Ask Lafeber


July 22, 2021

Meyers parrot

Follow up to my yellow nape. I do have a cockatiel. I was wondering how the Meyers parrots are with family’s


Hi Jaime,

OK, I’m glad you do already have a bird, so you have probably experienced some occasional behavior changes. The Meyer’s Parrots are great little birds, generally. As with any, there can be exceptions. Most are fairly quiet and gentle, but can also be a bit shy. They do sometimes exhibit the fearful behavior that some of the other African species are known for. It is not really understood why this comes up sometimes, and it can happen with a very tame bird, where suddenly the bird is fearful and doesn’t want to leave the cage. The Green Cheek conures do seem to be more consistent as far as having a good temperament, but some of them can also be a handful. Any pet bird is a gamble – not as much of a sure thing as a dog or cat. But if you can spend time with it before you bring it home, you can have a fairly good feel for the bird’s temperament. Another good species is the Hahn’s Macaw. This is one of the small Macaws, actually the smallest Macaw. There is a similar sub-species called the Noble Macaw, and they do not have the same temperament as the Hahn’s. Hahn’s are typically adorable, with a cute voice and personality to go with it. They do have a point on their beak that can be intimidating, but overall, they are good pets and if handled properly, can be good for a family. The most important thing with any species is to limit petting to the bird’s head and neck. It’s tempting to cuddle a sweet bird, but as it gets older, this triggers the hormones and can establish a mate bond, which usually turns it into a one person bird. Any of these species can inflict a painful bite, but are not as likely to bite as a mature Amazon, and won’t launch a vicious attack like a hormonal Amazon will. Cockatoos start off cuddly and cute, but once mature, they also can be dangerous when it comes to biting.

Again, handle any potential new bird as much as you can before taking it home, and once home, establish ground rules with the entire family, and discuss do’s and don’t’s where the bird is concerned. Make sure everyone understands that any pet bird can be protective of their cage, and a finger stuck through the bars is fair game. It helps to explain that birds are prey animals, so if you grab or poke at a bird, this triggers his fight or flight instinct and he will either poke back with his beak, or get scared and not trust you anymore. It’s also good to tell them not to take anything personally. If a bird doesn’t like someone, he has a natural reason – he may not trust that person, or he may have a preference to males or females. It’s not just kids who get their feelings hurt. I get the question all of the time “Why does my bird hate me???” It’s not hate – it’s either lack of trust or loyalty to someone else. This is where you explain to the child that maybe they move too quickly, or are too loud around the bird, or they sneak up on the bird even without intending to, or they pull back when the bird tries to step up. As you know, birds will use the beak to hold a perch or finger in order to step up. If a child pulls back, or lowers their arm, the bird loses trust. Cockatiels are much more forgiving, so they need to learn to understand a different species of bird. I hope you can find a good match for your family!

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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