Do You Favor One Of Your Birds?

Do You Favor One Of Your Birds?

 July 18th, 2011
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Rosebreasted cockatoos and congo african grey

If we’re going to be honest, I think most of us with multiple birds would have to admit to having a favorite. Of course, we love ALL of our birds, but there might be one that has a special hold on our heart.

With me, it’s Tinky. He was originally bought for my daughter as part of an agreement (bringing up her grades in exchange for the cockatiel she’d been asking for). Several months after he arrived, she went on a three day outing with her class and Tinky took a special liking to me in her absence.One Mother’s Day not long after, my daughter presented him to me as a gift, accompanied by a handmade deed of ownership, because it was clear to her that he had chosen me. It was a very grown up and selfless act on her part.

Tinky was my inspiration for learning everything I could about parrots back in a time when information was mostly unavailable. He forgave me for all the mistakes I made in the process. He was my greatest source of comfort in bad times. I learned, and continue to learn, in his presence.


I keep the cockatiels in a separate room from the larger birds.Since DeeDee, Tinky’s male companion, is stand-offish with people anyways, he doesn’t have any objection to the close relationship I have with Tinky. DeeDee likes to perch in my lap, and enjoys being nearby, but would mostly prefer I keep my hands to myself. It’s just his personality. He steps up when necessary, and is completely handlable, but he is not much for physical affection, and so holds no grudges.

In the birdroom, where the cockatoos reside, I have to be very careful how I divide my time between them. There is always the potential for fits of jealous rage. If I am standing at Theo’s (goffins) cage telling her how pretty she is, Linus (umbrella) will remind me that, while Theo is cute, he is LOUD – in case I’d forgotten that fact. Theo is very sweet, but she’s no angel either. When I am at Linus’s cage admiring his wood crafting skills, she glares at me with squinty eyes. No sound, just evil stares. At that time, she would probably give me the middle toe, if she had one. Cockatoos, who believe that the world turns only for them, don’t like to feel undervalued.

Umbrella and goffins cockatoos

It’s a daily juggling act of all the birds to keep everyone happy. Part of what keeps all of my birds feeling secure and willing to co-exist is the understanding of their equality where I am concerned. None of my birds get more from me than any other, including Tinky.I conceal the special affection I have for him to to keep everybirdie feeling good about themselves and each other.

Birds are sentient beings, and their feelings can be hurt. When they see a clear preference for another bird, especially when it’s flaunted in front of them, it will lead them to behavioral problems. Even the quiet bird who suffers in silence is likely to deliver an “out of the blue” bite one day when he’s had enough. Unhappy birds are known to pluck.  You can’t blame them for their reactions when it is continually pointed out to them that they are second best.

Camelot, blue throated macaws, rosebreasted cockatoos, congo african grey

It’s perfectly understandable that you might feel a special bond with one bird in particular. We have preferences among the people we associate with. We just have to be certain not to exclude the others who want to share our lives to any hurtful degree.

Here are some tips on how to make all of your birds feel special:

  • When you get the birds up in the morning, call to each of them by name and tell them individually how glad you are to see them. At night, say goodnight to each using their names as the lights go out. A bird’s name is very important to him. They understand its use and feel acknowledged when they hear it.
  • When you interact with your bird, engage them by looking directly into their eyes when you talk. Speak enthusiastically and let them know you are happy to be in their company. It doesn’t matter what you say – you can recite the ingredients of your multi-vitamin for all they know or care. It’s all about how you say it and the connection you establish with your eyes.
  • Give each bird at least 15 minutes of exclusive private time with you everyday. This may sound hard to accomplish, especially if you have a large flock, but it really isn’t. One bird can join you in the shower. Another can be on your shoulder as you do the dishes, or while you’re vacuuming. You can rotate which bird gets to join you for a trip to the corner store. Libby, my quaker, is my kitchen buddy who helps me prepare all the meals for the birds. Make a list of all the daily activities you have that can include a bird. You’ll find there are a lot. 15 minutes a day doesn’t sound like a long time, but it can make a world of difference to the bird who is insecure about her place in your heart.

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32 Comments on “Do You Favor One Of Your Birds?”

Barbara  07/18/2011 4:47 pm

wow good info, just got a 10 week old Quaker, he is on a pellet diet, not sure do I keep him only on this . Breeder said that’s all he feeds his birds,so HELP!!!
I’m trying to bond with him he steps up sometimes

Patty  07/18/2011 10:17 pm

Hi Barbara,
I’m sorry, but your breeder is wrong! Birds need to have daily helpings of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as grains, for their diet to be complete. Pellets alone are bot enough!!

RAY LEVINE  07/21/2011 8:36 pm


Roger Strosky  07/21/2011 8:46 pm

I do this quite often with my two cockatiels and have for some time now…Great advice dude!!!

RAY LEVINE  07/21/2011 8:48 pm

you must be very careful with quaker diets …the quakers have a genetic abnormality which causes fat [lipid and cholesterol accumulation in the liver and quakers with this genetic pathology develop fatty liver syndrome and die before age6years..
CALL RAY LEVINE,, 5169214761TO DISCUSS OR JANE @5165816211…

Roger Strosky  07/21/2011 8:49 pm

Yup…A pellet diet all the time would NOT be good….How would you like to eat hot dogs and ramen the rest of your life? Would get pretty boring as well as your nutrition would go to hell in a hand-basket!!!

Richard  07/21/2011 10:10 pm

Heh – when I was having some behavioral problems with my cockatiel, Baby, I got him to amp up the affection by taking my dove out and petting him while Baby sat on my shoulder. Baby REALLY wanted to win back my affection and was very sweet the rest of that day. Goes to show how sophisticated and intelligent even the little parrots can be.

Jessi  07/21/2011 10:11 pm

I also find that I tend to favor a certain bird at certain times, but I actually feel like I favor a different one depending on my mood, so they all get their equal share of favoritism. 🙂 One of my tiels is 17, and I have had him most of his life. He was my first bird, so I spent a lot of time with him and have taught him tons of whistling tunes. He is my favorite in that sense because he knows the most songs and tricks. My second cockatiel is quite a character, though, and has his regular routine of circus of antics. Some days, I am in that kind of goofy mood and appreciate and enjoy his stunts (running back and forth on the blades of the ceiling fan to spin it around like a merri-go-round). Other days, my sun conure is my favorite. He is super cuddly and lovable, and within the last few days, he has actually started flying across the room onto my shoulder to seek out attention… So, I do have some favoritism, but luckily for my birds, it is equally distributed! I love the advice in the article, as I actually was already kind of doing that without realizing that I was! 🙂

Sandy  07/21/2011 10:50 pm

I favor my maxi-pi, as the canary isn’t interested in being handled-I do talk to him,tho. Now our flock has doubled. My neighbor is dying, and wanted me to have her 2 parakeets. They’re extremely skittish & nervous, so I haven’t handled them yet, but I talk to them frequently thru the day. My maxi-pi was a bit disturbed at first, but he knows he’s the only one who can come out & play (at least for now…), so things are OK so far.

Judy  07/22/2011 12:06 am

My first bird was a Meyers Parrot. Needless to say, my flock grew quickly as I adopted an Umbrella Cockatoo and African Grey. My Meyers would prefer to be the only bird (first bird syndrome) and only tolerates all the affection the U2 and stimulation the Grey requires. With the last and final addition of the Grey, I was delighted with her speech ability and was making a big fuss over the fact she was picking up the “Adams Family” theme song. I had my Meyers on my shoulder while teaching her this catchy tune. In the part where humans would snap their fingers, I improvised and made a clicking sound. My Meyers to my surprise made the clicking sound as well, not to be out done by the Grey’s talents. They are paying attention, and will remind you when you forget that they too are special in their own right and are equally deserving of your attention and praise. Luckily my Meyers reminded me of her intelligence and desire for praise in a positive manner but it could have easily gone the other way with a nip to the neck.

Carla Kelly  07/22/2011 12:16 am

Having raised 4 children I know how important it is to spend time with them equally and being fair to all. We went as far as dividing M&M’s by colors so each had the same amount and for the left overs we used straws. It was fun. I am applying this to my two African Gray’s as well but it’s hard. I find myself favoring Yoda most because he is a challenge. If I don’t watch myself, I have Gaby rather jealous and she shows an attitude when I spend more time with Yoda. So I am making sure to divide my quality time equally. It works and I have two happy birds. Gaby is not as jealous as she used to be and even strains to kiss me on the lips. I hope she does not decide one day to shred them. Thanks for the reminder. I need it because I feel I need to spend more time with Yoda since we adopted him from an abusive environment and he is very shy and easy spooked.

