Boss’ near Death Experience!

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Boss, our 1-year-old lovebird has truly been through a lot this past year and unfortunately she had to encounter another problem before this year was over. I have to say for a small parrot she has enormous strength and determination. Boss has really shown that she is a fighter against all odds.

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Love birds images

Boss has always been ms. Houdini but this time I think someone forgot to lock her cage properly because I just can’t see how she would have been able to escape. Anyhow she did and for some odd reason, she decided to go to our African Grey’s cage. I had just put him back in his cage and was cleaning his water bowl when I heard him banging something in his cage. He is a banger so this is normal. I walked back and he had something yellow… WAIT… Grayson’s only yellow toy I had just thrown out so what is he banging?? As I approached his cage to put back the water, he dropped his yellow package and the package ran out of the bottom of his cage. To my horror, it was Boss, our one year old peach-faced lovebird. I didn’t even know Boss could fit through the gaps of Grayson’s cage until I seen her run out. MY HEART DROPPED. I screamed at the top of my lungs as what just occurred slowly registered in my head. I wanted to cry! At that very moment, I was petrified.

I went to find Boss who was huddled in a corner. I picked her up and examined her. I was so afraid I was going to lose her. Boss has some blood coming out one of her ears and her beak was purple and blue.  I wrapped her in a rag and held her. I wanted to bring her to the vet but silly me just used their credit card to cover a purchase and had said I would put back the money off my next pay not realizing that something would come up and I would be needing it (talk about bad timing). So bringing her to the vet at this time, was out of the question. I tried to nurse her back to health but I was worried about her internal organs. I set up a “get well cage” which is really small but felt it would be perfect for her under the circumstances.

I gave her a bath everyday, kept her warm, served her warm baby food with her pellets mixed in it, fresh clean water and weighed her all the time. Birds like to hide their sickness so there is no way of knowing if they are ill until it is too late. Weighing Boss daily let me know that she wasn’t losing weight and was eating as she normally would so she probably wasn’t going to die.

It’s now been almost 2 weeks and her beak is back to a light peach bone like color with no purple or blue marks. She is vocalizing again (she had stopped for a while). She is moving all over her “get well cage” and she is back to training!

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Boss doing “touch/grab” taming. I call it the hovering method.

Til this day, I don’t know what exactly  happened on that day or how it happened but all I know is please double-check your locks when closing your pets’ cages especially if you have other pets around.

Parenting Parrots!

The Test -Chapter 4 – Week one and week two update

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Week one was pretty straight forward, I just made sure my “parrids” ( get it??! Parrot kids – PARR from parrots and IDS from kids lol… My new word – I’m going to have to start an index if I keep this up.) knew everything they needed to and were ready to start the The Parrot Wizard’s Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots

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The Parrot Wizard’s Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots

Chapter 4 is called “Taming and Training”. He covers the different type of punishment and reinforcement terms he will be using. He has sections on Motivation, Food Management, Clicker Conditioning, Target Training, Step up,  Touch/Grab, Towelling and Turning on Back. I refused to look at Chapter 5 until I spent at least 2 weeks in Chapter four. I also want to say before doing all of this it is important to have done some trust building exercises because I feel that makes or breaks your relationship with your parrots.

Day one (Saturday November 5):
         Today, I weighed and monitored my parrids making sure I watched how much they ate in a serving, how much they didn’t eat etc. I implemented the first two sections: Motivation and food management. I did absolutely no training with them as I wanted to follow the book as close as possible and not fall back into my old habits of training. So a pretty boring day.

