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New “too” mom needs help

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New “too” mom needs help

Postby Stucru2 » Fri May 11, 2018 12:55 pm

Hello. I got Stella, a 7yr old female umbrella cockatoo a month ago. She came from an older couple who have had her her entire life. She is sweet, knows step up well, comes from a dog home so isn’t afraid of my 2 and knows lots of words and phrases. They are retiring and want to travel in their RV and felt it wouldn’t be fair to her to either be caged the entire trip or boarded long periods of time so they chose to rehome her. She’s used to pellets and seeds-been introducing fruits and vegies but shes not really interested-still working on those. Went to vet and she’s good weight and no illnesses. She goes to bed at 7 and gets up at 7. She’s not used to playing with people outside her cage so we’re working on that too for exercise and stimulation. I work 3 nights a week and she is so good while I sleep during the day. Usually sleep 9a-3p then spend time with her and dogs before leaving at 5. She plays quietly and chats with herself and the dogs. Sounds like a dream bird right!?! She would be if I wasn’t married! Here’s the problem...when I’m home during the day (awake and asleep), she never screams doesn’t mind me playing with dogs or leaving the room and is an angel. She loves her cage, her mobile perch and she enjoys being in her outside cage for several hours most days. When my husband comes home 5’ish-she turns into a monster. She screams for no reason (I know he’s the reason). She screams if I leave the room, if she’s outside and even when I’m holding her. She was mainly cared for by the male in the home she came from so I don’t understand her displeasure. He was hands off the first couple of weeks she was new so she would bond with me but since then he talks to her and has tried to make friends but she won’t have it. When he walks by her cage she jumps on the front and hisses at him. She’s not to the point of attacking him when she’s out with me but I don’t want it to get there either. He has tried to step up with her and she’s bitten him twice-once when I wasn’t even home. As a new owner, I’ve read 3 books on cockatoos and scoured the internet blogs but none really talk about rehoming issues such as this. I know she needs time to adjust, but it seems she’s adjusted just fine as long as my husband’s not home! I need advice and help to fix this PLEASE. Thx, Beth
Stucru2
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 2
Location: Florida
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Umbrella Cockatoo
Flight: No

Re: New “too” mom needs help

Postby Pajarita » Sat May 12, 2018 10:24 am

Hi, Beth and Stella, welcome to the forum!

Let me give you a bit of a background first: parrots don't really adjust to a new home in a month - or two - or even three. They are always on their best behavior at the beginning and that's why we call it 'the honeymoon period' so, please, take this into consideration when reaching a conclusion or trying to read into her behavior because what you see now is not what you are going to end up with. As to the 'problem' [which is actually not a real problem but normal behavior], she sounds overly hormonal to me and that's always a 'problem' with them. I don't know which books you read but I've never found a single book on parrots that really teaches caregivers how to keep them happy and healthy so I will share with you what I have learned. The schedule you have her under is called 12L/12D [12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness] and it's now obsolete. We used to keep parrots on the same schedule we lived [we now call this a 'human light schedule] but the parrots were always hormonal so we figured that if tropical birds lived with 12 hours of day and 12 of night, this is what should work. Two problems with this reasoning: not all parrots are tropical and even tropical parrots breed under this schedule. To make a long story short: it did not work either. Then [and thank goodness for this!] we learned that, if we keep them at a solar schedule with full exposure to dawn and dusk, they all revert to photoperiodism as their main breeding 'trigger', even tropical birds that live smack on the equator. Birds evolved to breed when all the conditions in their natural habitat are best for it; and evolution used three different triggers: length of daylight, food availability and weather conditions. Because their habitats are so different, some birds evolved to breed only once a year, some twice a year and the precise season of the year when they do it is determined by weather and food availability so you have what we call long day breeders and short day breeders. Cockatoos have two breeding seasons and are short day breeders so keeping a cockatoo at 12L/12D guarantees that you will have a bird that produces sexual hormones all year round, year after year, a completely unnatural situation that ends up causing the bird not only an intense sexual frustration but also physical discomfort and even chronic pain [this is because their sexual organs are suppose to become dormant and shrink in size once the breeding season is over but it never happens to birds that are not kept in tune with the seasons so their gonads become enormous and end up even pushing other internal organs 'out of the way']. When birds are overly-hormonal, you not only have 'behavioral' problems [screaming, biting, plucking, etc] but you also have a bird that has a 24/7/365 fixation with one single human, the one that they determined is their mate - and they react negatively to anybody they perceive as their 'competition' for their mate's affection and attention. This is the reason why she is fine with you but hates your husband.

