Change Is Essential for Your Bird to Accept It

Change Is Essential for Your Bird to Accept It

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

Editor’s note: you will read these words later in the post:

Hi Catherine.  Peaches has always been in my small bird room with the cockatiels, lovebirds, Meyers, Quakers, conures, and a very skittish white-capped Pionus I adopted last year.  It’s been a long road to get her to accept me.  Peaches doesn’t like to be near (within 2  feet) other birds.

Otherwise she tolerates them so I am sure she is loving all the attention Mitch is giving her.  She was out of her cage (24 X 22) morning and afternoon for a total of two hours.  She also enjoyed being on the jungle gym in the kitchen area.  I have never used a water bottle with her. She doesn’t throw food in her water.  Since I am home all day.  Water dishes get changed twice a day if needed.

To be clear Peaches the Senegal parrot has been in the same room, in the same cage, with the same birds, interacting with the same woman – for about seven years (at the time of this writing).

This past week, a lovely couple traveled from the northern suburbs to our humble shop after having recently rescued an eight-year-old caique parrot.

We love caïques – they are known as the clowns of the parent world they are quite entertaining. Catherine and I tag-teamed the new bird owners for an hour or more learning much about each other’s birds and cage bird keeping strong and weak points.

It’s interesting to note that this couple also had three large dogs. A husky, a malamute, and If I recall a Newfoundland (About a 150-pound dog)

I immediately asked the bird was clipped and what their intentions were about allowing the bird to be flighted. The response was that they intended to keep the bird clipped and somehow would magically ensure that approximately 300 pounds of dog would never interact With a 150 g (about one-third of a pound) bird.

The best defense that a bird has against any other animal in the house being a dog or a cat is the ability to fly away to safety.

A clipped bird in the house with other animals is not a good plan IMHO.

We also talked about what they were doing to adapt the bird to the new household in general. They had the caïque for about 10 days and felt that they would give it time to “settle in”.

So here’s the thing, the birds and parrots that we care for have a standing heart rate of around 200 bpm – that’s before flight.

Feathered factoid: hummingbirds reach a heart rate of over 1200 bpm while hovering.

Animals with heart rates of 200 bpm never “settle in” which is why they require birdcages. They will never curl up like a dog in a dog bed in the corner of a room.

I’ve had dogs – I was a Musher in the 70s – I worked three teams of sled dogs while showing our malamutes.




When you have a sled dog team be it three or seven dogs, one of the worst scenarios is the towline gets tangled up. It’s impossible to untangle sled towline’s with gloves on. Dogs that have abruptly stopped and want to run – are not happy.

This means that they can get quite aggressive. Getting bit on a glove-less hand in subzero temperatures is incredibly painful. I know this from experience.

This is where I learned that without absolute control over the animal(s). You and or the animal will always conceivably suffer pain in an emergency situation.

Another notable statement by the couple who rescued the caique was that their veterinarian advised them not to let the bird go near their 3 parakeets because if it got on the cage it could bite their feet.

So here I go again with absolutely no college degree bashing veterinarians by asking the question rhetorically – if all veterinarians can accurately predict the behavior of parrots why are bird rescues so full?

Here’s a video I put together for all of you who feel that insulating your bird or parent from change is simply not a good plan.

Deal with the bird on your terms not the birds term. Do not let the animal dictate how it’s to be treated. Think about that.

Editor’s note: the following is a thread between Catherine, me and Pat who operated the rescue that Peaches the Senegal parrot came from.

Hi Pat

As usual it’s been crazy around here but I wanted to give you a personal update. Peaches is the best bird ever.

She has clearly bonded with me she will do anything that I ask – she has lunged at Catherine and bit her a couple of times. We will be changing that with clicker training which we began this evening.

She defines the term Velcro bird. When I opened the door to her cage in the morning she does not come out, she waits for my hand to come in to grab her which I’ve stopped doing.

We normally go to our place in Indiana on the weekends but we stayed home the last weekend to ensure that we didn’t traumatize her. She’ll be fine. She’s already been there to travel cage and we have a beautiful all aluminum Hoei cage that she’ll be happy in and in front of a 6 foot patio door looking upon a dozen wild bird feeders.

We have  several play stands and a nice cage in the apartment. Yesterday I brought her into the shower with me. I placed her in the palm of my hand and she let the water rain down upon her.

Editors note: I wore a t-shirt in case she panicked and could jump on me.

When she started to crawl up my arm I knew she had enough, once out of the shower I put her in the cage with the cage heater on the thermal perch – she was fine.

