Rescue umbrella

Carmech001

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I have a friend that has birds that took in a rescue Umbrella. He couldn't keep it and offered it to me. After a TON of reading over the last couple days and deciding the good outweighed the bad, Zeke came to live with us last night.
He hung out with me, my wife and our 8 y.o. son for the whole evening. Walking from one arm to another, up shoulders and even checking out the hairs on my face. He talked for us and even repeated some things back to us that were new(we think). All in all, he was a perfect bird.
At bed time, I put him into his cage. He wasn't happy about it but he went. He was quiet all night and my wife uncovered him and talked to him for a bit before she went to work this morning.
An hour later when I got up, I opened his cage to let him out for a while while I made breakfast and got my son and I ready. When I put my arm by the cage, he just looked at me and kind of muttered. I offered him a piece of Cantalope which he took and started to eat so I went about my morning ritual. A couple minutes later I heard a noise and he was climbing up his cage. When he got to the top, I went over to say HI. Again, he just looked at me and ignored an arm offered to him.
After all that, he started backing away from me. I was talking calmly to him the whole time but any way I went near him, he would back away to the far side of the cage roof. It was like he was scared of me but he didn't display or act aggressive,. He just kept backing away.
To try something else, I got a piece of bamboo from outside to put on top of the cage to see if he would use it as a perch. I gently set it a couple inches back from the front and he was terrified of it. He puffed up and ran back and forth then ran down the back of the cage before I could make it disappear.
He calmed down after that but only came back to the front of the cage to watch my son eat a breakfast sandwich. He even acted like he was going to come down and join him but changed his mind at the last second.
As far as I can tell, this bird has not touched his real food. He has taken a couple peanuts, a cashew and some cantalope last night and this morning but he was most interested in was a piece of whole wheat bread my son offered him.
What I'm taking away from this is the previous owners probably fed bread from the behavior I saw and possibly used a stick on the cage to quiet him down?
My big question is what to do now? How do I work him through this? He was a different bird this morning that he was last night. I know I'm coming in green on this but we're willing to put in the time and effort to give Zeke a good home. ALL advice will be taken into consideration.

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fiddlejen

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There is an adjustment period. Last night was an exception. You can see any sort of behaviors during the adjustment period, but, a Big common response for any bird faced with a new environment is to withdraw. They need to be allowed to progress at their own pace. There will be times when he seems withdrawn and uncommunicative or non-social, but he is actually Taking It All In, learning his new surroundings. Thinking about your bird as {somewhat} like an autistic-spectrum child can be helpful. Even though he was happy to interact yesterday, he may have reached an over-stimulation level and is now withdrawn to recover. NOT saying YOU over-interacted with him, but rather, New Environment, New People, New stuff to learn. etc.

I believe other folks will chime in with good advice about owning birds in-general, and umbrellas in-particular. Be sure to read the Stickies for excellent information!

I just wanted to reassure you that what you are seeing is normal.

(OH and the eating. My own little birdies were NOT rescues, but they all Barely ate for the first couple days, when they were new. This seems to be normal with birds. I would Not Assume he normally ate bread before. He Might have Not Really wanted to eat, but saw a treat on-offer that was not normally available & so went for it.. :) )
 

ToMang07

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Willow the Umbrella Cockatoo
Read up on basic training, diet, etc. Toos are a lot of work, and stubborn, emotional birds.

I would find a quality pellet (I like Harrisons) and lookup Chop recipes if your bird is willing to eat it. (Mine is a very picky eater) Lose the nuts and seeds, I use sunflower seeds very sparingly as a treat or reward for training.

Training.... start with the basics, potty training and "step up." Again, lots of reading here. Until you learn to read the Toos moods, I'd be very careful allowing him in your shoulder/ face area.

Routine. Birds love a routine. A big cage (bigger the better, they have POWERFUL breaks) full of bird-safe toys is important. When there is noone around I tend to leave the radio on, or the TV. Fresh water a few times daily as well, seeing as cockatoos LOVE making "soup" with their food and toys.

I'd also suggest losing the cover, they don't really do much and generally speaking the fibers can be hazardous... Cockatoos are big chewers, generally speaking.

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Carmech001

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Thank you. Like I said, he made a great impression last night. My wife, who doesn't allow animals other than fish in the house, sat with him in her arms for over an hour and fell in love with him.
Do you have any suggestions for coaxing him back into his cage for bedtime without scaring him or getting my hands tore up?
 

fiddlejen

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Do you have any suggestions for coaxing him back into his cage for bedtime without scaring him or getting my hands tore up?

