Life With Charley .......30 days later

Firebrand

New member
Apr 25, 2021
9
0
Ft Worth, Texas
Parrots
Sun Conure,
Male
3 years old
Charley
I have quite a bit to say and some of it not good, but whether the hurts or not, its on me and you have a right to slam me...I don't know? I'm new at this, but I care about my sun conure, Charley and there's no turning back. I'll never get rid of him and I'll never stop in the effort to be a better owner and companion to him. Having said that, let's get the bad news out of the way first. Feel free to speak your mind. You're my peers and I want you to be direct/blunt regarding what I've done and the road ahead in light of that.

This actually happened prior to my joining the website. I just never said anything about it and truthfully, its bothered me a lot and still does. April 23rd I smacked him (swatted him off of my right hand) around 8 am. I made the mistake of letting him out of his cage first, attempting to change his food/water 2nd and not dressed accordingly (only had on a pair of shorts.....period) 3rd. He bloodied my left index finger (caught me between the cute/flesh. I tried to gently wiggle my hand to see if he'd stop which he did, but after I got the bleeding to stop he immediately repeated the same thing on my left thumb when I returned to finish changing out his food and water. I tried to wiggle him off again, but......he wouldn't budge, I didn't know what else to do and so I smacked him off my hand. He went airborne for a few seconds, landed on the floor at which point I finally had enough sense to put some leather gloves and return him to his roost at the top of cage. I was gentle in the process of of doing that, but as I reached to pick him up, he cried out in I believe was fear that I going to hit him again. As I picked him up he didn't attempt to bite me, but the shriek of fear he let out still bothers me to this day.

In the aftermath of that, I tend to his food, water and grapes first before letting him out of his cage and I do with leather gloves and a think denim work shirt. So, in the short run I solved that problem, but in the long run will ever be able to touch him again without him shying away from me or always biting me since the day I brought him home? Just be honest with me, please.

What progress or bird behavior or change in habits have taken place?

1. I can't pet him, but he he becomes more vocal in the belligerent sense when I leave the room to go to the bathroom or bedroom. He talks/chirps some of the time when we're in the living room together and he's comfortable being around me in such a way that when he's walking around on the floor I can get within 1 feet of him and he's not fearful as long as I don't move about in a quick or rapid mode.

2. Most often, when I leave the room, he goes back inside his cage on his own without any coaxing or manipulation on my part, but I when leave the room he acts as though he wants to know where I am by the way he calls out.

3. I actually communicate with Charley by way of squeaking to him. Squeaking is something I began doing....hell, I don't know when I started squeaking on a regular basis, but I'm pretty good at it (Amazing Grace, National Anthem, When The Saints Come Marching In, The Woody Woodpecker squawk, the **** a doodle do call) and several other squeaks, squaks I make up as I go. And so, we communicate. He has a wide variety of calls of his own, as well.

4. I have 3 ladders, a bird cage stand/holder, a 3 level drying towel rack and a small hard plastic 6 level cabinet that I've set up for him in which he plays/crawls on. He flys in short bursts to his cage a couple of times a day. I let him out of his cage at 6 am each morning and I put him or coax him back inside around 8 pm. When ever I leave the apartment I leave his cage open but I remove the ladder from the cage to bird stand which is starting point to the little maze/labyrinth set up for him. As long leave (usually not more than 2-3 hours) I face him with hand up and say "Stay there Charley until I get back. I walk to the door, open it and repeat the same procedure again, Stay there Charley until I get back. And he's in his cage every time I come home.

5. His previous owners rarely let him out of his cage. He never bit Edith (the woman who actually wanted Charley and bought him from a Petco for $458.00 three years ago, but her health regressed to the point that her husband became the main provider/ caretaker around early 2020. Charley never bonded with the husband and the biting became the norm from that point on.

6. They bought Charley when he was less than a year old, brought him home and for the next 3 years he lived with a male tom cat, a male weenie dog and sometimes a female poodle mix . And so.....he very quiet, very much in bondage and very much in the presence of other animals that are predators to him.

