Tonawanda News — A few months ago, I acquired from my neighbors an 18-year-old white-faced cockatiel and two 6-year-old lovebirds. While the lovebirds will take seed from my hand, the cockatiel is proving to take a little more time. The training is not harder, it is actually the same – the bird on his own terms approaches me and takes treats from my hand when he feels comfortable. The difference is that he was not hand-reared.
Since he was raised by his parents, 18 years ago, he does not have an affinity for people. It doesn’t seem as if he dislikes people, but it would appear he is content being without me.
My 24-year-old Molucan cockatoo, much larger than the cockatiel, was hand-reared. Hand-rearing usually involves taking the chicks away from their parents and feeding them formula through a syringe.
Sometimes the baby birds are hand-raised because the parents can’t take care of them properly, or the parents of the birds choose not to take care of the smallest chick in the clutch. Back in the 1980s, it was suggested that parrots should be hand-reared by humans to raise the most perfectly well-behaved bird.
It was thought that the young birds learned self mutilation, obnoxious screaming, mate harassment and poor eating habits from the parents. For the past 30 years, bird breeders and pet shops started to advertise “tame and unweaned hand-reared baby parrots,” suggesting that it was beneficial to buy an unweaned baby parrot as young as possible to ensure that the parrot will become the perfectly tamed critter companion.
Those who already have a hand-reared bird – like my cockatoo – know that this is not the case.
The reason why I have my Molucan cockatoo is because the previous four places she has lived (one of them being a zoo!) did not want to deal with the obnoxious screaming, sexual behavior towards humans and poor eating habits that most likely learned from her human caregivers who hand-reared her to be the ‘perfect tame companion.’