It's Okay To Feel Frustrated With Your Birds Sometimes

It’s Okay To Feel Frustrated With Your Birds Sometimes

 July 15th, 2013
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Yellow collared macaw

I think it might be fallout from a particularly hormonal spring season, but recently I have read an abundance of comments from people who feel at their wits ends with their birds. It’s not uncommon to be reading complaints following breeding season, but they are usually tempered with a sense of relief. Not so much this year.

I was absolutely floored to hear that a long time bird-pal was thinking about giving up her flock because she just didn’t think she had another spring season in her. Even though I and few others went to work to talk her out of it, I completely feel her pain.

This season was tough on me and my flock. I mentioned in a previous post that I somewhat recently moved into an apartment with only two rooms in which I can keep the birds. Since I have four different species living here, I labored over which bird goes into which room.

As fate would have it, the move was timed to coincide with this year’s breeding season and my perfectly laid plans fell to ruin. Linus chose this year to suddenly become aware that he was sharing his room with a girl – something that was overlooked in the past. Theo was sending him over the hormonal edge and I had to remove her from the room altogether.

Goffins cockatoo, Theo, looking sweet and innocent

Unfortunately, this meant she would temporarily be sharing a room with me which she made as difficult as possible. She flatly refused to sleep in the cage I set up for her for reasons I was never able to determine. Spending the afternoon in this cage was not a problem, but once the lights went out at night she screamed until they were turned back on. I tried letting her stay on her play stand for the night but that did not meet with her approval either. The only place the little stinker was content and quiet was curled up under my chin or draped over my shoulder.

If I couldn’t curb her night time screaming quickly Linus would get frustrated and join in. I had visions of the neighbors waiting for me at my car with shotguns in the morning. I was out of options. While I didn’t relish the idea of breathing in her dustiness all night,  I had to risk letting her sleep with me until Linus got his hormones under control. I don’t think I got a single decent night’s rest the entire time – I worried too much about rolling over on her in my sleep.

I tried to comfort myself with the idea that it would be short lived. Of course, I was wrong about that too. Here it is July, and Linus’s temperamental hormonal outbursts have just only diminished enough that I can bring Theo back into his presence without him becoming alternately stimulated and aggressive.

I have been waiting for months to return Theo to her own cage in her own room and as usual, the plans aren’t going off without a hitch. Theo is no longer interested in her own cage – not when there is a warm neck to sleep against. Still, I have to do what has to be done.

So, knowing that Theo would scream and set Linus off, and knowing that there is nothing I can do to avoid this fact, I sent them both to bed early last night with the expectation that it was going to be loud for a while, but arranged for it to be loud at a time when it would not disturb the neighbors’ sleep. This is the only predictable behavior my birds have offered up in months – I expected “loud”, and that is exactly what I got. I plan on more of the same for a day or two. I am surviving on deep, calming breaths this week. I love my birds…I love my birds… I love my birds…

Mitred conure

We have to go to great lengths to devise creative solutions to problems and once we do, then we get to try to make them happen the way we envisioned. Birds being intelligent and willful, and a little snarky, make that extremely difficult at times. Sometimes our frustration is profound – and in that frustration it is easy to lose sight of why we have kept our birds in our lives for so long.

When you are suffering through bouts of difficult behavior and giving up feels appropriate, remember to give consideration to their good behavior. Your birds have earned a place in your heart for a reason and it will help you to recall their most redeeming qualities:

Of course, there is their beauty, their intelligence, the laughter they inspire. It’s hard not to feel a sense of quiet awe when you are with your bird. These are things you can count on experiencing every day like the sunrise.

But also remember the personal touches: how quiet and thoughtful they are when you are sick and how they intuitively know when you need cheering up. Remember what great company they have been during lonely times. They are not required to be there for emotional support, yet they are – everyday.

Your birds have been faithful friends and you don’t walk away from friends when the path gets rocky. It is perfectly normal to get frustrated with your birds at times, we all do, but it isn’t a reason to give up on them. This too shall pass.


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7 Comments on “It’s Okay To Feel Frustrated With Your Birds Sometimes”

Debbie  07/17/2013 10:34 am

Thank you!! I needed this pep talk. My cockatoo, Buddy, has been a devil lately. One minute she nips my side, and the next she hugs me and says, “I love you.” I’ve been giving her a little more attention as well as more quiet time, but I was feeling like I failed her somehow. I do think it’s beginning to get better… least I hope so!
Love your humorous comments.

Mustang Sally  07/17/2013 11:17 am

Ringo our Umbrella Cockatoo always stays on his cage until the past month. Whenever I am in the house by myself or with my husband or brother he jumps off to get to me or to go after them. We have had him for over 2 years now. It was great when he would stay on his cage, now that he knows he can do a back flip to get to the ground it’s very frustrating to reteach him to stay on his cage. Now I know it’s not us, so to speak, it’s his hormones……GREAT! 😉 lol Thank you for this great blog posting. whew……my question is how do I retrain him to stay on his home?

Lori Roter  07/17/2013 11:29 am

While I hate that others have to go through the pain of the “mating season” as I like to call it, it is comforting to know that I am not alone.

Casey (m. Goffin’s) has been a little more demanding this season and while probably unrelated to the seasons, has been chiming in more often into our conversations…mid-stream. The result is that my husband and I can’t have a conversation (or at least we can’t hear each other) because Casey rings in with a “raccaw” mid-sentence.

I am fine but my husband just wants to kill him.

Then… there is poor Sydney who is quickly becoming a bald-headed instead of a blue-headed pionus. If I am not quick enough, when my head is turned he’ll climb to her perch, and start plucking — she gladly obliges to the preening until the feather comes out.. When I catch him, he’ll pretend it was the invisible bird who did the deed.

Lisa  07/17/2013 11:45 am

My 3 fids have been acting up to the point where I thought it was My hormones! If I even flinch, they’re flying in 3 different directions, yelling, screeching, carrying on when I want to hear the TV, think, paint! Thx for the help in understanding and reminding me to reward good and try my best to ignore the bad behaviors! I do love them dearly and pray that this too shall “fly by”!

Jeni  07/17/2013 2:23 pm

On the contrary…my bird seems to know when I have a headache and likes to scream when I leave 1′ gap between me and him… (rolling eyes)… hopefully he will calm down soon…he looks so surprised when he gets in trouble for unacceptable behavior when he’s been soooo good in the past!

Amber Garman  07/17/2013 5:53 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I needed to hear this at this very moment, I really though I was alone with this issue. My conure turned 3 this July and this year has been very hard and frustrating. Your message has renewed my faith and we will prevail together. Thanks again!

Gail Cody  07/18/2013 12:16 pm

I’m glad I’m not the only one with the newest Fashion Accessory and Parrot under your Chin! My 8yr old Hahns Macaw has taken up residence under there for the last 2 months! I dare not eat or move without his approval! Thanks for the article. Gail