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New Amazon and Training

Discuss the methods and techniques of clicker training, target training and bonding. These are usually the first steps in training a young parrot.

New Amazon and Training

Postby JoJoIowa » Mon Feb 04, 2019 5:36 pm

Hello everyone, I'm new to this board but looking for guidance. I have 3 birds currently all different breeds. Our Parakeet we have had for 5 years, our cockatiel 2 months, and recently our Amazon which we are currently fostering for a rescue. If all goes well he will stay with us. I'm new to having a large bird in the household and all things parrot are uncharted territory.

Our amazon is thought to be 35 and male(although I have no paperwork to prove hes been dna sexed). He ended up in the rescue after his owner passed. He was said to be well behaved, tolerates all adults, children, dogs, and other birds. He was said to give warning bites before he lashed out and in general was well socialized and friendly.

We are on week 1 with him (which in the bird world is hardly 5 minutes). This far he does prefer men, specifically one in the house hold. He does have some hostility towards me which I am trying to work on...or more discover what it is I am doing. I do feed him for all his meals, I clean his cage, and I am typically the one to open his cage so he can come out to play. (No he won't step up onto me he refuses. He did once and that was it) If I ask him to step up he gives me angry eyes, will hiss, or will lunge at me hand. Obviously at this point I'm a bit intimidated by him. I have started to work on clicker/target training which currently is hit and miss. He is short with his attention and after a couple clicks will stop. Last time after 3 clicks he hoped and lunged at the stick. I have since stepped back on the training to a simple "Click-treat" I figured give this a couple days then work the stick in.

I also sit in his room in my chair and read or work on my computer. He watches me intently and will gurgle or talk to me at times. If he catches me sweet talking another bird I noticed he gets jealous. Since noticing this I ignored if for that day but the next I started to sweet talk him first before visiting with the other birds. It only seemed to excite or agitate him.

Does ANYONE have advice on steps I should be taking to work towards a positive relationship with him? I want him to see me as a trusted figure even if I am not his chosen person.
JoJoIowa
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 6
Number of Birds Owned: 3
Types of Birds Owned: Parakeet, Cockatiel, and Blue Front Amazon
Flight: Yes

Re: New Amazon and Training

Postby Pajarita » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:55 am

Welcome to the forum! Well, you went from two lone aviary species with the sweetest temperaments to a large bird of a species that is considered one of the holy terrors of the parrot world :lol: But, don't worry, although Bluefront males can be terribly aggressive, it's ALWAYS because the humans are not doing what they should be doing.

First thing you need to do is stop asking him to step up for you and eliminate ALL training. An amazon is not a tiel or budgie, you are talking about completely different animals - no matter that all three are parrots. You are a complete stranger to him and he is not going to take it kindly to familiarities that you are not entitled to. Think of it this way: you would not like a stranger that asks you to trust him to take his hand so he can take you wherever he wants, right? Well, that's basically what asking a bird that doesn't know you from Adam to step up to your hand means. They need A LOT of time to begin to trust you - and notice that I don't even mention love but mere trust. Putting yourself in a situation where he needs to assert his independence by aggression is not a good move, most especially during the honeymoon period. The best thing to do with rehomed adult parrots is to leave them alone to make their own conclusions and only take the relationship a notch up when and if the bird signals he or she is ready for it. Imposing ourselves (even flooding techniques - not that I would ever recommend anybody using them!) works with budgies, tiels, plets, beebees, etc because they are very little birds and they feel the inferiority of their condition vis a vis a human but male amazons are large, strong birds that don't take kindly to humans not respecting their wishes.

Second thing you need to do is put him at a super strict solar schedule (no, the 12D/12L schedule does NOT work) and a fresh food diet. And, although this holds true for ALL parrots, it's especially necessary for male amazons because they get VERY aggressive when hormonal. They need a super strict solar schedule with, at least, 2 hours of dawn and dusk and a VERY low protein, very low fat, very high moisture, very high fiber diet so free-feeding any protein food (pellets, seeds, nuts, nutriberries, etc) is completely out of the question for them (as it is for all species or parrots, actually). They are not only super prone to fatty liver, they become very aggressive when overly hormonal - aggressive to the point of danger. I have four amazons, one came to me because she was old and sick but the other three (and all the other amazons I've had under my care) came to me because of aggression and all of them was because of improper care and/or treatment and all of them did just fine once the problems were corrected. But it took time because a screwed up endocrine system takes time to go back on track - and it took a lot of patience because an amazon attack is no childs play (I've ended up with holes in my head and i have notches and keratin deposits in both ears because of their bites).

