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Old 04-28-2017, 06:08 PM
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Your opinions on nature vs nurture for a well behaved amazon?

So the more I research the more I think i would be a good fit for adopting an amazon since I love animals, work at home, get to choose my own hours and can actually afford the time for daily training sessions and i've always enjoyed animal training with previous pets and was pretty damn good at it (Every pet I've ever had bit, was excessively loud and/or was not housebroken.....till I trained them, from cockatiels to dogs to cats to ferrets. I've never had a pet with behavioral issues i couldn't address.). I'm picking the brain of every amazon owner I meet and researching the trainers they recommend and I can't help but notice this consistent disagreement between the owners and the trainers THEY recommend as the experts in parrot behavior so I'm wondering what you guys think.

I really just want as realistic expectations as possible before I adopt a bird with a few potentially bad habits. I will be volunteering at a Houston parrot rescue 4 days a month soon so that will be some excellent experience. I have also read the stickied threads here already.

Two things that come up over and over again are "Amazons bite, period, they will always bite, you can't do anything about it, it's their nature.". They say "Oh my baby is such a little sweetheart but my fingers are covered in bandaids at all times and she will randomly remove flesh from my ear if she's on my shoulder every few months!!" or "Amazons are loud they love to scream, nothing you can do about it hope you don't have neighbors!" They say you can train them to bite less, but you will get bitten, and you'll get bitten bad. They tell me to read and listen to barbara heidenreich and a few other often recurring names.

So i start reading everything I can get my hands on from the trainers THEY recommend and the trainers like Barbara say "I don't get bit by any of my birds, they don't try to bite me, my birds don't scream excessively, i would never tolerate that, I train them not to bite and not to scream, buy my dvd for $19.95 and i'll show you how to do it.".

So i talk to these owners and it seems like most of them work 8 to 10 hours a day, own 3 to 10 birds and couldn't possibly have time to work with any one of their birds with any consistency and are just resigned to the fact that their sweet little baby is going to be drawing blood on a regular basis. Often when i ask them how they address screaming and biting it seems that according to teh very trainers they recommended they react in a way that reinforces that behavior to the bird. I hear them say "Oh when he bites me i put him in his play area and turn my back" and "When my bird screams i come to wherever it is and try to distract it with play or treats.". So basically your bird knows that if it wants to be left alone and be dropped off at the equivalent of birdie six flags amusement park or it wants a snack and entertainment delivered, all it has to do is bite or scream....

So is an amazon that bites and screams throughout the day a work in progress? Is an amazon that doesn't bite and doesn't scream excessively a lie used to sell training dvds? The trainers all say "There's no lost cause birds, they never stop learning. You can change their behavior.", a lot of owners say "Some birds are just nasty and can't be tamed.".

It seems both could have potential ulterior motives. Trainers want to sell merch and parrot owners want to discourage potential owners with naive expectations so yet another bird doesn't end up dumped on a shelter or languishing in a cage.

Last edited by baserock_love; 04-28-2017 at 06:21 PM.
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Old 04-28-2017, 06:13 PM
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Re: Your opinions on nature vs nurture for a well behaved amazon?

I enjoyed your narrative. Good questions and good for you for reaching out.
We are blessed here with a wonderful community of Amazon lovers. I will look forward to their joining in.
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Old 04-28-2017, 06:59 PM
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Re: Your opinions on nature vs nurture for a well behaved amazon?

With zons it's all about the socialization, in my opinion.

Nurture.
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Old 04-28-2017, 07:55 PM
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Re: Your opinions on nature vs nurture for a well behaved amazon?

