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Help with my aggressive Blue Front Amazon?

Nightstar

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Hi, I'm new here. I was recommended this forum after looking for advice on reddit's r/parrots for my blue front amazon's aggression issues. This is essentially what I posted there:

It's been almost 3 years since we took in Loro. He is a 40 year old blue front amazon that was originally my grandma's, and when she died he was passed down to my aunt. 15 years later, my aunt died as well and loro was passed down to my father. Unfortunately, when we saw him in my aunt's care he was in an absolutely terrible state. We bought a bigger cage for him, gave him a proper varied diet and plenty of enrichment, so now he is much healthier, stronger and energetic.

There's one big issue, though. Loro can't really spend time outside the cage, or at least not the right amount of time. He only trusts my father and is extremely aggressive, so whenever he is let out, he attacks everyone else in the room. I've had my hands and feet chewed up really badly several times. Loro's aggression is due to all the abuse he endured in my aunt's care. He generally feels safer inside the cage because he used to be beaten with brooms whenever he sneaked out at my aunt's house ¬¬. When out of the ''safety'' of his cage, he is always on edge. Back when my father brought him here, I did research on the subject and it seemed that rescued parrots this old are very hard to socialize again. We tried many things, mainly spending a lot of time with him talking and doing positive interactions. My mother even keeps his cage roofless while she does laundry, so she gets to talk/sing to him, give treats and also let him enjoy a little bit of freedom. We thought this could warm him up to us while at the same time help Loro relate the outside to positive experiences... but honestly? He has only gotten more aggressive. He stares at my mother and I with murder in his eyes, and whenever we walk close to the cage he literally slams himself on the bars, trying to bite us. He got me once on the arm and it was awful.

To make things worse, I think that, after feeding him a proper diet and providing enrichment/exercise, Loro is stronger than ever and consequently wants to get out more than ever as well. So this only made him even more aggressive due to frustration. I'm getting really concerned for him, because in the past few months I've been really thinking that Loro may just... never have a good life with my family. When we took him in, I brought up the dreadful topic of putting Loro in a sanctuary and the reaction I got from my father was NOT good. That parrot is his very last memory from his mother and he is extremely attached to him, so he is completely against it even if it's for Loro's good. So it didn't surprise me that he was even less open to that option when I brought it up again last night. I recently told my mother about the minimal time outside a parrot requires and now she feels super guilty, even agreeing that a sanctuary could be the best option for him. Unfortunately she can't convince my father. He insists sanctuaries are ''organizations that secretly sell donated birds to the ilegal pet trade''.

As a second option, I mentioned the possibility of building Loro an aviary in our yard. My mother has plans for renewing the house and yard next year, and using that space for building a wider, more enriching space for Loro could be a great idea. She likes it, but is hesitant about the costs of this investment. I'm not quite sure of the materials needed to make something like what we've had in mind, and how much it would add to our current expenses(covid screwed up our finances, plus my mother will lose her job pretty soon). It's also so hard to properly discuss this with her because she has this maddening habit of switching sides whenever my father is in the room. When I talk to her she mostly agrees with me, but when she is with my father he very easily fills her head with insecurities about the whole thing and makes her discard everything I proposed. Overall, he argues Loro is ''used'' to living in the cage as it is and spending money on an aviary is foolish. I refuse to let him keep living like this, regardless. If the sanctuary is truly out of question(I haven't given up on it yet), then we WILL have a decent aviary whether my father likes it or not.

Anyway, with all this rambling done... I really wanted to hear what you guys think. If you have some advice on toning down Loro's aggression, what to consider for an aviary or sanctuary, tips on the materials to use for an aviary, the ideal size, etc. I'm just so frustrated with this whole situation and I feel super lost on how to approach it at all. Keep in mind we had zero experience with parrots before Loro ended up in our hands, so we are still learning. I just really want him to have the best life possible with us. It's the least he deserves after so much abuse.
 

macawpower58

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How large is his cage? I know you said you got a bigger one, but how big?
Sometimes not enough room will lead to extreme territorialism.
Blue Fronts are also infamous for hormonal aggression. Have you asked a vet's advice?
I know they do have some stuff they can give to calm that down, not sure if that's a good idea or not, just tossing it out there.
My first idea would be as large a cage as you can have. One that will give him more room to exercise and move about.
Second is deciding the best place for it. Does he like family around? Or would he prefer a corner where it's quieter.
Hankmacaw has experience with this, she had a very aggressive macaw that came from a bad environment.
Hopefully she'll have some advice for you also.

