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Asharion

Parrot Adventures

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Been a while since I've posted on the forum and I thought it'd be a good time to stop in and say hello, and let ya'll know what I've been up to in my parrot ventures!

 

I have yet to get a reply to the emails I sent to the Parrot Sanctuary in the twin cities, so I guess I'll need to call in. I went down earlier this week to visit a parrot rescue about an hour and a half away, and was not... entirely impressed, in hindsight. I felt like they could do a lot better keeping cages clean and tidy, though the birds themselves looked well cared for. I'd gone in to meet with a little Sun Conure named Chicken, meet the rescue folks, and learn a bit more about parrots hands-on.

 

There was a moment of adrenaline rush when a loud crash happened and all the birds startled - one of the macaws had broken off an extra panel on her cage with the help of her neighbor, and merrily walked out and greeted us!

 

They appear to be a 'first-come-first-served' type of 'shelter,' which I found out the hard way. There were a few families interested in adopting Chicken, myself included. He was very sweet, and actively interested in what I was doing. I got bit a few times when he didn't want to step up off my shoulder at first, but the lass running the shelter taught me how to encourage him to do so and minimize the chance of biting by standing back against the wall, or bringing my other hand down the side of my head and holding my arm up to encourage him to walk out to the arm, where he was then more amiable stepping up. It worked wonders, and he was otherwise very good with the step-up. Aside from that which is something we could work on, he let me give him scritches and gave me kissies, and loved crawling up my shirt to sit on my shoulder, and cuddle.

 

I'd swapped a long-winded email with her asking some in-depth questions I had forgotten to ask about when I was there in person, which she'd answered with great thoroughness. Before I went to work I sent the lass an email letting her know I wanted to adopt and would send a more thorough reply when I got back home that night so I could discuss coming in and meeting him often, getting him used to me and visa versa, to ease the stress of taking him home. I wanted to figure out a way I could put some kind of downpayment for his adoption so he could be held from being adopted by another family while I went through this process, just in case he and I did not prove to get along for whatever reason.

 

I came home to a letter comprised of "sorry, someone else called in with payment" and was heartbroken. I suppose it's fate's way of telling me there's another birdie out there who will be a better match and needs me more, but it was still an unexpected blow. It also was strange to me they didn't do home-visits for prospective homes. It seems they were just a 'ask you lots of questions, if you sound like a good parront, we'll let you buy a parrot.'

 

I found another shelter a little farther away at two hours drive, that is more thorough in their placement and I do not think is a first-come-first-serve, as they require that you come in and visit with the bird(s) several times so you both become familiar and they can see how you handle them, something I was going to do as an optional choice at the last shelter. (which they would have charged me a boarding fee to keep him there during this process!)

 

They have both African Greys and Conures in, the later of which is a bird I at first was avoiding due to how I heard they could be very noisy, but after Chicken having demonstrated how loud and shrill they could be in my ear and being unphased by it, I'm no longer worried about their volume. A cockatoo, however, is still a birdie I would love to visit but not live with. His shrieking felt like a punch to the noggen, even expected!:eek: It's not an adamant decision that I'll come home one day with an African Grey or Conure, though from what I know of both species, either is one I would love to gain experience with, but I am open-minded to being surprised by another bird in an unexpected species!

 

I've got my nest egg growing for the investment in the cage, toys, food, and of course, the birdie him/herself! I'll post more when I've more to share.

 

Until then! ;D

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A small update - not five minutes after I submitted this post, the parrot sanctuary replied to my email!

:rolleyes:

Looks like I'm on the right track for getting involved in their volunteering program, now.

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Good job, volunteering is a great way of helping all the birds and the staff and even better for showing how you work around the feathered ones. They will get a good feel for how you and the bird or birds get along. Nice approach!! I know our Sanctuary is always open to more volunteers so we can better meet the needs of our feathered dependents, been a short staffed year.

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I found out I unfortunately won't be able to commit to the volunteering yet for at least another few months until I get my own vehicle, since my dad and I are sharing one. This wasn't originally going to be an issue, but his job changed, and the Sanctuary's schedule is more rigid than I was expecting.

 

I've met several other birds for adoption, none of whom caught my attention or visa versa as Chicken did. And as fate would have it...

