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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly about Cape parrots

Shade

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The attributes listed in this thread are the experiences of each individual and your experiences may differ with your individual bird.

This is based on my experience with my now 2 year old Cape parrot, or Grey headed parrot (Poicephalus fuscicollis suahelicus)

The Good -

When a Cape decides it wants to cuddle, it's one of the cutest things and I find you can really "feel the love" - it does give you a great feeling. As well, if you are one of those people who love to see toys being destroyed, since it means you have a happy and busy bird (and I'm one of those), then, from my experience, I get pretty happy since Léa does destroy a lot of wooden toys. She can also be pretty independent at times and plays on her own quietly. So far, "noise" has been a bad with Léa, or rather the lack of very loud noise. She doesn't really scream, she mostly does all types of beeps and whistle and some talking. I find it quite hilarious that when she masters a word, she says it using a voice that resembles mine but when she practices (which is generally when we aren't around but I can hear her through the door if I'm close to the birds' room) it's a low mumble.


The Bad -

The power of that beak. While I put the destruction of the toys in the "the good", that powerful beak can turn as a bad. I'm lucky that Léa keeps her destruction (so far) to things destined to be destroyed by her. However, the most costly thing she went after was her cage. While it was always my intention to upgrade her to a Stainless Steel cage, I was forced to do it earlier than planned since she was stripping the finish of her powder coated cage.


The Ugly -

I went through a bout of what could be considered "ugly", by some, over the past few months. I think she started her "terrible twos" a little early, although that now that she is actually two, things are slowly going back to how they were. Like with any baby parrot, eventually they grow into their own and will test you and their boundaries, which is why I am reluctant to put this in "ugly", as it is to be expected by any parrot owner. However, their reputation of "Gentle Giants" might convince people that they will always be "perfect", and that is not necessarily the case.

I have gone through Léa's "testing" phase over the past few months. It started with her, from one day to the next, seeing me as "bad" (and thinking back, I really can't think of anything that I would have done to make her flip) and would refuse flat out to step up and would fly/run away from me (but would be fine with my SO), which did cause lots of hurt feelings (for me). However, she would then flip around again and come only to me for her cuddle time, until she deemed she had enough and would flip back to not listening. This is also the time where she would test what was approved and not approved to destroy.

Currently, she's back at seeing me as "good", although her recent thing is to sometimes try and bite your thumb (my SO or myself). While these generally don't piece the skin, it's a lot of pressure and can hurt. However, we are working on rewarding nice "uneventful" step ups (with praise and rewards) and ignoring the biting, which is working slowly but surely. My SO is good at dramatizing everything and did reinforce the bites (which she did with him prior to me (as she would just flat out refuse to step onto my hand)) by being over dramatic with his reaction to the bite. He has since seen that staying "neutral" has helped to get her to bite her less, as she's not getting the reaction. So really, I had to work with Léa and my SO ;)
 
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Shade

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I recently got an interest in Capes, and just came across this blog post: Cape Parrot - What Are Cape Parrots Like? Poicephalus Robustus
Sounds very frustrating, but I need to read more I think.
That article is to be taken with a grain of salt.
I was actually quoted in the article, this part:

"Lea is also quite into drama reaction, making things seem bigger than they are...again, not something I mind but some people might find irritating. But yeah..very very very stubborn, when her mind is set on something, it's hard to redirect her attention towards something else."

And while it's true, I found it has been true with quite a few Pois (the stubborness) and it's one of the thing I like about them (it really gives them their own personality).

I don't support everything that has been said in the article though, and definitively not the part about them being stinky.