shannon mitchell  07/22/2011 12:28 am

I’m writing because I need some advise. To give you a history on Buttons, we adopted her about 9 years ago from a local humane society. They knew nothing about parrots as they mostly deal with cats and dogs. We brought Buttons home, she would scream all night, my ill mother would sleep on the cold wood floor to help ease Buttons. Buttons was a major plucker. We called the humane society to see if they could contact the previous owners to ask about Buttons likes and dislikes. Just to make our lives and Buttons life a little easier. They refused, so my long miserable journey continues.
We brought Buttons to the vet, he said that she was at minimal weight, that she could die. So we began hand feeding.
Nine years later, I cannot go out with my friends, I cannot date, life has almost no quality for me. I have to be home every 4hours to feed her. We have discovered that her plucking is 90% hunger related. I thought of hiring someone to feed her but she will not eat for anyone but my mother or I. Bird stores tell me to lock her in her cage and leave for the day and she will eat on her own. I have two fears, one she will pluck herself to death (she was completely Bald when we got her), or she will only eat enough to barely stay alive, and will be up all night screaming again. Help, Im at wits end!!!!! This is only one of her issues but this one has RUINED MY LIFE! Please help!
Thank you
Shannon Mitchell, NH

soyzicks  07/22/2011 5:15 am

i have 4 birds — 2 teils and 2 conures
the teils i got from a shelter and they were already paired so i did not have to worry about finding companions for them but this also means that they would rather be affectionate to each other rather be pet and touched. one of the teils, the male, must have been owned by someone that looks like my son because the moment the male teil saw him — he would sing and whistle and be readily picked up by my son more than anyone in the house

but my conures are different — one is a gcc that is almost 3yo and the other is a sun that might be about 1/2-1yo…. as you can see i got the sun to be companion to the gcc
the only problem to this is that the gcc is too smart for his britches !! he finds ways to escape where ever i place him to stay whether a few minutes or several hours and after learning 2 of my 3 kids names (due to the fact i need to scream their names to wake them up in the morning) he loves to scream their names to try and get them to let him out of his cage…….my 15yo DOES NOT LIKE THIS AT ALL !!! to get a small 10″ demon bird screaming your name to let him out of his cage — it is very funny !! my kids call my gcc a demon because he bites them and will only be allowed to pick up with pencil/stick perches—my poor gcc !!

Pervara Kapadia  07/22/2011 5:30 am

Awesome advice. Thanks Patty.

Jolanda Dagdeviren  07/22/2011 6:09 am

I always give both my birds loads of attention.They both go with me when I take a shower,I cuddle them both just as much and call their names every time they step up.Although I have 2 budgies, I love them both with no difference.One of my budgies( a male) handles easier than the female one.But both accept me let them touch their beak,feet,wings,and belly.But the male laves it when I pet him under his wings.When I point at one of the wings,he raises it,just like a big parrot and I can pet him there.I didn’t teach him to do so,he did this al by him self.
When we take a shower and the female is on my finger enjoying the water,she always lays her beak on my sweet.
I love them both although they have their own specials ways to cuddle with me.And they understand exactly when I say some thing to them.
When we finished showering I alwas say,ready?Shake your feathers.They both start shaking the water out of their feathers.The mail knows the difference between the left and right foot.
So you see,they both get the same amount af attention.

Char  07/22/2011 6:55 am

This is why I have one bird, and one bird alone, a milligold macaw. She gets all of my love and attention and has been my best friend through good times and hard times. Even with being a single bird, she still wants more attention than I can give her. If I were to come home with a second bird, there would be BIG trouble. Besides, I’ve had her so long now, 22 years, I don’t have the energy to love a second bird so it works out just fine. The older I get the heavier she seems to become and the more difficult it is to maintain her. If I were to die before her I have no idea how I would be able to provide the type of loving home she has come to expect and deserve. I have made the proper arrangements, but I do worry about the transition she will most probably have to make from being a major and important member of the family to being a pet or worse, being one of many pets.

Brandy  07/22/2011 8:26 am

Our CAG Reef loves physical attention. My boyfriend has the ability to hug her and she will lay with him under the covers in bed. She always has these lovey dovey eyes for him. He can flip her upside down and sometimes they will rap nonsense together. Very cute!

