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#259908 - 08/09/16 05:56 PM newly adopted 24 yr old sulfur crested cockatoo  
Joined: Aug 2016
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RC's Mom Offline
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Looking through past posts for help. Need ideas on how to manage the first few days with RC. My husband and I are bleeding from every finger. But my husband stuck with it and on day three has been able to walk with him on his shoulder and transfer him from cage to perch! RC was never abused but was very ill from a fatty liver for a while.

So we need pointers on how to overcome my fear of getting bitten! He rushes at me and then LAUGHS when I back off. He always wants to be scratched behind the head but now I am afraid to. And I need to learn how to pick him up without getting sliced to the bone! These are not gentle nips but deep slices. I can't imagine how I will ever bathe him or clip his wings or nails.

He is eating fortunately, primarily the muffins that his previous owner baked that contain his special diet pellets and fruit and egg shell. He also loves cheese and walnuts. But gets very little of these. All fresh fruit and veggies have been a bust.
Thank you for any words of wisdom. We are long time poodle owners and I grew up with parakeets but this is our first Too.

#259909 - 08/09/16 09:11 PM Re: newly adopted 24 yr old sulfur crested cockatoo [Re: RC's Mom]  
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Welcome and thank you for taking this boy into your home. If RC was ill for a long time then he was most likely toweled for meds daily and probably multiple times per day. This may make him defensive with people. Please tell your husband to not let him on his shoulder, but to keep him on his arm. A bite to the neck, ear, nose or worst eye is not worth it. Shoulder birds have to earn the right and the human needs to be able to read the body language perfectly. This still doesn't mean no face bites. I learned the hard way with a slice to the lip when I wasn't paying attention. I also should have never allowed her on my shoulder that day due to her mood and hormones.
Have you tried to see if he will step up on a perch? Have your husband try to use on of his perches from his cage to see if he will step on it. If he isn't fearful of it and steps up this is your ticket to success with him. I'm not going to tell you that you will never overcome some unease with him but you will feel more comfortable given time.
Some other ideas that I have used in the past with birds that make me nervous are a dishtowel wrapped around my arm beneath a sweatshirt or a heavy denim jacket to protect my arm. I have also stretched out a sweatshirt sleeve so that my fingers can be pulled in quickly. Yesterday at work we had two macaws come in for annual exams. The vet wraps the birds first and then hands them off to me to hold. One of these birds is one of the first birds I ever pet sitted for. He terrorized me at the time and new it. What I did back then was use a shield between him and I at all times. By a shield I'm talking about any object that he was comfortable with held between him and my hand while I fed him or cleaned his cage. We got along very well back then once he thought I wasn't afraid anymore. Yesterday with my heart pounding he stepped up on my arm for the first time. You need to show confidence with him so that he will stop trying to scare you. At this time have your husband do the handling until you are able to overcome some of your fear. Do things with him that allow you to interact in a safe manner. Offer him treats when he is on a playstand. Keep your hand far enough away so it can't be targeted but close enough to allow him to take a treat from you. You can also use a spoon or stick to offer the treat on if this makes you feel more comfortable.
Best of luck and keep us updated on how things are going. I'm sure that there will be others that come on that will give you additional ideas to help.
Welcome to Mytoos.


Nancy & Cassie BE2
#259910 - 08/09/16 10:46 PM Re: newly adopted 24 yr old sulfur crested cockatoo [Re: BE2Cassie]  
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Thank you for the encouraging words! He took a walnut from my hand today so we are making progress!

#259912 - 08/10/16 02:44 AM Re: newly adopted 24 yr old sulfur crested cockatoo [Re: RC's Mom]  
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As excited as you are to befriend your new companion, the best thing you can do is give RC some time to just settle into his new home. New surroundings and noises can make him defensive. Since RC has only been with you for a few days, its unlikely you have learned any of his body language that always precedes a bite. So in RC's mind, you haven't paid any attention to his warnings, so as last resort, he bites to communicate his feelings. Probably the best thing to do is not handle him anymore than necessary until he feels more comfortable.

You didn't mention if RC was with someone for a long time or had numerous homes in his lifetime. If from a long term home, then he has no idea what happened to "his" flock member. If from numerous homes, then he may have a few behavior issues that need to be worked through. The important thing to remember is that time to a cockatoo moves at a snails pace. Its the human that needs to slow down.

Welcome and thanks for taking in RC.


Mark and Chucki (FMM2)
#259913 - 08/10/16 09:35 PM Re: newly adopted 24 yr old sulfur crested cockatoo [Re: RC's Mom]  
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RC was with one owner for all of his 24 years. Her husband died and she recognized that she has no time for him and feels terrible about it. Whenever we visited, my son was inseparable from RC and he seemed to feel the same way. So the owner gave RC to my son but to us until my son can take him. My son has one more year in college and wants to take him when he starts grad school. We plan to keep RC until my son really will have the time needed, we are in no rush to give him up.
RC IS SHOWING GREAT PROGRESS! I can stroke his neck and head and he wants to climb on me, but I am still hesitant. My husband lets him climb on his shoulders and they walk in the neighborhood. RC IS NOW MAKING CLUCKING NOISES when I send him kisses and grinds his beak as he starts to fall asleep. So I think we are getting there. This weekend I will let him climb on me! There is no hurry!
We have a lot to learn ! I will be looking through the archives to get info on bathing next! But I think he can survive a couple of weeks without a bath. Is that right?

