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Old 01-07-2021, 11:19 AM
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Ralphie- perch potato anonymous

I think I'm gonna follow examples set here and keep my posts to a minimum by adding to this one...
We've successfully added touch training, something I'm positive was completely foreign to Ralph....

I suppose I should give a little background, we are his third home. 4th if you count the pet shop. Ralph has had 3 names. (Sorry, but I couldn't call him sparky. Since he didn't know it anyway, we officially named him when we adopted him). It's clear that nothing has ever been asked of him, aside from looking pretty.

He's accustomed to being moved via perch, does not want to touch your skin, is greatly offended at the thought of you touching him, expects he'll be allowed to run up to your shoulder and be there as long as he likes, demands that food be placed in the bowl, and that he not have to exert any effort to reach it.
He does not like change. He does not like anything new. And it's obvious he's never been given anything but pellets, never shredded a napkin, foraged, and I'm wondering how on earth has got no interest in even the simplest of toys, like a ladder. Or a different perch, and oddly enough is not very food motivated, since all treats are new.

This simply will not do.

Now, the fact that I have taken it upon myself to gradually introduce him to a better diet, to the joy of destruction, and the pride of foraging, apparently means that I've committed the most heinous of offenses; I've asked him to do something he wouldn't bother with on his own.
So Ralph has decided that dh, who can't do much with him due to a broken leg (surgery tomorrow after 5 weeks of wasted time not healing after tractor ran him over...) is the couch potato to match his charming lack of ambition.
Dh is his person.
This means that while I'm his personal maid, cook, chauffeur, and teacher(he so far hates that part) I'm not allowed to be near him if dh has a shoulder available.

As stated in another post, we've had some communication issues between dh and myself and Ralph. So we've restructured since everything has changed now that Ralph has a favorite.

I've started touch training(target training) and after a few aggressive grabs at the stick, we finally understand that a light touch produces a pecan.

You can't tell from the angle in the picture (yes. It's dark. That's a regular lamp and it's ten am. The topic of yet another post lol) because if I move, or he gets the idea that the camera is rolling, he becomes a gargoyle for half an hour.... but!

This is Ralphie, digging in a hemp ball full of hemp strings for his breakfast! Accomplished with touch training, he can be brave!


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Old 01-07-2021, 12:17 PM
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Re: Ralphie- perch potato anonymous

Well, at least Ralphie is not a serial-killer as all members of the home are still accounted for.

With your on-going efforts Ralphie will expand her diet, play activities, etc... And, with time, you 'may' just gain some allowed interactions.

Keep a journal, you may be surprised by the transition over-time. It can also be a place to keep track of weight.

Life with an Amazon is clearly a journey and those who join this parade will be rewarded when they come to understand that they are truly owned by an Amazon.

Enjoy, even as support staff has its benefits!
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Old 01-07-2021, 12:32 PM
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Re: Ralphie- perch potato anonymous

You know how birds are described as eternal toddlers?
Dh and I were discussing behaviors and tendencies Ralph has displayed and working out a plan for lessons and "if/ then" policies when it struck me- HE'S LIKE AN AUTISTIC TODDLER!

Which we're actually familiar with, as my son is on the spectrum.
Ralphie can't scare me, he's actually so much like my son (who's grown and in his own now) that I feel like I'm in my element again.

I think my experience with my son (and actually my both my brother's young sons are on the spectrum too) well help in handling Ralph.

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Old 01-07-2021, 12:42 PM
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Re: Ralphie- perch potato anonymous

So very true! Understand that Parrots connect to our emotions and react to those clues. Enjoy the connection!
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Old 01-07-2021, 12:42 PM
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Re: Ralphie- perch potato anonymous

SO yeah, good idea to start a serial type thread, where all can follow Ralphies progress. I have one on my little yellow shoulder amazon, Salty.

Amazons have an amazing ability to reset the clock and refresh, maybe more so that any other group of parrot species. It may take longer with Ralphie, seeing as he has been relegated to an ornament instead of a companion for so many years, but even the above post shows progress. I'm gonna make a few suggestions, and I hope that Sailboats, my good friend and guidance, will chime in with more.

Food - Perseverance! It may take months of presenting alternate foods to Ralphie before he tries them. I would go with hot peppers at first, the hottest you can buy, jalapeno, habbenero are great. They are good for the parrot and have a unique taste to them (parrots have 1 taste bud to 100 of ours, so a real mouth-burner is a tangy treat to them). Present them daily, but I would offer 1 day with halves, one day with biggish chunks and 1 day chopped up pretty finely, and just repeat that, over and over. Wasted produce, I know, but its essential he expand his diet.

