How many horror stories have you heard? Cockatoos that pick their feathers, African grays that growl excessively, screaming conures and biting parakeets. The end results are all the same- frustrated owners and frustrated birds. After hand-raising literal 100’s of birds and seeing them placed in a variety of homes I have seen a regular pattern in behavior problems.
Many are surprised and shocked by my simple but effective method of avoiding behavioral problems in parrot species but I assure you it is effective. Members of the parrot family, no matter the country of origin are quite intelligent creatures. Much of what they do and expect is based in routine. However, their routines are not solely based in instinctual behavior. This is one of the reasons that they make such wonderful pets under the right circumstances. The routines are learned behavior and may be passed from generation to generation.
I have avoided most of the common behavioral problems experienced with pet parrots by doing my best to have a routine of an -unstructured routine-. Let me elaborate. When a bird is kept in the same cage, in the same room, with the same toys over any length of time they come to expect it. Any change to the setting can be quite disturbing to the parrot. The resulting panic, frustration or stress from the change is typically expressed in what most consider a behavioral problem. The reaction is similar to a teenager acting out when their parents are divorcing.
The obvious point to start this is when a pet parrot is first brought into the home; I have begun this as early as during the hand feeding process. I make an effort to change things frequently so an expectation is not formed. This way there can be no reaction when the norm does not happen because there is no norm.
With an established pet parrot it is difficult to break established routines without risking a negative reaction. You can still work towards this goal with your bird by easing in variations to the established routine. Uncovering the cage at different times of the morning or changing some of your bird’s toys may be some easier routines to start changing established patterns. Forced changes such as an extended vet visit, move to a new home or other unavoidable, big routine disturbance can be used to break many of the other routine patterns.