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#241113 - 01/09/12 11:13 PM Want a good New Year's resolution?  
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The drive to procreate is the strongest instinctual process in these animals. There is just no denying it. Not all cockatoos in the wild will be able to become parents because nature is often stacked against that happening. In our homes, however, when it's a good home, the reproductive chain can be a very stressful and disorienting time for these birds. It is not just a "sexual event", it is a "reproductive process" that goes from mate selection to chick rearing and anything that interferes, anywhere along that process, can be very traumatic for the bird.

In the wild, conditions that lead to successful breeding may not happen very often. In that case, the bird has other things to worry about and do. There are five conditions that lead to increased hormone production that drives breeding behavior. As care takers, we need to be very aware not to stimulate these birds accidentally or through ignorance. Many times, just by understanding what is required will allow us to change OUR behavior or the bird's environment in such a way as to minimize reproductive hormone production and it's associated behaviors. The five requirements are:

  • A mate or perceived mate - Is that you? If so, you need to move your behavior with your bird to establish a sibling, playmate, or trainer relationship. Be active with the bird but the bird does not have to be on you. Cockatoos love to play and take to training very well.
  • Copulation - Do you put your hands under your birds wings? Do you pet your bird with full body strokes? Do you let your bird sit on you while you watch TV? Do you cover your bird with towels or blankets? These are all behaviors to avoid. Wild cockatoos never make bodily contact with other cockatoos except to mate. You can never mate with a cockatoo so don't lead the cockatoo to believe you can!
  • Nest - Once again, no blankets, towels, dark, small spaces. These are all part of nest building and should be discouraged. Nest boxes should never be allowed with pet birds.
  • Long daylight hours - Do you let your bird stay up late under the lights with you? Wrong. Cockatoos are wired to sleep when the sun goes down and wake up with the sun. In nature, when days start to become long it is a harbinger of spring, a signal that food and water will be more plentiful, a very good time to raise chicks! Put your bird to bed at sunset. In the long days of summer, you can also provide a dark room for sleep and put them down an hour or two before sunset.
  • Abundant food - In nature, cockatoos spend most early morning and evening hours flying to and foraging for food. There are probably more times than not when food is not as abundant as they would like. They have to work for it! In our homes, not only is the food abundant but much of it is fatty and sugary. It has been proven that these rich foods can increase hormone levels by 10 times normal levels. We need to provide a natural and varied diet with an abundance of greens and vegetables to minimize this effect.


I say "in nature" and refer to "wild cockatoos" quite often but, the fact is, most of our hand reared parrots are only a couple of generations removed from the wild. It will take many many more years for that change away from natural instinct to happen. Will it ever change? I doubt it. Nature is delicate and precise, when man tampers with the process the outcome is usually not good.

All cockatoos have an age that they reach "maturity" and this varies from 2-3 years for the small ones and 6-8 years for the big ones. If one disregards the information above and does things all wrong, much younger birds will begin to "feel" hormone production and suffer for it. These birds are confused and not understanding why things are happening or not happening. One will have the best chance by avoiding the five triggers above. You are not in the business of breeding cockatoos, this is your pet and companion, make his or her life all it can be by learning and applying "the facts of life".

#241114 - 01/10/12 12:09 AM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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Really good write up Charlie, mind if I reprint it?


Deborah
A Too is not a pet, it is a choice for life!


#241119 - 01/10/12 01:33 AM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: FeatheredAngels]  
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Not at all, Deborah! Thanks for all you do! cool

#241124 - 01/10/12 02:02 AM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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I shared as well. Great article!!! Thanks Charlie!


Karen, Lucy (U2), BooBoo (CAG),Pina (BCC),Willie (Cockatiel),
Melody, Sonata, Penny & Dory(dogs)
#241127 - 01/10/12 04:09 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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Originally Posted By: Charlie
Not at all, Deborah! Thanks for all you do! cool


All the credit goes to Mytoos and the excellent Admin here. From all of you I learned the true plight of parrots and this is my small way of paying it forward.

Here is a link to your Article Charlie The Five Conditions that lead to Hormonal Increase by Charles King


Deborah
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#241130 - 01/10/12 09:49 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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Knowledge. Is. Power. =D Great article! I saw it here first, and then I saw it on Deborah's website too. Way to get information out there and make it available.

