I'm not a fan of parrot videos that show a bird personality dancing, talking, mimicking, singing and the like. I'm not a fan, not because they are not enjoyable, but because to the untrained eye, or unfamiliar, or the parrot curious, the videos put unreasonable expectations onto parrots. They promote stereotypical assumptions and then set an unreasonable list of "wants" for future parrot parents. Those parents then think their newly acquired companion parrot is deficient or mean or stubborn for not performing. I know this because I receive requests to "fix" parrots so they will be more like "the parrot" on YouTube. I know this because I receive the question "What parrot should I get so I can get it to talk and dance like 'the parrot'?" or "If I get a bird like 'the parrot' in the video, when will he talk like 'the parrot'?"
I'm not a fan of parrot training videos with titles like "Tame your parrot in 15 minutes!" or "Get your parrot to be quiet in an hour!" I hold this opinion because I get requests to "fix" parrots so they will do what the parent saw on "the parrot" video on YouTube or Facebook. I am not a fan of the word "tame". Tame is a lie. Taming is an illusion. Taming is ridiculousness on a Popsicle stick. Do we tame children? I think not. We lead them, we set examples, we communicate, and we share. Are non-domesticated exotic parrots tamed? Nope.
I am not a fan of the word "train" in the strictest definition applied to parrots because the implication hanging in the void after speaking that word leaves the idea that somewhere there is a "trick" to "getting" your parrot to "obey". Good luck with that. More likely, good luck to that poor parrot facing unreasonable expectations and then rejection for not being dog like. How many cockatoos went home with someone because the new parents saw videos on YouTube that were hilarious! Oh my goodness they were the BEST! And they just had to have a cockatoo to dance, or dubstep, or rock out in their house. Of course the video doesn't say anything about how the bird came to be this silly and fun, how long it took, what the parent did to promote this, nor does the video discuss the dusty nature of Toos, their hormonal tendencies at certain ages, their severe need to be with the flock most if not all the time. The video doesn't talk about possible house destruction, nor does it go on to discuss the cost of proper annual vet visits. Cockatoos are just adorbs and they dance, and dubstep and rock out. That's what the parrot curious take from those videos.
Parrots are not pets. Parrots are not novelties. Parrots are not a personal circus act. I believe every parrot is a fabulous potential love fest. Every parrot offers boundless companionship and friendship. In their OWN WAY, on their own timeline. That's the hard part of parrots. Every parrot will require it's very own specific level of time, communication, conversation and interaction to get to it's full potential both as an exotic bird, and as a companion parrot. It's a fine line, but you can walk it. Allowing them those instinctual sensations while keeping that inside the box we call a human life. It is possible. It is probable. It is NOT easy.
And it's that last sentence that is the crux of my annoyance with YouTube videos. These 1-2-4 minute performances make it all look so easy, as though it just happens. (and some things do, sometimes a parrot just DOES) But the expectations left hanging in the air bothers me.
Why are their Rescue Parrots anyway? One reason; Unreasonable expectations in the companion parrot conversations (social media/video feeds/parrot-centric e-commerce). I'll leave the other reasons to Rescuers and Sanctuary Directors to blog.
I do not "train" my birds for entertainment. They are who they are, and that is more than enough for me. It should be enough. I share the best of them as they are, with caveats and nuggets of insight. Having and managing a flock of companion parrots of any size is work. It can be expensive. It takes time. It takes commitment. It takes sacrifice. And what we know as successful companion parrot parents is we receive 100 fold that back from our feather babies. We have a balanced life and knowledge of that lifestyle. The Parrot Curious who spend a few hours flipping through parrot videos or watching shares on their Facebook newsfeed and YouTube, do not have that balanced knowledge. I wonder, if we all accepted the idea that when sharing our joy through video shares we could also share a nugget of wisdom along with it. I wonder, if we all took a moment to share just a bit of our experience and our knowledge along with the social sharing habit we might all be able to upgrade the companion parrot conversations.