@Hankmacaw
 

Shezbug

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Welcome to the Avenue :hiya:
 

Clueless

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My amazons were old guys. MC turned out to be a sweetheart after a few years and we lost him to cancer in April.

Secret still has bad moments but take a look at this picture. See the eyes? No pinning so all is ok. You have to give them some space. Maybe the cage is too close to everyone? Is there a wall behind the cage so the bird feels safe? Can the bird hide behind toys so they aren't visible? Is there plenty of toys so the bird can destroy them? 20200921_205121.jpg
 

Nightstar

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How large is his cage? I know you said you got a bigger one, but how big?
Sometimes not enough room will lead to extreme territorialism.
Blue Fronts are also infamous for hormonal aggression. Have you asked a vet's advice?
I know they do have some stuff they can give to calm that down, not sure if that's a good idea or not, just tossing it out there.
My first idea would be as large a cage as you can have. One that will give him more room to exercise and move about.
Second is deciding the best place for it. Does he like family around? Or would he prefer a corner where it's quieter.
Hankmacaw has experience with this, she had a very aggressive macaw that came from a bad environment.
Hopefully she'll have some advice for you also.
His cage is 70cm x ~120cm. I don't remember the exact height, but Loro has been tucked away and covered for the night. I don't want to go there bother him as he gets very angry.

We haven't had luck with avian vets. Since my aunt's death, my parents have been dealing with the whole legal process of managing her inventory, properties and whatnot, and consequently our finances have been super tight. Every single avian vet we've found in my city was far too expensive to afford a checkup, mainly due to all the exams Loro would be required to do(he is a 40 year old bird that NEVER went to the vet in his life). We found two affordable clinics before... only for them to go out of business shortly after. It's very frustrating -.-. Covid definitely didn't help either.

I've heard about his species' hormonal behavior and I've wondered, how about parrots that go through multiple owners? Does that have big effects in their hormonal balance? Loro originally had a super close bond with my grandma and probably saw her as his mate, but since her death he has gone through two other owners. I don't think he was close to my aunt in the slightest, but I can easily say his new bond with my father is almost as strong as my grandma's by now.

And yeah, that's why I brought up the idea of building an aviary for him. It's a way to offer him more space and enrichment without Loro attacking anyone. As for placement... I'm not quite sure which he prefers. He definitely enjoys the energy of humans interacting and talking around him, but there are days when he is quieter and more interested in observing our yard. We are in his native country, so he really likes to watch wild parakeets and parrots flying by.

By the way, man I really admire macaw owners. That beak terrifies me XD.

My amazons were old guys. MC turned out to be a sweetheart after a few years and we lost him to cancer in April.

Secret still has bad moments but take a look at this picture. See the eyes? No pinning so all is ok. You have to give them some space. Maybe the cage is too close to everyone? Is there a wall behind the cage so the bird feels safe? Can the bird hide behind toys so they aren't visible? Is there plenty of toys so the bird can destroy them?
Aw I love that sweet face. Loro's eyes are always pinning, now that I think about it.

Yes we keep the cage against a wall at all times, and it's in a place with moderate traffic. It's in the laundry room, which is in front of the yard and leads into the kitchen. The cage is placed right in front of the kitchen door, so Loro will see people eating and passing by to either enter or leave the house. When the sun isn't too strong and there are enough shadows, we move the cage in front of the laundry entrance so Loro can enjoy the fresh air and watch the yard. This way he can interact with us while also getting some quiet time for himself.

We actually struggle a LOT with toys. So far we haven't found any toys that last more than an hour under the might of Loro's beak, so his cage is very empty no matter how many toys we get. Loro destroys everything way faster than we can replace. We try to provide enriching treats to compensate for that, such as whole walnuts, which he spends a while rolling and cracking to get to the nut. Sugarcane sticks for him to carve up, full sunflower heads, coconut shells, etc.
 