I LUV MyToos

#241131 - 01/11/12 12:58 AM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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I am curious.. I got this as a response to this article:

" I disagree with bullets 1-4, 5 I do agree with. As keeping a.cockatoo active, such as foraging, is really mind stimulating and very good for them. But my 'toos touch eachother all over, and are not "mates". They're all boys and want to hump me of hump near me. Cockatoos LOVE , ABSOLUTELY LOVE to touch eachother. Mine do and all the 'too socialized U2s I've been around, do too. It's a social behavior. Like a monkey grooming another familiar monkey, its not a mate behavior. They groom eachother butts, wings, tails, between legs, wherever. So back to bullet 1. No matter what we do, or try to do,(most) birds are going to choose a favorite person and see them as a mate. Good luck dissuading this very natural behavior. Bullet 2. As I mentioned above, grooming the entire body is a social behavior, preening under the wings, flight feathers, between wings, tail base, etc, is not inviting for sexual behaviors. It can be, but its not 100%. My 'toos do this and they dont see eachother as mates. Just buddies in the flock. And they all preening eachother. Every piece of their body is preened. Bullet 3. I'm of the believe to "let things cycle through". My birds build nests on the bottom of the cage with all the wood they chew. I destroy the nest every few days, to clean. But blankets, cuddling, towels, are NOT nests to my birds. The cage is. Bullet 4. It assumes ALL birds are light sensitive. But this is not the truth at all. Most macaws, Amazons, greys, come from places near the Ecuador. They don't have "shortened light periods". So changing their light hours, doesn't do anything to cure hormones."


Specifically about the touching all over thing.. WHAT? Can someone help me shed some light on this? According to your article Charlie, 'toos don't touch each other anywhere but on the head except in mating situations. I've asked this person how old her 'toos are and how long she's had them in her care.

Her response was this:
"My 'toos range from 4-11, but my mother's M2 who is 20 loves group preen time too. My 27y.o does not. Bokka I had for almost 6 years before he died at 17. My others I've had 2-4.5 years smile So not too long. But even if you go to a rescue, that has 'toos of same species that get along, you can often see these group/buddy preen times. It's silly to day that 'toos don't naturally touch eachother except to mate. So silly I LOL'd."

I've never seen any of the 'toos at any of the rescues I've visited preen each other anywhere other than the head.

So.. yeah, I'm a bit confused. She's not exactly a reputable source, but I'm curious if there's any truth to what she's saying. It sounds like if they are humping everything they are hormonal and she simply doesn't recognize it.

#241132 - 01/11/12 01:58 AM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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Excellent article Charlie!! You ROCK!


Birds are angels who lift us up when our own wings forget how to fly.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world - indeed it is the only thing that ever has!" ~~~ Margaret Meade ~~~

Noelle, A Rehabilitation in Progress
#241133 - 01/11/12 02:46 AM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Volk]  
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I am sure Charlie will be along with his own response but I have never seen Toos or any other birds preen each other anywhere other than the neck and head. Admittedly I am not an expert, however I do have about 30 plus years of parrot experience and an avid student of their care.

As for blankets, I have seen this stimulate many birds. I have seen it with my own, other birds, videos etc. I do towel my birds after a shower to dry them off a bit in winter months but I do not sit and hold them for extended periods of time like this. Ozzy will begin to shimmy with hormones if snuggled up for more than just a few moments.

I do a full body exam on my birds weekly, it is done quickly and with a purpose. I do not snuggle them up and therefore there are no hormonal triggers. Touching on the body can be done but it needs to be briefly and without petting and stroking.

Honestly whomever this person is, they are just not educated on the true nature of parrots. However you will find many folks who truly do not want to believe the truth. Charlie's article contains facts that can be easily looked up in many places by experts who have spent years compiling and researching just these points. I have found for the most part those who want to argue these points, many times turn out to be breeders who do not want the truth known. It will hurt their sells if the honest facts of the true care of parrots comes out.

Just my two cents smile

adding something....

Just went and looked up this persons comments and really have to laugh myself. She has had birds for 2 to 4 years and ppl are listening to her opinions lol. Can we say "seriously" .Dont let her comments get to you hun, we here all know the truth!

Last edited by FeatheredAngels; 01/11/12 03:05 AM.

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#241138 - 01/11/12 08:31 AM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: FeatheredAngels]  
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I've been on the road. Thanks for the reply, Deborah, I couldn't have said it better. These things are not 100% absolutes but they will surely help you and your bird have a more stress free companionship. Use common sense and as Dr. Doolen says, "think like a bird"! I like to bring this topic up once in a awhile for new members. It has been covered many times in the archives. We have seen, over and over again, members that have come back to rave about the differences they were able to effect using the manipulation of one or more of these "triggers".