#259914 - 08/11/16 01:56 AM Re: newly adopted 24 yr old sulfur crested cockatoo [Re: RC's Mom]  
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Can you ask the previous owner how he is used to being bathed? You seem to fear this bathing thing! It's not like you put him in the sink and suds him up! No contact is necessary, or even advised! Warm water gently misted from a spray bottle is one way. Of course, many birds have been punished with water spray and are scared to death of spray bottles! Showering with the bird on the back of a tall chair works for birds that like it. Bounce the spray off of you onto the bird so it is gentle. Vacuuming (turning a vacuum cleaner ON, NOT vacuuming the bird!) often puts them in the mood to bathe and they will start dipping their head and splashing in their water dish. They usually try to stand in their water dish as well. By all means use the "search" for more ideas. Don't worry. Bathing is not a priority.
This "walking around the neighborhood with the bird on your shoulder" thing kind of is a priority, though... You did not mention that you were carting him around in a carrier...
Why will you not listen to the wisdom of "No Shoulders"? Do you REALLY want to learn the hard way?? They say you never feel the same way toward your bird after plastic surgery.
I can only assume the bird is severely flightless for some reason. Even so, what if the bird gets spooked and jumps down in front of a dog or car? What if he gets scared and latches onto your husband's face? What about a grab and run thief? You've really got to do some reading here and perhaps at the Mytoos home site to get the real lay of the land you are stepping into.
Thank you so much for taking in this great bird. Don't ruin it for yourself by doing the silly things that many bird owners do because they just can't process that they are dealing with a dangerous wild animal, not a cute stuffed toy. Okay. A cute, smart, fascinating wild animal, but very dangerous, none the less. You are the human. Please do the thinking.
P.S. My vet advises nothing but plain water to bathe a bird. Talk to your vet about ANYTHING you have questions about.
P.P.S. It's really not that hard to get used to carrying a bird around on your hand/arm in front of you, instead of on your shoulder. You have much better control of the situation. You can brace your upper arm against your body to be more stable if necessary. You'll both get used to it.

Last edited by Birdfriend; 08/11/16 02:19 AM.

alias: Birdfriend2 and Birdfreind2, re-registered to correct spelling!

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#259915 - 08/11/16 09:48 PM Re: newly adopted 24 yr old sulfur crested cockatoo [Re: RC's Mom]  
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Thank you for your comments. We are reminding ourselves daily that RC is not a domesticated animal like our poodles but a wild animal that we must constantly be aware of. I will try to convince my husband that he should not ride on a shoulder. We have splurged on a CELLTEI Pak-o-bird backpack, so we could take him around in that or try the arm.
I will ask about the bathing and wing clipping. His previous owner used kitchen shears to clip his wings so he is truly flightless. But that will change. She also used a powerful dog grooming dryer to dry him. He dared not bite her. The minute she showed the spray bottle he stopped whatever was thinking, so she could do anything to him and he obeyed her like a dog. She would point to a wing and he opened it so that she could cut the feathers. Seeing is believing on this! Amazing.
Right now our challenge is to get him to eat veggies! He now does eat one type of fruit - bananas, but tonight I will try broccoli. Again thanks for your comments.

#260281 - 01/23/17 03:11 AM Re: newly adopted 24 yr old sulfur crested cockatoo [Re: RC's Mom]  
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Birdfriend:

Okay, I'm new here but your message came across a bit strong to me. I've recently adopted a U2 and he's a shoulder bird. Not my idea, although it looks adorable, you're right- incredibly dangerous. Here's the thing though, Louie has been taught to be in this position for around 26 years. I discussed this with his vet and she is an avian vet in the business for a very long time and she agrees- he may never learn a different way. I work with him daily, but even with the vet she loosened her grip just slightly transferring him back to his carrier and before she could respond he was on her back crouched between her shoulderblades. A lifetime of trained behavior which taught: shoulder is where you belong, it's safe; is a hard lesson to unteach. My Louie may never learn a different way. Your bathing suggestions were great, thankfully I don't have a problem with that- I do have a U2 that hates my husband though.

#260286 - 01/23/17 02:32 PM Re: newly adopted 24 yr old sulfur crested cockatoo [Re: RC's Mom]  
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No not a bit strong but very direct. How many birds have you known of that have always been shoulder birds then poof off like a shot. Taking any bird outdoors on a shoulder or loose is risking the birds life. Check out Parrot 911 to see just how many birds have flown off the shoulder outdoors. Even birds that the owners thought were supposedly unable to fly, flew.


Nancy & Cassie BE2
#260294 - 01/24/17 05:23 AM Re: newly adopted 24 yr old sulfur crested cockatoo [Re: LouieTheCockatoo]  
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Originally Posted By LouieTheCockatoo
Birdfriend:

A lifetime of trained behavior which taught: shoulder is where you belong, it's safe; is a hard lesson to unteach.


Unteach? That is an impossible task. Rather the game plan is to teach. Teach a new behavior to replace the unwanted behavior and that is done with positive reinforcement. The old saying that "You can't teach and old dog new tricks" is rubbish. It takes consistency and continuity to teach new behaviors and yes, lots of time in many cases but it can be done, if done correctly. I cannot believe that any vet would disagree...not if they understand the science of behavior. The real pitfall is that it's easier for us say it can't be changed then to put forth the intense effort needed to change it.

No offense intended and I hope none is taken, but behavior can be changed.


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

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