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Friday, October 2, 2009
Petting Birds

By Jessica Pineda
Jessica Pineda is the associate editor of BIRD TALK Magazine and BirdChannel.com. Read her thoughts on all things bird in The Parrot Birder.

I had a strange experience the other day. I was in the home of a bird owner who had a bookshelf full of bird books and bird magazines, which were clearly well-read, judging by the condition of some of the books. They had parrot paraphernalia everywhere: pictures, posters, figurines and more. I have no doubt they love parrots, as much as they love their bird. But, to my surprise, I watched them pat their parrot down its back and under its wings.

Now, I expect that a new bird owner would not know why it’s bad to pet your bird down its backside and under its wings. But for a bird person that might call themselves a “veteran,” I was surprised that they would do that. BIRD TALK columnist Liz Wilson, CVT, CPBC, constantly stresses the issues of petting your bird down its backside and under its wings. It’s a sexual behavior, and it can confuse your bird; your parrot might start thinking its your mate and get frustrated when you don’t return their affections. This can lead to serious behavior problems. Wilson calls it a “serious miscommunication,” and in her December 2009 Parrot Psychology column, she quotes certified parrot behavior consultant Hilla Niemann as saying, “Your communication [with your parrot] should be purely intellectual.” (Read Wilson’s article “Do’s and Don’ts To Petting Your Bird” and also her article on petting where she says that the “misconception [that parrots like to be petted] frequently leads to problems.” Read it here.)

I am in no way a parrot expert, and much of what I know about parrots is from reading books and BIRD TALK Magazine, but I take the information to heart. I won’t pet my birds under their wings and down their backside because I never want to send that message to them, that I am their mate. It’s such an easy thing to avoid. Want to take a quiz on petting? Click here!

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Reader Comments
so I have a quacker parrot and I wasn't his original owner but hes warmed up to me I was wondering how can I get my parrot used to my mom petting him and is it bad to lay bird on his back
Jackie, Crosby, TX
Posted: 5/19/2013 7:02:05 PM
Happy New years to you and you birds
Barbie, Rancho Cordova, CA
Posted: 12/31/2009 9:53:36 AM
You and your bird are so cute
Barbie, Rancho Cordova, CA
Posted: 12/12/2009 3:40:51 PM
Very helpful, thanks!
Alice, Zhou, CA
Posted: 11/16/2009 8:00:00 PM
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