Dear Lola,

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If words could express my disappointment in losing you, they would fill up the world. I never knew a person could feel such a deep lost for a companion animal until the night I laid with you in my arms, begging you to live but knowing you were taking your last breath. I still consider that day to be the worst day of my life because I failed you. Lola, I could never know what happened with that vet clipping your wings but you definitely set me on the path to realize how important wings are to a parrot especially if that parrot is already a timid parrot. Although that clip was against my will, I regret using that vet because another may have listened to my demands of no and you would still be here with me. I’m sorry and I hope you are happy wherever you may be and realize that I loved you as if I had given birth to you myself.

Lola, was my Galah Cockatoo. I consider her to truly be my first introduction to the parrot community and I bought her with no knowledge of what it meant to be a parrot owner. Just knew I liked how she looked and I wanted a bird. I don’t regret having Lola, I just wonder if she would have been better off with someone else. Would she have lived longer? Been happier? OR was she destined to be with me, who would fail her in the end? When I got Lola I drove 4 hours to pick her up and 4 hours to bring her back. When we met she stepped up to me with no problem and had no hesitation even the breeder said we were meant to be. Lola spent most of her days out of her cage and with me wherever I went. She was kept in a very tiny cage at the breeder so I suspect she didn’t truly get a chance to learn how to fledged as she never flew. I would see her open her wings and flap but she never took off. I started doing research on parrots and came across Birdtricks.com, they were my first introduction to parrot training and taming. I immediately bought their dvds and went to work. Before her first vet visit which would change her forever she had already learned how to step up perfectly, wave and turn around.

I didn’t want to bring her to a vet for fear she may catch something so I had the vet come to me. This vet ignored my wishes for a fully flighted parrot. Proceeded to tell me, it was better to clip her wings as she would be more manageable and it was a safer option but I wasn’t having any problems with training Lola so I still said no thank you. She asked me for a towel and I went and got it, by the time I got back, the damage was done. She had clipped one wing already so I had no choice but to continue with the procedure. Then she trimmed Lola’s nails so short, my poor Lola no longer was able to grip her perches. So with no nails and no wings to help her balance as soon as they put Lola back in the cage, she fell straight to the bottom. I was devastated. The vet told me to put pillows and towels at the bottom and that she would stop after a day or two. I did what I was told but I wasn’t happy. All of Lola’s bloodwork came back perfect. But Lola no longer wanted to come out of her cage, she didn’t want to train, she didn’t want to be interacted with and the worst part is she never let her wings grow back.

Lola was my first bird. A Galah Cockatoo. She was suppose to be so full of life and she was until she seen the vet. I tried everything I could think of and nothing worked. I finally brought her to another vet to see if they could help. Re-did bloodwork, looked her over and was told absolutely nothing was wrong with her. She wasn’t plucking but she would damage her wings as soon as they grow back in. I started treating her like a plucker and I would give her toys that were for pluckers, hoping she would ignore her wings, bathed her with water mixed with aloe vera to try and help if she was experiencing any itches from the wings growing in. I even bought her a mop head that I would put on top of her cage to help distract her. Nothing worked. The new vet advised me that it must be psychological but had no other suggestions for me. I was lost, hurt and confused. I considered re-homing her wondering if a new environment would help but could never go through with it as I was too attached. I contacted an animal psychic in hopes that she would be able to communicate with Lola and get to the bottom of the issue once and for all. That psychic either was fake or for some reason just couldn’t connect to my birds.

Lola would live for 3 years with us. It was me, my son, Lola and Grayson, our African Grey. She didn’t come out to play or interact with anyone. I left her cage door open 24/7 and she remained inside. The day that Lola passed, we had left the house and came home to find her on the floor of my living room, looking like she was having a seizure, bright green poop coming out of her. I fixed up the travel carrier with towels and stuff to make it warm and comfortable for her. I brought her in my room and monitored her activity. She was dying and I knew it. All vets were closed so I called on the same vet, I blamed for Lola’s behavior but even she was unavailable to help. I couldn’t go to the emergency vet as I had just had a baby girl, wasn’t fully healed and had no access to the car at that time. Lola would live to the wee hours of the morning and pass on the blanket.