Snoglydox  07/22/2011 8:32 am

I love the Umbrella and goffins cockatoos picture; it looks like they enjoy their picture being taken.

Deb McDonald  07/22/2011 10:32 am

Great blog, I too have a African Grey
Ludwig by name, have had him for 45 years and loved every day of it.
Even with Ludwig being the only bird in the house he has to share attention with 2 cats and 2 dogs. But he makes his wishes known and will call by name each of the cats or dogs when needing some excitement is needed.

Robin Ladicani  07/22/2011 10:36 am

I have a miligold macaw Cheo who only loves me and wants my attention all the time. She screams if she does’nt get it. I spend time with her but the more I spend the more she wants.

Starr A. Wilson  07/22/2011 12:56 pm

When I took care of my roommates two parrots, I always wondered why he didn’t spend time with them because they certainly do demand attention. Ruby would get jealous of Buster and vice versa so I always made sure both were included in whatever was going on in the house. I’d put their stands in the kitchen while making dinner and give them things to snack on while I was preparing dinner. At night I would spend time with both of them at bedtime and they were very affectionate birds. It really made a difference. When I first started taking care of them Ruby was a biter and she stopped doing that once she felt she had enough attention. She would do “beak pushups” off the side of the cage and always watched her “figure” being the true princess she is while Buster was a plain loud boy.who I trained to say “I love you” when his owner would turn him upside down…

Desdimona  07/22/2011 6:25 pm

I don’t think I really favor either one of 2. The Quaker (L. Macbeth), is friendly and loves attention about 80% of the time, but has her off moments. Often she just wants to enjoy the sound of her own chatter, or is content just being in eye-shot. The other, a Green Cheek Conure Petey Gobo, is a brat about 80% of the time. But when he wants to clown and cuddle it is heaven! I suppose I favor whoever is looking for attention at any given moment. 🙂
BARBARA I was never told about the diet restrictions on Quakers. I guess I’m very lucky, as I share everything with both of them with the exception of the forbidden 5 (chocolate, avacado, caffine, alcahol, lead). Her favorites are scrambled egg (I know, canable!), juice, pasta, and yogurt!

tammy clemente  07/23/2011 12:32 am

i have three conures, still very young, a little over a year old. they have been together pretty much from the beginning. trying to do anything with them one on one is very hard to do, they come to find the one thats missing, they do everything together all the time. which is nice because training only takes ten minutes because they learn from each other. yes i have a favorite, but their tudes are so different, i know how to show them individualized attention at the same time. one doesnt like to be handled but sure likes to mimc phrases, another, well acts like a female and just wants to be buried under my hand and bite from time to time while clucking and wiggling, and the other just wants to climb and check out the fabric of clothing… i am wandering, which one trained the other?

tammy clemente  07/23/2011 12:32 am

i have three conures, still very young, a little over a year old. they have been together pretty much from the beginning. trying to do anything with them one on one is very hard to do, they come to find the one thats missing, they do everything together all the time. which is nice because training only takes ten minutes because they learn from each other. yes i have a favorite, but their tudes are so different, i know how to show them individualized attention at the same time. one doesnt like to be handled but sure likes to mimc phrases, another, well acts like a female and just wants to be buried under my hand and bite from time to time while clucking and wiggling, and the other just wants to climb and check out the fabric of clothing… i am wandering, which one trained the other?

Roger Handevidt  07/23/2011 7:53 am

We have 2 Sun Conures that some left by our pool at our guesthouse in Fort Laudedale. Thank goodness for the guests interest in the birds. When alone they are extremely loud looking for attention. Two years later I bought 2 hand feed Green Cheek Conures which I thought would be good companions for the Sun Conures. Well the Green Cheeks were cute for a short time and the Guests enjoyed them because they could be handled. But 3 months later the Green Cheeks had learned how to be stand offish from the Sun Conures and have also become noisey, just not as loud. I do agree with the greeting each bird by name as well as saying good night the same way. They do like that.

Margaret Solari  07/23/2011 12:44 pm

<oved reading all your comments: I have two Grays a female she is mine and loves me to pieces and then I thought that I would get her a mate so I adopted a male from a rescure is like my husband and would rather have a finger or toe for breakfast LOL my female is very domonate toward the male but very protective of me as Maestro the male is toward my husband.
they out of there cages early every morning when I get up the takes that time to chase me around the kitchen I think he thinks its a game to chase me and go after my toes I spend time with him as well as my Doolie the female I can't even imagine life without my children thats what I call them my children I can occassionaly get maestro to step up but for the most part hes daddys boy.
as Doolie is mommys baby girl. they are more spoiled that my son or grandcilldren ever were.

