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Taming a rescued amazon

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

Taming a rescued amazon

Postby Lagerlot » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:50 am

Hello everyone
New to the forums but I have done a bunch of reading. All helpful posts. But I've run into a challenge. A little back story on Lilly. Female "we think" ,28 years old double yellow Amazon. She is on her 3-4 home I think but don't know much on her history other than wild caught. I know she wasn't abused with the people I got her from. I was told she doesn't like female's and only bonds to males. The first few days in her new home I didn't message with her much , talked to her a lot but didn't open the cage to have her come out. On day 4 I had her stepping up and coming out. Someone trained her to step up . On day 5 my 19 yr old daughter was able to get her out and get kisses , she would even let her pet her and stroke her chest. When Lilly had enough she would just reach her leg up and gently push her hand down. Since that happened I can't really handle her when my daughter is around. I've read the article on 1 person bonding and how to over come it, but I'm stuck with food and treats. The only things she likes are things that can not be used for training ,, almonds in the shell , peanuts in the shell and Graham crackers. I've been able to pet her if my daughter isn't around and I get kisses Everytime she steps up to come out. I know it will take a while but we've had a major setback I don't know how to over come. My daughter went on a vacation for 4 days. I thought it would be a perfect time for me to work on bonding with Lilly. It was going well untill I had her out when my daughter came home. She flared her tail and layed into me two super hard bites drawing blood. I didn't react just told her no biting and put her away. She goes crazy when she sees my daughter calling and yelling even the ocational pretty bird. She tries to step up on my daughter but she is so excited eyes pinning tail flared as soon as she steps up she instantly starts to bite her just as hard as I got when she was mad. We have both been bitten before by her but nothing like the angry bites we get now. I don't know what to do next. Any advice anyone has would be greatly appreciated. It's been almost 2 weeks of this behavior.
Lagerlot
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 2
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Double yellow Amazon
Flight: No

Re: Taming a rescued amazon

Postby liz » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:17 am

You are blessed with a bird who wants to claim your family as hers.
All pets have a number one but only birds let you know who it is.
Each bird has it's own personality. My Amazons have changed their number ones many times.

I was number one with Rainbow until she met my Momma. I moved to number two. When my daughter moved in Rainbow claimed her as number one, my mother went to number two. I was number three and my aunt was the one she really picked on. When Momma died Rachel was still number one and I number two. My aunt was the only one of the age of my Momma. Rainbow stopped picking on her and tried to claim her as a "Grandma". Rachel took a job that she was only home on weekends. That worked for a while then Rainbow decided Rachel was not worth her loyalty. I am back to number one. My aunt is number two and my daughter fell into third place.
Rainbow was loved by his last human so did not have any baggage. Rainbow liked my house better than the last one and came in very socialized and ready to fix the family. She hid from her last human when she came to visit for fear of going back to her.

Myrtle came from a very dark place with lots of baggage. She was terrified of everything. Instead of taking her straight home I stayed over night in a motel near home so she could see that I was her new human who respected her as her own being. I have always been number one and she learned that my Momma and aunt were good for hand outs. Rachel on the other hand was her target and bites her everytime Rachel is near (except when she has a treat but will not take it from her hand.

No one knows why they do this but they do change their loyalties. They have their own loyalties but may change at anytime. Give her space and respect almost to the point of ignoring her.
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liz
Macaw
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 6527
Location: Hernando FL
Number of Birds Owned: 13
Types of Birds Owned: DYH Amazon Rainbow
BF Amazon Myrtle
Cockatiels: Shadow Tammy Tommy Maggie Lacy Flutter Phoenix Jackie Andy Gimpy Louise
Flight: Yes

Re: Taming a rescued amazon

Postby Pajarita » Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:05 am

Welcome, Lagerlot and Lilly, to the forum! I am afraid that you rushed things a bit and, when it comes to amazons [or any other large bird] that is not advisable. Let me explain. Parrots actually take a long time to bond with a new human. They are not like dogs which are hard-wired for subservience and have been bred for thousands of generations to depend on man. They are also much smarter than dogs so where you can trick a dog into liking you real easy, you can't trick a parrot, you need to earn their love and this takes a long time. So I suggest you go back to square one. It won't be easy because you and your daughter already set a bad precedent but it can be done if you are persistent and consistent about it.

