Build a Trusting Relationship with Your Parrot and Lower the Volume - A Guide to Playing Marco Polo

Kathy LaFollett
How many of us shout across our house to locate a partner or child? So why are we expecting our companion parrot to be quiet?Photo byAdobe Express Pro

Parrots are loud. Parrots need to communicate. Their prime directive is flocking, which is loud. A parrot lifestyle includes sounds. All kinds of sounds made in voluminous ways for all kinds of reasons. Humans are not good at communication. Parrots are professionals.

How does a person communicate with their parrot so that their parrot doesn’t need to scream? How does a parrot see living with a human in a house? A parrot’s expectations directly affect a parrot’s volume. A loud yelling parrot has something to say for a reason. If you learn the reasons, you’ve found the volume knob on your bird. To turn down the loud, turn up your awareness.
A scarlet macaw calling out at 130 decibels because no one is answering the flockcall.Photo byKathy LaFollett

Parrot expectations that affect their decibel choice.

  • A parrot can do and be anywhere. Flying is a parrot’s superpower. This instinctive truth has a head-on collision with the reality of living with a human. Loving a parrot costs them their active freedom of choice. We owe them choices. They need a job. Careers that offer options to investigate, consider, reject, or accept. We owe them a lifestyle that reflects their nature. You don’t ask a cat to heel, and you don’t expect a box turtle to use a litter box.
  • Parrots expect to forage. Their brain tells them so. Foraging employment opportunities is mandatory for a parrot’s state of mind. Your bird wants to find surprises and foods. A bowl of chop, pellets, and parrot mix is also mandatory. Things will get messy. They are supposed to be messy. Parrots are messiest when they are happiest.
  • Parrots want to chew trees. Their brain tells them so. A parrot that chews your furniture is foraging for mental health. Your bird needs a mental workout. Parrots climb as much as they fly in the wild. You’ll do well to keep them mentally and physically working by creating a cage full of option specific parrot toys. You don’t want an unemployed parrot.
  • A parrot is looking for a flock. Parrots want a relationship. Trust isn’t earned until you’ve proven yourself trustworthy. A lifestyle choice requires lifestyle change. You want a parrot, and they want a relationship. A parrot isn’t looking to be a pet.
  • Yes, you can lower the volume. A game of Marco Polo will do it.
A scarlet and blue and gold macaw watercolor art.Photo byKathy LaFollett

How many of us shout across our house to locate a partner or child? (I know I do!) So why are we expecting our companion parrot to be quiet?

Flock calling is a game of Marco Polo. Parrots who get feedback are quieter parrots. Because over countless flock calling events, you, the flock member, have always answered. Your parrot trusts you, is less anxious, and calmer because you answer back.

Try this exercise next time your parrot is making a ruckus.

  • Call out their name. Do it again.
  • Listen to their call back. Soon it will be a game of Marco Polo.
  • Lower your voice, call.
  • You’ll find they have lowered their volume to match yours.
  • You can change their flock call to a sound, word, and volume you prefer by answering their call with what you’d prefer to hear.
  • Try calling first when the house is quiet. Just call out their name. Listen to their call back. Marco Polo is a powerful tool for creating trust.
  • Parrots love games that involve you.

Listen to the birds in your neighborhood. Songbirds sing. Raptors call. Crows communicate incessantly. Boat-tailed grackle are notorious in their noise making. They create a loud bongo sound with their wings. Here we have gull. Hundreds of gulls. Calling and laughing all day long as they swoop from the Gulf of Mexico and back to Tampa Bay.

A parrot is loud naturally. There is nothing wrong with a loud parrot. There is something wrong with our expectations. Everyone needs to feel needed. And everyone needs to feel part of a family. And no one has ever played a game of Marco.

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Florida author, speaker, and wildlife/companion animal advocate writing about life in the Sunshine State from my cityscape, St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg, FL

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