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Anxious bird

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

Anxious bird

Postby pina's mom » Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:37 am

Hey yall -

Thank you in advance for any input on my overly-verbose post.

I have had a few GCC over many, many (too many :) years. We had Peggy Sue for 1.5 years before she moved with my daughter in 2018. I bought PS's sibling Pina from the same owner. Peggy Sue was 4 months old when I bought her, and she and Pina are now about 2. From day 1, Peggy Sue was so easy to handle/train/play and snuggle with. Unfortunately I believe poor Pina didn't have much human interaction when young. She was in a room with about 4 other parrots (separate cages) of different varieties, and there are many other pets (mammals, reptiles, fish) that the owner divides her time amongst.

I have only had Pina about a month, but she seems petrified. Of me, of our house, of her new life. I thought I was bettering her life, taking her from a room packed with cages and aquariums. Now she lives in a much bigger cage in a large sunroom where I spend 75% of my day, and outside is a balcony where I put her cage for several hours (here in Austin TX, we have enjoyed 60+ degree weather almost every day since Pina came home with us!) Pina also was fed a strictly, single-type pellet diet before. Now she gets Lafeber in addition to every day having a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, always repeating her faves. I also have a huge bag of bird toys that accumulated over the years that I rotate in to see what she prefers; she only had a couple of toys before. While all those things may make her happier in some sense, I still believe she misses her former home.

I think Pina is lonely for other birds. She was next to a cage of parakeets and she sounds off just like them all the time. And that is the other thing - beside of trying most desperately to get as far away from me as she can anytime I get near the cage, Pina squawks all the time. Sometimes it seems she won't stop, and just when it has been a couple of days without the endless squawking, it begins again. Same squawk, same extremely high volume. My other GCCs chatted in varied tones and volumes, but they never kept the same mood/alarm going all the time like poor Pina. And her consistent body language when I am near is bending over, slighting holding out her wings, facing the other direction; I recognize this as most GCCs wanting to take off, but for her it is constant (when I am around) and she always faces the direction opposite me. Please understand - I don't really care about her rejection or the squawking; but I HATE it that Pina seems so unhappy. I am here to find out how to make her happy. Btw, I have been doing things like daily hanging out very near her cage without looking directly at her or attempting to interact, so she gets used to me being present without trying to "get" her. I also eat a little something when I feed her, so we eat together like a flock would. Other suggestions would be most helpful.

Do I simply need to give Pina time? I can give her decades if necessary. But I read that some birds never warm up - this I can accept but in reality, is the problem that my flock-lover is lonely for other birds? Would she be happier back with her former bird friends? I would tell the former-owner to keep the money only if she kept the bird here with her pals (she is a neighbor who I see somewhat regularly, and I don't think would try to resell Pina as that really isn't a business for her).

Or should I get another GCC to keep Pina company? I understand that they probably will become bonded and subsequently have no interest in me . . . that would be twice as sad to me as Pina not having interest in me, but still less sad than my Pina feeling lonesome for the rest of her life. I would rather the 2 birds be happy without me, and for me find pet-companionship in another animal.

Or is there a chance - my sincerest hope - that she will warm up to me? Is there a way to tell?
Last edited by pina's mom on Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
pina's mom
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 3
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: GCC, high-red pineapple
Flight: No

Re: Anxous bird

Postby Pajarita » Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:07 am

Welcome to the forum and I am sorry you are having such a hard time with your Pina!

Now, although it is true that some birds never warm up to people, it's not true that this would happen to a hand-fed highly social bird so the question here is: was Pina handfed or parent-raised? Mind you, it doesn't mean that parent-raised is a lost cause, it just means that the advice and time it will need is different.