As to your interactions with him, simply spend time in the same room, talk, whistle, sing (they LOVE music and to sing along), dance for him but do not ask him for anything. Every now and then, offer him a treat from your fingers but, if he doesn't take it, just leave where he can reach it because this is not a reward for good behavior, it's a token of friendship from you to him. If you have to move him, use a stick, do not use your hand. Amazons like company all the time but it doesn't have to be touchy feely - just being in the same room is good enough for them. And get yourself lots of nice, large, thick cardboard boxes for him to chew so you can exchange the chewed up one with a new one every day or every other day - there is nothing a zon likes better this time of the year (they are going into breeding real fast) than a nice box to chew to his heart content (you should see the mountains of box confetti I sweep up from them every morning!)
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 14066
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: New Amazon and Training

Postby JoJoIowa » Tue Feb 05, 2019 3:58 pm

Thank you for all that insight. Can I ask what your birds diet looks like for a typical week. What gets fed and when etc... I'm reading and doing all sorts of research but everyone is a bit different. I realize developing a healthy schedule and routine is half the battle here.

When he came home he was on some seed/pellet mix that had dried fruit/peppers in it. I have since mixed some roudybush pellets into it in hopes of weaning him onto it. I've read its better but again novice here. He does enjoy fruits over veggies but I have noticed him starting to show interest in carrots. His favorite treat is walnuts and cashews at the moment. (He was getting peanuts and sun flower seeds from the rescue...I've since cut him off from those) I also think he would prefer a more fresh foods diet. When I discover a food he enjoys he will devour it over the dried pellet/seeds any day.

His current sleep schedule is him getting covered at 8pm and uncovered around 6:45am. I'm seeing this probably needs to be adjusted in some way?

Since he does not like to step up I was able to target train him last night. He did wonderfully and showed interested in excitement. I was able to target him back to his cage when he flew elsewhere, target him to the cage door when it was time to go back, and targeted him to other areas so I could clean that spot. Over all my current mind set is even if he doesn't ever step up...I want to be able to target him to a spot if needed. This way he can be safely handled as needed.
JoJoIowa
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 6
Number of Birds Owned: 3
Types of Birds Owned: Parakeet, Cockatiel, and Blue Front Amazon
Flight: Yes

Re: New Amazon and Training

Postby Pajarita » Wed Feb 06, 2019 11:26 am

I hear you on the diets! So many people feeding all different diets... from animal protein (eggs, meat, cheese) which is nothing but a slow poison to them, to free-feeding pellets, seeds or nuts. The truth of the matter is that the pet food industry is unregulated so they can claim that something is nutritionally complete while the food is bad for them without having any kind of legal exposure. The other sad truth is that nobody really knows what the exact nutritional needs of each species of parrot are. We do know that amazons are mostly canopy feeders (fruits, buds, leaves) and, much less, ground foragers (grass seeds). We also have one single study done on their wild diet and it was determined that, during breeding season, when the parents are raising young, the parents ate a maximum of 17% protein. We also know that their diet is very high in fiber (all plant material is) and also very high in moisture (plant material being 85 to 95% water) and low in fat (because the seeds they eat are green ones -not dried like the ones we give them). Needless to say, a pellet that has a minimum protein of 17% (higher than what the wild ones eat during breeding season) and a maximum moisture of 10% (HUGE difference!) is not going to be healthy for them in the long run. I've been doing research on parrots natural diets since 1994 when my first rescue, a female redlored amazon, was diagnosed with high uric acid and have reached the conclusion a long time ago that pellets are not and never will be the best dietary option for them (many reasons, actually, I can elaborate, if you wish). I've tried different things but have been feeding them gloop for many, many years because, in my personal opinion and experience, it's the best solution. It's wholesome (organic whole grain and frozen veggies which are more nutritious than fresh), high in moisture (very wet), low in protein and high in fiber, very versatile (works for all species), easy to 'doctor' (I add liver and kidney cleansers and tonics to it daily) and, best of all, from the budgies to the cockatoos, they all love it!