She seems to be preening more now as well.

Today she got the full Monty. Because she is not flighted I put on a T-shirt, removed her from the cage and put her on my shoulder. She is a back rider not a shoulder rider.

We went into my bedroom and made up the bed with a lot of heavy pillow fluffing then we went into Catherine’s room where we made up her bed with more pillow, sheet, and blanket fluffing, to get her used to the activity.

As part of my normal routine after making up Catherine’s bed, I do 100 push-ups which Peaches was not too certain about but she hung on and watched us in the mirror.

I went into the bathroom to take a shower. Because of her lack of flight, I didn’t want to put her on the shower rod and have her possibly fall off so I try to put her on the edge of the tub and she would have nothing to do with the porcelain.

I grabbed a small training stand and put it on a stool in the bathroom while I showered and let her watch me groom myself.

We did some domestic chores around the house including vacuuming and dishes. She is getting used to all of the strange noises and activities.

I’ve decided to migrate from the home office back to our shop office. Late in the afternoon today we cleaned up Popcorn’s old “shop” cage and set it up back in the shop. I went home and got Peaches and brought her into the shop and installed her in the new shop cage.

She took everything in stride and much like most birds I think she was just happy to be with us.

She likes swings and she doesn’t care if it’s her old swing or new swing.

She’s a great eater and a great drinker – Loves her scritches as you well know and has instantly become a perfect addition to this household

I’m still trying to convince Bacon and Eggs that I am not the chainsaw murderer they think I am so I walk over to their cage with Peaches on my hand on my shoulder and we have our daily standoff.

The boys worry that I’m going to attack them with swords and all sorts of medieval weapons while Peaches doesn’t seem to be concerned with the two of them at all. 

We need to work on the socialization – all in due time. I Will send you some images of her in Indiana this weekend I just wanted you to know she is quite happy, we are quite happy and we are very sure this relationship work out till the end of time.

Mitch and Catherine, I am so happy to hear it is going well.  Oftentimes, when a bird has been re-homed for a week or so their temperament can change.  They figure out they are not returning to their former home and tend to be little brats hoping you will give up and return them.

I must say I am surprised she took so quickly to Mitch.  I have been the primary caretaker for Peaches so she did not have a male influence in her life.  When re-homing any bird, people will ask “does the bird prefer men or women?”  My answer is “the bird will let you know”.  I truly believe birds will choose their “human” to love.

That is great that you will be at the store more.  You will find (as you have already) that Peaches is very easygoing and will adapt to any situation or environment.

Perhaps Catherine can interact with Peaches throughout the day to better help socialize her.  Clicker training should also be helpful.

I think the keets may be afraid of Peaches because she is so much bigger.  You should be able to handle the baby parakeet without biting.  I had him perch on my finger.  He is so sweet.

Thanks so much for the update.  I am looking forward to hearing how the weekend goes at the cabin.

Take care.



That is all good to hear. She ignores the budgies just fine, glad to hear she was fine with other birds in some situations. Mitch found out that she did not recognize herself in the mirror and attacked it. He got her away from it and won’t put her there again. Poor Peaches, it is hard when they don’t recognize themselves as birds. We will work around that. Mitch has already started clicker training.

The cage size is about what she has now at home, the one in the shop is the same dims but taller. The lower space is really a waste, no birds use it (in such a tall narrow cage), but we had it in the store on display and when Popcorn came around, it became her cage while still on display. It is back in the same spot again but with Peaches now when he comes into the shop.The cage at our weekend place is also 24 x 20 or so.

I don’t use a water bottle currently either. When I had about 15 cages of breeding birds (lovebirds, finches) I used them and loved them. Mitch changes the water 2-3 times a day and there is a cup cover on the cage that prevents poop from hitting the dish from the bird sitting on top of the cage.

The cookables at the store are not very veggie, they are what I would call birdie oatmeal. They are made by Higgins, Roudybush, etc. Sunshine my ringneck liked that stuff, Popcorn did not. It is just something else to offer variety. Mitch has been bringing her to the table stand when we have dinner and we give her a little dish with a bit of what we are having. Salad, veggies, a bean, a bit of chicken, etc. She just tastes a bit, she does not seem to be a real foodie.

She is definitely a real parrot in how she eats. Meaning that she picks up a piece, takes a bite or two, then drops it, then takes another, a bite, then drops it. LOL. I have mainly had ringnecks, cockatiels, lovebirds, red rumps, finches, a load of grass parakeets and 35 years ago 2 moluccan cockatoos for a short time with my ex husband. They were too much bird for me and we sold them. I always liked my birds small and manageable. The big birds scare me, I have been bitten really badly by a Scarlet Macaw who never should have been on display and I respect the beak. I want the best for all of them, but I know my limitations.