7. Edith passed away on 4-1-21 from heart failure attheage of 92. Roughly 3 weeks prior to that, her husband and I were the primary supporters/caretakers until she died and she endured a great deal of pain/suffering to the very end. I'd sit beside her holding her hand, brush her back off of her forehead with my hand and try to soothe her as best as possible. On at least 3 occasions she became delusional and would say things like " I want to go home to the birds", "let me out, I want to go home ", " I'm in this dream and I can't wake up ". For her husband, Kevin, it was too intense to hold up for 24 hours a days non stop and so I volunteered to take some of the burden off of him. Kevin is my sponsor in Narcotics Anonymous, by the way. We both live downstairs/upstairs from one another in an apartment complex here on the north side of Ft Worth, TX.
Both of us jail birds ourselves. He spent 28 years inside for murder while I spent 18 years inside for aggravated robbery. He and Edith actually met while he was incarcerated. He's been out 7 years and I've been out 3 years. I'm alone, no family, no love life at this time and so Charley is a big part of my life and I love him. I am also an army veteran and my housing /food are covered by the VA and state government. I work here and there from time to time, but for the most part, I'm a house mouse. About the only time I leave is to go to NA meetings each day and/or the grocery store. I've got almost 4 months of sobriety under my belt, but at the age of 60 and a considerable amount of wreckage to do with the past........a good day for me is one spent around Charley, sober, clean and taking it one day at a time.

8. He's bored sometimes and I need to get more involved with him, but I don't know what to do or if as a result of smacking him that one time, we're beyond any hope of becoming closer......I don't know. Please give me some insight, I need it. I'm not getting rid of him, either. He's mine and I love him.
 

Laurasea

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Aug 2, 2018
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Thats a lot to take in.
My first thoughts are you suffer impulse control. And I'm not sure how to help you grow in that area.

You and Charlie need to trust each other. You are going to have to stop wearing gloves around him. If you push him or misread him and a bute happens, you will have to man up snd take the pain. In a good relationship and understanding parrot behavior, bites are still going to happen once in a while.

Both of you were traumatized by this. but you are the one that has to work hard to prove you can be trusted, to layer and grow on positive interactions.

I know we all gave links before , I think yiu should print them out, so you can read through them easier.

Parrots are not easy pets to have. They are intelligent, with complex social lives, fragile, extremely active, and we have to make a lot of sacrifice to help them fit into lives with humans. The reward from these increases creatures can make it all worth while.

There is so much that goes into understanding their behavior, and working past miscommunication. That I myself struggle in how to share that with others.

I purchased a young parrot from a pet store, who had developed fear if hands from all the people who would stick hands in her cage. Who was so frustrated that she had turned to non stop screaming. It took time as in months to help her past this. And I have over 30 years of parrot experience, and chances to learn behavior, so I had a real leg up on you there.
So I'm trying to say, it takes time, it takes baby steps, it takes lots if treat bribes, routines, being predictable and proving they can trust you.

Bird tricks on you tube has some great videos. In regards to your #8 teaching foraging can help
[ame="https://youtu.be/aXqS6qk7qDI"]Easy Foraging Tips and Toys For ALL Parrots 101 - YouTube[/ame]

Otherwise I'm going to have to think on this and how to offer help.

In this thread I have linked lots of behavior articles, starting on maybe page 8-13 are the bulk of them I think.
http://www.parrotforums.com/general...hare-discuss-scientific-articles-parrots.html

This article is very insightful in how parrots think
https://lafeber.com/pet-birds/stress-reduction-for-parrot-companions/
 
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Laurasea

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https://blogpamelaclarkonline.com/2018/06/19/teaching-a-fearful-parrot-to-step-up/
" The Relationship “Bank Account”
Before beginning our training, we discussed the importance of the “bank account” concept of relationship. Any time we cause fear or distrust in a parrot, that amounts to a withdrawal from the bank account. Every time we have an interaction that builds trust, that constitutes a deposit. Judith’s goal was to keep that relationship bank account in the green at all times. More deposits = more motivation for Arlo.