Well my birds are much smaller. Other folks may have better suggestions!!

But, if all else fails try Darkening the Room, in a moderately gradual way. Birds naturally want to return to their perches when it gets dark. (I got room-darkening curtains specifically for this purpose, before work-from-home, when my Jefferson-Budgie was getting resistant to return-to-cage before I left for work.) Even in daytime, if it suddenly gets dark that might mean a storm, so birds will (eventually) return to their own roosting-spot.

(My Jefferson-budgie is smart, and stubborn, and In Charge. So if I darken the room he will determinedly Wait a while before returning to his own cage, to make sure I know it was His Choice.)
 

ToMang07

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Initially, that is gonna fall under training, specifically teaching him to "step up" on or off your arm. A favorite treat (like sunflower seeds) is a good motivator. Bite pressure training is important as well.

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Scott

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RIP Gandalf and Big Bird, you are missed.
Welcome to you and Zeke! Kudos for researching but nothing, absolutely nothing beats real world experience and advice with cockatoos. You've received some superb guidance above and I second Tom's suggestion for Harrison's pellets.

Generally first 4 to 6 weeks are "honeymoon" period of mutual adjustment, trust building, and bonding. Umbrella toos are smart and manipulative, not unlike a perpetual 4 year old. Consistency, love, and behavior management are key to happy relationship.

Sharing a few popular threads, might have received first link after joining: http://www.parrotforums.com/new-mem...friendly-warnings-keep-your-parrots-safe.html
http://www.parrotforums.com/general-parrot-information/49144-tips-bonding-building-trust.html
http://www.parrotforums.com/training/63988-bite-pressure-training.html
http://www.parrotforums.com/training/60435-clicker-target-training.html
http://www.parrotforums.com/parrot-...7-converting-parrots-healthier-diet-tips.html
http://www.parrotforums.com/parrot-...afe-fresh-foods-toxic-food-lists-sprouts.html

You'll have many questions as the days progress, feel free to post as needed!
 
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Carmech001

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A quick update. I came home after an unsuccessful hunt for a larger cage than the one Zeke came in. I guess he'll have to wait one more day. He now has new bowls for his water and food and he seems to like them as he ate some in front of me. In fact, he's eating now. He still watches me warily when I walk by but we have nothing but time. I'm starting to feel like a better birdy daddy.
 

PrimorandMoxi

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Thank you for rescuing Zeke.
This is an incredible site with so much info and members that support each other and everyone that wants to learn about being the best paront.

I can't help but to be wary of the dangers of a cockatoo with an unknown history interacting with or perching on the arm of an eight year old.
 
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Carmech001

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Thank you for rescuing Zeke.
This is an incredible site with so much info and members that support each other and everyone that wants to learn about being the best paront.

I can't help but to be wary of the dangers of a cockatoo with an unknown history interacting with or perching on the arm of an eight year old.
He's been nothing but gentle in his interactions with us and the same with the people who brought him to us. I realize there are dangers but (so far) there has been no sign of aggression. He has gently taken food and treats from all of us. I'm hoping he may relax more when I get him a better, bigger cage. He fits the one he came in acceptably for a very short time but I can tell he hates that thing as much as I do.
 

Flboy

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Welcome! That issue with the stick is a sore point with me! My JoJo will step up on anything for anyone! And that was a major point, to me, for his care! Stuff happens and I want him to be able to be handled, even by folks he obviously doesn’t care for!
 
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Carmech001

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Welcome! That issue with the stick is a sore point with me! My JoJo will step up on anything for anyone! And that was a major point, to me, for his care! Stuff happens and I want him to be able to be handled, even by folks he obviously doesn’t care for!
Yeah. It really caught me off guard. That particular stick has permanently disappeared.
 
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Carmech001

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A quick update. Zeke is adjusting pretty well. We've had a bit of squawking but it's decreasing. It's mostly just when he hears my wifes voice outside or when she disappears around a corner. As of right now, he won't step up on our arms but he's hesitantly putting one foot on my wifes, then taking it back. He does sit on his perch and let any of us stroke his head. When my wife does it, he sometimes lays his head down on her arm if it's near him. I think he has a thing for her. She also says he's much more active until I come into the room. I still think he may have had some bad experiences and I think it may have been a guy that caused them.