 

...the family that had called in to adopt him, decided not to! They have the African Grey that Chicken lived with for thirteen years, and decided they did not want -two- birds making the Sun Conure screech. They had not even taken him home yet before deciding this.

 

So the lass immediately called/emailed me to let me know Chicken was again available, and being held until I made a choice!

Today was amazing. I went down to see him, and Chicken was all excited and came out. He chilled out on my shoulder or a standing perch while we discussed adoption technicalities and I picked out a used cage to take home.

 

He took to his new cage tonight with blessed ease, though I could tell he was getting cranky for being up so late and having gone through such an eventful day. We didn't roll into the driveway until close to ten, he ate some food and drank some water, chirping occasionally, then spent about ten minutes settling down after I progressively dimmed the lights out until it was dark.

 

I am so excited! I've got a few things left on my shopping list to get, but i have all the immediate necessities and then some for him, and a basic first aid kit I want to get a few more things for.

 

He is a seed junky, though he does eat Zupreem pellets. I picked up some fresh veggies, opting for organic ones when I could find them.

 

I will post more as we get to know each other better. My fingers hurt from a nice bite I got today when he was testing me on an asked-for stepup. He clearly has had the chance to discover the tip of the finger hurts more! Ow ow ow!

 

I also got to meet my first African Grey today, which was awesome. I have to say I am surprised by having brought home one of the birds I had originally ruled out as a species I was interested in, but I can't imagine having gone home with any other bird.

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Unfortunately I don't have a good camera to take pictures of him in his new home yet, but this is the photo from his adoption page;

Chicken!.jpg

 

The cage I got him is roughly 2' by 2' and 4' in height, with a playtop. I need to take some steel wool out and get at a few spots of rust, and add in some more bowls but it is otherwise great, at a pricetag of fifty bucks. The bottom grate is seperated from the pan by about six inches, and the cage door is very spacious. I can easily reach inside it all. It's got a nice door latch that you have to press a button to open, and turn and hold a lever in a different spot on the door. He's moving around all the perches and munching on his breakfast, and was -really- interested in the blueberries and brocali I was eating, and offered him some of. He hasn't eaten much of them yet, but he's nibbled and examined them.

 

What I was told of Chicken's past is that he is about 15 years old, and lived with an African Grey for 13 of those years. The woman who had both birds decided she no longer had enough quality time to spend with them, and so surrendered them to the rescue. It sounds like her various family members spent more time with the birdies than she did.

 

He was there for about ~5 weeks before being brought home by me :') He was flighted before being brought to the rescue where they clip all the birds for safety. I do not know if he has ever worn an aviator harness or had much of any flight training, but I have one to work with him on. On the way home from the rescue he rode on my shoulder

 

Chicken has been playing with the toys in his cage, he's working on a strung block of wooden shapes right now, and earlier was poking at a colorful shredable. When he was on my shoulder yesterday I caught him preening my hair after he had cleaned himself up; I hadn't realized it until I felt it tickling the side of my face!

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Photo on 9-1-15 at 6.29 PM.jpg

Day two of Chicken being home!

 

I was able to get some photos from my laptop, Chicken enjoys sitting on my shoulder and munching on his food, making a big ol' mess of crumbs everywhere. This morning he invited himself up to my bowl of cereal while we were eating together, so I gave him a dry piece with no milk on it as a treat.

 

I figure this must be the 'honeymoon' stage, but so far Chicken has been really outgoing and seems comfortable around me. He'll preen and munch his food and play with toes. When I leave the house I whistle a specific tune, and I whistle the same tune when I come back. He screamed full-volume the first few times I left, but whether he just has taken a break from that or if my whistling tune is being picked up on, he is either quiet or does a much softer call now when I go.

 

I also found out he does not like, but loves Banana. I eat one every day, so we have a treat to share together. When he saw me pick one up for the first time he was on the opposite end of his cage, and looked over at my like; "GIMME." He raced across his perches and clung to the side, chirping excitedly. So, that's one fruit I know he likes! It'll be a great motivator for training, I think ;D

 

He also eats apple. I haven't gotten him to eat the broccali or kale yet, but it's only been two days of him being home. He's nibbled at them which I take as a good sign, especially after watching me eat some. He has eaten some carrot, so there's another start on the veggies. I've read it's suggested not to offer more than two new foods a week, so I am going to stick with the brocali and kale. I do like eating different foods near him and seeing how he reacts, to try and find out what things he is already familiar with, like the banana!

