Tatillon the parrot

Tatillon the parrot

Paying a fortune in winter for strawberries and seeing them end up at the bottom of the cage without the parrot even deigning to touch them with the tip of its beak… Frustrating, isn’t it?

However, this is what many humans live daily who, to their great misfortune, live with a parrot that is said to be fussy.

The fussy parrot, too often dependent on its sacrosanct sunflower or safflower seeds, has a very precise idea of ​​”what its bowl should look like” and, as soon as it is used, very quickly gets rid of everything that, according to it, should not be there.

Very, very discouraging.

Why do some parrots act this way?

It is not because they are capricious parrots. It is quite simply that: feeding oneself is an innate behavior whereas knowing what to consume and how to prepare it are behaviors acquired by the imitation of experienced models. Let me explain: eating behaviors are part of the socialization experiences of the young parrot. In the wild, parents take a long time to pass on information to their offspring on: how to obtain food, handle it, prepare it and ingest it. This learning is done by incentive and imitation and can take place over several months depending on the species.

Parrot: African gray that eats.

We are talking about a very important stage in socialization, the survival of the young parrot will depend on this learning.

Parrots in the wild spend the majority of their time around food. They fly in pairs or in groups, from one place to another to locate and gather their food; this is an opportunity to share and socialize with their fellows and, in doing so, they also give themselves a lot of exercise. In addition, it is also the moment when they learn to make choices, to make decisions… What am I going to eat? Where and with whom will I do it? The search for food is therefore not only for feeding for these social animals. These are times of the day when parrots congregate and interact with each other.

Searching for food, feeding each other, playing and grooming is what a typical day in the life of parrots looks like in their habitat. They are intelligent birds who require a stimulating environment in order to learn and develop well.

For a parrot to accept novelty, like an unknown food in the middle of its bowl, it would first have to be able to develop its curiosity, to have learned to make its own choices and to have had the chance to cultivate a little bit of his taste for adventure. Every day, when I operated the shelter, I was confronted with these finicky parrots, who went so far as to become totally panicked at the mere sight of a new object, a new toy and, you can imagine. … a new food. These birds had obviously never been stimulated to accept novelty. For them, anything surprising meant threatening … even the food.

Curiosity, like the quest for and the choice of food, are learned behaviors and should preferably be developed very early in the young bird. Fortunately, the lack of socialization in the face of eating behaviors is not irreversible in parrots. Obviously, it is always more difficult to convince a pubescent or mature bird that it should convert to a varied diet than to teach it to a youngster in the first place.

In their natural environment, parrots are encouraged to curiosity and adventure. Of course, when they are very young, they rely entirely on their parents to protect them and provide them with good, nutritious and safe food. But as they grow up, they are encouraged by their parents to experience new foods on their own, touch new textures and shapes, and taste new flavors. Food exploration is a very exciting and stimulating activity for a young parrot.

Whole foods

Tatillon the parrot

In recent years, a wide variety of commercial feeds have appeared on the market. Much like dogs and cats, humans have adopted this style of feeding their parrots, seeing only the practicality. It’s clean ( doesn’t hull seeds everywhere ), quick and, we are told, “the feed would be complete and well balanced [sic]”.
So why bother and insist on feeding a variety of foods to our “domestic” parrots? Bluntly, for all the reasons listed above! The feed may promise a nutritious food, but certainly not exciting and stimulating …

What can a parrot do with its time when you are outside the house all day or have no time to take care of it? Working for its food becomes almost the only occupation of the pet parrot who finds himself … without company! Cracking the husks of nuts, peeling his banana or orange, peeling peas or beans are, more often than not, his only physical and sensory activities when he is locked in his cage. So why deprive him of it? Most importantly, since studies of parrot eating habits are still very young, offering a wide variety of foods is almost our only guarantee of keeping our birds long and healthy.

Unfortunately, it is domestication that makes these birds so picky about food. The very young parrot cannot develop his curiosity or his taste for adventure if, day after day, he is offered extrudates or any other restricted variety of foods. Often, the human living with a “capricious” bird, after a while does not even bother to offer him new food. He thinks to himself: “What good is he, he won’t eat it”. One thing is certain, if we do not offer them, he will not have the opportunity to discover them!

Tatillon the parrot

Some people believe they know their parrot’s food tastes and avoid offering it such or such a food on the pretext that the bird “doesn’t like it”. By doing this, these people refuse to recognize the bird’s right to change its mind and yet this is often what happens: the bird changes its mind and ends up tasting this food, probably because this food presented day after day has become more familiar to him and therefore less threatening. A food, presented in a constant manner will in many cases pass from the “unknown” box, therefore worrying, to the “known” box, that is to say, reassuring. Did you like spinach or broccoli when you were little? We all have the right to revise our positions. In the beginning,

Parrots are suspicious by nature: maybe he won’t swallow food the first time, but at least he will learn not to fear it and, with a little luck, tomorrow he will taste it and end up with it. eat. This will open up new avenues for him for the next “weird things” he finds in his bowl. A bird that has been fed only grasses or feed may refuse all other forms of food for a very long time. But if the human persists, he will possibly have the pleasant surprise of seeing his parrot one day attempt the adventure with a piece of papaya or a grape. At the shelter, we witnessed this kind of “unblocking” almost every week.

