I received a list recently titled; "What NOT to do with a Parrot". I really hated that list. Not on the merits of the list itself, although I disagree with 1/3 of the list or more, but by the very negative nature of the information. And the assumption there is some definitive approach to all parrots. One list to rule them all. Which there isn't. I'm not talking about the caffeine or dangerous food type of list. I'm talking about literal interactions and actions type of list. Every bird is different. Every trust level in every flock is different. Every lifestyle is different. Why or how can you make a list like that and expect it to be valid? You should just title it "A SUGGESTION of Things that MIGHT Not Work in YOUR Flock MAYBE" List. I can live with that long enough to look at it at least.
Our very confidence in our growing relationship with our parrot defines the growth and strength of that relationship. It's hard to try new things, or venture into new types of play or interaction if you're intimidated by something you read or have negative connotations rolling around your head. Your parrot feels that uncertainty. That's not to say we become demanding powerhouses, but if you feel like trying a new way to interact with your parrot, invite them to the game. A towel peek a boo game, a new toy or a new word, maybe a new process to make your day easier. It's all about invitation and introduction with positive results to build on in the next step. As I like to say to fearful drivers ahead of me in traffic, "Don't fear it, steer it!"
So I've had this what-not-to-do-list for a few days, sitting saved on my hard drive, and it's been rubbing me the wrong way thinking on it. So I do what comes naturally, I rebut and delete that annoyance. I submit to you today my list; What TO DO with a parrot you love.
Talk with your parrot! Notice I didn't say talk to, I said talk with your parrot to include and wait for responses. A conversation is only as good as the listening that goes on. Give your bird a chance to respond, whether it be a ruffle, or vocalization or a head shake or a toy toss. Listening is as important as talking with your parrot.
Share food with your parrot! Seriously. Share a meal with your parrot. Why do we go out to dinner with friends? For the shear enjoyment of eating together. You laugh, share stories, try each other's foods, you bond. What parrot won't like that?
Let your parrot help with chores! Okay, this is a bit wishy washy, but riding on a pile of laundry counts as helping. The point being, a parrot needs to be part of the daily dailies. They need that. Snickers helps with dried laundry by pulling everything out of my basket and throwing it on the floor. He's not messing up my work, he is literally helping. He waits for me to pick things up and fold them before he gets the next item. Snickers loves throwing clean clothes on the floor OR in his perspective; helping me fold laundry.
Flock call with your parrot! Are you outside doing lawn work? Are they in the house? Well, yell hello into the window! It doesn't have to be open. Wave, sing, dance. Hide behind the bush and play peekaboo. Are you in the other room busy? Call out and let them know you are safe and near, and busy. Every body appreciates updates.
Always speak a word to your parrot when walking past their cage or line of sight. Always. Nobody likes being ignored.
Say hello and goodbye during your day's ins and outs. Nobody likes being forgotten.
Say their names, often. Parrots LOVE hearing their names. It's true.
If they love snuggling, snuggle. If they love scritches, scritch. If they love rolling around on a bed and wing rubs, well do it. Felix isn't a snuggler at all. He's a thinker. BUT he appreciates dad's head and face rubs. Snickers requires bedtime snuggles, wing rubs, belly rubs and foot rubs with dad. This is not an option. Butters loves head, chest and foot rubs. Anytime she can corner me. I could spend hours standing in front of her favorite window pouring love on top of her like hot fudge. She'll just purr like a cat. I know someone will warn of the dangers of physical touch to certain areas (the back). I know someone will stand opposed on this issue because of hormones et al. And in some cases that is a true warning. SOME CASES. Every bird is different, every lifestyle is different and every companion parrot relationship is different. Do not fear or push away a physically welcoming parrot. Yes, I have had a parrot rub me the "wrong" way. Both he and I were left unsatisfied and it didn't happen again. Bottom line; enjoy your parrot in that snuggle and petting sense that works for you both because it works and brings joy and calm. It just makes me sad to think there are flocks literally denying their relationship this level of discourse because of a perceived unknown. Balance, as with all things, is the answer.
Treat your parrot no less than you would treat a child or friend. Literally. If for no other reason than to make yourself a better and kinder personal naturally. But I'll tell you right now the benefits reaped will be a bit amazing. Kinda like hot fudge. That stuff is amazing.