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RE: I need a behavior expert. Please?

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Posted by: PHIggysbirds at Mon Jun 15 22:50:42 2009  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by PHIggysbirds ]  

First I am not a behavior expert but I work with MANY birds and have helped MANY others work with theirs.

No I definitely would not give up and there are definite alternatives. We have had several older birds (including cockatiels) that were aggressive and "problem birds" after either losing a mate or a big change in circumstances. I would say 95% of those that started as good family or single person birds have been able to get along well with people again. Now there have been some that were abused or ignored for years and although we have gotten them to tolerate humans they don't "need" or necessarily "want" a human bond. Now if you go through some methods you can MAKE them accept you but again not because they want to but because they have to, not making for a well rounded feathered friend.

Now back to your particular bird. It sounds like you had a very close bond at one time. When your bird had a mate was he still close to you or was he mainly interested in his companion and really didn't need or seem to want another (human) companion? During the time you were away did he have any real interaction or was he mainly left alone? Did he have ways of entertaining himself?

My thoughts are you will have to take it slow to actually build trust. Basically as if you brought home a new stranger adult bird and wanted to "make friends" with him. I would actually suggest a complete new change of scenery. If possible buy a new cage or if you can't do that then at least change this cage completely around. Switch where the food and water dishes are, change perch height or positioning, add new toys, switch favorite toys around. Give him some foraging or toys to promote activity. Many love vine balls, stuff with shredded paper and let him go to work. Find a favorite treat and make sure the only way he gets that treat is from you.

The change in scenery is to help so that he still has a place of his own but one that is different and he shouldn't feel quite so territorial about. The busy toys or favorite toys(keep working until you find something he likes) is so he will have something to keep him busy so he won't be always screaming for attention. Then start slow with enticing him to come to you. When he steps up reward him. Especially at first don't try to make it last long, basically as soon as he steps up reward him then let him back down into the cage or onto a stand. Each couple times prolong it a bit. Maybe 5 seconds, then 10 seconds, then 20 seconds then 30 seconds, if it is going well try for a minute. If he starts to become to agitated or aggressive start back at the length of time he seemed comfortable. If you work at his pace but reward him for doing what you want it should help build trust. If you have difficulty getting him to step up at all, try to bird proof your room or a bathroom etc and close the door, open his cage and patiently let him come out. If he doesn't like to come out Sit a favorite treat outside his cage so he has to at least step into the door to reach it, after this goes well for a few days next time sit the treat a little farther so he either has to really reach or step off the cage to get the treat, keep working until he will actually leave the safety of the cage to get the treat. Once you are able to comfortably get him out of the cage, try to work with him in an area where his cage isn't visible this will sometimes help the territorial problems.

Some people might suggest you use the toweling method and tell you it will work quickly and is the best way to go, and it does work, some people have wonderful luck with it but not to necessarily build trust it is by most considered and overstimulation of their senses until they basically just accept whatever happens but again many say this is the best way. I can explain it and you can decide for yourself. Pick your bird up in a towel securely but not so tight as to cut off his airways or to exert pressure on the chest. Keep him in the towel, sit in an enclosed room and talk to him, petting him constantly (with small birds many do it without the towel just keeping their thumb and first finger on either side of the beak to secure it.) anyway even if he is struggling keep petting and talking to him. When he seems to calm you can try loosening the hold (again make sure it wasn't TOO tight to begin with) and continue the petting and talking. Continue until he is sitting loosely in your hand. Then return him to his cage. Continue this for a few days and usually (sometimes by the second or third day) the bird will accept the being picked up and petted without a fight. As I said this does seem to work, I have seen birds trained in this way, but IMHO it is not a way to build trust it is basically teaching the bird that you are bigger and stronger and it must listen or you will make it listen, again that is just MHO.

Sorry to ramble on and I hope this helps a bit. If you decide you need a bird behavioralist you can post or email me your state or area and I will see if I can find one, sometimes a google search will provide some in your area.


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<< Previous Message:  I need a behavior expert. Please? - pirateswin23, Sun Jun 14 18:08:07 2009