If you’re a bird person, you’re probably already comfortable with your feathered friend’s quirks, peculiarities and occasional bouts of neurosis. By nature, birds are incredibly active and flight driven. Captivity can sometimes alter these behaviors, but instinctively birds tend to demand constant attention, mental stimulation and life-long companionships.
Only bird people truly understand…
They’re a little neurotic
Bird’s can develop various tics or nervous habits, the type of which is usually species specific (though not always). African Greys, for example, like to bite their toenails, while Macaws may be inclined to ruffle their chest feathers in waves.
Other odd behavior includes:
- Regurgitating Birds that are closely bonded to their humans will brings up partially digested food to their owner, just like they would a mate or chicks. It’s actually a very sweet gesture. If you want it to stop, you can thank the bird and then just casually walk away. As a warning, regurgitation and vomiting are not the same thing – vomit will likely stick to the feathers around the face and chest, and indicates that this bird is ill and needs medical attention.
- Begging Some birds revert to “baby” begging behavior, including getting into a crouched position, scrunching the wings up, bobbing the head and making chick noises, to get what they want – especially if it has worked in the past. You can limit this behavior by not indulging it, even though it can be kind of cute (at first!).
- Head Shaking When you’re trying to teach a bird to talk, you may notice that they shake their head… a lot. Of course, head shaking is not always related to a bird listening to a word or phrase. It may be a sign of an ear infection, sinus infection, eye infection or even an infection of the oropharynx (mouth area), choana or crop.
They’re practically immortal
Not literally, obviously – unless the bird in question is a phoenix – but in case you haven’t heard, birds are pretty long-lived animals, with some species living nearly a hundred years!
Currently, Guinness World Record holder for the oldest living parrot is Cookie, a Major Mitchell’s cockatoo who lives at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. Cookie was at least 80 years 107 days old as of September 15, 2014.
They’re probably smarter than you
Ok, we’re exaggerating here. But when you get down to it, intelligence is defined as “the ability to understand and deal with new or trying situations, the skilled use of reason, and the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one’s environment or think abstractly as measured by objective criteria.” Birds can do all of these things.
How intelligent your bird is will depend on the species and the individual. Kinda like people.
And they eat better, too.
Birds require a varied, well-balanced diet of specially formulated pellets, fresh fruits and vegetables, and a variety of healthy seeds.
Chances are, you’ll spend more money on bird food than human food, especially if you’re buying organic, vitamin rich foods. If you and your bird both need a diet makeover, you’re in luck; most of the tips and tricks recommended to make our diets healthier are the same tricks and tips to make our birds’ diets healthier:
- more green leafy vegetables,
- adding more lean protein,
- three servings of fruit and veggies a day,
You can practically share every healthy addition to the menu!
January is Adopt a Rescue Bird Month
When it comes to shelter pets, most of us think of dogs and cats. Many people do not realize that there are thousands of birds that are looking for forever homes too.
People often have unrealistic expectations about the amount of love and care it takes to properly care for a bird, which in turn has led to the unfortunate increase in birds at shelters. For this reason, the ASPCA has dubbed January Adopt a Rescue Bird month, to bring attention and awareness to the fowl plight of our feathered friends. Log onto the ASPCA’s adoption partner, www.petfinder.com, to search the Internet’s largest directory of animals available for adoption.