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Desensitizing - Isn’t that what’s happening with violence on TV?

Rebecca K. O'Connor | Aug 15, 2007


Or was it violins on TV that we're being desensitized to? Either way, desensitizing can be a good plan for your bird.  Taking care to note a bird's discomfort with a new toy and helping him slowly overcome that discomfort and gain confidence can go a long way toward encouraging play. It is very easy to notice fear in a parrot that is thrashing in his cage or cowering in the back when you present a brightly colored toy and hang it from the center of the cage. I sometimes hear, "just put it in there. He'll get over it." True, he will get over it, but at what cost? You can lock me in a closet with a big spider and I'll stop jumping every time it skitters eventually. I'm certainly not going to touch it or trust any new spiders that appear though. I don't want my parrots to "get over" their scary toys. I want them to play with them. Desensitizing is a kinder and more effective means of introducing something new and potentially fun.

If you frequently see something and ultimately it is of no threat to you, then you cease to be afraid of it. That is the idea of desensitization. That new toy should remain far enough away from the bird that he shows no signs of fear. Watch for the subtle ones, not just the feather-breaking shrieking variety. If he arches his neck, pulls he feathers tight, shrinks further back in the cage, the toy is too close. When your bird appears comfortable, move it closer a few feet always leaving the toy within the comfort range. You may have to leave it across the room for a day, halfway across the room the next, hang it from the outside of the cage before you put it inside etc. This process my take an hour or it may take weeks, but by the time the toy is inside, you can be certain you parrot is comfortable with it, more likely to explore it rather than cower from it. Even better, you can feel confident that you haven't been responsible for something undesirable happening to your friend and harmed your relationship in any way. (For the record, if you lock me in a closet with a spider we can no longer be friends.)