Right now, Léa is in her "terrible two" period, something I was anticipating and entirely normal as she is coming into her own and testing her surroundings and seeing what goes and what doesn't. There was a rougher patch, but things are slowly coming back to "normal". But the thing is, lots of parrots go through a similar phase, and lots of them actually get rehomed when it happens because it's not what people were anticipating. But if you are prepared, then it's quite manageable :)
 

dwright27

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Thanks Natacha. I actually came across your youtube channel as well! And I'm in Ontario.. whereabouts are you located? If you're in the GTA, I might be hounding you with questions at some point lol.
I tend to really like poi personalities. I gave Gwen Toews a list of criteria for what I'm looking for in a bird (because there are so many that I adore and needed some insight lol) and she suggested a Greater Jardines. Someone more local to me suggested a Rueppell's. So there's a poicephalus theme from two different people so far anyway :p
My only personal experience with poicephalus was with my step-brother's senegal who was abused as a fledgling and is definitely a one-person bird. Aggressive with anyone else that gets too close. They've had him for.. wow, I imagine almost 20 years! They brought him home to save him from the horrible breeder (the one who abused him) and he chose my step brother almost immediately. My dad also has a 22 y/o U2 from the same breeder. I think what happened was they went to the breeder for pellets (they live in the middle of nowhere and at the time the breeder was the closest place they could get the food) and saw the little sennie and brought him home too.

Do you have examples of what Léa's "terrible twos" behaviour looks like? I.e. what was happening during her rough patch?

Anyway I do very much like pois, but the size of the cape and greater jardines are awesome. :)
 

Shade

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No GTA, I'm in the National Captial Region :)

Do you have examples of what Léa's "terrible twos" behaviour looks like? I.e. what was happening during her rough patch?
This link will bring you to posts about Léa on my blog, which highlights some of the issues (and progress) over the last few months.

Just Poifect!: Lea

Now not all Cape owners have seemingly gone through this, but I always anticipated some points where we would have to teach her the "right from wrong". Had to do the same with my Senegal (who's one of the only other birds that I got as a baby).

One thing to keep in mind, Capes do come with a hefty price tag in Canada.
 

fishbait

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My Dexter will be 2 in November and has been a very stubborn bird since day one. He does not redirect well and food as a reward just does not seem to work. He bites hard and has since we got him at 4 months old. He loves my wife and will on occasion regurgitate for her! With that said he still bites her often and hard breaking the skin a lot. We call him our psycho bird, as he can be great one minute and the next bite hard for no apparent reason. I would have rehomed him a long time ago to another Cape owner as there are many out there wanting another bird and are familiar with there traits. My wife has bonded with him so that will never happen! She teaches him all kinds of sounds and he really picks them up quick! My favorite is the whistle sound of a bomb dropping and then the "spkeeall" noise as it hits. He does this all the time and especially when we are on the phone!! He lets me scratch him and will come out of his cage to me but usually it is to fly to my wife!! He is very playful and entertaining with his beeps/whistles and robotic sounding word vocalizations! It is really cool to come home to dogs barking from excitement and all three birds whistling and screaming a greeting to me!
I hope after he is more mature he will bite less!
 

SunUp

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My Dexter will be 2 in November and has been a very stubborn bird since day one. He does not redirect well and food as a reward just does not seem to work. He bites hard and has since we got him at 4 months old. He loves my wife and will on occasion regurgitate for her! With that said he still bites her often and hard breaking the skin a lot. We call him our psycho bird, as he can be great one minute and the next bite hard for no apparent reason. I would have rehomed him a long time ago to another Cape owner as there are many out there wanting another bird and are familiar with there traits. My wife has bonded with him so that will never happen! She teaches him all kinds of sounds and he really picks them up quick! My favorite is the whistle sound of a bomb dropping and then the "spkeeall" noise as it hits. He does this all the time and especially when we are on the phone!! He lets me scratch him and will come out of his cage to me but usually it is to fly to my wife!! He is very playful and entertaining with his beeps/whistles and robotic sounding word vocalizations! It is really cool to come home to dogs barking from excitement and all three birds whistling and screaming a greeting to me!
I hope after he is more mature he will bite less!
My Cape, Kali, is 9 years old, and I'm her second home. I got her a little over a year ago. She was rehomed mainly for biting (her first owner showed me her scars!). Kali can be very, very sweet, but she can also "flip" very quickly to bite mode. I watch her body language carefully so I've not been bitten, but I have to pay attention. I move her around mostly with a perch, although like I said she does love head rubs! :)
I hear you when you mention having your Cape with someone with another Cape. I think this would be a great thing for Kali - having a companion Cape. My timneh grey doesn't want anything to do with her.
These are not easy birds, in my opinion.
 

fishbait

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Kali can be very, very sweet, but she can also "flip" very quickly to bite mode. I watch her body language carefully so I've not been bitten, but I have to pay attention.

