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#254081 - 12/05/13 09:48 AM Honest advice needed  
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NelsonFlock Offline
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Hello. I was hoping to get some advice from cockatoo people.

This Monday I happened apon a cockatoo that some people were trying to get rid of(out with friends, maybe I need to re-evaluate my friends) The people were crowded into a small duplex, and they all smoked inside. Anyway, you get the point- lots of smoke. One of the guys wanted to show me "something funny" and handed his half burned cigarette to Morty (an umbrella cockatoo), and he tore it up. I was horrified, and said I would take the bird.

Now I have an umbrella cockatoo, and the only bird experience I have was a parakeet when I was really young and a cockatiel when I was in junior high (20 years ago). I have been anti bird ownership for most of my life. When I said I would take him I would like to say I had a plan, but I didint. I just felt really bad for him. They had him for eight months and had not let him out of his cage in four months.

Now that I have spent a bunch of time researching over the past couple days I am torn on whether I should try to care for this guy, or get on a waiting list to surrender him to a rescue. Since I've had him, I let him out of his cage immediately. He has spent most of the time since then as a feather ball in my lap making clicking noises with his tounge. He has nipped me a couple times when I was putting him
Back in his cage. He is practically phobic of it. When he is thirsty or hungry he hangs on the side and leans as far in as he can to get food and drink without going in the cage. I just leave it open all day for him. He hates my husband with a passion. I just took him to an avian vet today. They should have the results of his blood and fecal samples tomorrow. I took him off seeds and put some prescription pellets in. He seems to like them.

My reasons for thinking I might be able to care for him-
I am financially able to, I work from home. I have a large house that I own. He is currently enjoying use of my master bedroom. I am very dedicated to my animals. I don't get rid of them.

Reasons I think I should just find a rescue for him-
I have kids. Right now I have not allowed contact between him and my children. I have been playing with him while they are at school. I have very little parrot experience. What if I mess him up even more?

I don't know that I will term what I did "rescuing" him, but he was in an awful
Home. I have since looked through your site and seen some awful things that made his life look like cherry pie. He is self mutilating a bit. His mid chest is bare and under his wing pits. Thanks for any input. I don't mind your honest opinions.

#254082 - 12/05/13 01:14 PM Re: Honest advice needed [Re: NelsonFlock]  
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BE2Cassie Offline
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First off thank you for getting him out of that situation. Did the vet talk to you about the possibility of nicotine withdrawal with him? I don't know a whole lot about it just the little bit I've heard.
How old are your children? It is best at this time to keep them separate until you get a better feel of his personality and if you intend to keep him.
Cuddles on the lap, be careful this is hormone season for a lot of birds. Never pet below the neck on toos. This is mating behavior for them. They never touch each others bodies in the wild except for mated pairs. Do you know if he's ever been DNA tested? Also do you know how old he is?
His feather condition can be a direct result of the smoking around him. Have you tried to see if he will bathe? There are a number of ways you can try. Take him in the bathroom and let him sit on the shower curtain rod while you take a shower. See if he likes to be misted from a spray bottle. You want a mister that gives off a light mist not spray. Sometimes the kitchen sink works, a pan of water in the bottom of the cage or on top if it's flat. Right now by your discription he is not mutilating but is plucking. That's a good thing.
Husband- if there is a treat that the bird loves have your husband be the one to give it to him only. Don't use it in his daily diet or allow anyone else to give it to him. You may have to place a special bowl inside of the cage or on it for you husband to give it to him. Don't tempt fate and have him hand feed it right now. The key is to make the bird see your husband as a bringer of only good things.
As far as keeping Morty that's going to be a decision only you and your family can make. Life with a too is not easy I won't lie to you. I had one son and can't imagine how difficult it would have been seeing to all of his activities and caring for Cassie at the same time. Many on here have done it and are currently doing it. Hopefully they will come on and tell you how they manage. How old are your children? You say you work from home which is a huge plus. Other things to keep in mind are the other pets in your home, changes that need to be made in your home, how the other people in the house feel about him.
While you are deciding please read up on teflon. Over heated teflon can kill a bird within minutes. This can be from leaving a teflon coated pan on the stove too long, portable heaters over heating, and the worst of all using your self cleaning setting on you oven. The majority of ovens out there are coated in teflon.
Read the sticky post in these topic headings they are very useful.
http://www.mytoos.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=postlist&Board=26&page=1
http://www.mytoos.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=postlist&Board=2&page=1
Good info from the main site
http://www.mytoos.com/main.shtml
http://www.mytoos.com/articles.shtml

Take some time and read and ask lots of questions. Welcome to Mytoos.


