My African Gray parrot, Bo Dangles, is quite a character. She talks, she hangs by her beak, she takes baths, and she attacks my feet. I imagine because she doesn’t have toes, she finds them an abomination. She is most likely to eat new foods and loves her veggies. Continue reading
If you have a parrot or two or more who want to be with you every waking moment, then you need some skill at distraction to be able to visit the water closet, or eat, or even sleep. And you can also spend time playing with your birds. Even some birds that don’t get out of their cages much play some games. So here’s what we play at my house.
Player: Lovebird Jake. Game: Keep-away. Jake gets the first couple hours of every day as out time. He’s not clipped, because he and Maynard don’t get along, and if for some weird reason I have them both out at the same time, Jake needs to be able to escape. At the end of his play time, I usually need to sneak up on him and grab him. He will scream like I am cutting off his head. Depending on how long I have been chasing him and how angry I let myself get, I usually give him kisses and tell him he’s a cute boy so he settles down. A little treat in the cage also makes things better.
Player: Double Yellow Headed Amazon Maynard. Game: Chase the Hand. This game is not for the weak. Blood has been drawn. I move my hand under a blanket or towel, and Maynard gives it a killing bite. Most of the time, I get out of the way before the bite occurs. It’s that one in a hundred time that hurts.
Player: Double Yellow Headed Amazon Maynard. Game: Puppy. I sit in my comfy chair, my feet up on the ottoman. Maynard climbs up the ottoman, uses my legs as a bridge, then rolls over on his back. He gently bites my hand and fingers, then bites his own leg. I scratch his head, his face, and we go on for a while until he gets too rambunctious and bites hard. Sometimes he will go from this game to courting behavior, and I have to stop that. But when he starts the puppy game, he makes me melt.
Player: Indian Ring-Neck Wraith. Game: Annoying Sound Imitations. It’s hard to be upset with Wraith over these sounds. He does a car alarm, the answering machine beep when a message is waiting, cat meow, and a baby crying. He does say Pretty Bird and my voice or Mike’s saying something indistinct, but as if we were cartoon characters. The worst one is the answering machine beep. We have to check the machine, even when we know it’s Wraith. He has us well training. He wins.
Player: Blind CAG Io. Game: Overweight Pugs. Yeah, not much of a game, true, but for a blind parrot, it’s pretty impressive. The home he lived in before joining The Hungerford Home for Happy Hookbills kept a pair of female pugs of long lineage and poor respiration. When they get a wheezing and a whining, it’s funny but then it’s not. Ten minutes, usually is enough. Io wins when he lets the dogs out.
Player: Toeless CAG Bo Dangles. Game: Tug of War. Before Bo will let me scratch her head, which she dearly loves, she had to play tug. She has a bell hanging on a chain, that’s her usual favorite. She also likes to tug on the fabric covered swing that we put near her for her to chew on. Since she can’t perch, her cage has shelves for her to sit on or lay on. We started with wooden shelves, loosly covered with carpet. She moved the carpet aside and chewed or possibly carved the wood into a very attractive sculpture that did not work as a shelf any longer. Now she has a metal shelf covered in towels that are changed out regularly. Much better than carpet, as I can hose off the chunks and wash them regularly. Getting the soiled towel out is usually easy. But putting a clean one in? Tug of war! Bo wins.
Player: Elderly normal peach face lovebird Benny. Game: Hide and Seek. Benny came to us from a woman who had acquired him and a female, given them a nest box, and not expected them to have babies. And then didn’t expect them to do it again. She didn’t hand feed any of the chicks. The majority of the babies went to my bird club. I kept Benny and his mate, whom I named Jet (pathetic, I know), but after all that egg laying and feeding chicks, she passed away just a few short years after coming to us. Benny has been with us for at least 8 years. We set him up with a single bird that may be female, a cherry head lutino named Blondie. Her story is another “What were they thinking” episode, but she and Ben have been happy together for a long time. We think Benny may have had a stroke. He can’t hold his head up straight, it lists to the right. He can’t perch because he falls and he stumbles when he walks across the cage. He’s eating, and seems happy otherwise. I give them cardboard boxes to chew, and he loves to hide inside them. As he only has the one hiding place, he doesn’t win this game very often, but he’s a true player.
Player: Maynard again. Game: Button, Button, I’ve got your buttons. Maynard loves buttons. At first, he only chewed them but didn’t hurt the garment or the button itself. Then I heard a crunch. And pieces of pink buttons fell on the floor. Sigh. Okay, but no damage to the fabric. Then I fell asleep in a chair while Maynard played with my hands. I woke up to a shirt from which all buttons had been removed and all knots of thread holding the buttons had been removed, along with a good inch of fabric around them. Sigh. Maynard wins. I plan to go to a thrift store and buy some shirts with buttons to keep him occupied.
Players: Handfed babies Coco and Dinky. Game: I’m STARVING!!! Yeah, this is an obvious one. Every time they see me in the kitchen, then hear the microwave, they go berserk. And while I try to feed them, they bob their heads up and down rapidly, causing the formula to go all over them. The second part of this game is Bath Time! They hate that, but they get so messy I have to wipe them down. No real winners here except whoever gives these angels a forever home.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.
Note: I wrote this some years ago for my bird club newsletter. I retired today, and shortly will be heading off to a gathering of sorts. So I have pulled this out of the files. Hope you enjoy it. I’ll be back on Sunday.
Peek-a-Boo, using a towel or pillow case
Where’s the peanut? (put it in your pocket or under a plastic cup)
Impressions, like eagle or vulture
Survivor. Put treats in a paper cup, crumple it closed, see if your bird can get to the food in a set amount of time. Use a timer. As he or she gets better at the game, set the timer for less time.
Hide and Seek, you hide, your bird comes to find you. Don’t make it too hard, or last too long. Frustration is not the goal.
Catch! Using light plastic or cloth balls, teach your bird to pick it up and throw it to you. Then throw it back!
Twist and Shout! Put on your favorite dance music, and discover if you have another Snowball hiding in your bird!
Gonna Getcha! Also known as tickle bird. Be sure your bird knows you are playing, and respect any signs that this game is not a favorite.
Pick-up Game. Give your bird a toy, and wait for the inevitable drop. Pick it up and give it back with some kind of signal noise or word, like Wonderful! Repeat as long as possible.
Bedtime for Birdies. Find a children’s book with short, simple rhymes, and read a few pages to quiet down your bird’s energy and set the mood for the good night kisses and quiet time.