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 How not to be a tease: Discouraging mating behaviors in parrots.

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PostSubject: How not to be a tease: Discouraging mating behaviors in parrots.   Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:55 am

How not to be a tease:
Discouraging mating behaviors in parrots.



One of the more interesting experiences in my life was going to a
seminiar on sexual behaviors in parrots put on by Dr. Brian Speer (lots
of letters after his name, co-wrote Birds for Dummies) hosted by
Mickaboo. Ironically, I went to this a few months before I got Buffy, and got
to put my knowledge to work.
Listening to him talk really drove home a lot of issues for me, and the
longer I've looked at and worked with parrots, the more I am absolutely
certain he's right. We give our parrots seriously mixed signals.
An example, if I may. You're out seeing a movie with your best friend,
who is of a gender that you prefer. Said friend raises the arm rest
between the two of you at the theater, and scoots over to sit right next
to you, hip to hip. Friend puts his or her hand on your leg, rubs it in
a sensual way, puts his or her arm around you, leans in close to
whisper flirtily in your ear. This best friend is clearly giving signals
that he or she finds you attractive, right? How would you feel if you
thought, 'Wow, this is great', and attempted to kiss the friend, and he
or she slapped you, screamed at you, made a giant fuss, and stormed out?
Confused, yes? What if said friend did this every time you were
together? Lead you on, then struck you down. You'd probably be either
really really confused or really really pissed off. Or both.
Documentaries and research on parrots in the wild have taught us a
number of things. First, that parrot courting behaviors are ritualistic,
sensual, and have a lot of things in common between species. When two
parrots are thinking of having a little parrot sex and possibly making
parrot babies, they do things. The female often solicits food from the
male with the same gesture as a baby (wings fluttered and back,
crouched, head tipped up). The male feeds her as he would a baby. They
do a lot of very sensual preening, particularly paying attention to
parrot erogenous zones like the back and the area beneath the wings and
around the vent. They stay together, often touching, almost always doing
things in the same way at the same time, and never out of sight of each
other unless one is nesting. And they also mate, where the male stands
on top of the female's back, twists sideways as she moves her tail out
of the way, and they rub cloacas together until the male ejaculates.
In comparison, if you look at a flock of parrots, you will see that
although they do things together, they rarely are touching, they do not
have the 'weird symmetry' thing going (I'll show a picture below), and
they often preen each other in the places they can't (like the head),
but the long and sensual snuggling doesn't occur. There's a pretty clear
line between 'we're friends' and 'I'd like to make babies with you'.
And humans cross it with our parrots constantly.
In what I said above, there were a few specific mating behaviors.

  1. The female solicits feeding from the male, who feeds her nice warm
    mushy food from his beak. And, I can promise you, when I'm feeding Buffy
    warm handfeeding formula off a spoon, she is quite positive that we're
    going to make babies together. She displays, solicits with wings back,
    and generally explains to me that I would be a GREAT baby-maker. The
    male parrots who I feed do not seem to have the same reaction, they just
    want the handfeeding formula because it tastes great. I have to
    carefully balance my triggers for Buffy because she's so easily
    hormonal, and unfortunately, handfeeding her is a big one. I do it
    anyways because otherwise she'd starve.
  2. Lots and lots of sensual preening, particularly in 'sexy'
    places. The long smooth stroke from the top of a parrot's head, down and
    over its back, often curling fingers around the tail and possibly
    brushing the parrot's vent is an extremely sexual behavior, and yet
    people do it all the time. We don't act like flockmates, helping out
    with the tough areas to scratch, we act like mates, sensually petting
    them and getting the bird all sexed up (and then being pissy when they
    start acting like our mates).
  3. Weird symmetry and always together.

    These two characters are our bonded pair of green cheek conures. As you
    can see from the other pictures I took that day, here and here, they are
    always mirror images of each other. Always. It is very rare that they
    are any more than that distance apart, and Stilton spends an enormous
    amount of time feeding Anisette, and both of them preen each other in a
    way that is distinctly sensual, particularly during times of high
    hormones.
    In addition to that, they are always together, always touching or almost
    touching. Flockmates in the wild tend to keep in contact with each
    other but they are not constantly touching -- just like most people
    might sit and chat with their best friend, but they hold hands with
    their lover. When we spend all of our time with our parrot physically on
    us, never letting them go off and be independent souls and play by
    themselves, we are reinforcing the fact that we are their mates.
  4. We provide a great environment for reproduction. Lots and
    lots of light, up to 16 or 18 hours a day depending, lots of fresh food
    and high fat treats, often little huts to sleep in and make nests in,
    letting them stand on top of their nest (their cage) and defend it from
    all who come near. These are all great triggers for breeders, but not
    all of us want to have little parrots around (and most of us don't have
    the appropriate sexes and species that it is even possible!)

