I know that everyone thinks it is really cool to allow your birds to ride on your shoulders, however there are many dangers in doing this. It is a privilege that some bird owners do allow, once they know their birds well and are prepared to accept the consequences should they happen. New bird owners should always be cautioned however, this isn’t something you should try with larger parrots until you know the bird very well and are fully aware of all the things that can happen while that lovely bird is perched on your shoulder. Even smaller birds can cause some damage to your ears or face should they suddenly decide to nip!
Knowing your bird and his body language is so very important. When you have lived with your parrot for a long time and have paid close attention to his body language you can see how he reacts to certain stimuli. No matter how loved and trusted you are with your parrot, they can bite at times without much warning. Knowing their body language well, can help prevent this. However if your bird is perched up on your shoulder then you will not be able to see their reactions and could get bit very badly, for seemingly no reason. There is always a reason though, it may not make sense to you, but it does to your bird. It can be the simplest of things, like a moth flying by, a shadow, someone entering the room suddenly, a sudden noise….the list goes on and on. So no matter how well you know your bird, bites can and have happened suddenly. I have seen pics of some very nasty bites to faces and ears and some by folks who felt their bird would never do such a thing.
Our Ozzy is very loved and trusted, we know his body language very well. He is still however a wild creature and suddenly he can react to things around him. We can touch him absolutely anywhere, we shower with him, we can open his beak and put our fingers inside for examining, we can hold him on his back and walk around the house with him like that. We have a huge amount of trust built up in our relationship with him! However I still never allow him on my shoulder. Why? well he has nipped at my ears a few times in the past, I do wear earrings and even though they are studs he would love to get them out of my ears asap lol. My husband on the other hand does allow him to ride or sit on his shoulder occasionally. Ozzy loves to sit on his shoulder while he is working on the computer ( for me he just tries to eat the keys 😦 lol ), but my husband understands that Ozzy could bite at any given moment. He is prepared and accepts this responsiblity and will never blame Ozzy for his own choice.
My parents had birds and their B&G Macaw would often ride on my father’s shoulder while he would be working about our home. He was an absolute angel and never tried to bite anyone. My father trusted him completely and had allowed the shouldering for years. One day as my father passed through a doorway that had a sign hanging from it, the Macaw must have not been paying attention and suddenly lost his balance. To straighten himself up, he grabbed for the closest thing and that was my Father’s ear :(. Needless to say the ear was ripped through and needed many stitches. Was the bird being vicious? no not at all, he just lost his balance. Did my Father continue to allow him on his shoulder in the future? LOL well he did, however he was a lot more cautious and knew the risk he was taking.
We also had a conure that loved to ride on shoulders, in fact his name was Ryder lol. He was a little fellow and very trusted and loved. One day he decided to take out a post earring that was in my ear, and he quickly flew off with it. He was such a little stinker and it took me awhile to retrieve my earring from him. I was mainly concerned that he might swallow it. I did finally get it back from him, after a nice game of keep away lol, but he had deeply imprinted his beak into the gold decorative ball. I still have that earring and wear it often, but I learned then that even little ones can do some damage while on your shoulder.
I have also heard some very sad stories of folks who had their birds on their shoulders and walked outside forgetting the bird was there. In some cases these birds flew off, and were never located. While this is not only incredibly sad for the owner, it can mean death for a companion bird that has no clue on how to survive in the wilds. In places where it snows the temperatures will definitely mean certain death.
So while I know and understand that a lot of folks allow their birds on their shoulders, I just wanted to remind those who are very new to bird companionship that there are many risks in allowing this. It isn’t something that I allow at all with any of my flock. All of my birds ride on my arm at all times.
These are just my thoughts and opinions 🙂
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