Be careful! Don’t do that! I wouldn’t do that if I were you!
Stop it. These are birds. They want to have fun.
“Helicopter Parenting” has been taking a major bash in the teeth lately due to that backlash results later on. If you aren’t aware of the term, here it is according to Wikipedia. It paints some broad strokes, but it describes the the basic concept:
Helicopter parent is a colloquial term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to their child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions.
The term was originally coined by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters they hover overhead. It is also called “overparenting”. It has also been reported that some such parents get involved with their children’s salary negotiations.
So what’s my point? If you are directing every single aspect of your flock’s life down to the minute, that is what I’m talking about.
I got a comment a while back on a photograph I posted of my birds on my front porch. Here is the photo, or one just like it:
Nice picture, right? My Greys are outside enjoying the sunshine and they are preparing to eat some fresh Chop I had just made. What could go wrong?
Well, according to a comment that was, shall we say, rather passive-aggressive, it wasn’t something the person who made the comment would do if the porch wasn’t screened in.
Hmmm. While I have done some pretty wild stuff in my life including hang-gliding off of a cliff in Brazil and learning how to fly on a trapeze, hanging out on the fifth floor on a porch or deck that wasn’t screened in would not be one of them.
I have no problem with heights. I spend an enormous amount of time at 35,000 feet. But I hate edges. Despise them. I cannot deal with them. And I would no more get out there myself, let alone place my Greys out there if it wasn’t screened in.
This was simply a case of finding fault with something. Can’t just say, “Nice picture!” and leave it at that. They had to get all weird about it and make a comment that warned me I was doing something wrong if I hadn’t taken certain precautions. I assured the reader that it was indeed screened in and explained that I wouldn’t have purchased the place if it wasn’t and it wasn’t because of the birds. But this was a case of “Gotta warn people! Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!”
Relax. As long as common sense prevails, both you and your flock will be fine. Naturally, you don’t want to put your birds in a dangerous or dicey situation. I don’t believe in taking birds outside without a carrier or a harness. And it’s not just for their safety, either. It’s because I turn into a blithering, nervous wreck if they aren’t. In this case, it’s not about them, it’s about my peace of mind. (I can be be self-centered that way…) Clipped, unclipped, I don’t give a damn, my birds go into a carrier.
I don’t believe in hand-santizer either when soap and water will do. Hand sanitizers disinfect, but they do not clean dirt and grime. And I’ve read where all this hand sanitizing is having negative effects on kids because they don’t have the chance to build up any anti-bodies. And if you get enough of the stuff on you, the alcohol seeps into your system through the skin. Umm, soap and water works just fine.
You’re doing it wrong!
Ever see someone give a bird a toy and then discover that the bird is having more fun with the attached tag you forgot to clip off? Relax. He’ll get to the toy, let him play with the tag. This is like kids that play with the box the toy came in rather than the toy. As long as your bird is engaged, it’s fine. You don’t have to stand there and try to teach him about the toy.
Parker likes to mess around with quick-links. I don’t know why, but he’ll flip one of those hanging on on the top of his cage forever, making it jangle and move. The hell with the toys in his cage. He wants the link.
I wouldn’t do that! (Okay…)
Our birds need a certain amount of autonomy. Pepper likes doing a “walk-about” on the floor and I let her do just that after I close the doors to the bathroom and bedrooms. She wanders around, checking things out and I keep an eye and an ear open during her wanderings. I think it’s good for her feet to stretch out and she enjoys the independence. This is a bird that took me two days to coax out of her cage 7 or 8 years ago. So if Pepper wants to take a stroll and she isn’t getting into any trouble, what’s the harm?
By the same token, I don’t like shower perches. What’s the point? I don’t think they’re safe and it’s simpler just to put them on the floor of the tub and call it a day. I guess I have certain ideas about what I think is safe and what others think. That’s my opinion, but they are your birds. If you think shower perches are fine and if you have never seen one fall off the side of the shower stall like I have, then by all means, have at it. But that’s one risk I’m not taking. However, I’m not going to run around screaming, “The Perch is falling! The Perch is falling!” and chastising you for using one. If you have no issue with it, then fine.
That Could be Dangerous! (So is walking outside…)
My friend Shari had a wonderful little Grey named Iko that loved her little stuffed toy and box. The toy was her baby and the box was her nest. She spent hours with “Baby” in her box and it was something she loved to do. And yet, I’ve read people who are worried about suffocation, their bird getting stuck in a box, and other dangers about this situation. Shari let Iko have her baby and her box and Iko was happy. Iko never got stuck, her baby never suffocated her and it was simply wonderful for Iko. Shari let Iko be happy.
