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Tips on Keeping Your Amazon Tame (or any other Parrot) by Sally Blanchard

reprinted with the permission of the Companion Parrot Quartery (fka --Pet Bird Report)

I hear it all the time - the rumor is that Amazons are such 'nasty' birds that they should all be placed in breeding programs after they exhibit the slightest sign of sexual behavior because they will turn into vicious blood-lusting monsters. If this is true, how come I know so many delightful Amazons that have remained good pets for years and years?

Understanding and solving the puzzles answer lies with the owners and the guidance they have provided their generally excitable psittacine companions. The following are some rules and exercises to keep your pet a wonderful lifelong companion. Understand that the way our pet parrots turn out is essentially the responsibility of their human caretakers. Parrots do not come out of the egg knowing how to become good human companions. It is a totally unnatural predicament for both wild-caught and domestically raised parrots. We need to teach them to be good pets.

Use consistent verbal commands. Get into the habit of saying 'UP' every time you pick your parrot up and 'DOWN' every time you put him down. Keep all verbal commands simple, clear and decisive. The less consistent you are with your verbal commands, the less likely it is that your parrot will follow them. Remember - you are only as good as your last 'UP' command.

Each and every person in the family should develop their own relationship with the parrot by nurturing him and handling him frequently individually and around other family members. Sit together and pass the parrot back and forth, each person using the 'UP' command so that the bird becomes patterned to go from person to person.

Don't let your parrot on your shoulder. There is too much chance for aggression. If you do, follow three rules:

  1. The bird must be placed on the shoulder with the 'DOWN' command instead of running up there by himself.
  2. He must step on your hand immediately when give the 'UP' command.
  3. He has exhibited no aggressive behavior while he is on your shoulder.

Two or three times a week work with your parrot in a neutral room (where he has not established a territory) to reinforce the authority of your verbal commands. Place him on a T-stand or the back of a chair, make direct friendly eye contact and push your extended fingers gently but decisively towards his belly saying 'UP'. Transfer him from hand to hand a few times and place him back on the stand or chair with the 'DOWN' command. Do this several times until he automatically puts his foot up when he hears 'UP'. Go slowly - the purpose of this exercise is not to wear his little legs off but to teach him verbal commands with authority. Always end every session with a positive note and with you in control.

This article was published on Tuesday 22 June, 2004.
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