Timid "Rescue" doesn't like poeple

Posted By: Keeper

Timid "Rescue" doesn't like poeple - 05/09/17 01:13 AM

About 3 months ago my husband and I got a Goffins Cockatoo . She's 3 years old and according to the store, for most of those three years she was kept in a small cage, little more than 2 cubic feet, and in a basement with little to no human contact.
She is not surprisingly resistant to my attempts at socialization. Right now, she seems happy enough in her cage by herself. She won't come out of the cage if she thinks there's any chance of someone coming close, usually she waits until we are out of the room and then will scurry back inside if we get too close. She won't accept any treats by hand although in the last month she has allowed us to at least get within a yard of her cage before running back in.
I've been told by the store that I need to "Force" cuddle her. I've read this online too, but the explanations seem vague on details. I assume "Force cuddles" doesn't literally involve me taking her out of the cage and holding her until she gives up fighting. The idea that you can force something to like you sounds like something from Law & Order: SVU. So how exactly should I go about gaining her trust? I don't expect an overnight result, or even expect to see a great change in the first few months, but I would hope that there's a way I can get her to come out and cuddle on her own terms eventually.

So, any ideas?

Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Timid "Rescue" doesn't like poeple - 05/09/17 11:21 AM

Force cuddle = terrified bite = possible hospital trip for you
Sorry it may in fact work for some but I find it very doubtful and far too stressful for a bird afraid of people. What you are doing now sounds like you've started in the right direction which is slow. Do you know what her favorite food is yet? You could pull it from her daily diet and only give it to her by in hand into a bowl in the cage. Try sitting in the room with the door open and ignoring her. Sit on the opposite side of the room quietly and read a book or bring a laptop in. While you're sitting there speak softly to her every 10 minutes or so. I would attach a bowl on the outside of her cage maybe on the door to start to use for the special treat. I would put one in when I first entered the room and then again when I left. Initially when you are near the cage do not make eye contact with her, totally ignore her. Eye contact is a predator move. This still may take months for her to get comfortable enough to come to the door of the cage.
Has she been to the vet yet for a well bird check up? If not I would do this before starting the above. From keeping from being the bad guy at first try seeing if there is a traveling vet in your vicinity. We have a couple of them up here that see birds right in the home. Also when you call an avian vet see if they do home visits in this type of situation. Most of the vets are able to do good exam with blood work, some even have portable radiology equipment in their vans.
Others will come on to offer their suggestions as well.
Good luck and welcome to Mytoos.
If you post a city you are located near one of our members may know of a vet that you could use.
or check here
Posted By: Keeper

Re: Timid "Rescue" doesn't like poeple - 05/09/17 07:04 PM

I'm glad to hear someone confirm my thoughts on "Force Cuddles". It just sounds crazy to me.
So far, what I do is greet her in the morning when I come down with a sweet "good morning Pumpernickle!", open her cage door and go about my business. I sit in the room and mostly ignore her until she makes a noise or moves about some, in which case I'll say something like "hey sweetie" or ask her what she's up to. She likes fresh Mango but won't take it from me to eat, she'll just take it from my hand and drop it on the floor as if to say "I don't want your charity!". She won't come near me if I'm near or in the cage, but if she is on top of the cage and I get to close she may jump off onto the living room floor. If she can't find her own way back to her cage, I've managed to get her to climb on my hand and arm to be carried back to her cage, where she will jump off me as soon as she's close enough. I haven't tried avoiding eye contact though.
When my husband is home he will usually have the tv or music on, but when it's just me the house is very quiet as i like to sit in silence reading or working on the computer with headphones on.
Should I continue with my current way of doing things or try something else? And would I be correct in assuming this might take up to a year to work out, that is if she ever decides to trust us at all?

Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Timid "Rescue" doesn't like poeple - 05/09/17 11:59 PM

With your patient attitude and approach with her she will learn to trust. At only 3 years old hopefully she will come around quickly. With the mango try attaching a bowl on the outside of the cage or on top. Instead of handing her the food right now place it in the bowl. Is there anything else that she likes better, maybe like a pine nut or almond sliver?
Posted By: Keeper

Re: Timid "Rescue" doesn't like poeple - 05/10/17 01:11 AM

She will eat apple slices and there are few other things I will try. I'll get a bowl or platform on the outside of the cage. It can be the sacrificial offering table smile
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Timid "Rescue" doesn't like poeple - 05/10/17 12:04 PM

Sacrificial Offering Table!! I love it. Try to find other treats that are super rewarding for her. By the way what is her name?
Posted By: Keeper

Re: Timid "Rescue" doesn't like poeple - 05/14/17 12:58 AM

Her name is Pumpernickle.
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Timid "Rescue" doesn't like poeple - 05/14/17 11:34 AM

Love her name. Keep us updated on how she's doing please. If you have any other questions please feel free to ask. We were all in your shoes at some point. smile
Posted By: Keeper

Re: Timid "Rescue" doesn't like poeple - 05/15/17 12:02 AM

I will post updates as we progress. I expect a couple of months at least before she starts warming up to us, but you never know, could be sooner.
Posted By: Beeps

Re: Timid "Rescue" doesn't like poeple - 05/15/17 03:18 AM

It is very heartening to read your posts, as you seem to be a natural in many cases! Forcing cuddling will just make things way worse. These birds should not be captive; just like humans, they all have their own personality, and what works with one will not necessarily work with another. The best advice I can give you is to be patient, work slowly, and try to learn Pumpernickel's body language.

Parrots are so extremely expressive, but we humans are terrible at reading body language. We also tend to expect way too much too soon from these prey animals. It may be years -- or even never -- until she feels comfortable taking food from your hand. A big key is your expectations. Try not to look at it how you think a parrot *should* act, but love and cherish her for being the wonderful, unique creature that she is.

Watch her body language and try to make sure she is comfortable. Notice what her different movements are -- does she show terror when you are 3 feet from the cage but not 3.5? Then stay 3.5 feet away, showing her you are non-threatening, and occasionally (every few days) go a little closer and watch how she reacts. Find things that work for you.

I was at my parents' house today, and watching them interact with their 20 year old cockatiel. This little guy was used as a breeder and had been bonded to a lady tiel who died a few years ago. He was terrified of hands and not terribly fond of humans when they got him 10 years ago. During the past decade, they have formed a wonderful little flock with him. He still will not step up on their hands, but he isn't afraid of this little ladder that they use if they need him to go somewhere. They gave him choices, and he flies around the house and approaches them when he wants attention. Instead of being rigid in their thinking that a parrot *should* take food from their hand or that a parrot *should* step up on their hands whenever my parents wanted, they developed a communication style with him that gives him choices (within an acceptable range of behavior.) I tell this story because I think how we frame things is so important. The relationship they have with their tiel is not the one they expected (they had just taken him and his partner in from the rescue because my parents would not allow them to breed, yet they were very bonded to each other and the rescue didn't want to separate them.) What they have now is beyond what they could have hoped for, and it's because they were patient and let him set the pace.

Please check back and let us know how things go and if you have additional questions!
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