What to do?

Tatillon the parrot

Parrots learn and act by imitation. Imbued ( eam ) or imported parrots will often learn by imitating their companion or social group, regardless of whether they are avian or human. You are the model of your parrot. So at mealtime invite your bird to the table or approach its perch so that it feels close to the social group you make up with your family and offer it the same food that you are carrying. to your mouth, encouraging the latter to do the same ( always take into account prohibited foods ). You might be surprised.

Eating is a highly social activity in the parrot world and the mere fact of being with you at the table could cause the parrot in its need for integration to try to conform to the group, thus ingesting the same. food than his table mates. This taste for imitation and the extraordinary adaptability of parrots sometimes creates rather unusual behaviors. So, Etienne, my blue-fronted Amazon came to demand utensils of his own when he was invited to the table. Hey yes, Étienne eats with his own spoon and he seems to really appreciate this attention. This ritual only takes place when he is with us at the table. The rest of the time, whether installed on a perch or in the aviary, he eats quite normally from his bowl. It seems that he made the association in his head: eating at the table = eating like humans.

It is important to reward the “finicky” bird each time it agrees to try a new food. Look at him, express your satisfaction with a caress or attention, reinforce this good behavior. The message that the parrot receives at this moment is: I taste something new, it is good and as a bonus, I am receiving the attention of my human… Happiness!

If your bird is more than finicky, you can offer moist, warm food. Parrots, both older and babies, love to feed. By mashing his carrots and serving them hot-lukewarm ( no more than 106 ° F / 40 ° C ), he’ll feel like you’re feeding him. This is practically irresistible for any parrot.

You can also present him this same carrot that he refused the day before in a different form: diced, in sticks, grated or minced by passing it in the food processor. The texture and shape of the food can make a big difference to a bird’s eyes. For him, it’s a new experience. It is also sold on the market of small skewers on which we prick food, which take the form of shish-kebab to hang. The food then becomes a delicious toy and, as everyone knows, parrots are playful.

What must be understood here is that it is essential that your parrot has a varied diet, as much in the choice of food as in the shape, texture, color and taste. If you are consistent and above all patient, it is almost certain that your bird will come to try new feeding experiences. All parrots love to eat and are foodies of their kind. Maybe yours doesn’t know it yet, but be patient and it will come.

Cockatoo anorexia

As some already know, I have a slight weakness for cockatoos. These birds fascinate me. Maybe it’s because they give me a harder time than other species because the imagination they deploy to control their well-being overwhelms me at all times. It is obvious that for a cockatoo living in captivity, the ultimate goal is to capture the full attention of its humans, regardless of the means used to achieve its ends.

Cockatoos eat very little at a time, but often do. They are very active birds and they keep a margin of lightness to be able to fly or hop as they please. In addition, they are generally quite selective as to the food they carry in their beak ( I mean in general… I also know gluttonous… ). They are foodies, not foodies. These birds are also, to our chagrin, overly observant and imaginative and very dependent on the attention that those around them give them. When you mix all these ingredients, it gives… the king of the manipulators of the avian world!

Tatillon the parrot

These magnificent birds are, more often than not, the favorites of these ladies and, as everyone knows, we women are born with the gene of guilt and worry. Of course, this “peccadille” does not escape the discerning eye of our charming cockatoo!

If, unfortunately, your cockatoo’s lack of appetite seems to worry you and the bird takes notice, ladies you’re done. As long as the cockatoo notices that it attracts your attention by eating little or refusing its food, bingo! He will use this means to push your insecurity and worry to its climax. The Moluccan and Alba cockatoos are graduates of quantum anorexia ( they eat very little, just enough not to starve and rarely in front of you ).

The source of the problem lies in the fact that the more you insist on feeding the “anorexic” cockatoo, the more it will refuse food or will only accept the treats it likes and that you give it, trying to convince you that “it’s better than nothing at all”. Not stupid the wasp !. The bird manages to capture your full attention and moreover, we only offer it treats… Heaven for a cockatoo! The real problem is that this kind of behavior can have a severe impact on your bird’s health if this merry-go-round lasts too long.

In almost all cases, anorexia in cockatoos is instrumentalized ( most of the time created by one of those overly loving women ). At this point, I simply suggest offering the bird some quality food ( according to your beliefs and not his ) and leaving the room and not picking up anything when you find that he has not. touched his bowl; to pretend we haven’t noticed. If the bird can no longer obtain attention by acting in this way ( Madame no longer there or no longer noticing that it has not eaten), he won’t starve himself for nothing. If he is hungry he will eat. The funny thing is, it works almost every time, but again, persistence and consistency is a must, otherwise, he’ll start his little game over again. To manipulator, manipulator and a half!

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