Your Bird & Holiday Stress – How to Reduce it

“She was not quite what you would call refined.
She was not quite what you would call unrefined.
She was the kind of person that keeps a parrot.”
Mark Twain
Admit it. If you’re into birds, you may be considered a little bit “off”. We put up with the mess, the feathers, the noise and the unpredictable behavior but we can’t live without our feathered companions. Catherine asked just last night (while she was scratching Popcorn until her knuckles began to get cramped) “what does this small white bundle of feathers bring to the table?”
She asked it with a smile on her face and I knew it was rhetorical. Every weekday morning Popcorn and I have routine. I wake up and let her out of the cage. She then follows me around the apartment like an Air Force escort helping me do things like make the bed and get dressed which is always easier with a Cockatiel on top of a mangled set of blankets or on your shoulder while you try to put on a shirt.
2 baby African grey Parrots with Santa hats and scarves
If she gets in my way I shoo her off. Her new thing is to fly to the top of the door crown moldings (we have 9 1/2 foot ceilings so she has lots of room to fly). Last week when my friend Joe was over, Popcorn was walking on the table where we were about to eat. I gently grabbed her entire body with my hand and then lofted her like a slow softball pitch.
I knew she would lose 6 inches to a foot of altitude than flap flap flap right to the top of her cage. I could see the smile in Joe’s face and he said it “that is so freaking cool” (he didn’t use the word freaking). Popcorn is like this beam of positive energy in the household. She’s full of 100% absolute goodness and is always cheerful – unless of course on rare occasions we need to leave her alone during the day for a few hours. Which brings me to today’s subject.
Your bird is stressed regardless of the level of care. How I know this if I don’t know you or your bird? Do you own a birdcage? Why do you need to birdcage? Because if you open the door of the birdcage and you open the door to your house, your bird will fly away (if his or her wings are not clipped). Your bird does not want to live in said birdcage. Your bird wants to fly around look for food and chat with other birds. Keeping a bird in a cage is not the life nature intended for birds.
I lost my bird or I found a parrot are 2 problems w/ interchangeable solutions - think, don't panic & have a plan
Yes we sell bird supplies. So do dozens of other websites and stores. I can’t speak for any other organization. Our mission is to be an advocate for the birds. We do our best to help educate people in creating the best environment for a given bird species without having the Amazon rain forest at our disposal.
To further stress your bird out most of you reading this live in North America (hello to our friends around the world) which has a different light cycle than your bird instinctively anticipates being from generally equatorial areas of the planet.
I can rattle off a dozen more stress points but the one many of you are about to face is the Christmas holidays. If you have family coming over they may have some shrieking kids or small dogs. Putting on your best bird caregiver hat, you lock your bird up for safety in another room. Stress point. On the flip side you may be making a trip to Aunt Martha’s leaving the bird home alone. Stress point.
cockatiel wearing flight helmet on papaer airplane about to be launched by hand
your options may be limited – stress point
The holidays are unavoidable and much like many of you, I love to see them come and I love to see them go. Your bird doesn’t understand Christmas and darkness and alone time.The best we can do is to provide an adequate stimulating environment within the birds cage.
You may even want to consider giving your bird a chill pill in the form of a supplement like AviCalm. Better yet what I’m advocating is to take a proactive role by ensuring your bird’s cage is filled with the appropriate amount of enrichment paraphernalia. In the wild your bird spends the majority of its time searching for food. At home food is 20 inches away. Not very stimulating.
One of Catherine’s favorite sayings is “bigger bird, bigger brain” Bigger birds are functioning at a two or three-year-old human toddler level albeit like that of an autistic child. He or she wants to be doing something while you’re noodling on that new tablet you got for Christmas. This is why we are rapidly expanding our line of interactive toys for both large and small birds.
11/21/2014 Update
All the synchronicity you have with your bird(s) goes to hell in a hand basket around the holidays if you get company. As much is you want your bird to be part of the holidays think about the realities. If people in your home for very short periods are not used to looking for a bird that matches an area rug walking on the floor, your bird can easily get stepped on.
Maybe not this parrot
Every decoration that you put up for the holidays screams in bird speak “I’m new and interesting come and see what I’m all about” everything from the Christmas tree itself and the tinsel foil to the multiple electrical cords the wrapping paper, the scotch tape adhesives – when you really think about it, the holidays are a major amplification of the potential for tragedy with your bird.
Holiday activity can mean strange people and strange materials in the house. Can be information overload to caged bird. Some birds handle it well, some do not. If you see your bird getting agitated consider a simple solution like moving the cage into a “quiet” room with a family member checking on it regularly to remind them they are not alone.
I know you’re Jonesing to get that petrified fruitcake wrapped up so I’ll let you go. I just want to remind you that you are your birds flock and keeper so it’s on you to understand and serve their needs the best you can.
A video explaining how interactive toys can help solve feather plucking and screaming in parrots that would have otherwise little to do in the birdcage to keep them active mentally
written by mitch rezman
approved by mitch rezman
your zygodactyl footnote

Mitch Rezman

He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they visited monthly birdie brunches in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground.Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care.He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis.He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.

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