Wednesday, September 3, 2008


There are so many myths, half-truths, and misinformation out there regarding parrots. One I'd heard when we first got Max was that you should never allow beak to skin contact with your bird or risk having a biter.

As with so many things I heard and read during the beginning of our relationship with Max, that turned out to be false.

Allopreening -- where I scratch the parrot's head/neck area and in return get my fingers preened by the bird -- is an important bonding ritual that Thomas and I practice, to varying degrees, with all of our birds.

Sometimes the sessions are short -- just a second or two (especially with Daphne and the caiques whose attention spans are shorter than the greys) -- but they can be longer. It's up to the bird. Except with Stella -- I don't think she's ever been the one to call it quits!

When Stella wants to be preened (pretty much every night after dinner), she flies over to the couch, positions herself as near to my right hand as she can, bends her head and softly head buts me. How can I resist that? The other birds have different ways of letting us know -- for example Max will scratch her head with her foot while looking right at me and saying, "hello?"

I was reading on the couch last night and decided to take a video of Stella and me preening each other.

Also, I do tell the caiques it would feel better if they'd become friends and allopreen each other, but it's been falling on deaf ears for almost two years now. Given their sparse interactions, I truly wonder whether they realize they're both caiques?


Stephanie said...

Thta's what the birds do to me too - except Scooter does get over excited sometimes and starts chewing a bit.

Mary said...

Our caiques have been known to get a bit beaky at times, too! They occasionally need to be reminded to calm down!

Scooter is still so young -- I don't have much experience with young parrots, but they seem to not have a great understanding of how much pressure is too much :)

Mary Hughes Studio said...

That's too cute! I walked in on my cockatiels the other day and the female had her head sideways buried into the males side/wing has hard as she could while he had his head turned the other way as far as possible. She wanted a preening and he was resistent.It was a real battle of wills there and very funny. Wish I had a camera strapped to my forehead sometimes.

Mary said...

Mary -- my parents' cockatiels will do that as well. The female wants way more preening than her mate is willing to give :)

Dr. Chindogu said...

Alice, I was so glad to see this post. I too got a lot of bad info early on about touch, and was very concerned about handling Shadow much. But he has turned out to be a real snugglebug and it's soooo much fun for both of us!


Mary said...


Shadow is such a lucky bird! It saddens me how much incorrect information is out there. There's lots of good ifnormation, too, so I hope that people seek it out...

Was thinking about you this past weekend when Max was throwing a fit about something Beeps did because I know in that moment she was wishing she was still an only bird!