The traditional definition of a wingman is a pilot who flies just outside and behind the rightwing of the leading aircraft in a flight formation as a way of providing protective support. And, there is also the pop culture meaning of a friend or colleague who essentially “has your back.”
Have you ever stopped to think if you are your bird’s “wingman?” By that I mean, how good are you at providing support when your bird is around other people, be it visitors to the home or even among household members who might not have as strong a bond with your bird? Here are five signs of a good wingman as it pertains to the feathered kind:
- You set your bird up for success when hosting events in the home. You’re not afraid to tell guests what will and will not fly around your bird. You have an effective yet nice way of telling guests your house rules – no poking fingers in the cage, no feeding food without your permission, no handling your bird without your supervision, etc. Part of your party planning includes making sure everyone goes home happy and your bird ends his/her day on a happy note as well.
- You bring your bird out of the cage to where the action is, especially if he/she loves to be the center of attention or being in the thick of things. Birds are social creatures and most appreciate seeing what’s going on rather than hearing what’s going on from another room. You suggest ways for other members of the household or visitors to have positive interactions with your feathered housemate by showing them how to read a bird’s body language or how to initiate a proper Step-Up or Step-Down command, and you are respectful of those who might not share your enthusiasm for birds by not forcing interaction upon them or the bird.
- You take your bird to a vet clinic whose staff is comfortable and adept at handling birds, which is much more likely to be the case if you bring your bird to an avian veterinarian. Even if you have to drive out of town for vet visits, you are being your bird’s wingman by making sure he/she literally is in good hands when it comes to health care.
- You make your best effort to keep neighbors OK with the fact that you share your residence with a feathered companion. This is especially important if your bird has a habit of expressing himself/herself vocally. This might mean locating your bird’s cage away from shared walls or windows that might broadcast your bird’s vocalizations to the neighborhood. You give your bird plenty of busy work in the form of enrichment (toys to chew up, foraging opportunities, etc.).
- You strive to be a great bird ambassador to others by setting a good example. You keep a clean cage, feed a healthy diet and afford your bird quality interaction, whether that is ambient attention (e.g. sitting on a playgym in the same room as you while you watch TV or read) or direct one-on-one interaction (e.g. petting your bird, singing or talking to your bird, playing tug-a-war with a foot toy).