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Ringo on our scale

Day Two (Sunday November 6):
          Today was clicker conditioning day, making sure all my parrids especially my focus subjects knew what a clicker was. I took them out in the morning, did 10 minutes of clicker training and then put them back in their cages for them to enjoy their breakfast. I did a second training session in the evening before bed. All the parrids already knew the clicker but some became stronger trainees after this. Maybe it is just my mind playing tricks on me but I think by spending the time to really make them understand what a clicker’s purpose is, did in fact help me with training Marlee. Everyone else I didn’t see a difference as they were properly introduced to the clicker. I think with Marlee, I must have missed a step because I believe she never truly understood the sound of the clicker. Also with Ringo, (Even though he isn’t part of the focus subjects) I was still using the clicker far away from him as he was afraid of the sound, I now can use the clicker right by him. So call me crazy but I think by really taking the time to introduce the clicker versus just starting to train with it, makes a difference. Check out the video below of how to properly clicker train your parrot which can technically work for any animal that can be trained.

Day Three and day four (Monday November 7 & Tuesday November  8):
   
     Today was target training day, my parrids also already know target training so it was another easy task for me to do.  I did two 10 minute sessions a day. Day three I focused on doing target training inside of the cage. Day four was target training outside the cage. All parrots were very successful as expected. For those who don’t know what target training is. It is a “Chopstick”, clicker and a treat. You put the stick some where, the parrot moves towards it and touches it, you click and give the treat. If your parrot doesn’t know target training, you put the stick right in front of them and wait until they touch it. Do that a few times and slowly move the stick further and further out of their reach until they have to actually move to touch it.


Day Five and day six (Wednesday November 9 and Thursday November 10):
       “Step up”, “Step up”, “Step up”. I tried to follow all his instructions but I have to admit for the parrots that already knew step up, I had to kind of just go over my previous step up sessions. What he says in the book makes sense though because there are times that I go to step up a parrot and it moves away from me. He recommends to teach your parrots to step up by targeting – I think that’s a great idea however I was having a difficult time with it. I did what worked for me and all my parrots were successful except… I found that Marlee is actually afraid of hands so I had to revert back to trust building exercises and target training her inside of her cage. Piper is afraid of perches, so I slowly been introducing him to different perches. I couldn’t do step up by targeting so I taught step up the only way I know how by simply asking the parrot to step up on different perches.

Day 7 (Friday November 11):
            I read over the sections of touch/grab, towelling and turning on back. I was already familiar with towelling as it is something I do every now and then with Grayson, my african grey. The touch/grab method is going to need more time for me to grasp the concept and the turning on back, some of my parrids already do however it wasn’t taught to them as he describes it so I will also have to work with them on this. Basically my training session on Friday was simply just going over target training and stepping up. This concluded my 1st week of trying to train my parrids off of The Parrot Wizard’s Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots

Conclusion: So far, so good. He covers the basics which is important to be successful in the training process and he is teaching things that will help with the basics that parrots are exposed to such as vet visits, grooming etc… If you teach your parrot towelling that eliminates the fear of when the vet wraps them in a towel. If you teach touch/grab that eliminates the fear of when they have to be grabbed out of their carrier and held for the vet. If you teach turning on back, that eliminates the stress of when the vet is checking them out and grooming them. Step up helps you be able to transport your parrot whenever you want. Target training is just a basic method needed to continue the training process in my eyes anyways. Clicker training is the perfect “bridge” to let a parrot know they did an excellent job and will be rewarded for it.    

Week Two:

Day 8 ( Saturday November 12) – Day 14 (Friday November 18):
        This week I continued doing target training in and out of the cage. I continued teaching step up however not by the book standards but by my way of teaching it, getting them used to hands and different perches. I really focused on trying to teach touch/grab, towelling and turning on back however I only got to do touch/grab and even that I didn’t finish. Hovering your hand over a parrot’s head is something that we are taught from the very beginning not to do, as it is like a predator for them but this is exactly what touch/grab is telling you to do. I was able to touch some of the parrids but Piper and Marlee are not that strong in stepping up with different perches and especially Marlee who doesn’t like hands – I didn’t even bother to attempt this with them. So the only test subject that was exposed to this was Grayson and I’m now really close with my hand over him however I started off really far away but I’m still not touching him. I also did this with Nyx, my black-capped conure who I can touch on her head and back with my hand hovering over her. He does tell you in the book that these methods are taming methods and may take a while before you are able to reap the benefits so as of Saturday November 19, I will be reading chapter 5 and moving on while continuing to work on “taming” my parrids more.

