• Welcome to Avian Avenue! To view our forum with less advertisments please register with us.
    Memberships are free and it will just take a moment. Click here

Old fearful macaw

applessauc

Checking out the neighborhood
Joined
11/12/23
Messages
1
Hi!
There is a bird store in my area and the owners also sorta run a bird sanctuary and so people will surrender their birds to them and they adopt those birds out.

I've been looking into getting an older bird and saw they have a greenwing there about 50+ years old and went to go take a look earlier today.

This sanctuary/store is a bit old and there are a lot of birds there and the majority of them are no tame other than a few hand fed/raised birds. Most of them have pretty large cages and spaces but they don't usually get time outside of their cage. The cages do seem pretty old too and are pretty rusty.

The greenwing I was interested in was fearful which is completely understandable considering his age and how rarely he gets handled. But to me it felt like the owners of the store were a bit harsh but I can't tell if I'm overreacting or being too "soft". When I asked if there was any way to get to know this bird more they told me I could step into his cage and try seeing if he would let me touch his tail or his head.

I don't have as much experience with macaws but I used to have a cockatoo and a quaker and at the moment I have a cockatiel who used to be very fearful and sometimes she's still a little jumpy and cautious, but she has gained a lot of confidence and has gotten comfortable around me. I'm mentioning this because she is the only bird I've had that has had any fear related aggression issues so my experience regarding this is minimal but with her I try to be patient and take my time building a positive association with everything and don't really force her with anything.

Back to the greenwing, after a few minutes of standing in the cage with the macaw, the owner said that we can try taking him out to a more neutral area on a perch or something and see if his behavior changes. He then towels the bird kinda aggressively and brings him into a different room and the macaw seems scared of the towel and moves away when he sees it. The owner then tells me I should just try to pet his head and proceeds to demonstrate by really quickly putting his hand to the bird's head and petting him even after the bird showed signs of not wanting to be pet and was very stiff tried to snap a little at their arm at first.

Any time I tried to move my hand closer to him, he would fluff up his feathers on his head and kinda snap in my direction, basically telling me to keep my distance. From my experience with my cockatiel, my reaction was to back off a little and try a different approach and asking one of the workers there if they had any treats I could offer him. He did take one treat from me but wasn't comfortable enough to eat until a few minutes later.

The owner then kept trying to convince me to just pet him and not be afraid of being bitten. My worry wasn't being injured though, it was that if this bird felt the need to bite or snap at me it meant that I ignored warning signs and pushed boundaries which would cause an even bigger setback in any potential relationship.

Then the owner tried to get the bird to step up by pushing his arm into his chest and the bird clearly did not want to step up and put up a bit of a fight and eventually the owner stopped trying.

The owner said that if I wanted, I could come by every week or so to try and bond with this bird first but my concern is that if I come every time and he is this pushy with this bird every time just to get the bird out of his cage, there probably won't be much bonding happening.

Am I overthinking things like am I being too soft with this or is the owner being too harsh with this bird?
 

MommyBird

Biking along the boulevard
Avenue Veteran
Mayor of the Avenue
Joined
10/23/09
Messages
6,762
Location
Colorado
Real Name
Debbie
Welcome!
You are the one who knows how to do it correctly.

Have you heard of Barbara Heidenreich? (many links, Good Bird Inc)
Of Susan Friedman? https://www.behaviorworks.org/htm/articles_behavior_change.html
Of Lara Joseph? (The Animal Behavior Center, Coffee With the Critters)
Have you read about positive reinforcement training and clicker training?
You can search for clicker training aka positive reinforcement on this forum, or on the web. There are also a number of books available, some specifically for parrots.

I don't know how you get around this guy. Although parrots are smart and he can see the difference between you two. With clicker training it would actually be best to start working with him in his own cage, so no moving him is necessary.

Let me link some macaw people
@BrianB , @Macawnutz , @Shezbug
 

Emma&pico

Biking along the boulevard
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
1/9/22
Messages
6,534
Location
Uk
Real Name
Emma
Just want to wish you best of luck if you decided to rehome him :heart:
 

Pixiebeak

Biking along the boulevard
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
6/18/22
Messages
7,081
Location
USA
Real Name
Laura
All of what the pet store guy did was wrong.
All of your thinking is correct..
 

Macawnutz

Seriously Nutz!
Super Administrator
Vendor
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
10/21/11
Messages
32,872
Location
Wisconsin
Real Name
Sarah
I have never had a macaw be my buddy before adopting them. I expect it to take months to win them over. I let them take their time and come to me on their own terms. It's also possible you may never have a macaw loved to be pet and cuddled but that does not mean they can't be your friend and want to spend time with you.
 

Xoetix

Biking along the boulevard
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
6/12/22
Messages
6,525
Location
Southern VA, US
Real Name
Meghan (she/her)
Hello and welcome! :hello1:

You've definitely got a better grasp of things than the store owner.
 

Sarah13

Rollerblading along the road
Avenue Veteran
Joined
9/30/13
Messages
2,638
Location
New York City
Real Name
Sarah
I've had many macaws placed with me for training, rehoming, or to live with me permanently.
They generally are not terribly fond of me initially especially while in the previous home where there are certain behaviors and associations solidly in place.
When they come to my home though, it is like a wonderful reset button.
Neutral and or positive experiences for them along with good husbandry practices will take you very far in a surprisingly short amount of time.
Permission based training will aid you immensely... keeps your confidence up, you safe from bires, and the bird as comfortable and adaptive as possible as you'll be predominantly working below threshold as well as a reward based system.

Good Bird Inc and BirdTricks all have terrific information and credible research based sources in regards to operant conditioning as well as good husbandry (diet/sleep/enrichment/enclosure etc).
These will behoove you in gaining trust and motivating the bird to interact with you in a positive manner.

Happy training!
I love project birds and I have a soft spot for GWs.
I was just surrendered a 12 year old male GW this past summer and it has been an incredibly fun and rewarding experience...I think you'll quite enjoy the journey.
 

Holiday

Mac Mama
Avenue Veteran
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
10/16/09
Messages
17,003
Location
Ohio
I have never had a macaw be my buddy before adopting them. I expect it to take months to win them over. I let them take their time and come to me on their own terms. It's also possible you may never have a macaw loved to be pet and cuddled but that does not mean they can't be your friend and want to spend time with you.
:exactly:
 

flyzipper

Rollerblading along the road
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
9/28/20
Messages
2,586
Location
Canada
Real Name
Steve
Welcome to the forum.

As others have already commented, your instincts and past experience are correct and will serve you well if you move forward with an adoption.
I try to be patient and take my time building a positive association with everything and don't really force her with anything.
 
Top