Nancy & Cassie BE2
#254086 - 12/05/13 05:59 PM Re: Honest advice needed [Re: NelsonFlock]  
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I have four boys. Ages 3, 5, 8, 12. They told me he was somewhere between 10-15. The vet did not say anything about nicotine addiction, but I'm sure it's possible. I did read about only touching his head, so that's all I do. There is no DNA on him. They said he is a boy because he has black eyes. I would like to bathe him, but I won't squirt him... At least not now. They would squirt him when he was screaming. That's what they told me to do to get him to shut up. That and black out his cage. frown I don't really have a place he can sit on my shower but I ordered one of those shower perches.

My husband still likes the bird a lot. He knows that the men in the house were teasing Morty so he does not take it personal. I told him about the treat idea, and he says that Morty's favorite treat is his blood- ha ha

We are all willing to try. Right now I let him stay out of his cage all day, and play with him several times during the day. He seeks me out if I am in the room with him. I would like to do target training with him, but I might have to wait until he is more settled. He dosent know what to think of any treats I offer him. He really just seems to want to sit on me and preen.

#254087 - 12/05/13 06:04 PM Re: Honest advice needed [Re: NelsonFlock]  
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Oh- and if I kept him I'd like to build an outdoor aviary for him, but he does not fly. His wings are not clipped though. How can I get him to fly again? I'm guessing he was clipped and in a cage so long that he does not know he can? His wing feathers are a little ragged too.

#254090 - 12/05/13 06:37 PM Re: Honest advice needed [Re: NelsonFlock]  
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BE2Cassie Offline
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Are you taking him to an avian vet or to a general small animal vet? This may sound picky but most small animal vets are clueless when it comes to birds.
Avoid the bottle right now, you do not want him to associate any of the bad happenings in his old home with you or his new home. Can you bring in a chair to the shower or a kitchen step stool. Anything that he can sit on to watch the shower. You don't want to just put him in the shower on the new perch as his introduction to a shower. If he can watch you shower and you act like you are having a ton of fun it will make it more enticing for him. With Cassie I would take her in the shower with me after she watched me a couple of times. Once she got used to the shower I introduced the shower perch just by putting it in the shower but keeping her on my arm. After a couple of showers with the perch just there she was willing to go on it. She got so all I had to do was ask her if she wanted to take a shower and she would fly into the shower.
Flight- if he was never allowed to fledge then he is unsure of flying. Keep in mind that this does not mean that he can not fly, he can so be careful of doors open. One good startle and he can fly off and be gone. You will need to help him strengthen his muscles. This is easy to do once he trust you. It can be a game of running across the room with him on your arm and getting him to flap his wings. Once he begins to fly he may never stop even with a clip. Many birds that have learned to fly remain flighted after a clip. It just takes a bit more effort on their part.
Your children. Parrots are for the most part afraid of small people because they move too quickly with jerky movements. Morty is very capable of removing the finger of your boys, along with causing significant injuries to faces, eyes and any body part that he is able to get a hold of with the beak. Many here have had to do emergency room visits for stitches from the bites of their birds.
Meant to add eye color is not an accurate means of telling the sex of your bird. Cassie has very dark brown/black eyes. In direct sunlight you can see some brown. Cassie is 100% female proven with eggs each year. She is not uncommon, many females have black eyes and many males have brown.

Last edited by BE2Cassie; 12/05/13 06:40 PM.

Nancy & Cassie BE2
#254091 - 12/05/13 07:09 PM Re: Honest advice needed [Re: NelsonFlock]  
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I took him to an avian vet- has to drive into a bigger town to find one. She had an African grey she needs to tube feed because he is missing half his beak. She told me someone was trying to breed her and the male got agressive.