Update (Thursday November 30th, 2017: This was started November of 2016 and then I  had stopped implementing it well I started this process all over and I can hover my hand over Piper and Purrain (irn) but did a good distance away. Towelling, I might try teaching it the way I taught it to Grayson as The Wizard’s way seems as though it would take longer. Turning on back – I am only able to do with Nyx (even though she is not one of the test subjects.)

Parenting Parrots!

Halloween @ Parenting Parrots!

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Ringo on a pumpkin

It’s almost halloween and I wanted to do something special for you guys… So at Parenting Parrots we decided to really celebrate halloween this year and do something we have never done before…. (Drumroll please)

I GOT HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS!! LOL I know it’s nothing big but to me, it’s HUGE!!! I’m so excited about celebrating halloween at Parenting Parrots I can’t contain my excitement!

I GOT PUMPKINS!!! So, I’m in my 30’s and in all my years, (whispering) I have never carved a pumpkin :(. LOL I hope I’m not alone in this but anyways Junior Jay and I will be carving pumpkins with our PARROTS!!!! You can watch our halloween video here:

We had so much fun decorating and carving pumpkins I think we will have to do a halloween special every year! I hope you guys had as much fun watching us, as we had making everything! It was a first for all the parrots (not sure about Nyx) and us so a big thing to be excited about!

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Nyx on a pumpkin

Pumpkins are okay for parrots to have so we had nothing to worry about in getting their help with the decorating!

To everyone who is celebrating…

HAPPHALLOWEEN FROM

PARENTING PARROTS

TO YOU!!!!

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Our pumpkins!

Parrots Shower too, you know??

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Piper on the shower perch

People always seem amazed when they find out exactly how much work goes into taking care of a parrot, but yet these same people are not amazed at how much work goes into taking care of a dog. Why the different reactions?

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I think because dogs have been domesticated and is a “normal” pet to have, everyone has adjusted to the way of living with them. Parrots are becoming more and more popular as each year goes on however they are still far from being able to declare as domesticated and maybe because of that, misconceptions have followed them for years. “Birds are pets that stay in a cage all day long and all you have to do is give it some toys, a food bowl and a water bowl”. NOT!!! Sorry to disappoint anyone however everything you do for a dog, you have to do for a parrot. So one thing that I wanted to cover today was showering. Parrots shower too, you know? They have bath time!

Some will automatically use their water bowls as their bath water when they need a good washing. Others may decide when you are washing dishes is a good time to jump on in. You may have to force some to take a bath until they learn how to enjoy it however either way it has to happen, it has to happen just like having a dog.

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Grayson, african grey

How often you decide to bath your parrot is really a personal choice but because we are Parenting Parrots we treat our parrots as close as possible to how we treat our toddlers. So technically bathing everyday is what should be happening but of course it doesn’t, as I want to give them a chance to do it themselves. Which means… I bathe them as often as possible usually that’s once every other day. In the summertime, I try to stick to this and I like to do it in the morning around 11am after their morning training and breakfast. So then they have all day to preen and dry off, help keep themselves busy. In the winter time I only shower them twice a week. When I have to go to work obviously this is not an option and I work too early to even give them a quick bath so that sucks but if your parrots bathe themselves anyways then you really don’t have to worry about this.

I used to spray mist them in their cages but then other stuff would get wet and it just seemed like a disaster. So I’m trying this shower perch. Right now they’re all timid on it and act shy. The size I have is a small which seems to work okay for most of the parrots however Grayson, my african grey needs a bigger size (medium) as there’s not enough room for him to stretch out his wings and enjoy himself. Boss, the lovebird needs a smaller perch as she just falls right off and since Nyx always takes her showers when I’m washing the dishes she doesn’t use the perch.

