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Parrot is running away from my hand

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

Parrot is running away from my hand

Postby OllieOO2 » Wed Nov 09, 2016 1:19 pm

Hello, I bought a blue Quaker Parrot about 6 months ago. Chief, the parrot, is my first bird and so far I have had little progress. He will recline from the approach of my hand and when let out of his cage - he will fly to the opposite side of the room. However, whilst in his cage he will accept chillies and apple from my fingers - if they are far enough away from him, this cannot be said when out of his cage.

My family and I travel to our holiday home (30 minutes drive) every so often - Chief whilst traveling is quite docile and does not seem afraid, yet because I cannot hold him and because I cannot leave him we must lure him into his travel cage with apple which he does quite fast and without any visible stress.

TL;DR Chief retracts from my hand and will fly away from me out of his cage but he can travel without problem and will eat his treats from my fingers.

Any suggestions on what I can do? :monk:
OllieOO2
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Re: Parrot is running away from my hand

Postby Wolf » Wed Nov 09, 2016 5:39 pm

Read and follow the guidelines given in this link viewtopic.php?f=11&t=15840 I wrote the method of hand taming that is in the link and think that this is probably where you need to start.
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Re: Parrot is running away from my hand

Postby liz » Thu Nov 10, 2016 7:25 am

I would treat him like a scared child. I would not push my self on a scared child but would care for it without asking anything from it.

Hands on a preditor are really scary. For all he knows he may be thinking that you are going to eat him. They are afraid of hands but not faces. Move a perch to face level so you can talk nose to beak. It makes a big difference. He will be less fearful and willing to communicate with you. Don't touch him until he moves toward you. Respect his space.
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Re: Parrot is running away from my hand

Postby OllieOO2 » Thu Nov 10, 2016 11:05 am

Thanks for the advice! I've tried some of these methods and he seems more relaxed. Just one more question, he still won't let me touch him - even if he moves towards his treat - he'll just back off if I put my fingers in his territory. Is there any way I can stop this from happening?
OllieOO2
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Re: Parrot is running away from my hand

Postby liz » Fri Nov 11, 2016 6:35 am

I would keep my hands away from him until he comes to you. He has the instincts of a prey animal. Your hands are big and scary.

Myrtle came to me malnourished, dirty and afraid of everything. I did not try to touch her but I did talk to her a lot, sing to her and dance for her (she did not judge me). When her wings were growing back she would test them and land on the floor. I could still not touch her but she would climb up the front of me to my shoulder so I could transport her back to her cage top.

You have the advantage of yours being flighted. They are not as afraid because they know they can fly away if she has too. It is good you can lure yours into the travel cage. Myrtle won't go in anything that has a door. Though she loves me very much she is still so very afraid of doors closing on her. I have to trap her and put her in. Then she will not speak to me for a few days.
She really holds a grudge.
All I can do is tell you how I did it. I have had Myrtle for almost 6 years now. She was 1 when I got her. She will still not let me put my hand above her head. She does not let me scratch her head.

Each has it's own personality. Just don't force your hands on him.
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Re: Parrot is running away from my hand

Postby Wolf » Fri Nov 11, 2016 9:16 am

OllieOO2 wrote:Thanks for the advice! I've tried some of these methods and he seems more relaxed. Just one more question, he still won't let me touch him - even if he moves towards his treat - he'll just back off if I put my fingers in his territory. Is there any way I can stop this from happening?


This is mostly a matter of trust, until you show him enough that you are listening to him and that you are not going to push him around, he has no reason to trust you and you have to earn his trust first. That is what the method that I wrote about hand taming him is all about, trust. It teaches you how to earn his trust while it teaches him that you are listening to him and will not hurt him or bully him into doing things before he is ready to.

Why is he afraid of our hands? In his natural environment the only creature other than man that he might encounter that has hands to grab him are primates that would probably kill and eat him, all of the other predators use their mouths to catch and kill birds like him. I really don't know how much this next comment on hands actually applies but I think that it might play an important role in their fear of our hands in addition to what is found in their natural habitat. Our birds have been raised in captivity and they know that our hands are capable of grabbing them and holding them against their will and I am sure that this contributes to their natural fear of hands, but if you look at your hand when you go to pick something up you could easily notice how much it resembles something like a dogs mouth coming from above to grab him. I think that this similarity in shape and motion when you go to grab him may contribute to his fear of our hands until we have shown him over time that we mean no harm to him.

