Is this normal for a new Eclectus?

bird_mama

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Hi everyone. I apologize in advance for the wall of text. I'm new to the forum, and a relatively new parrot owner. I got a 10-month old male Eclectus a little over 2 weeks ago and I'm pretty concerned about him for two reasons. I was hoping someone could give me some advice or personal experience.

1) His weight has been dropping since I got him.

The breeder told me that his weight was 370g when he was shipped to me. I took him for a wellness exam 2 days later, and the vet weighed him at 349g. I started weighing him before breakfast every day and he went from 333g to 324g in the past week. He hung around 328g for a while, but in the last few days has been going down by 1g. He seems to eat fine, always going to his food bowl throughout the day, and I feed him the same food as the breeder gave him. I even ordered the food from them and cooked it the way they instructed. His poop was kind of watery since he arrived, but the poop tests they did at the vet all came back negative. The breeder sent me a probiotic to give him which they give to all their birds 4 times a year. His feathers have also gotten a bit longer than they were when he arrived, especially around the feet. They are also a little more ruffled, but this may be because he glided to the floor a few times (he is clipped and was never allowed to fledge). He is active during the day in his cage, and vocalizes and chatters often, so he doesn't seem sick (though he's not active outside his cage). Is this variation in weight normal? Could it just be stress? I'm not really sure how to get his weight up.

2) He seems to dislike me and I can't really read his body language. What's more worrying is that his dislike appears to be growing with time.

The breeder we got him from specialized in Eclectus and has been raising them for 30 years. He is used to human hands since he was hand-raised since hatching. From the videos, the breeder seemed very gentle and the bird seemed well-behaved. The first day we got him, we picked him up from the airport and I immediately opened the box he was in and let him look outside his travel cage through the car window. He seemed scared and the cage was rattling, so I offered him my hand to come out. After very softly nibbling on it and some time of me gently talking to him, he stepped up and I held him as we drove. At home, he didn't seem to mind stepping up and appeared calm, though very shy. I sang to him and he stood on one leg, which I've read means the bird is relaxed. Several people in my family handled him with the same response. I put together his cage that night and he slid off his perches twice, so I kept him in his travel cage for the first night. I came imagine that was pretty stressful, but he has since become a pro at climbing around there.

Over time, we noticed that his nibbling/biting has gotten a little more aggressive (though not to the point of inflicting pain except one time) and he seems like he never wants to come out of his newly beloved cage. When we try to take him out, he almost never steps up himself and we have to kind of push our hand under him to get him to step up. Lately, he's been trying to give warning bites. Once he's out, however, he doesn't seem too disturbed. He'll sit there, not showing any interest in playing or anything, but after some time starts perching on one leg. A couple of times, I've tried putting him back in the cage and he didn't step onto his perch and even tried to get back up my arm. He hasn't done this in a while, though. Often, if he's out and he sees his cage, he'll start to half-open and close his wings and fidget around in its direction, so we just put him back in. Often this is accompanied by a large poop (he's pretty good with not pooping on us and usually waits until he's on a perch or in his cage). However, he doesn't want to come back out afterward. I asked the breeder if we should not handle him for a while, but she said he should get used to being taken out and being around people. I also need to take him out in the morning to weigh him.

So far, the only thing I think he's enjoyed is when I held him close and sang softly to him. I try to do it every night, but lately I've been letting him be since he doesn't want to come out of the cage. I sang to him while sitting outside his cage today for almost an hour and he started falling asleep. Then my dad came home and woke him up with all the noise. I was thinking to take him to my room so he's not disturbed, but when I offered my hand, he lunged at it. My husband is less gentle with him, and kind of plays with his beak while the bird tries to bite him (gently) - the bird often nibbles on people's fingers when he's perching on us. I thought this was just teasing the bird and that he didn't like it, but he seems to go to my husband a lot more readily than he goes to me, so maybe he's just playing. I have no idea how to play with him. He doesn't respond to anything I try.

The only thing I can think of is that he's cranky because he doesn't get enough sleep. My house has 4 people with very different schedules, so he probably gets disturbed a lot. My husband and I leave around 8am after giving him his breakfast and usually don't get home until 8-9pm. My dad gets home around 11pm. My mom is home all day but goes around her business and sometimes watches TV near his cage. His cage is gigantic (I can comfortably fit into it standing up...) so I can't really fit it in any other rooms, and I don't have anything large enough to cover it with. He seems to love it in there - climbs around all day, has a nice view out the window. I think he likes it a little too much.

