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The Ollie Experiment

By Laura Doering, Editor of BIRD TALK and
Join in on Laura's fun and experiences of bird ownership, and share in her adventures as the editor of BIRD TALK in Wayward Feathers.

A conure fearfully exploring the floor
In Laura Doering's experience, conures seem to never seem to want to venture to the ground.

Ollie has always been a scaredy bird in regards to the floor. I’ve tested his ground tolerance level, and five seconds is about his max; that is, after five seconds on the floor, he is looking for the nearest leg to climb up or he takes to instant flight. Ollie is definitely not what you would call a ground-forager. The ’tiel, on the other hand, sneaks down from his cage and does little walkabouts; occasionally taunting Mr. Buns, the resident 9-year-old rabbit, by making a beeline for him and then abruptly doing an about-face and a circle before making another pass. (Poor Mr. Buns wants none of this excitement. He relishes his midday nap and prefers to do so uninterrupted.) Ollie would never attempt such a daring assault.

I put him to the ultimate test the other day. I picked out all the safflower seed from the mix – Ollie’s favorite treat by far – and put it in shallow dish in the bottom of his cage. I made sure he got a good look at all the safflower seed passing by him on the way down. He got all excited and, for a moment I thought, “He’ll go for it.” But, alas, Ollie just rocked back and forth on his perch, waiting for the seed to be placed in the usual treat dish. I left the bowl on the cage bottom while I did some chores, and Ollie still hadn’t scrounged up enough courage to climb down to the dish. I suspect this ground phobia might be a conure thing. The flock of feral cherry-headed conures that take over the neighborhood eucalyptus trees every afternoon never venture to the ground either. They stick to the treetops. I’ve seen Ollie hang by his toenails to reach a balled up napkin on the cage floor (that bird loves to chew!) or to hoist up a fallen Nutri-Berry. Is “both feet on the perch (or human) at all times seems” your bird’s mantra, too?

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