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#260639 - 07/28/17 12:48 AM Rescued a cockatoo and need help!!  
Joined: Jul 2017
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Wendy6262 Offline
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Hi everyone!
I joined this today and am hoping some can help me! I rescued a Goffins Cockatoo 1 1/2 weeks ago. He was abused by the first owners he had. From them he went to 5 other homes. The one before I got him was my brother and his wife. They didn't have the time to work with him (not sure if he is a he) so they asked me to take him. I'm home 24/7. I will admit I've never owned a Too before but I raised a blue and gold from a baby. He was amazing and loved him to death! (The ex got custody of him) I've left him alone for a week. Two days ago I was going to take him to the vet and have him checked out. He needs his beak and nails done badly!! My brothers wife could get him out of the cage by putting a white towel on her hands. He would just walk on them and she would put him in the carrier. When I tried that I used a pink towel. He walked onto the towel but when I took him out of his cage he went nuts. He jumped out of my hands to the floor. I tried to get him back on the towel but he showed me who was boss. He bit me down to the bone. So I slowly picked him up and put him in his cage. Needless to say we didn't go to the vet.
He will talk to me and I leave the door of the cage open all day. I cover him at night and he tells me "hello"! I sit next to his cage a lot of the day talking to him in a calm soft voice. But if I reach into the cage or stand up and stand in front of his cage he will spread his tail feathers and hiss at me and then go to the back corner of his cage. He doesn't have any favorite food. He doesn't like people at all. If I put a treat into his bowl he takes it out and throws it to the bottom of his cage!
I love this little guy and I'm not giving up on him. I just need some ideas on how to break through his barriers. I know he would be a sweet little guy if he would just trust me even a little.


I'm a major animal lover!! I try to help as many as I can. I have to have at least 2 or 3 at home!
#260640 - 07/28/17 10:56 AM Re: Rescued a cockatoo and need help!! [Re: Wendy6262]  
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BE2Cassie Offline
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It sounds like you have the right ideas, you just need to give him time. Cockatoos are slow to warm up sometimes to people so you need to do everything in his time. Patience is not a virtue when living with a too, it's a mandatory priority.
From what you've said it sounds like he is very frightened and rightly so. Where do you have his cage located? Does he have an area that he can feel secure. Good location for a cage is in a corner or keep a cover over two or three sides of the cage. Keep up the soft talking with him. If at all possible avoid standing in front of the cage. A small folding chair is great to have close by. I use one when I have a frightened bird at the house. It seems to not be as threatening when I sit down when changing out food dishes or cleaning the cage. I would also start doing some fun things in the room. From the other side of the room try singing and dancing fun songs. He may just join in.
What you don't want to do though is wait on the vet appointment. Do you have a vet that does home visits near you? Best to get it done with so you can focus on the training.
How old is he and what's his name? It's wonderful that you've taken him in to your home and willing to educate yourself on his needs. Best of luck to both of you and welcome to Mytoos.

Last edited by BE2Cassie; 07/28/17 11:03 AM.

Nancy & Cassie BE2
#260641 - 07/28/17 11:19 PM Re: Rescued a cockatoo and need help!! [Re: Wendy6262]  
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Thank you Cassie for the info!! I have his cage in the living room. He is in the corner across the room from me. If I don't stand in front of the cage I can't get his bowls out. The cage he came in is clean and in very good condition but the bowl holders are broken and it's been rigged to hold other bowls. I sit on the end of the couch and talk to him. It's right next to his cage. I will have to check into the vet coming to my home. They don't do that here much any more. Stormy is around 4 or 5 we think. No one knows for sure. Does anyone know of any really good info books on Toos? I've gone to a bunch of book stores here and NO ONE has and books on them. Even the the pet stores don't carry them any more!!


I'm a major animal lover!! I try to help as many as I can. I have to have at least 2 or 3 at home!
#260642 - 07/29/17 12:33 AM Re: Rescued a cockatoo and need help!! [Re: Wendy6262]  
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Hi and welcome to MyToos! I highly recommend you do most of your research right here on the site rather than using book sources. I've found a lot of parrot books in general to be woefully outdated and inaccurate amongst things. The Behaviour section of the forum has been especially helpful for me, and don't forget about the search tool! I'd go digging to get you started, but I'm currently on vacation and pressed for time.


