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Helping Macaw Feel Comforable in New Home

Robert Schulz

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Hey guys,
I have some questions about my recently adopted 5y/o Macaw.
This is day four with him and he is for sure shaken up about being removed from his previous home. I am having a bit of trouble with reading his body language though. The most biggest thing I am having trouble with is when I approach his cage (slowly and with a calm voice) he is happy to see me but he quickly gets shaken up and kinda goes into a panic. I currently have him in my spare bedroom and when he's behind a closed door he talks to himself and sounds content. Signs of his panic include his vocalizations gradually get louder until he screams while quivering and rocking side to side. I am wondering how much alone time I should give him or should I stay there and hold my ears and show that I'm not a threat. He can only go in there for 5 min intervals before he gets really anxious. I try to sooth talk him to calm him and it sometimes works. What bonding that works so far is me taking my meal in the room and sitting on the floor and praising him to come down the cage so I can give him a snack, but still, that only last for about 5 min. Maybe something I am doing is intimidating him? Or maybe he's just grieving and he needs alone time? The previous foster parent said he was very easy going and quiet when staying with her so that is throwing me off about his temperament.
 

Shyra

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I'm sure you'll get some great advice here. What kind of macaw? If 5 minutes of time is all he can handle right now then maybe only stay in there 4 minutes so that he doesn't reach that point of screaming. You can add seconds to the time as he becomes more accepting. Might try sitting in front of him with your back towards him (I'm assuming he's in or on his cage or playstand) and reading a child's picture book out loud to him in a fun way. Do different character voices and all but keep your voice comforting. Having your back towards him let's him see the pictures and also feels like he's not being the center of attention. If you're not comfortable with your back to him when he's out of the cage wait till he's in the cage. It's an interacting way as well as non threatening way of bonding with him.
 

Robert Schulz

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Thanks for your quick reply!
He's a Blue and Gold. I don't have a play stand, yet. When I let him out he usually goes on top of his cage and he'll either stand on the back and groom or he'll come up front and try to lunge at me while hissing. I praise him for coming down the cage, which is why I sit on the floor when sharing some food. I'm also not sure if I should let him stay up on top in case his lunging is a sign of him testing me and that's something I don't want him to get use to, at the same time I like letting him have some out of cage time and that's where he reverts to.
 

Hankmacaw

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First, four days is nothing to a macaw. Second, like Dr. House says, everyone lies and his former owner may have lied to you. Or like my Jasper was, when I got her at 6 1/2 years old, she loved her family, missed them and grieved for six months.

That said, it takes time, sometimes more than other times. Make sure you talk, talk talk to him. Tell him what you are doing. Why you are doing it. Talk to him about everything. Second use bribery. When you come into his room go to his cage and drop a bribe into his food dish then walk away. Basically what you should do is take it at his pace.

His hissing and lunging at you is not testing you. It is a sign of fear and discomfort, which will slowly go away.

It takes a lot of patience.

 

sunnysmom

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Maybe try playing some music for him too if your house is quiet during the day. Silence can be scary for a bird- it can mean danger in the wild. And just try to take things at his pace. :)
 

Robert Schulz

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Okay, I'll try those things you all mentioned.
His neck feathers were plucked when his foster mom received him four months ago. They're growing back in so this is also why I'm concerned about him feeling okay. I'd feel pretty guilty if he plucked them out again due to something I could have done differently.
 

Macawnutz

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Hi Robert, What''s your sweeties name?

Can we get a photo or two of his cage and surroundings? That could help. Does he become fearful when in the cage or out? If you allow him out and sit in a chair across the room minding your own business does he care?

 
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Robert Schulz

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He goes by Jack.
It doesn't really seem to matter if he's in his cage or out when he gets anxious. I have him in a rather small empty bedroom that's next to the living room. Sometimes he can handle the door open to where he can see me in there. I leave the tv on hgtv for cheerful ambient noise. My goal today is to clean the bottom of his cage and put in a new chew toy, if he lets me. I eventually want to move his cage to the main living area.
 

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Shyra

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He's beautiful. Is he playing with his toys?
 

SeverelySweet

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*giggles quietly*

4 days.....be patient, my friend, and start thinking in the possible realm of weeks, months, or even years. I've had Sydney for exactly 1 year and 10 months today, and its still hit or miss on a daily basis...though he is much more sociable now than he was when I first got him.