Common Sense Should be More Common…
We all have to make decisions for our flocks every day. All I ask is that you let common sense prevail. And for God’s sake, let them be birds. Let them make decisions. As long as they don’t jeopardize their health or safety, allow them a little elbow room. I’m all for safety for our birds. But I’m not going to wrap them in bubble wrap to keep them that way.
August 28, 2012 at 9:18 am
AMEN!!! I get so sick of having to post something and follow it up with a ‘warning’ because if not, people will jump all over the post, regardless of what it is about.
August 28, 2012 at 9:25 am
Careful Emily! People might jump all over your comment! (Just kidding!)
August 28, 2012 at 9:21 am
And I thought I was the only one who left the price tags on toys. The only time I’ve removed them is if there is glue on them. Otherwise, they consider the tag as part of the toy and it gives them another minute or two of destruction time.
August 28, 2012 at 9:25 am
Nope. I’m guilty of this as well. And they seem to enjoy flipping that tag and chewing on it. It’s like the preview of the toy. If they get a kick out of the tag, they’ll probably love the toy. And why haven’t manufacturers made the tag a toy as well? That would be very cool.
August 29, 2012 at 9:47 pm
Exactly, it’s like a 2 for 1 toy deal.
August 28, 2012 at 9:34 am
Oh I am glad to hear some one else who thinks some of the parrot people in the world have gone overboard in protecting parrots. Use common sense, do what works best for your situation and let the birds be birds.
August 28, 2012 at 10:17 am
Precisely my point, Cyn. Thank you.
August 28, 2012 at 9:37 am
I love this! I think giving children and birds alike as much autonomy as is comfortably possible is a good thing! No, you don’t necessarily want them to be hurt, but nobody learns to ride a bike without some scraped knees, and how will they learn not to do some things unless there are some — MILD — consequences? Most children and birds need a little reason to believe you when you say no. “Don’t go behind the couch!” might be enough to keep your grey out, but mine is curious so when she wandered back that way and got stuck, we giggled and pulled the couch out and rescued her. She doesn’t go behind the couch now. 😉 What a boring life we’d all have if we lived in bubble wrap.. I “wouldn’t do that” to my humans or feathered kids. Seems to me that’s crueler than letting them experience life. Great job articulating that, Patricia!:)
August 28, 2012 at 10:41 am
I agree, I agree!!!!,..On ever thing you have mentioned.
Keep up the good work.
August 28, 2012 at 10:49 am
Pat you know my take on “common sense” bird care,,,, I include it with my other pets, I don’t usually mind someone else saying “I wouldn’t do this” but it’s the tone they use that usually sets me off, and of course you cant “hear” the tone online, when they go on and on about how you are a bad parront for allowing your birds to be birds that get me..
August 28, 2012 at 12:03 pm
Its my belief that a lot of this helicopter parrot parenting is because these birds are so damned nosey they get themselves into trouble very easily in captivity and also there are so many horror stories going around about birds getting hurt or killed.
My wife and I have a very rambuncous and accident prone blue and gold macaw, Sully. How this bird has not seriously hurt himself I’ll never know. Here are just few of his incidents I can think of. One of his first was getting his leg stuck in large plastic toy made of several links. It was a toy we had used for years with other birds and never had an issue. Luckily, we extricated him without any harm done. Another day he was playing so vigorously on top of his cage he came crashing down and was lying on his back when I ran to his aid. He was stunned that gravity could do such a horrible thing to him, but was fine otherwise. There have also been numerous incidents we weren’t privy to and only know something happened because of his busted feathers or scratches on his cheeks. The scariest incident by far though was when he managed to get his wing stuck between the bars of his cage. Fortunately, my wife was home when it happened. We were also lucky he trusted her to help and stayed calm while she eased his wing back through the bars. Again he escaped any serious injury.
The point of me telling the tales of Silly Sully Wully, the name he calls himself by the way, is that while there were some hazards I could have removed such as the toy there were others I would have never dreamed of. Falling off a cage while playing like a maniac is something I could have prevented by keeping him locked up, but then again he has fallen from the top of his cage while hanging upside down and playing. The cage he got his wing stuck in was an HQ macaw cage and very appropriate. Should he have been in a plexiglass cube? All we can do is understand our birds as best we can and make our environment as safe as we can without turning them into museum pieces to be locked away for safe keeping. That’s not to say I am not constantly looking for ways to improve my house in regards to their safety, but I also strive to make it interesting and FUN for them.
