How I Turned My One-Person Bird Into a Social Butterfly

Published by Joseph Calabrese on

Parrots that trust and interact with just a single owner are referred to as “one-person birds”.

These birds are often difficult to live with.

One-person birds are usually aggressive, bitey, and intolerant of other people, except for the one they have bonded to.

This is how it was with my cockatiel, who was a one-person bird for his first six months with me.

He would only interact with me and scream for my attention, even when others were nearby.

one person birds
(Arthur, my cockatiel)

It was not pleasant.

Even before learning the concept of a one-person bird, I knew something had to be done about this behaviour.

In this article, you’re going to learn how I turned my one-person bird into a social butterfly by doing some simple social exercises every day.

But first, I want to explain how parrots become one-person birds.

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Why Parrots Become One Person Birds

There is one primary cause behind one-person bird syndrome:

One owner doesn’t encourage all household members to interact with the bird equally, while also being the only person to give food, attention, and care.

When this happens, the bird will only bond to that sole provider.

Over a long period of time, the bird will become overly attached to that one person to the point where they get aggressive toward anyone else that tries to interact with them.

This is a prime example of one-person bird syndrome.

And it’s exactly what was happening with Arthur, my cockatiel.

are cockatiels one person birds
(Arthur, 2020, around 3 – 4 months old)

When my family and I decided to adopt Arthur, I was the one doing all the research on care requirements.

I was also the keenest on adopting a cockatiel.

For these reasons, I became very controlling over the parrot.

Since I thought I knew everything about parrot care, training, and maintenance, I rarely let my family interact with and care for the bird.

Looking back now, I realise how stupid this was.

Parrots are supposed to socialise with all members of the flock, not just one.

In fact, parrots thrive off the social interactions they have with multiple flock members.

Depriving our pet birds of this essential socialisation will lead to behavioural problems in the near and distant future, especially if left without attention.

Do YOU Have a One-Person Bird?

The best way to tell if you have a one-person bird is by observing their behaviour around their favourite person and other household members.

Birds that are overly attached to one person will show some relatively obvious signs, which may include:

  • Avoiding interactions with other household members
  • Becoming aggressive or fearful of other household members
  • Screaming for their favourite person’s attention (even when other people are around)
  • Becoming defensive over their favourite person, even to the point where they’ll bite those who try to interact with them
  • Getting jealous when the favourite person interacts with other people or other birds

The more attached they are to a single person, the more intense these behaviours will be.

So, if your bird appears to be going through this problem, what can you do about it?

How To Stop Or Prevent One-Person Bird Syndrome

To prevent a new bird from becoming a one-person bird, all household members need to take part in the taming process.

And even after that, everyone should continue participating in feeding, training, and general care.

This will keep the parrot socialised and happy when interacting with everyone, which is what you want.

However, if you already have a one-person bird, you have some work to do.

one person birds
(Image Credit: Pixabay)

Firstly, your household members will need to go through a socialisation process in order to build trust and eventually, a good relationship with the bird.

Through this socialisation process, I was able to turn my cockatiel into a happy social butterfly!

But it does take effort, determination, and discipline.

Because during the socialisation process, the bird’s favourite person will need to step back and allow other household members to step in.

And this may cause the bird some stress, or at least some discomfort.

But you must remember that you’re doing this for the sake of the bird‘s future.

No matter how stressful it may seem, you must stick with it.

You must allow those who are not closely bonded to the bird to step in and build that relationship to a comfortable level.

one person bird syndrome
(Image Credit: Pixabay)

As soon as you cave into the birds screaming and demands for attention from their favourite person, any progress they made with other people will be set back.

I know how easy it is to give in to emotions, especially when the bird is screaming for YOUR attention.

But doing so will ONLY have a negative impact on the bird’s future social life.

Of course, you can still coach your household members from the sidelines if they don’t know how to interact with birds.

But the favourite person should avoid direct interactions with the bird until they trust other people.

So, how can multiple people build trust with a one-person bird?

Building Trust & a Relationship With One-Person Birds

There are plenty of things people can do to build trust with a bird that they rarely interacted with.

And there is one key guideline they should follow:

New people should replicate the social activities of the bird’s favourite person in order to show the bird that their new companion is just as fun and just as trustworthy.

