I haven’t posted anything recently about my rascally parrots – they’ve been all good and healthy and happy – the way we like them to be!
Bu, as with most parrots, Sam the Jardine’s Parrot at age 7, is feeling his hormones. This can be slightly annoying and inconvenient (to humans) to very worrying, depending on how severe the situation is. Mary at Parrot Musings blog has had years of experience with this issue with both male and female parrots, and with both mild and severe cases. Her blog is a must-read if you are considering obtaining a parrot.
Hormonal periods come at odd times – not just springtime into summer. December and January seem to be peak periods for many parrots. It’s at times like these that a lot of people owning parrots find the challenge too daunting and foreign to contend with and end up surrendering their parrots.
Since Sam doesn’t have a mate to bond with in my home, he has bonded to me. This is a story that repeats itself all the time in parrot households. We give our parrots our love, physically giving them head scritches and cuddles – and that love is reciprocated, parrot-style. Regurgitation of food is one of the first things Sam does if I’ve been away and he wants to tell me how much he missed me! That is exactly what he’d do if he wanted to express himself to his parrot mate.
But at hormonal times, regurgitation is often followed by what I call “the moves”: he watches my every movement, stops playing with his toys, “whines” when I’m not near him, shakes his tail and quivers his wings, etc. Then I know he’s got it bad and he’s a lovesick little parrot. Not even food will break his trance! And that is saying something for Sam, who will do almost anything for a treat.
It’s difficult to handle sometimes. My vet tells me to simply ignore him when he behaves this way. Another thing that helps is to withhold high-calorie/high fat treats, like nuts; and definitely withhold any soft and/or warm foods. The soft foods make parrots’ brains go into “I must feed my mate” mode. I usually give all my parrots steamed veggies at dinnertime when I eat mine. Sam gets raw veggies for now, and he’s OK with that.
Another must is to have Sam forage for his pellets so that he’s busy. When he gets hungry, he has to work for it by finding it and extracting it from hiding places and unwrapping the pellets (I wrap them in paper).
Cuddling/covering his back/stroking his underbelly – all no-no’s, as these are like foreplay for the parrot body!
I have noticed that all these factors help reduce the triggers, and each day he’s slightly less infatuated. When he’s acting normally, I can then give him head scritches and assure him I do love him.
So, day by day, we’re getting there!
But if you are new to parrots and are tempted to buy or rescue one because they’re so beautiful, they can talk, etc., please be aware that parrots are wild animals and not domesticated like dogs or cats with predictable behaviors. Parrots have the same instincts, but their behaviors are avian, not mammalian, and therefore can be quite foreign to us when they occur. It requires a lifetime commitment to give them the best – through thick, thin, and hormones! But if you can make that commitment, you and your parrot can have a lifetime of satisfaction together.