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Info needed!

Constance

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Hi there!

So I'm a parrot forum newbie but thought I'd try get some information from some true owners because my boy needs serious help behavior wise!
I'm in a bit of a pickle to be honest so I'll try to cut a long story short.

We have a male blue fronted amazon who has been in our family for 13/15 years or even more, who belongs to my parents. I was very young when we got him but I remember he was a beautifully behaved chick, a delight actually. I had Au pairs growing up and over the years he decided to bond with one of them wholly. Unfortunately her time with us ended and she had to leave us and this made him aggressive (coupled with getting older).

My parents, both working full time shifts, neither had the time nor knowledge of what to do with an aggressive amazon, so in his cage he stayed, which I hated but I was still young and they didn't want me getting bitten, but I always sat with him.
My parents have since split years later and as much as I hate it its like he's become just an ornament to my mum. Now please don't get me wrong he has a very large cage (meant for a macaw) and toys and he's always fed because I'm the only one he let's into his cage to feed him and change his toys, so I'm not saying he is abused, he just isn't getting any enrichment because I'm afraid to touch him, and he can't come out because of difficulties getting him back in and aggression issues with our other African grey who has bonded with me now so isn't aggressive at all, but I can't let her out because its not fair on our amazon, so i Interact with her in her cage.
I always sit with Merlin(Amazon) and talk with him and share my dinner (veggies) as I know that builds a relationship he seems like he likes me and wants to be touched because he can see me interacting fully with Monty (African grey) but I've made that mistake before and got munched!

I guess this isn't a short post after all but I guess I'm trying to make the next step with him because I can feel he's desperate for it! I fear he might be a little crazy which also scares me! I guess I'm just reaching out for help and tips of what I can do to try and rehabilitate him so he let's me love him and I can give him the life he deserves, our very last resort is to put him in a centre with professional help if he needs it but I just want to do everything I can to keep him with me and give him the best life out of the bloody cage!!

Really doubtful anyone has got this far but if you have I want to thankyou for your time!
 

Mizzely

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Have you tried simply opening the cage door and seeing what he does? I have an untame Quaker and his cage is open all day and he's allowed to explore at his leisure.
 

Constance

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Yup! He'll either fly on top of the curtain poles (highest perch in the room) and won't come down, or my other parrots cage, which will distress her. And he'll fly at peoples heads haha.
 

iamwhoiam

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Welcome to AA. You may want to check out Barbara Heidenreich's website. Barbara Heidenreich | Good Bird Inc. and Susan Friedman's site: Welcome to BehaviorWorks.org
Lots of helpful information.
Do you have a T-stick? That is great to use for working on stepping up. Also reward him for good behavior with extra special treats.
 

Constance

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Thanks for those I'll check them out now! And we have perches we can use but he seems very very wary of them, thanks for your reply!
 

Mizzely

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Yup! He'll either fly on top of the curtain poles (highest perch in the room) and won't come down, or my other parrots cage, which will distress her. And he'll fly at peoples heads haha.

Are there other approved areas in the house he is allowed to go to? Personally I don't mind perching on the curtains but I have found hanging ropes from the ceiling is an effective way of convincing them to perch where you would like them to.

As for flying at heads, I have one of those too. I keep a throw pillow nearby to block incoming attacks :p
 

Constance

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She also keeps large dogs so he stays in our living area and the dogs are shut away when I get his cage open.
I think I'm looking more for tips on how to bring down his aggression and get him to trust me more and build confidence before letting him out and being unable to get him back in :)
 

Mizzely

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She also keeps large dogs so he stays in our living area and the dogs are shut away when I get his cage open.
I think I'm looking more for tips on how to bring down his aggression and get him to trust me more and build confidence before letting him out and being unable to get him back in :)


The problem is that your aggression and lack of confidence issues are likely tied to being locked up in a cage for so long. He largely has no reason to trust people.

How do I build trust in a bird? I let him see I respect him by listening to his body language. I give him freedom over things that I can allow him freedom on - like allowing him to fly and have choices about being in the cage, on the cage, or on a playstand.

I give them a sense of confidence by giving him "wins" - finding food in a foraging toy is a win, destroying a toy is a win.

I think about how things look from his perspective and try to remember they are still wild animals that operate on instinct. The more we can appeal to their basic nature, the easier finding a bridge is :)
 

Mizzely

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Also if both birds stress the other out and so both are cage bound because of it, can you separate them into different rooms? I used to have a green cheek and Hahns who couldn't be let out in the same room either (even just one out and the other in the cage) so i would let one stay in the room (out of their cage) and take the other into a different room to hang out with me. Then I'd swap every couple hours as needed. This way everyone had ample out of cage time and interaction with me, but were kept safe from each other.
 

JLcribber

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The problem is that your aggression and lack of confidence issues are likely tied to being locked up in a cage for so long. He largely has no reason to trust people.


How do I build trust in a bird? I let him see I respect him by listening to his body language. I give him freedom over things that I can allow him freedom on - like allowing him to fly and have choices about being in the cage, on the cage, or on a playstand.