 

I cut down on some of the sunflower seeds that were in the food the adoption agency gave me to go with him, since there seemed to be an awful, awful lot of them compared to how many pellets and other tidbits were in it. So far I have observed him picking out a little bit of everything in the mix, fruity bits, zupreem pellets, and the seed.

 

Chicken is so far very good with his step ups, with a few quirks, and also pointed about telling me when he doesn't want to do that. The first few times he went straight to a hard clamp bite, but now he simply looks at me, and does not move to step up, and unless I feel I have to move him, I let him make the choice to stay where he's at. I've noticed that when he wants to go to his cage, he'll look at it and hunker down a bit and do the pre-flight flutter, then get all fluttery as I walk over to it, and hop right up onto my finger if he's on my shoulder, to be let back inside.

 

He doesn't want to step up onto a hand from his cage, but he will step up onto a hand with a towel over it without hesitation. (at the adoption center they had a white towel he did not do this so easily on, but I am using a dull-green color a bit paler than his feathers, so maybe the color difference has helped some?) Once outside his cage, he'll step up onto hands or perches. I've started the shoulder-rule routine; I don't let him invite himself up to that spot, and before he is offered to step up to it, I say; 'Ok,' and when it's time to come off the usual 'Step Up!' command. I also keep my hair up in a bun when he's there, so he can't get a foot caught in it. I usually keep the green towel over my shoulder now to help catch any poopsies, and to give him a better grip for his little feet.

 

I am aiming to avoid him being a 'shoulder bird' who gets agressive when asked to come down. I read a really good article a few weeks ago about how this sometimes happens with birds who are allowed to sit up there for a while...

...then when it's time to come down, they get very upset - because (at least in one of the examples the article used) they have learned that when coming off the shoulder, the owner is going to put them back in the cage. So I make sure to mix it up with doing other things, moving him to a perch, talking with him on my hand or desk, giving treats and whistling.

 

He really likes when I wrap some of his food up and twist it inside a scrap of a napkin, he carefully unravels it to get at the food inside. It keeps him busy while he's sitting on my shoulder.

 

I plan on doing the touch-training with him, as I feel it will give us a good activity to do, and be useful down the road. We haven't started yet, I don't want to throw too many new things his way, but so far he seems to be taking everything in stride! He went up in his carrier to the main house with me this morning for a shower. He didn't want to come into it, but he was very interested in me showing him it.

 

Chicken has been surprisingly quiet, he does a soft throaty hir-rah noise most of the time, and unless I've somehow slept through it, hasn't woken me up the past two mornings with the loud Sun Conure singing. I encourage his soft call by whistling back to him and talking. Evening time about 6:00 though, he has been belting his little lungs out, and I play some music and sing along with him for a bit until we quiet down.

 

He has a metal leg band on which I would like to get removed, although I have yet to see him play with it (again though, only been two days!). I've considered microchipping, but I have heard mixed reviews on Conures getting it, since they are a smaller birdie. I've heard there is something with DNA registering, and whether or not we go the chip route, I want to have his DNA filed, as well as DNA sexed, just so we know for certain 'he' is really a 'he.'

 

I found a few little down feathers in his cage this morning when I swapped the newspaper out, and the two nicest ones I tucked away in a treasure chest as his first feathers home :'3 I plan on making a little bottle necklace with them in it.

 

That's my long-winded update for today! If it sounds like I am doing anything wrong, or things really good, I'd love to hear your opinions and advice. Right now, I am feeling very confident Chicken and I are Stepping Up on the right foot. (geddit? Stepping Up? ;D) I'm trying not to get -too- comfortable, so I won't be as shocked if(I feel as though it's fair to say, 'when') things change and he starts being a lot more testing of me.

Photo on 9-1-15 at 9.54 AM.jpg

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It's been a while since I've posted anything, so here's the latest updates!

Chicken and I are still getting along great. If I sing to him he'll bob his head and dance around. Funnily enough I've only see him dance once or twice to radio music, but he'll start jamming if someone's singing in person!

