Imagine my surprise when one sunny summer day I walked in and caught my bird "in the act." The most interesting part of this is I only have one bird. Suffice it to say, he was "in the act" of getting intimate with one of his favorite toys. Being a first-time bird owner, I wasn't sure what to think: Did I buy a deviant bird? Had he been watching too much birdy porn? Is it only me and should I be embarassed? Or was there a perfectly good explanation for why my bird was so openly stimulating himself?
Being an over-protective pet parent, I immediately scheduled an appointment with his vet Dr. Byron (a great Avian specialisit at Animal House of Chicago). He informed me that this type of behavior is quite common among birds (more prevalent in males) especially during Spring and Summer when hormones are flying (no pun intended). Here are a few things I learned that day . . .
- You know the old saying, "if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with"? Well birds, Parrots in particular, tend to mate for life and therefore tend to attach themselves to one individual. So if there's not another bird to bond with, they will bond with the human with whom they have the greatest connection.
- While we think we're loving on our birds when we stroke their head, feathers and soft little under belly, they think we're literally "loving on them" and are easily stimulated. Thus, best to find other ways to show your love like playing games with them.
- There are a number of symptoms including: aggressive behavior; loud, continuous squawking; excessive feather plucking; and allofeeding (regurgitation on its "object of affection") -- while it doesn't sound too romantic to us, in the bird world, it's a sure sign of love.
- If you catch your bird in the act, while it might appear amusing, it's important not to encourage this behavior as it can ultimately prove to be self destructive to your bird and its human relationships.
These are just a few of the things I learned that warm summer day. While it was quite enlightening, I was not surprised to discover that some things in life are indeed not species specific. I imagine that over time we humans will learn we share many things with our fine feathered friends. But I have to ask: Did we have to start here?
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