My lack of parrot ownership and trust in a vet, took my Lola from me. Since then I have been adding to my flock in order to help more birds to try and make up for the guilt I felt losing Lola. I have since lost 2 more birds unfortunately and although I know they weren’t as bad as Lola, I can’t help but continue to strive for a better tomorrow for the companion birds that are still alive.

Each parrot I lose has taught me something new. Lola taught me that birds need to learn to fledged and are better off being fully flighted so now all my parrots are. Piper taught me that I need to remove fresh foods as soon as possible and keep the cages spic and span in order to avoid pesticides from infecting the parrots. Nyx taught me to demand bloodwork from vets be done because she was sick from before she was rehomed to me and we should have realized that by how quick her beak would grow but again a vet denied my request stating that conures just didn’t take good care of their beaks. I’m glad to have known each and every one of these birds and although I miss them dearly they have made me a better me, a better parrot owner, a better companion to my parrots.

Lola, you will forever be in my heart and I hope I can continue to make you proud.

Parenting Parrots

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To Clip or Not to Clip? That is the Question

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I will be completely honest, I blame clipping of my Galah Cockatoo’s wings to be the cause of her death(Will be a storytime on our Youtube channel). Overall, she felt incomplete as a bird and because she barely had learned how to fledge at that time, she never understood the importance of her wings hence her breaking them every time they grew in. A lot of people clip their birds’ wings and justify it for different reasons, I don’t argue with anyone. I listen and understand their point of view but you know what my thought on it comes down to?!? THEN DON’T GET A BIRD!!

A bird is meant to fly, are you still a bird if you can’t fly?? I think that makes them a chicken or a turkey or a rooster but definitely not a bird…. I will never tell someone they are wrong for clipping but is it not selfish to clip a bird because you can’t take the proper precautions to keep them safe? Wouldn’t it be better to leave them in the pet store or at the breeder’s house so someone who doesn’t have to risk their “winglyhood”, for safety can take them? I’ve heard about many accidents with parrots who have flown away or flew into a fan, etc :(. But couldn’t those have been prevented?  Such as making sure windows and doors aren’t opened when the bird is out or by turning off that fan? Maybe I just don’t understand as I’m not in those situations to have to make those type of decision but regardless let’s think about the bird.

To Clip

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Part of a bird’s anatomy is their wings just like humans, it’s their legs. Let’s say someone broke my legs and said no worries it will fix, it’s only temporary. In that time frame I’m paralyzed, I can’t move like I want to – I am at the beck and call of others. I have to rely on others as I can’t do for myself like I normally would, this is the same for clipped birds. Now some people may say nope! It’s not like that. Clipping wings is more like getting a haircut as it doesn’t hurt the bird and it will grow back. Yes that is all true however it is still temporarily paralyzing them from making the decision to flight or fight.

I have clipped birds but they are only clipped because they came to me that way so I patiently wait it out until their wings grow back in. I used to clip my parrots’ wings all by myself, I have also went to the vet to get it done. I never thought anything more about it until I started watching and observing my birds and realizing how BEAUTIFUL it was to see them spread their wings and fly. I love it! I haven’t clipped my African grey in 4 years and although he barely flies whenever he does, I feel like a proud mommy.

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A lot of behavioral issues can arise from having a clipped parrot because of the lack of exercise. Flying is so important to parrots, it’s how they release all that built up energy so if you add flying plus foraging plus training and the perfect diet – YOU CAN ACQUIRE THE PERFECT PET! But without the flying aspect, what exercise can you give a parrot that would release the same amount of exercise that flying for 30 mins a day would help them release? One thing I used to do when Grayson’s wings were clipped is have him come out of the cage, I would hold on to his feet and tell him to flap his wings. He was great at it but it definitely was not releasing the same amount of energy that flying would have.

