Saturday, April 25, 2015

The 4 things you shouldn't do when visiting with a Parrot.


So your friend just got a parrot and it is the coolest thing you've ever seen! You get into your car and you drive on over to his house. Of course, your friend being the proud parront, is more than happy to show him to you (and show him off to you!). But when you get there you realize that you've never had a parrot in your life. The only parrots you ever interacted with or saw were the ones in bird exhibits or zoos. Thankfully, being the ever considerate and mindful friend, you worry that your actions would be less than welcome in a home that is shared with a bird and so, have decided to do a quick search online about the visitor's do's and don'ts when visiting a parrot for the first time. Hopefully, that is where this article comes in. Here are a list of the 3 things you shouldn't do when visiting a friend and their beloved pet parrot. 

1. BAD WORDS AND FOUL LANGUAGE

So we have all seen those videos you social media of birds cussing like sailors and had a good laugh at it and you think that it might be a hoot to teach your friend's parrot some bad words. After all, what harm could it be, it's not like the bird understands what he is saying, right? Wrong!!! Aside from the fact that it is pretty inappropriate to teach bad words to a bird that isn't even your's, teaching any bird derogatory language is generally frowned upon by many parronts and for good reason to. For the better part, you see, many birds don't indeed understand what they are saying or how it is wrong and so may just take it in his or herself to say the worst kinds of words in the most terrible of situations. Birds that know cuss words may end up teaching other birds in the household bad language as well or in the worse case scenario, end up screaming obscenities at the top of his or her lungs making them almost impossible to socialize. Of course this is all fine and well, you say, if the owner himself doesn't mind a potty mouthed parrot but do consider this: many birds that are excellent talkers, such as the African Gray,cockatoos, and many species of macaws, also are very long-lived animals. As such, there is even a very real possibility that one might be outlived by one's bird (depending on how hold the person was and how old the bird was when they met).  


As a general rule of thumb, a potty-mouthed parrot is more difficult to rehome than a parrot whose vocabulary is not "littered" with words one would not generally utter in polite company. Now you might not think this is a problem in the present, but consider this: who is going to look after the bird when the human family is travelling or on holiday? Not everyone who owns birds of their own, and indeed companies that offer bird-sitting services, may willingly house a potty-mouthed parrot in a setting here he or she is likely to end up teaching other birds bad language too. Similarly, if one lives in close proximity of others, neighbors may not appreciate a bird screaming out top notch obscenities in the morning. Really, the sheer volume of a parrot's natural vocalizations are often "bad enough" to the uninitiated. In fact, a potty mouth MAY end up being the reason a bird has to be rehomed or given up to a rescue in the first place. Birds also have excellent memories, so they naturally pick SOME words up along the way. However, they are also very perceptive to reaction though not all of them seem to be able to differentiate between negative and positive attention (think of a very young child) so if the swear word was taught intentionally in the first place, it is very unlikely that he or she will simply just "grow out" of cussing, especially if he or she notices that a certain four letter word is getting him more attention, and more exciting responses than others. All in all, as much of a gag it may be, I wouldn't do something that may be detrimental to the well being of my bird in the present or in the unforeseeable future so my personal take on this would be an absolute no-no! Of course, ultimately it is up to the owner of the parrot whether or not they would like to teach their fiddy a couple of swears, but even if they do, and as a visitor no less, you should probably sit this one out anyway. 

2. FEEDING FOOD FROM THE TABLE


This is something that many people tend to do, and not realize why what they are doing may be wrong, until the bird suddenly gets sick or drops dead right in front of them! Okay so I may be exaggerating a little, or... am I?  It is very tempting to offer a bird a treat so as to bribe your way into his or her good graces, but did you know that many foods that we eat are in fact dangerous to birds? Many people are aware that pets should, as a general rule, NOT be fed chocolate... but did you know that the same would apply to cheese, garlic, onions, avocados, and many more. The list, literally does go on and on. SO alright then, you think, maybe I'll just give this bird some seeds. That should be safe, right? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Not all seeds are safe for birds and the pips of many fruits actually contain small amounts of toxins such as arsenic and cyanide that, when ingested by a human may pose no significant threat or danger but, could have adverse affects on a smaller bodied bird. To top it off, many parronts (myself included!) may not appreciate people coming over to say hi and then proceed to take liberties with my fiddies by spoiling them every which way as if they were their fids.  Many parronts these days maintain a veritable list of bird-safe treats that may be given to their fiddies on a regular basis. Food from the table is generally only given on occasion, and even then, only in modest amounts. A parront that has been trying to discipline his or her fid to not divebomb family members at the dinner table may therefore, not appreciate your reinforcing the bird's behavior with your well meant, but misguided gestures. Always remember that parrots are a lot like kids: just because they want it, doesn't always mean they can, or should, have it. 

3. MAKE AN INORDINATE AMOUNT OF SUGGESTIONS ABOUT LIVING ARRANGEMENTS


So, you finally get to your friend's house and the first thing you notice is how cautious he is about everything. Don't leave the door open, make sure you locked the front door, did you open any windows? Well don't! Make sure the bathroom door is closed. Make sure you check that nothing followed you into the kitchen. Don't slam doors. When closing doors always do a double check to make sure no birdy is sitting on the door frame. Phew. So, you listen to all those instructions, do your best to obey them and not lose your mind when suddenly, the inevitable has happened: there's a streak of birdy poop on your favorite shirt. You finally decide that enough is enough and you go up to your friend and say to them "you know, you should really cage that thing when you have visitors over. Or at least clip his wings so he will just stay on his stand." You don't understand why your friend behaves coldly to you after, Soon later, he asks you to leave. You go home feeling completely perplexed and also a bit offended. What on earth just happened?


Well, there's only one way I can break it down for you: the parrot lives there, you don't. With any luck, your friend belongs to a ever growing and vibrant community of parronts who not only love their birds, but truly treat them as their own children, partners, friends, and members of the family. Suggesting to a parront that he should cage "that thing" when you are around, or clip his wings (in the case of fully flighted birds) is the equivalent of asking someone to lock their child in the attic, or tie up their legs, because you're visiting and you do not have the patience or understanding to deal with it. This can be a very difficult issue to overcome, especially for those who do not have birds of their own but there is really only one thing to it: THEY LIVE HERE, YOU DON'T. This does not mean that if you can't get over the idea of being extra cautious when visiting, or being pooped on occasionally, that you have to cut off all ties of friendship with your friend but maybe... it is probably a good idea to meet up with them someplace else instead. Don't be surprised, however, if they won't be able to hang out as often or as late anymore because they have to get home to their fiddies, though. Trust me it's a parront thing.

4. DON'T, NOT ASK!!! 


Okay, so I know I just made a double negative here, please don't shoot me : but this point is pretty self explanatory, when in doubt: simply... ask. Asking your friend, whether it be for permission to do something with the bird, or when you aren't sure of something, is not only a great way of knowing for sure the do's and don'ts in any individual parrot household, but also an excellent way of also showing that you genuinely care,  

Photosource: Wikimedia.commons
Screaming Indian Ringneck from http://www.lauriehessdvm.com/blog/parrots-problems-and-the-power-of-the-positive/

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