I am paranoid about my kids. So I keep him in my room... When the boys are in school he does housework with me.

I'm trying to get in touch with a local rescue and see what they are looking like. Maybe they tutor people on bird handling.

#254095 - 12/05/13 09:06 PM Re: Honest advice needed [Re: NelsonFlock]  
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Jaclyn Offline
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I rarely post on MyToos, but I often read and learn. I'm so impressed with what you have done for this U2. I wish there were more people and stories like yours. I hope in the end your decision will be to keep this bird, but even if you decide not to I know his life will be better for the actions you've taken.

It might be helpful if you posted your location. There are some excellent resources available depending on where you live. For example, if you are near Charlotte, Companion Parrot offers excellent classes on everything from Parrots 101 to Avian Medicine to Sex and the Single Bird. There's not a lot of these programs, but perhaps you are lucky and live near one of them. (Heck, you are lucky that you were within range of an avian vet - there are not that many of them!)

There's a tremendous amount of information here to help you. I only found this site a year or two ago and I've learned so much (and I've had cockatoos for more than 25 years).

#254105 - 12/06/13 01:41 PM Re: Honest advice needed [Re: NelsonFlock]  
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Give your vet a call and ask them if they know of any resources close by to you. Many rescues and vets will host or do presentations on parrot care.


Nancy & Cassie BE2
#254128 - 12/07/13 07:38 AM Re: Honest advice needed [Re: NelsonFlock]  
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Thank you all so much, and thank you jaclyn... I honestly hope it works out in morty's favor. I am so in love with him. There are things I still don't understand... I cannot seem to initiate play time. He only seems to want to cuddle. He also sits peacefully with me no matter what I am doing. I do have conversations with him. He mutters back at me. It sounds like he is jokingly imitating human babble.

He is extremely aggressive to my husband... I tried soothing things over at first but it seemed no one was winning, so I just keep my distance when Morty is out. Right now it seems to work out well when it is just me and him most of the day. If anyone has any suggestions I'm willing to try, but I don't want my husband getting bit anymore. He might start to loose his patience. I do have to admit that it made me laugh a bit to see a 1 lb bird chase a 6'4 250 lb man and tree him on the bed- lol.

#254146 - 12/08/13 01:41 AM Re: Honest advice needed [Re: NelsonFlock]  
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Many birds don't really know how to play because of the way they were raised. You may have to teach him! Clicker training is fantastic for this.

When I was married, I lived with a macaw that loved my husband and was extremely aggressive to me, so I've been where your husband has been.

I know it may seem funny, but if you actually did laugh or in any way give Morty extra attention for this, you're helping to encourage it.

What worked for us was for me to figure out a way to handle him so that I would not get bit. In our case, I stick trained the bird, and made sure that I always had a stick with me. If my macaw ran over to attack me, I just had him step up on a stick and returned him to an appropriate perch.

Additionally, though I am a big proponent of allowing our captive parrots the option of flight, with this macaw, he would use that to launch flying attacks on me, so we kept him clipped while we worked on his behavior issues. It took about 5 years until we could leave him flighted. Who knows how much more our relationship could have progressed if I were still married and all living together? I must admit that the progress was much, much slower than even I anticipated, so your husband needs to be patient, avoid the bite, and not take it personally.

#254147 - 12/08/13 03:21 AM Re: Honest advice needed [Re: NelsonFlock]  
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NelsonFlock Offline
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Thank you for your reply beeps. I can use all the advice I can get. I did not laugh while he was doing it, I was trying to intervene before my husband got bit. I did poke fun of him afterwards.

Do you think he will eventually bite me out of frustration? He gets keyed up when my husband is around, but I just don't allow him to go after him and he calms down (if he is not to close). I am sure I will get bit eventually since he is a wild animal. Right now he pretty much let's me do whatever I want to him. The vet seemed to think he was well loved and trained at one point in his life. He won't even poo on me. He gets off me- then comes back. I don't know if this is normal or not.

I ordered some clickers from amazon, so I am going to try target training him with some slivered almonds... I found that he loves those Christmas nut mixes. He has a lot of fun chewing them out of the shell. I cannot find anything that says how many he can have so I've been limiting him to three a day when he goes back in his cage.