Thus, she had to become a good student of body language so that she could avoid doing anything that created more distrust in either parrot. Parrots can unlearn a fear of something, but that isn’t the same as forgetting that fear. In addition to teaching Arlo and Audrey to overcome the behaviors that reflect fear, Judith now needed to avoid doing anything that caused either parrot to move away from her or otherwise display fear of anything she was doing.

By doing so, she would also avoid any bites, since Arlo only bit her when afraid. By honoring his body language, she was able to resolve his aggression rather easily. His biting served a function for him. When he got afraid, he would bite her to make her go away. When she began to observe his body language so that she didn’t frighten him, he didn’t need to bite her anymore."

This article goes through many parrot behavior, towards the end i think has a few tips on bites and rhe reasons they happen. I never stop trying to learn more on parrot sbd behavior.
https://lafeber.com/pet-birds/bird-behavior/

From above link
" Dealing With Biting
People will tell you that birds don’t bite in the wild. Well, they don’t usually bite successfully in the wild, but they will snap at each other if it becomes necessary, for example, if one bird invades another’s nest or territory. Birds do bite a lot more in captivity, usually because their boundaries are being pushed too far. All birds have a threshold of what they can handle before they lash out with a bite. There are other good reasons for a bird to bite as well. Here are some details about birds that bite:

Rule #1 The first rule in teaching a bird not to bite is not to get bitten. When a bird bites, he usually gets what he wants from the action — you will go away and leave him alone. You will also make a big fuss over the bite, which can be attractive to the bird, an animal that loves drama. Rather than reinforce the behavior, just don’t let it happen. Learn to “read” your bird so that you can assess the situation and get out before the bite happens.
Fear Biting You can hardly blame a bird that bites out of fear, even if the fear is unfounded. Look at the world from your bird’s perspective and try not to put him in situations that will frighten him.
Hormonal Biting In the spring when the days get longer, some birds are prompted into breeding mode and may become territorial of their housing area, of another bird, or of a person in the household. This can usually be dealt with by adjusting the amount of light the bird gets a day to less than 12 hours.
Jealousy Biting Sometimes, a bird will love his person so much, and then suddenly chomp down on him or her when someone else comes into the room. This actually has practical application in nature, although it is unpleasant. In the wild, a member of a pair will shoo away their beloved when another bird, a threat to the pair, flies into the territory. The “jealous” bird is simply protecting their mate and their relationship. If you know that your bird does this, make sure that you can put him down before someone comes into the room, and don’t ever allow this bird to ride on your shoulder.
Molting Some birds become irritable when they are molting and may not be feeling 100 percent. The same goes for birds that are ill or injured.
Counteractive Biting Some birds bite to prevent you from performing or not performing an action, for example a bird that bites when being brought back to the cage because he doesn’t want to be locked in. As an aside, some birds that don’t like to be put back into the cage pretend that they have wobbly legs and that they can’t stand up just as you put them away — what a great tactic for not stepping onto a perch! To prevent “put away” biting, don’t put your bird away every time you pick him up. Instead, do something fun, or play a little game before you put your bird away; mix it up so that the bird isn’t sure what’s coming next, and make it fun!"
 
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Firebrand

New member
Apr 25, 2021
9
0
Ft Worth, Texas
Parrots
Sun Conure,
Male
3 years old
Charley
  • Thread Starter
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  • #4
And so the gloves have to go, huh? Man.....ok, I'll give it a try. How am I supposed to change out his food/water each morning without being bitten?
Impulse control.....he' bit me about 10 times prior to the swatting incident and then he's bit me another 5 times in which he's drawn blood all 15 times. And so, how does having gloves on not having gloves change anything? I didn't want to swatting him, but that was about the last option at the time it seemed. It's the only time I've resorted to doing that and as much as I regret that it happened I don't know what the alternative would have been under the circumstances.
Is it possible that only a woman/female owner can win his trust. He never bit Edith and she no previous experience with birds whereas he never anything except bite Kevin so.....is one of those scenarios where a woman's touch is the only solution?
 