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Boss and Nyx in the sink

Bathing your parrot helps to keep the dander down. Lovebirds and African Grey parrots can make a lot of dander (I think Indian Ringnecks do too). Dander is an informal term for a material shed from the body of various animals, including humans, which have fur, hair, or feathers. The term is similar to dandruff, when an excess of flakes becomes visible. Skin flakes that come off the main body of an animal are dander, while the flakes of skin called dandruff come from the scalp and is composed of epithelial skin cells. Quote from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dander.

The main thing to consider here is that dander can cause allergies if not controlled. I have an air filter for this but i still need to control it by making sure that the birds are constantly taking baths. IT HELPS OUT A LOT!!!

Every now and then I will see Grayson take a bath in his water bowl, which is too small for him to bath in but I love the fact that he is taking his hygiene into his own hands. I especially see this when I’ve been at work the whole week. Boss always uses her water bowl or she will go visit Piper and bath in his water hahaha. Nyx used to bath in her water bowl but now that I have her with me every time I wash dishes, I haven’t seen her use her water bowl in a long time. Piper and Ringo use their water bowl just not as frequently as I would like. Marlee and Rasta bath every day in their water bowl so sometimes I don’t bath them as I make sure I give them fresh water first thing in the morning and as soon as they bath I switch it out but I will be getting them another bowl of water just in case they bath one day and I’m not home to change it. Sometimes I turn on the vacuum to see if they will go bathe in their water on their own, I have yet to be successful with this. But rumor is, to encourage a parrot to bath, turn on the vacuum.

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Ringo in the shower

My biggest pet peeve about this shower perch is that I wish it had grooves. When the birds first go on it, they slip and slide before getting their balance. This seems like the typical shower perch as every one I look at lacks grooves or if it doesn’t lack grooves it costs almost 50 bucks. I will continue to use this perch as once they get a grip they don’t fall off. I keep it low now and very close to the tub so if they do fall it’s not a far drop. My favorite Parrot shop has shower perches that do have texture on the actual perch so if I get really annoyed I might try one and then I can do a comparison review.

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Sorry Rasta wouldn’t stay still so I could get a good picture

Otherwise I have no complaints as it beats having them in the actual tub. I would recommend every parrot owner to invest in a shower perch but of course some people prefer just having them in the sink or misting or letting them bathe themselves. Whatever your method is please just pay attention that your parrot is bathing or getting a shower at least once a week at the very minimal. I know people who take their parrots into the shower with them and have them sit on the railing to catch the mist from their actual shower. That’s cool, if you don’t mind being watched hahaha. I’m shy, so I like my own shower with no eyes but its a good way to bond with your parrot by bathing together…

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Marlee, green naped lorikeet

There is bath soap out there for parrots however I don’t use any because if they were in the wild, they wouldn’t be using it. So there you have it, parrots shower too!!

 

Parenting Parrots!

How to Train Love birds

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Day one 

Our peach-faced lovebird was born in our house a year ago (May 2015). He was parent raised and was left in the cage that he was born in. We would come home to see him flying around the house. Somehow he was always able to escape no matter how much we tried to make sure the cage was locked. Eventually we came to realize that he would move the food bowl and come out of the hole that was made in the cage for the nest box. In doing so, he damaged his beak. It looks like the needle got stuck in the beak and he broke it. Lots of blood in his beak. He finally healed but I can still see where the beak had been damaged. Poor little guy :(. We brought him to the vet, there is nothing that they can do to fix his beak as there is a big blood vessel right there so all we can do is monitor the growth. If you look closely at the below picture, you can see the raised line down his beak.

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How to train a lovebird

I finally decided enough was enough and put him in our Quaker’s old cage and moved the Quaker to a new cage. Well he didn’t like that very much because that meant no escaping anymore but it was the safest thing for him as he was fully flighted.

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training a love bird

After a year of neglect ( I say this with lots of shame but I was pregnant, was tired all the time and just couldn’t find the energy for parrots or anything else for that matter), we finally named him…. He was “Boss“.

