Archive for November, 2010

Brave Steve

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Steve has not had a good week, no thanks to Sam and me.  Sam is going through an intense hormonal phase.  I think this is owing to extra nuts (rich=abundance=time to nest) during clicker training, and probably owing to his insecurity about our new addition of Steve to the family.  Consequently, Sam’s behavior is very erratic and unpredictable.  I’ve had to manhandle him off me when he has tried climbing my up clothes.  On one occasion, he bit my chin (fortunately, no break in skin) and several bites to hands (yes, broken).  I’ve withdrawn all rich foods and he’s basically eating only pellets and a small amount of apple and cauliflower.  He is not suffering!

However, Sam has unintentionally buzzed Steve when Steve was outside his cage, causing Steve to panic and tear his underwing sores.  This has happened twice.  I’ve taken further steps to minimize these “surprises.”  And then, because he was already getting more nervous, he panicked when I adjusted one of  his perches yesterday.  So he’s had 3 panics in the last week.   He hasn’t been outside of his cage for several days, and he’s very nervous again around my hands.  I thought that this morning we had undone everything we’d accomplished in the last two months and I was feeling quite badly about my part in this.

HOWEVER, Steve is nothing if not resilient.  He made me understand today that he wanted to do clicker training, so here we are.  You will notice Steve is chewing his nails vigorously – a signature Grey sign of nervousness.  But, dang!  Isn’t he great?  He overcame his nerves to do a great job, yet again.  I hand him a bead, he drops it into the cup, he gets a treat.  You gotta love him for his pluckiness, despite his obvious fear.  A lesson to us all!   Without further ado, heeeeer’s Steve!

YouTube Preview Image

PS  By the way, those dark splotches on Steve’s chest are his new feathers coming out after he plucked his chest fairly clean.  I’ve not seen him continue to pick, so I’m crossing my fingers he’ll let his feathers stay.

A Good Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Someone’s Watching You…

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Here’s Steve watching and taking in all the activities of the evening.  He is SO much more relaxed about my presence, that I’m sighing with relief for him.   Steve is also much less stressed about my hands near him.  As long as I perform normal tasks, such as filling his foraging cups, placing his fresh food kabob, and regular maintenance, he’s pretty relaxed.  It’s only if I do something out of the ordinary that causes him to be worried.

Tonight, Steve didn’t climb on top of his cage, but he sat for a good 45 minutes in the position above watching me, drinking from his water bowl, fluffing up his head feathers in a relaxed way, and watching me with great interest as I scratched Sam’s head in the chair next to him.   I can tell Sam is feeling just a little off-kilter about the changes in Steve.  Steve isn’t purposely hiding himself anymore, so I think Sam is feeling slightly insecure.  So we are embarking on a new shift in the large parrot scene here.

The three smaller birds are oblivious to the large birds.  They form their own “clique” and are a self-sufficient unit, tightly bonded to one another in the little cockatiel/lovebird triangle.  So these large bird issues don’t touch their concerns!

Things are going well, all told, and I’m grateful.


Monday, November 15th, 2010

Steve is starting to climb out of his cage!  (Sorry about the poor quality of the shots – I had to take them with my phone under low light conditions.)


These are not long explorations – just little quick trips – but a great start to a new approach to life.


Oh, and he said twice tonight a long exaggerated “ooh” as he used to when getting treats or food from Mary.

Clicker Training

Friday, November 12th, 2010

We’re all doing fine here, though a bit chilly around the edges.  I’m currently experiencing some heating problems (skunk infiltration and the like) and am hoping the situation gets resolved soon before it begins freezing outside in earnest.  Unlike their human companion, my birds have it made:  Each bird has an avian heater just outside the back of each cage where they can snuggle close to if they feel the pinch of Jack Frost nipping at their toes.  Many are the early winter evenings when I arrive home to find everybody dozy and sleepy, sitting next to their heaters!

Steve is doing well.  He’s picked a lot of his chest feathers, but Mary tells me that he did so during the first month or so when she had him.  Regardless, it’s OK and I’m not fussed.  He’s healthy and has a good appetite, he’s chewing a lot on his leather/bead toys, and he eagerly does his clicker training every day.  This photo shows the straw I use as a “target.”  He touches the target, I click, and he gets a treat.  He loves this.  He also does a great job of using a bead as a target, which Mary taught him while she was fostering him.  I hold a small yogurt cup near his feet, hand him the bead, he takes the bead and drops it into the cup, I click, and he gets another treat.  He’s doing better each time I do this – less nervous about the proximity of my hand.  It’s definitely not his favorite concept  – my hand being too close – so this is perhaps helping to desensitize him a bit, while being rewarded for his bravery!  (I will make a video of this as soon as I get my tripod out and figure out how to do this – as it is, both my hands are full of cup, clicker, bead, and treat.)
Last night, my co-worker dropped off an oil heater for me to borrow while my heating problem drags on, and Steve sat – calm as a cucumber with one foot up in the manner of a totally relaxed African Grey, and accepted eagerly a treat from her hand.  He’s doing great.
For the last couple of nights, I’ve left his cage door ajar – enough so that if he wanted to do so, he could leave his cage.  Fortunately, it seems OK for him.  I have a hanging toy near the door, and he’s been spending a lot of time chewing on this toy with his head partially outside the cage.  A good first step!

Steve, Naturally

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Steve continues to do well.  He seems very used to my routine now.  He’s still nervous at what I call “transition” times:  when I’m physically busy around the house; when I’m leaving or returning; when things are not according to the quiet routines when I’m at work.  I think when things are unknown in his mind, he worries.

But as far as treats, he’s addicted to his little nut pieces and nearly begs for them, which I think is great!

In fact, he tells me when he wants to go to bed by anxiously sidling up to me when I’m sitting next to his cage.  He then looks at me intently.  Then I know that he’s ready for his bedtime treats:  2 tiny pieces of cashews or pistachios.  The pose in this photo was rewarded by a treat.  I think he looks a lot more relaxed than he was 5 weeks ago!

Very soon I will experiment with leaving his cage door open during quiet times – just so he knows he has more options, and to get him used to his open door in a gradual way.

Steve continues to have a good appetite for his Harrison’s pellets, which I supplement by a fruit and veggie kabob in the morning, and a few seeds in some foraging cups.

So far, no more talking vocalizations after the first time last week, but he just might be practicing when I’m not home.  We will soon find out!

By the way, this perch is where Steve sleeps each night.  I can’t imagine it would be comfortable as he has to hunch over.  He has plenty of other more comfortable sleeping spots, but that is the one he chooses.  Parrots are so funny in their preferences and choices!