Living with the Happy Bird
Birds lovers know how much time and care feathered friends require. Ensuring their happiness is a lot of responsibility. In my quest to keep my quaker parrot Dahlia entertained, I’ve discovered ways to incorporate her in my daily routine.
Most birds are very social creatures getting lonely, bored, and even distressed when left alone. Looking for opportunities each day to include Dahlia keeps her close as I go about my day. Activities especially suited for a bird on the shoulder or nearby include personal grooming, light housekeeping, working on the computer, and running errands. When you have time, playing and allowing them to fly freely can be both physically and mentally stimulating.
Games and Activities
Taking time for focused attention will make all the difference in your bird’s quality of life. There are many ways to interact that will promote bonding and stimulate brain activity. Many birds love toothpicks. Try putting one in your mouth and turning your head to one side. The movement and stick-like object hits the bird’s nest-building instinct. Dahlia and I play keep-away for a couple of minutes several times each week. After she takes the toothpick, she expertly shuttles it to the other side of her mouth to keep it from me. I position her so I can take it back. Knowing I want the toothpick stimulates her interest in it while providing greater eye/beak coordination. Although she has little interest in toys, most birds do. It’s important to buy new toys regularly.
Around the House
There’s no reason your bird can’t help you while you’re working on a computer, doing light housekeeping, opening the mail, and doing bike and car repair. Several bird friends have marveled at how much their birds enjoy watching them do dishes. Since most birds have the developmental ability of a toddler, seeing dishes moving from one place to another provides enough interest for most birds. Having a perch or playstand makes hanging out with you a snap.
In the Bathroom
Bathroom time is an opportunity to keep your bird company. People have showered with birds for decades if not centuries. Dahlia wasn’t up for the shower at first and now she won’t let me bathe without her. If your bird doesn’t is reluctant at first, don’t give up. The steam is especially good for tropical birds. My parrot never tires of my morning routine. The motion of the toothbrush is one of her favorite things. She bobs up and down with the brush every time. The dental floss never makes it to the finish line as I rush to use it as she chases it between my fingers.
On the Road
Dahlia goes with me to run errands daily. Whether she stays in the car or goes in, we spend more time together and she enjoys the changing scenery as a result. Running errands with a bird can be a great bonding time. I put a towel, paper towels, or paper diaper changing pads on the dashboard above the steering wheel. Dahlia stands on the edge of the dash, on the steering wheel, on my shoulder, and on her cage in the passenger seat. I keep snacks in the glove compartment and bring fresh food such as one grape cut in half, a cucumber slice, and a very small container of bird seed is usually in my purse.
At the Pet Store
If you have time, stop in a pet store for a brief walk through. Dahlia enjoys going to the pet store about once each week. She stares at the rabbits and cats, marvels at the fish, and postures for the parrots. The stress relief I get from so much animal cuteness makes the trip well worth it. Seeing my own little bird react to the menagerie of animals is a delight, but the main benefit is making her day a bit more interesting.
Since Dahlia spends much of her time on my shoulder, she is mainly a free bird. She often flies ahead to the car, flies to me from across the room, and regularly flies both in and outdoors. Since this was not something I planned, I did not train Dahlia to fly or to return to me as is customary. She will not be flying again until spring and then only in parks far from traffic.
Caution; free flying should only be done with birds bonded to you. Since there is no one else Dahlia would rather be with, she always comes down from the tree sooner or later.
Article contributed by: Lisa Kendall