Soon after we put a mirror in our parakeet's cage, we found it smeared with some kind of milky goo. He keeps wiping his beak on it. Should we remove the mirror? We gave it to him because we thought he might be lonely.
K.F., Silver Spring, MD Jul 10, 2011
I appreciate your concern over your highly sociable, naturally flock-living parakeet enduring a lonely life in a cage with only human contact.
Providing toys, balls, ladders and mirrors is one step toward environmental enrichment, but it is no substitute for providing your bird with a healthy young female parakeet. Set her in a cage next to his until they become habituated, then connect the two cages so they can be together as they choose. You may need to remove the mirror if your bird starts to lose condition and seems thinner, and if his plumage becomes dull and unkempt. Some birds become addicted to or besotted with their mirror images, which I do not find amusing. Rather, it is a pathetic reflection of a deprived existence, as well as a profound insight into bird emotions and physiology. He is probably courting his own image and producing crop milk as he would for a mate and to help feed offspring, a shared responsibility. The visual stimulation of his reflected image activates internal hormonal changes that underlie courtship and parental care under more natural social and environmental conditions.
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