Photo courtesy of Netia Theile. Netia’s backyard is completely screen-enclosed. No worry of her beloved flock flying away!

We all have it, but parrots seem to have this innate ability to not only “have it”, but keep it in tact for all of their long, living lives…”Parrotuition™.”

Machelle Pacion
Avian Nutrition Specialist

Recently I read a meme on Facebook describing how empathic people should be treated:
1. We cannot change, so please don’t expect that.
2. Caging us will cause damage.
3. Time alone is non-negotiable.
4. Take what we say with our body language serious.
5. Being supportive helps us open up.
6. Our intuition is usually spot on.
7. Be honest; dishonesty destroys us.
8. Don’t compete with the love we have for our animals.
9. We need you to make us laugh.
10. Know there are some things we will never give up.
11. Our hearts break daily.
12. Understand we love with great intensity.
13. Accept our abilities to feel the world around us.
14. Don’t cast your insecurity on us.
15. If it is too much, please leave my life, gracefully.

All of these suggestions really hit home for me because, well I feel like I’m a bit empathic myself. I tried to put all of the above into “parrot” language:

1. & 2. It really got me thinking, parrots are much like empaths. They don’t like change. In fact they strongly resist it at all costs, even to the point of physically and mentally suffering to where we can see visible damage to their psyche. Oh and caging these magnificent creatures? This cruel way of “keeping” parrots has definitely has caused damage to the overall species. Cages are like prisons to these flighted creatures. We can see the damage caging has done to them. Many have become neurotic pacing their perches all day, climbing the sides of the bars of their cages, and even destroying their beautiful plumage to the point of self-mutilation!

3. Every once in a while we can see where a bird has become so mentally and emotionally damaged that it would rather spend its time alone, away from any flock members than to spend time with a flock rather it be with other birds or humans.

4. Humans often misunderstand “bird language”, and I mean their body language…we push and push and push until we get chomped on by those strong beaks. In our effort to try to bond with our birds we are over-zealous in our attempts to make friends with our birds, when they would rather us just leave them alone. Most of the time they would like to set on their perch or play stand observing their environment, getting acquainted at a slower rate than we like. It is only when they are good and ready do they want to make the first moves. We don’t take their quietness serious and instead we push the issue often getting bit. Even worse we can ruin our future relationship with our feathered friend simply because we rush the relationship.

5. If we would be the supportive friend in this relationship between human and bird instead of taking the “ownership” stance we may find that things go a lot smoother. Birds instinctively know what they need. If we would learn to pay close attention to their body language, how they act, and what they do and do not do…and especially how they eat, what they really like to tinker with we would learn just how intelligent they are and what they are trying to teach us about their needs. They need our support not our bossiness.

6. Just like we have intuition, SO DO BIRDS! In fact Nature has given animals a very, very keen sense of intuition. Parrots have “parrotuition” strongly yet delicately woven into their DNA. Their not-so distant ancestors have had to use this parrotuition in the wild for thousands and thousands of years to protect themselves against predators, to find food, to build nests, to mate and breed, to rear their young and more. This intuition didn’t just suddenly leave simply because humans decided to bring these wild-at-heart creatures from their native homelands into captivity! If anything their intuition may even be stronger; they may be more alert and on the watch due to the fact they are not in their “comfort zone” where they would normally feel at home. As much as we don’t like to think about this fact, WE are the predators they have to learn to trust for their every need.

7. We can’t trick these intuitive creatures. You’ve done it, I’ve done it, we’ve all done it; they are so intelligent that even when we try to peek around the corner to see what they are doing they catch us peeking! And no matter how quiet we are, they hear us tip-toe up to their cage to watch them sleeping, and just like that! We wake them up from their nap. If we try to hide a snack in a toy they figure it out within minutes if not seconds!

8. There is no competing for the love of a parrot; each parrot makes sure of that. Once a parrot bonds with you, it’s all about them and no one else. Help those of us who have more than one parrot, or if we have a significant other in our lives; there’s just no room or time!

9. Each parrot needs us to play! All seriousness has to be set aside. It’s party time all the time! If it’s daylight and your parrot isn’t napping then the party is on! If you don’t have time to party, party, party you better have a full set up of toys galore in the cage and lots of jungle-gym activities outside the cage! Parrots are just as expensive as human babies if not more!

10. There are some things parrots will never give up…like chewing and squawking. Parrots chew and parrots squawk. If you don’t like that don’t get a parrot. Period.

11. Be prepared for your heart to break daily, because it will. Just like a Grandmother pulls out photos of her grandchildren, you’re going to be pulling out pictures of your parrots to anyone and everyone who will indulge your mania. Every time your parrot makes a cute gesture, a cute sound, gives you a sweet look, learns a new word, gets food all over its beak you’re going to want to take a picture…and should a day come that your bird becomes ill…then your heart will definitely break because there is nothing more heartbreaking than a sick and forlorn feathered friend.

12. Understand that it’s not only you that loves with great intensity, your parrot loves you back with equal or more intensity. So keep this in mind…don’t discard your parrot like yesterday’s used underwear. When their heart breaks it breaks hard and deep.

13. Keeping number 12 above in mind, realize your parrot feels the world around them more deeply than you will ever realize. In fact all of the injustices dealt a parrot scar them….DEEPLY, so deeply they suffer post-traumatic stress syndrome to a degree they rarely heal.

14. In keeping 12 and 13 in mind please, please, please don’t use your parrot to heal YOU. They are not your “cuddle-bugs” when you are down and out. They absorb negative energy; they can feel it from miles away. It affects them! When you are down and out your mood affects your parrot. They were not created to lift you up every time you are down. They are not your anti-depression or anti-anxiety pill. They feel your depression and they feel your anxiety. Protect them from your emotions; don’t subject your parrot to your negative emotions.

15. At the end of the day if you cannot be your parrot’s best supporter, your parrot’s best protector then don’t have a parrot in your home. Parrots are delicate flowers. They may seem strong, but they break easily. They don’t heal well or fast. In some cases they don’t heal at all. Parrots are living, breathing creature who needs as much or more understanding and love as you do. When parrots are living in our homes they are not living in their environments; they are guests in ours. Please treat them like the guests they are and serve them well. Guests don’t serve; they are served. Thank you.

“And the deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion.
It is wordless.
It is beyond words, and it is beyond speech,
and it is beyond
concept.”
~ Thomas Merton

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