How To Be Your Pet Bird's Best Friend

quaker parrot sitting on woman's shoulder

Think about your best friend. What makes them that? Maybe it’s that you can always talk to them. They know when to be blunt, and when to give you space. They see you at your worst and encourage you to be your best. They’re always there for you, as you are always there for them.

That type of relationship is one you should have with your bird, especially as they get older. (Young parrots need a mentor-student relationship, so they learn how to live in our homes.) To develop a BBFF relationship with your bird, here are several things to do and consider.

Communication is Key

Having a best friend means you have someone you can share all your secrets with. You can do the same with your bird if you really want (they may only repeat their favorite words), but the point is that communication is important. Where this gets complicated is your bird can’t speak and tell us what they like, at least vocally.

Through body language, a parrot speaks volumes, and that’s how they chiefly communicate with us. We’re talking pining eyes, ruffled feathers, tail wags, etc. Each of those movements means different things, and it’s up to us to learn to “speak” parrot. If you don’t learn to understand parrot, the only conversations you’ll be having with your bird will be bites.

While learning body language (or how parrots speak to us), we also need to learn how to communicate with our parrots. Luckily, we can talk through training, where you tell your parrot what you would like it to do through cues. It’ll take some work to get the hang of positive reinforcement training, so do your research and don’t be afraid to reach out to people for guidance. It’ll help create a great relationship with your bird in the long run.

Give Your Bird What They Need, Not What They Want

One of the greatest things about having a best friend is they’ll give you what you need when you need it.

With birds, you need a similar train of thought when it comes to your relationship. If your bird had their way, they’d eat junk food all day and destroy all the furniture in the house. While it sounds nice, is that really what your bird needs? Of course not. Your parrot needs a healthy diet that meets all their nutritional requirements. They need toys and activities so they’re not tempted to chew on window panes or on your table. It’s for their physical and mental health, and really, isn’t that what best friends help provide?

Give Them What They Want, Not Just What They Need

You know how sometimes you see one particular item, and you know your friend would love it? You buy it and then get to enjoy their reaction when they see what it is.

Do the same for your bird! And what they want is more than just a nice large cage, a playgym and plenty of toys. They need mental and physical enrichment, too, and the best way to provide that is to model a wild parrot’s life.

In their native habitats, parrots spend nearly every waking hour with their flock, foraging for food and just spending time together. While you may not be able to spend all day with your parrot, make the most of the time you have together. Play music for your bird, teach them a new trick or just let them hang out on your shoulder and relax. Any time with your parrot is valuable; just don’t leave them alone in their cage all day with nothing to do. That’s not what they want (or need) at all.

Providing foraging opportunities is easy too: There are toys out on the market that make your bird solve puzzles to get food. You can build your own foraging items, also. Let your parrot be fully flighted if you can — there’s nothing quite as fun as watching your bird spread their wings and fly.

Be Supportive, During the Bad Times and the Good Times

Parrots live a long, long time. Even the smaller parrots, like budgies and cockatiels, can live for up to 20 years. That means there will be a lot of changes and a lot of ups and downs. There will be times when you love your bird to death; others you’ll wonder why you ever got a bird. The important thing is to always be there for your bird, even when they’re pumped full of hormones and screaming their heads off. Which isn’t to say you can’t occasionally have a break; just remember that your bird is always there for you. Why not always be there for them? BBFFs, right?

Photo credit: Quaker parrot By ImYanis/Shutterstock

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  • I subscribed to BirdTalk magazine for many years (did not realize publications would cease back in 2012); I did give away many issues or had “thrown away” many of the magazines. However I do have some back issues: 1 full year in 2010 and 1 full year in 2011 and several from 2012 until publications stopped. Most of the issues are in very good condition excepting for 3-4 that are somewhat soiled on the covers. If anyone is interested in buying any or all of my magazines please have them email me at the email above…aloha and mahalo, Wanda Bermudez in Hawaii…

    Wanda Bermudez
  • I ordered- when will I receive my first magazine?????

    Tracy Lomagno
  • I ordered a magazine and haven’t got it yet could you tell me when I will get it
    Thank you

  • I really like the comment Jessica Pineda made, “Through body language a parrot speaks volumes…” My bird Ollie cranes his neck when I’m holding him and literally speaks with human like noises and gestures asking for a head scratch. I swear he is speaking and asking for a pet.


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