Friday, October 2, 2009
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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