What i find interesting is all the internet breeder sites and many ornithologists say they are "...the best of the best..." and "gentle giants" etc.! Dexter many times does not give indication or body language signals he just nails you! My wife can be scratching his head and loving on him (for the 10 minutes in the evening he permits it) and evening regurgitate for her and then bam bite her hard enough to draw blood. He loves to come to me and have me scratch his head but will nail me if i quit to soon and linger with the fingers or rub a bloodfeather the wrong way which i am careful not to do! Like last night he was giving me his "I want out peeps" and standing on perch at the door with his open wings ( he and Iggy has matching 3' x 4' x 5' inside measurement, cages) so i open up and he hops out on my finger and within 10 seconds flies straight to my wife!! It could be a lot worse as i have read several stories, threads and bird biographical books where amazons and macaws were just holy terrors to their owners and others! In all honesty it would be really hard to rehome him now as he has grown on us, mostly my wife and as long as she has a great relationship (most of the time) with him he is staying. One time he bit me hard and would not get off the top of his cage so i did the cardinal no-no and lost my temper and grabbed him and held him tight, gently so but I had his head contained between my thumb and forefinger (like the vet showed me) and flipped him on his back and held him for a minute until he quit screaming. I then turned him right side up and set him in his cage on his perch. I figured i just ruined our relationship forever but in a half hour later he was back to taking nuts out of my hands and later that day hopped back up on my finger when presented for a step up!

I welcome other cape owners to share their respective birds personality traits too!
 

lotus15

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Wow, Natacha, I find that article you posted incredibly different from my experience with Lola in almost every way!! The only things I really agreed with are that Capes are very very smart, and that they are pretty clumsy and should not be clipped. Other than that, my experience with Lola has not been at all like the writer's.
 

fishbait

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Dexter was clipped and only 4 mos old when we got him and he would fall off his perch, ladder, boing & toys constantly so we put a bid fluffy dog pillow in the bottom of his cage for soft landings! It took about 8 weeks or so for him to develop a sense of balance. It was pleasant to watch him gain confidence, balance and dexterity over that time - with the aid of the pillow! He is now very dexterous and active and uses every bit of his cage! We allowed him to become flighted and feel this has given him more confidence in all aspects of his personality.

I feel as a baby it is important that they should be allowed to become flighted- even if the intent is to clip them in the future. There is a lot of controversy and differing of opinions on flighted vs. unflighted birds and i am not trying to open this thread to that debate that just giving my opinion for the sake of a Capes overall personality formation as i see it in relation to this thread and in my bird!
 

Parhelion7

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I'm not a cape owner, so I feel a little weird posting here, but I just had to comment on something... Natacha, your experience with Lea's early "terrible twos" sounds VERY similar to what I'm dealing with in Ziya, my red bellied. She definitely considers me her person and she's attached to me, but she's started not behaving very well for me anymore - biting, flying off, and generally being a brat - while she WILL behave (more or less) for my mom. :confused:

Anyway, I thought it might still be useful for me to reply here, because I think perhaps that's a general poi thing. I mean, most birds go through a defiant stage, but pois tend to be extra stubborn, I think :p
 

Shade

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I'm not a cape owner, so I feel a little weird posting here, but I just had to comment on something... Natacha, your experience with Lea's early "terrible twos" sounds VERY similar to what I'm dealing with in Ziya, my red bellied. She definitely considers me her person and she's attached to me, but she's started not behaving very well for me anymore - biting, flying off, and generally being a brat - while she WILL behave (more or less) for my mom. :confused:

Anyway, I thought it might still be useful for me to reply here, because I think perhaps that's a general poi thing. I mean, most birds go through a defiant stage, but pois tend to be extra stubborn, I think :p
It's the way I feel about it too - and why I wasn't really *surprised* when she started to act up.
 

