AFRICAN GREY CARE AND TRAINING
Caring for an African grey parrot , as with all parrots, takes time and effort. Attention to detail is necessary as you provide the essentials like proper caging and an impeccable diet.
However, what most people don’t recognize is the crucial role that training plays in the general care of an African grey. More so than other parrot species, the African grey has a tendency to be fearful of its environment. Given that a parrot’s environment encompasses EVERYTHING from sights and sounds to owner interactions, there is a lot to keep a parrot that is fearful by nature afraid often.
HOW WILL I KNOW MY AFRICAN GREY IS FEARFUL?
In extreme cases, the African grey that is afraid will be the one trembling in the corner when you reach into the cage. It will be the one that lunges at your hands when you attempt to step him up. Sometimes you might only notice the aftermath of fear: a featherless chest.
In more moderate cases, the fearful African grey might only reluctantly interact with its owners and might not make use of its toys (perhaps finding them too scary to approach). This bird is not willing to try new foods and is put off balance when anything in the environment changes. This bird is not enjoying any part of its life – because it is afraid to.
Fear can present itself in many ways. Just because your bird doesn’t “run from you”, it doesn’t mean the relationship is on solid ground. Your bird should never be ambivalent towards you. It should actively and happily seek your company and show no signs of worry in your presence – or with objects in the home.
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CAN TRAINING HELP WITH FEAR AND AGGRESSION?
Wild parrots understand innately that there is safety in numbers. They are social animals that congregate in groups and are almost never found alone – a bird knows it will not survive long outside the safety of its flock.
In captivity, our parrots attempt to follow the same social structure and will bond closely to their human caretakers who are considered as flock mates. This is true of all species of parrots. In the case of the African grey, an unusually high alert parrot, it makes sense that the a close bond with a human flock mate would be particularly comforting.
The biggest challenge we face as parrot owners is the barrier to communication. In a parrot’s society, they mainly communicate through body language. As humans trying to “converse” with a parrot, we are at a disadvantage for two reasons:
- We rely heavily on verbal communication and are no longer adept at reading our own body language, let alone that of a parrot.
- Parrots have unique vision that allows them to see into the ultraviolet spectrum. This causes them to observe things in ways we do not, making us miss even more visual clues.
At no other time is the difference between a parrot and a human SO apparent when we are trying to “speak” to each other (and typically failing).
Training bridges the communication gap by allowing you and your African grey to strive for a common goal. It doesn’t matter what you are training bird – just that you are training to establish and maintain a connection. It becomes a language that you both can understand that builds tight bonds of friendship and trust.
While doing your best to provide the perfect home for your African grey, don’t forget to include training. Please sign up for our Parrot Magic Newsletter to continue your education about the general care and training of your African grey. Click here: PARROT MAGIC