 

I bought a new travel cage for him during the big holiday sales - it's a bit flimsier than I'd like, but for something to set up at my mom's house when I go down to visit, it's perfect! A small flight cage, it's roomy for a temp hotel and Chicken seems to like climbing around it. It fits perfect in the backseat of a car and is super light to pick up all in one go. Tall enough I can hang in his sleeping tent and some of his favorite toys without it getting crowded.

 

I also bought a new carrier, since the one he has I really hate >.< It's one of those Petco ones that is in two halfs with a tiny door on the front. In order to get your bird in, you first have to set him down on the perch, then set the top half of the carrier over him - while possibly battling a parrot who want's to get out and risking dropping the top on him. ;^; Neither of us like it, though Chicken enjoys carrides. I allow him to ride on my shoulder after I throw a towel over it for him to easily grip, but only when we're on the super long country roads by where we live. Anywhere else and he's tucked up in his carrier (squawking indignantly and chewing at the door, protesting, of course :P)

 

I have a hard time getting him to eat vegetables. He's tried any new one I've offered him - taking a bite, licking it - but then afterwards he won't touch it again, just completely ignores it. He did go nuts over orange bell pepper slices but turned his nose up at the red and green, and the grocery store has yet to get the color he liked back in! He loves oatmeal and gets a nibble of it when I eat it for breakfast. He likes to dip all his zupreem pellets in water before he eats them, I guess to soften them up. I've tried making a mash out of his pellets and he really liked that - until it cooled off, then he lost all interest. Someone's a picky eater!

 

But since he likes warm mashy things, I think if I make one of the birdy mashes with veggies, I can sneak them into his diet that way.

 

I finally got the results from the vets (they forgot to mail me the letter for forever and with phone issues and timing I kept forgetting/wasn't able to call them) and Chicken is, indeed, a boy! It is nice to know for certain, though I didn't have much doubt about it xP

 

Noise level - Chicken is, all in all, incredibly well behaved I'd say with his squawking. He actually had me freaked out for the first few weeks he was home, because he didn't sing at bright and early in the morning like other people have told me their birds do, and wake them up. He'll let me sleep in usually to about 10:30, sometimes 11:00 if I'm really zonked, but the moment I am awake regardless of time he'll greet me with his morning chirps and squawks. I work evenings half of the week as a waitress and am often home between 11-midnight if I close, and he always greets me with a sleepy chirr-rrrh sound before we both tuck in for bed.

 

But days I don't work I'm pretty much at home all day and he's out of his cage.

 

He has seemed to be getting a little more squawky - particularly with the all important topic of FOOD. I often share meals with him, but I'm a grazer - I eat a little bit at a time, all through the day, and I'm mindful of how many treats and how much of what he gets. He's lately started begging behavior, and when he does I ignore him. I aim to reward his quiet chirps with replying to him, but when he does his Alarm Clock Screech I don't respond. I hope I am doing the right thing - I don't like ignoring my little sunshine, but I do not want to turn Chicken into a demanding squawker.

 

The only other thing that is a concern to me is Chicken is pretty much a one-person bird right now. He'll attack anyone who is not me if they get their fingers close enough, and unfortunately I don't have many friends who live close by that are willing to work with a parrot to help get them out of their shell. My dad keeps saying he wants to befriend chicken, but he doesn't really put forth the effort. He's also very afraid of getting bitten, and I don't want him to teach Chicken that biting gets a good reaction, which I've a feeling he was already taught by the time I adopted him.

 

My mother, however, is not afraid of his bite and is willing to work with him! We drove down and spent most of the week down at her house a short while ago in his new travel cage. It proved to be a wonderful choice for him (even though the excuse of going down to clean the house turned into play with parrot all day all week xP I can't say I mind! It was productive in a way I wasn't expecting), and we are so proud of him! Twice during the week he did a very polite step-up and perched on Mama's finger, although the second time he bit her after he decided to step up. We keep a dowel rod handy for when and if he tries to bite a hand, to redirect his beak to something more appropriate to chew on. The little bugger knows just where to twist his beak, he goes for the tips of the fingers or the joints - owwie!

