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Old 10-01-2015, 07:15 PM
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Female Eclectus... Limited potential???

Hi all, I am new here and really looking forward to the insight of others who know what its like living with a parrot !
Heres my story, Ill try to make it short and spare you the dramatics.
Two and a half years ago I adopted a female Eclectus who I named Coco. She was 4 years old at the time and had a long history of being nasty and aggessive. When I went to pick her up her owners were obviously afraid of her. They were her 2nd home. Her first home had given her up because she developed a terrible habit of biting, HARD. Her 2nd home thought they could handle it. They couldnt and thats where I came in. While I had no formal training as a bird trainer I really connect with birds and I thought I could make it work. She got me good a few times in the beginning but two and a half years later shes so much improved and the love of my life LOL. She will step up onto my arm 99% of the time when I say step up. If she doesnt look into it, Ill just leave her alone. She can be nasty when she thinks shes found a good place to nest and you try to pick her up from that place. She isnt cuddly or affectionate but I know she knows me and enjoys coming out and being a part of my daily routine. I radically changed her diet when I adopted her . Shes a great eater and eats a full bowl of fresh fruits and vegetables every single day. She eats pellets and a dried fruit and nut mix. No sunflower or other seeds. After a year on that diet she looked COMPLETELY different. The vet says shes one of the best feathered Eclectus hes seen. MY QUESTION IS: Shes un-predictable and difficult to read sometimes. When do I know when to stop pushing and when to accept her for who she is? Id love for her to enjoy petting , or step onto my hand. ( she steps up great but only steps onto your fore- arm ) What else can I do to break down that physical barrier that makes her be so defensive over herself?
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Old 10-02-2015, 12:40 AM
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Re: Female Eclectus... Limited potential???

Hi FlyingFreeNJ and welcome to the forum. Like you I have no training in parrots (my two are the first parrots I have had, my main pets have been dogs, and I soon learned training a bird was nothing like training a dog...lol).

Your story is great, I am so glad to hear that Coco is doing so well. Her story reminds me of my two, Pebbles was the hardest to settle, but Gizmo is the hardest sometimes to predict.

Gizmo reminded me last week that old habits die hard. He got caught in my wife's hair, he wasn't scared, but I stupidly rushed in without reading the situation, he was fine, I was bleeding and had some flesh peeled back from above my finger nail (boy did it hurt, but it is the first time he has actually broken the skin, so I guess he is not a bad biter). His reaction appeared to be more of a learned response than any state of fear. Gizmo was very much a biter when we got him, but he has been very good for well over a year now. Last week reminded me that persistence pays off, but I need to remember that he will probably always carry with him the habit to bite.

Gizmo and Pebbles are not very cuddly, and from what I have read this is not unusual for Eclectus parrots, but I have been working with them to try to be able to be held, should I need to (medical emergency, etc). What I found worked for me, is distraction, I would feed them there favorite treat, and while they are chewing on it, make some contact. Initially Pebbles would fly away, and Gizmo would look at me with a squint as if to say "what do you think your doing,...do that one more time and see what happens", but now with both I can put my hand over them and hold them down, with her I can grab her wing and begin to open it just a bit (still a work in progress), with him, I can touch his wings, and his stomach, but not his stomach without food.

Obviously this has been a very slow road, and it sounds like you have a similar approach of not pushing too hard. For me, I tend to feel that learning is a two way street, I try to teach Pebbles and Gizmo to trust me and what is acceptable behavior, and they try to teach me that they have independent personalities and some things annoy them. If I think it is something that could effect their safety or health I work on it, but if it's not I tend to think that's part of what makes them who they are.

Gizmo was one to bite if you put your hand out to have him step up, and there are certain times when I just instinctively know to offer my elbow instead of my hand. Again for me, although I have not completely broken this habit, the technique I used when I first started trying to break the habit, was to having him eating his treat when I offered my hand, so it was a case of reward him for something, and as he is eating the reward, present my hand and say step up, when he stepped up, it was all praise and then another reward.

