You’ve met Paddy, our green-cheeked Conure before. He’s the parrot who sometimes thinks he’s a dog.
Well Paddy also has some other strange perceptions about himself. He seems to think he is this helpless little creature who needs to sit and squawk until someone comes to carry him to wherever he wants to go
Now Paddy was fully-fledged when we got him. His wings are not clipped and he will certainly fly if he is startled. I’ll admit some of his problem is caused as a direct result of Mum and Dad being a bit too protective and over indulgent. We’ve treated him more like our baby than a pet. But apparently this problem is fairly widespread among domesticated parrots – they really do forget how to fly, except as a response to fear.
We watched the parrot training videos and tried to retrain Paddy to fly – but he refused to cooperate. Now we’ve hit on the idea of at least showing him that he can walk from place to place. When he squawks to go from his cage to the filing cabinet where he loves to play (yes, he has his own filing cabinet to play in), I will take him down from the cage and put him on the floor. I will then walk along in front of him and encourage him to follow. It’s a slow process and he will often head for the nearest chair to climb on rather than to complete his journey to the filing cabinet. But he is learning.
This morning he was in his filing cabinet, but I was in the kitchen doing the breakfast dishes. He started kicking up a fuss because he wanted to come and see what I was doing. So I decided to teach him that the reverse applies. He can walk from his cage through the kitchen, into the lounge to his filing cabinet, and so he can just as easily walk from the filing cabinet into the kitchen. For some strange reason this new concept seemed to completely throw the little fellow. He sat there on the floor, squatting and quivering and wanting to be picked up. Finally, instead of taking the extra few steps involved to get him into the kitchen, he climbed up onto the back of the sofa and squawked at me to carry him from there.
Paddy understands how to climb across the furniture from his filing cabinet to reach us at the computers, and even how to reach us by walking across the floor and climbing up Dad’s leg. But he doesn’t grasp the concept of extending his walk to reach the kitchen or any of the other rooms. He can see them. But he seems to feel trapped within the small area in the living room, or on his cage and play pen in the laundry.
Eventually, with a lot of patience of our behalf, Paddy will come to understand that he can actually go wherever he wants to go. Even if he doesn’t want to fly, he can always walk. He just has to look in the direction he wants to take and follow his beak. Right now his only limitation is his grasp of directional travel.
And isn’t that exactly what it’s all about for us too? It’s not enough to know what you want to do and where you want to go in your life. You need to take the necessary steps to get there. You are really only limited by your own confidence, and understanding of the principles involved.
©Lyn Murphy 2011