Man. You're like the Obi-Wan Kenobi of birds lol.Tika and Amanda (my mentors) asked me to write this. This is what I’ve learned and this is what I believe.
We struggle to communicate with our animals. Some people can seem to get the most out of their pets and others think they can talk to them. Can we talk to our birds and can they talk to us? Yes. When I talk to my birds, what I’m actually doing is my best to “listen” so that when we are finished I feel that we have communicated. By observing and recognizing their signals and reacting properly, we have spoken.
Understanding the instincts of your bird is what will protect you from bad behavior. There is an instinctive need for them to protect their chosen, their food and area. When you get them away from their territory, that behavior diminishes or goes away. So many things they do, we have to understand and realize that a lot of it is out of their control. Just like we blink our eyelids there is some behavior they have to do. They can’t help it. Even professionals come across birds they can not control. They must do it because it’s instinct.
Success in handling these large emotional parrots comes from keen observation and learning those behaviors. We watch their eyes. We watch their crests and how they hold their wings and body feathers. How they stand and perch. When and why they call to us. Everyone has a certain amount of personal space. In my birds who are friends it’s about 3 ft towards each other. A very secure bird will have a smaller space. An un-secure bird will have a much larger space. When the two birds approach each other there is a protocol that they always follow. It does not matter if they are approaching each other calmly or if charging at each other. They never just walk directly up to each other and touch. Both birds stop at 3 ft. There is no prolonged eye contact. They glance at each other, mimic the others sound and head movement and look away. Slowly they start to turn their backs to each other and start to inch together. This is a way of showing respect/submission or non-aggression. All movements inside the 3 ft circle are very slow, cautious and deliberately non-threatening. They never make eye contact inside the circle. They feel each others presence and know exactly where and what the other is doing. Extended direct eye contact with a bird you have not bonded with is very threatening. That’s what predators do in the wild. Being allowed inside the bird’s personal space is the reward for being 100% trustworthy. You can tell when your bird trusts you when they approach and turn their backs to you.
With mutual respect and understanding we can control our birds. If we misread those signals from our birds, then we have created an “argument.” There is a standoff and usually a bird will tell you his side of the argument by lunging or biting you. Understanding their social structure in the wild is “everything” when it comes to communicating and training them to live with us in captivity. They have a certain hierarchy in their natural setting and expect things to be the same in captivity.
They react and respond to our emotions, our body language, our gaze, our gestures and stress like it’s their own. They are emotional mirrors. To be trusted we need to trust first. To receive love and kindness we need to show the same and those feelings must be genuine. We need to act like we want our birds to act. That means using “their” body language and projecting calm positive energy to speak to them. Watch, listen and mimic your bird. We must attempt to let them go to the cage in the most comfortable way possible.
To study how they behave and live in the wild is to understand their true needs and wants. They communicate with each other through a visual system of subtle movements and gestures. They have 2 goals in life, to survive and to reproduce. They are prey animals and instinctively live 365 days a year under the threat of being killed by predators, real or imaginary. If they didn’t they wouldn’t have existed this long. They react to human gestures the same way they would a predator. You may do things subliminally that you are not even aware of that you have in your make up but that bird will know. Such as flashing your eyes or darting your eyes. The way you blink. We don’t think about that, nobody does. A different tone of voice gets different mood responses. When they gesture towards us and we recognize it, we are communicating. Once they learn to learn, new behaviors can be added quite quickly. They do not speak to each other but they understand each other perfectly.
Communicate with your bird using “his” body language. Keep our eyes low and divert our gaze from them. Just our body language can instill a flight response. Our birds will not understand our words but will clearly understand our body language and gestures. An open hand with fingers out and reaching for a bird looks like a claw from a predator. Predators use claws to kill so they are very much attuned to that kind of motion. Reaching around behind a bird or putting your hand above their head instead of slowly approaching from the front or side. They never reach for each other; they invite the other to come to them with their gesture. Not letting them “beak” objects to reassure themselves of their decisions is another example. If they are afraid of the hand, close the fingers down “in his sight”, close your wrist down and slowly draw your arm into your body. Show him you are relaxing and that there is no danger. Drop your eyes and turn away on a 45 degree angle. What it’s saying is I respect you and I am not a threat. Let’s have a re-meeting and I will let you be chairman. There will be skeptics that laugh at these techniques but there is a language of signs and signals. Their eyes look right through us.
Communicating with your bird is not easy and there are no shortcuts. Familiarity and trust take time.
To find out how to better communicate with our birds, we need to learn how they communicate with each other. Birds can communicate beyond the realms of human senses. Perhaps by changing the way we see our birds we could learn some lessons. If we are prepared to watch and listen we will see that they have extraordinary perception far beyond the range of our own human senses.
If I could have any wish, it would be to “literally” talk to the animals.
Right now he is a very young, very impressionable bird. They grow up. Don't worry, this bird will cause you "many" hair pulling moments over the next 40 years.Is it possible to have such progress in such a short time? Is it him? Is it the approach?
Knowing that this journey is 40 years long, you've been traveling for 6 weeks. Of course you can't "read" him yet because you don't know him yet. All these things will become self evident with time and observation. Familiarity takes time and there is no shortcut.I get lots of different noises from him at different times and not sure what they all mean.