Parrots are very much observers and respond well to a monkey see monkey do effort. The hot peppers may be a reach for you guys to do, but use a little slight of hand to make Ralphie believe you are actually eating them. Lots of MMmmmm and yummy sounds when you do is going to convince him to try them. Videos of parrots also eating chop will also help in this. My 'zon learns so much from Youtube videos, I should be sending them tuition fees!

Toys - again this needs a monkey see monkey do approach, as Ralphie probably has no idea that to do with them, the poor guy. I would get a few, cheap toys that you are able to destroy in front of Ralphie, while making ecstatic sounds of joy and fun. Balsa wood toys are easy to tear apart as are some cardboard and paper ones. If he like almonds, try hiding ( but not very well) a few in a toys so he starts to get the idea for foraging. I use a few of these clear acrylic foraging toys with Salty, and he definitely got the idea very quickly.

Training - You are making progress! Some tips, which I might have said already:
Consistency - its so important to be consistent in training , so the parrot does not get confused by mixed messages. Ask for the action the same way, every time. You both should ask for the action the same way. Same verbal and same hand signals.
Immediacy - If your using a clicker, click it as soon as the action is done, followed by the treat. The click says YES you did it right, and the treat reinforces it. I personally just use a verbal Good Boy instead of the clicker, but you get the idea. You both need to use this, you and the dh! Training is an evolving incremental process, at first he may not do the complete action, but closely watch and any movement or action that approximates what your trying to teach is considered good and should be rewarded.
Patience - Parrots can sometimes take and accept change at a glacial pace, especially compared to our monkey brain adaptability, so patience is definitely needed.

I personally set aside a specific time each day, 365/yr, for training sessions with my Salty. Admittedly, you'll want to do more, to get Ralphie to do the basic step up, which is essential, but after that is successful, I always recommend these set training sessions to teach other things, which can range from simple things like shake hands to more complex tricks. After awhile, Ralphie will come to know that these are special times, to learn new things and get treats and develop that special relationship with his flock. Doesn't have to be long, 10-15 min at most. In our house, everyone knows that the decks get cleared at 8:45pm sharp for training session time, including Salty, and he comes ready to run thru the evenings tricks and learn new ones ( which he is, at this point, amazing at).

So we all look forward to reading about Ralphie's amazing journey with your family!

PS: What the heck is a dh ?? LOL.
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Last edited by wrench13; 01-07-2021 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 01-07-2021, 05:23 PM
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Re: Ralphie- perch potato anonymous

Quote: Originally Posted by raeleigh26 View Post
You know how birds are described as eternal toddlers?
Dh and I were discussing behaviors and tendencies Ralph has displayed and working out a plan for lessons and "if/ then" policies when it struck me- HE'S LIKE AN AUTISTIC TODDLER!

Which we're actually familiar with, as my son is on the spectrum.
Ralphie can't scare me, he's actually so much like my son (who's grown and in his own now) that I feel like I'm in my element again.

I think my experience with my son (and actually my both my brother's young sons are on the spectrum too) well help in handling Ralph.

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I teach sped/ABA and I totally agree, but I always worry people will misunderstand me if I say this--- it is so true. I just feel like only people who have worked a lot with kids on the spectrum and also have parrots are the only ones who get that aspect ha!

Last edited by noodles123; 01-07-2021 at 05:27 PM.
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Old 01-08-2021, 08:33 PM
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Re: Ralphie- perch potato anonymous

DH had surgery this morning. They only allow one person there and I can't drive in the city so his dad picked him up. Which left me with Ralph until after 2 pm.

We had breakfast. With several flock calls. But he seemed to settle when I walked him around the house to prove dh wasn't here.
Then he hung out on the towel rack while I showered, kissing and wolf whistling at me(IDK who taught him that) but he declined any wetness offered.

Then he got to hang out in the sunshine on my bedroom windowsill while I got dressed and tore down the bed to be washed... oh goodness you should see his eyes when I sing along to music!

Today we learned a sort of peekaboo, mostly because he called and quickly screamed whenever I left the room, even if he could see me.... by noon he understood that I'd be coming and going, but I'd be right back.

Today, he asked me to give him the curtain, which I'd tied up, and he climbed up one side, all the way across the rod, back down the other side!
Worth the holes in my curtains to see him do something physical lol.

Today, he allowed me to carry him everywhere by hand (Except from the perch and cage. We've stopped asking for bare hand step up from "his" places.) And we found out he's not afraid of the vacuum, unless it falls over.

He supervised his cage being cleaned, laundry being done, and we went through nearly an entire playlist of songs.

