Lately, we’ve had several people who have had questions about their fear of touching or even getting close to their African Grey. Granted these parrots do in fact have very strong beaks and it’s possible you could get seriously hurt if one chomped into you there are things you can do to prevent this. Here are my thoughts on the best steps to overcome these fears!
This happens to be a very common problem. It’s not uncommon for a man or woman to see a big beak and for whatever reason, they just can’t overcome the fear of being bitten.
Interestingly enough this person never mentioned that her bird had actually never bit her. We’ll assume for now the bird in the past has bitten her and she’s not just dreaming up this fear.
No amount of training advice will help in this situation. To fix this problem she has to eliminate the bird’s ability to hurt her. The most common way to do this would be to protect your hands.
I would recommend putting on a pair of thick work gloves. You can even get some falconry gloves that are made to handle the sharp talons of predatory creatures. Lots of people will try to disagree that you should not use gloves when handling your parrot and up until recently I would have agreed. However, I figured out a way that I talk about other times when using gloves is really providing excellent results.
You won’t be trying to pet your bird with these gloves or grab him, or anything that might scare your bird. If I were this person I would have my husband take the bird out and put it on a nice flat table. I’d set my glove on the table palm up and would practice targeting the bird closer to, around, and eventually on top of my thick glove.
It’s the perfect way to slowly teach the bird that the glove isn’t scary, give you practice with handling your bird without the fear of being bitten, and give you the one-on-one interaction you need to start to learn how to read your African Grey’s body language so you can start to see predictor body language that telegraphs when you’re going to get bit.
So if fear is an issue that’s keeping you from developing a relationship with your parrot, go grab a pair of gloves and I think you’ll be a lot better off. Remember not to use the gloves in a way that your bird becomes scared of them like grabbing him and pulling him out of his cage but only as a way for you to overcome your fears of the bird.