I'm not really sure what steps to take at this point, or how long it usually takes an Ekkie to warm up to his new owners. Perhaps we were too aggressive with handling him at first, but the breeder said it was fine. I just don't want him to get used to sitting in his cage all day. My parents have had a lovebird for almost 15 years and it's vicious. No one can take it out of its cage, and it lunges at my dad every morning when he tries to give it fresh water. The two birds' cages are side by side and they seem to have gotten used to each other's presence. I don't want my Ekkie to turn out like the lovebird. I very much want him to like my company and have him on my shoulder anytime I'm home.

Any experience or suggestions?
 

MikeyTN

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Welcome to the forum!!!

What exactly are you feeding him??? And his feeding schedules???

They tend to grow or show signs of aggression until you show them that it's ok to be with you. Here's something for you to practice! Bring him out daily, multiple times per day, I do 4+ times per day at 25min intervals or more. When you have him out, don't just have him sit with you, practice step up! Do it over and over! Every time you bring him out you need to have him practice step up. Then he can sit with you while you sing to him or whatever as long as you get the step up practice in. You must constantly work with him otherwise he will become aggressive towards you. Sometimes it can take them several months or so to fully trust you. But as long as he knows the step up routine, it makes things easier. When I got my pair, JoJo the male was super aggressive, he lunges and bites, got him to learn to step up in 3 days. Step up like a pro in a week, the full trust comes several months later. I can do anything with him now days but we've had them for about 3 years.
 
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bird_mama

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Hi and thanks for the reply.

As per breeder recommendation, I feed him the following:

morning (~7am) - left available throughout the day
--------------------
-1/4 boiled egg

1/4 cup of each of the following:
-brown rice
-mixed beans
-mixed veggies (thawed corn, peas, carrots, stringbeans)
-corn
-bee pollen/royal jelly sprinkled on top

-always has a handful of organic pellets with spirulina sprinkled

midday
----------
-stick of millet spray

night (~8pm)
---------------
-tried giving him fruit (fresh banana, orange, apple, pear, thawed melon/pineapple/raspberries/strawberries/blueberries) but he won't eat it besides like 10 pomegranate seeds when I have it. Lately I've just been adding to his normal morning food if it looked like he ate a lot of it.

Recently I tried giving him fresh veggies (romaine lettuce, tomato, carrot, kale) but he just throws them out. Tried cranberries - threw them out. I also gave him an almond which he liked so I drop one in his bowl in the morning. I tried buying organic clover sprouts and I don't think he ate them. I also bought some flax seed/buckwheat sprouted seed-looking thing from the health food store to use as treats. Not much luck. I think he throws his carrots out. Sigh.

When he's out I tried doing the step up thing and he does it maybe two times, then stubbornly won't move. He then starts going at the fingers. I tried rolling a ball with a bell and he shows no interest. I tried putting him on his perch and when he starts flapping his wings to go back to his cage, I said "wings" and "flap flap flap" and giving him millet. Same with him giving a big shake. That was only for a day though. I tried having him sit with me to watch TV but he started having weird head spasms and wimg flipping every few seconds so I put him in his cage and he was fine.

Honestly the weight loss worries me more than the behavior. Maybe he's really stressed out and not showing it.
 

Anansi

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Hi Bird_mama, and welcome to the forum! As regards your ekkie's weight, was the 370g measurement taken by the breeder done before his breakfast and after his morning poop? I ask this because a drop from 370 down to 324 seems significant to me. Granted, I'm only going off of the experience I have with my own 6 month old eclectus, so I'm not claiming expertise here. But, that said, my Bixby usually weighs in at around 380g (give or take 3-6 grams) at night, and around 370-375 first thing in the morning. (Post toiletries.) Occasionally, he'll even go as low as 368. But on average, there is a 10g swing between his weight in the AM and his weight in the PM.

So, a 46g weight loss would worry me as well. There are others on this forum who've had their ekkies longer, including MikeyTN, who can draw on a deeper well of experience when it comes to eclectus weight swings and when there is truly a cause for concern, but given my experience with Bixby, I'd definitely take him to see an avian vet.

