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Old 01-27-2011, 05:18 PM
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Can someone translate U2 body language?

I have been allowed to live with a female Umbrella Cockatoo for the last 4 years. Her name is Baby and she is 23 years old. She's a wonderful and gentle companion, though incredibly loud. I am wondering if anyone could help me understand what some of her posturing means? Sometimes she'll stand on my lap for long periods and simply grind her beak. Is this a nervous thing, or is she content? Also, she tends to tap on things and people with her foot, sometimes forming a little "fist" with her toes and waving it back and forth, then going back to tapping. I would also like to understand more about what she's trying to tell me with her crest. Sometimes she will flap her wings and bounce up and down and crow at the top of her lungs, seemingly for no reason. She will continue doing it if we immitate her, but I don't want her to think we're being threatening. She is also utterly terrified of vacuum cleaners and guitars. She was 19 years old when we got her, having been passed around between approximately 5 other owners, so I have no idea what may have caused this. Is there any way to get her over these fears?

I've read that parrots should never be given alcohol, coffee, chocolate or avocado. However, Baby will nearly cause herself bodily injury trying to get to coffee or chocolate. Her former owner allowed her to have them, and I will give her small nibbles or sips in order to maintain some peace and safety. Should I stop this?

I thank you for any insights anyone can give me!
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Old 01-28-2011, 01:49 AM
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Re: Can someone translate U2 body language?

Well, I can only offer help with the beak grinding. Most parrots do this when they are content and feeling peaceful. Both of the parrots that I've owned have done this when they settle in for bed or if they are about to have a bit of a nap/be dozy sleepy for a bit. I'm sure that one was the least of your worries but its all I know!

my conure is TERRIFIED of brooms, like thrash around his cage terrified. I'm guessing he was chased with them before (I adopted him from a somewhat less than diligent owner). Perhaps she's had some bad experiences with the vacuum/guitar? Sometimes certain shapes/ things are just scary to some parrots. Charlie doesn't like us when we are in our winter coats, or wearing a hat, or if I am without my glasses. So it could just be a thing she doesn't like. You could try bringing a scary thing into the room and giving her a treat whenever she doesn't react. Then bring it closer and give her a treat. Move it away if she gets agitated and maybe over time she'll learn that they are OK. Or just don't have them around her too much if you can (we take charlie into another room when we sweep up around his cage).

I would think the coffee and chocolate are definite no-nos. Chocolate is really toxic to most animals and caffeine is really not good for them. Perhaps a vet can give you better advice (maybe if its crappy, low cocoa chocolate its not so terrible?). I would try not to drink/eat them around her if you can so that she doesn't go crazy when she sees them.
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Old 01-28-2011, 06:12 AM
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Re: Can someone translate U2 body language?

I agree with the beak grinding. It's a happy parrot sound.

Our RFM, Jade, "bonks" us from time to time, but she uses her beak not her foot. Our breeder told us that it's a sign of "ownership" to other members of the flock. Basically, "this is my mom so hands off!" I've noticed she does this if she's a bit miffed about not getting enough time with us or if we've spend more time with the other birds. I don't know if this is the same as Baby's foot stomping.

We fostered a U2 for a couple of months last summer so my experience with them is limited. I've heard that most like to dance and "sing" and that it's a happy thing. The 'too we fostered didn't do this much but he liked it when I would swing him.

He also really, really wanted to share our coffee. We never gave him any but I've known of people who would give their parrots small amounts. I'd also never give my birds alcohol, but my mother-in-law had a budgie when she was young that got sips of Lone Star beer every night.

So many animals are afraid of vacuums that it's not surprising that parrots are, too. I always vacuum while ours are in their cages and it still makes them nervous. A guitar may just be a sound and/or shape that's frightening to her.

I hope this helps.
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Old 01-28-2011, 06:40 AM
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Re: Can someone translate U2 body language?

Thank you so much for your insights! I wish there was a book out there somewhere or a video that could tell me what she's thinking!

Another thing she does is she will pound her beak on our knee or shoulder if she's standing on us. It doesn't seem aggressive in any way, just a thing she does. It can actually be a little painful if she goes on for a while!

We also have a little green-cheeked conure, Billy, who makes Baby crazy. She really does not like him. So we keep them apart. But they do tend to "talk" to each other from time to time from across the room. Baby gets very upset, though, when one of us is talking to the green birdie and she's not getting her attention!
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:15 AM
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Re: Can someone translate U2 body language?

Hi, I have an 17 year old M2 female named Sophie. All of these behaviors are pretty normal cockatoo. Mine loves to bounce up and down on a hand esp. to music with a good beat. She flips upside down and swings from our hands, and is deadly afraid of the vaccum cleaner monster. Most parrots grind their beaks just before they go to sleep. Sophie also loves chocolate and will stick her tongue into my glass trying to drink my chocolate milk. She loves it and I have to fight her to keep her head out of my glass! I think that her previous owners let her have chocolate also. I keep her away from it because it is suppose to be toxic to birds.
Have fun with your bird! Lesley

Last edited by Lesleybird; 03-17-2011 at 01:20 AM.
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