He seems to be getting over his cage phobia to a certain degree, and he hardly ever screams now. At first he threw a fit when I put him in. I am hoping he is getting more secure in the fact that he will get let out again soon. I am also trying to mentally prepare myself for the fact that things could get very much worse when he fully settles in here.

He acts silly for my kids, and headbobs and dances with them. He puts his head next to the cage asking to be scratched by them (I don't let them) but I don't think I will ever let them interact with them out of the cage. I know people who let them out with the kids, but I don't think I am experienced enough to know how far to trust him.

I am excited to build him an outdoor area this spring. I am in tillimook OR, so he will have plenty of trees to chew on. I think I will wait until then to work on his flight.

Sorry for my babble- I don't have anyone else who wants to hear me babble about Morty, and I am always excited for any little bit of insight I can get from you guys!

Last edited by NelsonFlock; 12/08/13 03:24 AM.
#254163 - 12/09/13 12:16 AM Re: Honest advice needed [Re: NelsonFlock]  
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Beeps Offline
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It's hard to say whether he will bite you out of frustration or not. While they do exhibit many similar behaviors, every parrot is an individual, so the key is to get to know your bird.

I use this example frequently on here, but I have two male teenage black-headed caiques. I adopted them 3 years apart at ages 9 and 8, and I've had one for nearly 10 years and the other for over 7 years. Back story sounds almost identical, and they look identical to outsiders. However, if I were to describe their personalities, you'd think they were entirely different species.

This is just off the top of my head (I really should sit down someday to articulate this more clearly, and to make sure I'm not missing anything), but I truly believe the keys to success with a parrot are pretty easy to list, but difficult to follow:

(Please note I am not directing this at you and saying you're not already doing these things, I am just rambling on as you are a new too owner and seem very excited to get started on the right foot!)

1. Have compassion. Remember this is a wild animal that has no business being in our living rooms. We take these guys from their natural world and expect them to adapt to our unnatural environment. When you think about it, it's amazing that there aren't even more behavior problems. As frustrating as they can get at times (like when I want to sleep in and they are beeping and whistling) I remind myself that they didn't ask for this life, and I try to make as many adjustments as I can for them.

2. Give them choices. Everyone likes to feel in control of their lives. As much as possible, I try to give my parrots choices. This includes allowing them to fly, offering several kinds of pellets, different toys. It means opening up their cage doors and letting them come out when they want. Asking them if they want to step up, and if they decline, respecting that. (Of course, they all know the tone of voice when they must step up due to an emergency, and they almost always do step up when I ask.) It means watching their body language. If one lifts her foot up to me, I try to pick her up, even if it's just for a few seconds. If my grey says "want some" I give her something. If my caique is in begging posture, I give him attention. And this segues into...

3. Learn their body language. Parrots are extremely expressive. It's really quite amazing how much they communicate to us through their posture, their eyes, their tails, their fluffiness, their motions. So many times, people come here and ask, "what does this mean?" We can give suggestions of what it might mean -- but each bird has a slightly different way of communicating. My grey and I have been together nearly 12 years. I can read her like a book. When I interact with other greys at the rescue where I volunteer, I can understand maybe 80% of what they're trying to communicate to me, but I don't know their nuances. Observe your bird. Get to know what different behavior, posture, etc. means. Try to guess what he's going to do before he does it. If you get this one down, you can pretty much avoid getting bit, as parrots give off all sorts of warnings before they are pushed to the brink and resort to biting -- we just don't recognize the warnings.

4. Arrange the environment for success. Try to anticipate problems and avoid them, rather than reacting to them. If it takes you 20 minutes to get your bird back in his cage and you're running late, don't let her out that morning. If your bird launches flying attacks when new people come into the house (I deal with this one!) don't let him out of his cage. If your bird climbs down and chews up your baseboards, see if there is some sort of barrier you can construct and also make sure to always supervise your bird and not leave him alone when this could happen, etc.

Of course there are sub-categories to all of these, but if these four items are your framework for interacting with your parrot, you will have a rewarding and fulfilling relationship with your bird, and your bird's life will be much better than what most captive parrots experience.


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