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Old 10-27-2008, 01:30 AM
 
Location: South Dakota
4,137 posts, read 8,243,452 times
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I had a Blue-Fronted Amazon for quite awhile, he was a rescue...he was severely neglected and had plucked himself bald and was very underweight. He was raised on a stand, absolutely no cage. It took nearly a year for him to trust me enough to not want to bite and I was the only one who could do anything with him. He spoke a few words...his favourite was screaming "MOM" at the top of his lungs.
The one thing I learned to do was use a sturdy pole, a short one, and taught him to 'step-up'. It saved on the arm bites. I worked with him on this for a time until I felt comfortable offering my arm. It worked great. One thing I also learned was never let him on my shoulder - and this was very good advice. These birds are attracted to anything shiny or glittery...he was constantly going for earrings or necklaces, even rings - so perhaps keep that in mind.
I truly enjoyed that bird, and I wish you the luck with yours.
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Old 10-27-2008, 11:41 AM
 
Location: the AZ desert
5,037 posts, read 8,312,392 times
Reputation: 8275
Quote:
Originally Posted by christina0001 View Post
Well this bird and I continue to get along for the most part. He will now go up onto my arm from his cage, and lets me pet him a lot. Sometimes he likes to take my finger into his foot, hold it and nip at it. I say NO if he starts nipping too hard, and he stops. Is this a sign of affection, or something else? The only trouble I am having with him, is that if I try to get him to step up onto my arm from his cage at night, he will bite HARD or do his best to try. It's like he has a totally different personality after sunset. Is there any reason for this?

As far as his band is concerned, it is a closed band with 3 letters, a space, and 4 digits. I'm going to search on the three letters (NMA) and see what I come up with. I'd love to confirm his birthdate; his owner estimates him to be about 12 years old.
When he holds your finger and nips it, he is playing with you. (He wouldn't do this if he didn't like you.) Some birds are more "mouthy" than others. I don't know much about amazons, but I know African greys do this often. The problem is, as you've discovered, they don't always know how much pressure is okay vs. not okay and it can be painful (for you) until he learns the limits AND stops trying to test you on them. Some bird behaviorists do not believe in allowing this activity at all, while others do. Personally, I usually substitute a hand-held toy for my finger when this happens and that keeps us both happy with no hard feelings on either side.

I teach all of my birds the "step up" and "down" commands using my hands, rather than my forearm, and I teach those commands to be non-negotiable. That doesn't mean they are bite-free lessons, especially if you have a moody or hormonal bird. However, I do respect the bird's body language and if he is showing signs that he doesn't really want to be handled at a particular time, ie pinning his pupils or fluffing his feathers, I seldom force the issue as long as it is an infrequent thing. If the bird you are working with is already thinking it is his bedtime, I could understand if he doesn't want to play and would leave him be at night. (Birds should optimally get 12 hours sleep/night. In the wild, that would be from sunset to sunrise.) As I said though, the step up and down commands I make non-negotiable, so if I did give the command and he did not paraticularly want to, he would step up anyway. That way, heaven forbid, there was a fire or some other emergency, I would expect him to step up because I told him to. (BTW, since they are commands I do not ask. I tell - gently but firmly.)

Glad to hear you were able to read his band. That is a great starting point for your investigation.
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Old 10-27-2008, 11:49 AM
 
Location: the AZ desert
5,037 posts, read 8,312,392 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HighlandLady View Post
The one thing I learned to do was use a sturdy pole, a short one, and taught him to 'step-up'. It saved on the arm bites. I worked with him on this for a time until I felt comfortable offering my arm. It worked great. One thing I also learned was never let him on my shoulder - and this was very good advice. These birds are attracted to anything shiny or glittery...he was constantly going for earrings or necklaces, even rings - so perhaps keep that in mind.
I truly enjoyed that bird, and I wish you the luck with yours.
Stick training is a great idea. I have used this technique with older birds who never learned the "step up" command and weren't used to being handled. I never use it with younger birds and prefer to teach them to respond directly to hands instead.

