Hi! I'm Keet. This blog post is part of a series of lessons about parrots. Enjoy!

Part 2

In Part 1, we covered the fundementals of parrots. In this section, I'll be going over psycology and training and such.

How do you know what a bird is feeling? Body language is your best bet. Body language is often unclear or complicated, but here's a few of the basics -

  • Pinning eyes (pupils contracting and dilating): excitement, or great interest
  • Raised or ruffled feathers on neck: anger, aggression or frustration
  • Crest straight up (if aplicable): surprise or excitement
  • Flapping in place: desiring attention, happy or wanting to exersize
  • Hanging upside-down: happiness, security or contentment
  • Beak grinding: contentment, security or tiredness
  • Bowing or lowering head: wanting to be pet or preened

Of course, parrots can use ways other than body language to express their feelings. For instance, if you ignore or don't notice body-language warnings, a bird may bite to tell you to back off, or fly away to escape something frightening. Talking parrots, African Grays in particular, might be able to recall words to describe emotions. 

Parrots are usually social birds, and will bond to people or other birds. Thus, when a captive psittacine used to the company of humans or other feathery friends is left alone for the first time, they may scream. This is likely to get your attention - parrots are very loud. If they still can't see their friends, they may become anxious, even plucking feathers or doing other self-destructive behaviors.

How do you fix this? There are two ways - one, never leave your bird alone, or two, let your bird get used to it. Leave the room for a minute, and then pop back in. Reward your bird when s/he remains quiet and calm when you leave. Gradually increase the time you are out of the room, always rewarding desirable behavior and ignoring screamig. (If your bird plucks his/her feathers, contact a vet or animal behaviorist for treatment plans.) It also helps to never dramatize or drag out your comings and goings.

Another interesting factor in parrot psycology is their "sixth sense". Many parrots can sense their caretakers' moods and will alter their behavior to suit their feelings. Additionally, psittacines can predict earthquakes! This morning at about 3:00 AM, there was a 6.0 magnitude earthquake in Napa, CA, about 45 miles from my current location. My two cockatiels went nuts, shrieking and flapping just before the (rather mild) shaking. It still isn't clear how animals do this.

Bleh, I have to go. Part 3 coming eventually. Bye!