Patience, lots of love, and considering his prepubescent age, lots of tolerance! He's still a baby....and hes scared.
 

Robert Schulz

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He does play with his toys. I have more to put in there but he won't let me in to set them up. I've wedged some cardboard through the bars for something else to chew on.
I gave him a piece of my cookie while sitting on the floor and cleaning the bottom of his cage and he said "MMMM!"
 

Robert Schulz

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I should mention that prior to his foster mother's home, he had been through two households and was moved outside during the last few months of his second home.
 

Familyof12

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Hi and it's very nice to meet you! I'm so glad you got Jack. He is adorable! Sounds like it will take some time for him to adjust. They live such a long time...like elephants and whales. Time probably goes differently for them too? I see them as super wise...whenever I see a beauty like Jack, I want to ask him/her for advice. :)
 

msplantladi

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Patience's, Patience's & more Patience's. Stop and think about all this poor bird has been through, he is having trust issues & no wonder with all the moving around. Find a spot where you want his cage and leave it. Stop messing with him so much for now-just let him settle in at his own pace. Also remember he has to need something from you in order to start trusting you and food is the main key to this approach-what is his diet? Find a treat he doesn't get in his daily meals and use that as away for him to come to you-COME TO YOU is key-if he is on top of his cage rest your arm on the top of the door and hold the treat so he can see it and just chat w/ him quietly, ask him " do you want a treat?", encourage him that you are want to be his friend by chatting in a calm voice, give it a few minutes, if you get no response, walk away and try again in a few minutes. Birds are most hungry in the morning. Remember you are building trust, that takes awhile . Thank-you for giving this bird hopefully a forever home.
 

Robert Schulz

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He mostly eats pellets and a bit of seed mix at the momet. He usually comes to the side of the cage to let me give him an almond or cookie and he does come down when I'm on the floor to share my meal. But like many are saying, he's been bounced around a few times and he isn't going to be as trusting as a dog or baby bird would be.
 

Diesel13

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Congratulations on adopting Jack!

Like everyone has said, patience is key here. It can take months before Jack fully feels comfortable in his new environment. This article does a really good job addressing some techniques you can use to help Jack feel more comfortable and not see you as a threat.

Parrot Behavior Myths: Building Trust | Learning Parrots

In summary, parrots are prey animals that rely heavily on body language. Learning to read and respect that body language is key in forming a strong relationship. You must learn to read Jack's body language to learn when he is uncomfortable and what you can do differently to prevent him from feeling that way. A couple tips you can start right away, avoid looking directly at Jack and blink often (a direct, unblinking gaze is that of a predator) and talk softly or even not at all if your voice upsets him. You want to make yourself as unthreatening as possible.
 

Begone

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If 5 minutes of time is all he can handle right now then maybe only stay in there 4 minutes so that he doesn't reach that point of screaming.
That is also my advice. Every time he get scared it will take longer for him to trust you.
Just stay with him close if you really must. Like cleaning and feeding. And every time get him some treat that he likes after. Bribe him, it works and are never wrong IMO.
This sounds like a bird that need to see you but that you not should interact with at all in the beginning. Be in the same room, but don't look at him or talk to him.
Just let him study and get used to you. And if he gets anguish, leave him for a short while. It is more important that he can decide when it gets to much for him, and if you listen to him he will soon find out that you respect him.
And you do have a Conure. If he see your conure liking and playing with you that is something good. But again from distance.
The previous foster parent said he was very easy going and quiet when staying with her so that is throwing me off about his temperament.
It can be true, or not! And what have worked for her it's not sure will work for you.
My sun, bobby jay, and I accompanied him earlier while he preened for about ten min.
Yes this! :)
I don't think he wants to be alone, and that's why he first gets happy to see you.

I can assure you that this will be perfect in the end. It is always these kind of birds that you will get the strongest and best bond with.
(the sensitive ones)
So give him time, he will let you know when he wants to interact with you.
Good luck and congrats to your new family member ! :)
 

Macawnutz

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What a cutie.

Might I suggest moving his cage to the opposite wall of the entry door and putting him against the wall... preferably near a corner. That way he can have a chance to see everything coming in from a far and have the security of nothing coming from behind him. It's a comfort thing. I would then focus my attention on getting him a stand so he may come out and go somewhere other than just the top of the cage. Hanging ropes, a stand or maybe a swing or two.
 
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