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Old 06-20-2018, 05:51 PM
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Ducorp's Cockatoo Fearful Behavior

Hello all,

I have a 4 year old ducorp's cockatoo named Willow who has been with me since he was 7 months old. Previously in the years past, Willow would willingly step up out of his cage, but starting last year, he has become quite reluctant to step up out of his cage. He used to also thoroughly enjoy cuddles and scritches, but refuses to have hands touch him anymore. However, he loves being out with the family and dance when he does decide to climb onto my shoulder (which is quite rare). I used to force him out of his cage to be with us, which I now realize is a huge no no, and is most likely responsible for the reluctance of leaving his cage. Below are typical daily behaviors for Willow:

• He talks through his cage, saying his favorite phrases

• He does not bite, but will lean down and gently nudge your finger away with his beak when asked to step up from his cage

• He will climb out of the cage, but refuses to leave it. When I leave the room, he screams for me to return (which I try to ignore, and re-enter when he quiets down). It seems apparent that he is fond of my attention. When I do re-enter the room, though, he immediately goes right back into his cage.

• He shows apprehension whenever a hand is placed too close to him, and attempts to flee unless a treat is offered

I have been working with him a few times a week, just sitting next to his cage with the door open, and allowing him to be in control of what he does. It just makes me so sad that I can't get him to be with me and hang out around the house anymore.

I don't want to force him to step up, and I don't want to force him to do anything he is uncomfortable doing. I just feel lost as to how I should approach this situation, as I read so much conflicting information online.

Willow was taken to the vet a few months ago and is completely healthy.

Any input is greatly appreciated, thanks!

Last edited by xchxse; 06-20-2018 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 06-20-2018, 05:56 PM
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Re: Ducorp's Cockatoo Fearful Behavior

It's bit late but.... puberty?
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Old 06-20-2018, 06:04 PM
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Re: Ducorp's Cockatoo Fearful Behavior

If this is the case, what can I do?
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Old 06-20-2018, 06:30 PM
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Re: Ducorp's Cockatoo Fearful Behavior

Doesn’t sound like puberty to me.

This should be easily fixed. You need to learn to target train Willow. It’s very easy, and target training can be used to help overcome a fear of stepping up.

While you work on this target training. The most immediate thing you can do is simply jackpot reward any step up. It’s one thing to offer a favorite treat, maybe an Almond. To jackpot reward, you offer a full fist full of almonds. The bird needs to feel like it has won the jackpot by stepping up. There truly is a difference in the way A bird would react to one treat versus a bunch of treats.

Every step up is a training session from now on and must be rewarded handsomely when it does happen. Keep treats with you at all times

Is this only happening around the cage or Candace happen anywhere in the house?
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Old 06-20-2018, 06:35 PM
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Re: Ducorp's Cockatoo Fearful Behavior

Quote: Originally Posted by chris-md View Post
Doesn’t sound like puberty to me.

This should be easily fixed. You need to learn to target train Willow. It’s very easy, and target training can be used to help overcome a fear of stepping up.

While you work on this target training. The most immediate thing you can do is simply jackpot reward any step up. It’s one thing to offer a favorite treat, maybe and Allmond. To jackpot reward, you offer a full fist full of almonds. The bird needs to feel like it has won the jackpot by stepping up

Every step up is a training session from now on and must be rewarded handsomely when it does happen. Keep treats with you at all times

Is this only happening around the cage or Candace happen anywhere in the house?
anywhere in the house, but primarily his cage. Sometimes when we're outside in a tree, he will step up for me. I work with him and target train, but he shows absolutely no interest in wanting to step up.

My primary concern is that I want to understand how to approach the situation. Do I let him make the calls? Or should I show just a tiny bit of assertion?

For instance, like right now as I'm typing this he is chatting up a storm and just climbed over to me and is sitting at the edge of my bed and is talking to me, but will back off as soon as he is near me.

By the way, I'm in the baltimore area!

Thanks

Last edited by xchxse; 06-20-2018 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 06-20-2018, 07:03 PM
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Re: Ducorp's Cockatoo Fearful Behavior

Hello fellow Marylander!

You’re approach is going to be about 20% forced, 80% trained for now. Forced only in the sense that there will simply be times you need her to do something now and don’t have time to work through it. It sounds like with her you have some leeway for minor coersion when needed. It’s not like she’s ripping your hand apart.

To use targeting, you simply target her in the direction of your hand. Eventually, target her onto the hand. More specifically, she will have to step onto your hand to touch the target.

Make sense?
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Old 06-20-2018, 07:08 PM
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Re: Ducorp's Cockatoo Fearful Behavior

Quote: Originally Posted by chris-md View Post
Hello fellow Marylander!

Youíre approach is going to be about 20% forced, 80% trained for now. Forced only in the sense that there will simply be times you need her to do something now and donít have time to work through it. It sounds like with her you have some leeway for minor coersion when needed. Itís not like sheís ripping your hand apart.

To use targeting, you simply target her in the direction of your hand. Eventually, target her onto the hand. More specifically, she will have to step onto your hand to touch the target.

Make sense?
Yeah that makes sense. The problem is, he does not want to leave the cage, and I have heard from many that you should not be sticking your hand in the cage, as it is their safe spot. However, I cannot get him to step up onto a perch outside of his cage. So should I just begin to target train to step up inside of his cage? What should I do if he begins to nudge me away? If I don't listen to him and respect his wishes I feel as though he will feel like I do not respect his boundaries, and am forcing him all over again.

Thanks
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Old 06-20-2018, 07:10 PM
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Re: Ducorp's Cockatoo Fearful Behavior

Two options:

More formally, you can target her out of the cage

More casually, you can sit with the door open and try to encourage her to come out at her own pace.
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Old 06-20-2018, 07:12 PM
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Re: Ducorp's Cockatoo Fearful Behavior

Gotcha. Thanks, I'll try this.
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Old 06-21-2018, 08:43 AM
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Re: Ducorp's Cockatoo Fearful Behavior

Great advice given from Chris...got a question for you, just out of curiosity...you said you got Willow very young and he used to be very cuddly and love being petted, etc. I'm just curious if something happened to Willow around the time that he just stopped liking physical contact? Or was he not given much attention for a time? Sometimes understanding the reason why the bird is afraid of hands, physical contact, etc. can help you fix the issue as well. It's one thing if the bird has never been tame, stepped-up, allowed being touched, etc., but most of the time when a bird just stops allowing all physical contact, there is a reason...and sometimes not...
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