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Desperate For Help

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Desperate For Help

Postby Kingers6 » Wed Nov 20, 2019 7:48 pm

Hello All.
I am new here and have two parrots. A one-year-old Sun Conure and a 23-year-old Lesser Crested Sulfur Cockatoo named Lily. I have had Lily for about 2.5 weeks. We adopted her from a loving female owner who had to rehome her due to her baby being allergic. We are her third home and I understand that her first home was not great. She was neglected. I instantly bonded with her. She is a sweet, gentle girl. She transitioned to my home beautifully. She climbed out of the cage into my lap the second day she was here. All was going well until I attempted to get her out of the cage to take her to an appointment for disease testing. We tried for some time to coax her out, asked her to step up, etc... she would not. Finally, we were running short on time and I put on my husbands work gloves and picked her up. She did bite on the gloves and clearly did not want to come out. We went on to our appt and all went well. The women who drew the blood commented that she was the sweetest bird they’d ever met. Lily was fine when we got home. The next day, she was terrified of me. She is fine with my husband and two sons. When I come near the cage (she’s usually out), she panics and scrambles to get away from me. Oddly, if she is in her cage, she will allow me to pet her and takes food from me. In fact, she will come to the front of the cage and call for me if I walk away. She even puts her head to the bars and leans against it, looking for love. She usually behaves this way before bed and when things are calm and quiet. She is especially relaxed if her blanket is covering most of the cage. I am so very sad... in tears tonight. I have spent countless hours sitting next to the cage, talking gently, giving snacks. I’ve tried walking away quietly as soon as she seems the least bit nervous. I’ve tried, when she is tolerant, to desensitize her to my hands by putting them inside the cage and gently talking to her. I am losing hope. It’s been 10 days and she wants nothing to do with me... please help. I’m heartbroken. :cockatoo:
Kingers6
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 2
Number of Birds Owned: 2
Types of Birds Owned: Sun Conure, Lesser Sulfer Crested Cockatoo
Flight: No

Re: Desperate For Help

Postby Pajarita » Thu Nov 21, 2019 11:47 am

Hi, Kinger, Lily and Sunnie (you did not tell us her name), welcome to the forum and thank you so much for adopting Lily instead of getting another baby! Now, please, do not dispair, this is not, by any means, something that cannot be solved. Parrots are very loving and forgiving animals, thankfully for us! And, please, do not take the following paragraphs the wrong way because I am not scolding or criticizing you, I am just trying to explain what happened from the bird's point of view so you can understand what you did wrong and not repeat it in the future - and then I will tell what, in my personal experience, will help correct the situation. I do not blame you one single bit - what happened is actually extremely common in situations like this one. I think that you thought you could treat a rehomed adult bird the same way you treat the bird your have now, namely, a juvenile that you raised from a baby, which is a VERY common mistake people make. The intentions are the best but the behavioral knowledge people get from birds raised from babyhood is not really that extrapolable to adult rehomed birds... especially the ones that have had negative experiences with humans in the past.

First of all, you forced her into a unfamiliar, scary situation when she had not yet bonded with you. I know you thought she had when she climbed into your lap but no adult parrot bonds after just a couple of weeks, it just does not happen and it has nothing to do with you, what you did or did not do. It's the way they all are. When a parrot is rehomed, it goes into what we call 'the honeymoon period' when they are at their best behavior - even most of the aggressive birds don't attack during this time. The funny thing is that the honeymoon and their best behavior stops when they start to feel comfortable in their new home and are beginning to trust you - kind of showing their true colors same as a kid is first very well behaved with a new teacher or babysitter but starts acting up as soon as they get to know this person better, realize he/she is no threat and so they start 'pushing the envelope'.

Your first mistake was to take her to the vet before she had a chance to learn to trust you and love you. I always wait a few months before I do the first vet visit (ALL my birds are rehomes, adoptions or rescues) but, if there is a doubt about chronic disease or the bird being an asymptomatic carrier of a contagious disease, I recommend people take their adopted birds to the vet on their way home after picking them up so as to get over all the unpleasantness on the same day and before the bird has a chance to learn about you.

Second mistake was not to prepare for the trip by getting her used to the carrier slowly and gradually because it makes things so much easier for the human and much less stressful to the bird.

Third mistake was using the gloves - birds HATE gloves!

But all this is now water under the bridge and the important thing now is to concentrate on how to resolve this situation.

