Introducing A New Member To The Flock

Introducing A New Member To The Flock

While introducing a new parrot to the flock is a very exciting time for us humans, it can also come with a lot of anxiety for us and stress for our parrots but the team here at Soaring Wings Training are ready to set you up for success. The first step when considering welcoming a new parrot to your flock is to ask yourself if you’re actually ready to be a slave to another bird! This may sound silly but we have to be realistic and not let the excitement overrule the logic. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Can you afford to own another parrot? Remember, it’s not only food, toys and treats you need to consider but also the possibility of any veterinary care.
  2. Do you have space for another cage? It isn’t realistic to assume parrots will get along enough to share a cage so you need to make sure you have space for another adequately sized cage.
  3. Do you have the time to train and interact with another parrot? Whether you’re considering venturing down the path of freeflight or not, all parrots require basic training such as step up training, they need this interaction to keep them stimulated.
  4. Are your current parrots ready for another flock member? Adding another member to your flock will drastically change the flock dynamic (this includes their interactions with you), if you have parrots that already don’t get on or parrots that are still doing basic training it may be best to wait to add to your flock.
  5. Will you outlive your new parrot? If not you need to make a plan for your flock, our parrots live long lives which often means they need to be rehomed, not planning for the future adds to the already large list of parrots looking for homes.

If you answered yes to the 5 questions above you may be ready to add another member to your flock! Then it’s time to consider which species would be best for your lifestyle (can you handle loud noise and constant cleaning?) and your flock. We usually promote same species interaction, after all parrots are flock animals so having another member of the same species is more natural for them. Although there may be reasons another member of the same species may not be appropriate, for example “two eclectus that are not a pair will often be hostile and aggressive towards each other” (Desborough). It’s so important to be knowledgeable about the species you already own and your parrot as an individual, in order to make an informed decision on which species to welcome into your home next.

Once you’ve decided you’re ready for another parrot and chosen a species you feel will fit well into your flock it’s time to consider disease testing your current parrots and your new parrot, ideally this will be done before the new parrot enters your home to minimise the risk of any disease spread. This may seem trivial as avian disease is often brushed under the carpet in the parrot world, but yes our parrots can carry diseases and allowing a new parrot to enter your flock without taking necessary precautions could be devastating. We always recommend you test for Avian Borna Virus (ABV), Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD), Polyoma Virus and Chlamydiosis. This is essential as parrots can be asymptomatic carriers of deadly diseases, quarantining alone is NOT enough! If this is the first parrot you’re welcoming into your home we would still recommend you test for at least Chlamydiosis as it is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be passed from parrots to humans.

When you’re finally prepared to welcome a new parrot into your home it’s important to introduce them to your new flock slowly, taking small steps improves your chances of success. Even parrots of the same species may not necessarily become the best of friends straight away (Kalhagen). It’s essential you house your new parrot in a separate cage to your existing parrots and be prepared that this may be their permanent living situation. Although parrots are flock animals they’re very similar to us in the sense that they choose who they like, it could be the case that they don’t get along at all or they may get along but need their own space when they’re unsupervised and that’s ok! Separate cages also help massively when trying to introduce your parrots to each other slowly (Stephens).

If your parrots have never been introduced to another parrot the first step may be as small as keeping them in separate rooms next door to each other so they can hear each other but not yet see or interact with each other.Once they’re all comfortable with hearing each other you can then move their cages into the same room, as far away from each other as possible, it’ll then be your job to assess their interactions and decide when you can move their cages closer together and when they’re finally ready to meet each other outside of their cages. Bonding activities are especially important during these stages of introduction, this can be something as simple as positioning their food bowls so they face each other at meal times. Encouraging foraging, whether in shreddable toys, reusable foraging toys or sprinkling some seed in a tray of bird safe wood chips can also be a great way to build a positive association between parrots. Some other ways to encourage bonding include joint training sessions and overall rewarding calm, positive interactions. As always, positive reinforcement is your best friend when working with your parrots.

Works Cited

Desborough, Laurella. “What one must NOT do with eclectus parrots.” Laurella Desborough’s Eclectus Centre, 20 August 2017, Accessed 23 August 2022.

Kalhagen, Alyson. “How to Introduce a New Bird to Your Parrot.” The Spruce Pets, 3 August 2019, Accessed 25 August 2022.

Stephens, Carrie. “How To Introduce Parrots To Each Other [Keeping Two Parrots Together].” All About Parrots, 2022, Accessed 25 August 2022.

Written by Hannah Green