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GalaxyGirl

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9/18/22
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Sara
I have a 23 year-old African Grey named Henry that I rehomed a year and and nine months ago. I am his third home. The last owner whom I acquired him from was female and had him for approximately 18 years. The terms under which I was acquiring him were very vague as it sounded like she may be leaving for awhile, possibly an upcoming incarceration, and "he's being neglected." At the time, I didn't ask many questions because I was so excited to be getting an African grey for no cost and was beyond naive with exactly what I was getting myself into. Henry from the very beginning was beyond tough. He came to expect the seed/nut feed that his previous owner gave him as his primary food. I made the initial mistake of 100% substituting him to Zupreem pellets. He would throw the pellets and knock his bowl off the side of the cage. But the worst he would do is make this terribly loud and head-ramming CAWWW CAAWWW CAWWW sound that resembled a broom stick hitting his cage. I remember the previous owner offering me his old cage but said the "sides were busted in" which in hindsight made me think that his cage very well could've been hit repeatedly with a broom or wooden stick. Needless to say, I couldn't touch Henry without being nearly viciously bit for about 6 months, but even then could only very warily touch him inside the cage and be sure to be quick to remove my finger when he would flash on me and try to bite. On the otherhand, he bonded fairly quickly with my daughter who resembled the previous owner.
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Fast forward, to around a year, Henry began to bond more and more with me which I thought was a truly amazing feat. Since then, my life has changed and I am now engaged and Henry and my fiance do not get along at all. I was warned by the previous owner that he does not like men, however, I did not expect to fall in love like I have. Henry is well-behaved when I am home in the evenings, but essentially makes it unlivable for my fiance during the day. I have encouraged my fiance that it takes patience and time with parrots, especially with Greys who have been neglected and abused. My fiance feeds and waters him daily, but Henry continues to try and bite him whenever he can. My fiance is very sensitive and not patient, and this situation at home is coming to a head really fast. I don't know what to do. I feel like I'm between a rock and hard spot with either keeping my fiance or keeping my bird. I have explained to my fiance the fact that it took Henry a whole year to bond with me and that I am his THIRD home. I would feel terribly guilty to rehome him for a fourth time and frankly this is not something I want to do. My fiance feels I'm taking Henry's side over home and this is really driving a wedge between us. I could really use your insights and help here for what feels like a sad and hopeless situation. Thank you for reading.
 

Shezbug

ASK ME FOR PICTURES OF MY MACAW!
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I do not think there will be any fast fix for this situation and it will likely never be perfect for all but it could become tolerable for all involved, it will need all humans involved to learn how to be patient and consistent and put their feelings aside. Birds do not play by the same rules that other pets seem to- showering with love and treats will not always win them over but training can be a massive help in learning a common language and finding some common ground.

Would you and your partner be willing to maybe pay for some consultations with a bird behaviourist such as Pamela Clarke? I believe she does online consults.
 

GalaxyGirl

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Sara
Thank you Ms. Shezbug for your response. I would definitely be willing to seek some consultation as I’d like to do anything possible before a rehome for the fourth time. I will talk with my partner about this to see if he too would be willing. I am seeking a tolerable situation for all of us and thank you again for your insight and advice.
 

Shezbug

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Some others here will likely chime in with some helpful tips to get you guys started on making some changes.

Many members in this kind of situation find that getting the least favored person to be the one who gives out the treats to be helpful to start to make some positive connections in the birds mind- no actual physical contact, just the least fav person calmly passing the bird (without staring at them) and dropping a treat in a feed dish for the bird to get when ready, they start to look forward to seeing that person.
 

Pixiebeak

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Aww Galaxy Girl!
Should be such a happy time and now added stress. Congratulations on both your engagement and your personal success with Henry.

Pamela Clarke is an excellent resource with her online articles and blog and consultation. Plus she has a passion for greys.

Parrot conflicts with significant others is a common theme. When teens ask if they are ready for parrots it something I like to mention ...the fact a significant other might dislike the Parrot and the sacrifices Parrot require and possible Parrot disliking them.

What happens between Harry and your SO when you aren't home? Is Harry out and flying to him to attack? Or only when he comes over with food and water? Is he screaming?

African greys are just amazing in their observation and intelligence. On par or superior to great apes.

And all parrots as social intelligent creatures with complex social structures ( not a dominant leader), are excellent at reading us , and our non verbal cues. They pick up pupil size, skin flushing so much more. Our tension, stress , energy effects them. What we are they reflect back.

I guess first, an honest conversation with your partner. How much they both mean to you. How all relationships face challenges and conflicts, and how you see yourselves facing those together and supporting each-other through them. What's your team play or couple culture going to be? I have a feeling some other life stressors are playing a role in this dynamic.

Ok onto parrot stuff. Parrots like us react to change and need some time to adapt. I think re introducing your partner to your parrot and talking about it. Seems like something gets through, and especially with a grey worth always talking and explaining. So I'd be, hey Harry this is () and tgeynare my partner and we are all going to share our lives now. You don't have to be buddies but I expect you to both be polite and respectful of each-other. Part of that is always saying good morning, letting the parrot know when you each are leaving the house, and each going and saying hello when you return to the home.

I have all visitors to my home say hello and give a treat to all my burds. While I don't expect my parrots to let people touch them unless my parrots choose. I do expect them to step up to a visitor from me to say hello.

I have cage protective quakers. So if I need family or friends to give food or water, the parrots step out of the cage to perch on the outside of cage. Then they can do cage stuff. Is that something you can have Hsrry do? Make a routine and have him target away from dishes? If you make it so a bite can't happen.

I used to be the main pet sitter for a grey, and he definitely didn't like me. But I would have him come out if his csge and transfer to his supervisor perch next to the cage . Then I could take care of what was needed, then ask him to return.
 
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Pixiebeak

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I like this target training video. Target training could be a good tool for you all
 

Pixiebeak

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Foraging. A wonderful way to engage and occupy parrots. Can be a hands off activity to do together. And once they have learned and been rewarded and praised. You can get all kinds of creative and set him with stuff to do while you are gone to work. Again a burd tricks video. I like a lot of stuff they do, and as a human with my own opinions, there some stuff I'm not going to agree with them on. But tte two videos I've shared I really like.
 

GalaxyGirl

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Sara
Thank you so much Pixiebeak!!!! We really appreciate your advice and making a gameplan that incorporate what you shared!
 
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