Clueless

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I've wondered, how about parrots that go through multiple owners?

Yes we keep the cage against a wall at all times, and it's in a place with moderate traffic. It's in the laundry room, which is in front of the yard and leads into the kitchen. The cage is placed right in front of the kitchen door, so Loro will see people eating and passing by to either enter or leave the house. When the sun isn't too strong and there are enough shadows, we move the cage in front of the laundry entrance so Loro can enjoy the fresh air and watch the yard. This way he can interact with us while also getting some quiet time for himself.

We actually struggle a LOT with toys. So far we haven't found any toys that last more than an hour under the might of Loro's beak, so his cage is very empty no matter how many toys we get. Loro destroys everything way faster than we can replace. We try to provide enriching treats to compensate for that, such as whole walnuts, which he spends a while rolling and cracking to get to the nut. Sugarcane sticks for him to carve up, full sunflower heads, coconut shells, etc.
Secret and MC both had at least 3 owners plus each was a wild caught Amazon.

Toys need to be safe. Parrots (in my humble opinion) need to be able to have some toys they demolish quick and some that are harder that they are slow to destroy. We have a LOT of threads about how to keep toys safe and how to create your own.

For instance, MC had flat perches that were made out of safe lumber, I think they were 2 x 4's here from one of our vendors. That perch doubled as a toy because he chewed on it.

I have rods that hold wood pieces that are drilled. When the parrot would cause a wood piece to fall off, you could pick up the piece and put it in a stainless steel bowl that I put in the bottom of the cage. Now there is a foraging opportunity for the bird. Slide a treat into the bowl and wha la, instant fun.

If his cage is relatively empty, perhaps that is part of the problem?

Sugarcane sticks? I don't think those are good for a parrot. @Hankmacaw would know more than I.

I can tell you that sunflower seeds probably led to Secret being on medication. Amazons are prone to fatty liver disease.
 

Shezbug

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I would choose to replace the sugar cane sticks with maybe some fresh branches or bamboo for him to chew instead of the sugar cane, sugar cane is not a healthy treat for him really and there are plenty of other things he can shred and chew up that are not full of sugar.

Check what (bird safe) trees you have available to you and maybe cut him some smaller branches with leaves still on- most birds love these and will happily remove the leaves and bark and split the twigs and branches.
 

Clueless

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Could I ask what country you are in?

Perhaps others in that area will have ideas on bird safe trees there. Some plants and trees are poisonous and you need to make sure that the ones you choose that ARE safe haven't been exposed to any pesticide.
 

Nightstar

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Secret and MC both had at least 3 owners plus each was a wild caught Amazon.

Toys need to be safe. Parrots (in my humble opinion) need to be able to have some toys they demolish quick and some that are harder that they are slow to destroy. We have a LOT of threads about how to keep toys safe and how to create your own.

For instance, MC had flat perches that were made out of safe lumber, I think they were 2 x 4's here from one of our vendors. That perch doubled as a toy because he chewed on it.

I have rods that hold wood pieces that are drilled. When the parrot would cause a wood piece to fall off, you could pick up the piece and put it in a stainless steel bowl that I put in the bottom of the cage. Now there is a foraging opportunity for the bird. Slide a treat into the bowl and wha la, instant fun.

If his cage is relatively empty, perhaps that is part of the problem?

Sugarcane sticks? I don't think those are good for a parrot. @Hankmacaw would know more than I.

I can tell you that sunflower seeds probably led to Secret being on medication. Amazons are prone to fatty liver disease.
Loro is a wild caught too, actually. Way back when my grandma got him the laws weren't as strict and it was nearly impossible to reinforce them in the countryside, which means that, unfortunately, Loro is ilegal -.-'. We've looked into officially registering him, but it seems that just reaching out about this can result in Loro getting confiscated and my parents would be fined for the ilegal possession of exotic birds. Ugh.

