A Friendship Develops...

Bariki (Lesser Jardine's parrot - then almost 3 yo) was definitely not in favor of the arrival of Tori (Brown-necked Cape parrot - then a little over a year old) last December (1999). For the first two weeks I think he thought Tori was just a birdsitting visitor (I exchange birdsitting with another parrot owner, and his birds had just been visiting recently). After two weeks when Tori was STILL there, I could see the terrible realization dawning on Bariki that The Invader was staying. If I didn't watch closely, Bariki would deliberately climb down from his gym and seek out Tori to attack him.

Bariki is 200g, Tori is 300g. Tori had size and strength on his side; Bariki had indignation and "jattitude" (Jardine's attitude) on his side. Beak jousting and very rude body language is about as far as it ever got before I separated them. Bariki did pull out one of Tori's tail feathers once.

Tori is a very friendly bird and very much wanted to be friends with Bariki. Bariki did NOT want to be friends. Poor Tori ... his favorite word is "Hi," which is a good reflection of his personality. He would approach Bariki, saying "hiiiiiii." Bariki would just say very rude things with body language. However, Bariki did mellow enough that he no longer actively sought out Tori to attack him ... he would just defend his gym if Tori snuck over there, etc. Tori can be so persistent in his friendliness that Bariki would sometimes choose to pretend he didn't see Tori on his gym and ignore him. Tori also began to find it amusing to get Bariki all riled up, and would sneak over to his gym, escape route all planned out, just to amuse himself by riling up Bariki. And if the escape route was cut off ... "Up! Up! Up!" would exclaim Tori, asking for rescue. And that is where their relationship stabilized.

Until ... I got a second shower perch to put on my mirror. Bariki has been in the habit of helping me get ready for work, sitting on a perch stuck to the mirror in the bathroom. I wanted to include Tori in the morning preparations as well, so I finally got another perch and stuck it on the mirror beyond Bariki's reach. The first day Tori sat there, Bariki immediately flared all his colors and started saying very rude things with body language ... all typical behavior.

And then it happened. Tori started pumping, offering to feed Bariki. Bariki hesitated in his indignation...softened...found the offer very appealing ... waffled between indignation and wanting to accept the regurgitation offer. After this behavior was repeated several times, I moved the perches just within beak reach of one another to see what would happen. Tori would offer to feed Bariki, then turn his head, asking to be preened. Bariki wanted to be fed enough that he would preen Tori to try to stimulate him to feed him. Bariki hadn't preened another bird since he was in the nursery, so at first he apparently wasn't very good at it, and things would occasionally degenerate into squawks and the usual posturing. And the mirror perches were the ONLY place that this went on ... Tori once snuck over to Bariki's gym, turned his head asking to be preened, and Bariki bit at him and came up with a mouthful of feathers.

As the pictures show, the friendship continues to develop. The preening is more extensive now, with less requests by Bariki to be fed. (Bariki preens Tori ... Tori hasn't offered to preen Bariki, and it hasn't occurred to Bariki to ask, I don't think...) Preening occurs not only on the mirror perches, but many other places, including (this one really surprises me!) if both birds are sitting with me!

February 2002 update:

Bariki's and Tori's relationship has continued to develop. Tori eventually started to offer to preen Bariki, but Bariki would not let him. Only after Tori continued his offers for over a year did Bariki eventually, gradually, tentatively, start to let his head be touched by Tori's beak. After several months, he figured out that he had been missing out on a good thing! It is very amusing watching the two of them preen one another now ... it consists mostly of them turning their heads at one another, both soliciting preening. Eventually one of them will give in and preen the other for a couple of beak strokes ... then right back to turning heads to one another.

They have what I call a "sibling" type relationship now. They will preen and enjoy one another's company, but they will also squabble on occasion. Tori has gained the "top bird" position in the flock. He usually the initiates both the preening and the squabbles. If Bariki sees him coming and doesn't feel like dealing with him, he will jump off his gym rather than deal with him.

Flock Home Page
Bariki's Page
Tori's Page
Nick and Keet's Page
Tori and the Sock Battle
2 birds and 1 treat
"A Lap Bird and a Laugh Bird" - article on Bariki and Tori published in Companion Parrot Quarterly