There are several recipes for gloop in the diet section but you can make your own because it's basically a dish of whole grains cooked al dente (they like the grains separated and a bit hard so, althugh it's called gloop, the resulting dish is not really 'gloopy' if you know what I mean - it's more like a pilaf or fried rice in terms of texture) mixed with veggies. I use kamut, wheat, oat groats, hulled barley, spelt, red and black rice mixed with corn, peas, carrots, chopped broccoli, sweet potatoes, giant white hominy, butternut squash and artichoke hearts (everything is frozen except the hominy which comes from cans and the sweet potatoes that I either bake or nuke). I also used to use lentils and small white beans in it but have started recently eliminating them. I was never really happy with feeding parrots beans because it's such a very unnatural food for them and they are a bit high in oxalic acid so I stopped (my gloop recipe has always being and always will be a work in progress because as I learn more, I tweak it). To this cooked mixture, I add steel cut oats (because the budgies love them) and flax seeds all the time but, during the breeding season (but I would not do it for your bird this year because he has been eating way to high protein and you need to clean him up first), I also add sesame seeds and alternate teeny tiny sprouts (I sprout a soaking/sprouting seed mix for canaries) with some soaked hemp seeds.

For dinner, my zons eat a heaping tablespoon of a cockatiel mix (ABBA 1600 C) with nuts (right now, they are getting one pistachio, one quarter of a walnut and half a smallish pecan - but I change the nuts whenever I buy a new supply so they also get almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, filberts, pine nuts -(not often because they are soooo expensive!), etc.

You should also try to make birdy bread - a fabulous way of getting veggies and fruits into them when they don't eat too many of them. I recommend everybody who has a parrot get a bread machine because it's so super easy - the parrots don't care if it comes out too wet or too heavy or too anything! I put all the stuff in it at night before I go to bed, and, in the morning, voila! birdy bread ready to serve - and there is not a single parrot that does't like it! Mine got it this morning and they all know the word 'Pan' (bread in Spanish) so when I go: "UUUUUHHHH, look what i have for you: PAN!" They all come flying and push each other out of the way to get a piece before I serve it :lol:
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 14066
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: New Amazon and Training

Postby JoJoIowa » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:11 pm

Thank you for that input I feel so lost in this complex world of large birds! I will definitely look into the gloop. Can you give me feed back on our current diet routine. I've tried to give it a upgrade since bringing him home.

Right now he has a bowl of roudybush pellets mixed with the pellets he came home with (that I am unsure of) He very much prefers his fresh foods over the pellets. I've been trying to keep it interesting for him but this is what his fresh foods consist of... Walnuts, almond silvers, cashews, grapes, Tangerine (one sliver a week), carrots, apples, snap peas (he loves the adventure of getting them out), regular peas, and then I have a variety of parrot treats like the nutriberry, yogurt rings, and bird cakes... I've tried greens and sweet potatoes but he hasn't shown interest.

Here is my next question and please be brutally honest. Like I stated above I have NO large bird experience. I know everyone here was at this place once before but I need guidance. We are currently fostering this amazon with the option to adopt. An answer will need to be given soon. My question I am struggling with is am I the right fit? I can honestly say the big guy intimidates me. I know the damage his beak can do if I over step my boundaries. I also am an armature at reading body language. My only saving grace so far has been be smart, go slow, don't push him. Hes becoming more curious in me lately and I feel like its a step forward. When he is out though I give him space to be. He watches me scrub his cage, clean his bowls, refill them and occasionally he comes by to say hello.

When he came home he was in his cage (which I think is cruelly small), he had 2 faded wooden block toys, and only 2 food dishes. I have since replenished his cage with a variety of toys and foraging tools, he has been given an additional food dish for his fresh foods, and his cage is cleaned more often then anyone would like to do. I work 40 hours a week so his time outside the cage is limited to week day nights and afternoons on the weekends(When i'm gone he has music playing and other birds in the room to tweet to). He does show interest in target training and at times I feel like he may almost start to like me. This training has also made him easier to put away...he still doesn't want to step up... I don't blame him trust isn't there yet.