In order to do this, you need to understand that she now blames you for the ordeal and does not trust you not to do it again so your 'job' is now to very patiently show her over and over that you are no threat to her. And I do mean 'patiently' because, normally, a rehomed bird and its new human start at zero in their relationship but you are now at a negative number so it will take much longer. This is actually very simple to do but it does take time and planning so arm yourself of patience and figure out what is the best schedule for you to do this (the best time of the day for interaction is after their breakfast and before their noon rest OR immediately after they start stirring up after the noon rest and before the sun starts to set). You need to spend as much time as possible with her, you are to make absolutely NO demands (so no asking her to step up unless she asks you for it) and never to invade her privacy (so no putting your hand inside her cage to touch her even if she allows it). Just open the door to her cage and walk away (I always say: Come out? when I do this so they learn to ask for it). Do not stare at her, do not sit a few inches from her cage and concentrate on her. Do your own thing in the room where she is kept (and do not take her all over the house, either, keep her in the same room until she learns it and feels entirely safe in the now familiar environment - parrots are not naturally 'explorers' so it's essential that they feel completely safe before you introduce a new environment), read, watch TV, play games, etc and move around the room in a nonchalant way (there is nothing more reassuring to a prey animal that the potentially dangerous individual not paying attention to them). Talk, sing, dance (they love it when we sing or dance for them - my own LSC2 actually asks me for 'his' song so he can 'hum' along and dance to it with me), offer her a toy to chew on or something that will pique her interest (try a small pumpkin carefully washed and split in half or a nice, big, stiff cardboard box) and, every now and then, a treat - but, if she doesn't take it from your fingers, simply leave it where she can reach it and walk away because this is not a reward or a bribe, it's a gift you are giving her.

As the days go by, you will start to see a change in her (you need to observe her carefully but always in a non-threatening way - kind of out of the corner of your eye), a relaxing of her body, a fluffier look to her plumage (birds that are at a heightened 'alert' will keep their feathers stuck close to their body), a faster transition from one action to another (meaning, she will not just sit there kind of frozen for a second but will move from one action to another without hesitation - like immediately getting out of her cage when you open the door to it or moving closer to your hand when you offer her a treat), an extended range of 'investigating' (meaning she will be willing to venture further and further on her own) and a beginning of trust (you will start to notice that she eagerly anticipates your company by her moving closer to the side of the cage or stand you are (never loom over her, make sure that she is always at your eye level and make sure her cage is against a wall or, if this is impractical, drape some sort of material on the back to create a 'fake' wall but do NOT cover her cage during the day EVER).

A strict daily routine goes a long way to make them feel safe (the fact they can anticipate an action before it happens and see their 'prediction' come true gives them a sense of control over their lives -something they have in the wild but never in captivity), a super strict solar schedule with full exposure to dawn and dusk and a VERY wet diet with lots of fruits are incredibly beneficial to their health (toos were not created to eat dry pellets and little else) AND their mood (because the endocrine system does not only govern reproduction but also appetite, sleep, mood, cell renewal, etc. all the way to the immune system). A healthy bird is a happy bird. Give her lots of foods that are rich in tryptophan (oat groats are great for them) and use a good quality full spectrum light of the right specs (CRI 93+ and Ktemp 5000) to ensure a plentiful production of serotonin (the happy hormone).

I would also recommend that, unless the vet found something terribly wrong with her, you avoid taking her out of the house again for a looooong time. Vet visits are necessary but, sometimes, the stress they cause the bird ends up doing more harm than good.

And, again, I repeat, do not feel too bad about what happened. In truth, there isn't a single parrot keeper that has not made a million mistakes so, if doing something wrong was the end of a good, long term relationship with our parrots, none of us would have one. I, myself, have made some doozies and I am sure that I am still making mistakes every single day. The important thing is to learn from them so we advance a little bit further in our understanding of these complex, wonderfully loving and highly intelligent creatures.

Let me know if there is anything that needs further clarification or you have any doubts about what I suggested.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 15541
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: Desperate For Help

Postby Kingers6 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 3:05 pm

I cannot tell you how thankful I am for your thoughtful and reassuring response. I will follow every word of advice. She is incredibly lovely and ai do hope we have a long, loving relationship together. :sun: :cockatoo:
Kingers6
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 2
Number of Birds Owned: 2
Types of Birds Owned: Sun Conure, Lesser Sulfer Crested Cockatoo
Flight: No

Re: Desperate For Help

Postby Pajarita » Fri Nov 22, 2019 10:50 am

I am glad I could be of help. And, yes, cockatoos are simply lovely 'people'... a bit loud and very destructive but lovely, lovely souls.
We all wish you and Lily the best! And come back and tell us how it's going. We are a small forum of true bird lovers and care about not only our own birds but every single bird out there but the birds of our members become part of us, same as the ones we share our lives with.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 15541
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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