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Orignally posted by Infogirl



The One Person Parrot


I have frequently heard people describe their birds as ‘one person parrots’. In my experience this is a situation that parrot owners often accept as an unalterable fact about their parrot, either choosing to live with the problem, or if it causes them distress, reluctantly part with their beloved bird.


I will now explain my reasons why I think that the term ‘one person parrot’ has a lot to answer for:

The problem is that this term has been banded about so much, that it has in many people’s minds become a diagnosis in itself. “I have got a ‘one person parrot’, so I better live with it, or exchange it for a ‘many people parrot”.


Actually there is in my opinion no predisposition in any individual parrot to only tolerate one person at any given time. None the less this situation does frequently arise, and in my experience the causes can be multiple, complex, and very different from case to case (this is why I hate giving internet diagnoses of peoples pet problems).


The good news is that with a bit of detective work (possibly with a hint of expert help), these problems frequently turn out to be eminently treatable! :D


It is important to remember the basic nature of your parrot when considering any ‘behavioural problem’. The parrots we have in our homes are not domesticated like cats, dogs, horses, rabbits etc, they are genetically identical to those living in the wild. It is vital to remember this when trying to work out the motivations behind their actions. Almost all parrot species live in large flocks with complex social structures. Consequently parrots are very highly motivated to seek social interaction. In other words: they want to make lots of friends!

Actually it is this strong natural motivation that allows us to form strong bonds with our birds, and makes it possible for even older birds or wild caught birds to become tame providing they are treated with enough kindness and patience, and not too traumatised by previous bad experiences.


The only time parrots break off their friendships within the flock is during breeding, when they take their sexual partner, go off and build a nest, and generally become extremely aggressive towards any other living creature.


Here are some examples of scenarios which fit the diagnosis of ‘one person parrot’:


1. The parrot is scared of people in general (was probably poorly socialised to people as a baby – this can include some hand-reared parrots); but has decides that one particular person has proven himself or herself to be ‘the only safe human’.


These parrots need to receive positive reinforcement, and desensitisation training from several different people in order to develop a trust for humans in general. You will require several willing volunteers (over a period of weeks or months), who are prepared to spend a couple of minutes to an hour working with the parrot several times a week.

2. The parrot is scared of the only other person in the house, and weary of strangers. This is often the situation with couples that own a parrot. It is perfectly natural for parrots to be weary around strangers (of course many are not, and those that are can be made less so – but that’s another story). If you combine that with the fact that the parrot has become frightened of one of the two people it lives with, you have what looks very much like a ‘one person parrot’.


I would like to stress here, that if your parrot is scared of you, it does not mean that you are a cruel and heartless idiot. What it means is that your parrot has on one or more occasions become frightened in your presence, and has decided that you are ‘unsafe’. It could be something as simple as that bright red jumper you wore the day your little darling came home; the fact that your hands move more quickly than the parrot likes; the time someone dropped something with a loud crash right behind you while the parrot was looking at you, the time you shouted and jumped up and down when Liverpool scored against ManU, or the time you had to chase Polly round the room in order to catch him and give him his medicine…

A frightened parrot will usually try to get rid of you if you come too close by shouting/screaming/growling, looking as threatening as possible, and if you don’t get the message – taking a chunk out of your finger.


These parrots need to work with the person they are frightened of, in a completely trust building way. It may take time, but it can be very successful, especially if you can work out what the initial cause of the fear was.


3. The parrot has had one or more bad experiences, and has generalised the source of the danger. ‘I was once hurt by a man with a beard (vet?) – therefore men with beards are dangerous – you’ve got a beard, so I’m going to bite you if you get close!’

People do it too, that’s where racism, homophobia etc come from! ;)


Again desensitisation and trust-building exercises with a couple of bearded men is the way to go…


4. If a parrot stops viewing one of the members of the household as a flock member and friend, and instead decides that they are his/her ‘mate’ in a sexual sense (which happens surprisingly often), they will naturally react aggressively towards others, guarding both the ‘mate’ and their ‘territory’ (very important to have a good patch to breed on).


Unfortunately the chosen person often unwittingly encourages this situation because they are so pleased that the parrot likes them so much. It is very important to know what types of behaviours are appropriate between ‘friends’ and what might mean a bit more than that to your parrot. For example with Amazons (and some other species) mutual head scratching and preening is a perfectly polite friendship-type thing to do, touching other parts of the body is however considered extremely racy, and will either be rebuffed, cause a sexual harassment suit, or give the bird entirely the wrong idea. Likewise letting your bird feed you, or encouraging courtship-type dancing ‘because it’s funny’ is just asking for trouble…


In this scenario the onus is on the preferred person, more than other people to do the initial work of basically dumping the parrot ‘it’s not you, it’s me!’. Then other people can begin to build a friendship with the birds as well!



These are not all the possible scenarios,- I’m not writing a book on the forum pages :D … I also don’t think that anyone could just look at what I’ve written here and necessarily know how to solve their problem at home (I haven’t given detailed instructions, as I feel that could cause more harm than good).

The points I’m trying to make are: It’s not that simple, you can do something about it, you may be causing the problem without realising – so don’t replace your parrot!

You can do very little harm with kindness and patience, and usually that will be enough, you can do huge amounts of harm with punishment of ANY KIND (including verbal) – and usually it wouldn’t have helped anyway. Seek professional advice if you feel the problem is serious – it will be worth it in the long run, you could have this bird for the REST OF YOUR LIFE!!!


also worth a read ....






















= from the INFORMATION TOPICS© section: https://www.parrot-link.co.uk/forum/22-parrot-link-information-topics/

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