1. Ensure your companion bird is healthy by doing annual check-ups and routine diagnostics with your experienced avian veterinarian. Since birds hide the obvious signs of illness, allowing basic annual testing is critical to the early detection of medical problems.
2. Ensure your companion bird is consuming a good diet. This is critical to the proper functioning of its immune system and increases its potential for a healthy life, as well as eliminating nutrition-based problem behaviors, such as some cases of feather destruction.
3. Ensure your companion bird lives in a sufficiently large cage, allowing it lots of room for exuberant wing-flapping exercise and energetic play; allow it daily out-of-cage time on play stations other than just the cage to minimize territorial behaviors. Encouraging healthy exercise can decrease problem behaviors like excessive screaming, since a tired parrot is a quiet parrot.
4. Establish controls with your parrot by lovingly teaching it to respond to the simple commands of Up and Down, and setting clear and consistent limits on its behavior. By teaching manners and setting boundaries, parrots can become better companions.
5. Give your parrot quality interaction daily, no matter how busy your life gets…even if for just 10-15 minutes of one-on-one time. Psittacines are biologically wild animals, and won’t retain their “tameness” without daily contact with people.
6. Make your companion bird a member of the family, since it is a flock animal and extremely social. Single birds should not be housed in rooms by themselves.
7. Socialize your parrot to family and trusted friends, thereby teaching it to adapt to the society in which it lives. It should be comfortable interacting with and being handled by other people. Do not allow it to become over-bonded to one person.
8. Assure your companion bird gets adequate rest, with 10-12 hours of dark, uninterrupted sleep time nightly. Sleep deprivation often leads to problem behaviors like biting, excessive screaming and feather destruction.
9. Establish trust with your companion bird by teaching it that it is safe with you. Consistency is critical to establishing trust, as your parrot learns what to expect from you and what you expect from it.
10. Accept your parrot for what it is, not what you want it to be. No matter how well trained it is, a healthy parrot may still be noisy, messy and destructive…because it’s a parrot!
By Liz Wilson, CVT