Ask Lafeber


August 29, 2018

My New Parrot Has Lost Her Love of Her Life…

Hello! I have recently taken a parrot out of an EXTREMELY neglectful environment. she used to have a friend that she loved more than anything with her.  I felt that was at least a little more acceptable that they were never taken out of their cage or played with or anything bcuz at least they had each other.  And if the male ever did get taken out of the cage the female would scream soooooo loudly and shake uncontrollably until he was put back in. But when he died recently my birds old owner kept her in the same cage and just covered her up day and night. I was sooo sad for her bcuz she just had to sit there and think about her friend being gone. So although I live in an apartment I made it work to be able to take her home and she has full run of the apartment now. She is 20 according to her band on her ankle and she’s never been hand trained before. But I’ve put so many hours into getting this bird to like me and she’s coming around thank god… she has serious cage anxiety bcuz she was locked in a small cage for like four years and never let out once. So I don’t cage her at all. I leave her cage door open at all times and she only goes in her cage to eat but makes a terribly sad sound the entire time she is in the cage always bcuz she’s still scared of being shut in I think. She has an entirely pink body due to ripping all of her feathers out.,,but she’s getting so much better already. I’m just wondering if I should look into getting her another male friend or not? Please help!


Hi Taryn,

I’m glad you were able to give this poor bird a better home. You did not mention what species she is, and this could help a lot when it comes to giving advice. I don’t recommend looking for a mate at this point, because there is no guarantee that she would even like the bird you choose. Right now you need to let her adjust to being in a good home, and give her time to get her confidence back.

A cage is not a bad thing – in fact it can offer a bird a lot of security. Sometimes when a bird is out all the time, this can actually cause more anxiety. It can also be very dangerous because it is much like leaving a human toddler unattended – except a parrot can get into a lot more trouble by chewing power cords or getting into medicine or even a houseplant that is toxic. If she is in the same cage she lived in before, you might consider getting her a new cage. Is her cage large enough?

It is best to try not to project human concepts onto her. While she may not have liked being locked in a cage all the time, her issues are probably based in other issues like the neglect and possibly verbal or physical abuse. She needs to be on a healthy diet, in a large cage with plenty of toys to play with. If she is afraid of toys, start with one at a time and fasten it lower in the cage, to the side of the cage – instead of hanging over her head. Also, establish a routine with her. Close her cage at night and maybe put a light cover over part of the cage, where she can still see out. Reward her for being in the cage with special treats. In the morning, establish a time for her to be out of the cage. When you can’t supervise her, put a treat in the cage to encourage her to return. Do the same when you have to leave the house. A routine will give her a feeling of security and help with her anxiety.

At some point the feather destructive behavior needs to be addressed. She may have a skin infection if she has done this for a long time. Sometimes the damage is permanent. Either way, an exam by an Avian vet is in order to rule out physical problems. Once she is OK internally and on a balanced diet and a good routine, you might have to think about putting a collar on her. The Vet will have to do this. And yes, it may cause a set back. But once a bird plucks feathers for a while, it becomes habit and sometimes a collar is the only thing that can break the habit.

Depending on her species, she is possibly still very young at 20 years old. She needs a long time to learn to trust people and enjoy life. Read what you can on parrot behavior and Nutrition. We have some great articles on this site that can get you started. If you post again, please let me know her species so I can give species specific advice for her.

Caring For Your Bird

Thank you for Asking Lafeber,



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