Again I would not consider myself good at training, but at least for Pebbles and Gizmo, they do seem less likely to resist contact and far less likely to bite when they are eating there treat, so perhaps that's worth a try.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Old 10-02-2015, 04:38 PM
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Re: Female Eclectus... Limited potential???

I also have a female eclectus and much of what you say is familiar. She is not cuddly and I have scars all over my hands from "the early days." I don't hold her by hand at all now - only move her by letting her sit on a stick that I move. I don't let her sit on my shoulder after she bit my lip and I had scar tissue there for years. I would never get another parrot because she is hard to enjoy - sometimes it just seems like all work and no fun, although she is beautiful and we've had more than a decade together.
When my job was transferred to Europe for two years, I could not find a way to get her into Italy that would insure her safe arrival. I didn't want to rush to find her a home by the time I found out I couldn't just throw money at the problem of getting her to Europe safely - I feel responsible for her and I didn't want to place her without vetting someone well. Instead, she was boarded at a parrot farm with which she was already familiar.
When I returned, I had decided not to take her back - to adopt her out, to throw money at the best home situation I could find for her. I couldn't go back to the incessant screaming, the bloodied hands, and the fact that most of my family hates her so she must be left at home when we visit them. But the man who owns the parrot farm convinced me to give her another chance.
She has been better since our time apart. She is less aggressive, less territorial and she generally seems more contented. She still screams incessantly at nightfall. She definitely remembered us and wants to engage us at times, although not often. I'm told she is through puberty, which might account for her less aggressive behavior.
But the owner of the bird farm also blames me. He said I talk with my hands too much and I'm too quick with my movements. I don't know why my husband didn't get any of the blame - he has scars too from the bird bites. I try not to talk with my hands around her. We also no longer take her out with us for walks or drives, so she sits in the house or on the porch most days, but it was often getting her in and out of the carrier when she nailed us with her giant flesh-scooping beak. (Back in the day, we used to take her to New York City all the time, Cape Cod, she was a huge hit at the neighborhood pub...she was even in the National Cathedral and some very swank restaurants! She seemed to love it at the time, but I started thinking too much excitement made her more unpredictable so now she stays home.) It pains me to see her there all day doing nothing, but she's not one to play with toys, she only engages in talking on occasion, and I have no idea how else to engage this bird. I talk to her all day, I whistle to her, I play music and bird calls... She absolutely comes alive when there's a house full of people, but we are just two so that is a rare occasion also.
This is not my idea of a happy situation for her, but she's my responsibility and I want to live up to it. I guess I wrote all this so you know you might get some relief when she's a little older, but she might never be like those adorable YouTube videos of parrots dancing or talking up a storm. I did my homework - I remember liking the idea of an eclectus because the books said they were more independent than other parrots and less prone to feather plucking with change of environment. But she's a little like having a fish - lovely to look at, but you can't really touch or engage much with her.
Good luck with your girl. Please post an update with your progress.
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Old 10-02-2015, 05:57 PM
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Re: Female Eclectus... Limited potential???

You've done a wonderful job with Coco, and probably saved her from an early demise. My sole female Eclectus experience is with Angel, a Vosmaeri roughly 26 years old.

We got her as a nearly weaned baby, and she hated females from the start. (breeder was a friend of my mom who has very extensive hand-feeding experience) To this day I am the only person Angel likes, and she can be quite cuddly. While she will not bite me, Ekkies in general can be challenging to read. While you have not necessarily reached a plateau in the relationship, they can be aloof and moody.

Coco's personality is probably largely settled, particularly as her nutrition and basic safety needs are well met. Patient and steady progress may be possible. You'll probably know if you are pushing too hard - that's what beaks are for!!
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Old 10-02-2015, 07:38 PM
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Re: Female Eclectus... Limited potential???

Welcome to the forum, FlyingFreeNJ!

My approach with training is to gently push boundaries somewhat regularly. I challenge my ekkies, and take them a bit outside of their comfort zones. The trick is to know them enough that you're not taking them too far outside of their zones all at once.

When we first got Bixby, he could be rather nippy. But I worked with him on bite pressure training and communicating his likes and dislikes in a less painful manner, and he eventually got to the point where he never gave anything worse than a playful nibble.


