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A guide to introducing parrots to their new homes!

Two young sun conures in a handraising tub

Introducing a new bird can be an exciting time for us, yet it's essential to consider the emotional impact on the bird. Whether a young bird separated from its clutch mates or a rescue with a history of relocations, the transition can be stressful. New surroundings and unfamiliar faces present challenges. 

Upon bringing the bird home, they may initially hesitate to engage, resist interaction, attempt escape, and display behaviours like biting or lunging. This shift from hopeful anticipation to disappointment and frustration raises questions like "does my new bird hate me?" No, your bird doesn't hate you. Instead, it's grappling with the challenges of adapting to a completely new environment. 

Factor in possible unfamiliar experiences like car or plane rides, and you might be witnessing a stress overload, known as trigger stacking, which can amplify their emotional response. 

When parrots encounter stress and fear, their bodies initiate a "fight or flight" response. Adrenal glands release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, preparing the body for rapid reactions. The heart rate and respiration increase to supply more oxygen to muscles, while pupils dilate for heightened visual perception. Blood flow redirects from non-essential functions to vital organs and muscles, and muscles tense for fast movement. 

a double width parrot cage set up ready for a bird

How we handle the situation is crucial and can greatly influence the future of our relationship with the bird. Attempting to grab the bird forcefully to speed up familiarity, a method known as flooding can actually exacerbate the behaviour. It's not a recommended approach as it conveys to the bird that we are untrustworthy, disregarding their body language and boundaries. This initial lack of respect can foster increased fear, potentially escalating to more unsafe behaviours like biting. 

A male and a female sit with a young sun conure on their lap and an eclectus parrot on the woman's shoulder

In such situations, the key is preparation. Before bringing your new bird home, consider visiting and spending time with them. Set up their new cage in advance so you can place them directly in it, allowing them time to decompress and acclimate to their surroundings. Gather information about them, such as their favourite treats, favourite toys, likes, and dislikes. Create a comfortable and enriching environment based on their preferences. 

Respect their pace and boundaries – if they're not comfortable with handling, don't force it. Similarly, if they're content staying in the cage, let them be. Gradually introduce positive interactions, like offering treats or engaging in quiet activities nearby at a comfortable distance. 

a young cockatiel sits on a hand

Remember, building a relationship with your new feathered friend can take time and patience. Allow them the space to build trust at their own pace. Additionally, reaching out to an Avian Behaviour and Training consultant to work through these issues can be very helpful in ensuring a positive and healthy transition for your bird. Professional guidance can provide tailored strategies to address specific behaviours and facilitate a smoother integration into their new home.

Bringing home a new feathered friend soon, or maybe you have already bought your new addition home? Our brand new UNIQUE, 5-week Parrot Kinder (Preschoo) course is about to be released! Find out more, or sign up to be the first to know when our first dates are taking bookings, click here.

An advertisement for Parrot Life's Parrot Kinder preschool starting soon

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