I still have faith that Peaches will accept me in time, treats are good right now. She in close proximity much of the day. I always liked our birds to be able to see us in our main space. The cage is well located for that. I will keep you up to date on how it is going it has only been about 8 days, wow. So much has happened.

Hi Catherine.  Peaches has always been in my small bird room with the cockatiels, lovebirds, Meyers, Quakers, conures, and a very skittish white-capped Pionus I adopted last year.  It’s been a long road to get her to accept me.  

Peaches doesn’t like to be near (within 2  feet) of other birds.  Otherwise, she tolerates them so I am sure she is loving all the attention Mitch is giving her.  She was out of her cage (24 X 22) morning and afternoon for a total of two hours.  She also enjoyed being on the jungle gym in the kitchen area.  I have never used a water bottle with her.  She doesn’t throw food in her water.  Since I am home all day.  water dishes get changed twice a day if needed.

I have used those pre-packaged foods that you soak and cook but now I make the fresh vegetable mix (from the list I gave you).  I make a large batch one day a week and then freeze portion size in bags.  I add fresh green lettuce daily because it gets too soggy if you freeze it.

You and Mitch are doing everything right for Peaches. I’m sure soon she will accept you as her friend. Continue hand feeding her treats and talking softly to her.

I wish a lot more of my adopters were as conscientious as you are about the care of a bird.  I have 5 or 6 birds just like Peaches (different breeds) who desperately need a home also.  

Keep up the good work.  It will pay off.


Dear Pat

Good to hear from you so soon. Peaches looks like she will be fine with us. Mitch dotes on her from morning to bedtime. She may be getting spoiled.

He is looking forward to when her wings grow in and is working now to show her, her landing areas. When he takes her into the kitchen there is a stand set up on the table. That is where she can do what she likes.

In the living room, besides her cage, we have a nice old willow table stand that I have had for literally 30 years, still in fine shape, bark and all. It is on the coffee table and she is there now, placed by Mitch. She is flanked by a toy on either end, but she is preening currently.

Not finding her playing with anything really, but she has given things a good look over. She does like a pine slice toy I brought for her so that is something. Of course, she rocks on her swing every evening. LOL.

Her voice has ranged from very soft to a forceful single-note chirp that carried 2 rooms away. It was very cute to hear her loud call. She is a fine apartment bird.

She shows no fear of anything, she went right into our carrier, no hesitation, then out and on Mitch’s back while he set up the store cage for her. Mitch put in a nice sisal rope ring swing in it and she has been digging it. A little boy in the store today watched her and was very happy.

We will be taking her with us this weekend. The cage there already is set up and has a nice Booda rope swing too. We will leave after work Friday, travel 2 hours and we have heat, water, and electricity all set and waiting for us. We go home on Sunday around noon.

Peaches and me. After she bit my knuckles hard and later bit my nose I admit I got spooked. I have tried not to act any differently and I greet her cheerfully all the time. I decided to not reach out to her for awhile so maybe she will forget it all and we can start fresh. She has taken a bit of food from me yesterday so I think we are on the right track. She is only a few feet away from me right now and she is doing fine while I work. Mitch is at his desk and also only about 6 feet away. 

The keets. Bacon is so skittish that any approach to the cage makes him flutter and thus Eggs flutters copying Bacon’s fear. It is counterproductive in getting Eggs out without flipping him out in the process. Mitch is trying to get them, (Bacon) used to him coming up to the cage but it is slow going.

Eggs is not happy to be flightless and bounce around the cage a lot. I hope he molts soon. Bacon was clipped not that long ago but has a few new wing feathers already and is very strong and can flit around the cage, making poor Eggs unhappy. But he eventually gets up to the top perches.

Pat, I know you have many birds and Peaches did not like them. She was in another part of the house? She spent a lot of time in her cage. You said she had out of the cage time, Mornings? Evenings? How long?  Did she live in more than one size cage? What sizes were they? I have no issue with any of it, I just am trying to understand how she has lived for her life so I can respond accordingly and make sure her home is set up right. Has she ever used a water bottle? Has she has any cooked foods? Crazy Corn, etc. There are a lot off them available in pasta, grain, rice, etc. Corn on the cob?

Okay, I have asked enough for today. LOL.

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