#241141 - 01/11/12 12:40 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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Originally Posted By: Volk
They groom eachother butts, wings, tails, between legs, wherever.


I see my girls grooming each other under their wings, tails and vent area also. It made me extremely nervous for awhile, hearing of the wrong readings of DNA.

When I asked about it, I was told it was "common" and not to worry about it. confused So, I quit worrying about it.


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#241142 - 01/11/12 03:37 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Brandy's mom]  
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One thing that hasn't been mentioned and I think it's worth mentioning is that you take a human imprinted cockatoo that has had the body stroking for any length of time and they tend to "crave" it.You put two human imprinted cockatoo's together that have had the above mentioned together and they are going to "crave" it together and likely because they are so intelligent please each other.

I remember being so happy that I could pet my Gabby boy everywhere and touch him everywhere until I read on this site what it does to them...well try to stop it after a year or two of doing it on a chick never mind an adult bird who is seriously getting stimulated by it...it's tough.I would walk up to Gabby's cage and he would come running from the other side with his wing in the air just waiting to get his under wing pets!! It took months to correct and he never did forget that those were the best pets ever to him! He would still try his hardest at 7 y/o to get them and we stopped at 1 y/o...so yes I believe you put a few together they will inappropriately preen each other in the forbidden zones.


Jan

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#241143 - 01/11/12 04:23 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Janny]  
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Oh Janny that is an excellent reminder and most likely why some are seeing birds who are now touching in forbidden areas. Once again it is another sad thing we have done to these precious Angels.

adding something...

Janny thanks to your post here, it gave me exactly the comment I needed to post to the thread on FB debating this issue. Here is my response.
***************************************************************
What we all need to remember is that each bird is an individual and also the birds in captivity are going to demonstrate different behaviors due to being in captivity and being handled by humans. You will not see the majority of birds in the wild preening anywhere other than the head and neck areas. Birds raised in captivity are more likely to do this because of being handled by humans and touched all over. We have taught them things that are not normal compared to their wild counterparts and ancestors. Overly petting and stroking a birds body can create hormonal issues. Some may not find this true, because each bird is unique but it holds true for the majority. I personally have never seen birds preen anywhere other than the head and neck and this comes from over 30 years of experience with birds. I will not say that it isnt happening, but again I am positive it is learned behavior from humans.
***************************************************************
Hope you dont mind me stealing your opinion Janny, but as always I cannot allow for folks to be mislead into believing something we all know is not true. Your comments were dead on as to why this is most likely happening.

Last edited by FeatheredAngels; 01/11/12 06:30 PM.

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#241144 - 01/11/12 07:58 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Brandy's mom]  
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Originally Posted By: Brandy's mom
Originally Posted By: Volk
They groom eachother butts, wings, tails, between legs, wherever.


I see my girls grooming each other under their wings, tails and vent area also. It made me extremely nervous for awhile, hearing of the wrong readings of DNA.

When I asked about it, I was told it was "common" and not to worry about it. confused So, I quit worrying about it.


STATEMENT..NOT AN...ARGUMENT


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#241145 - 01/11/12 08:10 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: FeatheredAngels]  
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Originally Posted By: Brandy'sMom


STATEMENT..NOT AN...ARGUMENT
___


OK?....I don't think anyone was trying to argue this...I was simply lending a hypothesis as to why this was happening....

Your welcome FA...I just thought about it this morning and thought I bet this is why. I try to think like a bird every now and then.lol


Jan

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#241146 - 01/11/12 08:44 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Janny]  
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Originally Posted By: Janny

Your welcome FA...I just thought about it this morning and thought I bet this is why. I try to think like a bird every now and then.lol


Well I believe your thought was dead on! As for thinking like a bird...world would be a better place if we all did that more grin


Deborah
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#241194 - 01/13/12 07:27 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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Thank you all for helping me shed some light on this one. I appreciate all the responses. Makes a lot of sense. I forgot to take into account being wild caught or hand reared can make a huge difference. Thanks again!

#242678 - 02/26/12 07:23 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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its such a reief to belong to a community of people that know what they are saying about Cockatoos! Through experience I know that Charlie is correct on all points. Im grateful to be able to read all of this to my Hubby. He has a tendency to believe what is in print but not his spouse so much. LOL


PJ owns 2 adults, 1 Grandma and everybody else is his playtoys.
#248193 - 09/22/12 02:58 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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Thanks,I have just added a 4year old U2 to my small flock which is a dyh and yellow nape amazon.coco loves attention and full body rubs.iev only had him for 6 weeks and don' t want to make any mistakes that are hurtful or can be avoided.
He is so loving and I'm both playmate and provider.

