Recently I visited a customer to deliver an order and was invited to come in and see their new rescued Macaw named Paulie. A beautiful Scarlet in a huge Prevue 3155 cage, the top third was loaded with toys and a large Booda Rope Swing. They said the macaw had not used the swing set, as he seemed to be intimidated by the movement of it so it hung pristine and lonely.
I suggested using a piece of rope or a leather thong to tie the swing to the side of the cage so it would remain stationary and when Paulie touched it, it would not scare him. They liked the idea and planned to do that. It is not uncommon for a captive parrot, possibly never having been on a moving branch, a swing, or a bungee to feel unsure about the movement.
With so many parrots born in captivity, they know nothing of trees, wobbly branches or vines that are normal to wild birds. Swings in a bird’s cage offer them playtime, exercise and help them retain their balancing skills. Our own Indian Ringneck, Sunshine was also afraid of things that moved and we too had to tie his swings to the cage including other moving items like a bungee until he felt confident on them and then we were able to remove the ties.
While I was visiting with Paulie and his owners, I looked at the cage and its furnishings.
Paulie had many toys and even a treat dispenser, but they said he never played with the treat dispenser. I looked at it and other toys and found they were placed out of reach of his perches. If he wanted to try out his Foraging Wheel he had no way to reach it except to crawl under some toys and hang on the cage bars to get to it.
I recommended that they move it to where he could sit and investigate it, and to also let him see them spin the wheel, get treats and eat them in front of him, perhaps offer him a piece or two as well. I suggested they add more toys and perches lower in his cage, but their concern was that Paulie would poop on them. I explained that careful placement would help keep lower perches clean and to move the toys that were filling the center of the cage top as that may be where he would like to sit but could not due to the crowded placement all at the top in the middle.
The toys were literally blocking other toys, thus leaving many untouched. After explaining that the toys in their bird’s cage, were the leaves on their birds tree, and would naturally be near the outer walls of his cage with perches and empty areas in the middle so he could maneuver better from toy to toy and play with one without getting bopped with another that was too close. They seemed eager to re-arrange the cage so Paulie could get more out of the cage and the toys. The added perches could be simple bolt-on Manzanita Perches to Booda Rope Perches arranged so he could sit in different places, all with a different toy nearby.
This would give him more exercise as well climbing and jumping to different perches.
An interesting part of the visit was watching as Paulie would climb out of his cage and onto the floor, walk over to a T-shirt that was left on a chair and drag it across the room to a corner behind the sofa and sit with it. I asked if they had the bird sexed, they had not but were told it was a male, I told them I suspected it was a female and was trying to build a nest and they may want to name him/her Pauline or Paulette. This was amusing to the wife as her mother was named Paulette.
They did admit they had to make covers for all the fronts of any low open areas. I asked how they handled their parrot and they said they kept their hands on his head and neck to avoid overstimulation.
This was good to hear as even though sweet parrots do make one want to hold and cuddle and stroke them, they only then encourage the birds to become hormonal and look to build nests, lay eggs, or worse, bond with one of the couple and lash out at anyone else.
Their home was large and roomy enough for their family, the macaw, 2 dogs and 3 cats, they said someone was home most of the time and the pets were supervised and they did put the macaw back in its cage if they had to go out.
I suggested they also consider some floor stands in various rooms for Paulie so the bird could join them when they left the main room.
Doing this early in the bird’s time with them so he/she could get used to having places of its own to spend time on and be less interested in climbing on the sofa, chairs, cabinets, and thus be removed.
A parrot that has its own furniture is more likely to not be as destructive to the house and its furnishings.
Written by Mitch Rezman Approved by Catherine Tobsing