May 2001 Magazine
Parrots have their own unique way of playing and behaving. They amuse us, give us pleasure and sometimes cause great damage. Why they do the things they do are often hard to understand, but they are based upon behaviors in the wild. Here is a humorous look at some of their methods. Perhaps your bird fits into one or more of these categories.
This bird believes that toys were made for him to toss. If he can lift it with his beak, it will be thrown. Metal toys (such as bowls and bells) are best, as they make such delightful noises when they hit the cage bars, bottom grates or the floor. There are 'bottom of the cage' and 'floor tossers' who use a sideways throw and then there are the 'droppers' who have such fun dropping things off their gyms, cage tops and any other above ground object they may be perched on.
Once all the toys have been thrown for a while, then it is time to spend about 15 minutes in tossing the ends of the ropes hanging from the perches. They are so much fun to play with because the ends swing back, making it easier to throw them again.
This bird chews anything made of wood, including 2x4's, window frames, doors, furniture, perches and wooden toys. He will always be ready if the need for a nest arises. Consider putting him to work on a pile of 2x4's. Perhaps you can package and sell the resulting little pieces of wood as bedding and help pay for the cost of keeping your bird.
These birds are fascinated with knots and can't wait to untie them. Whether the knots are keeping their toys together or holding something up makes no difference - they are fair game. Toys made with knots, double knots in various thicknesses of rope or leather, even triple knots are irresistable to these Houdinis. Perhaps they are practicing to go sailing with a pirate.
The Fashion Designer
This type of bird's favorite pass time is making holes in your clothes with his beak. Collars, sleeves, button holes and hems are favorite areas, but all parts of the clothing are fair game. One advantage is that you get a wardrobe which provides air conditioning in the summer. For those humans who are fashion conscious, the lacy design one bird created on the bottom of a pair of denim shorts, rivaled the finest designer creations found at an expensive boutique. Remember that each piece of bird created clothing is an 'original' - not to be found anywhere else.
This bird may also be classified as a 'Neat Freak' who has an aversion to things which are attached to larger objects and which stick out. He is simply doing you a favor by getting rid of these unnecessary and/or unsightly items. Buttons, zippers, jewelry, watch pins, tassels, buttons on TV remotes or other equipment, knobs, switches and drawer handles are just a few items asking to be snipped. Electrical and computer cords are also very enticing. When your bird has accomplished his task, don't be surprised to see him turning to you, expecting to be praised for removing those nasty, protruding things from your possessions.
If an item has a top which can be opened or if it is something can be burrowed under, then that is what attracts 'The Tunneler'. Getting under blankets to chew holes in the sheets or burrowing under towels and then making holes in them are favorite activities. Try getting an old item which you don't mind being destroyed for your bird to use.
A top opening jewelry box is a great find. After spending time in figuring out how to open the top and getting it to stay open, they will jump inside and begin destroying and throwing out the contents. Boxes containing sewing items, papers or whatever are just places to get into and to have fun. Drawers are another enticing place to play and a bird could accidentally get shut up in one. If you have such a bird, then try making toys for them from old boxes and fill them with safe things they will enjoy playing with.
The Foot Fiend
There is something special about feet and shoes to a bird. They are often an open invitation for a running attack. Watching a bird jump down to the floor and then run pigeon-toed across the floor at full speed ahead to get to a human's feet is something you will never forget. And when it arrives at its goal, let that person beware. Bare toes can be bitten. Shoelaces and lace tips can be snipped. Shoes can be attacked with a vengeance. Alas for those wearing expensive Nike's, unless they welcome holes in their shoes. Keeping an extra supply of shoelaces is also recommended if you have a 'Foot Fiend' as a pet.
The Jewelry Freak
Is anything more appealing than shiny things? Jewelry Freaks just love to grab a pair of eyeglasses and either tear them apart or throw them to the ground. Metal watchbands and watch crystals are also favorite items for larger birds to snap and crack, while smaller birds seem to enjoy biting off watch stems. Other favorite items are earrings, neckchains, bracelets and hair adornments. The shinier the more appealing.
Architects are masters at redesigning their cages. Perches are meant to be chewed. Bowls and dishes are there to be loosened from their holders and tossed. If there are any bolts in reach, they are fun to unscrew. And if these bolts are holding toys, perches or cage frames in place, then that is even better. These things make such fun noises when they fall. Locks are wonderful items to open and some parrots are even better than locksmiths. Another favorite of Architects are electrical cords, especially those attached to cage lights. What fun to snip these cords into smaller pieces.
Winged Wisdom Note: Carol and Kenneth have owned pet birds for over 13 years and are co-creators of the Birds n Ways, Winged Wisdom and Cockatoo Heaven websites.
A pet bird ezine, pet bird e-zine, for pet parrots & exotic birds. Cockatoo Parrot picture courtesy of Glasgow Enterprises
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Cockatoo Parrot picture courtesy of Glasgow Enterprises