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Tips To Change Your Parrot's Mood

These pet bird items can be instant behavior changers in parrots.

By Laura Doering

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Ever have those moments when you wish you could wave a magic wand to get your screeching parrot to become a quietly occupied parrot? Or you could interact with your bird without having to deal with cage aggression? What you need is a mood-changing product!

Anything that safely distracts your bird from engaging in undesirable behavior can be classified as “mood-changing.” Here are some common scenarios with a corresponding antidote.

Got A Screaming Parrot?

white-bellied caique
Most parrots cannot resist a foraging toy.
Screaming at a screamer is certainly an exercise in futility. Not only will this not convince your bird to quiet down, it will most likely encourage your bird to scream more. Your antidote here is a spray bath (not to be confused with an unpleasant squirt in your bird’s face). The fine mists might make your bird shrill loudly with excitement, but soon after a good drenching your bird will spend a good 15 minutes or longer quietly grooming its feathers, and then it might just decide to follow that up with a nap.

Pet Bird Out To Get You?
Some birds can be territorial in and around their cage, especially during hormonal times of the year. Your hand — the same hand that gently preens the bird’s pin feathers and gives generous head scratches — is seen as an enemy around the cage. Your antidote might be moving your bird to a playgym or T-stand in another part of the house. Some birds go from aggressors to “friendsters” when away from the cage. 

Need A Feather Fix?
If you’ve got a feather plucker, no doubt you’ve just about pulled out your own hair trying to figure out how to stop your bird from pulling out its feathers. Fortunately, there are plenty of toy types to distract your bird from messing with its feathers. (First things first: take your bird to the vet to rule out possible medical causes.) Toys that incorporate sanitized feathers, strings of straw or wicker, strips of fleece and other materials are marketed specifically for feather pluckers. The next time your bird settles into picking mode, try enticing it with a toy to pick at instead.

Cockatiel's Whistling Driving You Crazy?
A cockatiel’s whistle can be truly endearing; that is, until you’ve heard the same wolf whistle over and over for the last hour, perhaps even accompanied by a constant tap, tap, tap of the beak against a toy or a mirror. Need a break? Hang some millet spray in your cockatiel’s cage or offer a snippet on the cage floor for your bird to snack on. Cockatiels, and most birds, will stop in mid-whistle for the crunchy satisfaction of millet spray.

Foraging Toys For Parrots
Bored parrots, boisterous parrots, testy parrots, destructive parrots — no matter the type — can’t resist the challenge of a foraging toy. Most parrots will forget what they were doing when presented with a fun foraging item, especially if it contains a treat the bird is fond of. Stock up on foraging toys, and use them as weapons of mass distraction. 

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