Guess its all the fun part of working each other out. I'm not sure but he does comes across as a bit of a sook. And I feel he begs to stay up when I put him to bed. The next day I almost get cries of you left me. Lol I could go on for 40 years of making stuff up of what he's trying tell me.
Right now he is a very young, very impressionable bird. They grow up. Don't worry, this bird will cause you "many" hair pulling moments over the next 40 years.
I'm a little worried about the adolescent stage I've been warned about. Like I dont want a bird that bites is unhappy or plucks. None of my other birds ever had any behavioural issues but Eckies just so seam so sensitive. It's like he already picks up on my moods. If im sad he tries to engage and if im super happy he tries to get me to do stuff with him. If im feeling that my husband is getting hours of attention he then pops over for a cuddle. If im busy he lets me do what I need to do. Oh unless he feels I've neglected him then hes on my shoulder nibbling on my ear or cheeks or flying somewhere then landing on me then flying. It's all very cute.
Knowing that this journey is 40 years long, you've been traveling for 6 weeks. Of course you can't "read" him yet because you don't know him yet. All these things will become self evident with time and observation. Familiarity takes time and there is no shortcut.
Are their certain ages you should try and achieve stuff by? Like when would be a good time to teach him tricks? Learn numbers and colours. At the rate hes going I feel I should be doing more but just going really slowly.
Sorry about all the questions. Really want to do everything right by this little guy. I just feel so lucky to be able to have such an intelligent creature share my life....and for 40 years!
@Aggie it's great that things are going so well! As John mentioned, he is still a baby and his behavior could change as he gets older (Eclectus are known to be hormonal when they reach maturity), and it takes a while to fully know one another, but I also experienced a very quick connection/bond with my rescued Eckie boy, so it is possible.Great article!
We have had our Eckie boy 6weeks now. The breeder let me visit and play with him before I brought him home. I'm not sure if it's the bird, the breed or my approach but things are going really well.
Each day he gets more affectionate and I get to do something new with him. He has already started to talk & whistle. If leaving the room and you call to him he will fly to me. He has even starred responding postively to the word 'no' if chewing something he shouldn't. He will either find something appropriate to chew or if I have to go over to remove him from something he will run or fly to me and be all cute and affectionate. I get little nibbles and cute little noises. Sometimes I feel this bird knows me better than I know him and really turns on the charm. Or maybe this is what Eckies are like?
Is it possible to have such progress in such a short time? Is it him? Is it the approach? I feel hes just amazing and want to expand on his ability. He starte talking at 5 months in only 5 weeks. I'm really carefully to not break the trust we have. I always go slowly with anything new and always praise good behavior. But I guess I don't always do the bird etiquette in the article.....but neither does my Eckie. My space is often invaded. Is it a breed thing?
Things are going so well and progress is very fast I am worried if he firstly gets enough stimulus especially when we are at work (I change toys and food offering frequent) secondly if im tapping into everything I possibly could be and thirdly am I missing something he is trying to communicate. I get lots of different noises from him at different times and not sure what they all mean. Most of them are very sweet and almost cooing in sound. Some sound inquisitive while others sound needy. If that's possible.
Thanks! I started a new thread@Aggie it's great that things are going so well! As John mentioned, he is still a baby and his behavior could change as he gets older (Eclectus are known to be hormonal when they reach maturity), and it takes a while to fully know one another, but I also experienced a very quick connection/bond with my rescued Eckie boy, so it is possible.
As far as species-specific eclectus traits, what I've learned is that every bird is different! My eclectus is quite an active, silly boy - if he isn't on me (which he'd like to be - he's quite a "velcro bird"), he's probably getting into something he shouldn't! He's actually more of a "handful" than my goffin cockatoo, which is NOT how I've heard many other Eckie parronts describe the species, so it always varies.
Eckies do often make the cute cooing sounds, and your boy is probably still trying out his "voice." By observing him when he makes these noises, you'll learn what he's trying to communicate (and hopefully he will learn that screams aren't always necessary, if he's able to communicate using his softer sounds .
Start a thread and post some photos and updates when you get a chance!
Thanks, it's been a journey I'm glad I took. I got Lurch after Nerd left me and he escaped last April due to a dumb mistake and now I have Dobby with a few more precautions so it doesn't happen again. They all were/are happy and the first two chose me, Dobby truly adores my sister but likes almost everyone he meets.
Nerd and I understood each other perfectly after all the years we had together. He knew his name, pretty sure he knew my name and had a name for himself. We spoke Pionus together and I knew all his noises and made our favorites back to each other. He had certain games and things that had to be done certain ways or he'd be very put out. He trusted me fully and I respected his boundaries and tried not to take advantage of it too much. I rarely got bit and if I did there usually was a reason we both understood.
Each bird is their own soul so they might be similar if the same species but their rules and body language and noises may be a bit different and it takes time to work things out together. Lurch was very scared and mad at first and I had to step back and earn his trust and learn to read him and let him learn to read and trust me. Dobby just loves everybody and is a very gentle and trusting soul so far with a mischievous little boy streak. He's pretty easy to read and prefers to step back and never bite, though he will fluff and bluff when put out.
They have a lot to say and teach you and will listen and learn things right back if you take the time to listen and respect them.