From Flock Call A Cage with a View
written by Kathy LaFollett
Creating a larger visual environment around a parrot’s cage, will have an exponential effect for a parrot’s comfort. There’s a reason we buy homes with lots of windows. And there’s a reason we decorate our home with things we love, art that speaks to us, and photos that remind us of those that are important to us.
That same visual environment is required for our parrots. If you are house proud, or a “Martha Stewart” home creator, you may want to double think the idea of a parrot. You have to give up ground to them. You have to marry yourself to the idea that they need a free range area or areas that are parrotriffic, not HGTV designed. Interior design rarely says, “put that furniture right in front of the window so you can’t see the view.” But parrot design says, “put the cage in front of the window so THEY can see the view. You won’t see as much of course.”
Visual environmental design is a simple but thoroughly creative process. If your windows are small, or you just can not put the cage right in front of them for a reason of comfort, traffic or vents, there are a number of other solutions that are just as powerful. Near a window with line of sight and visual environmental design cues can really do the trick.
Some know I have painted all the walls in our downstairs area with murals of natural scenes. Mangroves, intercoastal waterways, palm trees and Floridian underbrush. I painted a tree canopy on one ceiling above a large tree stand that is positioned directly under it. These are environments. They aren’t real, and I do not think the flock believes otherwise, but they add a visual difference. Something to ponder. A feeling as well. Snickers’ favorite spot in the whole house is under the Tree Canopy ceiling next to the mangrove painted wall, top of the tree stand. He reaches up and tongues the leaves at times. Any time of the day, he prefers there. Kirby prefers right in front of a window if he has to be in his cage. Butters prefers the brightly lit bird room with palms over 40 feet of wall.
Offering visual environments in different locations as well as near or in front of their cage is a vitality generating move. Parrots need choices. They thrive in a choice based world. Given choices, a parrot is stimulated, thinking and exploring. Giving defined choices takes that parrot to a controlled stimulating, thinking and exploring place. Parrots wonder and get into trouble when they are bored, or when their place has become less than an area you have setup for yourself. Which takes us back to giving ground up to your bird. You define your rules by the environment you create.
Don’t expect a parrot to find a tree stand with one hanging toy and a bowl of something to trump a stack of magazines with a TV remote on top. That tree stand will loose that contest. Never expect a parrot to behave well in a home not parrot proofed for their way of thinking. It is unreasonable, and unfair.
BUT, let’s say you create a tree stand inside a visual environment described as follows: You have the tree stand positioned near or in front of another window, outside is a bird feeder for viewing. The tree stand itself has multiple perches creating a 2 or 3 story climbing event with toys, and foraging bits and crumpled newspaper with nuts stuffed inside. There’s a bell that rings whenever your parrot pulls on a rope full of straws cut up and tied up. The bell is hidden, so they haven’t discovered where it is yet. They have to figure that one out. On the wall behind the tree stand in a shadow box you’ve hung. In the shadow box is a picture of them!
Now compare that to your magazines. Of course you put the remote away. No one leaves a remote out in full view if they have parrots. And those stacked magazines just became invisible com”parrot”ively speaking.
A view starts with a window, but it is so much more than that. Take a walk through a Kindergarten classroom. You’ll find colors, shapes, objects stacked, bright pictures on the wall, blankets and carpets full of color and pictures. I have a rug for children that has a picture of a town on it, so that the child can drive his toy car around. Butters and Snickers love that rug. I buy big oversized lego like toys for them. They love those blocks. I put the blocks on the rug and soft jingley baby toys as well. They fly back and forth up and back from the tops of their cages playing on the rug and gathering up the toys to put on top of their cage to play there. Back and forth, up and down. Then they throw everything off, I reorganize and they start all over again.
A well behaved parrot starts with a well defined and well designed visual environment. Give up ground, fill it with parrotriffic items and views, and you will have a happy, mentally healthy parrot who tends toward excellent behavior because you gave him excellent choices to choose.