I dedicated a chapter in my book about expectations inside a companion parrot lifestyle. Expectations are what we bring, not them. Humans tend to romanticize ideas particularly when that idea is a thing we desire to have for ourselves. Our expectations get hardwired through a bit of fantasizing and thought investments. It's one thing to romanticize an idea that has a simple reality. Companion Parrots do not have a simple reality.
I wanted to ride my own motorcycle. I wanted to ride a Ducati specifically. I'd never done that before so with a bit of romanticizing and daydreaming of actually being a rider I had a head full of romantic thoughts for sure. I rode on the back of my husband's Vegas for a year and was certain that handling that control would be better. So I took the courses, earned the endorsements, bought all the riding gear and that first Ducati in '05. It's one thing to ride a motorcycle at in town speed. It's another to merge from that scenario onto a multi-lane bridge and get that bike from 30 to 60+ in heavy traffic. The romance left my head and my stomach was in my throat that first time. Years later, speed and all formats of highway and traffic just don't matter. Riding a motorcycle is systematic and the rules of physics and law do not change. Once you learn it, it all becomes second nature. And yes, I was pretty darn close on the romance side of the idea. I will always be a rider.
The romance of companion parrots vs the reality is organic and ever changing. Companion Parrots are a moving target of understanding and learning. Their list of needs is simple. You can make that as simple or complex as you want. The reality is a companion parrot changes their opinions, their motives and their decisions as quickly as a 4 year old. So you are never done understanding your parrot. And unlike riding a motorcycle, it will not become some automated process inside your life. A companion will look you straight in the eye one morning and change every rule you thought you agreed on over the last year. And laugh at you while doing it.
Our first reaction is the "something's wrong" response. Something is wrong because it's different now. They don't like me anymore, they won't eat what they did, he lunges, he won't play with a toy like he did, he changed! The romance of having a best friend companion parrot that sits on your shoulder and shares your foods disappears and you are left with a personality that decided your romantic idea wasn't theirs.
Which breaks the human expectations. Which leads many to contact me asking if I can fix their bird. Which is a romantic idea. Because each companion parrot is different, and who am I to force change on a personality that just wanted a bit of nuance applied. He'll eat the broccoli, but in a certain bowl thank you very much. Romance vs Reality. It is no different than new parents bringing home a baby. Oh the romance that went through my head with my first child could have been made into a diaper commercial! And then the first full 24 hours revealed the reality. Total fear mixed with adoration, uncertainty, devotion and love with some self-doubt. And not ever really knowing if I was doing it all right or not. But both children survived my pale attempts at perfect parenting. And so will our companion parrots.
None of us get all this right. Drop the romance, drop the idea of perfect parrot behavior or even acquiring such a thing. The healthiest approach for you and your companion is simply acknowledging your reality as it stands. So your bird won't eat certain vegetables. So your bird prefers your shoulder to your forearm. Are you both happy and comfortable with that communication? Bravo! Enjoy that between you. There is no one absolute truth in behavior communication and in all flocks or all parrots. We are all individuals with individual truths. Don't romanticize what you may see in others flock videos, photos, or stories. You can't know the whole truth and history behind them. And it wouldn't matter anyway. It's their truth, not yours.
If I can only do two things in my advocacy they are these; give every parrot everywhere a happier home and give every flock everywhere confidence in their own truth. Unreasonable expectations start with lack of truth. Know your truth, support your flock truth with love, empathy, confidence and joy. You can not fail when love, empathy, confidence and joy are part of your truth.
And don't let anyone tell you differently.