Parrot behaviour 3/3: interaction between birds and with their environment

Parrots are sociable, intelligent creatures – having watched my own parrots exploring their environment and interacting with each other, I would like to share a few brief examples of my observations in this blog post to bring my mini series to an end.

Dealing with a new environment

When I first introduced Captain Beaky to the outdoor aviary, he sat in the same place for a long time, with his crest raised vertically and his posture very upright with the feathers held tightly to his body – giving him a very thin appearance. Gradually he began to move about – just walking along his perch a few inches and then back again.

If I place a new object in the aviary, the birds will stare at it for a while before using this ‘approach and retreat’ tactic – once they are satisfied that the object is not going to jump up and eat them, they will start to tentatively test it with their beaks.

This is a very common sight in birds when they are first exposed to something new – they are quite wary of unknown objects as a result of being prey animals. Rocky has shown this behaviour when I am standing nearby – he gradually moves a little closer each time until he reaches the food I have left for him.

Interacting with other birds

Captain Beaky and Rockhopper have been living outside together permanently for several months now. At first they kept a respectable distance between each other, but they soon became used to each other’s prescence and are now quite happy with sharing the aviary.

As Rocky has grown and matured he has become a little bit more dominant – I often see him hissing at Beaky or chasing him away from the food – but I have read about a ‘bluffing’ phase that rosellas are prone to going through when they are adolescents, so hopefully this behaviour will eventually stop!

Keeping a rosella and a cockatiel together like this is actually quite unrealistic as in the wild they would not interact at all – there are significant parts of life in a flock that are missing in the aviary: for example cockatiels will preen the crest feathers of their mate; Captain Beaky does not have a mate so this is not possible for him.

DSC_0015 (4)

Interacting with humans

Before I bought Rocky, Beaky was entirely reliant on humans for company. I used to take him upstairs to my room in the evenings and he would pester me as I did my homework… Captain Beaky and I developed a strong bond in these hours spent together and now he will allow me to preen his crest feathers for him (in much the same way that a mate would – as discussed above).

He used to call loudly through the house when I arrived home and would run up and down his perch if I was eating an apple as he knew I would share it with him. (Despite all of this loving behaviour I did used to be hissed at in the mornings…)

Now that he lives outside, our relationship has changed slightly. He spends a lot more time ‘being a bird’ and I believe he is much happier for it, although he still gets his cuddles out in the aviary!

Scratch crest

I hope that this series has given a small insight into the world of parrot behaviour – I hope to do some more in focus blog posts on the behaviour of other animals in the near future, so keep reading!

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