Parrot Cage Sharing - 3 things to consider!

Cage sharing is a common "solution" to space issues or even humans that want their birds to reproduce. 3PR has not held back on telling you where we stand on a variety of avian issues - even if controversial. This is not because we think we are always right, but rather because these beliefs have been developed and refined over years of not only studying avian behavior, but by experiencing these issues first-hand with parrots at the shelter.

The topic of cage sharing is also controversial. 3PR feels strongly on this topic because as the insurance company says, "We have seen a thing or two."

A story that will help you understand our position...

3PR once had an Umbrella Cockatoo (U2) and a Citron Cockatoo housed in the same cage - it was said that they were "bonded" (simply stated - friends that like and need each other). These two seemed to be great friends, although it was difficult to pet the U2 because the Citron was very protective and controlling over the U2. They would preen each other with all of the cuteness that two bird friends have when they get along. This made us as humans feel good about the decision to keep them together. As time went on, the Citron continued to get more and more aggressive in her protection over the U2. Everyone was used to the U2 being over-preened/plucked, because this is how she came into the shelter. Everyone was also used to not being able to hand the U2 because the Citron would not allow it. At a regular meeting, the board was talking about current challenges at the shelter and this topic came up. It was mentioned that maybe we should put them in separate cages right next to each other to see how they did. The team was concerned about depression and other behavioral issues that might arise as a result of this change. To our amazement, the U2 started to come out of her shell. Within weeks, her feathers started filing in where she had previously been plucked. She became the FRIENDLIEST bird at the shelter and it was even determined to keep her as an Ambassador Bird to be taken into the community for outreach events. The Citron also came out of her shell and was able to focus on humans again, instead of her U2 friend, and she was soon adopted into an incredible home that loves her so, so much.

This stirred a lot of controversy in the local avian community as many humans wanted their opinions known that separating these birds "was not alright." The mission of 3PR dictates that the board makes decisions based on the "perfect" environment for each bird. Because of this, the opinion of many humans in the community did not matter because the mission required that the board make the best decision for these two birds. The board made this decision with a lot of push back, yet both birds became incredibly sweet and independent as a result. 3PR will always put the birds first, the mission requires it!

3 things to consider when caging birds together -

  1. Most of the time when 2 birds become "bonded", they no longer desire human interaction. This is great if a human does not have time to give to birds, but then we would ask, "Why did you get birds if you do not have time to commit to them?" Many humans do not realize this when wanting two of their birds to be friends or mates.

  2. Birds caged together may begin to have dietary issues because one will not let the other eat. This is a result of the alpha in the hierarchical ladder needing to constantly remind the other bird(s) that he/she is the boss.

  3. Birds are flight animals, fighting is not in their DNA unless they cannot escape danger. Placing two birds in one cage removes the ability for one bird to escape danger and fighting is the only result. Fragile does not begin to describe the anatomical make-up of parrots. A bite in the wrong place or a wing getting stuck in between the cage wires can be deadly.

3PR believes that birds need a space to call their own. It is one thing if birds like to be together throughout the day on a perch or even hanging out on top of the same cage together, but a bird needs its own space to eat and rest, just like in nature. This is not a statement against the many rescues in the U.S. that put birds together in cages once arriving and appearing to be friendly toward one another. Space is not limited at 3PR and this is something the board has decided against in the best interest of the birds in our care. Like any topic, there are exceptions and we understand this. In fact, there are birds currently in the care of 3PR that were relinquished "bonded" and share a cage because they truly do love each other and do not cause harm to one another. Others are relinquished "bonded" and it is clear that one is scared of the other after the medical intake and in-home foster period. We believe this is a topic that needs to be covered because it a question that is asked a lot in the avian community and this is where we stand.

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