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First experience with Grey, rehomed

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First experience with Grey, rehomed

Postby Simourg » Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:02 am

Hello! Recently (9 days ago) I took in a rehomed CAG. I was told that it's a male (which I am not sure about) and that he's two years old. He lived with the previous owner only for two months and I don't know most of the story behind it.
He was brought in a very small cage with one perch in it. Because the twist was so unexpected, I didn't make any preparations for his arrival. But I got him a new cage as soon as I could, and here we are now, with a new big cage. The problem is I don't know how to move him to this bigger cage. The parrot is not hand-tamed, but he takes treats when I offer them holding between the tips of my fingers. I also found out he can fly when I made a wrong choice of letting him out of his cage. I ended up catching him in a towel and forcing him back because he stayed on the top of the cage for a day and didn't eat anything (I didn't feed him on the top of his cage hoping that he would get hungry and go back into his cage). I felt really bad about toweling and forcing him back, but he was starving himself and I am strongly against teaching a parrot to eat outside the cage.
I hate his current little cage and I want to move him in a less stressful way to his new cage, but I don't know how. I can't handle him (in any meaning) right now, and I don't want to let him out again on his own, too.
Also, he starts every morning (about 6:30) with somersaulting in his cage: he leans forward and bounces up and down on the perch with wings slightly put away from his body and makes small "ehee" and high-pitched whistling sounds and then somersaults climbing upside down in his cage several times in a row. In the process he also points on the door of the cage, so I know he just wants me to let him out (which I did once). What seems really weird to me is that this behaviour is really repetitious and seems very obtrusive. He doesn''t even react on offering him seeds or talking to him while performing this behaviour. It almost looks like he is trying to drive me crazy. :) I hate his cage as much as he hates it; but I don't want to make any rushed decisions. I think about opening the door of his smaller cage into the bigger cage and see how it goes. He doesn't have any toys yet (they just don't fit in his super small cage) and the only treat he likes is a sunflower seed, so it may be the only way to attract him into his new cage. I will be very grateful if you give me your opinion on this topic and help me with some advice!
Simourg
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 2
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Congo African Grey
Flight: Yes

Re: First experience with Grey, rehomed

Postby Pajarita » Wed Oct 18, 2017 11:45 am

Welcome to the forum! First of all, what is his name? The one he had from before I mean and not a new one that you might like better -let me explain this in more detail. There are studies that tell us that parent parrots name their babies in the nest and that babies continue using the same name or a small variation of it all their lives to refer to as well as introduce themselves to other birds - this tells us that parrots not only understand the concept of proper names but that they actually use them so I always recommend people who take in adults to continue using the same name they had before because giving them a new one will only confuse the bird and delay the process of his/her getting used to its new home - which is, actually, much longer than people realize. He IS tame - all handfed birds are. He is just not used to you. Parrots are not like dogs, nature did not give them a submission gene or an aggression one so they only attack for defense or protection OR when they are taught by humans who don't know how to handle them that biting is the only resort they have to get their point across - which is a good thing BUT the other side of it is that they are also not 'programmed' to be people-oriented and humans need to win them over. You've only had him a few days and he still doesn't trust you so you need to convince him that you are not only no threat to him [which you kind of messed up when you toweled him] but that you want to be his friend. This is done by respecting their wishes, not forcing them to do anything they don't want to do, having a HUGE amount of patience and simply loving them regardless of what they do or don't do.

Now, as to the gender. Look under his tail. You will see shorter feathers that 'cover' the beginning of the longer feathers that make the tail. These feathers [they are called 'tail undercoverts'] will be red like the tail BUT, in females, you will see a very thin grey edge at the very tip while, in males, they are completely red from beginning to end.

