Friday, May 6, 2011
Petting Your Parrot
Touching parrots in a way that encourages courtship and sexual behavior is “just asking for it.” In other words you are setting yourself up for behavior problems that could include aggressive behavior, chronic egg laying, territorial issues and more. Check out Pamela Clark’s article on Hormone Production in parrots in the free sample of our digital publication Good Bird Magazine for more on behavior problems resulting from reproductive behavior.
Humans are super tactile creatures. We just love to touch things. And touching our pets can be a magical experience. My friends who visit my house say they get to be Snow White when they are here. Birds land on their heads. Small furry mammals hop into their lap and snuggle up against them. I love playing Snow White too and I could not imagine it being as much fun if I did not get to touch the animals. Therefore petting the parrots and other animals in my home is a big part of life. However it is done with forethought. Especially when it comes to parrots.
People tend to pet animals from the top of their heads to the tip of their tails. This does work for many mammals. Birds on the other hand…not so much. Parrots can get used to being stroked this way. But I would say it is not their preferred method to be touched. Most parrots prefer to have only the feathers on their head touched. And get this…they want you to stroke towards the beak, not the tail. A parrot who is enjoying having his head scratched will fluff all of his feathers up in response to touch. Check out Delbert, my yellow naped Amazon parrot enjoying a head scratch.
A few favorite spots on most parrots include under the beak, nape of the neck, over the ears and just above the nares. Parrots can’t reach these feathers to preen. Therefore they rely on other parrots or their human companions to take on this task. I believe this is why they are more receptive to touch on their head’s as opposed to other parts of their body.
There are of course parrots who do like having their bodies touched. Blu Lu the blue throated macaw is one such parrot. Even on her body she prefers the feathers are scratched opposite to the way they grow. As mentioned earlier I do have to be careful that touching her body does not lead to sexual or courtship behavior. So this is offered in moderation. I want her to be friendly with many people and encouraging a mate-like relationship with me will make that goal difficult to maintain.
Take a look at how your parrot responds to touch. Is he tolerating it? Or do you have a magic touch and he is getting a tad over stimulated? Hopefully you have found the happy medium, just enough to make it fun for you both.
Copyright 2011 Good Bird Inc