Once, I clipped Piper’s wings because people said it would make him easier to train and manage. Well let me tell you – I received a MONSTER from that. He went from never biting to always biting. He was miserable being clipped and now that he isn’t clipped anymore, he is back to his normal self. Yes, he flies from me but I understand that is his way of communicating to me to let me know he either had enough or is bored with what I’m doing etc….

There will always be pros and cons to clipping and not clipping your bird’s wings. It truly comes down to a personal preference. Do what’s best for you and for your parrot so you can both enjoy all that life has to offer.

 

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5 yr old Grayson

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Parenting Parrots!

Top 5 Things You Need to Know About the Quaker Parrot

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Piper!!

Quakers (Scientific name is Myiopsitta Monahus) are fun medium-sized parrots (11 – 13 inches) that come in the colors of green, blue, pallid blue and pallid yellow (amongst other colors). Their normal color is green. They are intelligent and a handful if you don’t know how to interact and manage them. I made this list up because anytime someone hears that I have a Quaker parrot their first comment is “OMG, now that’s a squawker! Don’t you find it to be loud?” I feel a lot of parrots get stereotyped wrong and Quakers are one of those that are misunderstood. So here is my list of the top 5 things you need to know about the Quaker parrot.

These are things that every Quaker parent needs to know:

1) Quakers are known to be vocal
– Yes, they are on the list as one of the top 10 talkers however talking is an ability that a bird will either care to do or not. It strictly depends on the individual parrot. Our Quaker, Piper talks a lot however we talk to him a lot so I’m sure that made a difference.
– When we first got Piper he would make noise at the top of his lungs. I thought OMG what did I get myself into? I was certain my neighbors would complain and I was ready to get rid of this noisy bird. So screeching is something this parrot will do – it all depends on if you have the time and patience to train it out of it’s noisy calls. I don’t have that issue with Piper anymore.

2) inquisitive
– They are very curious birds. If you want a bird that wants to know and see everything, you found it. Nothing will get passed a quaker. With that being said, I literally mean nothing, so if you are missing items or can’t find something shiny, don’t be surprised if you find it with your Quaker.
– This also means that they will want to be able to see and be involved in everything, so don’t leave them out.

3) Independent
– Quakers are known to be independent birds. Our Piper has no problem being around us but he isn’t demanding for attention (at least not physical attention). He will play nicely on his play perch and as long as he is near us, he is content. He doesn’t need to be physically on you.
– They have a bit of an attitude to them and they are not afraid to tell you their mind. They are very bold and can be aggressive when needing to make a point. I found when we clipped Piper’s wings is when he became bitey as that was his only defense mechanism. Once his wings grew back, the aggressiveness disappeared.

4) Time consuming
– This I believe goes across the board for all parrots – They need time! However I think a lot of people get so caught up with they need a certain amount of time that if they find they can’t give them that 3 hours a day, they put them up to be re-homed. Quakers would benefit from being out of their cage for minimum 2.5 hours a day however Quality over Quantity comes into play here. If you can only have your Quaker out for an hour one day, that is okay as long as you make that hour count. It’s better you have them actually out for a complete hour with you than have them out for 5 hours and they are just sitting on a perch, bored. When my parrots are out but feel I am not spending any time with them, they fly right back to their cages. A cage is their home, just like your home is your home. Do you go outside every day? As long as you are stimulated at home then you are okay. This is by no means saying it is okay to keep a parrot caged, all I’m saying is if one day a week you are too busy to give your parrot their usual time out of their cage – Don’t panic just make sure you do make the time that you do have together count regardless if it is 10 minutes or 10 hours. Make it count!

5) Training
If you’ve been following my blog (if you don’t follow me, then please do) then you know I’m a big advocate for training parrots. This doesn’t change when it comes to Piper. As a matter of fact, I think Quakers are so much fun to train as they have the drive to learn and can be very enthusiastic about it. There is this article that talks about how the author trained her Quaker parrot to go from being a biter to a painter, so you see training is a very important aspect to possibly all your problems.

 

Boss – Peachfaced Lovebird

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Boss

Boss was born in our home, she was never handled, just locked in her cage unless she found a way to escape. Boss looks exactly like her dad and until recently we thought she was a he.

