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Old 03-13-2018, 08:51 AM
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New owner questions!

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Hey there,

After enjoying our green cheek conure for the last few years, we had been looking into adopting something bigger. Friends that manage a parrot hotel gave us the opportunity to adopt a 3yo eclectus named Jos, who's previous owner was moving and sadly couldn't take the bird with him.

Jos has been with us now for four days and we are just getting to know each other and obviously testing boundaries. The people from the hotel said he was really quiet and loving and we can definitely confirm the second part...the first part, not so much. Jos has been talking non stop during the day and has a wonderful vocabulary, we've already been teaching him new words and we love how fast he learns. However, in the morning he makes quite a tantrum when he notices someone is awake. (high pitched squeal and squawking)

SCREAMING

The noises in the morning stop when he get's to come out of his cage. However, we don't want him to associate being loud with getting what he wants. So after saying goodmorning to both birds, we ignore him for a bit until he gets quiet for a second and then take him out. Is this the way to go?

DIET

In the hotel Jos was living on a diet of nutriberries. Since he moved in with us, we changed his diet to vegetables (corn, cherry tomatoes, chilli pepper, bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, some fruit topped with chia or sesame seeds) twice a day, supplemented with a few harrisons pellets. Nutriberrys are kept for treats only. After reading more thoroughly on eclectus diets, we will be changing this more towards chop and beans.
I read a couple of posts about giving seed during the day,... what seeds are we talking about?

BEHAVIOUR

From day 2, he started showing some weird behaviour and we are just wondering what he is trying to tell us? When he is not getting our full attention he does the following: he leans forward, bends a bit over, spreads his tail and wiggles his closed wings, all the while keeping them close to his body. He seems to do this to get attention, or is he just horny?
I checked the forum search function and found some posts describing this behaviour, but somehow those topics always turn into a discussion about diet/food. To us it looks more like he actively chooses to do this, rather than it being uncontrolled behaviour like the toe tapping and wing flinging we read about. (i'll try to get some video of him doing this and upload in a comment)

He's displaying mating behavior towards my girlfriend. He wants to masturbate ON her. When she's in the room he wants to be with her.
Luckily we recognised this right away and prevent him from doing "it" or immediately interrupt it. But we're worried that we might end up with a really frustrated bird. How can we distract him towards masturbating on a toy or object rather than an owner?

Jos is very clingy and doesnt know how toys work, so we are trying to teach him to play independently on his playstand and cage by teaching him to forage.

FLIGHT

His wings have been clipped his whole life, so he never learned to fly. We are seriously considering of letting his flight feathers grow out to see how he does when he can fly. Especially since our conure is a very good flyer and definitely enjoys flying around the house to get rid of her energy. We do need to consider that we live in an apartment and Jos is approximately 10X larger than Pookie :') Not to mention he will most likely be a terrible flyer in the beginning so this will be risky. Any thoughts?


Jos destroying some cardboard paper towel roll after finding the sunflower seed inside
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Old 03-13-2018, 03:46 PM
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Re: New owner questions!

screaming i will address due to Max all of a sudden thinks the more
noise he is making the better, till let out of his house then just a little while he is exploring and playing. i only cover the top part of his cage and now he has gotten to where he can go to a lower perch and the floor and still make plenty of noise. so i covered the whole cage, cept a little space where he can watch TV and the screaming has stopped for the night anyway. that is just something you will figure out as you go as the old leaving the room thing did not work to good today took a good half an hour for him to quiet so not so sure that will work for all. looks close to the age of Max which is now 2yrs old. your fella sure looks to be in tip top shape fro the pic

Flight Max has just started to fly after his 1 and only wing clip and he started off clumsy as heck always crashing to a point i was worrying about him getting hurt. he is getting better control, at least when he crashes now he always hangs on to what he crashed into.

just read the forums you will find all the answers you need lots of great folks here with great birdsince, lol
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Old 03-13-2018, 07:31 PM
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Re: New owner questions!

I'm half asleep at the moment lol so I can only concentrate on a couple of things so here's my 2c

Quote: Originally Posted by kinma View Post

I read a couple of posts about giving seed during the day,... what seeds are we talking about?
I have an "eclectus" mix you get in Australia that has a bunch of stuff, but it has a lot of the 'normal' seeds (sunflower, millet, pumpkin, sesame, peanuts, almonds) - and I think they're OK, but I feed it like junk food - a small amount occasionally. I'll either mix it with pellets, or I might choose a random day to shove millet in her foraging toys. She often doesn't eat it all any way.

Quote: Originally Posted by kinma View Post

From day 2, he started showing some weird behaviour and we are just wondering what he is trying to tell us? When he is not getting our full attention he does the following: he leans forward, bends a bit over, spreads his tail and wiggles his closed wings, all the while keeping them close to his body. He seems to do this to get attention, or is he just horny?
Since you mentioned he's clipped - his pointing and quivering sounds like "begging", which is where they are trying to tell you they want to go somewhere. If it's towards you that's often them trying to say "come pick me up!"

My girl is flighted so I haven't had this but she often "points" where she wants to go before takeoff.

Quote: Originally Posted by kinma View Post

His wings have been clipped his whole life, so he never learned to fly. We are seriously considering of letting his flight feathers grow out to see how he does when he can fly. ... Any thoughts?
If you grow out his wings you can keep him in a smaller room with the windows covered. This will reduce how fast he can get before he lands/crashes and reduces the chance of injury.
Most birds have had their wings fully grown at one point (most breeders let their birds learn to fly before clipping) so while he will crash a bit while he gets the hang of everything, he will pick up the layout of the room fast. When he seems comfortable you can slowly open up the rest of the apartment.

Hope that helps somewhat. And welcome to the world of eckies. They're certainly... er... interesting birds. (But wonderful, if mine is anything to go by)

*Said watching her eckie savagely attacking a pinecone *
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Old 03-13-2018, 08:23 PM
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Re: New owner questions!

Hello, and welcome to the Parrot Forums family! And congratulations, of course, on the latest addition to your flock! He's beautiful!

Okay, I'll break down my thoughts and suggestions in the way you have your questions.

Screaming: I think you are handling this quite well. You may just be using the word "second" as a phrase in lieu of saying "moment", but if not I'd really advise that you wait until he's quiet for a handful of seconds before going to let him out. Great instinct on that strategy.

Diet: I often do two things when asked about diet. 1) I suggest that you go to this site: fruitandveg and go through every nook and cranny. That is the definitive ekkie diet bible.

2) paste my own dietary menu for my ekkies. This is subtly updated from time to time to reflect what I currently feed to Maya and Jolly: I tend to provide between 6 and 12 types of food per feeding (2 meals per day), weighted heavily toward the veggie side as only 2 of the food selections in a given meal are fruits.
Various sprouts, carrots (a part of every meal due to the high content of beta carotene - precursor to Vitamin A), bell peppers (red, yellow, orange and green), jalapeno peppers, Jamaican Scotch bonnet peppers, chili peppers, squash (butternut, green and yellow), pumpkin (also high in Vitamin A), blueberries and pomegranates (both among the most nutritious of fruits), snap peas, broccoli (high in calcium), cactus pears, persimmon, starfruit, bananas, grapes, kale, turnips, radishes, brown rice, quinoa, cucumbers, endives, dandelion (nutritional powerhouse offered at every meal), sweet potato (cooked), red swiss chard, granny smith apples, papaya, African horned melon, hominy, oatmeal (sans sugar or flavoring), kiwi, barley, calendula flowers, fennel, chocho beans and garbanzo beans, as well as Volkman's Fancy Soak and Simmer for the majority of their legumes and grains.

For food accents I'll add one or two types of the following as well: star anise, milk thistle, elder berries, rose hips, hibiscus, bee pollen and chamomile flowers.

Twice a month, I'll give small portions of hard-boiled egg (with the crushed shell for calcium). Slightly more frequently during a molt.

For their training treats they get an assortment of unsalted nuts (one or two per bird in a given day, broken into small pieces and fed as rewards through the training sessions). And for their "goodnight treat", up to a teaspoon or two of seeds.

I'll also mention that I personally stay away from pellets for my ekkies, as most brands were not formulated with eclectus parrots in mind. Ekkies have digestive tracts that are more efficient than most parrots, which means they will extract more nutrition from a given food. So the enrichment that is so good for other parrots tends to be too rich for eclectus parrots, causing an overdoes which can lead to toe-tapping or wing-flipping. (TT & WF can also be caused by other things such as calcium deficiency)

Some members claim to have found pellets that do work for their ekkies, but since I can provide the nutrition they need with a diet of fresh foods, why risk it? My personal take.

Behavior: I know that behavior well. That's his eagerness to get to you showing. My birds do that in two instances: when I enter their field of vision and they are anxious to come out with me and play, and at either breakfast or dinner time when they can't wait for me to finish serving out their food. Completely natural behavior and a far cry from toe-tapping/wing-flipping.

