AFRICAN GREY CONGO
Owners of African grey Congos will tell you that there is something special about this species. There is no denying that truth. They are considered by many to be one of the most intelligent of all parrot species. Even the eyes of an African grey seem to carry the wisdom of the ages.
However, with their great intelligence comes a price – maybe these “thinking” birds think a little too much. The African grey is highly sensitive to its surroundings. Many African greys are overtly afraid of their environment, some debilitatingly so. Some develop phobias, such as fear of human hands, toys and other normal aspects of daily life. There is nothing more heart wrenching to see than a parrot that is trembling in the corner of its cage.
This fear manifests itself in undesirable behaviors like screaming, and particularly through biting. An afraid bird is going to react one of two ways: it will shrink away from your hand and refuse interaction, or it will bite aggressively because it feels threatened. Even though a bite is a painful ordeal, it’s even more painful to have to acknowledge that your bird is living in terror.
A stressed out and unhappy African grey Congo will typically get around to feather destructive behaviors like plucking, a behavior that is hard to curb once it begins. Plucking is not a behavior that is entirely understood, but it can be accurately described as a type of self-mutilation. We don’t want you or your bird to have to travel down this road.
HOW DO I KEEP MY AFRICAN GREY CONGO FROM BECOMING FEARFUL?
It’s really pretty simple. A parrot basically has two causes of fear: one is based on past experience – when situations arise that have previously turned out badly, and the other is a fear of the unknown – where an outcome could go either way.
Some rescued birds have come from situations where they have learned not to trust humans – often for good reason. But African grey Congos can come from enriching and loving homes and still find fault with their environment for reasons unclear to humans. They need an owner who can recognize their special needs and step up to the plate.
At the heart of African grey behavioral problems are typically issues with confidence and trust – the two being intertwined . The confident bird has learned that its environment is not filled with potential dangers, but potential opportunities for food or fun activities. This idea is driven home through repeated positive experience.
The trusting bird puts the beliefs of the confident bird into play and without hesitation steps up onto your hand or gets busy with a new toy. But only a confident bird can eventually give in to trust.
There are simple methods that we can use to bolster both confidence and trust, regardless of past experience. A major one is to be completely consistent in our actions EVERY DAY. If a behavior is unacceptable on one day, it must be so on every other day: you can’t allow your bird to descend upon your dinner plate on one day and shoo him off with your hand when he does the same thing the next day. This sends an unclear message to your bird and your hand gestures may be perceived as aggressive – making you seem untrustworthy.
A confident bird wakes up every day without a fear of what is to come and doesn’t mistrust its environment or question your actions. Through consistency, you show yourself to be a reliable companion and your bird will go on to trust you with his well-being.
Trust building is best accomplished through training. Like with confidence building, it is established through an accumulation of great experiences the two of you share. Training is an intense one-on-one interaction that gives your bird repeated opportunities to experience your trustworthiness and bonds are quickly built.
Not everyone wants a bird that can thrill audiences with amazing tricks. But everyone DOES want a bird that is friendly and interactive. Training will take you there – it makes no difference WHAT you are training or how elaborate the behaviors you train are. It is all about sharing a positive experience that has gains for you both. Trust grows with each of these experiences.
To learn more about how to eliminate your African grey Congo’s fears through positive reinforcement please click here: ONE DAY MIRACLES