Name (required)  07/23/2011 2:33 pm

Yes, the only survivor of 4 eggs, the other 3 were ignored by its mother and died or were born dead not sure, I love this cockatiel more than mom and dad cause i helped raise it, the pair i purchased, =D

Aubrie  07/23/2011 11:30 pm

I used to work at a special needs school and we would sing the ‘Hello’ song to each child. I started singing it at home to my two parrots and one year old daughter, and they all seem to enjoy it (as long as I keep the order with my female sun conure 1st lol). My birds really enjoy it and I use each of their name in it. It goes…. “We sing hello, hello, hello, it’s a happy sunny day, we sing hello, hello, hello, we sing in a special way… We sing hello to ____…(Sunkiss), hello____(Sunkiss), We sing hello to ______…(the next bird #2), hello____(the next bird #2). We sing hello, hello… We sing hello, hello, hello Its a happy sunny day we sing hello, hello, we sing in a special way. – you can repeat this and add different names in it or whatever you’d like. My birds especially like this song thats why I’m sharing 🙂 You can also change the weather to a happy rainy day or happy cloudy day, etc- whatever the weather is at the time. Just keep it upbeat and happy. Oh, I also wave hello with my hand when I’m singing hello to the individual.

Barbara DelGiudice  07/28/2011 4:32 pm

Thank you for writing about this. This is so very important to do for each bird, no matter how small. I have 2 cockatiels, but before that I had a cockatiel and a parakeet. I remember I gave the cockatiel, Baby way more attention than the parakeet, Buddy because he was bigger than the parakeet. And please forgive me, but I was not aware of all of the bird information on how incredibly intelligent they are. So poor little Buddy ate and ate and ate. Because my family would tell me I was crazy thinking that my parakeet thought certain things, I ignored how he might have really felt at the time. He was over eating because paid more attention to Baby. People trust your gut feeling on things. My poor Buddy did have hurt feelings just as I thought.

And boy to I have to make sure I pay equal attention to my 2 cockatiels, Beenie and Baby! Because Beenie will let me know for sure if I didn’t give him equal love. Beenie will push Baby around and eat more of the food on top of the cage. (I put food on top of the cage and in each birds cage for foraging. I need to make sure Baby gets enough to eat because he eats slow and they love to forage from the dish through 3 different kinds of pellets.) So I will pick some of the food up and hold it for Baby if he is stand offish. This will get him started on the foraging. Then Beenie runs up to me and Baby like he is being left out. So I let Beenie get on my shoulder and I will tell him I love him very much also and feed him a piece of food from my hand. My birds like to eat the food I am holding in my fingers more than the food that’s on the dish at times. They do this because of the attention of me holding the food.

Maria  08/08/2011 10:29 pm

Lovely. Especially the part concerning the feeling that we give to a bird, with eye-contact and the tone of our voice… Thanks for posting! Tomorrow I am going to give to my ‘Tiels a very special “good morning” wish..! 🙂

Jessenia  08/10/2011 6:23 am

Does this include parakeets? I have recently gotten a third addition to my parakeet pack and since then Tapa (my female cobalt blue american parakeet) has taken a liking to Mr.TumTum (A male cinnamon sky blue spangle). I have been giving extra time to Tio (Tapa’s previous mate, also a male) and he seems to start being content to being around me and my sun conure. My question is if I should give some more attention to Tapa and Mr. Tum Tum. They seem to be content with one another so I usually leave it at that. I do feed them millet by hand every day but is that enough since they have each other? Or should I try to attempt to spend more time with them?

Wally B  08/17/2011 7:02 pm

Good article. When I leave for work in the morning, I tell each one by name, see ya later-daddy and mommy are going to work now, see ya later…And they all share time with us. When we are at home, they are out of teir cages and free to roam about with us. My Lilac Crown amazon, and Quaker tend to take their turns wth me, and our Yellow Crown amazon hangs with my wife mostly. At bed-time, they each have there own one on one good nites. They truly are our fids. [Feathered Independant Dependants/or feathered kids]