My concern is will the next home give him his fresh foods? He really doesn't eat pellets like he does his fresh foods. When he does get fresh foods though its a HORRIBLE MESS! I can't imagine the average person dealing with this. I also wonder if the next home will keep up on his toys and stimulating him during cage time. I'm afraid of him going back to the 2 faded toys that looked ancient. I also worry that he will become a living room show piece instead of a family member. Will he have outside cage time?

I am struggling on how do you know if your the right fit?
JoJoIowa
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 6
Number of Birds Owned: 3
Types of Birds Owned: Parakeet, Cockatiel, and Blue Front Amazon
Flight: Yes

Re: New Amazon and Training

Postby Pajarita » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:45 am

Oh, geez, I am afraid that nobody can tell you if you are the right fit or not - only you can do that. But I can tell you that every single parrot keeper feels the same way you do at the beginning and, in all truth, pretty much during all the time. I've kept parrots since 1992 and still don't feel that I am doing a good enough job. Only inadequate owners think they are doing everything right and the bird they have is perfectly happy with them - an impossibility, of course! These are undomesticated animals of very specific psychological and physical needs - and no human can actually fullfill either in captivity. Nobody. Not me, not you, not the so-called experts - NOBODY! And anybody who tells you that they got everything under control is somebody who has nothing under control. It's as simple as that.

Now, the list of fresh foods you gave are not the same 'fresh foods' I was referring to when I used those words. To me, fresh foods are veggies, fruits and greens. Dry nuts don't fall under that category, they are protein food, same as nutriberries, yogurt rings (please don't give him those) or avicakes. Anything that is or is made of seeds or nuts is protein food, same as pellets.

Like I said before, amazons are excellent eaters of produce and they LOVE gloop so switching them over is not really very hard. The key is timing and presentation. Timing because it's easier for them if you follow their feeding patterns in the wild, and presentation because they all tend to be picky about certain things - mostly at the beginning but there are some that retain certain aspects of this throughout their entire lives. For example, my African gray will not eat all kinds of produce if you lay them out there for her, she will eat her favorites on her own but the rest of the stuff I have to hold in my hand, in front of her face. And my female African Redbelly refuses to eat any fresh produce -except for raw broccoli- inside her cage so I have to give it to her when she is out early in the morning. And where you serve it makes a difference too. My male and female pair of amazons will not eat out of bowls so they get their food on a white paper plate but my two female pair would eat out of a bowl. So, for fresh food, you have to time it right -best time is early in the am, when the sun is just beginning to come out and ALWAYS give them the raw produce first with the gloop about half an hour later and you have to figure out where he likes it best.

My routine is as follows: I get up at 6 am, uncover the cages and open the blinds and cages. Then i do the cats and dogs and, by the time I finish (around 7 am), I start cleaning the cages and putting out the raw produce. When I am done (it takes me about an hour), I put the gloop at room temperature (but, for new birds, I do it warm) in their cages and put them all back in for about half an hour, then i open the cages again so they can come out for fly time. I put them back in their cages around 2 pm (later in the summer because the days are so long), turn off the lights at around 3:30 pm and feed them their dinner which is a small, measured portion of a seed or a seed/nut mix (I do not feed pellets, I don't believe they are the best dietary option for them) which they pretty much finish leaving nothing but shells in their bowls. Of course, this routine changes with the seasons - during the summer, I get up at 4:15 am and give them dinner late at 7:30 pm because, as I have explained, birds need to follow the sun schedule.

Now, with a male amazon, if you work 40 hours a day, you will have a lot of trouble following the solar schedule because, in the winter, it's night at 4:30 pm and that can be problem for you because male amazons get super hormonal -read aggressive- when they are overly hormonal but this would hold true for any species of bird because they are all photoperiodic.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 14066
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: New Amazon and Training

Postby JoJoIowa » Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:54 pm

Thank you for that! Luckily My husband does get home earlier in the day then I so this solar schedule might be possible. I am researching into these gloop recipes now and will give them a go. We also had a small (but huge in my book) break through this weekend. While out of his cage the little guy flew to me. This is something he has never done before. I wasn't exactly his go to human. Later on he flew to me again for a ride around and then went to my husband to hang out. He went back and forth between the 2 of us a couple times before flying himself back to his cage top.

