Integrating Parrot Flock Members

Bringing family and flock together isn't difficult. It's just party planning.

Integrating Parrot Flock Members

We all want our family members to get along. The Holidays bring this yearning home for us all. Family reunions in the summer fire up that desire as cars pull up to join the celebrations. Yes, we all would love a perfectly balanced family. Not like any of us actually have one, but we do strive and yearn for such a balance. And so too, do we hope all our companions will like each other and desire to share their perch and flock life as a whole. It's only natural to want that copacetic flock life.

So how does one integrate flock members that haven't really shared much air space, or perch space? Where do we start? We start with a simple understanding that the birds we hope to integrate may not want to in the end. They may find the full experiment to be offensive and even threatening to their flock definitions. Remember all macro flocks have micro flocking rule sets embedded. And your flock's micro flocking rules may make this a difficult if not unwanted goal. Remove all your personal expectations. These companions may not want anything to do with each other. They literally may have zero desire for the dream the humans in the room have cooked up.

With that truth in mind, we start by allowing all involved to say no. No is a choice, and no is a fine answer to allow a companion. By simply introducing your companions into a neutral zone room (no one has defined that space as their territory) you've offered the option of no. Leave room for distances to be created by choice. Leave room and food and toys and perches and humans in such a manner they can separate and slowly come together without force or fear. In the end, this is for all of them to suss out. The human in the room can only offer options. The human in the room who would become impatient and force issues through location, space, food bribery or literal physical placement of their birds may gain a perceived success result. Or they may just gain a bite. But let me be brutally honest. If these companions did not choose and create that moment on their own, it is false. It is a facade to "get through" what you are doing. Consider it like a moment at the main table of a family reunion. Aunt Gayle and Aunt Karen are talking and eating together, for now. We in the family all know an argument could break out any moment, but probably won't because Uncle Ed just sat down.

Options with no expectations or demands put into the situation, with the option to always say no. That is where you start. And that is where you stop. You let them suss it out. You create a benign and neutral area with neutral elements (no favorite toys) and you invite them into the reunion celebration. You invite them every day at the same time for the same duration. You give them time to create and rewrite their rules and agreements. Companions need rules to communicate with us and with each other. By socially mixing a new flock you removed the known rules. They will need time and space, as much time as they need, to rewrite and create those new micro flock rules.

I remember a large family reunion I was invited to attend by a friend. It was all her family, but she wanted me to go with her that day to meet her cousins. I said yes. There were hordes of kids of all ages. I just followed Lisa because she knew the social rules of all these kids. I didn't. After an hour or so, I became confident enough to sit down at one picnic table with a handful of kids eating hotdogs. The oldest looked at me and said, "Who are YOU?" I answered, "I'm Lisa's friend, Kathy!"

"LISA?" He snidely shouted and laughed. The rest of them joined in. I got up and left. I broke a rule inside their micro flock, a rule I didn't know and couldn't understand. But the other kids knew it and they let me know they did.

It's the unwritten and unknown rules our flocks have written that have to change to make integration work. And we can not rewrite them, only they can. We can influence their comfort level in the process though. We are the party planners, and they are our guests.

And all good party planners know you have lots of varied good food around many tables with lots of optional seating. You have lawn games setup and ready to mix the conversation and you make sure to schedule it when every one can come comfortably and happily. You make introductions and you give your guests space to take the next step. Companions aren't any different then their human counterparts really. No one is going to get Aunt Gayle to like Aunt Karen, not after the wedding incident. Which is why Uncle Ed always sits down at the end of their table.

Which reminds me, you need to make introductions and keep yourself in the flock conversation. You'll be looked upon by all involved to assure safety and confidence. Somebody has to be Uncle Ed.

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