Diet-wise, I'd keep trying to get him to eat more fruits and veggies. Variety is best! And when you're dealing with an eclectus, you want to be sure they're getting enough vitamin A in their diets. Keep trying with the carrots, and pumpkin is good for that as well. It's only been two weeks. Sometimes it takes them weeks or even months to try something new. And sometimes you have to be tricky. I forget who, but another member once mentioned covering all his/her ekkie's veggies with pomegranates to entice him to eat. Whatever works! Lol!

I personally don't give Bixby anything sugary (not counting fruits, of course), so I probably wouldn't mess with the jelly. But that's just me. And I only give Bixby egg once or twice a week, to avoid high cholesterol. Some view that differently but, again, that's just me. And though I don't currently give him pellets at all, (most pellets tend to be too nutrient rich for the longer digestive tracts of eclectus parrots) I've heard good things about Harrison's.

And I've read that spirulina should definitely be avoided when it comes to eclectus parrots. It can lead to toe-tapping.

And I've never heard about the whole bee pollen thing, but now you have me curious. I'm going to do some research.

Oh, and if you fear he's not getting enough sleep, why not get him a sleep cage? My cage is too big to move through the house as well, so I bought a Kings aluminium cage to serve as a sleeper cage as well as a travel carrier. Works wonders, as we tend to stay up rather late at times.

As for the behavior, Mikey's advice on stepping up works! I would only add that you shouldn't rush it. If he's not yet ready to trust you like that, no need to force the issue. Feed him his favorite treats. Continue talking and singing to him. Throw in some target training, targeting him closer and closer to the door of the cage and then finally, when he's ready, onto your hand. Just take your time. Earn his trust. Its a process.

Hope all this helps. Please keep us updated.
 
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bird_mama

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Hi everyone and thanks for all your replies.

I'm not sure if the breeder weighed him before or after food. The vet visit was definitely after and that was about 349-350. I actually weighed him tonight after his dinner and he was 345, so maybe he hasn't lost as much weight as I thought. He doesn't look skinny, but he's lighter than when he arrived and his feathers look kind of overgrown on the bottom.

Regarding the supplements - royal jelly is something bees feed to the queen bee and is highly nutritious. It's mixed in with the bee pollen in something called Avian Trio. That and the spirulina were something the breeder always sprinkled on top of his and their other birds' food. They never reported any problems. I've been trying to stick to what they were feeding him partly to reduce stress and partly because they've raised healthy Eclectus for 30 years so I'm assuming they know better than I do. I always read about what to feed and I know sugar, salt and fat should not be given. I'm trying to introduce new fruit and veg. I got him to eat a few bites of apple today. I also bought some sweet potato and will try that tomorrow. I hear ekkies love it. Today he seemed to eat more than usual so maybe me not handling him at all yesterday helped. He practically finished all the food I left him in the morning, and I gave him another half a cup on his table perch while I ate dinner. I threw in some pomagranate to encourage him and he ate that and some rice. Tossed out his carrots again.

Today I tried the step up approach, though not quite as you described. He completely rejects going on my hand, but he follows a stick of millet spray like a little addict. I basically held it in front of him so he would have to step up on my hand to get it. I said "up" and up he went. I praised, then gave him a bite of millet and put him on his table perch to let him chew. I then repeated this for over an hour. He never went up if he didn't see the millet, but it's a start. He stepped up fine before. I don't know why the sudden change of heart. I will start over and go slow this time.

Regarding the sleep cage - I was thinking to use his travel cage upstairs. Might give it a try once he gets more comfortable with me removing him from his usual giant cage. He seems to really like it in there. My parents said he's insanely active. I don't see it because when I'm home he's sleepy. However, they said he clibs all over and plays with his toys and swing. He used to be in a small baby cage at the breeder's (his tail is all raggedy from hitting the grating at the bottom), so maybe he's just getting a whole lot more exercise now and that might explain the weight loss? Sigh.

I'll be away for the next 5 days and my mom will feed him the usual diet. Hopefully the lack of disturbance will let him settle in and relax. If his weight is not better when I come back, I'll take him to the vet.
 

rbreck

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At first I was feeding too much beans and grains. I have been using the method (link above) and it is really working. If he is wing flipping that is diet. You have only had him 2 weeks. Lots to figure out still - all fun. Try bananas and kale and dandilion leaves - I hang as much of Maui's food as possible. Feed him lots of variety, even if he wastes.