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Laurasea

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Aug 2, 2018
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Neptune blue quaker (MIA), Ta-dah GCC female, Penny quaker female, Pikachu quaker female!!, Phoebe quaker female, 3 parakeets males, Burt The Burd GCC female RIP
That's your take away, from all the work and my time in trying to help ? All the links and articles? Have you read anything?

In my mind what you did is the same as throwing a child across the room . There is no justification for that.

I have cage protective quakers, that most times want/try to bite if I stick my hand in the cage.

So what I do is have them come out of the cage problem solved. Or if I'm in a hurry i talked to them, and target them to the side of the cage with a treat and change the bowls quickly.
 
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wrench13

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Nov 22, 2015
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SO first, thank you for your service.

Second, re NA, you can do it, brother. I know you can. much like having a parrot, it's one day at a time.

Third, ditch the gloves. Biting - that is a part of owning a parrot. Some never bite or rarely either from temperament or an owner who really knows how to read their bird. My own little Amazon, Salty nails me all the time, but less so since I really concentrate on body language and knowing when he wants to interact and when he does not.
AS it was said above, the best way to teach not to bite is to not get bitten.

Birds get very cage possessive sometimes, and clearly yours is like that. That's their 'home' and you are intruding. If you can get him out and off his cage, to a play stand or training perch, preferably in another room, that will go away. If he wont come to your hand, try getting him to step up on a hand held perch to move him.

Have you figured out his favorite treat yet? For most parrots, that's a powerful training tool. If you have, use that exclusively in training. Look up target training here and also on the Net, for birds that are not hand tame, its a good way to start that process.

Don't feel guilt about swatting Charley. You're human, not made of steel. I have done that too, to Salty, once, several years ago, and we have long since made up. But don't do that again, LOL, the good will bank is not bottomless. Sailboats, one of our most excellent members on here, has a saying - Only good things happen from humans. Keep that foremost in your head when dealing with Charlie. Also another of his sayings - It's never the fault of the parrot; its always the fault of the human. Excellent mind set when working with parrots, who are, after all, wild animals, not domesticated. Your conure is at best 2 or 3 generations away from being in the jungle.

Lastly, please keep us informed on your progress and mindset. Much like NA, we are here to help and give support, and our members are damn good at it. We like to know progress and yes, even failures.
 

Scott

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Goffins: Gabby, Abby, Squeaky, Peanut, Popcorn / Citron: Alice / Eclectus: Angel /Timneh Grey: ET / Blue Fronted Amazon: Gonzo /

RIP Gandalf and Big Bird, you are missed.
Thank you for your service, baring your soul, striving to be better. Cannot top the superb advice above! Between Laura's links and sage advice from all, you'll find the way to weave a better and safer relationship with Charley.
 
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Firebrand

New member
Apr 25, 2021
9
0
Ft Worth, Texas
Parrots
Sun Conure,
Male
3 years old
Charley
  • Thread Starter
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  • #8
Progress report: I did away with the gloves completely. Read the links and three YouTube videos to with conure behavior, body language and beginners training. All good stuff.
Yes, I figured out that by letting Charley out of his cage first and then removing the ladder from the cage to the towel rack he goes to, I can change his food/water with out any problem.
I can also see that he's content at times throughout the day by watching the conure behavior video on YouTube so things are not as bad as I thought. I pay attention to what he does and I'm improving each day on what I do. Its obvious I don't have a lot experience at this point, but that will change with time.
I appreciate the compliments concerning my time spent in the Army as my efforts in NA. I am mindful of commitments.
I'd also like to briefly discuss something a bit off topic if I may. This website is identical regarding its format and ability to navigate through the forums, user CP and PM to a website called Prisontalk.com of which I've been a member for over 11 years. The website is down at the moment, but it just so happens that too, am a moderator over the Texas forums. Having said that, no matter whether we're talking about parrots or prison issues this is an online community whose common goal is to provide information and support. If you something derogatory or abrasive to say then I encourage you to do so in a PM me, but please don't say anything of tone here on boards where other members can view it.
 

wrench13

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Nov 22, 2015
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The folks on here are generally very well behaved, but like I said we are all human. The mods on here keep things in line, mostly.
 