Now, all companion parrots are one person birds no matter if the bird is hormonal or not BUT birds that are not overly hormonal have no real issues with other people because they become 'flock members', and even though they might not have the close relationship they have with their 'chosen one', they have a good one, one of friendship. My male cockatoo is in love with my female gray and because this is breeding season, he screams like a maniac when she flies to my shoulder - and GOD FORBID I walk out of the room with her! He would have a conniption if I did :lol: And she is not even nesting!

Ergo, first thing you need to do is to start keeping her at a bird's light schedule which is a solar one with full exposure to dawn and dusk -this is because their internal clock, the one that tells their bodies which season of the year it is, works with the different light that happens during twilight. Think of it as a stopwatch. The light at dawn turns it on and the light at dusk turns it off and the number of hours between these two events is what tells their bodies whether to start or stop producing sexual hormones. It actually does much more than just that [you can do more research on this by putting circadian and circannual cycle in your search engine] because it also governs sleep, appetite, mood, cell regeneration, the immune system, etc. so the ONLY way to keep a bird completely healthy [avian vets don't test for hormones so a 'regular' complete physical doesn't cover this at all] and happy, it needs to be kept at a solar schedule [you can do more research on this by putting avian photoperiodism in your search engine]. Now, you are not going to see immediate results because an endocrine system that, most likely, has been screwed up for years is not going to go back on track after a few weeks of doing the right thing and hormonal species [cockatoos are considered a 'hormonal spand I do ecies'] are harder to get back to seasons so don't feel discouraged if you don't see a positive change in her after a couple of months. Keep on persisting and it will happen. The 'persistence' element is critical with parrots because nothing [and I do mean NOTHING] works fast with them - whether is their endocrine system, diet, behavior, etc. They have their own timetables and they don't resemble ours at all - everything seems to take forever with them and most people simply give up way before they should -which is never. I once had a female lovebird that had been a show and breeding bird take an entire year before she was in tune with the seasons. There are three more things that make a cockatoo hormonal: high protein diet, baths and inappropriate touching so no free-feeding protein food, not too many baths for now and no touching her body anywhere but on her head, neck and cheeks.

In the meantime, your husband should not try to interact with her physically. He should talk, sing, whistle, play music and even dance with her - he should let her out of her cage, respond to her needs and even offer a treat every now and then but he should not interact in a physical way with her. Not for now, anyway.

