How to Get Pet Birds to Calm Down

by Susan Paretts, Demand Media Google
    Spend time with your feathered friend to prevent boredom.

    Spend time with your feathered friend to prevent boredom.

    When Polly becomes stressed, she can wind up with some pretty serious health issues. Calm your anxious avian friend by engaging her mentally and physically, so she won't feel the need to pluck out her feathers or squawk repeatedly throughout the day or night.

    Calm Environment

    Provide your pet bird with a calm, peaceful environment and space for her to feel safe. Birds are easily startled by people walking by their cages, birds flying around outside the window, loud sounds or even nature programming on television. To prevent upset, pick a spot in your home away from high-traffic areas, windows and noisy electronic devices. Place a cover around three sides of her cage so her view is limited. Choose a quiet spot that's still near where you do spend some time so she's not left alone and away from her human flock, "The African Grey Parrot Handbook" suggests.

    Sounds and Sights

    Play a little soft music for your bird a few minutes before bed each night so she associates it with feeling peaceful and sleepy. This way, if you play it when she gets especially anxious during the day, it will have an immediate relaxing effect. While you want to keep your bird's environment peaceful, it shouldn't be completely silent during the day because silence itself can be stressful, too. Instead, leave the radio or the television on to entertain her. Set the television to a children's programming channel that typically features shows that won't contain loud sounds or scary scenes.

    Environmental Enrichment

    A bored bird will become an anxious bird who plucks her own feathers, stops eating properly or vocalizes constantly. Provide your bird an array of toys to play with, rotating them every week or so. This keeps the toys fresh for your feathered friend. Stuff puzzle toys with her favorite foods so that she has to work for her meals, keeping busy. Share a little warm oatmeal with her to remind her of when she was feeding from her mama, a comforting behavior that allows her to bond with you and relax.

    Positive Reinforcement Training

    Never yell at your bird if she is shivering, screeching or throwing a fit. Such negative attention will inadvertently reinforce and encourage the behavior. Instead, ignore her when she's throwing a ruckus; give her attention, praise and treats when she's quiet and calm. This teaches her to remain calm more often to receive the attention she seeks. Use the same logic to teach her tricks to perform and phrases to repeat. By engaging her attention in reward-based training, she'll be too tired to be naughty. You can even teach her a "Calm" or "Quiet" command that you can say to calm her on demand. Reward her when she lightens up.

    Visiting the Vet

    If, no matter what, your bird appears stressed-out and upset even after taking steps to calm her, visit the vet. Your avian vet can rule out illnesses or injuries that could be causing her behavior, or may prescribe psychoactive medications to use along with behavior modification techniques to calm her.

    About the Author

    Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, crafts, television, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared in "The Southern California Anthology" and on Epinions. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.

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