So, Has Salty ever bitten me? I describe a bite as one needing a bandaid on up to having a mellon baller scoop of meat taken out. In that context, no he has not. Has he nipped me with a pinhole bite? Yes, and always my fault, because I was not paying attention, or from excessively rough play. Have I been bitten in the above context? Oh yeah. Including the melon baller. All my fault, because I was not paying attention, or I did not know the bird well. As far as screaming, Amazons definitely have their loud times, but its the same time, or stimulus, every day. Zons like to talk, whether its zon gibberish or words or phrases we teach them. Now if you are dumb enough to run to the bird every time they use their contact call for you, you are teaching them to be loud all the time. Teaching or training means you have to be consistent, every time, as you likely know already. ANd amazons are smart, real smart. Smart enough to teach you. And thats ok as long as you learn together. I think the bird has to feel like it is part of your flock , thats why Salty always eats dinner with us, right next to the table. Every nite.
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Old 04-29-2017, 12:27 AM
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Re: Your opinions on nature vs nurture for a well behaved amazon?

Quote: Originally Posted by wrench13 View Post
So, Has Salty ever bitten me? I describe a bite as one needing a bandaid on up to having a mellon baller scoop of meat taken out. In that context, no he has not. Has he nipped me with a pinhole bite? Yes, and always my fault, because I was not paying attention, or from excessively rough play. Have I been bitten in the above context? Oh yeah. Including the melon baller. All my fault, because I was not paying attention, or I did not know the bird well. As far as screaming, Amazons definitely have their loud times, but its the same time, or stimulus, every day. Zons like to talk, whether its zon gibberish or words or phrases we teach them. Now if you are dumb enough to run to the bird every time they use their contact call for you, you are teaching them to be loud all the time. Teaching or training means you have to be consistent, every time, as you likely know already. ANd amazons are smart, real smart. Smart enough to teach you. And thats ok as long as you learn together. I think the bird has to feel like it is part of your flock , thats why Salty always eats dinner with us, right next to the table. Every nite.
Yeah, sometimes people deserve to get bit, i'm not counting stuff like that or play bites even though i will be bite pressure training.

LIke look at my last pet for instance who i loved dearly, was a ferret, was probably the hardest loss i've ever had. Literally the first thing he did when i got him to my car when he was a kit was he took a big chunk out of my knuckle, he seemed so friendly in the store so i figured he could be handled, nope, he was terrified and i didn't look. Within 5 months though he understood that biting beyond play pressures was unacceptable, and he never bit anybody ever again and he also never had a reason he'd ever want to bite anybody ever again. If he bit me or somebody else like that even once every year that would be unacceptable. I would work with him as much as i need to to correct that.

I dunno, what's making me weary are these amazon owners who literally say that their birds are sweet and love them but are just flat out unpredictable. THey love to be on their shoulder but once every few weeks to once every few years out of nowhere (or more likely they couldn't read it because it was on their shoulder out of eyeshot) their zon will latch onto their lip or nose or ear and cause serious damage.

LIke it seems if it was the case that that is just the nature of zons, nobody would trust them on a shoulder so close to their eyes. how could you EVER trust a bird like that around company or children?

One woman who has a mealy i've been talking to says her zon calls to his flock for about 15 minutes every morning, and during the day he's a chatter box, but not loud like his morning calls which are very loud. That to me seems fine.

Zons are gonna zon but I"m going to be very careful to not reinforce screaming and as barbara suggests, reinforce the softer cute noises. If they scream i'm a ghost, if they do cute vocalizations i come.

This is all good though. I plan to do a lot of socializing, already worked it out with my housemate and friends that anybody comes over, they gotta give him something, if i get him harnass trained and he enjoys going out with me, he's going to hopefully learn that good things happen when he's around humans, all humans.

I'm hoping that this rescue i'm volunteering at will let me foster and if I get a bird and we just fall in love with each other i'll just adopt him.
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Old 04-29-2017, 12:39 AM
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Re: Your opinions on nature vs nurture for a well behaved amazon?

Who the HECK and where the HECK are you getting this stuff! Lot's of 'they say,' 'they recommend,' etc... Who the HECK is they?

I am not sure that there is much room to add as part of the two Posts above (Birdman666 and Wrench13).

So as a double check, you stated that you read the Stickies at the top of the Forums. The I Love Amazon - ... Thread - First Segment with the same title. I do not recall any of that stuff as the take away from that 'Sticky!'

If you are shopping for answers, that's fine, but that means that you will be getting the answers that you have gotten! I am fairly certain that the Author's and their Articles are not the leaders with long lines of highly credible writings. Your likely reading - just as a guess "Parrot Wizard" and that group?

Amazons are bloody smart and to my knowledge, do not suffer an idiot well! As a result they provide that idiot with just rewards! All of which fills the internet with story after story of the Green Killer!

So, is your goal to be a Owner of a Amazon? Or, is it to be Owner by an Amazon? Your answer will clearly define the quality of your research. Which is it?


FYI: I'm an Amazon Snob! So, if this sound snotty, that's where it comes from!

Last edited by SailBoat; 04-29-2017 at 07:13 AM. Reason: FYI:
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Old 04-29-2017, 05:52 PM
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Re: Your opinions on nature vs nurture for a well behaved amazon?

Quote: Originally Posted by SailBoat View Post
Who the HECK and where the HECK are you getting this stuff! Lot's of 'they say,' 'they recommend,' etc... Who the HECK is they?

I am not sure that there is much room to add as part of the two Posts above (Birdman666 and Wrench13).

So as a double check, you stated that you read the Stickies at the top of the Forums. The I Love Amazon - ... Thread - First Segment with the same title. I do not recall any of that stuff as the take away from that 'Sticky!'

If you are shopping for answers, that's fine, but that means that you will be getting the answers that you have gotten! I am fairly certain that the Author's and their Articles are not the leaders with long lines of highly credible writings. Your likely reading - just as a guess "Parrot Wizard" and that group?

Amazons are bloody smart and to my knowledge, do not suffer an idiot well! As a result they provide that idiot with just rewards! All of which fills the internet with story after story of the Green Killer!

So, is your goal to be a Owner of a Amazon? Or, is it to be Owner by an Amazon? Your answer will clearly define the quality of your research. Which is it?


FYI: I'm an Amazon Snob! So, if this sound snotty, that's where it comes from!
As valuable as those threads are, it would be pretty stupid to assume 2 sticky threads on one of a half dozen parrot forums are the final iron clad authority on parrots and parrot behavior.

The "they" are parrot owners on and off this forum. Every single amazon owner current and former that i can get to talk to me. That is who I'm getting this stuff from, parrot owners. Many of "they" are members of this very forum because I'm reading every old thread i can find on it about amazons with behavioral issues and what people say here.

People recommend most often by They are Barbara Heidenreich, like 9/10 times her name comes up. There is also Sally Blanchard a book by Gary A. Gallerstein, the parrot wizard came up a few times but few enough i just watch some of his videos on how he trained certain specific behaviors. I'm mostly focusing on barbara as she by far was the most recommended and most of the people recommended seem to basically be using her techniques.

My goal is the same as anybody who has a companion animal. To take care of it, have a meaningful relationship with it and not have it be a monster because I didn't know how to deal with it and have one or both of us be unhappy with the arrangement. That is why i am getting information and opinions from as many varied sources as possible to try to figure out who knows what they're talking about and who doesn't, who's put in the work and who hasn't. Yes it's more work than reading two sticky threads and calling it a day but call me crazy, I like to do the legwork before I get into a lifelong commitment to an intelligent living creature.
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Old 04-29-2017, 07:08 PM
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Re: Your opinions on nature vs nurture for a well behaved amazon?

I have been owned by an Amazon for nearly 30 years. I got Amy when she was just 4 months old...Does she scream? NEVER! is she loud? YES!! but it is in "words" HELLO!!! HOW ARE YOU???? WHATCHA DOING???

Does she bite? rarely..only if I haven't/didn't read her first. There are times I will not even ATTEMPT to have her with me,just leave her be..cause I can read her pretty well now..she doesn't want to be bothered so be it.

SOCIALIZE...she goes everywhere with me..has met many people,been in different settings and will almost always go to ANYONE..but you have to "know" how they are feeling,and that takes time,and patients.