Today he tried to sing along to one.
Today he mumbled under his breath, and I got it on video. While it's very low, & he spoke only when I spoke, I'm not the only one who thinks it sounds like some naughty words.

When dh got home, everyone was excited. Ralph got to sit on his shoulder and they both fell asleep sitting up.

Today, I convinced Ralph to eat carrots, broccoli, & a red pepper slice by offering it to him, eating it when he rejected it, and offering another one lol. Did not work with peas though. I had to eat all the peas on my plate.
Guess I can't blame him, I'm not a fan of peas either.

It's been a very very busy day. I think we're all ready to go to bed early!

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Old 01-08-2021, 09:02 PM
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Re: Ralphie- perch potato anonymous

Great day with Ralph! Sounds like you two had a great relationship day!

FYI: Place Ralph in a window you can easily reach and be seen by him. This will allow him to connect 'going-out' with being outside. 'You'll be back' is a great tool. It is also stating how long you will be gone!

Love hearing about the progress!
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Old 01-10-2021, 11:54 AM
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Re: Ralphie- perch potato anonymous

I have some questions.
Ralph has been reluctant to come out of his cage the last 2 days. Possibly because now that he's discovered chewing, he actually appreciates the toys in there. One, anyway.

So, here's our set up- he has a 4x3x5.5ft cage in his own room, full of toys, with clean water changed TAD. But I don't feed him in there.

He has been coming out(by stick, and I ask him to come to me, I don't force it) in the morning for breakfast at his perch in the living room. Where he is part of the daily goings on, has frequent interactions, talks, and is held and replaced on his perch or a small table we've been training and playing on several times a day.

I'm getting him to actively eat dinner with us to try new foods. He goes back into his cage for bed at 8 pm, has his own heater(74*) air purifier, humidifier(45-50%) dark except a small nightlight that illuminates the floor near his cage.

We're not on any kind of schedule except his waking and bedtime right now. Sometimes we leave the house for several hours. Sometimes we're home all day.

He's in his cage, closed, at night and if we leave the house. The door to his room is closed.

To the point: his cage is too big for the living room. It works as a sleeper cage and to give him space and entertainment when we're gone, but I want to put toys in the living room too.

1-Is a smaller cage(left open) with toys better/ worse/ same effect as a big play stand/ perch? I have immediate access to a smaller cage, but would have to build a play perch. I'm finding that materials are hard to come by.

Right now his perch is basically a grooming and food station, but encourages his sloth tendencies.

2- he's learning very fast now, with my son, we kept a strict, predictable schedule when we were wishing on something new, but being unpredictable was also training.
- the world will not adapt to him, he had to learn to adapt to an ever changing world.

Dh will be returning to work when his leg heals. His schedule changes slightly every 3 weeks. I may not be home all day every day. That'll be totally random. We do occasionally travel and intend to take him with us.

I've read conflicting views on keeping birds on a strict schedule to (basically) keep the peace, but others prefer being unpredictable to teach the bird that is okay when things are unexpected, thus they're not a slave to the birds schedule, & when things inevitably do happen its less stressful for the bird. Thoughts?

3- how do you handle your fids perception when the household is in distress? Even children know when things are amiss.

- --- a friend of mine was murdered by her husband yesterday. Ralph has obviously reacted to my grief. I put him to bed early, me, since dh was in a great deal of pain last night, and Ralph was very reluctant to come out this morning. I ate my breakfast in his room.
And left him alone several times. He eventually came out to the top of his cage and after a bit of conversation, he came to me.

But he's now napping on his perch in the living room. Not normal.

ETA and very nippy with me. Walking away when I approach(he's been in the back of the couch) he's on top of his cage(cage door and bedroom door open) wants nothing to do with me, but is being noisy.

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Last edited by raeleigh26; 01-10-2021 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 01-10-2021, 07:31 PM
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Re: Ralphie- perch potato anonymous

Amazons are social creators and they do much better when they are able to see and interact with the family. It is not uncommon for a Parrot to have a sleeping cage and a separate cage /activity area, which includes an eating drinking area that can include a play area that is only limited by your creativity.

Schedules: In truth, it's a balancing act between a random schedule and a rigid schedule. Thus, your Parrot becomes comfortable with the normal inconsistency of life.

I recommend that those who are working from home, between jobs or the caretaker of the home, assure that they are gone from time to time! Physically leaving the home for any number of reasons to allow the Parrot time alone.

FYI: Remember that your Amazon is following your emotions. So, don't hide them, be open, including talking to your Parrot about your feelings. May sound odd, but it will help your Amazon to understand that he is not 'the' why.
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