It is possible to bond with an older African Grey Parrot. You can, with patience and determination, generate a bond with your bird that will give you joy and pride. I have always heard that an African Grey Parrot will only bond with one person and that you should purchase your bird as a baby in order to have the closest bond with your bird. This is partly true; the best bonds are made with younger birds. However, this is mostly an old wives tale. A bird will bond with whoever it learns to trust and depend on. It’s true that the bond is easier to form with a young, fully-weaned African Grey, because a baby bird will develop the bond faster, at least until they become an adult. It is important to continue the steady attention that you give your bird throughout their life in order to keep the bond strong.
I purchased my African Grey when she was just turning one year old. My bond with her is not as close as it would have been if she had been younger, but we have a rewarding relationship in spite of that. If you have come into possession of an older African Grey Parrot, do not despair, because you can develop a bond with your new bird.
Your bird needs her safe spot. I am assuming that you have purchased the proper cage for your African Grey, giving her plenty of room to spread her wings and move around. You should also purchase a neutral spot for your bird. I never take my bird physically out of her cage. I open the door and allow her to come out on her own. After she has ventured out, you can move her to your neutral area. A perch playpen is a good choice for this. Your bird will need plenty of stimulation for her mind and the opportunity to exercise by climbing and playing with toys. Do not make the mistake of leaving your bird closed up in her cage all the time. Imagine if you were locked in a room the size of a bathroom and could never see or do anything outside that small space.
Be prepared to be bitten. Your new African Grey Parrot will bite you, and you must react in the proper way to those bites. If you learn to fear your bird’s bites, and pull your hand away, you are giving her exactly what she expects. Never pull your hand away from a bite. It will only encourage her to lunge toward you and bite more. If you fail to react to her bites, she will eventually stop biting. It wouldn’t make sense to do something that doesn’t work, would it?
Talk to your bird
An African Grey Parrot’s intelligence rivals that of a five year old child. When you hear one talking and responding to questions you will believe that. African Greys are prolific talkers. It seems as if their vocabulary is never-ending. To encourage the bond, sit near your bird frequently. Talk to her, and offer her treats. She will be interested in what you are doing, and your bond will strengthen over time.
Holding your bird
It will take some time before your bird is confident enough with you to allow you to hold her. Stay near her and talk to her. Pay attention to what your bird is interested in. A toothpick can be a terrific ice-breaker. Play with a toothpick in your hand and your mouth and watch what she does. If she shows interest, offer it to her, and while she is focused on the toothpick, place your hand against her body above her feet. If she is ready, she will step onto your hand. It’s a good idea to use the side of your hand with an African Grey. One finger usually does not give them a sense of stability. When your bird has learned to trust you, you might try allowing her to perch on your shoulder.
Pay attention to your bird
The most important aspect of bonding with an older African Grey Parrot is to pay attention to your bird. Talk to her frequently, hold her when she allows, scratch her head, and play with her toys together. You can work on training her. An African Grey will learn almost any behavior that you spend the time and effort to teach. Spending lots of time with your bird will develop your bond faster.
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