Pikes Peak Parrot Rescue gets this question a LOT! Let's start with the motivation of why one would want two birds to meet. Birds are flock creatures. Birds are also fight-or-flight creatures. Birds will typically only "fight" out of fear as they are fragile and even the slightest injury can mean death in the wild. Adopting from 3PR means that you have learned and/or understand that everything one does with their newly adopted bird is with their safety in mind. The benefits to birds being friends can mean a lack of lonliness. However, adopting from 3PR also means that YOU are giving your bird enough attention that they do not NEED a friend.
Same species/same size is a general rule that 3PR abides by. Birds of the same species know that they are the same. They also know when they are different species and a connection between different species is rare, although it does happen.
Cage visit. This is the safest 1st step and is achieved by moving both cages next to each other and observing each bird's behavior. Are they "threatening/threatened" (mouth wide-open and darting heads at each other - feathers puffed up with tail feathers spread) each other or simply ignoring the other. If they do not appear to be overly stimulated over a period of a few hours. It is most likely safe to move to step 2.
Neutral Space. We are assuming that both birds do not have the ability to fly freely when meeting in a neutral space. Birds are quite territorial. Bringing both birds into a neutral space levels the field and neither will feel a need to protect something that they are used to. 3PR recommends putting birds on separate stands at least a few feet apart and again, study the body language. If birds are not going to get along, you will see the "threatening" behavior start to be exhibited as you move them closer. Let the birds experience this for a few hours each day for at a least a week, you will see them start to relax with time. Once they are relaxed in this environment, you can move to step 3.
Same stand. You can now "assume" that both birds can be safely placed on the same stand with at least a foot or so between them. You may see dominant behavior exhibited when doing this and you may see humble behavior exhibited. We have observed one bird "push" another bird off the stand or most often, they simply ignore each other and with time will even nap next to each other. There is a safety for them in being with another bird as they have another set of eyes looking/listening for danger.
The goal of 3PR in "bird friends" is always to enhance the life of a bird with a friend, but never with the intent of housing birds together. Birds need their own space. There are more risks to housing birds together than there are benefits. We do not believe the risks ever outweigh the benefits. You may see rescues and shelters house birds together and that is their right, it is simply not something we need to do for space and we do not believe it is best for the birds as driven by the mission of 3PR.
As always, come in and talk with us as advice is FREE and so is the coffee!
~ The 3PR Team