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Firebrand

New member
Apr 25, 2021
9
0
Ft Worth, Texas
Parrots
Sun Conure,
Male
3 years old
Charley
  • Thread Starter
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  • #10
No harm done. Its all good. I don't have enough posts to send a PM just yet, but I appreciate the info on the issue of grapes and apples causing hormonal problems. Charley prefer apples and grapes, but he also likes bananas and strawberries so, I'll use those 2 fruits from here on out. Thank you for the kind thoughts and words. This is a good website for sure.
Prisontalk.com is an online community as well, but its considerably more intense. As strange as it is to say, issues concerning jail birds in comparison to exotic birds is like comparing Attila the hun to Mother Teresa. And yet......the reality of bondage vs. freedom is the same for both. I have an obsession/ phobia about it all. Swatting Charley was the result of ignorance on my part as a novice, but it will never happen again, I assure you. The part that bothers me the most about him is the fact that he spent little time outside his cage for the last 3 years and from the moment he was taken home from the Petco where he was bought when he was less than a year old he'd been surrounded by 2 predators that would have killed him had the opportunity presented itself. The only time he's in his cage now is when I put him to bed. So....enough of that.
Thank you all for your input.
 
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Bekki

Supporting Member
Mar 31, 2021
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33
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Loki - Sun Conure
Mango - Sun Conure
Ruby - Camelot Macaw
For some reason when I read your post initially I skimmed the "sun conure" part and was just thinking "conure".

I have two sun conures that I adopted about two years ago, and your little dude seems a lot like my little dude. Here are on some things about Loki that might help you with Charley.

1) Loki would not let ANYONE touch him when we first got him. Neither one of my Sunnies knew how to step up, but Mango would let you pick her up. Loki was terrified of hands and would randomly fly at people and land on them - which caused quite a bit of terror at their previous owner's house.

2) The first thing I did was purchase a table top perch from Amazon, a playstand (to get him away from his cage) and then I started target training. I went to Petsmart and bought a clicker (although you can probably get them on Amazon as well) and I grabbed an extra set of chopsticks from my local Chinese restaurant. I watched some youtube videos on how to do it, and started doing 10-15 minute sessions a few times a day (depending on my schedule). Before I started the clicker training I started by out laying a few different "treats" on my hand (you can also put them on a plate if he is feeling extra nippy that day). At the time they were fed Zupreem (not anymore, now they are fed Tops) but I put a few of the different shapes on the plate, as well as sunflower seeds, and a few different types of nuts. I did this a few times to see what ones he went for most consistently so I could figure out what was his "high value" treat. Then I followed the guidelines from the youtube videos on doing target training. I can go into more detail if you are interested, but I tend to be long winded anyhow - so I'll try to keep it short.

Some days it seemed like the training was pointless, that I wasn't making an progress - but I kept doing it, mostly because I'm stubborn. Long story short - 2 years later he still loves to clicker train and upon command will step up, wave, spin around, fly to me from several feet away and about three months ago lets me pet him!! That one is HUGE - he would always nip me if I tried to touch him, even as he was perched on my hand. It took him THAT LONG to trust me enough to let me pet him. But the wait was totally worth it.

2) Loki is kinda like a toddler, when he gets sleepy, or just wants to be in his cage instead of out and on his playstand - he gets extra nippy. I can be sitting absolutely still and he will fly to me and start nipping at my cheek, glasses, shoulder, arm - whatever. It's like when a toddler gets tired and melts down and throws themself on the ground. It's nothing personal, they just needs some help getting what they want. So when he acts like that I have him step up and take him to his cage and shut the door. Usually he gets a little snack and drink and goes to his sleeping corner in his cage (even though he had the same food and water available on his playstand).