Now, without going into more precise details (I need to find out if she is hand-fed or not for that), I have a couple of suggestions to you and a couple of 'comforting comments'. First the comments: it takes a much longer time for a rehome bird to feel comfortable in its new home than a baby would. It's common sense, a baby is very trusting and malleable while an adult bird (at two years of age, she -do you know for a fact that Pina is a female?- is sexually mature already) is used to the conditions where it lived under during its infancy and youth. So I would not worry too much about her appearing to be scared after only one month of being with you and, in truth, I would NEVER consider returning her to a home where she has been ignored by the human in charge (which is obvious from the way she is behaving). She will adjust to you, will realize that you pose no threat to her and will stop being scared first, then she will begin to trust you and, finally, she will love you (the depth of the bond depends on whether she was hand-fed or not).

Now, the suggestions. First determine the exact distance that makes her react to your presence. To do this, walk toward the cage (without actually looking at her, use the corner of your eye) and stop as soon as you see her moving away from you or adopting that position she does - take a single step back and mark the spot because that is where you are going to sit (you can move things around, like an arm chair or whatever). You are going to sit there for a couple of hours at a time and see if you can manage to do this twice a day, every day. Read a book, watch TV, knit, crochet, embroider, play solitaire or video games - whatever will keep you sitting down in the same room she is, quietly (you can have the radio or TV on) and without looking at her. Follow the EXACT same routine every single day without any change. I know this sounds difficult but, in reality, it's all a matter of planning and it's not forever. I plan all my errands, appointments, etc for after 2 pm just so my birds don't have to short-changed in their flight time (they stay out later during the summer but it's always 2:00 pm during the short days). I have leeway because I've been doing this forever so, sometimes (like yesterday, when I had to drive 2 hours to pick up a companion for my GCC), they go in a bit earlier and don't mind too much but, at the beginning, when I have a new bird, I keep to the exact routine because there is nothing that comforts a bird more than knowing what is going to happen, when and how, and seeing their 'prediction' come true. It gives them a sense of power over their own lives - something that is sadly missing in captivity and part of their life in the wild. Don't worry too much about eating in front of her - this is actually a VERY good and useful trick but you need to wait until she feels comfortable with you. What you need to do now is get her used to your presence and voice so talk to her, sing. whistle and every now and then, offer her a treat. She won't take it now and that's OK, just leave it there for her and walk away. Now, for her to be eager for the treat (which should be a high value item), you can't free-feed protein because, if you do, she will never approach you for the treat. Try feeding her gloop, chop or mash in the morning and protein food only for dinner.

I just picked up a VERY scared male GCC yesterday so I am pretty much in the same boat you are right now. He is all plucked (even his head) from other birds pecking him and his own plucking, scrambles to the other side of the cage when I approach it and hangs on to the bars as if for dear life (his tail is all broken) and looks very scared (plumage flat against his body, tense muscles, look of panic in his eyes, etc) but I don't give it a second thought, to be honest, I just go ahead with my routine as if he wasn't there. I am used to birds being scared when they first come and I know they will all learn to trust me after a while - even the abused ones and even the parent-raised ex-breeders and even the wild-caughts! Parrots are highly social and very forgiving animals and I know that if I wait them long enough, they will be OK.

Now, as to a companion for her... For one thing, you will need to make sure she was DNA'd a female so you can get her a male and, for another, I would not get one yet. I would wait until I establish a relationship with her first so, although I ALWAYS recommend getting lone birds mates or companions of their own species (it's the ONLY way they are healthy and happy), I do believe it's best for them to get them once they feel at ease with me, first.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 15274
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: Anxous bird

Postby liz » Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:03 am

I would try to get her budgies. They were his support.
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liz
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Gender: This parrot forum member is female
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BF Amazon Myrtle
Cockatiels: Shadow Tammy Flutter Phoenix Jackie
Andy Impy Louise
Flight: Yes

Re: Anxious bird

Postby pina's mom » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:47 am

Thank you very much for your reply. Especially with such detail. Pina was hand-raised. And for a little more background, when I bought her sister Peggy Sue at 4 months, she was one of 4 siblings including Pina; Pina was the last in the cage when I got her last month, at almost exactly 2 yo. Nearby were the budgies, a cockatiel, and a eucalyptus (but as mentioned, separate cages). I don't know her sex and obviously that is something I need to do before finding a companion for her/him. Would doing so sooner help with understanding behavior?

