Your New Bird

And how to develop a new relationship


Chances are, youíve been getting prepared to bring your new bird home for several months. Youíve gotten the cage, different toys, a play stand, food; youíre all set. You are so excited to think that your new baby will be home today. There is only one slight problem, your new bird hasnít been going through these emotions, it hasnít been in a happy state of expectation.

The day you bring your bird home, it has literally lost everything familiar in its life. Your house will look different from the one it came from, the cage, the toys, your voices, and the normal sounds in your house. EVERYTHING! Plus, itís probably lost its siblings too. Itís alone in a strange new world; a lot of change all in one big occurrence.

Regardless of how well socialized the bird has been before coming to you, there are still huge adjustments to be made. Before, the breeder was probably always nearby when the baby was meeting a stranger. Now, that breeder is gone also. How each individual bird will transition, no one can know in advance. Itís one of those things that must be done to know. Some babies are a little more shy at first, some a little more leery. Even though you are so full of excitement, you must understand your new bird may not be, and you must be considerate of that.

Take the bird out of its carrier it came in and talk softly to it while placing it in its new cage. Give it a little time to absorb its surroundings and possibly have a drink of water and something to eat. Watch his body language. Is he relaxing? Does he appear interested in you? If he does, you can open the cage. Donít enter the cage with your hand, just open it and relax next to him again. Allow him to come out on his own if he chooses to. Itís just another way that he can experience his new environment without you pushing him.

When he appears more comfortable, you can ask him for a step up. Keep watching his body language. Allow him the choice of whether he wants to step up at this time or not. You donít need to rush things. You have many years to spend together and empowering your bird now, to have some control over his environment will show him you can be trusted.

Itís also possible that your newly weaned baby may undergo a slight regression with food upon arrival at its new home. Warm, moist food has always been a signal of comfort and security and sometimes it is necessary to give some warm food again. Ask the breeder what they would suggest you feed the baby at this time. Sometimes feeding a little formula is recommended, other times warm weaning pellets may be suggested. You can also feed things like warm oatmeal, warm mashed vegetables or birdie bread from your fingers. All these things should signify comfort and safety to your new bird. Donít be upset if your bird seems to go through this stage, it is relatively normal. If you weigh your bird each morning, youíll be able to see if it is maintaining its weight. This is a good way to ensure your new bird is actually eating enough.

Remember that relationships are built on trust and respect. Whether that is human/human relationships or human/animal relationships, trust and respect are the underlying constants, or should be. Without this, a relationship can easily sway from one side of the spectrum to the other with neither participant ever being sure what the outcome will be and generally, the relationship fails. Deeper relationships form when we have a good solid history of trust (on both sides). Each and every interaction that is positive, each and every interaction that is a warm and fuzzy, each and every interaction where both sides are pleased and relaxed at the end of it, is adding to that history. The more history we have, the more we are all willing to let our guard down. The more history, the more we are willing to trust further.

This trust and respect should begin on the very first day you bring your bird home, and should continue its entire life. Respect that the bird is possibly a little confused, lost, and unsure about its new home. Donít push him. Donít force him to be on you, to cuddle, if it isnít ready for that. Allow it the space it requires. Regardless of if the baby is scared of you, it is learning. It is learning about you and about behavior. It is learning whether you are trustworthy and whether you will respect him. It is learning whether desired things or undesired things are occurring after certain behaviors. It is learning if it has any control over things in its environment. It is already beginning to store the knowledge Ďfor every action there is a reactioní and what these reactions may be. You start right now, positively reinforcing all the behaviors you desire, all the behaviors that will allow the bird the best opportunity of happiness in your home. The behaviors you see that you donít like, you not only ignore, but also try to see where they came from. Did you ignore a signal? Did you encourage it somehow?

As time progresses learn your birds body language. Learn to understand when itís had enough cuddling time, enough play time, enough relaxation time. By learning the body language, you will be one step ahead of any potential behavior problems, and you will be respecting the bird.

Remember that your bird is an intelligent animal and has its own likes and dislikes. Allow for them. Allow the bird the opportunity to make some of its own decisions.

Learn about behavior and what motivates it. Learn how to change behavior by using the principles of ABA. What is ABA? ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) is simply a behavior modification program which focuses on and then changes, the antecedent and/or consequence of a MIS-behavior . This is done in a variety of ways but mostly by rewarding desirable responses while making the less desirable response unattractive or less rewarding. It is based on the law of behavior that states ďbehavior is a function of its consequencesĒ. Think about that. Behavior occurs because of the consequences gained from it. Every living thing will do or continue a behavior if they like what follows it, if they like the reward, if they like the outcome.

Start your new relationship without pushing, with respect for the bird and continually reinforce those behaviors that fit in your home. Learn how to watch for what your bird is trying to tell you and show you, in regards to its preferences, and you should have a long time, loving relationship.

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