My parrot hates me, what do I do?
All too often people get a parrot as a pet with the thought that it will be just that, a pet. Many like to think of a parrot more like a two year old child than a pet. They require a lot of time, patience, and love. But sometimes, especially when you first get your parrot, they may not like you. You may feel that they hate you. What can you do to get your parrot to love you?
My first recommendation is almost always change the diet. Most people think that birds eat seeds, so they put their parrot on a steady diet of fatty seeds. This can be compared to the parent that feeds their child 3 courses of McDonald’s every day. It’s not healthy, and it WILL make your bird easily agitated and unhappy. So what do you feed your parrot? I have personally found great success with using a pelleted diet from birdtricks.com supplemented with plenty of fruits and vegetables. If you would like to buy your food locally, try to find a pelleted food that has both grains and vegetables. Stay away from foods with artificial coloring, or excess grains and seeds. http://www.parrothouse.com/recipes.html is a great site that has many recipes that you can cook at home!
Just simply changing your parrots food may not make them love you, but it’s a good start. The next thing that I would recommend is to establish yourself as a friend, not an enemy. Birdtricks.com has many helpful hints on how to do this, and their training DVDs are worth their weight in gold. My personal favorite tip is to slowly walk toward the cage with your parrot on the top. When the parrot responds negatively by running away or gets ready to pounce, take a few steps back and wait. Repeat this until you are able to get close enough to your parrot to touch them without them responding negatively and give them a treat! Since you have now taken them off a seeded diet, you can start using seeds as treats! This process may have to be repeated constantly for a few weeks, but this will get your parrot to be comfortable in your presence. You can also use this trick for anyone your parrot does not like.
Now that your parrot is comfortable around you, let’s start playing some games! My green cheek’s favorite game is chase the chop stick. To play this, simply touch the end of a chop stick to your parrots beak, and give them a treat. Sooner or later they will learn that touching the end of the chop stick will mean they get a treat and they will start to go after it. Before long you will have your little feathered friend running circles to touch that chop stick.
Teaching tricks is another way you and your parrot can play. Birdtricks.com has great information on training your parrot. Another good bonding experience is sharing your food. My green cheek has his own place at the dinner table on pasta and pizza nights, and it really makes him feel like one of the “flock”. Spending time with your parrot can be incorporated into your daily activities. When we do the dishes at our house that means it’s birdie bath time. We take a clean bowl and let our parrot play while we work. You should spend at least 2-3 hours a day playing or interacting with your parrot, and for larger breeds, up to 8 hours. Give plenty of toys that will challenge the mind of your parrot, as they can get bored vary easily.
If your parrot is plucking feathers, or refuses to let you near them, you may need professional help. Contact an avian vet as soon as possible as these symptoms could mean various things that would need veterinary assistance.