GlassOnion

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I'm not a cape owner, so I feel a little weird posting here, but I just had to comment on something... Natacha, your experience with Lea's early "terrible twos" sounds VERY similar to what I'm dealing with in Ziya, my red bellied. She definitely considers me her person and she's attached to me, but she's started not behaving very well for me anymore - biting, flying off, and generally being a brat - while she WILL behave (more or less) for my mom. :confused:

Anyway, I thought it might still be useful for me to reply here, because I think perhaps that's a general poi thing. I mean, most birds go through a defiant stage, but pois tend to be extra stubborn, I think :p
Ruby has been extremely like the bolded area ^ for a few months but has calmed down a lot now. She would pinch everything all the time! :eek: Never too hard though, never broken skin either. She is almost a year old now, I wonder if we'll be revisiting this scenario a year from now?
 

bicmeister

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Does anyone have experience with both subspecies -- the Brown vs Grey?
 

Gimby

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The attributes listed in this thread are the experiences of each individual and your experiences may differ with your individual bird.

This is based on my experience with my now 2 year old Cape parrot, or Grey headed parrot (Poicephalus fuscicollis suahelicus)

The Good -

When a Cape decides it wants to cuddle, it's one of the cutest things and I find you can really "feel the love" - it does give you a great feeling. As well, if you are one of those people who love to see toys being destroyed, since it means you have a happy and busy bird (and I'm one of those), then, from my experience, I get pretty happy since Léa does destroy a lot of wooden toys. She can also be pretty independent at times and plays on her own quietly. So far, "noise" has been a bad with Léa, or rather the lack of very loud noise. She doesn't really scream, she mostly does all types of beeps and whistle and some talking. I find it quite hilarious that when she masters a word, she says it using a voice that resembles mine but when she practices (which is generally when we aren't around but I can hear her through the door if I'm close to the birds' room) it's a low mumble.


The Bad -

The power of that beak. While I put the destruction of the toys in the "the good", that powerful beak can turn as a bad. I'm lucky that Léa keeps her destruction (so far) to things destined to be destroyed by her. However, the most costly thing she went after was her cage. While it was always my intention to upgrade her to a Stainless Steel cage, I was forced to do it earlier than planned since she was stripping the finish of her powder coated cage.


The Ugly -

I went through a bout of what could be considered "ugly", by some, over the past few months. I think she started her "terrible twos" a little early, although that now that she is actually two, things are slowly going back to how they were. Like with any baby parrot, eventually they grow into their own and will test you and their boundaries, which is why I am reluctant to put this in "ugly", as it is to be expected by any parrot owner. However, their reputation of "Gentle Giants" might convince people that they will always be "perfect", and that is not necessarily the case.

I have gone through Léa's "testing" phase over the past few months. It started with her, from one day to the next, seeing me as "bad" (and thinking back, I really can't think of anything that I would have done to make her flip) and would refuse flat out to step up and would fly/run away from me (but would be fine with my SO), which did cause lots of hurt feelings (for me). However, she would then flip around again and come only to me for her cuddle time, until she deemed she had enough and would flip back to not listening. This is also the time where she would test what was approved and not approved to destroy.

Currently, she's back at seeing me as "good", although her recent thing is to sometimes try and bite your thumb (my SO or myself). While these generally don't piece the skin, it's a lot of pressure and can hurt. However, we are working on rewarding nice "uneventful" step ups (with praise and rewards) and ignoring the biting, which is working slowly but surely. My SO is good at dramatizing everything and did reinforce the bites (which she did with him prior to me (as she would just flat out refuse to step onto my hand)) by being over dramatic with his reaction to the bite. He has since seen that staying "neutral" has helped to get her to bite her less, as she's not getting the reaction. So really, I had to work with Léa and my SO ;)
Thank you for the article.
 
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