As for the sexual behavior, just make sure to remember that he is only engaging in natural behavior. So he should never be "punished". Don't treat it the same way you would other behaviors. Don't put him on a "hard" timeout. Opt instead to put him on a nearby play or tree stand for a few minutes to cool off. And if he's just in a state where he stays in the mood, you'll want to keep the interactions with him a bit less up close and personal for the day (or week, if he's having a particularly strong case of hormones). Perhaps some targeting drills and such?

Of course, if his frustration ever leads him to nip or bite, then you tell him "No" in a firm, even voice and put him on a regular timeout. Why? Because you are "punishing" the aggressive behavior rather than the call of his hormones.

A good way to avoid this behavior, though, is through physical exertion. Flight drills with a flighted bird does wonders in this regard. Or targeting and foraging activities with a non-flighted bird. A spent bird is a calm bird.

Flight: I personally never clip. There are just so many health benefits to a flighted bird, and they find such joy in flight. Now as you mentioned, there can be dangers in flight for a bird that has never learned the necessary skills. But these skills can be mitigated by controlling the surroundings.

First thing you want to do is to purchase two adjustable height training perches and set them up inside a small room in your apartment. Then work on his targeting from one perch to another. At this point they should be no more than maybe 3 inches apart. Reward him with his favorite treat and lavish praise every time that he walks from one perch to the other on command. Keep the training sessions relatively short. Between 5 and 20 minutes, depending on his attention span. Never ago until he tires of the game and stops participating. It's like that old military adage, "Never give an order you're not sure your troops will follow."

Once he is doing this reliably, increase the distance a bit so that he has to take a more exaggerated step. Again, treat and praise with every success. (Make sure you're only using bite-sized pieces so that he doesn't fill up.)

The next step, again once he's targeting at the bigger distance reliably, is to increase the distance to the point he needs to take a little hop to cross the distance. Wash, rinse, repeat. Then increase to the point he needs to flap his wings a little to cross the gap. (Everything up to this point you can do with him even now as a clipped bird. After this, only go as far as he can reach given his limitations. ***IMPORTANT*** Do not push him farther than he is capable of doing. A scare at this point could severely set back flight training)

Once his flights grow out, you can take it to the next level where he has to flap several times and then into full flight. Keep doing this, gradually increasing the distance until he can fly the length of the room without hesitation. Then start mixing it up. (This is where the adjustable height perches come into play.) Have him fly from a higher elevation to a lower. Then, as he gains strength, from a lower elevation to a higher one. These are important skills to develop, as many birds who escape don't return because they simply don't have the skill set to fly back down.

Once your bird has mastered every conceivable angle in that room: straight across, at a diagonal approach, high to low and low to high, he'll be ready to start training in the rest of your apartment. In preparation for this, you want to take him around every single place in your home. (You can start this waaaaaaay before his flights grow in.) Touch his beak to every window and mirrored surface. Do this repeatedly to teach him the concept of glass and mirrors. Most people close curtains or blinds to ensure their birds know not to fly that way. But it's good to teach your bird these things just in case. My birds know glass and Jolly can reliably navigate my entire home regardless of whether the curtains are open or closed. (Maya was clipped before I got her, before she even had the chance to fledge, and as a result refuses to fly.)

Hopefully the time will come that he's flying about with Pookie.
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Old 03-13-2018, 08:42 PM
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Re: New owner questions!

Oh, and here's a great video on indoor flight:

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Old 03-13-2018, 10:41 PM
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Re: New owner questions!

Thank you for taking in this absolutely handsome boy. And it looks like you just barely missed puberty too. Lucky

I've got not much to add, everyone above covered it all. The only shading I would add is around the flight. What you find with larger birds is that they more often prefer to walk rather than fly...lazy things. Especially ekkies, who as you have observed first hand, are stoner perch potatoes. Just wanna relax, barely glancing at their toys!

And with a bird who may not have ever even fledged correctly, you'll really have to work hard to encourage it. I've gone through this exact thing with my boy, a plucker who only ever flew when startled and crashed landed when he did fly. The crashes were terrifying so I took to flight training him to teach him he basics.

Stephen described it above - use targeting as a means to get the bird to move around, then move between two objects (you can use perches, back of chairs, off your countertop to your hand, get creative) that separate over greater and greater distances. This method teaches them the nuances of taking off and landing in a very controlled manner over readily achievable stages.
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Old 03-15-2018, 04:19 PM
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Re: New owner questions!

Welcome to you and Jos! You've received some excellent advice from everyone so far, so there's not much for me to contribute But I will look forward to hopefully seeing more of Jos and reading about your progress together!
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