 

He proved to be very comfortable sitting on her knee, though he clearly wanted to climb up her shirt to sit on her shoulder. We did not allow that for obvious reasons - I won't risk him that close to her face, and neither would Mama. But he was content to play with toys and be generally showered in attention sitting on her legs, and we also got the chance to work on flight practice!

 

He's not been testing his wings much on his own, so I have been encouraging him to. I was so proud when my little guy flew up from the floor and perched up on my finger. It was only a short hop and a couple of flaps, but it was still a huge step for him!

 

It's a little over a month old and my hair is now purple, but here's a picture of me and my little sunshine Chicken. He was perched on the shoulder of my cloak, when all of a sudden I felt a tug at the side of my head. I thought he was trying to chew the fabric, and didn't want him to accidentally bite me through it (or damage the cloak xP). When I reached to ask him to step up, though, my hand met air! Next thing I knew, I had a parrot on my head chirping at me.

 

Sorry for the large size, I'm not sure how to make it any smaller ;w;

maKl9ui.jpg

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What a lovely update! So glad things are working out for you and Chicken. He's a lovely looking bird and is very lucky to have found someone to take him in and give him the time and attention he needs.

 

Everything sounds like it's going great!

 

In terms of getting your dad on board, I have similar problems with my housemate. He doesn't really see parrots as good pets (because of the noise and the mess) but he is making very teeny tiny steps towards bonding with Alfie. Alfie is actually very interested in my housemate- he tries to mimic him a lot and picks up new words and phrases from him more than he does me (I can only assume he prefers a male voice as he used to do the same with my dad). He will often observe what my housemate is doing and will move around his cage to get a better look too. My housemate has now progressed to the stage where Alfie will put his head down and my housemate will give him a head scratch. Not for long, as he doesn't trust Alfie enough. But this is a big leap forward from when he first moved in and had nothing to do with Alfie at all. They also share a love of twiglets- a snack food with marmite/vegitmite on it. Normally I wouldn't give Alfie any kind of snack food but this is the one thing I do let slip... the odd twiglet... just one. Most of the time Alfie just enjoys chewing it to pieces and doesn't end up eating much of it. But this has allowed my housemate to offer him food and start building a bit of a bond with him, so that's why I allow it. (other healthy treats are usually flung across the cage or ignored)

We're not at the stage where my housemate would want to be in the same room as Alfie when he is out of the cage, but we are making progress. I've also caught my housemate talking to Alfie on occassion, whereas originally he would just mostly ignore him.

It may be that your dad doesn't ever play a major role with Chicken, but he may be able to interact with him in smaller ways. The fear of being bitten is justified, as it does hurt and Chicken has been known to bite you on occasion. So maybe your dad can still try and bond with Chicken on a hands off basis to begin with. Perhaps he can offer Chicken food or a tasty treat every so often. Perhaps get him to talk to Chicken and just get them used to each others company at a distance. Very slowly build on this until both Chicken and your dad want to progress further. There will obvious still be the risk of a bite, as Chicken will have come with some baggage. But given enough time, I'm sure they'll both adapt to each other and find a way to get along just fine. :)

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D'awww, that's adorable. I am glad your housemate and Alfie are breaking the ice. Any step forward, no matter how small, is progress!

 

My dad does come down every once in a blue moon and gives Chicken a bite of banana, which is one of his favorite fruits. Chicken is very polite about accepting any kind of treat from someone, which is something I use to advantage in introducing him to people. He's also only just starting to use his wings, once he is flying confidently, I'll be very careful having him out if a guest is over - the last thing I'd want is for he or my friend to get hurt if he decides he wants to be a Dive Bomber.

 

The problem I have with my dad is he doesn't seem very motivated to come down more than maybe once or twice in the span of two weeks >.< I've told him it's all in his ballpark if he wants to instigate getting to know Chicken better, he knows he is invited over to my house any time to come and talk with Chicken and give him a treat if he hasn't already had it for the day.

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Chicken is a beautiful boy and he fits right into your life. I have enjoyed reading your posts about his introduction and how well he has adapted to your home. He is a lucky little guy to have found someone who obviously adores him.

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I know you haven't updated in awhile but wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed reading your updates on Chicken so far. You sound like the perfect owner for him and I am happy you two found each other! Please keep the updates coming:-)

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