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Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Bird Watching TV

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, the world’s most widely read pet bird magazine, in Wayward Feathers.

I was just reading about keeping your parrot occupied by leaving the TV on for him while you’re away, which has always seemed like good advice. But I find it interesting when compared to the recommendations regarding TV and children. Since parrots are thought to have the intelligence equal to a 3-year-old child, it makes sense that parrot behaviorists have adapted many of the same behavioral protocols, such as positive reinforcement.

It just occurred to me, however, that the TV question has a different answer depending on whether you’re talking about birds or kids. You’d be hard pressed to find an expert who recommends TV as way to keep your child happily engaged throughout the day. But how many of us do that with our parrots?

Of course, there are other things to take into account, such as no sane person would leave a young child home alone and a child would be taken away by social workers if a parent housed them in a cage (come to think of it though, a crib is kind of like a cage …) But, again, I’m asking myself why I see TV as good for my flock but an evil intrusion on my children’s’ emotional development.

I’m not sure I know the answer, but I suppose I’m OK with the flock’s TV watching and not the kids’ because:

1. The birds will still answer me when I call out to them during their favorite show (no “selective hearing”).

2.  The birds won’t cry out in protest if I switch over from their favorite cartoon to see who got the boot from “American Idol”, as long as they get to watch with me.

3. The birds never throw a fit when the TV is turned off for bedtime.

The one area where my birds and boys have in common is when it comes to trying new veggies … they can be picky eaters across the board. What about you? Have any of you found success in telling your parrot “You can’t leave the table until you finish all your peas and carrots?”

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