He could be trusted, no matter what we were doing with him.


When Maya came to us, she had her moments where she would get moody. ESPECIALLY if she felt like her balance was being threatened in any way. She is obviously well past that fear, now.


Though she is, admittedly, very much still a work in progress for my wife. But she'll get there.

Jolly, on the other hand, came to us already bite pressure trained. He's a complete sweetheart who can be trusted with even my 4 year old. But I can use him to address another of your questions.


Jolly's bite pressure training begins to fail him once he starts getting sleepy. He begins to gnaw on each finger and does so with increasing pressure. Never to the point of breaking skin, but less than comfortable.

This would be an example of a behavior that I accept as a part of him. He's simply tired and can't be bothered with being careful. So my response? Put him to bed. Even if he thinks he doesn't want to go. (Very much like my boys. Lol)

So yes, there are things that we should just accept. And some bites that can be avoided by simply respecting their wants and preferences. But much like when dealing with children, there are other behaviors that must be addressed.
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Old 10-03-2015, 01:07 AM
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Re: Female Eclectus... Limited potential???

They can be a bit unpredictable, Tyler my male Ekkie, never bites me, well not intentionally. He gets playing and we both go for the toy and I accidentally get bit.
But he only under a year old. So habits are forming, good ones though.

Tyler can kiss on the beak, be flipped on his back and tummy rubbed. He'll sleep on your chest like that too.

I have seen ekkies though ( male and especially females) be very unpredictable.
One very nice looking Female has returned to the rescue now for the 4th time to be rehomed. She is 9yrs old, quite a suburb talker, and will take a finger off without warning.
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Old 10-04-2015, 09:49 AM
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Re: Female Eclectus... Limited potential???

Quote: Originally Posted by StacysVictim View Post
I also have a female eclectus and much of what you say is familiar. She is not cuddly and I have scars all over my hands from "the early days." I don't hold her by hand at all now - only move her by letting her sit on a stick that I move. I don't let her sit on my shoulder after she bit my lip and I had scar tissue there for years. I would never get another parrot because she is hard to enjoy - sometimes it just seems like all work and no fun, although she is beautiful and we've had more than a decade together....

This is not my idea of a happy situation for her, but she's my responsibility and I want to live up to it. I guess I wrote all this so you know you might get some relief when she's a little older, but she might never be like those adorable YouTube videos of parrots dancing or talking up a storm. I did my homework - I remember liking the idea of an eclectus because the books said they were more independent than other parrots and less prone to feather plucking with change of environment. But she's a little like having a fish - lovely to look at, but you can't really touch or engage much with her.
Good luck with your girl. Please post an update with your progress.
Hi, StacysVictim. (I think my heart went out to you and your situation from the moment that I read your username.)

I've quoted parts of your post because I wanted to address some of what you are going through.

First off, some birds are definitely tougher nuts to crack than others. And your girl sounds like quite a challenge. So I commend you for hanging in there when it seems as though she's taken the joy out of parrots for you.

The thing is, parrots tend to be quite empathetic. They can pick up on frustration, fear, and even resignation. And, to a large degree, base their behaviors upon what they are perceiving from you. And the fact is, your behavior is just as much a mystery to her as hers is to you. Many view parrots as small feathered children, but that just isn't so. Depending on the extent to which they have adjusted to us and our "baffling" behaviors, they may even appear to fit within that mold, but they actually see the world far differently than we do.

For them, body language is far more important. They can communicate far more effectively with how they move than we do. And sometimes bites are simply expressions of frustration. Their last ditch effort to express something yo you that they felt they were broadcasting loud and clear... with neon signs.

But we, as human beings, simply miss much of this communication. Even those among us who consider ourselves relatively adept at reading birds' body language are likely just seeing the tip of the iceberg. And I think it's important to understand this.

So how do we communicate with our birds? We have to find common ground. And, as disparate as our methods of communication and ways of perceiving things are, we share the ability to learn through association. But teaching through association takes consistency and persistence, as well as accounting for the fact that the seeming intransigence of a bird may simply be their lack of understanding of exactly what it is that we want.

