I now understand why Karen (the former owner of the bird shop where I volunteer) told me to keep my budgies in separate cages where they can’t hear each other.
Flock Mentality: It’s A Thing.
Qtip (our cockatiel) came to us knowing the “Imperial March” and “Zippity Doo Da”. Sure, he’d get stuck on the four march notes like a scratched record we couldn’t quite shut off, and he definitely only really liked the high part of Doo Da and would repeat it infinitely, but hey. It was cute.
Unfortunately, the call of the budgies was too strong. In spite of whistling both tunes to him every single day we’ve had him, this is all that remains:
Maybe he’s an improv artist…?
Before he came to us, Qtip lived for a time with a lovebird (not necessarily a good pairing, for those of you wondering–love birds are frequently mean to birds of other species), so he adores other birds.
Thus, simply being surrounded by two other budgies (that he can hear) has worked as a memory charm for Qtip, and he has forgotten his tunes.
I know why the caged bird sings, and it’s often because he’s lonely.
Many birds mimic the songs and sounds of humans for one of two reasons: 1. They imprinted on humans and thus think they are one (like in Louie’s case), or 2. They are lonely for the company of ANY other creature (in lieu of another bird) and pick up songs to attempt to communicate.
Hence, the minute Qtip heard other birds singing and chattering, the Obliviate curse was cast, and the more he forgot.
Training your Parrot to Whistle in a Multiple-Bird Household: Isolate them.
Now, this isn’t true of all birds, but if you’re absolutely bent on having a young bird imitate you (and you have more than one), you definitely want to keep them both in separate cages, and where they can’t hear each other during the day.
They can come out for playdates together, but it’s important to spend one-on-one time with each bird and keep them where they can’t hear each other–limit the pull of other parrots.
Personally, we’d rather have Qtip around his friends, so we’re okay with him forgetting what he once knew.