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Phone Etiquette Tips Around Parrots

Prevent problems between your pet bird and your phone with these phone etiquette tips.

Liz Wilson, CVT, CPBC

Proper Phone Etiquette
As always, prevention is the key to avoiding problems between the parrot and the phone. When the telephone rings while you are holding a parrot, gently return it to its cage with a special treat and lots of praise. As previously mentioned, under no circumstance should you leave the bird on your shoulder (or perhaps even on your hand or arm) while you pick up the receiver.

Once you answer the phone, stand facing the bird while you talk, or quietly leave the room. Set your answering machine for a few extra rings before it picks up to allow time for this. Pay no attention to the bird if it vocalizes excessively.

With patience and forethought, we parrot people can indeed (somewhat) peacefully exist in a world that combines parrots with phones! Still, I must add here my favorite parrot phone story, as told by Bonnie Kenk, founder and director of PEAC in San Diego, California:

"Several years ago, we took in an Amazon that had lived with a couple who worked out of their home. The first time the bird was out of quarantine in my house and the phone rang, she immediately shook her head (No!) and said, ‘I’m not here.’”

Bonnie’s reaction? "I almost died!”

Amazon parrot with phone
Your bird may be jealous of the attention the phone is receiving or even scared of it.

Why Parrots React To The Phone
Reason 1: People often stop what they are doing to answer the phone, i.e. put the bird down to answer the phone.

Reason 2: People tend to ignore the parrot while on the phone.

Reason 3: A phone’s buttons appeal to investigative parrots.

Reason 4: A phone’s ring tone can startle or frighten a parrot.

Handle A Bird’s Aggressive Behavior To Phones
Some parrots show a negative and aggressive behavior toward phones in the home. More>>

Phone Etiquette Tips To Talk In Peace
Phone Etiquette Tip 1: Put your bird on its playgym or cage before answering the phone to ward off potential bites if your bird is fearful or jealous of the phone.

Phone Etiquette Tip 2: Don’t allow your parrot on your shoulder while you are on the phone. A docile, affectionate bird can suddenly lash out at its owner via a bite to the ear or the face when the owner brings the phone receiver up to his or her ear.

Phone Etiquette Tip 3: Ignore the parrot’s screams/screeches when the phone rings. Resist the urge to tell the bird to be quiet, which rewards its outburst with your attention.

Phone Etiquette Tip 4: If your bird’s vocalizations interfere with your phone call, leave the room with the phone.

Phone Etiquette Tip 5: Face your bird while you are talking on the phone to give your bird the impression you are talking to it.

Phone Etiquette Tip 6: Also, keep your phone safe by leaving it out of beak’s reach!


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Posted: May 13, 2008, 12:31 p.m. PDT

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Phone Etiquette Tips Around Parrots

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Reader Comments
One of my cockatiels doesn't care at all about the phone, but my other does. He gets really curious about where the person on the other end is. He'll look behind the phone, he looks at the reflection, he'll look above it, and beneath it.
Max, International
Posted: 4/23/2014 2:21:46 AM
My 2 cockatiels, African Grey, and Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo takes turning conversing with my cell phone. The African Grey will yell "Hello?" When the phone rings.... which encourages the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo to respond with a whistle and "Hey there baby!" Meanwhile the cockatiels are either whistling the Kill Bill theme, Yankee Doodle, or making kissing sounds into the phone... Thank you FaceTime... Lol

P.s. I know that I shouldn't allow them near my phone, but they don't seem afraid of it... and the show they put on is really cute.
Dylan, Kingsport, TN
Posted: 4/4/2014 7:06:53 PM
Griffy, my Goffin's, makes his 'phone ring' noise and Faith, my eclectus, says "Hello."
April, Vista, CA
Posted: 9/10/2011 8:21:34 PM
My baby galah used to be very jealous of the phone. I had to leave the room, or pop him in his cage. Now he says 'hello' when it rings, and again if he recognises the voice. Then he sits on me or his playgym and talks to the person for the first 10 minutes or so. Only then does he get jealous. He also makes the sound of the phone ringing, and then says hello as if he is answering it. Very cute.
Lyn, Melbourne
Posted: 9/10/2011 2:54:36 PM
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