Social isolation – A nest of information


Here is an article by Margaux Deman, recognized behaviorist, that I would like to share with you!

Very often future buyers prepare for the arrival of a single bird. However…

Keeping such a sociable animal alone is an aberration!

Indeed, having a single spoiled parrot in a golden cage is done. This is even the case with most of our dear captive birds. They often (hopefully) benefit from the attention of the human group and the care of a particular person.

Parrots are by their nature exclusive, forging close links with a limited number of individuals (regardless of the nature of each species, but also of their social experience).

Birds raised alone, in particular impregnated, are predisposed to pair with a human partner, and not a bird, for the good reason that this way of life can generate a phenomenon ofhetero-specific imprint: the bird will direct its social and sexual behaviors towards the species it meets, here the man.

Juveniles are very adaptable, regardless of the breeding method, they are in the learning phase and thehe experiences acquired will help to forge their future identity. Kept alone, they can adapt to such a way of life, due to their great adaptability (cognitive plasiticity increased with young age). But let’s not forget that these birds are and will remain wild animals (not domesticated, for the majority of captive species), with this famous nature which pursues them throughout their life, their own needs which must be met; question of balance, well-being and fulfillment.

Parrots are intelligent, they can learn, sure, but accepting loneliness is not compatible with this nature. Indeed, the Psittaciformes are prey, they are gregarious, that is to say that they live in groups, sometimes very large (several hundred to several thousand individuals). The social group plays a very important role, whether for efficiency in the search for food, security, various social interactions, reproduction …

Isolated birds are vulnerable, and these group effects cannot be realized.

In captivity, the gregarious instinct is still perfectly anchored in the mores of our winged friends, and if this were not the case, then they would not seek our company as much because they do not have that of their fellows. Moreover, new owners of young birds, or adult birds who have lived together will experience anxiety attacks when it is time to be away. Isolated individuals can initiate calls for several minutes or even hours ! These behaviors fade over time, with learning and habituation, but if the parrot is able to cope with them on the surface, that does not mean that this situation is tolerable for him.

Another important point is the permanent monogamy in the parrot. Most Psittaciformes form pairs, united for life or for long periods. It is the same in captivity, regardless of the breeding method.

An EPP parrot which suffers from the absence of congeners may form a couple with another (surrogate) species including humans.

Young people are often very sociable, with all family members at first, then with age they restrict their interactions with a small number of people and animals, which they consider to belong to the social group (although that – here is not constant for many species). This is a natural process of selection of social partners. From an early age the parrot prepares to pair. If the lucky one is a human, then many problems can arise in the future, especially when the bird reaches sexual maturity and its reproductive behaviors come to light.

Once an adult, a parrot will regularly enter the nesting period, a cyclical phenomenon triggered by environmental factors. A phase during which he will express a desire for reproduction. It is obvious that a human cannot meet such a demand. A fact that is frustrating for a mature parrot, partner of the hetero-specific couple he thinks he is forming.

During these periods, the parrots can be aggressive with the other members of the group (direct entourage), even towards the chosen human who does not respond to their request. Frustration, loneliness, incompatibility of the rhythms of human / bird life can lead the animal to express serious behavioral disorders: excessive cries, aggressiveness, stereotypies, even pecking.

Recurring disorders that push many humans to separate from their bird, especially during puberty, a period during which “unwanted” behaviors are exacerbated.

The congener is essential for the balance of any parrot. A solitary bird may very well never show any explicit sign of frustration, anxiety, or boredom about being absent from the standing group. But that does not mean that this individual thrives despite the constraint. He suffers from it without expressing it as significantly as others. Is this a reason for not responding to this need in its own right? Offering a congener is therefore essential.

Even though birds may not get along to the point of pairing, the presence of one is beneficial to the other, as, as explained earlier, these social animals feel safe only in the presence of the social group.

Often the owners are afraid of losing the bond they had with their only parrot. This is an unwarranted fear, and yet still very widespread. If the other bird makes it possible to express all the social-interactive needs and reproductive behaviors, the human friend is not neglected for all that. Parrots that have good contact with their healer won’t mind spending time with them.

It should therefore not be considered to adopt only one parrot for all these reasons and more.

However, adopting a second parrot is not a decision to be taken lightly, in order to achieve the fulfillment of the 2 birds, to make them accept each other in particular, it is necessary to proceed in stages and gently for a successful integration.


Margaux DEMAN,, copyright 2013


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