The innate, the acquired and the parrot


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The innate, the acquired and the parrot

God’s part … and that of others

The parrot, what a charming, bewitching and oh so … annoying animal! Indeed, if we pay careful attention to the words of most of the people who live in the company of the latter, we would be led to believe that the parrot is an unpredictable, bellicose and unpleasant animal … a real dog character!

Dog character, that’s where all comparison with this animal ends!

Indeed, we humans are used to living in the company of dogs and taking as a point of reference the behaviors and socialization of the latter to apply them to our other pets, and when our animals do not act as dog-dog. although “domestic”, the words “behavior problems” immediately burst forth from all sides.

This is when people turn to me, as soon as so-called “behavior problems” appear.

Me, I work with parrots with methods adapted for parrots. Absolutely nothing to do with dogs. Besides, I don’t know how to work with dogs, mine do as they please and laugh at my heartbreaking attempts at authority; my parrots are obviously much more disciplined!

The innate, the acquired and the parrot

Parrot is not synonymous with behavior problem …

… And all the attitudes of the bird which seem deplorable to you are not related to it either. The parrot has a multitude of innate behaviors with which humans have difficulty dealing with and often which they consider downright unacceptable in a domestic animal. But now, the parrot is NOT a domestic animal …

Most of the physical or emotional needs of parrots are not adapted to cohabitation with humans, because… they have (stupidly ) never had the chance to evolve in this direction. Thus, these behaviors designed specifically for their natural habitat meet in our human world and in most cases under the name: Behavior problem.

Under this name, my clients describe to me almost all of the parrot’s natural behaviors: biting ( pinching ), communicating ( screaming ), flying, gnawing, destroying, sexual behavior, etc. To top it all, even defecating would seem to fit into the picture of the many “behavioral problems” in the volatile gentry. Definitely!

We will see in the pages of this site that none of these behaviors are deviant. We will find that the parrot is a logical and flexible animal that especially does not want to make waves. To survive, he must conform to his social group and not confront it. As a logical animal, he reacts according to the social structure of the individuals around him precisely to avoid trouble and risk rejection from his community. We will explore the idea that, if the parrot, congruent in its approach, acts adequately by taking into account the responses of its environment, it is therefore in this environment ( the human or the social group) to offer him the appropriate answers to his understanding so that the bird is able to produce the expected social behaviors of him.

The innate, the acquired and the parrot

God’s part … the innate

There is a very great interaction between the innate and the acquired. The more instinct an animal has, the less dependent it is on its ancestors or social group, and basically we’ll say that’s because it has less need to learn. According to Jean-Henri Fabre, precursor of ethology: ” The instinct is at the same time perfectly adapted to the situation which triggers it, but terribly limited by its lack of flexibility “.

Instinct arises from internal ( endogenous ) stimuli ; physiological like hormones and appetite. Innate behaviors are found in all individuals of the same species, individual differences ( temperament, personality, background, etc. ) have no effect on these types of behavior. These behaviors, present from birth, allow animals to perform certain functions without resorting to learning.

The share of instinctive behaviors in a species depends on the development of the central nervous system of the latter, on its psychic level. So instinctive behaviors ( innate – natural ) play a greater role in poorly developed species than in higher animals.

Innate attitudes are opposed to acquired attitudes and do not require prior learning.
Example: All individuals of the same species have identical sexual behavior resulting from reactions determined by genetic characteristics.

In evolved species, such as our parrot, most instinctual information is supported by a very high capacity to learn, which makes them highly adaptable.
This wonderful ability to learn and adapt is what we call the acquired.

The innate, the acquired and the parrot

The share of others … acquired

Unlike the innate, the acquired depends on external ( exogenous ) stimuli , that is to say, which are external to the bird, which come from the environment. Acquired is the product of information, learning and experiences accumulated during development, from fertilization of the egg until the end of its life as a parrot. It encompasses all intelligent and reasoned behaviors as well as conditioned reflexes.

These achievements are personal to the individual. These acquired attitudes allow our parrot to adapt to several new and different situations or environments. This is what gives him all his potential to become an excellent pet. All social learning is learned behavior.
The most common modes of learning are by observation and imitation as well as by several trials and just as many errors. The behaviors crowned with success will be reiterated, while those which lead to only modest dividends or without interest or worse, some inconvenience will be quickly abandoned.

Learning by trials often results from fortuitous and accidental situations, that is to say, the parrot poses an action by chance, and integrates or rejects it depending on what it brings: pleasure, inconvenience or … nothing of the all! He learns from his successes, but also a lot… from his mistakes…! In either of these situations, one fact remains … the bird will remember ( good or bad behavior ) according to the responses ( consequences ) it has received.

The observation and naturally, the imitation of the protagonists who make up its immediate environment will ensure that the parrot will try to recreate behaviors that will seem appropriate and effective. He can immediately reproduce a behavior by acting simultaneously with the model ( imitative learning ), and he can not reproduce the observed behavior until much later, when a similar situation calls for it ( vicarious learning ).

The parrot’s behavioral repertoire is constantly evolving; at each stage of development, behaviors previously adopted as a function of the responses generated by the behavior emitted are abandoned. This is where the part of others comes in… your part.
Your parrot will be the reflection of its environment, of what it will have acquired from your contact.

The innate, the acquired and the parrot

A subject not fully programmable

Despite the fact that our parrot is part of the class of so-called “evolved” animals, it has in it, from birth, a certain number of preprogrammed attitudes for its survival, which will be able to manifest itself at the opportune moment and following the maturation of the child. Coco.

And in spite of the fact that its acquired behaviors are very numerous, it is not for all that fully programmable. It comes into the world with certain basic “software” that we call the instincts and by which it will be governed its whole life.

It is important to note ( to reassure you and for the happiness of Coco ) that an innate behavior never disappears ( and there is no point in trying ), the parrot can only learn to adapt its instinctive attitudes to constraints. and requirements of the environment in which it operates. Humans and birds will have to deal with this fact all their lives.

It is vital for the bird’s balance to be taken care of by a good tutor who will know how to guide it and help it reconcile its innate behaviors with the constraints of this new environment ( your home ) and guide it in the process. ‘acquisition of social behaviors ( acquired ) so that he can meet the requirements of this environment ( your aims ).

It will be mainly through good supervision of its activities, its experiences and depending on your answers that your bird will learn – both what is good and what is not – for you to decide.


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