The movement and vocalizations you describe are, indeed, what you have already surmised: he is asking you to let him out. Now, I do realize that you tried and it seemed as if it did not work out because he did not go back into his cage for eating BUT birds don't commit suicide by starvation so, in reality, if you had waited long enough, he would have gone back into his cage to eat. BUT, given that his cage is so small, it is entirely possible that it was used only for sleeping and, if this is the case, he is used to eating outside his cage. I know that you said you are against this practice but I would strongly urge you to reconsider your position on this because ALL parrots eat outside their cage. They might get the main meal [gloop, pellets, seeds, whatever] in a bowl inside the cage but they all eat stuff outside. My parrots get their breakfast [gloop and raw produce] as well as their dinner [nuts and seeds] IN their cages but the ones that live in them [I have some that don't] actually eat produce outside of their cage. This is normal for them and, in truth, feeding them raw produce while they are perching outside a cage while you eat it standing in front of them, is the BEST way to get them to eat a varied diet [and grays are notoriously picky and difficult to convice to try new items so this is actually a GREAT help for the owner]. You most likely don't want him to eat outside the cage in order to keep things clean but I might as well tell you that it's absolutely futile. Parrots throw food all over the place and there is no changing this because it's part of their hard-wired behaviors to fulfill their ecological niche. Ergo, I suggest that if you are somebody who is a stickler for absolute neatness, you start looking for ways to minimize the cleaning [like putting a large cover on the floor around the cage, Plexiglas to protect the walls, etc]. It's no use fighting certain 'undesirable' parrot characteristics, it's best to resign yourself to the fact that you are living with an undomesticated animal and look for ways to get around them.

Now, as to his new cage. You should not move him - per se. It's best for him to get into it on its own and, in order for this to happen, he needs to be out of his little one and tempted into going into the new, larger one. It might happen the first day you let him out and it might take days and even weeks so arm yourself of patience because, in order for this to go smoothly, he needs to decide the move on its own and it might take some time. Put the new cage next to the little one [so he can see it all the time and get used to it] and 'fix it up' with different kinds of perches [never dowels! use things like natural tree branches, boodas and sweetfeet], his water and food bowl and toys [start with soft, colorful 'chewies' like this one: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/p ... atid=35526]. If you are going to use one with a bell, make sure the clapper is too big for the bird to get into its beak and that the whole thing is made out of stainless steel. I would also tie a branch or a couple of them to the side of the cage on the outside so he can climb up - they love heights and they love branches.

His cage should be tall enough that his roosting perch is at your eye level when you are standing [making it shorter will give him the feeling that you are a predator looming over him]. It should be near a source of natural light [a window, French doors] so he can get the exposure to dawn and dusk necessary to keep the solar schedule but there should also be a source of artificial light overhead [don't use the bird lights that clamp on the cage, they are too close to their eyes and dangerous to their vision]. It should also be either against a wall or have a solid cover in the back [like a thick material draped over it] -this makes them feel safe because they know that a predator will not be approaching from that side.

Now, how to go around getting his trust and love... First of all, don't stare at him [only predators do that]. You will be able to look at him straight once he is used to you but until then, look at him out of the corner of your eye and don't approach him in a straight line, do it casually so he doesn't feel you are stalking him. Spend as much time as you can in the same room as him - talk, sing, whistle while you do 'your thing' [cleaning, computer, phone, etc] and, every now and then, offer him a treat and, when he takes it, praise praise praise him profusely. Parrots are masters of the human body language and tone of voice and even when they don't know what we are saying, they can tell by the way we say it and move if this is a positive interaction or a negative one. I always use a cheery, high pitched tone of voice with them normally and it works out for me [all my birds have come to me from somewhere else so I've had to 'win over' every single one of them]. But, the most important thing you can do for him is to follow STRICT schedules and routines doing always the same things, in the same order, at the same time every day - no weekends, no holidays, no sick days, no nothing -every day has to be the same, starting at dawn and ending at dusk.