So may ask more of your time? Is it imperative that the future companion-bird is the opposite sex? And is this because birds of the same sex fight? Mostly just curious, although I would think birds of the opposite sex might be more likely to want little to do with me - again, that would be fine with me and eventually will get a companion bird regardless. However, it would be my preference to be able to interact comfortably with one or both.

Also, what about other species of birds? I read that if one bird is significantly larger than the other, that the smaller bird likely will be picked on. What if the other bird is about the same size like a poicephalus or cockatiel? I know personality-wise that there very well may be a world of difference between types, and that some birds may be cooler with other varieties than most . . . but I don't even know where to begin and end that conversation. I still think that if not a GCC, I would want a different kind of conure like a Jenday. However, most importantly I would like to rehome a friendly bird. So I definitely would be open to other birds but only those that would be a good fit.

And then, how far down the road should I address that? I am assuming the starting point would be from when Pina warms up enough. Sorry for yet another question but what does that look like? Stepping up on my finger or merely finally being relaxed enough to come out of the cage door when it is open . . . or is there a different indicator? Btw, I know you are not judging but I believe in flight birds and my others were, but Pina was clipped when I got her.

Also, thank you for the insight regarding routine in parrots' lives. It always helps me to know how to respond correctly when I understand what their innate motivation is. I do spend quite a bit of time with Pina. Her cage is next to my desk, and I am in that room 95% of 9am to 5pm. Also, the balcony is just on the other side of the glass door by my desk and she spends the midday hours there; in all, I would say I spend about 3.5 hours within 3 feet of her while she is inside, and about 4.5 with her on the other side of the window.

Thanks again. Always wonderful to know someone out there cares about others' birds' well-being. This I get, because I know I would help someone make their little lovie happy if I could.
pina's mom
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 3
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: GCC, high-red pineapple
Flight: No

Re: Anxious bird

Postby pina's mom » Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:19 am

p.s. thank you for rehoming a conure. I am always heartened by such stories. Good luck and I hope we see more about his successful transition to a happy life
pina's mom
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 3
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: GCC, high-red pineapple
Flight: No

Re: Anxious bird

Postby Pajarita » Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:10 am

:lol: ALL my animals are rehomes, rescues or adoptions - all of them, dogs, cats and birds. I believe that commercializing companion animals is immoral and should be illegal.

Now, let me see if I can answer all your questions. How would you know when Pina is bonded to you? Well, I can assure you that you will know without the shadow of a doubt. GCCs are one of the most needy species of parrots - so much so that I often compare them to cockatoos. These little birds want nothing more than to perch on your shoulder and cuddle next to your neck. They CRAVE and NEED company the same that they need food and water! I always say my Codee GCC is a 'kissing fool' because the very first thing she does when I offer my finger to her is climb up my arm to my shoulder, rush to my face and putting her beak to my cheek, make a kissy noise and she does it over and over and over. She is the sweetest and most affectionate little thing - and this did NOT change when she bonded with poor Pablo (the peachfront that died). Actually, it was the perfect situation because I got to enjoy her company by having her two solid hours on me every day but, after that, I would put her in her cage with her boyfriend (they never had sex, he was old and severely handicapped, but they loved each other dearly) and she was more than happy to cuddle up to him for the rest of the day and night. And it's the same thing with all the other birds I have that are bonded to another bird, they still love me as much as they always did but they are happier and healthier for the bond with another bird (because, let's face it, no human can provide the same kind of constant attention and company to them!). So, no, it's not true that you would lose the bond with your bird if the bird bonds to another bird.

