Look at Me, Look at Me!

Written By: B.D. Butler - Jul• 30•12

Some days I wake up, and I feel like I am running a day care center.  Sheldon is now 10 months old, and has more energy than I can keep up with.  Clay is now in his little paddle boots (for about another week), because he chews his pads raw due to his allergy to grass.

Clay a.k.a “Boots”

As you can see he is not very happy about it, but unfortunately it is one of those things, and he may not understand it, but it helps in the healing process.  We have to do a lot of things that our animals don’t understand, and they get upset, but it’s for the best.

Overall having parrots and animals in general is very rewarding, and actually I prefer the company of my animals as opposed to a lot of people in this world.  But I will be completely frank, there are days when your patience is tested, and they get on your last nerve.  As I have said in previous posts, when you own a parrot you are dealing with a forever toddler, a six-year-old with the social skills of a two-year old.  The rule of thumb is, “never let them see you sweat”.

What is the main thing that toddlers want?  Attention.  Attention. Attention.  Did I mention attention?  That is why birds will start talking the minute you walk out of the room, they crave praise, and the laughter that they instill in households.  Birds just want to be a part of the flock, and the center of attention.  Cooper does not like it when I write in the living room, without moving him to his play stand.  He will crawl down on the seed guard on his cage, and try to tear off the panel.  On his old cage, he could, but with his new casa, which is a different design, he just cant manage to figure it out.  During this process, he does make a lot of noise, and has the dogs terrified, and poor Sheldon runs behind the ottoman for cover.

Look at Me! No, really LOOK AT ME!

How does one deal with this attention-getting behavior?   Well essentially nothing.  I was told by a trainer friend, that parrots are just like the little kid that has just dropped an “F-Bomb”, you need to ignore the behavior.  If there is a possibility that you can walk away and leave the room with no eye contact, and calmly, then do it.  They are striving for attention, and in whatever manner they can get it!  Coop used to rattle his food and water bowls, and I had to ignore that for about six months, and after a while it just kind of faded away into the woodwork, and eventually dissipated like bad weather.

In these instances you have to buck up, and reach down low into yourself and find that last bit of patience that is needed to deal with it.  When his behavior stops, and he gets distracted by something else and stops, I immediately give him praise, even if it’s sitting in his cage quietly.  This gives him the message of “I like this, and what ever I am doing, I getting the attention that I wanted”.

The whole thing reminds me of The Miracle Worker starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, during the meal time scene.  Helen Keller wanted the attention, and she was going to try to get it in any manner she knew how. It just took understanding, and communication to reach through the darkness and show her the light.
I am not saying that you should roll around on the floor with your parrot, or attempt to take its claw and spell out water, we all know (i hope) that would not work I am saying that sometimes you need to look for other alternatives than reacting to certain behaviors.  Do your research, read books, and get to understand why your parrot does something that annoys you, you may be surprised, it’s just a plea for attention.
“Patience is a virtue” ~ Thomas Chalkley 1724

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