Passive Bonding: The Overlooked Parrot Bonding Technique

When we bring a parrot home for the first time, it can often be exceptionally exciting. We are all so eager to interact with them and welcome them into our home and family.

It’s no surprise that we often end up wanting to directly interact with our new feathered friends by getting them out of the cage, poking our faces at them, wanting them to step up or just being the funny and cute pets we know they can be.

Some parrot trainers even recommend a robust approach when bonding with parrots. For example getting them straight out of the cage and letting whatever happens, happen. This can work with some parrots especially larger ones, but we often feel it causes more harm than good.

Which leads me on to today’s topic: Passive Bonding.

Passive bonding is quite literally what it sounds like; working on bonding with your parrot without direct interaction. We’ve found this, from our own experiences at home and professionally to be an amazingly useful technique and it’s also one that requires little to no effort from us!

It’s a technique that often gets overlooked in favour of direct training, treating, hand training in cage and the robust approaches mentioned earlier. All of these methods can be highly effective, but if you use them as a follow up to passive bonding exercises we find them to be even more useful.

Imagine yourself as a parrot. Imagine now you’ve just been taken from your flock or the place you’re used to and have been put into a new environment with new people, creatures, places, things. It’s pretty scary. It’s like moving to a new home in a new country for us. It can be very disconcerting and confusing.

Then imagine someone whom you’re not sure about, thrusting their face at you or taking you out into that environment really quickly and expecting you to adapt and be happy with it. Some parrots will thrive on this as they are all individual personalities. But they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

Many will panic, bite, close up or be worried, and it’s not unexpected. We all want that magical moment that they come out of their cage and bond with us instantly. I’ve had that in the past and learnt my lesson from trying to replicate it with a different bird. It ended up in a crash and a small graze on the nares which I felt really guilty for.

We can avoid all of this by adding passive bonding into our bonding routine. It’s not quite the same as just leaving them in the cage to settle for a day. It involves just being around our parrots. Just sitting doing what we usually do but in a slightly more mindful way. This could be sitting fairly close to the cage and scrolling on social media. It could be watching the TV but with the volume slightly lower.

It could even be listening to music and reading a book fairly close to the cage but not right in front of it. Why is this important?

This allows your new friend to get used to you, your routines, your sounds and movements. It also teaches them that even if you’re in close proximity to their cage that you won’t always be moving to grab them or directly try to interact with them. (This point is especially useful for rescues.)

It also allows our parrots to get used to their new environment in a controlled and calm manner. They are already having to settle into a whole new home and letting them do that first, before moving on to more direct forms of bonding can be so useful for their confidence.

The length of time we practice passive bonding can be adjusted based on how our parrots react. If they are nervous you may need to do it for a little longer, if they show confidence and willingness to interact you can move on to active bonding quicker and begin using techniques such as treating through the bars or initial step up training.

It can even be useful for already established relationships with our feathered companions. Both Sophie and I still work on passive bonding techniques on occasion as it reinforces our bonds with our parrots and allows us to still work or do our own thing. It can be especially useful if you’ve had a break in trust and just need to reset the scales.

Passive bonding is one of those parrot bonding and training techniques that should always be kept in the back of our minds when working with parrots. It may not be as exciting and direct as training, but it will always be useful.

2 thoughts on “Passive Bonding: The Overlooked Parrot Bonding Technique

  1. Amazing post. 👏 this is exactly what I’m doing with my new adoptee and she’s really taken very well to it! I’ve had her 1 week today and each day she is getting more and more comfortable! Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: