When and Where Did Your Bird Learn the Difference Between Right and Wrong?

When and Where Did Your Bird Learn the Difference Between Right and Wrong?

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

When and where did your bird learn the difference between right and wrong?


How does your macaw know the difference between a $6000 Bubinga wood armoire and a $300 wooden bird play stand you bought from Windy City Parrot?


What have you done to teach your bird chewing on the stand is right, chewing on the furniture is wrong?


One of the things I suggest when somebody brings home a new bird especially a big bird like a macaw or cockatoo with a high propensity to chew is the following. 


Put the bird on your shoulder and begin to walk through the house telling the bird where he or she is allowed to land and chew on while making a list that the two of you agree on.


At the end of the house, tour put your bird on a perch, face it, repeat the list and then wait for he or she to nod in agreement – problem solved. 




You and I both know that’s an impossible scenario.


I just read a Facebook post where a woman took a nap in her van with her cockatoo. 


When she woke up the cockatoo had destroyed both armrests so she lectured the bird and told the bird that the bird was bad.

 parrot play stand with toys and senegal parrot in home office


I commented with the question how did the bird not know to eat the armrest?


We hear this a lot from many captive birdkeepers time and time again. 


We all know children learn that they don’t instinctively know the difference between right or wrong, hot and cold. This must be taught.


But alas, birds are not children. Parrots are amoral. What is theirs is theirs, and what is yours is theirs and there is no reason to think otherwise.



Are you spending the time to train your bird and have your bird focus on bird-centric activities and surroundings? 


When you take your bird out of the birdcage, does it have a place to go, or do you put it on the back of a kitchen chair?


If your bird nibbles at the wood or the leather on that chair, telling it’s a bad bird is not helpful and does not work because the bird does not know that the wood on the chair is any different than the wood that humans call bird toys.


You must consistently offer early direction to the bird and use strategies like parrot clicker training.


A child sitting in a room by itself with nothing to do is very much like a bird sitting on a play stand in a room with nothing to do. 


“What do you mean you’re pissed about me eating the lampshade it must have meant to be eaten. How should I know the difference”? (says your bird to itself)


When you leave the room with a child having nothing to do they eventually will probably cry out because it’s bored.

 Senegalparrot on bird swing hanging from reading lamp next to bed


When you leave the room and the bird is alone and has nothing to do don’t be surprised that your expensive blinds have been chewed or some baseboard has been chewed because your bird can’t fly and is walking along the floor and looking for something to do. 


Editors note: Beaks that get mangled from electrical cord burns, can not be repaired.


Much like a child, they may know that the area is off-limits but they’re not going to feel bad if they do something wrong because they can’t tell the difference.


Senegal parrot on small bird play stand on kitchen table


Once again you cannot walk around your entire home expecting the bird to know what’s off-limits. This is a huge reason that new captive bird keepers fail. 


We must keep our birds occupied and supervised when out of the cage so they don’t injure themselves or your property.


Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing

Your zygodactyl footnote


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. here is yet another story I will tell you about ‘l’arnin’ parrots right from wrong’….When Arlo was 1 or 2 years old, she liked to yelp when I would leave her sight. The books I’d read about behavior you don’t like from a parrot advised to give the bird ‘the evil eye’ (a stern look) and tell them ‘I don’t like that’ or something to that effect. So that’s how I ‘trained’ her…. One day, I left the room, Arlo was caged (for her safety; had a cat who didn’t bother her, but didn’t want to take the chance) in, and immediately Arlo started the yelping/whistling, really loud! I hurried back to the room; as soon as I was next to her cage, I leaned down, gave her the evil eye. She beat me to it…..she said ‘YOU don’t like that!’ Hey! she understood pronouns!!

  2. Right or wrong? HAHA, good one. Kula knows buttons man, and she’ll push them when she doesn’t get her way. When my wife and I are talking and she “feels” like she’s not getting her props, she likes to start shedding the papers on her stand and throwing them on the floor. Now she’ll get threatened with “timeout?” which means off to the night cage for a while and she stops.

    As far as chewing up things, we just keep her away from them rather then trusting(HAHA) her to refrain. She’s out all day on her stands, with toys, treats, puzzles and her food-she’s 14 now and has calmed down a bit the last few years-and that seems to be good for her.

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