Why does it have to be a bird of the same species but of opposite gender? Well, it doesn't. But, let me qualify this. Parrots, being highly social animals, need company 24/7/365 to be happy and, when they don't have another of their own species or a human there for them all the time, they might end up bonding with a bird of a completely different species: my female GCC, the one I got the male for, was bonded to a male Peachfront conure, my male cockatoo is bonded to my female Congo gray and my male African Redbelly is bonded to my female quaker (I also had a male senegal/female Nanday pair) and I have a bonded pair of two female amazons of different species as well has had a two male tiels pair and even threesomes!). But hand-fed parrots are birds that have an identity crisis becasue they were stolen from their parents so they could imprint to humans (instead of imprinting to their parents -meaning birds of their own species and different genders) which causes them all kinds of problems in the long run, namely, lack of survival skills and proper socialization, etc. But the worst part of it is that some of them get completely confused as to what they are, birds or humans (you must have heard of birds that want to have sex with their owners) so, although this is not usually a big problem with the little ones, one should take this into consideration and offer them a companion that is of the same species and opposite gender as you will always have a better chance of getting them to bond with what nature determined was the right 'match' than to something else. The other consideration is that having one bird of each species is not good for either bird (they don't even speak the same language) and, chances are, you will end having to split yourself trying to keep both of them happy. And believe me when I tell you this is not an easy thing to do with animals that want to be with you 24/7 and are jealous of you paying attention to anybody or anybirdy else! I always strive real hard to get my birds companions of their own and, although my first consideration is their happiness, I also do it to make things easier on me!

Your spending so much time with her is great but make sure her cage has a solid side (either put it against a wall or drape a material over the back) - it helps them relax because, as prey, the 'solid wall' means no predator is going to come from this side.

Now, make sure her diet is the right one because that makes a huge difference not only in their general health but also in their mood as protein makes them hormonal and hormones mean aggression PLUS it will help you with the bonding (I'll explain below). GCCs are mainly fruit eaters so you can't free-feed (this means you fill up a bowl and leave it there all day long) protein food (pellets, seeds, nuts, avicakes, nutriberries, etc) because, if you do this, the bird will end up with high uric acid and fatty liver disease. I feed all my parrots gloop and raw produce for breakfast and all day picking and give them their protein food for dinner in a measured amount (imagine the size of the crop and give enough to fill it - for a GCC is a teeny tiny bit less than a level tablespoon, mine get budgie seed mix because my research of 25 years into their natural diets has taught me that pellets are not and never will be the best dietary option for them -I can elaborate on the reasons, if you wish). GCCs are EXCELLENT eaters and very easy to convert to a health, fresh food diet. The new guy I got was fed exclusively a mix of pellets, seeds, nuts and dried fruit (it's called Bird Paradise Ultimate Blend and it's CRAP!!!) all his life and had never had any fresh produce but he ate a slice of apple and all his gloop on his first day here and he has been trying new things every day -well, he refused to eat his raw carrot and the zucchini and the leafy greens are very spotty but, aside from these two, he has been very good. Now, why a better diet will also help with the bonding? Because a bird that is free-fed protein food will not be tempted by it when you offer it as a treat! There is nothing that shows an animal more clearly that one wants to be its friend that giving it food it likes. It's as simple as that. Now, hebivores are not the same as carnivores or even omnivores in this sense because it means more to a predator to get food than it does to a hervibore. A predator needs to hunt (which means an effort) while herbivores simply eat what they find, and although there might be a need for a certain amount of effort to find it (especially now that we are destroying natural habitats left and right!) it's more a social occasion than anything else. But parrots crave protein (because it's needed for life and reproduction and it's not easily found in abundant and constant sources in nature) so all their high value items (the type of food they like the best) are always protein food so, when you feed gloop, mash, chop or whatever for breakfast and offer the bird a single seed in your hand, the bird will force itself to take it from your hand just because it wants it badly. BUT, if the bird has protein food available all the time, it will not put any effort into getting it.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 15274
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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