by Heike Ewing Ott
Have you ever wondered the best way to introduce a new toy to your parrot or how to get it used to wearing a bird harness? Many birds are afraid of new toys and other items in their environment, but this article offers some tips that should help.
Often if a bird is not initially enthusiastic about a new toy, I will play with it in front of him, or we will play with it together on the bed to spark interest in it.
When, on the other hand, I have birds that are afraid of new toys, I first hang them near the cage, then on the outside of the cage near the bottom. (Height is very important to birds and things are less threatening if they are “below” the bird.) Then it gradually gets moved up, and when I see them start to mess with it while it’s still hanging outside, I move it inside the cage. This avoids those “help it’s gonna KILL me!” panic reactions.
That reminds me of a funny story: One day at the clinic I casually tossed Buddy the Amazon a big chunk of broccoli out of my salad. He reacted by DIVING off of his perch and screeching at the big bad green broccoli monster from the opposite side of the cage, on the floor. Poor Buddy. I retrieved it, broke it into smaller pieces, and he ate it, but he will be teased about the killer broccoli forever more!
Introducing a Bird Harness to your Parrot
Harnesses: Disclaimer: This is just MY opinion and my experience, and I’m not responsible for anything if you try it!! I have a built-in dislike of anything that’s more expensive just because it’s labeled for birds. I buy rodent water bottles and dog rope toys because they are exactly the same thing and cheaper. Well, I noticed that the bird harnesses I saw bore an astonishing resemblance to the cat/iguana harnesses I had seen, so I bought the smallest figure-8 cat harness I could find and tried it.
It worked great for me, and here’s how I did it: Standing behind the bird, hold the harness in both hands by the “open” loop with the closed loop up and facing away from you. Slip the closed loop over the bird’s head, bringing the crossover point down to the back between the wings, then quickly bring both hands around below the wings. Then your hands (and the harness ends) come together under the bird’s belly, where you quickly slip the end into the buckle and fasten it. Then stand back and let the hissy fit ensue for a bit! I also let my birds play with the harness off and on for a few days, letting them see that it was a “harmless” object and become used to the sight and “feel” of it, before I ever tried to put it on them.
I have actually had them end up “hanging” in the harness, and seem quite comfortable except for wanting to grab something with their feet. BTW, because of the location of a bird’s windpipe, it’s almost impossible to “choke” them like you could a dog or cat – compression of the chest is the only thing that will interfere with their breathing.