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New Parrot Owner

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Kally, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. Kally

    Kally Regular Member

    We are new Parrot owners and have just added a Severe Macaw to our family named Kally. She was hand reared in an aviary and has settled well into her cage at home. She's stepping up nicely and has recently stopped using her beak to hold on. The problem we have is that she'll sit happily on our hand / wrist/ lower arm for a few minutes but then start to climb up to our shoulder. If she won't step up from there we shake her off, she flies and then resettles on our hand. Sometimes she flies onto my head and we do the same, ie if she won't step up we shake her off and start again. Occasionally she'll nip us when we ask her to step up, but it's not hard. She's only 4 months old and we've had her 2 weeks. Any advice would be great as we really want to start off doing things correctly. Thanks.
  2. TomsMum

    TomsMum Administrator Staff Member Admin

    Hi and :welcome: to the forum to you and Kally.

    I personally wouldn't recommend the shaking method - as you are reinforcing negative behaviour rather than encouraging the positive behaviours you want.

    In our training section you will find four pinned topics by our Forum Elected Trainer Roz


    Have a good look at those as they explain about reinforcers and reaching a reliable step up with you parrot.

    I'll also tag in @Roz
  3. dianaT

    dianaT Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    :welcome: from me too

    Yes do read the threads in the training section and has been said I am sure Roz will be along with more advice.
    Kally is very young and it's all new to her. I do agree shaking her off is not the right thing to do. Time a patience will get you there though of that I am sure. Can we have a photo of her please.:thumbsup:
  4. Kally

    Kally Regular Member

    Thank you, will do.
    dianaT likes this.
  5. Kally

    Kally Regular Member

  6. dianaT

    dianaT Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    She is gorgeous x
  7. Roz

    Roz Regular Member

    :welcome: from us too! Wow Kally is adorable!!

    Thanks for the tag, TomsMum. :)

    Bear in mind that parrots usually make their way to the highest point. One thing you could try is making a V shape with your elbow at the bottom of the V - that way she'll find it harder to get to your shoulder. Since she is finding it reinforcing to be on your shoulder, try to make being on your hand or wrist even more reinforcing... I don't know what she likes... Attention? Treats? Toys? Head scratch? Have a look at the section on reinforcement under Training. So for example you could talk to her lots when she's on your hand or show her a small foot toy and play with it with her.

    Has she got a stand or somewhere she can hang out on too when she's out and about? Maybe also make it reinforcing for her to amuse herself on that too by providing plenty of enrichment/toys etc.

    As for the stepping up, make it reinforcing for her to step up - again think about what you could use for it to be reinforcing for her... attention? being carried somewhere wonderful? a treat? Forcing a parrot to step up by pushing your hand into its chest or something similar will very likely teach it to bite. I hold my fingers or hand at a distance from the parrot and let him/her walk towards me to step up. If the parrot doesn't want to, leave her be and try again in a few minutes when she looks more receptive. Then make the consequence to that step up HUGELY reinforcing so she'll want to step up next time.
    TomsMum and dianaT like this.
  8. Yellowchickenparrot

    Yellowchickenparrot Regular Member

    Good luck with training, Kally is stunning
  9. Kally

    Kally Regular Member

    Hi Roz,
    Thank you for your reply, we'll definitely give that a try with the V shape and reinforcement. Her favourite food we've found are cashew nuts, so we save these for when she's out of her cage and then place one in her food bowl when she goes back in - is that ok? She's always really keen to step up from her cage - the moment we put our hand in she moves gently towards it and steps up nicely. The problem is when she's moved to our shoulder / head, she's then less willing! Having read the training article I was going to try asking her to step up onto a perch, rather than our hand, when she's moved to our shoulder, in case she wants to bite. Would that be ok, and treating her at the same time?
  10. Kally

    Kally Regular Member

    Thanks everyone for your lovely comments - we think she's gorgeous too, but we're biased!
    dianaT likes this.
  11. Michael Reynolds

    Michael Reynolds Regular Member

    Hello and welcome. I love the severe Macaw missing my Claude. what a lovely young sweetie she is
  12. bikergirl Carol

    bikergirl Carol Regular Member

  13. Roz

    Roz Regular Member

    That's excellent that you know what her favourite treat is already. I have a cashew lover here too. That's a great idea to put a cashew into her food bowl when she goes back in her cage. That way you are making it reinforcing for her to go in. Does she go straight to the food bowl? If so, you could wait until she's picked out the cashew before actually shutting the cage door - that way she'll pair the closing with a good thing. Sounds like coming out of her cage is highly reinforcing too!

    Yes, you could teach her to step up on a perch - a good idea anyway in case of emergencies. You may have to desensitise her to the hand held perch first if she's afraid of it. You may also have to teach her to step up onto it in a more controlled environment at first rather than when she's already on your shoulder where you can't really see her. And yes, absolutely treat her at the same time as the step up. You can use the cashew as a bribe at first to kick start the behaviour ie. she sees it BEFORE she steps up. Then begin to hide it in your hand as soon as possible so that it becomes a consequence to the step up ie. she sees and is given it immediately AFTER the behaviour. If you continually bribe a step up, she is not going to learn the behaviour, but just follow the cashew. As soon as she is stepping up nicely onto the hand held perch, someone else could try offering the perch when she's on your shoulder.... then highly reinforce the step up with the cashew.
    Yellowchickenparrot likes this.
  14. Kally

    Kally Regular Member

    Hi Roz,
    Thank you so much for your great advice, which has already paid off! Kally is working really well now, stepping up onto our hand and onto the stick. We started by asking her to step up onto the stick when she started to climb up our arm and putting her back onto our hand. She has now almost stopped completely trying to climb my arm and instead goes as far as my elbow joint and settles really nicely on the crease. When we first started using the stick, which she bites, she bite us a few times, not hard, but almost every time she was on us, so we said 'No' firmly and she's now stopped biting us completely. We've got her a perch outside of her cage with lots of toys and we place her favourite treats on there too, which she loves. She only stays on it a few minutes and then flies to us. I give her some fuss and then put her back on her play perch. This morning for the first time she actually flew from my arm to her play perch!
    I know we've got more challenges to come, so I'm so pleased to have this forum! Thank you.
    Roz, Kerin and dianaT like this.
  15. Roz

    Roz Regular Member

    That's great to hear your progress! :applaudit: