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Hello, and introducing Vim


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Hi everyone.  Writing a post to introduce myself since I'm new to the forum.  I have been reading the forums for a while and there's a lot of great info!

My name's Ben, and I live in a small town in Ca.  We've had a male Jenday Conure, Pippin, with our family since 2001.  He's a handful.  He likes to hang out on his perch and demand attention 😃  He's target trained, talks in a squeaky voice, and does a few tricks for treats.  He's also pretty phobic, and that's something we've been working on.

Before Pippin, we had a Sun Conure, Gabby, but she unfortunately became egg-bound in 2007, went into surgery, and did not make it through.

Anyway, on Monday, and after a long wait, we brought home a baby female Congo African Grey!  We named her Vim.  She is about five months old and beautiful.  She seems to be doing well, eating her veggy mix, drinking water, exploring.

I've been watching videos and reading about Greys for a long time, but now that she's here, I'm feeling a bit discouraged (for lack of a better word).  The thing is, she is very shy.  Emphatically shy.  I understand that Greys are naturally phobic, but when Pippin and Gabby came home, they both enjoyed my company right away. But Vim is different.  When I put my hand near her, she growls a bit.  Not like an angry growl, but more of a fearful one.  I have been able to give her a few treats by hand.  Yesterday, she was flapping her wings and glided off of her perch onto the carpet (she's clumsy as can be).  I picked her up, although she didn't seem to want me to, and then she let me scratch her head.  She seemed like she really liked that, and nuzzled against my shirt.  Afterward, on her perch, she let me scratch her head again, and then allowed me to put her in her cage for bedtime.  But this morning I offered her a piece of fruit, and I left my hand in place after she took it.  She dropped the fruit and bit me.  I did not react much, but I did flinch and say "Ow" because she bit me kind of hard.

I want to earn this bird's trust, and I'm fine with being patient.  I have been working next to her, talking to her calmly.  She smiles at me with her eyes, if you know what I mean, and seems comfortable (she naps, stretches, doesn't mind me walking behind her, etc.).  I have not asked her to step up because she seems scared, nor have I tried to scratch her head again.  Does that seem like the right tack to take?  Just be present around her and let her come to me in her own time?

Thanks for reading, and for any advice!

vim.jpg

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Sounds like you're doing everything correctly.   My GreycieMae was a very headstrong independent chick.   When I went to the breeders to first look at her, she really didn't want nothing to do with the two-legged creatures in the house.  Her sibling however was a love bug and that's the one I wanted but she was already spoken for.  It took a few months, maybe even more than a year to really get through to my grey but over time she's become the little love bug I always wanted.   I just couldn't help but persist to get into her good graces.  Now all she wants to do is hang on my shoulder 24/7.   They are very malleable at this age so you've got a nice little lump of clay there to work with (analogy).   Persistence pays off big time with these greybies. 

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There's a saying amongst grey owners that everything must be done in 'grey time'. Tons and tons of patience is needed until she relaxes. If she growls, then that is her queue she's not yet comfortable with whatever took place. 

You've only had her a few days, so what she's doing is completely normal! She'll get there! You just can't rush the 'grey time'.

She's beautiful, btw!

Edited by Greytness
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Thank you for the responses, SRSeedBurners and Greytness.  What you said makes me feel better about taking things slowly with her.  Last night she let me hold her and scratch her head again, but this morning she's once again bashful.  If I'm reading her correctly, then I think that everything is going well.  I'll keep at it and report back.

Thanks again!

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51 minutes ago, Vim said:

Thank you for the responses, SRSeedBurners and Greytness.  What you said makes me feel better about taking things slowly with her.  Last night she let me hold her and scratch her head again, but this morning she's once again bashful.  If I'm reading her correctly, then I think that everything is going well.  I'll keep at it and report back.

Thanks again!

They are big sooks in the evenings.   I can always get away with a lot more in the evenings.

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Greys can be pretty change adverse, so the fact Vim has just been lifted from an environment she knows, put in a new strange house with new people- it's a LOT to take in for a grey. She needs to get used to her new surroundings, her new home, her new flock, her new routine etc etc. So she might be a little wary and frightened to begin with. But once she settles and gets used to everything she'll come round.

The most important thing you can do is respect her space and her feelings. Take things at her pace and if she seems uncomfortable or scared, just take a step back, tell her it's ok and let her calm down and adjust. If you try and force a grey to do something they're not comfortable with then they'll either try and move away or if they feel they don't have a choice they'll bite to try and make you go away.

It sounds like you're doing all the right things so far. It may take a little while to win her round but it'll be so worth it when you do. 🙂

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Thanks for all the responses.  At this point she's starting to trust me.  While she's in her cage, she lets me scratch her head.  Every evening she steps up for me and hangs out on my shoulder for 20 minutes or so.

The lady at the bird store told me not to let her climb out of her cage on her own.  She said that down the line she may give me attitude when I try to get her out of her cage.  The thing is, while she's in her cage, she absolutely refuses to step up.  When I ask her to step up, she puts her head down and ruffles her feathers and nuzzles against my finger.  So, I've been going against what they told me at the bird store.  After she eats breakfast, I ask her to step up.  She refuses, and I scratch her head.  Then I wait 5 or 10 minutes and repeat.  She refuses to step up again, so I just leave the cage door open.  (Sometimes I coax her out with a target stick and a clicker.)  There's a perch on top of her cage, and from there she's much more receptive to being held.  She calls me over when she wants to be held--she makes a certain whistle and points with her head.  I have not had problems getting her back in her cage at bedtime.  That all seem okay?

She's still very shy and apprehensive.  She gets scared when my wife or kids walk up to her.  But we're getting there 😃

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When i brought Dorian home at 3 1/2 years of age, he was totally cage bound and hand phobic.  It took over a year of me sitting beside of or on the floor in front of his cage.  It took over two years before he so much as poked his head outside of the cage.  Let Vim get comfortable with the members of your family, and let her observe things from a safe spot.  I don't see any problem with letting her climb out of her cage.  Lots of greys are cage defensive.   Welcome to the forums.

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Alfie rarely steps up to come out of his main/big cage. I open the door and let him come out on his own. Some days he immediately climbs out, other times he'll eye me up suspiciously before climbing out. I think he probably tries to work out whether it's play time or whether I'm going to take him upstairs because I'm either working from home or want to put him in his travel cage. (If his travel cage is in the same room he definitely won't come out!)

He has a second cage upstairs so he can come and join me when I work from home, just so we can keep each other company. He will always step up to come out of that cage. He's still a little wary of the play top so on the odd occasion that I do let him climb out he'll generally try and get to me anyway as he doesn't want to climb to the top of his cage.

If I do ask him to step up from his main cage then he'll either do the same thing as Vim where he asks for head scratches, he'll gently push my hand or the wooden dowel I'm using away or he'll lean back on his perch to indicate there's no way he's stepping up for anything. It's really rare for him to step up to come out of that cage- but it does happy once in a blue moon!

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