5 Tips for Stamping Out Parrot Boredom
Parrots are popular animals in the pet world and they are often one of the favorite birds people flock to gaze at in pet stores and zoos. The beautiful feathers of various colors, the impressive wingspan, and the fun factor of owning such a social and vocal pet are the factors that pull potential pet owners in. Even so, once people come to own a parrot as a pet, they realize that these birds are indeed, very social creatures and require certain needs that should be addressed in order to avoid problems, such as boredom and parrot unhappiness. An unhappy parrot may turn it's angst inward with self-destructive behaviors such as feather plucking or they may turn it outward with aggression.
What's so Bad About a Little Parrot Boredom?
Majestic parrots are highly energetic and extremely smart. From a very early age, parrots are inducted in learning and socializing with flock mates. The social skills and self-confidence of parrots are developed within the first few years and throughout their lives, they require constant stimulation to exercise their mind and body. One of the primary ways parrots stimulate themselves is through playing with other birds or with objects. Parrots are masterful problem-solvers with excellent vision and hearing. Your parrot need both lots of socialization and lots of mental stimulation to thrive. As a pet owner, it is imperative that you provide for your pet parrot's needs, and treat it as a member of your household.
An under-stimulated parrot can develop problems that are miserable to live with! Biting. Screaming. Feather picking. It is much easier to prevent these problems from arising in the first place than it is to resolve them once your parrot has developed a habit. Even so, with proper training, physical and environmental changes and careful planning, you can do it!
Birdy Boredom Busters
1. Interact with your bird on a regular basis.
Interact with your bird on a regular basis. Parrots are animals that are hard-wired for significant companionship, much like humans. When you decide to adopt a parrot into your family, whether you live alone or with others, you need to ensure that your parrot feels integrated into its new home. Being so social, parrots delight in being included in their owners' lives. By interacting with your parrot daily, you will better understand its body language and learn to pinpoint signs of illness, as well as help to tame your bird. Perhaps best of all, you will develop a closer owner-pet bond that probably prompted you to get a pet parrot in the first place.
On a daily basis, be sure to chit-chat with your parrot, pick it up and stroke its feathers, or use some toys to play with your parrot. Not only will you avoid parrot boredom, but you will have a healthier relationship with your parrot and come to recognize the unique personality of your bird. Use Clicker Training to help your parrot learn what behaviors are desired.
2) Provide your parrot with plenty of toys. It’s unreasonable to think that you can spend every waking moment interacting with your parrot. That is why you need to teach it to entertain itself. Avoid parrot boredom with a nice range of toys. We know that having a dog as a pet is similar to having a child, yet parrots are much the same! They require constant stimulation and they are naturally inclined to learn new things and explore. Their curiosity lends itself well to toys, and there are many choices of toys in pet stores that are designed specifically for birds.
Many veteran parrot owners know that variety is the spice of life for these birds, so they keep a collection of different toys around and periodically switch them up. By going through a constantly-changing cycle of bird toys, parrot boredom can be stamped out. Wooden toys satisfy a bird’s need to chew and destroy while paper, natural leaves and other plant materials satisfy preening needs. A favorite is bird foraging toys that require your bird to problem-solve to get a treat. Can’t afford a lot of toys, just google DYI bird toys and you’ll come up with tons of possibilities. Play is how parrots relieve stress and disperse anxiety.
Photo: Customer Upload, "Dahlia"
3) Teach a new parrot old tricks.
Or new ones, if you prefer. This is a fun tip for both parrot and owner. Teaching your parrot simply requires some time carved out for learning, as well as some delectable treats to reward your pet. The Internet abounds with videos that offer tutorials on how to train your parrot to perform funny tricks. We highly recommend the positive, safe and stimulating methods of Clicker Training for Birds. In the process of teaching your parrot, you develop a closer bond with your pet, and completely fulfill your parrot's need to be stimulated and constantly learning new things. If anything, it is always awesome to show off you parrot's cool tricks to friends and family.
Some tricks that parrots are particularly good at learning include waving hello and goodbye or putting objects where requested such as playing basketball, putting a coin in the bank, or even stacking pegs. How about teaching your parrot to ride around on roller skates or push a miniature stroller or shopping cart, filling it with tiny, little groceries. You can find bird trick toys. Teach your parrot to sing a song or make animal sounds on cue. There is always the famed “Polly want a cracker?” trick!
4) Stimulate your parrot with audio and video. Since parrots are such social creatures, time away from their owners can cause stress, boredom, and anxiety. Therefore, many parrot owners opt to play audio or video for their parrots when they are away. Parrots are, by nature, stimulated by noises, so by leaving a television or radio playing while you are out of the house can help to keep parrots interested. It is a good idea to play different sounds for your parrot while you are present so you can determine which noises your parrot responds to well and enjoys the most.
5) Expand your parrot's palate. It is crucial to keep your parrot nourished with a variety of foods. Parrots in the wild feed on a range of fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds. It is very easy for parrot boredom to result from a ho-hum diet that is predictable and devoid of variety. Not only does your parrot need different foods to keep from getting bored, they need to be well-nourished to live a healthy and enjoyable life. There are tons of tasty treats you can whip up for your parrot:
- Bean Salad Ball. Combine bean soup mix with vegetables and grains, such as millet, to create a yummy ball of food.
- Banana Jerky. Make strips of banana-flavored jerky by mixing oats, banana, egg, flour, and orange juice together.
- Popcorn Balls. Stir together peanut butter, popcorn, and dried fruits to create a delicious treat for your parrot.
In Case Parrot Boredom Strikes
Parrot owners who follow the above tips rarely have to report any parrot boredom, but if you notice that your bird is not behaving normally, or develops destructive patterns, such as feather-picking or shrieking, you may have to increase the frequency of stimulation. Be sure to take note of any triggers for your parrot's boredom and behavioral issues, and take action to prevent or eliminate those triggers. New tricks, toys, and food will usually remedy any issues, but in severe cases, have an avian veterinarian do a complete check-up of your parrot.
A healthy, happy, and sometimes hilarious relationship with your parrot is achievable and ideal among parrot owners. This article can help you provide the best quality life for your pet, as well as genuinely enjoy the companionship of a new friend.
- Diane Burroughs, LCSW