I’ve had a few lovely Christmas gifts from Steve in the last week, and I’d like to share them with you:
First, here is Steve after having had his shower with warm water spray today:
He fluffed up his feathers, clearly in great enjoyment, and allowed me to spray him for a long time. You can also see a bit of goose flesh from the chill of his bath, but also how his feathers are growing back on his chest. I think he’s calm enough now that he’ll let them grow back fully.
Hand training for trust: I’ve been giving him his clicker training treats with my hand fully open and the treat in the middle of my hand in an attempt to get him more used to my hand. This has many practical benefits, because I often need to replace chewed toys and move things around in his cage. If he’s terrified of my hands, I can’t do much without freaking him out. (Steve has good reason to be afraid of what hands might do. When he was mutilating under his wings, Steve was removed from his cage by pulling him out by his head to avoid making his wounds worse! Poor guy…) Steve initially was afraid of my hand, but now he’s very calm about my hands when I do expected things.
His first self- initiated communication: This past week, I came home later than usual and the other guys were clearly excited and clamoring for their supper. They like to share my steamed veggies and have grown used to getting that most evenings. When I finally fed Steve his seed treats, he calmly grabbed my finger as if to say, “Man, the service around here is going downhill!” It was the first time Steve has initiated clear communication to me. That was wonderful! Maybe he now understands I am NOT going to pull him out by his head!
Exercise: Steve has gotten used to not moving about much in his cage, probably through the years he’s been in pain from his wounds. I moved his foraging cups down a level in his cage two days ago. I figured he’d eventually move down if he was hungry enough for his seed treats. It took 2 days, but he now moves more! Yay!
More progress: Steve will have been here 3 months by the end of December. Today, when I was replacing food in his cage, he got scared by something and jumped out of his cage onto the floor. I offered him my arm to put him back into his cage, but he didn’t want to return. Instead, he climbed up my arm and sat on my shoulder. I was so surprised! I determined to treat him for his bravery and made the mistake of taking a step toward the treat bowl. Steve got scared, so he tried to fly away, landing on the couch. He was slightly rattled, but by the time I got him back into his cage, he was not so much freaked as deeply thoughtful. He always seems to really think hard about his new experiences.
Wound healing: I took a good look under his wings, as he holds them out when he’s on the floor or my arm. Even after his two landings, one of them quite awkward where he lost a wing feather, I could see no bloody crease or any blood anywhere.
So you can see how happy I am. I think Steve is learning that life can actually be more fun than he thought. He sure deserves every happiness he can get for the remainder of his life.
Thank you, everybody, for rooting for him!
And a beautiful Christmas with special gifts to you too.