Today at Walmart a lady came up to us and asked "can I pet her,does she bite?" And I adviced the woman not to try,coz I could see Amy was excited and could have bit the woman..better safe than sorry in my book.


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Old 04-29-2017, 10:30 PM
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Re: Your opinions on nature vs nurture for a well behaved amazon?

Quote: Originally Posted by baserock_love View Post
Quote: Originally Posted by SailBoat View Post
So as a double check, you stated that you read the Stickies at the top of the Forums. The I Love Amazon - ... Thread - First Segment with the same title. I do not recall any of that stuff as the take away from that 'Sticky!'

Amazons are bloody smart and to my knowledge, do not suffer an idiot well! As a result they provide that idiot with just rewards! All of which fills the internet with story after story of the Green Killer!

So, is your goal to be a Owner of a Amazon? Or, is it to be Owner by an Amazon? Your answer will clearly define the quality of your research. Which is it
As valuable as those threads are, it would be pretty stupid to assume 2 sticky threads on one of a half dozen parrot forums are the final iron clad authority on parrots and parrot behavior.

The "they" are parrot owners on and off this forum. Every single amazon owner current and former that i can get to talk to me. That is who I'm getting this stuff from, parrot owners. Many of "they" are members of this very forum because I'm reading every old thread i can find on it about amazons with behavioral issues and what people say here.

People recommend most often by They are Barbara Heidenreich, like 9/10 times her name comes up. There is also Sally Blanchard a book by Gary A. Gallerstein,

My goal is the same as anybody who has a companion animal. To take care of it, have a meaningful relationship with it and not have it be a monster because I didn't know how to deal with it and have one or both of us be unhappy with the arrangement. That is why i am getting information and opinions from as many varied sources as possible to try to figure out who knows what they're talking about and who doesn't, who's put in the work and who hasn't. Yes it's more work than reading two sticky threads and calling it a day but call me crazy, I like to do the legwork before I get into a lifelong commitment to an intelligent living creature.
I appreciate you efforts! Please understand that my effort is simply to point!

That said, my comments regarding the two specific Sticky Threads was not that they are the end all in working with Amazons. With Clarity - The 'I Love Amazons -... Thread and specifically the first Segment (which uses the same name), targets why some Humans fail with Amazons and others are rewarded with a long and loving relationship with an Amazon. The amazing part is that it can happen in the very same household.

I have read Barbara Heidenreich, have seen two of her live presentations and have a very clear understanding as to the reason she has the success rate stated. I also understand the darker side.

I have read and have near all of Sally Blanchard books and see her and Liz Wilson as true leaders in they method of caring and loving Amazons (Parrots in General) from hatching to very Senior Parrots. Sally's Handbook is the best 'life time' tool available. Also, those who are carrying their works forward is a couple who own the Parrot Island Parrot Store in MN. Sorry, but their names elude me at the moment. Their writings are leading the Avian Care World forward. Their writings are available on their stores website.

Gary A. Gallerstein books are beginning to age, but they are clearly excellent works in the presentation of Avian Medical Knowledge. They are, to this day, highly recommended for those who want a more in-depth Avian Medical knowledge.

So, is your goal to be a Owner of a Amazon? Or, is it to be Owner by an Amazon? Your answer will clearly define the quality of your research. Which is it?
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Old 04-29-2017, 11:32 PM
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Re: Your opinions on nature vs nurture for a well behaved amazon?

I wish I had advise for you. But I'm relatively terrified of amazons. They an cockatoos are the only birds you HEARD ABOUT actually flying to attack someone.

That said, I MUST agree with Mark (birdman666) that with any bird, Amazon, macaw, conure, caique, eclectus, doesn't matter...it all comes down to socialization. I just don't trust Amazon or cockatoo innate behavior to begin with.

Ps. Based on reputation and READING alone, not personal experience. I admit I'm more incline to trust the smaller amazons, lilac crowns and such, maybe even a mealy. But the majority are on my scary list.
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