Speaking of Hormones: Part 4 - Materials and Foods

Hormones are not an issue or a problem. They are part of a parrot requiring understanding, not fixing.

Speaking of Hormones: Part 4 - Materials and Foods

Part 3 of this Series can be found here.

Available food and nesting materials affect nesting behavior in all birds; hook-billed, soft-billed, predator and song. There's a direct correlation between the amount of necessary materials at the ready and how wild birds will conduct their mating, nesting and family building. Mammals of all sorts are affected by food sources and material sources. Abundant locations providing all the needs nearby are locations filled with flocks. Foods for energy and egg production with materials to create safe nesting environments flip the switch. Is it that simple for companion parrots?

As FlockCall goes global in advocacy a new truth reveals that abundant parrot care lifestyle is not the same in any way throughout the world. In fact, the more abundant the commodity market, the more abundant the lifestyle. Which stands to reason. I am and have worked with flocks in locations where food stuffs, farming and the lack of commercial pellets creates a completely different food profile available to companion parrots. Grocery stores are not available, but local farmer's markets instead. Seasons drive the foods available as well as materials. Economic status affects their lifestyle inside that limited provisions market. Companion Parrot materials (enrichment) does not exist. Ordering toys online is far too costly. I have spoken to parrot advocates and lovers in India, Germany, Italy, France, the UK, Greece, Mexico, Canada, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland and many other countries, and no matter the provisions market we all have perceived hormonal tendencies. So what gives? 

What do we do with that idea? I am not a fan of modifying foods. I'm not a real fan of transitioning parrots to a pure pellet based diet either. Balance and health comes from balance and healthy choices. If your parrot is sharing good food with you while eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and some pellets (10%) of the whole, you've got great balance. If you have yearly blood panel draws to see the literal results, and they are good, you've got great balance. PLEASE do not utilize feeding changes to influence perceived hormone issues. Healthy feeding is the front line to healthcare. And modifying something that isn't broke to fix something else that really isn't broke, just inconvenient, won't work.

Materials send messages as well. Nesting, shredding, and enclosures all express an available safe place. If your companion parrot is enjoying these things, and finds balanced calm from them, please don't remove all of them due to perceived hormonal issues. Again, you've balance in your flock. It's never a good thing to throw off balance for short term miscommunication. It's the balance that will help rectify that miscommunication.

The real problem with perceived hormone issues isn't the hormones at all. It's the unreasonable expectation that we can eliminate something that is intrinsically part of our companion. Hormone flux is a natural state and phase in the life cycle of a healthy, aging companion parrot.

Let's go back to the beginning of this conversation. Our companions are effected by a myriad of influences. Some of those we may not even be aware of directly. Felix is greatly influenced by direct communication. He deals with anything but not being informed on comings and goings. He wants to be told you are leaving. You literally have to tell him you are going and say good bye properly. Hormones, biting, lunging, possessiveness, random nipping, dog chasing, digging, shredding, cage defensiveness; the list is huge. It's easy to point a finger at the calendar and the parrot and say "Oh! He/She is hormonal!" and immediately start taking away things to "get him/her to stop". Which just adds to the problem, because that removal of food or items sent a completely different message to your companion parrot.

Utilizing food or the removal of food to influence your parrot's behavior sends a clear message. You, their flock leader, will use their needs to control them. You are literally telling your companion trust isn't the basis, performance is the foundation. Food material is not a tool for control. It is a direct line of communication.

There are hormonal issues for specific parrots, like cockatoos, that can literally threaten their life. That is not what we are discussing here. That is extreme mental and physical breakdown of one of the most emotional, cognitive and empathetic of the great parrots. These wonderful companions require a complete re-balancing with the help of an avian vet.

Our conversation over these last few articles revolves around companions that "act up" seasonally or cyclically. The real answer to it all, is the simplest. When they act out of balance it is up to us to keep the balance to every thing around them. We must defend their lifestyle and continue through the issues. Modify by observation. These times we may loose our companion to their own need to be left alone. It's hard to trust that choice. Our once loving, cuddly boisterous bird is now irritated, grouchy, and wants nothing to do with any one or thing. Our companions may fight, and require separation. That is modification by observation. Keep the balanced consistent lifestyle around that change.

Haven't we all had one of those days or periods in our own lives where we just weren't ourselves? Our friends and family gave us space. They checked in on us, but they did not change how they love us, we still felt their reach and care. They remained balanced and consistent while we were not.

In the experiences I have been a part of globally and in our own home, I am convinced perceived hormonal issues are but another facet of the complexity of companion parrot personality. It isn't an issue, it's a normal phase of life that can spark unnecessary reactions on our part because we just don't want the change or we do not trust them to come back "out of it".

AviCalm and products of that nature may work. I have heard stories of great success. Behaviorist described modification may work, I have heard stories of success. But before you begin changing, modifying, reacting and controlling a perceived issue, allow some time for your companion to be this way inside their consistent unchanging normal balanced lifestyle as they know it. Give them a chance to communicate to you, and listen. Leaving expectation out of the conversation will lead to stronger communication and a better understanding of your companion.

We can't get all of this right, and we can't control it all either. A relationship is a give and take, a balanced compromise emotionally. We have to trust our companions sometimes, as we ask them to trust us. That is my take on perceived hormonal issues.

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