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Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Swear I Won’t Swear

By Laura Doering
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 just read an article on how swearing when you get hurt helps alleviate the pain. This poses quite a quandary for those of us who share our lives with companion parrots, especially during times of the year when they might be more inclined to be territorial or hormonal.

Yes, it might feel better to utter a curse word if your parrot chomps down on your finger but, according to some avian behaviorists, you risk inadvertently rewarding the biting behavior. Going off of that theory, we are better off being silent sufferers. Then again, I imagine withholding a wail significantly increases the reaction shown on your face. What parrot wouldn’t get a kick out of seeing your skin suddenly flushing red, your mouth aghast and eyes pinning (OK, the human version of it … one eye squinted, the other open wide). An animated expression could be equally interesting, right?

Here’s something I might try: If for some reason my parrot bites through no fault of its own (after all, we’re the ones who, when it’s all said and done, did something stupid to cause the bite in the first place), I will take a subtle but deep breath and hold it until I manage to put my bird back on his gym or cage, then, while still holding my breath (you can’t let out a swear word while doing so), I will try to make it to the bathroom and shut the door. Once, the coast is clear, I will then let out my delayed but by now softened swear word. Oh, I’m sure this will take practice but it can also save many of us from the embarrassment of a companion bird whose favorite word just so happens to be our favored curse word.

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