So, you're asking, why does it matter if my parrot has that sort of bond
with me?
Ever heard of this scenerio? My parrot is sitting on my shoulder and
attacks another person when they walk into the room or will attack me if
another person walks into the room. Your parrot thinks that you are his
or her mate, and the other person is either a rival or a threat. By
attacking them, they're making sure they don't lose you (much like men
having fistfights over a woman), and by attacking you, they're saying
'Let's fly away together, this new person is scary!'
How about when your parrot screams for hours when you walk out of the
room? You're both the parrot's flock and the parrot's mate, and you just
abandoned them. To a parrot, that usually means death, so they're
reasonably freaked out by the subject.
Although everyone loves their avian vet, and wants to buy them houses,
egg binding, excessive egg laying, and prolapsed cloacas are really not
cheap things to fix. Some of them are not fixable -- the foster mom of
my macaw has dealt with her U2's problem with prolapsing because she
strains so hard whenever she gets hormonal for years. It's an ongoing
struggle.
Let me state here that all of the things listed may not have a single
effect on your parrot. They may simply be dense to mate related
behaviors or not care or not feel the need to be obnoxious about it. The
advice that I've found works for me may not even matter in some cases.
But, in others, it may make a big difference. Take what you want and
leave the rest behind, do what works for you. This is what has worked
for me.

How to make your
parrot stop wanting to make babies 101.


  1. Stop the sensual stroking and cuddling. Scratch your parrot on the
    head, under the chin, preen off those obnoxious pinfeathers, but don't
    spend all your time petting him or her.
  2. Teach your parrot to enjoy being out of their cage somewhere
    other than on you. This means a playstand, a movable perch, sitting on
    the drawer of the computer desk destroying magazines, whatever. Yes, I
    realize this is all but impossible for some parrots, cockatoo owners. Wink
  3. Remove the environmental triggers for hormonalness. 12 hours of
    darkness a night, a balanced diet of either fresh foods in the right
    proportions or pellets and veggies with some seed as treats (or part of
    the diet for the species that do better with them), rearranging their
    cage on a weekly basis to keep things from being too settled.
  4. Stop letting the parrot go on top of their cage, particularly
    for male birds. That's what they do, when the female is nesting -- stand
    near their nest and defend it if need be. It doesn't give them the
    moving around as a flock mentality that a moving playstand can.

We do and have done this with all of our parrots, and each of them have a
preference for a person. What, then, if your parrot already thinks
you're their mate and attacks your SO?
Stop all mating triggers immediately and work to balance out the
parrots feelings some. The least favored person does all the really
really cool things, the most favored person does all the terrible
things.
For example, Buffy came
home, took one look at me, and said 'LET'S MAKE BABIES! Who is this
other person around? Oh, Lu? Okay, well, too bad, she's my mate, I'll
just eat you.' Buffy HATED Lu, and would go as far as to fling herself
off a perch to eat her, where she wouldn't with me. As much as homicidal
Amazons are fun, we immediately started working on fixing that. Buffy
loves head scratches, and so Lu was the only one to scratch her head. I
was the one who held her for nail clips and made her go off the
playstand and back into her cage. Lu gave her fresh food, I took it
away. Both of us worked hard at not triggering her hormones, and managed
to keep her in check most of the time.
Tea
and Theo
both really really like me. I am honored and touched by the affection,
but I do not want to make babies with either of them, so I do not give
them signals otherwise. And both of them are completely polite with
other members of the household. Which is how I like it.

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PostSubject: Re: How not to be a tease: Discouraging mating behaviors in parrots.   Sun Mar 28, 2010 11:26 am

Sounds a lot like Fog Horn.But I know that.
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PostSubject: Re: How not to be a tease: Discouraging mating behaviors in parrots.   Sun Mar 28, 2010 1:06 pm

lol yeah hes a horney horn

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