So use the method that I gave you and be patient and he will come around.
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Re: Parrot is running away from my hand

Postby Pajarita » Fri Nov 11, 2016 11:31 am

Wolf is right. He doesn't trust you. But, when it comes to a hand-fed bird trusting or distrusting a human, the onus is always 100% on the human so I am thinking that you did not put enough time and work into making him trust and love you. In a nutshell, he hasn't bonded to you so, if I were you, I would not spend any time training him/her and concentrate all my efforts into getting the bird to love me because quakers are not a forgiving species, they are highly intelligent, completely fearless, incredibly focused and, unless they love you to pieces, they can be very aggressive when they become sexually mature!
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Re: Parrot is running away from my hand

Postby OllieOO2 » Sat Nov 12, 2016 7:55 am

Thanks again! But I just need to ask, how long will this take for trust to be built? I know that every parrot is different, but how long did it take you? It's been about 6 months like I said and I haven't seen a dramatic change - I usually can only spend 1 - 5 hours a day before I need to work. Is this enough for a close bond to form or do I need to spend more time with him?
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Re: Parrot is running away from my hand

Postby Pajarita » Sat Nov 12, 2016 11:12 am

The length of time depends on the species, whether the bird was hand-fed or not, the age and the kind of care the bird got before it came to you - then, to all these, you need to add the quality and quantity of time you spend with it. Babies that were bred and raised with love would bond with their new human as soon as a few hours after coming to them, if treated right, but, on the other hand, a bird that comes to you as an abused adult would take months and, sometimes, even years.

Personally, I don't do anything special to the new ones (all my birds have come to me as adults) to win them over... no training, no treats, no nothing different than I do with all my other birds. I follow a super strict solar and routine schedule so every day is exactly the same as the day before and this works both in mine and their favor -it reduces stress on their part and endears me to them because they know exactly where I stand with them. I open their cages (without turning on any lights) when light is beginning to break in the sky (this time of the year, at 6 am), I don't ask them to step up or take them out of their cages, I leave what to do up to them. Then, when there is already light but the sun is barely peeping on the horizon, they get fresh water and raw produce - I just put it there or, sometimes, I give them a piece in their hand (this morning, they got fresh whole green beans which they love to hold in their hands so everybody except the lovebirds got one) but all my birds eat produce by now so, although I munch on fruit with them just to keep the 'feeling of flock', I don't need to spend any time actually eating in front of them. Then, about half an hour later, I give them their gloop and put them all in their cages to eat it but, about half an hour to 45 minutes later, I open their cages again so they can come out to fly (this is the time to interact with them or do some target training). I talk to them, I dance or sing with the radio or the songs I usually sing to them, I scratch the head of whichever one happens to perch on me or whichever one perches in front of me and asks me for it, etc. all this while I do my morning chores around the house (they fly up and down the stairs or from one room to another, sometimes following me, sometimes just because they feel like it). It's easy for me because I have a number of birds and the new ones see the 'old' ones approaching me - but also because I have learned that the best thing to do is to just let them decide on their own. I don't ignore them, I just don't get 'on their faces'. And, eventually, they all take the first step to a closer relationship with me. Sometimes it takes months while other times they choose to trust me in a matter of days but, when they do, it's their decision and, as such, it ends up been a very firm first step toward a good relationship because of it.

People are often in too much of a hurry for the bird to love them and insist on interactions that the bird doesn't want at that point in time and this ends up screwing things up. Parrots need the closeness of a loving relationship but they are also highly intelligent beings which do not understand the concept of obedience or subservience so the same way that we don't like a stranger pawing us or allowing himself familiarities with our person, they don't like somebody they don't know enough to try to interact closely or to demand something of them they are not willing to give. It's not that people are been mean or inconsiderate, it's that most people are used to dealing with dogs or other domesticated species that belong to hierarchical social groups so they often treat parrots the same way they would a puppy and, although it works with some species when they are babies, it never works with sexually mature individuals or species that are more independent or more intelligent than others. Quakers are one of those species that precisely because they are so smart, so resourceful and so fearless, you need to win them over first even when they are very young.
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