A Croft guide to understanding parrot behaviour
by animal behaviourist Dr David Sands.
Congratulations on choosing a member of the parrot family for
a companion pet. These intelligent birds can play their part
in forming a wonderful association with owners. They are colourful,
bright and instinctive and that's just their behaviours. Parrots
are active, long lived birds and, if cared for correctly, they
can make the perfect companion pet.
The pleasure in keeping parrots
There is more to the parrot than the mere mimic. Parrots possess
an intelligence that offers them the ability to interact with
their owners. When provided with the correct environment, a
healthy diet, foraging and play toys, a healthy parrot will
form an incredibly rewarding relationship with a owner. Throughout
a captive life they have a thirst to explore a home and to find
new ways to communicate with a owner.
It is important that a owner fully considers the welfare of
a captive parrot. If a parrot is happy and healthy the rewards
will follow. With this aspect in mind, it is essential that
a cage chosen is suitable for the adult wingspan and body length
of a parrot. It is vital that a captive parrots's diet is healthy
and that food offered contains important vitamins and minerals
that will sustain its immune system. Finally, a captive parrot
needs to be fully stimulated. With intelligent daily attention,
foraging and interactive toys, a healthy parrot will thrive.
Keeping members of the parrot family, or hookbills as they are
commonly known, can be a long term rewarding experience. Success
with parrots depends on a modest understanding the needs and
desires of birds that can outlive their owners in captivity.
In this Croft information guide, Dr David Sands offers readers
the benefit of his ten years of clinical experience.
In this booklet, David addresses how to choose the right parrot
for your lifestyle; how to stimulate a captive bird; why choosing
the correct diet, the ideal cage and exciting toys are important
to the captive welfare of parrots. If these factors are correctly
addressed then parrot owners can look forward to a wonderful
relationship with these delightfully colourful tropical birds
with huge personalities.
Aspects discussed in the booklet
- Choosing the perfect parrot
- There are a number of factors that require consideration when
it comes to choosing a particular tropical parrot. These are
based on economics, available space, lifestyle and a genuine
interest in the welfare of companion pets.
- Parrots in Nature
- Most adult and immature parrots species spend their time in
nature in large social groups. Once mate selection and nesting
has occurred (sometimes during this stage the female will lead
several males to a merry dance) there is often pair bonding.
This is often when two parrots pair for life.
- How to deal with common behavioural problems in parrots
- Dr David Sands discusses a range of problem behaviours he has
encountered in captive parrots such as aggressiveness, over vocalisation,
self mutilation and withdrawn personalities.
- Captive birds
- In captivity, usually early in the relationship, or upon reaching
sexual maturity, the bird selects a member of the family for
his or her 'potential mate'. Then pair bonding, 'avian to human',
develops. It doesn't matter than the owner can't fly, that
he or she walks on both legs and doesn't have feathers! In the
absence of the flock, the bird simply makes an replacement selection.
- The cage, stand and toys
- It is important to provide a clean and interesting environment
for your parrot. Much of his or her waking time in nature would
be spent foraging for food.
- Feeding behaviour and diet
- As discussed, flocks of birds in nature will forage within a
territory range on a variety of foods. Mated adult pairs may
become territorial in an area of one tree.
- Why birds attach themselves onto owners - nature v
- Most of the large tropical birds kept as a pet pair bond. In
nature, a pre-breeding pair would begin to select each other
with evolved 'mate choice' behaviours that have taken millions
of years to develop.
About Dr David Sands
David is an established practitioner at the Animal Behavioural
Clinic, Chorley and he specialises in the treatment of pet dogs,
cats, birds and horses with behavioural problems. He is an internationally
established author and photographer. David gained his doctorate
in ethology for animal behaviour research completed at Liverpool
University in 1995. He researched his doctorate on animal behaviour
in the Amazon. He has seen, first hand, flocks of roosting parrots
returning across Amazon River tributaries to the rainforest.
He has trekked Guyanan rainforests, crossed the mighty Peruvian
Andes and journeyed by boat from the Amazon basin to the Upper
Rio Negro in search of wildlife.
As a freelance animal behaviourist/pet/media specialist and
photographer, David has been featured in several television
documentaries and programmes such as 'Fish People', 'Absolutely
Animals', 'Pet Rescue', 'Potty about Pets' and BBC's '999' in
'To The Ends Of the Earth' (Amazon) filmed for Anglia Survival,
which is about to be screened. He also regularly contributes
to UK TV and Radio news programs on related human and pet companionship
David has scripted a number of animal information videos on
birds, small animals, dogs and cats and contributed to and written
many books including Cats and Kittens, Dogs and Puppies and,
'To The Rescue - Dogs, 'To The Rescue - Cats', guides to providing
a rescue or re-homed dog or cat a new life. He has written a
family dog book and the 'Encyclopaedia of the Family Cat' published
by Harper Collins. He is currently writing a book on the behaviour
of captive parrots.
The Animal Behaviour Clinic can provide a behavioural therapy
will usually dilute the parrot-human bonding and address potential
problems in the associated 'welfare' factors. Information on
treatment or special Fact Sheets on 'Clicker training for birds'
and 'Improving diet and environmental conditions' for tropical
birds can be obtained from Dr David Sands at the clinic.
© Dr David Sands 2004