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Living With A (Congo African Grey Parrot)
Owning a Parrot, involves a lot more than just, "Food and Water." When a Parrot accepts you into it's "Flock", you must have the ability to wear many Hats! That is, assuming your Parrot likes hats! Some Birds will take issue with any and all head wear, that may be worn. Until your Parrot gets comfortable, and you gain it's trust, consistency, is the key!
One Hat you must wear, is a "Chefs Hat". A Parrot owner, must learn what a Parrots nutritional requirements are. These requirements, will differ, from Breed to Breed. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, are in order. Pellets, are used as well, to supplement diets. It is absolutely a requirement, as a responsible Parrot owner, to educate yourself.
One excellent Venue to obtain knowledge, is any one of the many Facebook Pages. Quality Parrot Groups, thrive on Facebook. I highly recommend, joining one of them.
Congo African Grey Parrots, are highly intelligent Birds. We have a "CAG" right now that is almost 4 years old. In just 4 short years of his life, Joker has learned over 100 different phrases, Joker sings parts of Songs as well. And talk about a "Sound Effects Machine!, Joker will imitate most anything he hears.
I suppose different Handlers, have different teaching methods, I know what works for us. Consistency, Consistency, Consistency! Don't expect your Parrot to instantly repeat what you say. At the same time, be careful what you say around your Parrot. You do not want to end up with what I refer to as a "Dirty Bird". A Dirty Bird, will cuss, and scream, and otherwise be very unpleasant. You might try for a month to get your Bird to repeat something. Then, one day, someone might yell out an Obscenity, next thing you know, your Bird is cussing, every time it senses stress in it's environment. This is not good, in my opinion.
One method I found that works for Teaching our CAG, is what I call "Class Time". This method involves, Creating a comfortable space for your Bird. A comfortable space may be, sitting on the couch with your Bird. Perhaps your Birds comfortable space will be on the Floor of the Living Room. Some days, our Bird will choose to remain in his Cage, and attend his Class Time. Wherever you and your Bird choose to create your comfortable space, is entirely up to your Bird!
When my CAG is in class, I ensure direct eye contact with him. This way I know I have his attention. I choose a word or a phrase that I want my Bird to learn. Here is an example, of what I mean by a Phrase. This is just one example of the many, many things, our Parrot likes to say.
This one is called, "Popeye". Joker will say, "I'm Popeye Sailor Man", then he waits till someone says, "Toot Toot", Joker will then say, "Uck Uck Uck Uck Uck", sounding just like Popeye.
When I started teaching our CAG phrases, I would sit in a chair right next to his cage. When he became comfortable with my chair next to his cage, it was easier.
Get the Birds attention, and begin! Eye contact was very important with my Bird. I would say a phrase, then wait for him to shake his head up and down. Once he shook his head, he was ready, and I would repeat the phrase. Repeating this process, many, many times. Now unless your Bird instantly repeats everything, you will need to be extremely patient! You may even begin to question your sanity! Trust me on this! It is worth all the effort.
While their are many different Methods for teaching a Parrot to talk, I am only relaying to you, what worked for me.
And yet again, another"Hat" you must wear, is that of Santa Claus! Parrots are very inquisitive. They love to explore textures, shapes, colors, even different scents. And it is because of this, that you must maintain, and rotate on a regular basis, a wide variety of Parrot approved toys. Toys that are safe as well as entertaining for your Parrot. This is yet another very important element of being a responsible Parrot Handler. There are many on-line pet stores that try and sell you their products. You must be extremely vigilant as to the quality and safety of what and where you buy.
Parrots are social critters. Being part of the Flock in good standing, is very important. You must involve your Parrot as much as possible, in your daily routine around the house. I have found that, having my Birds Night Cage in one room, and having a Day/Play Cage in another part of the house, is a good way to ensure they receive an adequate balance of sleep and alone time, as well as plenty of exercise and socializing. Once you establish a routine with your Bird, it is important to maintain this pattern. We have found our Birds require, 8-12 Hours of sleep each day.
It is very important to learn about all the different household chemicals, that might harm your Birds. Also, cooking pans need to be taken into consideration, as well. Teflon Coated Pots and Pans are extremely dangerous when used around Birds. This is yet another area, that a responsible Bird Handler, will educate themselves on. It is Imperative!
Your Birds Cage, must be kept clean at all times. Fresh Water must be provided, at least, twice a day. Food bowls must be kept clean. Any Fruits and Vegetables, must be removed after 2 hours, and should never be allowed to spoil, in a food bowl. Freshness is important to your Birds Health, as it is to yours.
Our Parrots act more like little kids at times. If we enter the room without first acknowledging one of them, they let you know about it right away! Parrots need to be interacted with constantly. It's just better that way. It is sad, how many people get Birds, and just let them sit in a cage!
And in closing, for today anyway, Please if you are considering a Parrot, as a pet.
Learn about them first! Be ready for your life to change. Understand the amount and enormity of responsibility that you are going to have to accept. A responsible and educated Parrot Handler, will never regret belonging to a Bird.
Last but not least. Actually, most important! As it is with most domesticated animals, their is an abundance of Parrots in shelters, and in Foster Homes, that are waiting for their "Forever Home", please consider being adopted by a Parrot, before you purchase anywhere else.
Are you ready to be owned by a Parrot?
© 2013 William W Whitten III