First thing you need to do is make sure the bird is not overly hormonal [because this always means HIGH aggression - especially with amazons and most especially with the 'hot three' species which your bird belongs to] so a super strict solar schedule with full exposure [meaning, at the very least, 1.5 hours of it!] to dawn and dusk and a fresh food diet with protein food only for dinner is essential. A good quality full spectrum light [CRI 94 plus and Ktemp 5000 - 5500] will help a lot because it will allow her to produce good levels of the happy and reward hormones which influence their moods same as they do for people. This is not going to change anything overnight, especially if the bird has been kept on a human light schedule with free-fed high protein food [seeds, nuts, pellets, nutriberries, avicakes] because a screwed-up endocrine system doesn't revert to one in tune with the season after a week or so of the right treatment. The longer the bird has been kept at a bad diet and bad light schedule, the longer it will take for her endocrine system to go back to what it's supposed to be.

Now, interactions... I never recommend physical interaction for the first two weeks - as a matter of fact, I do not interact AT ALL with my new birds until they make the first step. Sometimes it takes months for this to happen but, when it does, it's always without any kind of aggression from the bird because, by then, it realized that I can be trusted and that I respect his space and 'person' :lol: and is used to the always unchanging daily routine [a super important part of getting a long term good relationship with them!]. The only thing I do is open their cage door at dawn and walk away - if the bird wants to come out, it can - and, if it doesn't, it's fine, too! I talk to them [a praise phrase or two, always said in a high voice and a singsong works wonders with them], I put the radio on and sing with it, I interact with the other birds if they want it but, when it comes to the new birds, I never get in 'their faces' or ask for anything. I offer them a high value item [always a high protein food item which they do not get during the day unless it's from my hand] every now and then -not all the time, either, maybe two or three times during the day- but, if they don't take it, I just leave it where they can see and reach it because although the same high value item can and, most likely, will become a reward, during this time it's just a gift, a token of friendship freely given.

So, if I were you, I would go back to square one and eliminate the physical interaction so as to give the bird time for its hormones to calm down [this is the perfect time to do this because the days are getting shorter], to have enough time to 'study' its human[s] and make its own conclusions, to get used to the daily routine and for it to decide when to make the first step. The other very important reason why you should eliminate physical interaction is that you do not want the bird to get used to biting you and, every chance you give it becomes a reinforcement of an aberrant behavior which needs to be eradicated. Parrots are not naturally aggressive animals. They are not predators and they don't belong in hierarchical societies so aggression is not a hard-wired trait in them. In the wild -and under ideal circumstances in captivity- it's only used for protection and defense but, because most people treat parrots as dogs with feathers, expecting obedience, submission and respect for authority from them, they learn to bite in order to get their point across so, to them, aggression is not instinctual but a learned habit. A habit that needs to be broken by never giving them reason to bite while giving them every reason to trust us.

Once the bird 'calms down', you can start target training it so it gets used to interacting with you and receiving praise and rewards BUT do not rush it, it will take a couple of months for this to happen. In the meantime, enjoy the bird's company and show her she can trust you. This time is the foundation of your relationship with Lilly so make sure the foundation is strong and on firm grounds before you start to build on it.

PS Taking into consideration this is an 'older' amazon, I strongly recommend you take her to an avian vet for a completely check up with blood work, including bile acids (amazons are highly prone to fatty liver disease and ALL the old ones have it to a certain extent which is something you need to know because they require a special diet and supplements]. I would also have it DNAd to know the gender for sure because females need more calcium than males and males are highly aggressive during breeding season which are two things you need to be prepared for.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 11880
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: Taming a rescued amazon

Postby Lagerlot » Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:44 pm

Thank you for your advice, she/he does seem happier after being outside. I'll start using your suggestions right away. I'm not sure how to change her diet. She came with Katee parrot blend, and some shell peanuts and she'll almonds. I give her about a 1/2 in of parrot food and 3-4 peanuts a day. Almonds are treats which she hasn't had in a while. I've tried all kinds of fruits and veggies , different food and she won't even try any of them. She does like Graham crackers and she gets a 1/4 before bed. She dunks the damn things in water to eat them. Same with her peanuts. I'm not sure how to get her to eat a better diet, I'm afraid she will starve herself. Do they do that? Once again any advice is greatly appreciated
Lagerlot
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 2
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Double yellow Amazon
Flight: No

Re: Taming a rescued amazon

Postby liz » Wed Aug 09, 2017 5:34 am

The best thing to do is eat in front of her. Have something on your plate that she would like and share it with her. There are foods like tomatoes that they do not seem to like unless they come from my plate.