My question is can you show affection with small amounts of body petting or under wing stroking without hurting relationship of playmate/ trainer ???

#248197 - 09/22/12 07:03 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Coco puff]  
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That's like asking if you can crack the door with a toddler playing on the floor. Do so at your own peril. There may be times of the year that it is acceptable if you REALLY know your bird. Why start? It's not something they need if your relationship is good.

#248205 - 09/23/12 05:15 AM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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I agree with Charlie...why start?


Birds are angels who lift us up when our own wings forget how to fly.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world - indeed it is the only thing that ever has!" ~~~ Margaret Meade ~~~

Noelle, A Rehabilitation in Progress
#253532 - 10/01/13 10:06 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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•Copulation - Do you put your hands under your birds wings? Do you pet your bird with full body strokes? Do you let your bird sit on you while you watch TV? Do you cover your bird with towels or blankets? These are all behaviors to avoid. Wild cockatoos never make bodily contact with other cockatoos except to mate. You can never mate with a cockatoo so don't lead the cockatoo to believe you can!

I'm sorry but I disagree, although they have the gene of a wild cockatoo, mine are domestic hand raised birds. I do however limit the amount of petting in those areas, both my birds love it and I will continue to show them that affection.

#253536 - 10/01/13 11:00 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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Quote:

I'm sorry but I disagree, although they have the gene of a wild cockatoo, mine are domestic hand raised birds.



The wild cannot be removed from our cockatoos. They are genetically designed to mate. Being hatched and handfed in captivity does nothing to alter the natural urge to mate. Male Toos have hormones and female Toos have hormones. These hormones are present and mating is innate. Just as with humans if mating cannot occur frustration over not being able to mate can lead to neurotic behavior or personality disorders. Just as you and I have the urge to mate so do cockatoos. Cockatoos have the urge to eat, drink, escape the elements, avoid pain and mate. Domestic hatch doesn't take away any of the innate needs.

Toos find 'mates' in humans sometimes. This is a real tragedy as they cannot mate or be a mate with a human and many toos don't do well even with other toos of their same species due to the tragedy of human imprinting by handfeeding and being raised to be a pet.

Petting and stroking a cockatoo is sending them a message of sexual bonding. Heavy breathing can occur with various cluck sound vocalizations and unusual posturing. This is instinct but then it backfires as when they cannot fulfill the pattern of courting, mating, copulation, laying eggs and incubating, feeding chicks until fledge it can lead to neurosis or psychosis and self mutilation.

Think of it like this; how would any human especially a male deal with not having access to his romantic inclination and acts at all. Think of the frustration, anger and change in personality due to not being able to fulfill an innate need. Then think of someone 'teasing' him in this area while not having access....

The innate needs of eating, drinking, escape from the elements, avoid pain and mating are present fully in our captive hatched cockatoos.

If any owner of any cockatoo 'teases' either knowingly or unknowingly this gets the Too started and then when it cannot be completed the Too can become a chronic screamer, chronic biter, self mutilation, neurotic behavior such as head bobing, making circles with the head, slashing the beak in the air and more.

A cockatoo kept busy each day outside of cage playing with toys, able to rip and shred safe things apart, able to vocalize in the AM and PM, the use of forage feeding toys gets a too tired and played out, and a played out too is a happy too. Toos kept busy are less likely to become 'problem toos', sleep better, eat better as in they are less fussy, and have a good outlet for energy. They were designed to fly, pair up, mate and forage (work) for food. When one of these cannot be met the others must be upped in order to reduce the urge for the one not being able to be met.

So provide lots of time out of cage, lots of cockatoo safe toys, safe toys and other for shredding and tearing, interaction which promotes safe physical activity - exercise, lots of really cool forage feeders and toys available many dishwasher safe to get them working with their minds and body to get their food.

It really doesn't matter what you or I or anyone thinks or agrees or disagrees with as biology is biology and domestic hatched toos retain all the innate instincts. Not one of them magically disappears upon being hatched in captivity. Also our toos are not domesticated. They are wild birds living in captivity or captive wildlife.

Domestication means selective intentional breeding of an animal to remove undesirable traits and make the animal more suitable for living in captivity. Parrots are not domesticated. Never have been and never will be. Any animal be it a parrot, lion, tiger, snake or shark is not domesticated just because it was born or hatched in captivity.