Here’s what should be replicated:

  • Training frequency & the type of training (e.g. target training, flight training)
  • What treats are given (definitely offer the bird’s favourite treats)
  • Spending the same amount of time with the bird, or more!
  • Doing the same chores (cage cleaning, bird baths, and providing meals)

Along with replicating activities, the new person should also develop their own unique interactions with the bird.

But this will happen naturally over time.

one person parrot
(Image Credit: Pixabay)

By simply hanging out and properly caring for the bird, the relationship will build by itself.

For more tips on parrot taming, I highly recommend you read 9 simple ways to gain your bird’s trust.

Following those 9 methods will help you build trust with any bird quickly.

Eventually, the person that was once new to the bird will be able to give scratches and comfortably offer treats without receiving an aggressive response.

The bird will also lose their over-dependence on the favourite person.

Once this happens and the relationship is strong with the once new people, the favourite person can step back in.

This is the exact process I used to turn my one-person cockatiel into a loving family bird.

It took about 2 weeks for him to lose his over-attachment to me and begin sharing his birdy love with my family.

And guess what…

Even after this socialisation process, where I barely interacted with him for 2 weeks, we still have a great bond!

Except now, he’s not overly dependent on me and will gladly accept care from others.

(Arthur the cockatiel accepting pellets from my dad)

The thing is, parrots will always have a person that they favour over the rest of the flock.

However, the problem with one-person birds is that they don’t just favour that person, the bird is completely dependent on them.

Parrots need to be willing to accept care from all members of the house.

Although Arthur does favour me, he is now able to interact comfortably with my family without becoming aggressive.

Group Training/Social Exercises

The method we just went through was how I socialised Arthur with the rest of my family.

But there are other ways to do this.

One good idea I found on how to do this is through group training sessions.

It’s exactly what it sounds like, a group of people, typically all household members, will work together to train the bird.

You could train the bird to step from one person to the other.

Or you could teach them to fly between different people.

I got this idea from the very informative video above.

If you did a group training session every day, that bird would definitely bond closely with everyone involved.

Here are some bird training guides you could get your household members to read:

How To Easily Teach Birds To Step Up

Target Training Birds: The Complete Beginners Guide

How To Train A Bird To Fly To You

But this is more of a way to prevent the one-person bird problem.

If the problem is severe, the bird probably wouldn’t be up for a group training session and you’ll need to use the socialisation process.

For Those Who Live Alone With a One-Person Bird

While researching this topic, I found that a lot of people were concerned about what to do with one-person birds if they live alone.

Here’s the thing…

One-person bird syndrome doesn’t really exist with birds who only live with one human.

The main problem with one-person birds is that they’re intolerant of other household members.

For those living alone, this isn’t an issue.

However, over-dependency is the other problem with one-person birds.

If you live alone with just one bird, they’ll always be begging for your attention, since they have no other companions.


Add another bird to the flock!

When aiming to give a single bird a new companion, you should adopt the same species as they’re more likely to get along.

There won’t be as much pressure on the owner when the bird has another feathered friend to play with.

(Image Credit: Pixabay)


Although being the chosen favourite of your beloved parrot can make you feel very special, it’s not good for the bird to be overly dependent on one person.

Pet parrots must be able to comfortably interact will all members of the household.

This will guarantee that everybody living in the household, including the bird, is happy to live together.

There’s a certain group of bird owners who think one-person bird syndrome is perfectly fine and that it doesn’t need to be addressed.

As I said, I understand that special feeling of being the parrot’s favourite human.

But more people need to understand that one-person birds will display many behavioural problems in the future.

Problems that include:

  • Excessive screaming
  • Aggressiveness toward people
  • Jealous of those who try to interact with their favourite person
  • Separation anxiety (from their favourite person)

The longer they remain one-person birds, the more severe these behavioural problems will be.

This is why people who have with this problem should educate themselves on how to fix it as quickly as possible.

And that’s where I’m asking for your assistance…

If you know someone dealing with a one-person bird, please give them the link to this article.

By sharing valuable knowledge with the right people, we can make a big difference in the world of bird care.

That’s the ultimate goal of this article and all the other posts on this website.

Together, we can make a positive impact.

Thank you for reading!



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