I've had all kinds of animals but, in my personal experience, parrots are the hardest -by far!- to keep happy and healthy... especially grays!
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 11984
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: First experience with Grey, rehomed

Postby Simourg » Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:50 pm

Hello! Thank you for such a thorough and detailed reply!
The story with his name is really a big mess! I only know that the girl that had him for two months named him Gray, but I have no idea whether he was given another name before or not. I would be okay with any name, but I have no idea which name he really identifies with himself. He doesn't have neither a foot ring, nor a certificate from a breeder and I have no idea how he's been raised and where does he come from. I am from Baku, Azerbaijan, and people here don't care about birds. We don't even have much bird pet supplies in our petshops and I have to purchase most of stuff online and wait until it arrives from another part of the world (literally). So this poor guy was purchased from a petshop (I don't know where do our petshops get this parrots from, because we hardly have, if we actually do, any breeders here in Baku), given as a present to this girl that couldn't take proper care of him and decided to sell the bird and I was the one who took him in. I wouldn't ever buy a parrot from a pershop because I see how horribly they are treated there, and I don't want to pay for it. I took him in because I could imagine how he would move from house to house and would be treated like a toy or would be totally neglected. I decided to commit and take care of him as long as he lives (or if I'm gone I hope my future kids will, one day). I have only had experience with my budgie, Musia, who passed away recently and who has taught me so much compassion and patience towards pet birds.

Speaking of meals outside the cage I mean the mains, e.g. breakfast and dinner, that I'm pretty sure should be served in the cage to make it a nice place for your parrot. I don't mind any mess, I don't know why would you even make this assumption, maybe I was too tough with my statement. :) I know that birds will get to eat some healthy stuff only as a snack during playtime. I did that with my budgie, handfed and offered her new stuff while she was outside her cage. There would be buckwheat and carrot pieces all over the floor of my room and I was so used to it that I actually miss all that mess.

I am actually really concerned that a parrot could starve himself to death, not because parrots are stupid, oh god, no, but because I feel like they're stubborn and would rather die than give in. Also why would any pellet company warn parrot owners that going cold turkey should be carefully supervised because their parrot could starve himself to death, refusing to eat pellets?

I've read about undercoverts differences in females and males and our tail feathers show pretty clearly that it is a her! :gray: And I am very happy about it! Females have as much personality as males and are super special. Anyway, I will have her DNA checked to be sure!

Thank you, again, for taking your time to write this reply. Some things I chose not to comment on just because they are quite clear to me and I will totally take all of them into account! I'm sure you're a super mom for your birds! I hope I will become one, too. Taking in a parrot makes me face a lot of my anxieties and poor choices. It can be very scary to admit, but just like my parrot, I feel like I also need time to adapt and to adjust to his/her presence in my life, so I could feel less insecure, less vulnerable and less anxious. And I know that she feels it! She recognizes my anxiety even if I speak in the sweetest voice. I know it because she is always vary and uncomfortable when I'm anxious. And when I'm relaxed she would act much more friendly and trusting than usually. I love it and it makes me want to keep working things out for myself and for her. :gray:
Simourg
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 2
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Congo African Grey
Flight: Yes

Re: First experience with Grey, rehomed

Postby Pajarita » Mon Oct 23, 2017 1:18 pm

Most likely, she was poached from the wild.... There is a huge problem with that in Africa and, as the only places where you cannot import poached birds is USA and the EU, unfortunately for the animals, the illegal trapping goes on decimating populations to the point of extinction. But this is no reflection on you who bought it from somebody else.

I now see what you were trying to do with only feeding her in her cage but birds never regard a cage as a 'nice' or a 'good' place. They do learn to tolerate it and, bless their hearts!, they don't usually give us trouble going into them as long as they are allowed to be out of it for many hours a day.

The reason why pellet manufacturers warn about not going cold turkey because the bird can starve is that pellets are not something that any bird would recognize as food! They don't look like anything that you can find in nature and they are unnaturally dry so why would they eat them? They look more like compressed saw-dust than any type of food... But they ALL know grains, seeds, greens, veggies and fruits are food as long as they have been exposed to them. I don't recommend pellets for any bird, actually. I've been doing research on their natural diets for over 20 years and have long ago reached the conclusion that they are not and never will be the best dietary option for a parrot so I don't use them.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 11984
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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