I know you've been with her for 10 years. That is a lot of ingrained and habitual behavior to overcome. But no parrot is ever too old to learn.

Now don't get me wrong. You're right in some of what you said. Not every bird is going to become a big ball of mush. Some just aren't wired that way. But if you think of it, the same holds true of people, too. We're not all cuddly, either. And that must be taken into account.

There is, however, a certain level of interaction and communication that should be established between the two of you. Don't give up on her bite pressure training. And don't give up on finding the cause of her biting. Expecting a cuddle - bug may not be quite realistic, but you should be able to have a reliable step-up (away from the cage, at least) and some degree of interaction.

Having a bird should not feel like having a fish, and you shouldn't feel like your relationship with her is all work. There is work, certainly, but the joy taken from the relationship should make it all worthwhile. But you sound like you're just pushing forward on sheer willpower.

If you stop attempting to make that breakthrough, and if you stop all handling of a bird, said bird will just become feral. You need to interact. Daily. And you'd have to go back to basics. I do think it can be done. It might take time, but I'm confident you could turn things around.

Oh, and as for what you'd read about eclectus, it was half right. They do indeed tend to be more independent, but they are actually more prone to plucking. Not less.

I hope this helps, some.
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Old 10-08-2016, 02:41 AM
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Re: Female Eclectus... Limited potential???

Hi Anansi, Thank you (belatedly) for your heartfelt and kind post about Stacy. I'm afraid we are in a real jam and have come to the end of the line.
She used to really like baths. Because I needed to get in a full day of work two weeks ago and baths usually calm her for a few hours, I tried to bathe her first thing in the morning. She flew out of the bath, I tried to collect her with the perch and she bit my finger on three sides. I bleed everywhere and could not bend it for two days. It is still scabbed and painful. It totally reminded me how unbelievably painful interacting with my bird is. I went to my job interview unable to bend my bandaged finger, which made the writing test awkward. I did not get the job. I cannot even for a second imagine bite pressure training her. I might as well test the sockets with my bare hands to see if they're working. I can't do it. I am simply too afraid.
I am done. She is done. We are done. I have contacted two local rescues, both of which discuss on their websites how dedicated they are to finding homes for parrots. Neither replied to my emails. Stacy's life is compromised, as are ours. None of us is happy, particularly my dog, who seems unable to tolerate her screaming and the tension a full day of screaming causes in us. It is a disaster because on top of being frustrated by her screaming, the dog is terrified and cannot hold his bowels so the entire situation is rife with ugly. I am being unfair to the dog and the parrot now.
To top off the disaster, the two respites we sometimes got the baths, which are out of the question now, and putting her on a big perch on our beautiful screened porch where she could survey a big green yard, see other birds and animals and chill. However, I noticed a hawk in a nearby tree the other day, so now she can't even enjoy that without fear she will get eaten. Well, she fears it. I don't always fear it, to tell you the truth, but just the same, she's indoors until further notice.
I am quite desperate to find her new accommodations as the dog's life is much shorter and he's now as miserable as we are. I feel guilty about the parrot, but it's just not possible to make it work. Sometimes I can hardly tolerate her, so I know it's the end of the line.
To my credit, this is why I never had children.
Yes, I am sure she reads my reactions very well. I am sure she is frustrated with me. I am sure she would give anything for another try with someone who knows what to do with her. I am sure I have caused this with my inability to make her life better or understand her. Unfortunately, I'm incapable.
But I appreciate your encouragement. I am just sorry we can't make use of it. If you know of a rescue that will answer their phone, please let me know. I am willing to pay for her care and fly or drive her anywhere that will do the right thing by her.
Thanks again for your help.
Stacys Victim
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Old 10-08-2016, 08:31 AM
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Re: Female Eclectus... Limited potential???

What part of the world are you in?
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Old 10-08-2016, 10:35 AM
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Re: Female Eclectus... Limited potential???

I am so sorry that the situation with Stacy has gotten to this point. But yes, if you are at the point where you feel like you are done, rehoming likely is the best option. As David asked, where do you live? Country? Town/city? Then maybe we can try pointing you in the right direction. Or maybe one of the members here might even be interested in adopting her.
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