Name: Boss

Type of Parrot: Peach-faced Lovebird

Sex: Believed to be a female (Thought she was a “he” until recently)

Birth Date: May 2015

Wings Status: Lightly clipped – wings are growing back

Favorite food: Spray Millet

Noise Level:  LOUD

Training progress: She only knows step up

Tricks: She can step up

Talking ability:  “peek-a-boo”,”poo-poo”

Favorite toys: She loves this bag looking toy that has Popsicle sticks sticking out of it. (when I buy another I will post a pic)(If you look at the bottom of her cage you will see this green thing that was the toy lol)

Fears:  She is the boss! She will just lunge after anything that might scare her

Diet: Harrison’s Pellets with fruits and veggies

Treats: Sunflower seeds,   Spray Millet

cage Size:  This is the closest cage I could find to the one I have the lovebird in.

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Boss’ Cage

Last Vet visit: August 2016 – visual examinations – Everything looks good

Next Steps: Getting her to do the turn around 

Parenting Parrots!

Piper – Quaker a.k.a Monk Parakeet

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Piper

So…. Do you think Piper is a girl or a boy?!? Post a comment and let me know…

We purchased Piper from a family that had an ad on kijiji.ca, they had quite a few birds. Piper was in a cage with pineapple sided conures and sun conures. I honestly was not going to take any birds from them as the cages were unkept. It was my son’s birthday and he wanted us to add another bird to the flock, I agreed and that’s how we ended up at this house. Junior Jay liked how Piper looked and got all excited. I tried to talk him down but he was eight at the time and was barely hearing my reasons. Anyhow I decided to go ahead and get Piper despite my better judgement. Piper was not tamed and to my poor ears VERY LOUD! I worked from home at the time so I had to get the noise level under control. Well it’s been two years and Piper is still here talking off our heads lol. Piper is still loud however definitely not as loud as when we first came home with our quaker.

Name: Piper

Type of Parrot: Quaker parrot a.k.a Monk Parakeet

Sex: Unknown…

Birth Date: 2014

Wings Status: Clipped – letting wings grow back

Favorite food: rice and spray millet

Noise Level: Loud

Training progress: Loves training sessions

Tricks: Can step up and currently doing the Turn around trick

Talking ability: “Piper”, “step up”, “peek-a-boo”,“hi Piper”, “hello”. Sings bits and pieces from the song, “stuck like glue” by Sugarland. Loves attention so will talk around people.

Favorite toys: Are toys that can be shredded ex. ball full of paper

Fears: Afraid of a lot… Handheld perches, unknown objects – cage territorial

Diet: Harrison’s Pellets with fruits and veggies. Eats table food – Chicken, rice, pasta…

Treats: Spray millet and sunflower seeds

Cage Size: Playtop cage. 24 x 22 height is 34.5″ not including the stand or the playtop. With the playtop it is 54″. With the stand it would be higher.

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Last Vet visit: August 12th, 2016– Wellness check – Dna test – avian bacterial and viral – fecal gram stain =  Everything clear! Healthy parrot! *Found out Piper’s gender but want to see what you think first… I will share piper’s gender on Oct. 1st, 2016*

Next Steps: getting used to the handheld perch and perfecting the turn around trick

Parenting Parrots!

Ringo – Indian Ringneck

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Ringo was formerly named Pepper. We got Ringo a.k.a Pepper when he was 3 months old (we were told) from his 1st owner. Before us, he was with the breeder and then to his 1st family and now us, so we are his 2nd official owner. He is banded but it’s just a random number and its an open band, so not sure what it stands for but definitely not his year of birth as we can tell he is truly just a baby. We were told he is a male but still waiting for the paperwork to prove it.