I always do research before giving him anything. We grow sugar canes in our yard, and when I looked up whether it was ok to give some to a parrot, the results were generally positive(actually it seems like a common treat?). Loro loves chewing and shredding sugar cane, it keeps him busy for hours. I'm careful not to give him too much, though, since it is a SUGAR cane. It's only something we give him once in a while(in fact, the last time was over two months ago). We are doing the same for sunflower heads and only give him one as a big special treat when he behaves. He gets to shred and pick at the seeds straight from the bloom. Do you think that should be cut off entirely? When it comes to sunflower seeds, I've seen some people arguing for cutting it all off and others arguing that it's ok in moderation, it's kinda confusing.

Man Loro chews on his perches a lot, but they are very sturdy, thankfully. When he still lived in that filthy, cramped cage, he only had steel perches, meaning that he never got in contact with any wood or plant matter in over 15 years! As soon as we introduced him to wooden toys and perches, he pretty much became a chainsaw. As I said, we've been struggling horribly with toys. Owning a parrot is still something so new to me, I have a hard time picturing making toys for him myself. I will definitely take a look at the threads as you suggested.

And I live in Brazil. Most of the plants we give him are grown in my yard without pesticides.
 
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Dona

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I had wild caught amazons back in the 70s too. But they were lilac crowns and an orange wing, so the less spicy for sure. Toys were not as available back then and I literally bought pieces of safe lumber and would pile them up in the bottom of the cage.

How about the lighting situation? How long does he sleep in mostly darkness? I know my Linnie's "aggression" really calmed down when she slept more. Now she begs for lights off around 7:30PM and on at 7AM. Too much daylight can make a bird hormonal.
 

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Well, you may never be best friends with Loro. From what you have said he has chosen your dad and that's the ways it is. You may eventually be an acceptable roommate, but not a best buddy. @JLcribber please provide the Sex and the psittacine link ( I promise I'll copy and save it this time ). A lot of what is in this article applies to Loro and you and your dad.

I'd like to talk about Loro's health a little, because he is an older bird and has been on a horrible diet for so long. Be aware that Amazons are susceptible to heart disease, atherosclerosis and liver disease (including fatty liver disease). Without a vet check you won't know if he has any of these diseases, but there are a few things you can do to counter him getting them or them getting worse. First definitely get some Milk Thistle and give it to him consistently - this is the one I used for many years. Make sure that any you get is non-alcoholic ( https://smile.amazon.com/Natures-An...09&sprefix=liquid+milk+thistle,aps,209&sr=8-5. It is important to keep his diet very low in fat - lots of vegetables and ideally Roudybush's pellets for liver disease. Very little fruit - if you have papaya there that is a perfect fruit for him. Treats that are good for him are walnuts, almonds and pistachios.

Please, no sugar. At his age he is a candidate for diabetes. Just his normal foods and fruit will have plenty of sugar for him.

I had a wild caught Greenwing macaw that had been physically abused for 10 years. He finally became my best buddy after three years of intense effort - on his part and my part - but he never ever got completely over the abuse. Occasionally when he would lose it, I would have to leave him alone until he got himself under control. He never forgot that humans could hurt him.

I'm sure this is a lot to absorb all at once, but Loro deserves all of the peace and happiness he can get after 15 years of misery.
 

sunnysmom

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It sounds like your bird likes to be busy. Maybe even give him a card board box and fill it with some chunks of safe wood, some paper and hide a couple walnuts, etc and let him forage in it. Toys don't have to be elaborate just things to keep them busy. :) Also, does he have a perch or somewhere to go when he's out? And if you're his main care taker, maybe make sure you're the only one to give him something he really likes- like walnuts or whatever- so he starts to see you as the person that gives him his favorite thing.
 

