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Old 09-01-2013, 07:09 PM
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Question Body language

I recently started a full-time babysitting job and the family has a pet macaw. I've never really been around birds before and I'm interested in a lot of her body language, and what it all means. The bird is named Lucy. She seems very protective of the family, she threatens to bite anyone that's not the mother. Aside from that, though, she seems to like attention. When she hears/sees me in the room, she squawks really loudly, I'm guessing it's to get my attention. If I go over to the cage and look at her or talk to her, she stops squawking. Sometime she'll just turn her head sideways to look at me. I read somewhere that if their pupils dilate it means they're ready to attack. Her pupils don't dilate when she looks at me, though, they actually sometimes get smaller. Usually if I talk to her, she'll talk back. Each time I'm at the house, she has more and more things to say. At first it was only "hello," but on different occasions over the past couple of weeks she's said "hello, goodbye, goodnight, hi, hahaha, how are you," and for the first time this morning, "i love you". Does her growing vocabulary mean that she's becoming more comfortable around me? She's also recently started taking treats from my hand without threatening to bite. Another thing that she does is sort of bob her head while looking at me. She'll do it once or twice and then stare at me until I react, then she'll do it again. Sometimes she'll even start "dancing," sort of rocking her body side to side. Some noises she's made include tongue clicking and a sort of cooing noise. That's all the body language/noises from Lucy that I can really think of right now. If someone could help me figure out what it all means and how she feels about me, I would be very grateful. I'm just very interested as I love animals and I've never really associated with birds before.
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Old 09-01-2013, 08:57 PM
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Re: Body language

It seems that the bird is taken with you because you have given her attention. From what you have described, I think she is regurgitating which is the highest compliment a bird can give. Since the mother is one of her favorite persons as well as you, it seems Lucy prefers women. You are doing well with the bird because macaws are quite possessive and protective of their mate which would be the mother in this case. Enjoy the time spent with the bird but don't totally trust it. Birds can bite without provocation, but do watch for the dialating pupils which we call pinning as a signal of excitement and never know what a bird will do in that state.
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Old 09-01-2013, 10:58 PM
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Re: Body language

Macaws like to head bob, and that's not the same as regurgitating. She may be screaming because you are new and different and stops screaming because you are now close to her..... or it could be because she has learned to scream for attention.


Have you talked with the owner(s) about Lucy's behavior?
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Old 09-02-2013, 01:31 PM
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Re: Body language

Thank you both for the help. I haven't talked to the mother about her behavior, but I will when I get the chance. I've noticed a huge difference in how she acts around me and how she acts around other strangers - specifically a friend that the daughter had at the house today. When the little girls were near the cage, Lucy would stomp her feet and puff out her feathers. If someone further approached the cage, she would open her wings and charge at the child with her mouth open. If the kids weren't in her sight, though, then she was fine. I heard somewhere that birds can sense fear. If this is true, then that would explain a lot. I'm not afraid of Lucy at all but the children are terrified of her. Thanks again for the help
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Old 09-02-2013, 01:41 PM
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Re: Body language

She likes you from what you described above! They bluff often to scare strangers away from your latest description. Willie whom we've had for 10 years, he will take treats from my partner but will not let my partner get close to his cage otherwise, he does the exact same thing. It's been going on for 10 years, I've tried bringing them close to one another but it's not working so I give up long ago.
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