Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bonding Tips and Fun Things To Do With Your Bird

It seems we are all so busy these days...

How much time do you spend with your bird/(s) daily? Remember, they are flock animals and even if there is another bird in the household (or many); if they are all locked away in their seperate cages while you are at work during the day they need to be out and with YOU as often as possible. If you have many birds in the household, it may be difficult to have one on one time with each one each day but, that is okay, you don't have to be one on one with all the parrots in the same day, just try to get into the habit of doing at least a short time of bonding and or fun things regularly with all of the birds. Your birds will thank you with less time plucking, and having a much better mental outlook on the world!

I know, each bird is an individual... some tend to be much more 'social' than others. Some birds you can easily pick up and snuggle with without fear of needing stitches. Others you may have to be more careful with. No matter what level of 'snuggliness' your bird prefers, you can always adjust each little bonding/play time to your parrot’s individual comfort level.

Meaningful Time

Similar to children, both quality and quantity time matter when a trusting, loving
relationship is the goal. Layne Dicker, in his article "Time Well Spent With Parrots", developed an excellent model for managing time with our birds based on three kinds of attention: direct, shared, and ambient. Direct attention is “one to one” time with lots of eye contact and touching and no distractions. Indirect attention is the shared time when you’re playing with the bird but you’re also reading, watching TV or talking on the phone. Ambient attention is when the bird is out of his cage in the midst of the family hubbub. At a minimum, birds need 30 to 45 minutes each day of combined direct and indirect attention, and about 3 hours per day of ambient attention.

Spend some quality one-on-one time

Just hang out together. Let them help you pick up around the house. My CAG, Nick likes to help me fold laundry and do dishes. Koko prefers to sit on me and get scratches while I (or perferably my husband) lay on the couch relaxing.

My Greys LOVE rainforest, classical and celtic hymes music to relax and un-wind to in the evenings. Maybe you and the parrots can just sit quietly together listening to the music for a little bit. There are no rules, the point is just to give your bird your undivided attention.

Share a meal

Fix up some nice vegetables, fruit, pasta or any other bird-safe dish that pleases your parrot’s palate. Share with your bird, heck, eat off the same plate. One bite for you, one little bite for them. Of course, remember to give them their own spoon or fork so you don’t give them your icky human germs or just let them eat off the plate no fingers needed.

Interactive Play

Hand toys like birdie bagels, marbella shapes; a piece of rope, a popsicle stick, a towel, even a wadded up piece of paper can be really fun interactive bird toys. Nick loves to get inside of grocrey size paper bags and Koko likes to find toys I hid in small lunch bag size paper bags and then twist the end shut. She loves it when I encourage her to "get it".

There are hundreds of safe and fun things to play with. Lighten up and show your bird a good time. My first African Grey, years ago, loved to play catch with a wadded up piece of paper. When catch time is over, he loved to shred it up. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be fun and something you can interact with them with!

I have some baby toys that are great fun to play with the birds with. Stacking cups, toy pianos, busy boxes, etc.

I have found that Koko would like to sing. Nick would much rather whistle but when I sing to Koko she trys to join in with me. We have started "singing lessons". lol She and I will hum tunes and are trying to learn how to sing a song or two, it keeps her focused and gives us some special one on one time at least once a day.

Many Birds can easily learn animal sounds. Nick is one that loves to hear and often times repeat animal sounds so we are working on me asking him what does the Dog say? or what does the bird say? He has often coughed like my husband does when he gets up in the morning so we now do a "What does Daddy say?" Nick will then cough.

What relaxing or fun play session would be complete without a nice shower or bath? Depending on your parrot’s preference, let them splash around in the sink or tub. Mist your bird with a squirt bottle or for a finer water spray you could use a birdie mister like Mr. Mister. Whatever they prefer, make it fun!

What do you do for one on one time with your birds? I would love to hear from you and post here to share with others...

1 comment:

Chris09 said...

Thanks for writing this post, i have been looking everywhere for tips on what i should do when to try and tame my new Sulfur Crested, his name is Cyril and hes still nervous and "grumpy" around me, although hes not putting up as much of a fight when i pick him up to get him out of his cage.