I give them a sense of confidence by giving him "wins" - finding food in a foraging toy is a win, destroying a toy is a win.

I think about how things look from his perspective and try to remember they are still wild animals that operate on instinct. The more we can appeal to their basic nature, the easier finding a bridge is :)

Such good advice. :hug8:


She also keeps large dogs so he stays in our living area and the dogs are shut away when I get his cage open.
I think I'm looking more for tips on how to bring down his aggression and get him to trust me more and build confidence before letting him out and being unable to get him back in :)


Hello Constance. First off I would just like to say thank you for caring about and for Merlin.

It's very hard for anyone (you) to properly rehab a large parrot when they are scared of the bird. You must be confident and fearless because these birds can read body language and energy like a book. If you are scared of Merlin that automatically puts him on guard/alertness because he knows that. If you are scared there must be something scary/dangerous about this situation. In order to be trusted you must take the first step and actually trust first. You have to take the risk. I know it's a huge step and asking a lot but this is not a normal situation.

If you're not able to do this it may be better to find him a home with someone who can. It's going to take a confident skilled "handler" to give Merlin what he needs. I think you can do this with some help from all of us.

Your problem is complicated. It will not be easy or quick but if you're in, we're in.

I'm pressed for time right now. More later. Do you have a room that you could setup just for him? You must eliminate the cage from his life because the cage is the source of the problem (not get rid of the cage. Keep it as home base in his environment).

 

Clueless

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My avatar bird is Secret. My two Amazons were stuck in their small cages for years. I have to admit that mine are lightly clipped by an experienced avian vet technician/behaviorist to prevent them from flying at people. Secret can still fly down (and does from time to time) and I don't think MC ever flew.

I strongly recommend a T stick. I have fear issues with Secret because of our past but we still have a good relationship and we come and go through the house on that T stick.

Returning to the cage has to be rewarding. Find the favorite treat and it gets given IN the cage and only on the return to the cage. I sit the parrots on their perch at night and they always get a treat .

Since you want to start with him in the cage, what about clicker training?
 

melissasparrots

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I don't normally recommend clipping, except for aggressive amazons. I would totally give him a light clip. Start with the outer 2 or 3 primaries and see if that discourages him from flying to the grey or curtain rods. If not, clip another until he's willing to behave himself.
For older male amazons that have been poorly socialized for a period of time or that have had access to a mate, I would not set hopes too high that he will ever be a predictable pet. However, stranger things have happened.
Personally, I'd start out with that clip and just let him out of his cage and see what happens. Since he won't be flying anywhere high up, you won't have problems getting him down, but you might have issues with getting bit in the process of picking him up. Personally I've found with wound up male amazons, that if you let them out and walk away and give them a good hour or several hours just to amuse themselves and get the worst of the aggressive energy worked off, you can often pick them up bare handed and put them back in the cage. If the bird is new to being handled, I would not push your luck and try to pet him, hold him and give him attention. Quick up and down and praise. Always put back in the cage with a treat. You might want to watch how that treat is presented though. Sometimes being able to see the treat is so exiting that they bite or feel possessive over it. You might need to experiment and possibly keep the treat in your pocket until the bird is back in his cage and then put treat in bowl. Or he may need to see the treat in order to be willing to step up for you. Just depends on the bird. It might be something you have to learn by bleeding a little bit in trial and error.

When he's out, even if clipped, watch out for the jump at you attack. Usually you can see it coming with body language, but hormonal adult male amazons have some poltergeist tendencies.

If all goes well with letting him out and just passively having out of cage time, you might want to try some step up training. Just step up and back down with a treat. Again, possibly keep treat hidden until bird has done the desired behavior. Two or three step ups and down in a row and then walk away. The key to preventing aggression in amazons is don't over stay your welcome. They are fickle and its best to end everything on a good note. Blue front males are known for hormonal aggression as are the yellow headed amazons. Start with physical interaction being literally a few seconds. Don't let it stretch on to a whole minute until the bird has shown it can handle physical contact for a few seconds without biting. Work your way up. You may or may not hit a certain point where you find the bird doesn't like being handled beyond that point. My own pet female yellow nape can be very pleasant and almost cuddly for about 10-20 minutes depending on the day. Some days she wants nothing to do with me. Other days, she wants attention but after 10 minutes I start to sense she's going to bite when I have her step up and she does. Listen to your intuition. If you feel like a bite is coming, it probably is.
So basically, short interactions, end on a good note, let him prove to you how much interaction he can handle and watch body language.
Some male amazons can be a delight so he's definitely worth working for. Plus, I think at the very least a basic wing clip should allow him more freedom even if he doesn't end up wanting a lot of attention. Sometimes just a quick scratch and walk away is all that is needed to keep amazons happy. Always ask before scritching. Wait for him to say Yes with either fluffed up head feathers or putting his head down for scratches. If you ask if he wants scratches and he flashes his eyes at you, turns away or generally doesn't seem interested, accept No as his answer and don't push your luck. Never try to push affection on an amazon. Its the quickest way to train them to bite you.
 
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