As to her diet, cockatoos are EXCELLENT eaters and I do mean truly excellent, they are the only parrots I have seen going for leafy greens as soon as they see them! BUT, in order to transition a parrot to a good diet, you cannot free-feed protein because, as long as the bird has protein available, it will fill up its crop with it and either ignore or eat very little produce. You see, protein is not easily found in nature when it comes to herbivores. There are simply no natural abundant sources of it available all year round. Herbivore birds [and, contrary to popular belief and with the possible exception of three species of parrots, all of them are classified as herbivores and not omnivores] are all seasonal eaters because plants are also seasonal when it comes to reproduction or growth [meaning fruit, nut, grain, seed, buds] so, because protein is needed for life and, most importantly, for reproduction, nature gave them a craving for it and, when they find a source, they eat and eat and eat until it's all gone. Therefore, when you feel up a bowl with pellets, seeds, nuts, nutriberries, etc. they will eat this first and will not eat enough produce. Aside from the fact that protein makes them hormonal, it also destroys their liver and kidneys [did the vet do a bile acid test to see how her liver was doing?]. Now, I cannot tell you what to feed your bird but I will tell you that I've been doing research on their natural diets for over 20 years and have long ago reached the conclusion that pellets, although very convenient for the owners, are not and never will be the healthiest option [too dry, unknown level of protein, inferior ingredients, soy, 'dead' -no enzymes, no phytonutrients- man-made vitamins]. I feed gloop with raw produce for breakfast and all day picking at dawn and a mix of tree nuts and/or seed mix [depends on the species] for dinner at dusk [they also get a multivitamin/mineral supplement twice a week]. The only way to get a bird to eat a large range of produce is to feed it at dawn and about one hour before you put out the 'heavy' breakfast, eat it in front of him/her pretending you are not going to give him/her anything and, when you do, show him/her how to do it. I'll give you an example: my newest bird is a four year old female quaker that, according to her previous owner was not much of a produce eater so I 'teach' her by standing in front of her cage while she is on top of it and start by eating it myself until I see her looking attentively at what I am doing [I also make yummy sounds, repeat the word 'good' several times and generally make a big deal out of it]. Yesterday, they got sugar snaps, red pears and chicory so I stood in front of her eating the sugar snaps opening them up slowly in front of her eyes and making a production out of eating one of the peas in it before offering her another one [never allow a bird access to your mouth or anything that your mouth might have touched] which I start to open on one side but not all the way. She took it, finished opening it and ate the peas inside all on her own - she ended up eating four of them before she went for the pear. It might take a few tries but, with parrots, it's the same as teaching children: patience, persistence and consistence.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 12831
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: New “too” mom needs help

Postby Stucru2 » Sun May 13, 2018 10:26 am

Pajarita,
The 3 of us greatly appreciate all the very helpful info. I will do my research on the topics u told me about. I just have a question that I prob won’t find the answer to on the internet, so maybe you can answer it. I work 3 nights a week-7p-7a, so I don’t get home til 8a on those mornings. I don’t have a prob getting up early to accommodate a solar schedule dawn when I’m off but won’t be able to do it every day of the week. Is this going to negatively undermine the attempt to help her? Beth
Stucru2
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 2
Location: Florida
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Umbrella Cockatoo
Flight: No

Re: New “too” mom needs help

Postby Pajarita » Sun May 13, 2018 11:16 am

Well, the thing with the light schedule is that, although there is a bit of leeway in it, it's really not that much. Let me explain. Because it's twilight that 'activates' their photoreceptors [cells that 'sense' light and 'communicate' this info to the pineal gland], they need to be exposed to it consistently and for a certain amount of time [I like to make it two whole hours]. You can 'mess up' once in a blue moon, as in the case of an emergency, but you can't do it three times a week, every single week. Now, during the winter and half the spring and fall, you won't have any problems because the days are short so dawn happens late and dusk early allowing you to be there for the dawn so the only problem is during the summer when the sky begins to light up at 4:30 am but your husband is home then, right? And all he would have to do is uncover her cage, open up the blinds so she is exposed to the dawn light, open the door to her cage, give her fresh water and food which, if he is anything like my husband, you would have to leave prepared the night before or Lord only knows what she will end up with :lol: It's just a matter of finding the way to get things done - when there is a will, there is a way, right? When I lived in Pa, I took a bus to Manhattan at 4:45 am and got home when it was already dark so what I did was clean the birdroom in the dark [I had night goggles for this] and prepare all the food that my husband would, in the morning, put out for them [all my birds, with the exception of the handicapped lived cage-free and, because the house was in the middle of an old forest in a five acre property, there was no need for cover for the cages or blinds in the windows so it was just a matter of getting the food to them at the right time, only]. Right now, I have birds in a birdroom [no covers], in a passerine room [no covers] and in the living and dining room -and these are the only ones that need blinds up and down and cover on and off every day but, after September [I have a son coming to visit then and I don't want to start with construction until after they leave], we will be fitting the two rooms in the finished attic for the birds [there are smallish windows in them but we will be installing skylights] and I will be moving them all there so they can all live cage-free and I won't have all this extra work of covering and uncovering and cleaning all these cages. I don't know where you live but if you have a room which has windows that don't get street lamp, cars, etc lights into it, maybe you can make it 'her' room and then you won't have to worry about this, either.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 12831
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes


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