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Ringo

Name: Ringo a.k.a Pepper

Type of Parrot: Indian Ringneck

Sex: Male

Birth Date: April 2016 (we were told)

Wings Status: Currently clipped by previous owner – will let it grow back

Favorite food: Still trying to figure that out

Noise level: Fairly quiet except for his once a day outbursts (however he is still a baby so could change)

Training progress: He can step up

Tricks: None as yet

Talking ability: No words as yet

Favorite toys: He is a chewer who likes to challenge his beak – best toys for him have been his wood toys

Fears: He still runs away from us so right now… Humans

Diet: Harrison’s Pellets with fruits and veggies

Treats: Spray Millet, Sunflower seeds, Almonds, Walnuts and Brazil nuts

Cage Size:Dome cage (The link is a smaller cage but I think the space is still good for an Indian Ringneck) His cage is 32 x 23 height is 46″ not including the stand. With the stand it would be higher. However I recommend a playtop over a dome, only because when I want my parrots to have out of cage time by themselves without me entertaining them, the playtop gives them a safe place to play.

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Ringo’s cage (Lola, our galah cockatoo’s old cage)

Last Vet visit: August 12th, 2016 – Beak and nails trim – Wellness check – fecal gram stain = Everything clear! Healthy baby!

Next Steps: Getting him to not be afraid of humans and to step up calmly from inside his cage (updated monthly)

Parenting Parrots!

Nyx and Boss go to the Vet

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I decided with Lola passing and the new parrots we got recently, that it would be a good idea to have everyone checked out. So on Monday August 8th, 2016 (my son’s 10th birthday) I called my original vet but they had no openings until that Friday, so I turned to the internet. Since I don’t have average birds, I can’t just bring them to any type of veterinarian. When looking for a vet you have to find an exotic birds/Avian vet. I live in Toronto, Ontario so the only vet for parrots I knew about was The Links’ Road animal Clinic and The Hospital of High Park. From researching, I have found many more. This just goes to prove how far along parrot ownership has come over the years. Anyhow I found one in Mississauga called Britannia Animal Hospital;.’

. They were able to see Nyx and Boss that afternoon. So I packed up my three kids and off we went!

We arrived approximately 15 minutes late for our appointment. It’s a nice spacious building located right on the main street, it would be hard to miss especially if you’re looking for it. The staff was friendly and we didn’t have to wait long for service, I would say about five minutes after I completed the paperwork.

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This is the reception area. Not my picture, it is off their website.

We were shown to the avian exam room. Nyx was removed from her carrier with a towel. They weighed her, listened to her heartbeat and looked her over. I didn’t want her wings trimmed so they only did her beak and nails. (I had just done the nails so there wasn’t much needed there but it was included in the charge.)  Advised me of dangerous foods, for example told me to barely ever give grapes and if I do only in small quantities. I never knew grapes was an issue so this was a surprise to me. Nyx appeared great.

Next the doctor did the same thing for Boss. The side of his beak could not be done because there is a big blood vessel there. Boss also appeared to be in great health.

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Their avian exam room off their website but this was the room we were in.

No blood work was done as they both weighed under 100 grams and because of their small size, it’s a risk factor. I was advised to do a fecal exam but passed as it was 70 bucks (almost the price of the examination itself). For the visit I was charged 210 for everything. The vet recommends you bring your parrots to them every six months for a checkup however I’ll be honest, I only bring mine once a year, if I feel like its needed… Now don’t condemn me, I know people who never bring their parrots to the vet so I think I’m doing pretty good. Let me explain this for a second….

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If my parrots’ diet hasn’t changed, nor has my routine then I don’t feel the need to check in with the doctor. I clip their wings if needed, like when they’re getting hormonal otherwise they stay flighted. I trim their nails every six weeks and I check their poop every day. So unless I see a need for the vet like a change in their appetite or energy level or poop, I don’t see why I should bring them. The same goes for me and the kids, we go to the doctor when something is wrong.

Plus taking all my parrots to the vet for their annual checkup runs me about 1500 CAD each time. Yes, if I can’t afford it then maybe I shouldn’t have parrots and that is why unfortunately my flock is not open to any more.

God forbid one of my parrots actually get sick then the cost would be even more but I have a credit card devoted only for my parrots (just in case :)).  Parrots are fun but the visits to the vet ARE NOT! Definitely can put a dent in your pocket. I’m hoping one day they will come out with Parrot insurance but for now only dogs and cats get that option in Canada.

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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!