Pairing a Wild-Caught Bird With a Domestic-Raised Bird

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Q: We have been trying to find a mate for our yellow fronted Amazon hen. So far, we have found two males that we can purchase, but both of them are wild. Our hen was handraised and is tame.

Will they be compatible? Will they bond? Will there be more chance of infertility because both of them are not tame? Will a wild parrot become calmer when housed with a tame one?

A: How imprinted your pet is on humans will be the determining factor. If she will not socialize with other parrots, it won’t matter how tame or wild her prospective mate is. If she doesn’t have social problems, the mate you choose can be either wild or tame. Only humans separate parrots into the categories of wild and tame. The parrots themselves show no such prejudices. Both wild and tame parrots speak the same language.

A “mixed” couple (wild and tame) will form a bond that is just as strong as an “unmixed” pair. This is true even though it will often times appear to be false.

Many people are fooled into believing that the bond is not strong because they seldom see the two birds together. This is the case because the birds will usually see or hear you approaching before you see them. The wild bird will react to human approach by moving to the rear of the flight. The average tame bird will react by either holding its ground or by coming forward to interact with the human. This can lead one to falsely believe that there is no bond between them.

In all the behavioral studies that we have done, there has never been a case where a tame bird has made a wild bird tamer. In fact, the effect is more often the opposite. Even highly domesticated animals will have some of their “flight instinct” intact. When the wild bird reacts to your approach with fear, it will put your tame bird on edge. Of course she will have no idea that he is reacting to his fear of humans. All she will know is that something is scaring him, and this will cause her to keep her guard up.

Whether or not this translates into infertility will depend on how much and how often you disturb your birds. If you keep intrusions to a minimum, you might find that you have a greater chance for fertile eggs with a wild male.

The highest instances of infertility in Amazons are among pairs where both members are hand-raised. The lowest is among pairs where both members are wild. Mixed pairs fall somewhere in between.