My flock: Monty (Eleanora/medium sulphur crested cockatoo), Benjamin Button (European Starling).
#260643 - 07/29/17 01:52 AM Re: Rescued a cockatoo and need help!! [Re: Wendy6262]  
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BE2Cassie Offline
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AJ is right here is the best place to look. Most of the books are very out dated. What state do you live in? Some of our members may know of an available vet for you.


Nancy & Cassie BE2
#260644 - 07/29/17 02:59 AM Re: Rescued a cockatoo and need help!! [Re: Wendy6262]  
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Thank you for all the info!! I live in NYS. And AJ I don't want to interrupt your vacation. I hope you have a great time! I will take as much info as I can get. He is finally saying another word now. I kind of got sick of hello. Lol He now says Good night!! We have been working on that ever since he got here. I keep telling him he is safe and a good bird. I tell him he is so handsome and he is never leaving here. I say all of this sitting on my couch next to his cage. He will come as close to me as his cage will let him when I do this. He watches me and talks at the same time I do. But he is also shaking so bad and his tail feathers are all spread out. I feel so bad for him. I just want to cuddle him and make him stop shaking. With him coming so close is he trying to be friends? I was also told that if a bird has a play top on top of his cage and it is taller than me I should take it down. It will make the bird think he is the boss of the flock! Is there any truth to this? I've taken his down and I think hes really missing it.


I'm a major animal lover!! I try to help as many as I can. I have to have at least 2 or 3 at home!
#260645 - 07/29/17 03:53 AM Re: Rescued a cockatoo and need help!! [Re: Wendy6262]  
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I managed ro get away from the family using the "gotta put Monty to bed!" excuse lol! She's monitoring me.

I'd say keep doing what you're doing and keep sitting with him and talking, and try to figure out foods that he likes. It's largely trial and error - for example, both of my hookbills go crazy for sunflower seeds, which are used strictly as training treats Monty also adores most tree nuts (especially in shell), nut butters, apples, and carrots, as well as once in a whle treats such as a bit of cheese or the corner of a chip. Or unsalted potato wedges - this girl will shank you for potato wedges. Those are all guaranteed hits, but she'll also nibble on dozens of other fruits, veggies, and healthy human foods - just not all the time. A favorite snack today might not be touched tomorrow and visa versa - you've just got to keep offering!

It's good that he's approaching you, even if he is shaking - let him set the pace. Go slow - too much too fast, and any progress you've made may very well be in danger. My Lucas, a green cheek conure, had a bad scare three years ago with hands (scared a lady and was pretty much swatted out of the air) and he still doesn't like being touched. We've both learned to work around it, and have a great relationship. You're very new to each other; give it time but be prepared that you may never have a cuddler and cherish Stormy for who he is. smile

Re:tops of cages and heights - this largely depends on the bird. Monty has a pretty tall dome top about level with my head and I've never had problems with her (though she is cage aggressive with everyone else), but I've also had a foster 'too who would bite the snot out of anyone lower than him. If Stormy isn't being aggressive, I don't think I'd be an issue for him to have his playstand.

When you have time, read on through the Stickies at the top of each forum. Fear and/or aggression are two of the issues that seem to crop up frequently, so you should be able to find more info in the Behaviour forum, or through the advanced search function. Even just typing "scared" and limiting the search to thread titles under behaviour or general discussions I came up with a bunch of hits, some of which may be of use with Stormy.

I'm out of time for now - I'll try to check in tomorrow! Her highness wants to actually sleep now.

~Amanda

Phones are the worst for typing on. Please excuse anything makes no sense... autocorrect frequently goes rogue on me!


