The gregariousness of the parrot
The parrot is a gregarious animal: refers to the tendency of animals to live in groups and imitate the behavior of other individuals, and which consequently have a gregarious instinct. He is a social animal and like all social animals, he certainly cannot socialize on his own. In humans we call this grouping “society”, in parrots we will designate it under the term “social group”.
In “prey” animals such as the parrot, the gregarious instinct is very strong and the formation of a social group is determined by three fundamental factors:
- Food research
- The reproduction
- Safety: predators have a clear preference for isolated prey.
In addition to the guarantee against predators, parrots must live in a community to satisfy their need for survival (eat, drink) and meet their social needs ( play, communicate, groom themselves, emotional needs, reproduction ).
The cohesive force within the group is constantly reinforced by visual or auditory contact. In short, in nature, a parrot is never alone, all activity is practiced in pairs or in groups.
To ensure the proper functioning and balance of such a society, it must be governed by a social structure which at first glance may seem anarchic to us, but which is nevertheless managed by codes that it is important to respect for all members of the group, since the security of the individual and his community depends on it ( sentinel system, vocalizations, conflict resolution, etc. ). The parrot is therefore genetically programmed to live in society and follow codes, and these must be learned. Indeed, these codes are not part of his genetic background; he is programmed to learn them, but does not know them at birth.
His instinct for survival commands him to blend in with the group, because far from it, he does not survive. The parrot is not a solitary animal and has no taste for nonconformity. This kind of conservatism is a sub-instinct of the drive for integration, which itself stems from the drive for security which is an integral part of the herd instinct.
No conformism = no integration!
Unlike many species of gregarious animals, the notion of hierarchy is a concept that seems unknown to parrots. No case of aggression has been recorded among them with the aim of preserving the social tendency: no linear hierarchy (of dominance) has been observed in parrots to date, and no hierarchy by aggression ( pecking) either. order ). On the other hand, it was observed a form of relative dominance – by pair of individuals: an individual can inhibit the behavior of a congener and provoke in him an avoidance response without aggression, and this, without any dominance occurring. has been put to the test. These occasional conflicts between two individuals have no impact on the group.
There is no fight to become the “alpha” bird of the group. The parrot does not settle its conflicts by physical confrontations, but knows how to be respected by the adoption of postures intended to impress the adversary ( bristling feathers, dilated pupils, vocalizations, etc. ).
It is during puberty that the parrot begins to interact autonomously with its social group. He begins to decide for himself the behaviors to adopt since his behavior will no longer depend on his ancestors. He will have to do his experiments and he will have to assume the consequences of his choices. Puberty is a time of intense rivalry that results in loud vocalizations and often, attempts at bullying.
It is important to note here that this is not inappropriate behavior. It is innate, natural and normal for an “adolescent” parrot to act this way … don’t take it personal, and blame it on Junior’s hormones …
The pet parrot has lost none of its gregarious instinct or its relational functions. In a captive context, depriving a parrot of social activity or contact is the most cruel form of violence that humans can inflict on that animal. The parrot must be able to communicate adequately with the members of its group ( your family ) and since it has no idea how to behave in this kind of society, since absolutely nothing in its genes predisposes it to this. It is essential that it be taken care of by a human understanding and attentive to his ( good ) socialization.
Unlike our dogs, the parrot does not recognize any authority figure ( neither human nor fellow ). He can only interact with you as he would have done in his natural habitat with his congeners, and try to live his life as a parrot according to the social standards that he will have acquired in contact with this group ( your family). It is up to humans to socialize them to their “human” environment and to the constraints attached to it. The bird only asks to comply with the codes that it will observe and that one will instill in it, it is programmed for that. If the bird has no codes or models to follow, it can only trust what it experiences for itself, and these experiences, good or bad, will gradually take the form of behaviors that will be judged. acceptable ( at least, for him ).
The right balance
Life in the human world includes many constraints that are not always obvious to the parrot, and the parrot is quite incapable of following codes of conduct that are not suitable ( at least, minimally ) for it. It is through good socialization that the bird will learn to adapt its innate behaviors and to act socially within your family. It is an intelligent and adaptable animal who will know how to comply with your rules if they are transmitted respectfully, in a fair way and, above all, in a way that is understandable and admissible for him.
It is absolutely essential for the human educator to understand that no training method applied with dogs can work for the parrot. The concept of “total dominance” put ( unfortunately) going ahead with the dogs will only make you lose your bird’s confidence. Any attempt at “dominance” based on fear, confrontation, rigidity, intimidation, disrespect, deprivation or fear of a consequence to gain “control” of your parrot is doomed to failure. . This kind of behavior on the part of the human can develop a great distress and lead to reactions of fear or phobia and consequently of defense on the part of the parrot. The rules must be constant and consistent.
The parrot needs to be comfortable in its feathers to feel accepted and respected by its social group ( your family ). He must feel safe in this group. It is a need for him to take part in the daily activities of his community ( eating, playing, cleaning, watching TV, etc. ). It must receive the attention of the group, without necessarily being the center of it. Evolving in the same room as you is for him already very reassuring, receiving ambient attention, a word, a glance or a caress in passing is often more than enough. He sits in your presence, he is happy and feels accepted.