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Old 01-26-2008, 11:02 PM
 
3,724 posts, read 8,711,474 times
Reputation: 1416

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I am a fairly experienced bird person. I've had conures, cockatiels, Amazons, a Blue and Gold. Most of them were ones someone gave me because they spoiled them and couldn't handle them any more. Most of them went into breeding programs elsewhere, because while they were healthy, robust birds, they were also not entirely sane to varying degrees, and would never be trustworthy as pets.

Now I have a cockatoo I got about 12 years ago, and he's somewhere between 15-18 years old. His previous owner died of cancer. It was a long drawn-out thing, and none of the family had any time or the inclination to pay attention to any of the animals [she had a lot of them, and they were all sweeties]. So he was allowed to fly loose, the way he always had, then someone would come home from the hospital and feed the animals, and he'd be grabbed with heavy leather gloves and stuffed back in his cage - not intending to be abusive, people just not having time and being distracted by grief. The first time I saw him, I put my hand out and he climbed right up to my shoulder. After I took him home, he ignored both me and DH. I figured eventually he'd get with it and accept us as his new family. The second time he climbed on me of his own accord was when I took him to the vet for his health certificate, when we moved 7 years ago - he took one look at the vet and scrambled back behind my head and got so tangled in my hair, I thought the vet was going to fall over laughing at us!

So we moved, first to one city, then another, then to where I am now. He eventually became DH's bird, he wanted attention and scrunches and the whole works. He trusted me, but he didn't like me, if that makes sense, and at every opportunity he'd try to take a chunk out of me. I really couldn't get too close to his cage and turn my back on him. My husband died a few months ago, and he's getting somewhat friendlier, like he knows if he's going to get pets and scrunches it's me or no one. But he still has spells of evil temper and goes after me.

I've always been the one to feed and water him, give him treats, clean his cage, all that kind of thing.

Anyone have any ideas how I can get him to mellow out a bit more? I'm just really tired of having pieces of me removed!
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Old 01-27-2008, 11:35 AM
 
Location: Gary, WV & Springfield, ME
5,826 posts, read 9,107,581 times
Reputation: 17300
Cockatoos are like that. They select their owners and believe that to be their right. I wish I could help you, but I can't. You're doing all the right things and sounds like you always have. I'm a bird person too and had an umbrella cockatoo that was a puppy with me, but heaven help anyone else that came to visit. Unlike you, I had no idea how old mine was or what had transpired that landed him back in a pet shop.

Keep doing what you have been doing and maybe he will come around in his own time.
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Old 01-27-2008, 05:52 PM
 
Location: Jax
8,204 posts, read 33,776,255 times
Reputation: 3419
Quote:
Originally Posted by karibear View Post

So we moved, first to one city, then another, then to where I am now. He eventually became DH's bird, he wanted attention and scrunches and the whole works. He trusted me, but he didn't like me, if that makes sense, and at every opportunity he'd try to take a chunk out of me. I really couldn't get too close to his cage and turn my back on him. My husband died a few months ago, and he's getting somewhat friendlier, like he knows if he's going to get pets and scrunches it's me or no one. But he still has spells of evil temper and goes after me.

I've always been the one to feed and water him, give him treats, clean his cage, all that kind of thing.

Anyone have any ideas how I can get him to mellow out a bit more? I'm just really tired of having pieces of me removed!
So sorry to hear about the loss of your husband.

The portion of your post above that I quoted is much like the relationship I have with our Grey. She was a rescue and 3yrs old when we got her. She had been raised from an egg by a man (backyard breeder) and was his "main bird". There was a difficult divorce and we ended up with her.

I think those early years really affected her feelings about women, and though I am our Grey's main caregiver, she will choose my husband over me in a heartbeat. I'm also subject to frequent bites, including head bites if I'm not too careful when tending to her cage.

One thing that my vet recommended, and it does work (I just haven't been working on it lately, so we lost some ground ), is to bring the bird to a neutral place. It can be a spare bedroom - any room that the bird is not familiar with. You can spend some time there, talking, playing, giving treats, floor games - whatever. It can be just 10 minutes a day or longer if the bird is up to it.

The idea is that in the neutral territory, the bird has to be dependent on you. You've seen it in action when you visit the vet - when you become your bird's savior, your entire relationship changes.

I hope it all works out, birds can take a loooong time to come around - they definitely don't change course as quickly as dogs.
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Old 01-27-2008, 06:30 PM
 
3,724 posts, read 8,711,474 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riveree View Post
One thing that my vet recommended, and it does work (I just haven't been working on it lately, so we lost some ground ), is to bring the bird to a neutral place. It can be a spare bedroom - any room that the bird is not familiar with. You can spend some time there, talking, playing, giving treats, floor games - whatever. It can be just 10 minutes a day or longer if the bird is up to it.

The idea is that in the neutral territory, the bird has to be dependent on you. You've seen it in action when you visit the vet - when you become your bird's savior, your entire relationship changes.

I hope it all works out, birds can take a loooong time to come around - they definitely don't change course as quickly as dogs.
We're moving again in a couple months, I'll have to try that neutral ground thing once we get settled. I'll try anything! The only thing that bothers him right now is men with gimme caps. It's okay if women wear them, but for some reason he's really afraid of men with them - if someone comes in wearing one, he'll freak and try to fly to me, but he's really not much of a flyer, so he lands on my feet.

It's frustrating, because my Blue and Gold was SO sociable - he was bonded with me the most and no one could take him off my shoulder, but he'd go to anyone as long as he wasn't with me. He was nearly as closely attached to DH, and they used to go for rides around town [small town], the border collie was always with him as co-pilot in the truck, and the bird on his shoulder. Everyone was used to seeing them all together, and when he stopped somewhere for coffee in the morning, the bird would walk along the counter and if he didn't approve of what was in a cup or glass, he'd toss it on the floor. That one was what you'd call the pet of my heart, but I finally had to have him PTS because he developed cancer.

And oddly enough, EvilBird [the 'too] has adjusted a lot more quickly than our dog. She still lays on the bed and stares out the window waiting for him to come home, and it's been nearly 4 months.
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Old 01-30-2008, 11:28 PM
 
Location: Jax
8,204 posts, read 33,776,255 times
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It's amazing what will frighten parrots sometimes - one of mine will lose his mind if he sees a ladder .

Sounds like you're on the right track with moving-time as the time for some changes .
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Old 01-31-2008, 12:11 PM
 
Location: Loss Wages
1,310 posts, read 6,292,666 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karibear View Post

And oddly enough, EvilBird [the 'too] has adjusted a lot more quickly than our dog. She still lays on the bed and stares out the window waiting for him to come home, and it's been nearly 4 months.

Aw, poor thing. Sigh, riveree is right. Keep the faith and be patient. Birds take a long time to adjust. I'm a bird person for the little ones like bugies and cockatiels. When my champion bugie, DJ died, (champion because had a great personality and was well known for her comic ways. Hence, the meaning of my user name Deegers, so she will live forever. ), my cockatiel was very lonely for a long time and became a complete grump. He never was the same again. Even with our current budgie, Aggidore Sparticus, who makes it her job to terrize the cockatiel, has he been able to be the cute bird he used to be. Now, not all birds are like that, but just showing how birds have a hard time with loss.
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