My flock: Monty (Eleanora/medium sulphur crested cockatoo), Benjamin Button (European Starling).
#260646 - 07/29/17 10:57 AM Re: Rescued a cockatoo and need help!! [Re: Wendy6262]  
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BE2Cassie Offline
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Amanda gave you some very good suggestions. Cage top is different with all birds. A small step stool or collapsible step is great to keep in the house. I'm only 5'3" so just about all cages are higher than I am. The stools are great. Cassie knows that I can't reach the center of the cage tops and will run to it to get out of reach when it's time to go in the cage. The stools have eliminated this behavior for the most part now.


Nancy & Cassie BE2
#260650 - 08/01/17 02:09 AM Re: Rescued a cockatoo and need help!! [Re: Wendy6262]  
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Another thing that really helps with scared birds is to give them a place to hide. I'll sometimes take a blanket and cover half of the cage when I have a scared bird. Even now, I have two birds who are generally not afraid, but I have some large toys that hang around a high perch, giving them a safe place to go if they need to hide (remember that parrots are prey animals. They are constantly on alert and worried about predators. Humans have two eyes in front of our heads so are definitely seen by them as a predator.) If he's really scared, it can also help to not look directly at him if possible. Announce yourself before you come into the room so he knows what to expect (like many beings, parrots THRIVE on routine.)

Really watch body language. You stick your hand into the cage - he hisses. He is warning you. If you keep sticking your hand into the cage, you will get bitten. Try to be creative and work on other ways of getting the behavior that you want.

I fostered an amazon that was terrified of hands. I had him for around a year, and he never learned to step up on hands. We were getting decent at stick training when his owner took him back. Instead, I'd open the cage door and let him come out when he wanted. He learned that he'd get a favorite treat when he went back in, and we figured out a routine that worked with us. I had another bird who would get really agitated at a moment's notice, and if I tried to pick him up, he'd bite me. So I trained him to fly to his cage on command. This all took time, but I learned their behavior and figured out ways to work with them that didn't involve me getting bit.

Parrots are extremely expressive with their body language. Unfortunately, we humans all too often just ignore the many warning they are giving us and then the bird needs to resort to biting/screaming/other unacceptable behavior. Biting sure gets a point across! As you get to know him better, you will work out routines Try to figure out what he is communicating and respect his wishes. It helps me to keep in mind that they are prey animals and therefore have a completely different worldview than humans or the predators we normally share our lives with (dogs, cats).

Keep up the good work! As Nancy said, patience is absolutely required, and is definitely rewarded (though often the reward comes later than we think it should!) You've got this!

#260671 - 09/01/17 05:05 AM Re: Rescued a cockatoo and need help!! [Re: Wendy6262]  
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We haven't gotten much farther. I still can't get near him. I haven't tried to touch him ever again. I still talk to him. He now says goodnight, cries like a baby, meows like a cat, and we are working on good morning. His cage is still open all day. He does what he wants. He wakes up at 6am and thinks everyone else should too!! I get up and uncover his cage after he stops screaming for 5 to 10 mins. Then I go back to bed after I turn the tv on. Ill get up a couple hrs later and we start the day. I open his door and he climbed to the top and watches me. I go in the living room to eat my breakfast and he climbs down and watches over my shoulder. His cage is right behind me. In the beginning I would give him some but he would just pick it out of his dish and throw it on the floor. Then ill go in and take a shower and he will be screaming the the whole time. In fact any time I get out of his sight for more than a min he starts screaming. He drives me nuts with it!! He doesn't want anything to do with me but if I leave the room he goes ballistic. I have to yell out to him ill be right out and he will shut up!! I really want to hold and cuddle with this guy. But we aren't getting any where. I'm thinking of taking him to Rochester, NY. I've been told there is this guy that is this bird whisper. I'm calling him tomorrow and talk to him about Stormy to see if he can help him. If he can I'm taking him there this weekend. Something has to give!! Wish us luck!!


