Straight Talk about Re- Homing

 At The Garuda Aviary, we get calls all the time from people whose birds have started screaming and plucking their feathers out. The callers think that re- homing their bird with birds of their own kind will magically fix the issue. They expect the bird will be instantly stimulated and overjoyed to be around its own kind. That’s not the case. Actually, that strategy usually does work when re-homing a dog. That’s because dogs live in the moment and are emotionally less complex. The situation is vastly different for parrots. They have the emotional awareness of a six or seven-year-old child. They mourn for the past, they experience anxiety about the future, and they retain a group identity. Humans identify themselves as individuals. Not so with parrots. Their identity is defined by their flock. To us, George the bird may be George the individual, but to George the bird, he is a part of a whole; a flock or a family. When a parrot has an ongoing, working dynamic with a person or persons, then that is its “flock.” Re-homing the parrot away from that familiar dynamic in essence strips the bird of its identity. With its complex emotional awareness, the bird knows that his previous “flock” has abandoned it. Since that never happens in nature (other than natural fledging), the bird has no coping mechanism. We’ve seen many people hope that re-homing to The Garuda Aviary will stop or decrease their bird’s plucking problem. Sadly, I must inform them that it can get worse (perhaps much worse). I could sing and dance and provide every possible enrichment for the bird, but I cannot fool it. It knows its flock has abandoned it. It’s anxious, even afraid. Because the surroundings and flock are unfamiliar. And even if we did have another bird of the same species. Putting them together might be threatening to the new bird. If you were an inmate, and the warden just shoved an unfamiliar inmate into your cell, do you think you two would be instant friends? Just because you are the same species? Probably not. So, the owner needs to know that integration would occur slowly after a very long chapter of mourning, depression, increased plucking, etc. Sad to say, even in a room full of parrots, and despite my best efforts, the new bird could feel alone for some time

 

 

 

 

Garuda Aviary
18400 River rd. Poolesville, MD. 20837
E-mail:    GarudaAviary@earthlink.net

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