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Old 05-11-2019, 05:05 PM
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Need advice on SassyByrd always “mouthing” my fingers/hands.

So, SassyByrd is at least 2.5 years, could be older but that’s what I was told. A few weeks after we bought her my hubby came down with very complicated cancer and has had multiple surgeries and recently had his leg amputated. So although she’s been here over a year, I’ve only started really working with her the last few months. Given our rocky start, she seems incredibly balanced. She loves nothing more than being out with me and seems to live life without fear. The minute new toys are introduced she immediately goes at them. Lately we’ve started clicker training and that’s probably the favorite part of her day. I’ve worked with many dogs and horses successfully, but the parrot mind is so complex! So, on to my question.
SassyByrd ALWAYS has parts of my hand in her beak if she is not otherwise occupied. “Most” of the time she will put her entire beak around my fingers or wrist and explore with her tongue. She has never used the entire strength of her beak yet, but she does get into naughty moods occasionally. When she starts to clamp down I always tell her “go easy” and she’s typically great at backing the pressure off. Occasionally she’ll get a very naughty look in her eye and apply too much pressure, then release and look at me like, “what are you going to do about that?”. At that point I tell her it’s too hard in a firm calm voice and turn away or leave her for a short while. That seems to do the trick, But now I’m wondering “why” does she even do this? Is this typical or even normal? Should I be discouraging this mouthing all together? Am I setting us up for issues in the future? Any and all thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.
-Jen
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Old 05-11-2019, 05:38 PM
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Re: Need advice on SassyByrd always “mouthing” my fingers/hands.

Seems like a normal parrot in my experience. My Nike is much the samw way. She uses her beak as a third hand and doesn't go anywhere on my without first using her beak. She is often inspecting me with her tongue and picking at my freckles. She's great at not using too much pressure but with a needle sharp beak even a littl pressure can pinch. What I've started doing is having the tip of her beak touched with a Dremel whenever I have her nails done. Makes a world of difference. Nike never bites my fingers with enough force to hurt but can pinch me by accident.
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Old 05-11-2019, 05:48 PM
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Re: Need advice on SassyByrd always “mouthing” my fingers/hands.

First, I wish your husband and you the best with his treatment.

Next, on to your questions. You have to start by remembering that our parrots don't have hands. Their beak is how they explore their world. It's not only how they taste, but how they feel textures, how firm an object is, and yes, how firm their boundaries are.

For a larger Amazon, 2.5 years is incredibly young. A child if you will. There is still SO MUCH WORLD to explore. And yes, it must all be explored with the beak. Even if it's something she's touched or played with 100 times, just like the kid that can watch the same movie 50 times and ask you to play it again.

As for her putting the extra pressure then looking at you like she's asking what you gonna do bout it? That may very well be exactly what she's doing. You could look at it that way or she's refining exactly where that line is between too hard and ok. Your reaction seems spot on to me.

As far as whether or not to allow her to beak your fingers is up to you, but personally I allow all my birds to as long as they mind themselves. They are just being birds. I think not allowing them to use their beaks like that is like telling kids they can play but can't use their hands. Other people try to discourage them from using their beaks at all which may be advisable if you're working with a new bird that you haven't built up trust with, but that definitely does not seem to be the case with SassyBird.


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Old 05-11-2019, 09:49 PM
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Re: Need advice on SassyByrd always “mouthing” my fingers/hands.

Yup, what Outlawed said!

Bite pressure training depends heavily on using the same words and /or reaction. I favor using specific words, as there will be a time when a reaction is not possible.
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Old 05-12-2019, 09:25 AM
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SassyByrd (DYH Amazon) JoJo (GCC) Betty (GCC) DEARLY LOVED fids lost to “Teflon Disaster” 12/17 RIP Pickles (GC),RIP Winston (Sun), RIP Lady PLEASE TAKE 5 MINUTES &TOSS OUT ALL YOUR TEFLON NOW!
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Re: Need advice on SassyByrd always “mouthing” my fingers/hands.

Thanks everyone! You confirmed what my gut instinct was telling me! I am a huge proponent of pressure training for pups, I’m finding that I just don’t have training “confidence” with the Sass. I find myself reading up on “parrot psychology” almost daily, and the amount of information I “don’t know” is overwhelming. I’ve found that dog/horse training has come fairly naturally to me, although I would usually research the “whys” of that as well. I love my SassyByrd so darn much. I’m just intimidated I’m going to unwittingly teach her the wrong thing. Not that it couldn’t be untaught (eventually), but it’s so much easier and less stressful (on both of us) to get it right the first time around!
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Old 05-12-2019, 09:33 AM
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Parrots:
SassyByrd (DYH Amazon) JoJo (GCC) Betty (GCC) DEARLY LOVED fids lost to “Teflon Disaster” 12/17 RIP Pickles (GC),RIP Winston (Sun), RIP Lady PLEASE TAKE 5 MINUTES &TOSS OUT ALL YOUR TEFLON NOW!
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Southern California
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Re: Need advice on SassyByrd always “mouthing” my fingers/hands.

By the way Bill_e, your Hawk Head is absolutely amazing! I’ve heard them mentioned but have never seen a video of one. She is just stunning. Don’t take this wrong, but it’s almost an alien look to me (as if parrots weren’t alien enough!). Do you ever get used to her flaring those gorgeous feathers or is it breathtaking each time? Does the feather flaring provide you additional insight as to what is going through her mind?
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