How big is his new cage. Maybe he is getting more exercise than he got at the breeders.

Remember, anything processed affect these birds.
 
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bird_mama

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Thanks for the info. I think the weight loss was stress related. The day I left and since then, his weight went up. He was back to 330g for a few days, then went up to 335 and even hit 340g without food. I tried giving him sweet potato, which he ate at first but not so much anymore. He doesn't like kale, I don't think. I'll try the dandelion leaves next. It looks like all he eats is rice and beans. I don't see him eating much veg and he won't touch his fruit.

I worked from home a bit and he is indeed very very active during the day. Considering his tail was all raggety when he arrived, I'm assuming his old cage was quite small - at least in height. This cage is enormous. It's 72"x42"x32" or something like that. He has tons of room. He climbs all over and attacks the toys that hang on his swing. Today I suspended his swing from hooks in the ceiling and he went wild. He grabbed onto the swing chains and flapped his wings, essentially flying circles around the chain while holding on. I think he liked it. I also started giving him spray baths. He flaps his wings and runs around. I think he likes it. I never spray directly on him and there is always a corner for him to move to in order to get away from the water. His feathers looked much better after the shower.

so yeah, I think he's getting better overall. I still don't know how to read his body language. How do they act when they're happy vs when they're nervous?
 

Terry57

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Try a leaf of red swiss chard...my ekkie loves that. He is also nuts about pomegranates. He will only eat cooked sweet potatoes if I roll the pieces in sesame seeds or red chili flakes.
When Ekko is happy, he is talking and playing, or just preening himself.

When I mist Ekko, I always have the vaccuum on and he loves it:)

It does sound like yours is having fun with his toys:) What is his name?
 
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bird_mama

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Hey. Sorry I disappeared. Work has been crazy.

His name is Stringbean. I tried some more foods and he's just really unpredictable. I gave him broccoli and cauliflower, which he seemed to initially love for like a day or two. Now he throws it out. Same story with squash. I gave him chili peppers for a few days but haven't had time to buy more. How much is safe to feed them? I don't want to give him an upset stomach. His weight has stayed pretty consistent at 333-335g in the mornings. He's very active. Still seems to prefer interacting with males. Doesn't seem to like being pet at all - this is deeply upsetting to me becausr I don't know how else to show affection. I thought they just didn't like their heads touched. This one doesn't like anything. He tolerates kisses on the head and neck, and I rub my nose against his beak, but if I do it too long he starts to bite. Sigh.
 

labell

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Hi and welcome,
It always upsets me when I hear of breeders not letting their birds fledge, it really makes a difference in their confidence and out going nature. Plus it is so important for them to develop those breast muscles. I have a male that is 8 days shy of turning 6 months, he has just recently become excellent at flying and landing on a dime. He also still receives one small comfort hand feeding at night as I believe letting them wean at their own pace is also very important.

I bring him up because I have a female that when I bought her at almost 6 months she had already been given a hard clip and had been weaned since three months. She is a chow hound and will eat every thing I put in the cage but her personality is much more timid. She doesn't like to be petted and can be quite territorial over her cage, we have worked this out but it was a much longer process. I have another female that I raised when she was on 3 hand feedings, she was also allowed to fully fledge and wean at her own pace by me, she is still never been clipped. She on the other hand is out going, playful and confident without being grouchy or fearful. The difference in the two girls personalities is significant.

Since you can't go back and change what the breeder did, there are things you can do now that will help. First let him exercise, hold him perched on your hand with your thumb over and on top of the toes of one of his feet, so he feels safe and stable. Bring your arm up over your head and then bring your arm down, fast but not too fast you just want him to start flapping his wings. Make a big deal out of it, I usually say "flying" in a fun animated voice.

You want to also encourage him to play with foot toys, take him onto your bed with the toys and just play with him. You have to show him how to play. Stepping up is also something you must teach. I have two that I just rescued that are just over a year and they were never taught step up.:( Only a few days of working on it and they are already getting it, slowly but surely.

You want to give at least 5 baths or more a week to an eclectus, that will help his feathers and once they are used to it is something that they can really enjoy.

