Thinking on the Wing
When we run, ski, ride a bike or drive a fast car and rapidly move through space our entire body chemistry changes in a matter of seconds. The reason is all of our senses of sight, sound, touch and hearing shift into an entirely different gear.
The simple task of knowing what is going on around us when we are moving at a normal pace becomes a very complicated three dimensional puzzle of super fast decisions. Our brain has to learn to figure out what important things are changing while everything is changing around us.
As we achieve the ability to operate on this much higher level, we become something of a Superhero that changes who we are and the way we experience life. The same thing happens to a bird when he has the freedom to fine tune his flying skills.
Exposure to full spectrum light
You can spend lots of money on full spectrum lights that rarely work properly, or spend a few minutes outside each week.
For a bird to benefit from even the best indoor full spectrum lighting system it is necessary to have a very high intensity light source very close to the bird for several hours a day.
If the light source is not intense enough to eventually cause sunburn it is of little benefit. Outdoor intensity is hundreds of times greater and makes contact with the entire bird. Inside light sources are too low to make a difference and usually illuminate only one side of the bird at a time.
Stronger bone density – Prevent Egg-Binding
Without lots of exercise the best diet will not maintain adequate bone density. Muscles pulling on bones build bones with available calcium. As a bird flies a great deal of stress is put on all of the bones making them denser and stronger. To maintain adequate bone density as an adult a young Parrot needs to aggressively exercise to develop very dense bones so they can maintain bone density as they get older.
It is important not to confuse passive play with toys and flapping wings on top of the cage as activities that encourage bone and muscle development. The activities must involve weight bearing or resistance exercises. A Parrot can only achieve these goals through flight.
Improved cardiovascular system
Wild Parrots fly for miles and do not pant when they land. Most Parrots cannot run across a room without becoming oxygen deprived.
Without a fit cardiovascular system nothing else really matters. Parrots suffer from all of the same problems inactive people do. For 20 years veterinary medicine has been preoccupied with learning about basic health and disease control just to make the average Parrot “well”, soon they will start considering your pets “fitness”. Can you visualize the Parrot stress test of the future? Yes, you can do an EKG on a Parrot.
Are you concerned about anything on this list for yourself; why not your Parrot?
lower blood pressure
increased HDL cholesterol
decreased total cholesterol
decreased body fat due to utilizing fat as energy
increased heart function and its ability to pump more blood
reduce glucose-stimulated insulin
increased oxygen output to body
decreased resting heart rate
increased cardiac output
increase aerobic work capacity
reduced anxiety, worry and fear, often called “phobic” in aviculture
reduced arthritis, especially as our Parrots age
increased endorphins in the brain that act as a natural pain reliever
Better nutrient absorption
Nutrient absorption would not be of much concern if our pets were getting lots of exercise. Flight exercise pulls on every muscle, organ and tissue in the birds’ body. This increases the strength of all of the pieces and parts and helps them to hold together better.
One major benefit is increased blood flow everywhere, including the intestines. Increased blood flow improves intestinal motility and flow ensuring that the intestines utilize all the micro nutrients that are passing by.
Better balance and physical dexterity
A by-product of physical activity is improved overall motor coordination and increased physical skill. Basically the ability to stand up straight and feel confident.
More interaction with owner leads to increased mental skills.
More activities to do with your pet will increase the time you spend interacting with them. Sitting around watching TV and repeating the same routine day after day is not considered a learning experience by most of us. On the contrary new experiences combined with lots of exercise greatly increased the amount of thinking that goes on in a Parrot’s brain.
Thinking on a higher level while being active, and actively interacting with their best friend will raise the IQ and knowledge of your friend. Higher intelligence and more life experience almost always lead to an increased enjoyment of life.
Conclusion = Higher self-esteem
Self esteem is not easily observed in Parrots but most owners fortunate enough to have been around a developing baby Parrot have seen the euphoric expressions and bounding body language a happy confident Parrot shows when he thinks he is a cool dude.
During this juvenile development stage the brain does not recognize failure the same as an adult. Nature has provided this ‘I think I can, I think I can’ attitude so that baby Parrots will keep working at every task until they get it right because the chance of failure in the wild is so great.
This ‘I think I can’ attitude is much less common in older Parrots. As the baby moves into adolescence, usually with their wings clipped, their brain starts to realize that intense exercise and activity usually leads to an uncoordinated results. Just like us, they lose interest in things they cannot do well.
Confident Parrots are outgoing, positive and are not afraid of taking on new challenges. There are no phobic birds at the Parrot athletic centre.
This article was orignally published on The Parrot University's blog and newsletter in May 2015.