We named him Boss because he was definitely a boss in his own right. He was aggressive. You couldn’t put your hand near his cage without him trying to lunge at it from the inside. He didn’t even want us changing his water or giving him food. I was discouraged as I was not used to small birds. In his defense, even though he grew up with us, he was not used to hands.

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It took me losing my Galah Cockatoo, Lola (R.I.P) for me to smarten up and realize that all parrots whether big or small MATTER!! I was determined to make Boss feel as part of the flock and I was determined to show Lola, that mommy cares about all parrots. I started to grow our flock and videotape our progress with each bird. I decided to make a YouTube channel (please subscribe!).  There are a lot of training videos out there but if my flock can help another person, even just one person with their own flock then MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!

Day Two

We would open the cage and Boss wouldn’t even come out. Every day we opened the cage for 1 hour and went about our business. After a week Boss would come out on his own however he didn’t want to be handled and he wouldn’t eat from my hands. I tried target training him and because he wouldn’t eat from my hands it was difficult however if he was sitting on the food bowl he would tap the stick and then I would put the treat (sunflower seed) in his food bowl. He seem to get the concept but he still wouldn’t follow the stick anywhere except for around the food bowl.

Checkmark for getting him out the cage and half a checkmark for target training.

Day Three (used loosely)

He would fly away anytime we got close and we would have to chase him around. So I clipped his wings. For him, I cut the first eight. Then we attempted stepping up. He would do it  but it seemed he was doing it by force and I didn’t like that.

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Day four

Same as day three, we worked on stepping up.

Day five

I searched YouTube for clues – for me, nothing helped. so I’m hoping my YouTube channel  (please subscribe) will help someone like me. I was still at stage one with no progress. I whacked my brain… How can I train a bird that wouldn’t accept treats from us? The first two days, my son would pet him and say “good bird Boss”, however I felt like that wasn’t a good method because he doesn’t like hands so he wouldn’t/couldn’t be enjoying that. Obviously this method wasn’t working.

Day six

Time for a change. I had Boss step up and then I held him to my chest and stroked him over and over and over and over and over again, for about 10 minutes while singing and talking softly. I then put him down and told him to “step up” and put my finger under his belly right by his legs. When he did I clicked on my clicker and put a spray millet piece in front of his face. He was not taking the millet and we both sat there and waited and waited and waited. He tasted it. Checkmark! He just ate a treat from my hand! I continued this for 10 minutes. Each time it was a long wait for him to take the treat. I put him back in his cage and called it a day. (sorry for the blur it was hard trying to capture the picture while training)

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Day seven

Same thing as day six but this time there was less resistance. He was accepting the millet after a short pause and after the 10 minutes of training, there was no pause. He would step up, take the millet and let me hold him to my chest and caress his whole body without squirming or trying to  bite or get away. This was only day two of this type of training and I would say mission accomplished. He would still sometimes hop off and wander off, but overall the aggression had decreased.

I’m happy, my little feisty Boss was now eating from my hand and allowing me to hold him, pet him and was stepping up!!

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P.S.

In two days I had decided to introduce him to another member of our flock named Nyx. She is a three-year old Black capped Conure (fully flighted). To introduce them I put them in the same room without their cages and just did regular things with them. My son would bring them near one another and say praises to each for not showing any aggression. Day two, I had them both on my shoulders one on each side. I trained Boss while Nyx was on my shoulder, making sure to only be focused on training Boss at that time. Once I was done training Boss I put him on my other shoulder and they came together on one shoulder by themselves ( I wouldn’t recommend having them on your shoulder though. Just have them in a mutual area away from each of their cages, an area that is fairly new to both of them. If they decide to fight, it would be harder to intervene with them on your shoulder). Anyhow,they kissed while on my shoulder so I knew they were good. I can now have them both out of their cages at the same time.

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Remember when doing this never leave them unsupervised.

I will continue to keep you updated on our training progress. Thanks for the support!!

Parenting Parrots!