Thursday, July 28, 2011

yet another parroting fail

I read recently that a good way of disciplining a parrot is to flick the parrot on the beak with a finger. The rationale is that in the wild, the alpha parrots bite the other parrots on the beak to express disapproval of their behavior. I was happy to read this tip, as disciplining parrots is very difficult. The sorts of disapproval so potent to the children (particularly forceful stares, pointed remarks, threatening the withdrawal of video privileges) are meaningless to a parrot. Shouting at a parrot is stupid, as parrots love nothing more than noise. Swearing at a parrot is a terrible idea, as parrots who learn to swear are unpopular and often cannot find new homes if need be.

The only real parrot-discipline tactic we have is time-outs in the cage, and that only works if you and the parrot are both near the cage at the moment of parrot naughtiness. If you're upstairs when the parrot misbehaves, plenty of time elapses before you get the poorly behaved bird downstairs and into the time-out, and with a less-intelligent parrot like Piggle, it's dubious she understood what caused the confinement.

Another technique for getting parrots to submit to a person's authority is to physically tower over the bird. Like flicking the beak, this is also based upon the psychology of the species, as parrots perch according to pecking order, with the alpha bird always up top. But again success is dependent upon where the parrot misbehaved. While I have been known to climb on top of a chair or even a table to make a point to our green parrot, there isn't always a suitable piece of furniture nearby.

So while I would never strike a pet (and I've never spanked either Iris or Lola), a flick on the hard shell of the beak struck me as potentially a good idea, and I resolved to try it. This morning Piggle flew from her tree over onto the bed before I'd gotten up. She was rowdy and unpleasant, being a bit rough, and I flicked her on the beak with my finger. She immediately pecked me on my nose. I flicked her on the beak again. She pecked me harder on my nose. There was then an unpleasant standoff, both of us glaring at each other.

Evidently parrots do indeed naturally bite each other on the beak to express disapproval, and evidently Piggle thinks I'm in need of some beak-biting discipline. This all reminded me of a bad parenting cliche, spanking a child to punish them for having hit another child, all the while shouting, "I don't know where you picked up that behavior!"


hughman said...

oh no you di'int.

Carroll said...

If you had only been able to assume the power position by leaping up on top of the headboard before leaning menacingly down to perform the aforementioned beak flicking reprimand I'm sure you would have prevailed.

Jen in VA said...

Reminds me of the time I tried spanking my oldest. The next time she got upset with me she smacked me right in the face. I was so stunned! I couldn't believe this 18 month old child was hitting me until I found myself telling her "You do not hit! If you hit again you'll get a spanking... ooohhhh." I turned to DH and said "Yeah, this won't work."

Dread Pirate Davi said...

Makes me think of how cats, when believing themselves to be the alphas in the house, will not cover their feces in the catbox. It doesn't help that the humans in the house flush their offending waste; this reinforces the alpha delusion. I've often been tempted to use the catbox, just to make a statement. I AM BOSS HERE. YOU ARE NOT. COVER YOUR SHIT.