3) They are on the best behavior when we follow our normal schedule/routine and they get a full 10-12 hours of sleep. I make sure to cover them at night so they aren't awakened by me, or members of my family puttering around. The covering is especially important in the summer, as the days are longer and birds by nature wait until it's dark to really sleep, and we get up fairly early at my house, so they need to go to bed BEFORE the sun goes down.

4) When Loki starts getting overly nippy I start singing to him and he starts dancing. I've seen lots of sun conure's dancing on various youtube and tiktok videos - and sometimes it's like he can't help himself. If he hears music of any sort, or even someone's voice that he feels is melodious - he will start dancing - and it makes me smile no matter what my mood at the moment. I've found it's an excellent diversion tactic.

I hope that helps and gives you some suggestions of ways to interact with him positively.

Please keep up updated and let us know how things are progressing!!
 

Scott

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Parrots
Goffins: Gabby, Abby, Squeaky, Peanut, Popcorn / Citron: Alice / Eclectus: Angel /Timneh Grey: ET / Blue Fronted Amazon: Gonzo /

RIP Gandalf and Big Bird, you are missed.
I appreciate the compliments concerning my time spent in the Army as my efforts in NA. I am mindful of commitments.
I'd also like to briefly discuss something a bit off topic if I may. This website is identical regarding its format and ability to navigate through the forums, user CP and PM to a website called Prisontalk.com of which I've been a member for over 11 years. The website is down at the moment, but it just so happens that too, am a moderator over the Texas forums. Having said that, no matter whether we're talking about parrots or prison issues this is an online community whose common goal is to provide information and support. If you something derogatory or abrasive to say then I encourage you to do so in a PM me, but please don't say anything of tone here on boards where other members can view it.

The folks on here are generally very well behaved, but like I said we are all human. The mods on here keep things in line, mostly.

Our forum permits access to PM system once 20 posts accomplished. In the interim, you are welcome to send message to other members via any moderator (we're in purple) and we'll forward. From there you can communicate as desired via offline method until requisite posts made.

Last few years administrator guidance for moderator intercession is "less is more." We tend to acknowledge but overlook minor skirmishes, always ready to referee before spiraling out of control. We can't be everywhere, members can "report" a post for prompt review. Taking matters offline for resolution one-on-one is an agreeable method for resolution. ParrotForums is such a great group of passionate members, our "jobs" are rather easy. A prime challenge is detecting and rooting out spammers. Happens.... every.... day! We even have a fictitious mascot crocodile named Snappy for ridding spammers.:D
 

Laurasea

Well-known member
Aug 2, 2018
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Neptune blue quaker (MIA), Ta-dah GCC female, Penny quaker female, Pikachu quaker female!!, Phoebe quaker female, 3 parakeets males, Burt The Burd GCC female RIP
One thing you might try, a little peanut butter on your fingertip. Then go to the cage say hi, and just out your fingertips close enough that he can only reach the peanut butter. When he comes over and tastes say good bird. Then walk away. A tiny little taste should nit cause any harm and will hopefully start teaching him yiu are good. Repeat throughout the day.
 
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Firebrand

New member
Apr 25, 2021
9
0
Ft Worth, Texas
Parrots
Sun Conure,
Male
3 years old
Charley
  • Thread Starter
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  • #14
Well.....we had a bonding/positive moment an hour ago. I went in the bedroom to take a nap and Charley followed behind me which is a first. A few minutes later he flew up on the bed and did some exploring. A few minutes later he walked up to my arm and began nibbling on my elbow. He stayed there for about 15 minutes and that's the first time we've been that close together away from his cage/territory since the day I brought him home. So.....we're making progress as best as I can tell. Any iews or bits of wisdom about this new change for the better?
 

Scott

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Parrots
Goffins: Gabby, Abby, Squeaky, Peanut, Popcorn / Citron: Alice / Eclectus: Angel /Timneh Grey: ET / Blue Fronted Amazon: Gonzo /

RIP Gandalf and Big Bird, you are missed.
Definitely progress, who knows what Charley was thinking but he had a good time. Hopefully that positively reinforces for the future. Cherish any breakthrough!!
 

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