Respect is the best thing you can do to calm her fears. Some of my Cockatiels could be called refugees. All will share secrets with me through the cage wire. (they like to play in their cage) There are some who should never trust humans again but will come on me and preen my hair. I don't expect anything of my Cockatiels but that they are happy.

Amazons are a lot different. They are a force to be reckoned with. Mine have my love and respect and I treat them like children of 2 and 5. I know they love me but they don't respect the things I own.
User avatar
liz
Macaw
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 6527
Location: Hernando FL
Number of Birds Owned: 13
Types of Birds Owned: DYH Amazon Rainbow
BF Amazon Myrtle
Cockatiels: Shadow Tammy Tommy Maggie Lacy Flutter Phoenix Jackie Andy Gimpy Louise
Flight: Yes

Re: Taming a rescued amazon

Postby Pajarita » Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:32 am

If she has been eating such a bad diet in the past, you really REALLY need to take her to an avian vet because any older amazon that has been free-fed seeds and peanuts has liver malfunction -no two ways about it! But, you are in luck because all amazons -and most especially the wild-caught!- are EXCELLENT eaters! I have only four now but I had more and even though all of them were older and seed addicts when they came to me, they all ended up being great eaters.

Now, as to transitioning her to a better diet... The secret is tough love! You need to take her bowl of seeds at night after she falls asleep and, when the sky is beginning to get light, give her raw produce which you should eat in front of her making all the Yum Yum noises you can think of :D But don't offer her any, just eat a piece while holding another one in your hand and, before you walk away, put the extra piece where she can reach it. Start with fruit because ALL amazons [actually, all South and Central American birds] love fruits. Mine love grapes, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, apples, pears, oranges, mangoes, bananas so start with those. And corn on the cob -I don't know of a single bird species that doesn't adore corn on the cob -even my tiny finches love it! Later on, when she starts trusting you more, you can start offering her the piece from your hand. About an hour after you gave her the produce, put her bowl back in the cage with gloop in it. Start by making a simple one with only grains like kamut, teff, hulled barley, oat groats, wheat and/or farro, red and/or black rice [you can find all of them at Whole Foods or online] and mixing a very little sprinkle of her seeds into it. Just leave it there all day long and don't worry if she doesn't eat it because this is perfectly normal. In the evening, when the sun is halfway down to the horizon, take the gloop away and replace it with a level 1/4 cup of her seed mix. The trick is to feed them the food they are used to for dinner so they don't starve and using their hunger in the morning [when birds eat their biggest meal] to tempt her into eating the healthier food. She will start by picking just the seeds but, in a couple of days, she will start eating the grains (you will find empty white 'skins'] and, once she is doing this regularly [you will see her going for the gloop as soon as you serve it], you should start adding veggies to it. Start with sweet corn, then peas, then diced carrots, then chopped broccoli, etc. If you look in the diet section, you will see a few gloop recipes and lots of suggestions and recommendations.

Do not feed her raw peanuts. If I were you, I would not feed her peanuts at all or only as a VERY special treat. Peanuts are not really nuts, they are legumes and not as nutritious as true nuts are PLUS, next to dry corn, they are the highest source of aspergillus and the dreaded aflatoxin. Mine LOVE walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, madacamias and filberts -I get a tree nut mix and roasted it a bit in the oven. We had a member who swore by raw nuts, arguing they were more nutritious than the roasted ones and I am sure this is true but I am terrified of any of my birds getting aflatoxin poisoning (a rescue Orange Winged Amazon died from it] so I roast them a bit.

For dinner, I would use the same mix for now but I would urge you to consider getting her some human grade nuts instead -Kaytee is actually one of the worst brands in terms of quality aside from the fact that all the bird food out there is made out of feed quality ingredients.

Now, this diet, gloop and produce for morning and all day picking and nuts only for dinner, is not only 1,000 times healthier for her but it will also allow you to identify what we call a 'high value item'. This is the item of food she prefers above all others and should be used only for the friendship token I mentioned to you for now and, later, as reward for training or for a special occasion - I don't actually do any formal training of my birds but I do use it for when I have to take them to the vet or when people come over and they want to see the birds, something that stresses them out a bit so the 'peanut' [all nuts are peanuts to them because it's the word they know - they also know the word 'pan' for birdy bread and 'cookie' for birdy cookies] distracts them and gives them a positive take on the normally not so good experience.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 11880
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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