1. You just settled down in your chair to catch up on some work and now your bird is screaming for attention. What do you do?
b. You patiently ignore your bird’s screaming no matter how much it hurts your ears.
If your bird isn’t distressed or in any way injured, but is merely screaming for attention, you will be rewarding its behavior if you do a) or c. Giving your bird any sort of attention while it’s screaming reinforces that negative behavior and teaches it that if it screams, you will pay attention to it.
Instead of running to your bird when it screams, patiently ignore it until it stops or makes a noise you like (such as a whistle) and give it attention right then and there. That teaches the bird that keeping itself occupied or a nice noise equals attention.
2. Your bird insists eating right off of your dinner plate instead of instead of eating his pellets and veggies … what do you do?
b. Have a bird-friendly version of what you’re eating or a healthy birdie mash that is offered in your bird’s own bowl so you can enjoy each other’s dining company.
While you might be tempted to give your bird some of your take-out dinner, you should know that malnutrition is a huge problem for parrots. A proper diet of pellets, vegetables, fruits and healthy table foods is essential for pet birds. So, when your bird wants your food, have a bird-friendly version or birdie mash available so they are always eating something healthy.
3. Whenever company is over, your bird climbs down from its cage and chases guests around the house, what is your reaction?
c. You quickly return your bird to its cage for a timeout.
While it might be funny to watch your guest hop up and down on one foot to avoid your pet bird, but it teaches your bird that it can declare the floor as its territory and defend if viciously, at the expensive of your guests. Ground-foraging parrots, like cockatiels or cockatoos, are quite comfortable on the ground and can be keen to aggressively defend it. Your bird could seriously injure another person that way – watch those exposed toes!
Teach your bird that the floor is not its territory and when it becomes aggressive, you will not tolerate it.
4. Your bird refuses to go back in his cage so you can leave for work, what do you do?
d. You place your bird’s favorite toy in his cage along with a few bits of his favorite treats so it will want to go back in his cage. When you’re in a rush to get out of the house, having this fool-proof method is perfect! Rather than forcing your bird to go back into its cage, your bird will learn to love going into its cage for its favorite toy and treats. Wish your bird a good day, tell him he’s a “good bird!” and be on your way!
5. Your large parrot climbs up on your shoulder and refuses to step off, what do you do?
a. Your bird is not allowed on your shoulder so this is not an issue
Most behaviorists agree: having a large parrot (sans a budgie or cockatiel) on your shoulder is a bad idea. It can lead to serious problems when you cannot read your bird’s body language while it is on your shoulder. If your bird uses its body language to warn you about something, it might bite you as its last resort—and if it’s on your shoulder, what will it bite first?
Do not allow your bird to climb onto your shoulder, and teach it to step off when you ask it to.