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Old 06-12-2020, 03:54 PM
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Greetings and Questions from a new Meyer's Owner

Hi everyone! I brought home a new baby Meyer's parrot, Penumbra Pen, a.k.a. Pen Pen, the last week of April, and the two of us have taken to each other in the weeks since. I've done a decent amount of reading, both elsewhere and on these forums, but with a little time and experience under my belt, I now have a couple questions I figured would be best to address to the forums. Thanks in advance for any help/advice!

Cage Arrangement:
- I've read that toys should be rotated to keep your bird engaged; does this also apply to perches? The first couple of times I cleaned Pen Pen's cage, I moved around the perches as I'd acquired a few more than when we came home, and also had better insight into possible arrangements. It's possible this caused some distress (it seemed less food was consumed for a day or two); in general, should perch location remain mostly fixed?

Pooping:
- After the first week or so, Pen Pen began to poop almost exclusively out of the cage. I don't believe I did anything to encourage this, but it does give me some concern that the first poop of the day doesn't come until ze's out of the cage, and is often 2-3g (Pen Pen's weight seems to average around 107g). Is there any particular way to encourage in-cage pooping? Also, is this a cause for concern, or this just a personality trait I should learn to live with?
- Relatedly, I probably end up being the recipient of that first poop 30-40% of the time. While I do immediately clean my shirt, I don't always change it immediately, and on occasion Pen Pen will lick/nibble the stained area. I assume this isn't ideal, but just how bad/potentially dangerous might this be?

Cleaning:
- I understand birds can be particularly sensitive to cleaning products, and should not be exposed to any number of potential irritants. Given that I live in a 3 floor split-level, with the Pen Pen housed on the top floor, is it possible to use some cleaning products in, say, the basement, so long as the bird doesn't visit downstairs for 24 hours? Or is the danger so great that such products should be avoided entirely?

Head Bobbing:
- I understand that this behavior, when seen in adults, suggests sexual attraction/perception of a human as a mate, and is to be discouraged. However, since Pen Pen is only 5 months old (and I've read won't read sexual maturity until 2 years of age), is witnessing this behavior now a problem? It often comes after a few minutes of scritches (I am very careful not to touch anywhere but beak/head/neck/feet), or during/after training. I often use parts of peas as rewards for training, and on a couple of occasions Pen Pen has regurgitated a slight amount. My understanding is that this behavior usually just indicates happiness or hunger in children, but I want to make sure I'm not habitualizing troublesome behavior.

"Negative" Reinforcement:
- Like many pois, Pen Pen loves to put things in zir's mouth, particularly my fingers. Generally, this is light and playful, but occasionally Pen Pen will bite a little too hard. My understanding is that one of the best ways to discourage this in a healthy fashion is simply to place the bird on a perch and turn your back/ignore them for a minute or two. My problem lies in the fact that Pen Pen is mostly flighted and manages to find zir's way back to my shoulder moments after I've turned around, making it particularly difficult to "ignore" zir. Any advice/alternatives to achieve a similar effect?

Quality Time:
- One of the reasons I was drawn to the Meyer's species is that, like most pois, I read that they were more independent than most and required less personal/out of cage attention than some other species. That said, Pen Pen seems to buck this trend, as ze will often hop around the cage, practically frantic, when I enter the room, chirping to come out. Given covid-19 and sheltering in place, I've had the time and inclination to spend more time with the bird than I may be able to in the future, once schedules begin to more resemble what they were before, and I'm wondering if I should try to limit time now so as not to set unrealistic expectations for later.


Sorry for the massive info dump, and much appreciation for anyone who makes it to the end, particularly those who have any insight to share on any of the above. In general, I'm very happy with the decision to bring Pen Pen home, and we've definitely bonded significantly already; knowing how long parrots live, I just want to make sure I avoid doing anything now that will cause problems in the future. Best to all!

P.S. For photos, check out instagram.com/penumbra_pen

P.P.S. I have yet to take Pen Pen to the vet (making a first visit soon) and as a result, have yet to get zir sexed, thus the ze/zir pronouns.
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Old 06-13-2020, 08:56 AM
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Re: Greetings and Questions from a new Meyer's Owner

Cage Arrangement
It's honestly not a bad idea to rearrange the cage every now and then. It helps them get used to change. Change is good! If they are stuck in a routine, you can have difficulty breaking them of a change in routine... so keep things changing!


Pooping
Could very well be a personality thing! *MOST* birds will poop inside their cages! Some will hold it.... you can always ask him/her if he needs to go potty before taking him out of the cage. If he doesn't go, leave him be and come back in a few minutes. Don't take out until she's gone. Just be careful as you don't *really* want to train your bird to go on command - but it's fine to teach him *where* you do want him to go.


Cleaning
Within reason, I would say many products are "okay" if used far away from her and the area is aired out. That said, it doesn't hurt to limit what products you do use to be on the safe side.


Head Bobbing
It's also a baby behavior as babies can bob for food. You may want to see if there's any other treats she enjoys for training, too, and make sure that she's keeping on weight using a gram scale.


"Negative" Reinforcement
Yes, that is one possible solution. I recommend avoid, replace and redirect. Avoid having her put your fingers in her mouth by giving her something to do. If you see she's about to do an undesired behavior, then redirect before she has a chance to fail. By "allowing" her to nibble, you are technically encouraging her to bite, as you aren't discouraging the behavior. You can also train new behaviors that are incompatible with biting. Turn around, wave, pick up an object, etc.


Quality Time
I would at least highly recommend teaching her to play independently and forage for food! This can help teach her to be more independent.
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Old 06-13-2020, 12:21 PM
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Re: Greetings and Questions from a new Meyer's Owner

Welcome to you and Pen Pen, beautiful Insta images. I especially love the pen/apple/pineapple theme, now that song is playing in my mind lol.

Cage arrangement: You will do Pen Pen a great service by conditioning acceptance of change. I am not familiar with Meyer's, but some species are quite rigid and territorial. Toys eventually wear out, over time you'll identify the preferred types.

Cleaning: You'll find the full continuum of cleaning product opinions within the forum. Birds are extremely sensitive and toxicity varies by solution and proximity. Personally, I use only F10 disinfectant and vinegar for cleaning cages/toys. You may have received the following thread as generalized cautionary catch-all during your welcome to forum message: A Warm Welcome And A Few Friendly Warnings To Keep Your Parrots Safe

Quality time: Encouraging the gift of self-entertainment is crucial as you return to a normal schedule. Offering a wide variety of challenging toys helps narrow future choices. Parrots are extremely visual, many folks leave a nearby TV or computer monitor running with stimulating images and sounds.
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Old 06-13-2020, 05:39 PM
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Re: Greetings and Questions from a new Meyer's Owner

Welcome to you!
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