Small steps but it felt like a huge achievement.
JoJoIowa
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 6
Number of Birds Owned: 3
Types of Birds Owned: Parakeet, Cockatiel, and Blue Front Amazon
Flight: Yes

Re: New Amazon and Training

Postby Pajarita » Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:03 am

No, no, NOT a small step, a HUGE one! :thumbsup: :danicing: This means he is beginning to trust you and that is the very foundation of a good relationship with a parrot. Good job!

Try making him a gloop of only whole grains and don't cook them too much so they are still a bit hard. Sprinkle a bit of budgie seed on it and mix it up. He will go for the seeds first but he will, eventually, try one of the grains -which he will like- and will start eating them. Once you see white empty 'skins', you will know he is eating the grains so wait another couple of days and then start adding some veggies to it - start with sweet corn (all birds LOVE it) and once he is eating it, add peas - then carrots (mine only eat them if they are diced, they don't like the slices) - then chopped broccoli (not pieces, not chunks, chopped). Also, offer him lightly steamed or boiled (once the water is boiling, wait 2 minutes only to turn off the heat) fresh corn - it's a bit pricey this time of the year but no bird can resist it (your budgie and tiel will love it, too - just cut it in a large, thick slice and then cut the slice in half so the cob side is flat and the grains are on top). Budgies and tiels are hard to get to eat fruits but they like the small veggies in the gloop. I keep on forgetting to take a picture of my budgies swarming the gloop - they love it!
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 14066
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: New Amazon and Training

Postby JoJoIowa » Thu Feb 14, 2019 3:37 pm

This is all excellent information. We found a recipe for birdie bread and will be trying it out this weekend. Hoping its doable to make it in cup cake form so that we can freeze excess amounts and bring out as needed.

We continue to make success with bonding/training with our new guy. He now easily targets to his cage door and is rewarded with a nut in his food dish. Now he easily goes home when its time for bed. It was such a fight before but now everyone is happy. He is also learning to target into a dog carrier. Hoping this will help ease the stress of vet visits. He now willingly goes into the carrier and walks to the very back for a click and nut. We haven't advanced to closing the door yet but baby steps. I want to keep it positive. I'm sure a carrier and travel will be stressful when that time comes.

He won't step up for me yet which is ok. I ask every day but he just stares at me or gives me his back. He does enjoy basic clicker training though and gets very excited when the chop stick comes out. Big break through... we don't need the chop stick anymore. I've noticed lately he just listens. When I pat on an area I want him to go and say come on/come here he scurries on down to see me. I know hes just coming for his nut but PROGRESS. I asked him to come to me when I was across the room and he looked as if he was preparing himself to fly to me. He didn't ever take the leap but he was strongly considering it.

He continues to fly to my shoulder when he wants and when he is done he fly's back to his cage top. He usually hangs out for a minute or so before leaving. When he is shoulder riding he has been respectful so far! He will chirp in your ear or preen your hair. The few times he has hissed while on my shoulder he gets told no and taken back to his cage top... the hissing is becoming less and less. I think he does it more if he feels crowded or spooked...not so much asserting dominance. I'm hoping we can work up to him being an arm rider vs a shoulder rider soon. At this point though I am more moving at his pace... I've realized this gives him confidence in me...and I'm not getting bitten by forcing myself on him so I'm gaining confidence in him.
JoJoIowa
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 6
Number of Birds Owned: 3
Types of Birds Owned: Parakeet, Cockatiel, and Blue Front Amazon
Flight: Yes

Re: New Amazon and Training

Postby Pajarita » Sat Feb 16, 2019 3:47 pm

There you go! Great progress! :thumbsup: There is nothing more important than allowing them to set the pace, they feel respected this way and this, in turn, develops trust first and later love.

Don't start by asking him to fly to you from a distance. Start with baby steps. Next time you ask him to step up, put a nut on the palm of your left hand and put your right hand (spread palm up) in front of him and give the command. He might not do it the first, second or even the third time but, eventually, he will start by putting one single foot on your right hand and stretching his body and neck to reach the nut and, when he does, praise, praise, praise! Very soon, he will start stepping on your open hand and that will develop into perching onto your hand (don't offer a finger, offer the side of your hand with the index and thumb side up - it feels safer for them).

I am not much on the baking powder fake bread, I prefer the one with yeast. One reason is that you need to get the aluminum free baking powder but the other reason is that baking powder has no nutrition whatsoever while yeast is highly nutritious.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 14066
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

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