I'm a major animal lover!! I try to help as many as I can. I have to have at least 2 or 3 at home!
#260672 - 09/01/17 12:23 PM Re: Rescued a cockatoo and need help!! [Re: Wendy6262]  
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Getting up early sometimes can be made later with room darkening shades. Doesn't work for all but I have found that it works for most birds. Yelling out to you when you leave the room is normal behavior. This can be changed by finding a contact call that can be used. I went through this with Cassie. We use a blip noise that is easy to mimic for me. When I leave the room I say I will be right back and when out of the room I will say blip. Cassie will blip back. When I hear her blip or if Ive been gone for a little longer than expected I will call to her. It really decreased the screaming. Throwing food on the floor is expected. Cockatoos will take a bite and drop just about every morsel they pick up. I pick up from the floor and keep in a bowl designated for the outdoor birds and wildlife. He may never let you touch him. Snuggling is one of the worst things for a sexually mature too. Touching below the neck is considered sexual and is only done by the birds mate in the wild. This in captivity will cause frustration leading into increased behaviors including aggression at times. In females it can lead to chronic egg laying. I hope that the person you are using is qualified to assist you with his behavior. Ask him about stick training for transporting Stormy for you. It can really work wonders with an unsafe bird. I have a couple that come to my house that are stick trained due to biting or sharp nails. We also did it with some of the birds at the zoo that I worked with.


Nancy & Cassie BE2
#260721 - 10/09/17 11:09 PM Re: Rescued a cockatoo and need help!! [Re: Wendy6262]  
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Thank you BE2Cassie for what you have told me. I decided not to go see that guy in Rochester. I'm just going to except that I may never be able to touch him. I'm just going to keep on teaching him how to talk. He's doing good. I still need to get him in a carrier to get him to a vet. He needs his nails done really bad. And he needs his beak looked at too. I've been told not to use stick training. But I think that is going to be the only way I can handle him. Thanks again.


I'm a major animal lover!! I try to help as many as I can. I have to have at least 2 or 3 at home!
#260722 - 10/09/17 11:16 PM Re: Rescued a cockatoo and need help!! [Re: Wendy6262]  
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Who told you not to try stick training? If it was the vet there may be a physical reason not to or if it was a behavioral reason he may be frightened of the stick.


Nancy & Cassie BE2
#260736 - 10/27/17 02:59 AM Re: Rescued a cockatoo and need help!! [Re: BE2Cassie]  
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He is scared to death of the stick. I tell him nite nite. He knows if he doesn't go in his cage I'm going to get the stick. He sees that and goes nuts. I'm thinking the people that abused him might have used a stick. I don't know for sure. But he bites it really hard!! I can get really close to him now. If I get too close when he is in the cage he will slam his beak on the cage bars. If he is out of the cage he tries to bite me if I get too close!!


I'm a major animal lover!! I try to help as many as I can. I have to have at least 2 or 3 at home!
#260737 - 10/27/17 09:55 AM Re: Rescued a cockatoo and need help!! [Re: Wendy6262]  
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I think you're right it sounds like he has had a fright with the stick in the past. Sometimes if you use a perch that they are familiar with, maybe something in his cage or a cloth perch he may accept it better. Before attempting to use it just sit it in the room away from his cage. Make a big deal out of it when ever you think of it. Slowly move it closer to his cage. I would only move it maybe a foot closer every couple of days where he is so fearful. Eventually have it right next to his cage but don't attempt to use it with him. I would even put it on top of his cage loose for a few days and see how he reacts to it. If he gets frightened move it back to where it was the day before and leave it for a few days before attempting to move it again. Continue to make a big deal over the perch by talking to it, picking it up etc..


Nancy & Cassie BE2
#260743 - 10/29/17 03:50 PM Re: Rescued a cockatoo and need help!! [Re: Wendy6262]  
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I think you're being too hard on yourself -- it sounds like you are making really good progress! Remember that we humans expect instant changes, and parrots are much more slow to adapt. He may never be a cuddly bird, but he can definitely find happiness with you.

I'm a huge fan of stick training. All of my birds are stick trained, even those who have always readily stepped up on my hand and don't bite. It's a way that other people (like a pet sitter) can handle them and, heaven forbid, should they outlive me, there will be a consistent way of being handled that can bring them some comfort. As Nancy said, if the bird exhibits fear of one kind of stick, try something else. I use a dowel with my birds, but with ones I've fostered in the past, sometimes it's been a ladder or a flat piece of wood, or even a larger toy.


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