I would cut way back on the egg. Mine get an organic washed egg with the shell (cooked), only about once a week sometimes I skip a week. I agree about the spirulina and would cut that out of his diet altogether.

At 10 months your boy is getting more independent he may never want to be actively petted, some eclectus never do. Boys will usually tolerate it more than the girls. Eclectus are not allopreeners, meaning they don't preen other birds not even their mates, only themselves. The oils from your hands is sometimes something they don't want on their feathers. It's important that you don't leave him be but work with him everyday to over come some of the issues you are having with him.

I am sad that you feel any disappointment as eclectus are wonderful imo but often times I don't think breeders explain how unique and different they can be. I feel sometimes that new owners are set up for disappointment because breeders don't give the full picture.
 
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labell

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Singing and speaking are also a great way to bond, keep doing that for certain.
There is something else you can do as well, the "blinking game" have your eclectus on your hand watch that he is looking at you and slowly close your eyes, wait a few seconds and then very slowly open them. Keep doing this and before you know it he will be mimicking you and slowly closing his eyes and then opening them, relaxing and enjoying your company. My husband calls me the bird whisperer when I do this and says I am hypnotizing them LOL!
I don't know where I first heard about this game so I can't give any person credit unfortunately but it does work and it is kinda fun when they start doing it back.
 
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bird_mama

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Yeah, I do wish the breeder let him fledge. I want to teach him to fly. He knows how to step up. I try putting him on a perch and then making him come up to my arm. I then move my arm farther away. So far, if he could reach with his beak and step over, he'll do it. If the beak won't reach, he just gives up . He never jumps.

Regarding raising and lowering the arm, I think this scares him. He starts gliding away from me after 2-3 times. I tried foot toys - I have this ball with a bell in it. He's terrified of it. I don't really know what you mean by teaching him to play with toys. I try rolling it around near him. He also seems very unhappy to be put on flat surfaces. As for spray baths - he loved it the first time I did it. After that, he runs away from the water. I don't know what changed.

I like the blinking game idea. I'll try that :)
 

Tate

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one of the biggest things to remember is getting used to people/toys/ new surroundings can take a long time. The first few weeks with my boy were challenging. He didnt move around much, didnt really seem interested in his toys, would lunge at me most of the time and mostly just wanted to be in or around his cage. I felt like i was failing him and doing something wrong, and was sure he hated me.

I've had him 3 months now and he loves climbing around his new massive cage, plays with all his toys throughout the day, making adorable sounds while doing so, and never bites anyone anymore, and enjoys hanging around on my shoulder. He still loves his cage more than me if its in sight though but in other rooms or outside/other houses then i have to be in sight or he'll come find me :p

And only this last couple of weeks has he started having long 'trying to talk' conversations with himself (goes quiet if i enter the room), before then he was mostly silent apart from kissy sounds and when playing with toys or his foot (weirdo i know).

Sounds like you're putting in a really good effort so keep it up and it'll start to show, might not be tomorrow but you'll look back in a month or 2's time and really see the difference :)
 

labell

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Getting him to exercise should be fun for him and you so if it scares him take it slow but try to get him to flap his wings a few times a day. I really become animated with my voice and gosh I am glad that no one but my hubby is around to hear it!

If he doesn't like the toys with sound (bells) try soft things for him to grab and wrestle with even paper towels or toilet paper rolls to start. Eclectus are very observant and he will get it if you take it slow, they are also very food motivated so you could feed him some favorite treats during these training/playing sessions that may also help.

The female that I bought at 6 months weaned and clipped took MUCH longer to come around to playing and accepting new things. I had to play with her in one room at first until she became totally comfortable in that room. Then I would take her on my hand to a new room for a few minutes and let her look around, adding a new room or any new toy had to be a slow process.

They do know and understand when their flight has been taken and this effects them imo greatly as they know they no longer have the means to escape. It would bum me out to watch my clipped female watching the others zooming around the room, flying and landing where ever they want while she felt trapped on the java tree stand knowing if she tried to fly the only choice was down.:( Because of this everything took a little longer with her but I do believe yours will come around.

Even if his enthusiasm has waned for his baths it is still really important that you give them often. I would try taking him into the shower with you and see if he enjoys that. When I had fewer that is what I did and will still do it on occasion but now I would run out of warm water before it's my turn...:D so most times it's the spray bottle. Again one of those times I am glad no one is watching lots of "oh taken a bath" I get them pretty jazzed up at bath time so I have made it a really fun event for them.
 