#253541 - 10/02/13 01:50 AM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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Kevin that attitude is setting your birds up for issues when they become sexually mature. Both are juveniles right now. In a couple of years your female will begin to lay eggs and if you persist in inappropriately petting her she may become a chronic layer. Chronic laying can lead to prolapse, egg binding, calcium deficiency and a host of other medical issues. Please take some time and read. You are new to cockatoos and really need to learn what they are all about. They are not like other parrots.


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#253545 - 10/02/13 12:13 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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Can't take the "wild" out. They may appear to be domesticated now, but eventually their "wild" side does come out. Before discovering this site, I was guilty of all the petting. The first year I had her I thought is was so neat to be able to touch her everywhere. I was like in awe of having such a majestic animal and being able to touch her was just great... Until she got older and the behaviors started kicking in. Screaming, lunging -she became attached to my ex husband for a very brief period of time as I found out later he would let her go up under his shirt while watching TV and allow her to make clucking noises. The first time I witnessed that happening, we stopped everything. I first learned about the petting and what I was doing when I took her to my AV and had him explain "the birds and the bees." Now years later, I mainly just scratch her head. I am guilty of letting her sit on me while watching TV or when I am on the computer. As soon as she starts getting a little too comfortable with something I'm doing, I stop. Too much stimulation almost always leads to excessive screaming and her throwing a fit. The other thing is if she comes out of her cage and I see her attitude immediately change with the dog, she won't let him anywhere near me and will try to keep him away. When this happens, I cannot allow her out because someone will get hurt. For the few times it happens, she just goes to bed early. Just like us, sometimes too much a good thing is not always good.

I really enjoy this site because all of us are here to learn from each other.

#253548 - 10/02/13 01:53 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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Only once, maybe twice, removed from the wild is far from being domesticated.


Birds are angels who lift us up when our own wings forget how to fly.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world - indeed it is the only thing that ever has!" ~~~ Margaret Meade ~~~

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#253550 - 10/02/13 05:06 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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Cassie I'm not trying to say my bird will or will not get to that point, like I said I limit the amount that they both get, maybe a scratch here and there under the wings but I mostly limit it to head scratches. I hear alot about how they WILL change as they get older, but, My friend has had a female umbrella for 23 years & never once showed any kind of aggression toward him or his wife she is as loving as the day they bought her home. Learning to read your bird is the key

#253551 - 10/02/13 05:19 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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BE2Cassie Offline
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BE2Cassie  Offline

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Wrentham, MA
No it's not. I'm not talking aggression so much here as I am health. Does your friends U2 lay eggs? Do they scratch under the wings. Is it a confirmed female. Remember DNA test can get messed up because of human error. I honestly pray that you do not have issues. I met a woman age 32 and her husband. It was a sad meeting. Her U2 had just passed at 30 years old. The U2 lived with her parrents from the time it was a baby. They grew up together. The bird had never laid an egg. She became egg bound and passed away during the xray.
One of our members here had her M2 DNA tested and it was male. At 8 years old if I remember correctly he got sick. Rushed to the vet to find out he was egg bound and almost passed.
You are going to do what you want regardless of any of the warnings, which is too bad because down the road your birds will be the ones to pay.


Nancy & Cassie BE2
#253552 - 10/02/13 07:43 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
Joined: Sep 2013
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kevinmc2013 Offline
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kevinmc2013  Offline
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Posts: 138
They do sparingly, she is a confirmed female, not sure if she ever laid eggs (though I never thought to ask). You don't have to worry, I would never put my birds on danger, I know when she is getting sexually anxious and I back off. I'm not trying to argue, I respect your opinion, but Am I never to touch the birds again, maybe a should have gotten a budgie

#253555 - 10/02/13 08:34 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
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BE2Cassie Offline
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BE2Cassie  Offline

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My husband and I touch Cassie all the time. We just limit the touching to above the neck. I preen her feathers along her neck and head. She loves to have her head and beak scratched. We shake hands/feet. When she is nervous she holds my finger for security. Oh and Budgies are the same with sexual frustration.

Last edited by BE2Cassie; 10/02/13 08:36 PM.

Nancy & Cassie BE2
#253556 - 10/02/13 08:42 PM Re: Want a good New Year's resolution? [Re: Charlie]  
Joined: Sep 2013
Posts: 138
kevinmc2013 Offline
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kevinmc2013  Offline
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I mostly scratch their heads and neck, just the occasional rub under the wings

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