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Thank you for reaching out to improve Loro's life. I had a YNA from a rescue/hoarder situation. Charlie came to us scared, angry and frustrated. He was wild caught too. First thing we did was a full check up. He had pulmonary hypersensitivity disease, fatty liver, sores under his feathers and a toe that we needed to have amputated. I never wanted him tame, just healthier, in a clean environment and to feel safe. We got him a very large house and added a few wood toys at the start. He was terrified of toys so we didn't over do it at first. We put him in a corner of the living room where he could see everything but still had his space. It took weeks for him to stop screaming when I would change his water and food and clean his house. He would get so scared and frustrated that he attacked his own legs. Go slow and move at his pace. Give him the life he deserves and needs. This is the first time Charlie felt safe enough to get on a play stand I put need to his house. 20200405_195224.jpg
 

Nightstar

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I've been reading the resources for parrot toys in those threads and man, I never realized we could be so crafty with toys for them. Before Loro, my only proper experience with bird care has been chickens and they eat literally everything. So I just assumed using stuff like toilet paper and cloth would have risks of being swallowed by the bird. As a cat owner, I'm very used to crafting toys out of cardboard, paper, cloth, everything... so you can imagine how relieved I am to find out I can do the same for Loro.

@Dona
His tallest perch is under fully covered by cage roof, so when he feels like hiding he climbs there. Loro usually hides away at 19-20:00 and that's our cue to cover his cage with a tarp for the night. It's specifically a light blocking tarp, too.

@Hankmacaw
I definitely don't expect to be best friends with him, honestly, just being tolerated would be great. The same for my mother.

How should I use the milk thistle extract, though? And alright, I will talk to my parents about cutting off sugar canes. We keep his diet very varied and change it along the seasons, given some fruits and vegetables are only available in specific times of the year. We do feed him plenty of fruits, though, so that's something I gotta change too. In the current season, my father is giving him half an apple and a slice of either papaya or mango a day, plus brazilian nuts(which he enjoys cracking), lettuce and another vegetable of choice.

By the way, when we first saw Loro in those awful conditions, he was very thin and had a very tattered look to his feathers. A friend of mine whjo is experienced with birds recommended giving him a diet with lots of protein so he could recover his strength, so we included lots of nuts in his meals. As he got better we toned it down, but he still eats plenty of nuts regularly, specially brazilian nuts. Is this a problem?

@Greylady1966
Poor guy, he looks like he had a really rough time. Mine was super scared of toys too when we first introduced him to some.
Now that I think about it, it's a wonder how Loro came out of his abusive experience without any self-harming habits. He never even plucked himself. It seems he is focused on letting out his trauma on others rather than himself.
 
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Hankmacaw

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Brazil nuts are a little high in bad fats, but if that's what you have. Can you get almonds in Brazil - they are the very best nuts for a bird. Otherwise, walnuts and cashews. DO NOT FEED HIM PEANUTS - ESPECIALLY THOSE IN THE SHELL.

Does he get a lot of sunshine unfiltered, meaning not through glass? Yes, it is much, much better for Loro to put on weight with protein. If you can get him some commercial pellets that would be great. They have all of the vitamins and trace metals needed by your bird. I looked a little for a parrot supply store in Brazil, but could not find one - maybe you can.

When you get the Milk thistle put about 10 drops in his water every day. Be sure he gets his water bowl washed and fresh water every day.
 

Nightstar

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I think almonds are off season right now, but we actually just entered cashew season. I'm eating cashews right now XD. My father is going to roast the nuts later.
Oh really? What's the issue with the shells? I knew peanuts were fatty, but I don't remember seeing anything about the shells.

Yes, we place him outside every day to catch sunrays without glass, and it's always when there are shadows too so he doesn't have to be fully exposed if he doesn't want to. As for the store, here in Brazil we don't really have chain pet stores, so that's probably why. Each store is usually independent or affiliated with supermarkets. I'll look into pellets, regardless. Is there any particular brand you'd recommend? Maybe they sell here too.

Thanks a lot for the tips, by the way. I'm noting it all down ^^.
 

Hankmacaw

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Some people will make fun of or say it's not true about peanuts and aspergillosis - but not one veterinarian will say to feed peanuts to a bird. This article explains how peanuts are so very dangerous.

.

This is personal to me. My Jasper a 27 year old GW female, who had been my roommate for 21 of those years
died 11 days ago. She was a victim of aspergillosis and heart disease. The aspergillosis killed her, but it was miserable for her and for me. I'm still grieving greatly, but helping other birds helps me.

Roudybush pellets sell in Europe and some other areas and they are very good pellets - Maybe you can find them in Brazil.

 
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