August 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm
Exactly,,,, parents cannot possibly be there to “catch” their human child every time they fall, bail them out too many times, they will never learn not to get into those situations in the first place….. it’s called common sense, problem is, it’s not so common any more;
August 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm
A GREAT article Patricia!!! My birds LOVE getting the chance to be BIRDS first. Most of their toys are ‘;homemade’ things (rolled up phonebook pages stuffed into tubes, wood chunks cut from 2X2s or 2X4s etc; todddler toys re purposed for them… all SORTS of things. I rarely if ever buy anything ‘made’ for birds anymore.
One of my cockatoos LOVES to carry around beads and stick his tongue into the holes. Another one uses his feet to explore EVERYTHING. He loves the very large marbella rings (they have to be large so I can unwrap his feet when he sticks all four toes in there then stands around waiting for me to get him out).
Favorite toys? Pieces of plastic link chains and quick links. Short pieces of chain to rattle and bang around the sides of the cage. And BOXES. LOTS of BOXES.
The ‘ring-around-the-ankle’ bird (CasperToo) loves his box. It’s his ‘safe zone’, his toy storage place and sleeping place. Always an adventure around here…
August 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm
I’m reminded of a quote from one of my favorite kid’s movies:
“I have to find Nemo! I promised him nothing would ever happen to him!”
“That’s a strange thing to promise. If nothing ever happens to him then nothing will EVER happen to him…not much fun for little harpo”
I agree with ya 100% ya can only go so far into protection until your protection itself becomes the problem.
August 29, 2012 at 2:33 am
thank you Patricia for yet another greatly written article. Of course I try to take as many safety precautions as I possibly can with my flock. I am paranoid about outside without the safety of a carrier or they will be in their “outdoor cages”. We do have hawks around here. My other fear is walking on top of each other’s cages [ I guess have heard too many stories about bitten of tootsies]. But I did make them a promise as each one came to liven up this retired household …I promised to always remember that they were birds first and allow them to make some choices as long as I have not heard “chicken little” holler that the sky is falling;)
August 29, 2012 at 3:11 am
Great article! Our society needs a little more common sense, in every aspect!
August 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm
I SO totally agree with you! There is not a lot of common sense out there anymore. The old saying “Keep it simple stupid” rings true. If people would use plain old common sense, the world would be a better place.
August 29, 2012 at 10:05 pm
Great article, hope lots read it! I agree 100% I treat my Fids as children, right or wrong and I can see how excited they get when I give them new experiences, whether it be food, toys or outings! Plus Louie my Indian ringneck has gone and done everything with me for 5 years and that has to be why he talks so much, is so well rounded and not afraid of new experiences! Since my parrots live with us in our home and in our lives, I too believe in letting my parrots enjoy their life and have as much fun, love and care as I can give them. Of course, as I did when raising my children, I did not let them take any harmful chances. I took to heart for my kids and now with all my animals what my Mom always told me “She didn’t have me, just to let something to happen to me”!
August 30, 2012 at 7:33 am
Now here is where I disagree with you. I try not to treat my birds as children because I think they deserve more respect than that. I respect them for what they are: birds. I try not to talk down to them and I realize that they sometimes have their own agenda. Of course we have a tendency to disagree now and again. They have to give a little and I have to give a little, but somehow we manage to make it work. But by respecting them for what they are keeps me cognizant of the fact that I have three beings in my home that are very different than me. Recognizing that difference keeps me more mindful to show that respect.
August 30, 2012 at 8:17 am
i, also, treat my birds like my children. but i always treated my children like PEOPLE. I respected their opinions. I gave them choices. And i do the same for my birds. Birds are not like us mammals. they dont THINK the same way we do. But children dont THINK the same as adults. their ‘world’ is smaller. But that doesnt make it any less important to respect their opinions and wishes. I never tried to treat my children the same, they ARENT the same. they are unique individuals who need different things. I do the same for my birds. My amazon and my cockatoo have VERY different emotional, recreational, and nutritional needs. I think its possible to treat them like your children and still treat them with respect. Respect for who they are, what they need, and what they want.
August 30, 2012 at 11:33 am
Patricia,,, you just described a very healthy relationship with any species,,, children included,,,, sometimes I think when people say they “treat my birds like my children” doesn’t necessarily mean they are treating them like humans per se, it;s a way of relating the depth of their feelings for them..
if that makes sense,,, I just woke up..
September 4, 2012 at 10:35 am
Oh, I do respect my birds as birds believe me!! I also don’t talk “Down” to them if you mean like baby talk. I talk to them as equals as I do my real children. I believe that is why my birds talk so much and understand as well, is because I talk, read an converse with them as people. If we treated our birds as strickly birds like the sparrows at our feeders, we wouldn’t be talking to them at all, we would just admire them and walk away! Yes, agreeing for the sake of agreeing is way too boring!! Education though conversing is more important!
September 17, 2012 at 9:47 pm
Nice article. I found it very interesting. Thanks for sharing this.