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bird_mama

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I actually tried taking him in the shower but putting him up on the curtain pole so he can just watch and get used to the looks and sounds of the bathroom. I'm thinking to get a shower perch since I'm afraid he'll slip.

what kind of toys are safe for them? I read that the glue on paper towel rolls can be harmful. Furry styffed animals can also cause respiratory problems. Painted stuff has toxins in it unless it's like vegetable coloring.. I'm afraid to let him chew on anything not completely clean and safe for him.

He does get lots of exercise in his cage. He climbs around like a little monkey. He also attacks the hanging toys and his swing. I tried hanging his swing from the ceiling and he loved it. He was flapping around going in circles. The hooks I used started coming out of the ceiling so I took it down. Need to be better hooks and some anchors. He also chatters a lot. I think he said peekaboo yesterday - his first distinguishable word. He's quite a vocal little guy.
 
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bird_mama

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Tate - how did you get yours to stop biting? Delfin - I have not tried training with a clicker. I usually say good boy immediately after he does the desired behavior and then give him a treat. I don't know what suitable treats are. I bought a bag of buckwheat/flaxseed groats from the health food store and use those, but he doesn't go nuts for them. I tried millet but it's very messy. He surprisingly is not a good eater and besides the millet and pomegranate, I haven't seen him get excited over food. I don't want to use unhealthy stuff like sunflower seeds or sugary stuff. What have you used?
 

labell

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I am not sure if we can name stores on here but I get a lot of my foot toys from a place that sells quite a variety of shred-able ones. There are paper looking party favor ones, though they tear those up pretty fast, rattan type balls, some with yummy peppers stuffed inside, pine cone toys or softer balsam wood foot toys. Mainly I look for stuff that will be easy for them to tear up or shred.
When I have played with T-paper rolls they are not chewing it, I make sure the glue is removed and then basically push them around or toss them and the bird will either toss them back or roll them. Clean white paper, torn and made into a ball is also safe to play with when I am right there. Plastic soda bottle caps while being watched is also a fun toy. Any metal I always make sure is SS and I don't mess with painted stuff because there is no way to know if it's safe.
 

labell

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I don't use clickers just because I don't always have one on hand and would rather use a verbal cue only because I can time what and when I say something faster than I can use a clicker.
 

hullpv

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1 Female Eclectus
This may be way too late to be useful but here's my 2 cents:
I have had a female Eclectus (reputed to be less friendly, more aggressive than males) since November 2014 when she was just 7 weeks old. For several months, she was unfriendly, hostile, and generally behaved like an over-indulged kid from a wealthy background. Despite daily cage cleanings, she made an inordinate amount of mess, resulting in my getting an infestation of cockroaches in every cabinet in the kitchen - infestation was so bad that dead cockroaches blocked the dishwasher drain 3 times resulting in flooding. As you can imagine, I began to wonder if the hassle was worth the zero return. In February, I hosted a friend's Conure that I've gotten to know well over the past 3 years and he's gotten attached to me. He came to stay for two one-week sojourns that month. By the end of the first visit, it was clear that his easy & relaxed relationship with me had caused some concern bordering on envy on the part of my Eclectus (I kept them in separate cages). By the second visit, my Eclectus - instead of moving as far away from as she could to the far back of her very large cage when approached and/or opened the cage door - now moved TOWARDS me, with body language that said: "OK, the war's over. Take me someplace interesting today!" She now showers with me most days. Tonight, I took her shopping in her clear plexiglass carrier. She likes to sit on my shoulder or on top of my head when I'm working at my desk and, generally has become very sociable. Interestingly, during the period that this has occurred, she's become much less wary of strangers.

What can be generalized from my experience to yours, I don't know but I hope there's something useful in what I've related.

Good luck!
 

Birdman666

Well-known member
Sep 18, 2013
9,904
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San Antonio, TX
Parrots
Presently have six Greenwing Macaw (17 yo), Red Fronted Macaw (12 yo), Red Lored Amazon (17 y.o.), Lilac Crowned Amazon (about 43 y.o.) and a Congo African Grey (11 y.o.)
Panama Amazon (1 Y.O.)

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