Ken Globus

The Bird Whisperer




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Ups and Downs


by Ken Globus

The following  anecdote illustrates how one little word can be so misleading as to seriously harm the relationship between bird and owner. 

I got a call from a woman with a big, sweet, loveable macaw.  A great bird.  But she had one problem with him: he would step up nicely on her arm, but when she tried to put him back on its perch or playpen, he would hang on for dear life.  He just wouldn't leave.  My first assumption (which was wrong) was that the bird was simply enjoying the woman’s company and didn’t want to leave her.  It was a case of birdie separation anxiety, pretty common in the bird world 

Then I asked her to describe for me exactly what she did when trying to get the bird off her arm and onto his perch.  She explained that she held her macaw above the perch and said, “Step down.”  From having read about the “Step down” command in various articles and message boards, she took the words literally and was trying to get her bird to step down


Beak to Perch

While on the phone, I had her try walking through the procedure in a different way.  I advised her to take her bird to the perch and put its beak level with the perch.  That way it could use its beak as a third foot to support its transfer to the perch.  Then I heard a screech.  Lo and behold, that loveable lug “beaked” the perch and stepped cleanly up on it, something the baffled woman had been trying to get it do for 3 ˝ years. 

Ken brings this B & G to the perch beak high and it steps comfortably up

Most birds are not as comfortable stepping down as up. When they step up they can see the perch better, they can use their beak to help them, etc.   

Speak Venusian

Really, the word you use is not important (it can be French, Swahili or Venusian, as long as you're consistent.)  The action is what's important.  But words DO matter when it comes to misleading some bird owners.  So, for those who tend to take things literally maybe we can use a different command for our pet birds.  Instead of the  "Step Down" command, people might use "Off."  It's a minor thing, but by popularizing the "Off" command we just might help eliminate the kind of confusion "Step Down" caused the macaw and woman in this story for over 3 1/2 years.  



































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