You raised another good point about letting a bird on your shoulder. There are other reasons than jewelry not to allow them up there, with the main one being your eyes. From a behavior perspective, when a bird is your height or taller, s/he is in a position of authority. That is a big no-no unless your bird is completely, positively well trained. (Some birds, even when trained, never achieve this level of trust.) If you want your bird to behave, the human should be in the dominant role and always present as being "taller" than the bird.
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Old 10-27-2008, 03:20 PM
 
Location: Missouri
6,046 posts, read 22,520,581 times
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Thanks for posting about the concerns re: perching on shoulder because I had been thinking about that, but I think I won't based on what has been recommended here.

He's been doing really well. I couldn't believe what he did the other day. I was on the other side of the house, and it was really quiet - no TV, no radio, no nothing. All of a sudden, I hear the bird saying "Hello hello hello prettybird prettybird prettybird what what what hahahahahaha" and then he'd repeat the whole thing over again! He said a few other things I could not make out, too. As soon as I went up to him, he became silent. If I left the room, he'd start talking again. I started repeating what he said loudly from the other room, and that was fine, he'd still talk. I couldn't believe it! I wish he would talk like that while I am in the room.

He has been doing great with stepping up/down. With his nipping, if he starts to nip a lot I take a small clean thin washcloth that I knotted and wave it at him, and he bites that. If he nips hard, I say NO and he stops, or if he is nipping a LOT I put him back on his perch for a little bit.

I really appreciate all the feedback. My friend can't believe how differently the bird has been acting over the past few weeks. The bird regularly climbs down from his cage and seeks attention and affection, which is so cute.
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Old 10-27-2008, 08:22 PM
 
2,540 posts, read 5,702,646 times
Reputation: 3563
Quote:
Originally Posted by christina0001 View Post
Well this bird and I continue to get along for the most part. He will now go up onto my arm from his cage, and lets me pet him a lot. Sometimes he likes to take my finger into his foot, hold it and nip at it. I say NO if he starts nipping too hard, and he stops. Is this a sign of affection, or something else? The only trouble I am having with him, is that if I try to get him to step up onto my arm from his cage at night, he will bite HARD or do his best to try. It's like he has a totally different personality after sunset. Is there any reason for this?

As far as his band is concerned, it is a closed band with 3 letters, a space, and 4 digits. I'm going to search on the three letters (NMA) and see what I come up with. I'd love to confirm his birthdate; his owner estimates him to be about 12 years old.
You're getting great advice. The "up" command is a great one to teach. The closed band means he probably came from a breeder in the U.S. The bands are slipped on when they're babies. Open band usually means they were imported.
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Old 10-27-2008, 08:42 PM
 
5,253 posts, read 13,958,275 times
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It sounds like he's coming along famously! The talking shows that he can talk. He's just been neglected. It sounds like he's bonding to you and he's going to continue to progress.

If I were you, I would not use a knotted washcloth or anything like that. Just say "no" and put him in his cage. Scaring him with a washcloth could have an opposite effect.

He is learning boundaries with you. He's experimenting. It sounds like he likes you.

Don't allow him on your shoulder. Definitely watch out for your earrings...

These parrots can live for up to 100 years. I hope you're feeding him more than just seeds... they need fruit and veggies. My parrot even likes pizza.

Good luck!
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:11 AM
 
Location: Missouri
6,046 posts, read 22,520,581 times
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My friend feeds the parrot a blend of grains, pellets, nuts and seeds, but once or twice a day he gets some of what we eat. We always have at least 1 veggie a day so the parrot gets some of that, and I've given him pieces of fruits and pasta regularly too. He will eat anything it seems. The funniest food incident was when I gave him some peas. He looks so funny with pea mushed all over his beak. lol I should have taken a picture.
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:16 AM
 
5,253 posts, read 13,958,275 times
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Whatever I'm eating... my guy wants some. He'll look right at you and stare at your food... tip his head.

He needs to learn to say "Where's mine?"
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Old 10-30-2008, 09:17 AM
 
Location: Missouri
6,046 posts, read 22,520,581 times
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I was just eating oatmeal for breakfast with my right hand, and this guy was sitting on my left, looking at me the whole time. No way was I going to give him my oatmeal, what a mess that would be!

I have not been able to find out where he is from based on his band. I'm assuming the letters NMA are the breeder code but despite much searching and emailing, no luck.
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Old 10-30-2008, 10:22 AM
 
Location: the AZ desert
5,037 posts, read 8,312,392 times
Reputation: 8275
Most of my birds love oatmeal!
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