when she’s hormonal!)

What if you already have a single-person bird? Introduce him to different people and take him on rides other than to the vet or groomer to gradually extend his environment. If you have an issue within your own family, have the “disliked” person deal with the bird gently and in a neutral environment, preferably away from the cage and from you. He might begin by just sitting near the bird, chatting quietly and handing them food. It might occasionally assist to have this individual perform the feeding and releasing out of the cage. Do not chuckle or encourage the bird’s bad conduct in any manner. Don’t “rescue” – if you run to get the bird every time he bites your husband, he’ll learn that biting your husband is the way to get back to you! Play games, such as passing the bird around the room to each family member, sharing treats, or playing ball or peekaboo. Place the cage or playstand in a central location to include the bird in family activities. Make certain that all members engage regularly, and concentrate on developing trust. Working with the bird away from home may be beneficial since it reduces territoriality.

Don’t let your ego interfere with your bird’s socialization. We want our birds to love us as much as we love them, but nothing is sadder than a bird whose entire world revolves around the two of you – it’s unfair and unkind in the long run, no matter how cute and flattering it appears at first.

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