I'm a little worried about just leaving the door open and letting him come out on only his terms since I had such a hard time getting him back in before. He doesn't chase treats but he will take them from our hands.

I don't know much about him but I feel like this is a very young bird. maybe no more than 3 or 4 years old? I've looked at pictures of full grown toos and by comparison, he's very small.

I've included a couple pics of him in the first cage he came to us in(after I did my best to make it bearable for him for a couple days), and where we're at now. I have to say, I LOVE the new cage and he seems to as well.

Thanks to everyone for all the help and suggestions.

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ToMang07

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The new cage is much better. Could use some more toys tho, lol

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Betrisher

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Bless you for adopting this gorgeous boy! His new cage is lovely and it's obvious you're doing everything you can for him.

My best suggestion is to teach Zeke to target (instructions among the stickies in 'Training'. It's not 'just' a trick, but a technique you can use to happily put your bird where you want him with no mess, no fuss and no towelling. It's surprising how quickly a smart bird will learn to target. My Alexes took, maybe, ten minutes. My cockatoo took far less (she'll do *anything* for a sunflower seed!). Let me tell you, it's a great feeling, knowing I can place my birds back into their cages without argument or waiting!

My other suggestion is this method of step-up training. My dear, departed Galah was a neglect case and trusted *nobody* when he came to us. I used this method to teach him to step up and saved myself a lot of bite-wounds (he wasn't overly fond of me).

[ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIaDDSeZKnI"]Parrot Training Workshop Live Demo - Step Up Training with a Macaw - YouTube[/ame]

The main thing with cockies is occupation. They need to be kept busy, whether it's with toys or foraging or chewing. My lot goes through a massive amount of heavy box cardboard each week as well as timber and natural branches when I can get them. If you can keep the bill busy, then feathers might get a chance to regrow, y'know?

The rest is simply a function of how much time you're willing to spend with this gorgeous bird. I think you're doing all the right things and I hope you get the reward of making a strong and happy bond with him.

It's always possible the magic might not happen, so be prepared for that. My Galah never grew to like me, although he tolerated me when my husband was out of the picture. I didn't care! It was just so good to see him learn to be a bird again (the Galah, not the husband).
 
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Carmech001

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Another quick update on Zeke. We're two weeks in and he's doing MUCH better. He now will step up onto my wifes arm after a little coaxing but she has to be quick bringing him out because his motive is to try to grab the cage and climb to the top. He does go back in rather well as long as she keeps him with her and is also the one putting him back. We're getting a perch this weekend so we can have him out longer and still get things done.

The vet finally came yesterday (he also has an Umbrella). He said he was the sweetest bird. His guess is no more than 3 years old and a bit on the small side. Health is generally good but, and I was concerned about this, he has a scar on his right eye and probably will never have normal sight in it. I found out from the first rescuer that a dog had gotten ahold of him some time back so this may be part of that.

In general though, Zeke has been acting very much like a bird for the last several days. He's been enjoying the extra space and destroying his toys happily. We're enjoying him and I'm much less worried about him. It looks to me like this relationship just might work. lol.

On a side note, we have decided to change the name of the little tiki bar I built on our deck to include Zeke. The current front runner is... Tiki Zeke's Crazy Cockatoo Lounge.
 

noodles123

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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
Welcome and sorry this is so long....So, as you know, they are probably the most complicated parrots and you are in the honeymoon phase, but my main advice would be:
Pet on the head or neck only and keep cuddles to a minimum-- cockatoos are some of the most hormonal birds and they are extremely easy to trigger sexually---and sexually frustrate. It is super important that you not stroke etc outside of head or neck in order to preserve your safety and the cockatoo's best interest (they will eventually lash out, or self destruct if stimulated long-term).If it is for medical purposes, you bird should be okay with a quick touch here or there, but that shouldn't be frequent. Even if you are petting on the head and neck, do not do that for too long, and try not to makes the relationship/interaction about touching. Work on teaching games, tricks, foraging tag etc etc (not just petting) and be very careful about putting them on your lap or allowing them on couches. Anything that seems enclosed mostly, has haigh dark walls + nooks (couch) or is shadowy (boxes, hampers, tents, huts, tubes, under furniture, cabinets, drawers, in beds, under covers, piles of paper, pots etc etc = bad news because it puts them in nesting mode and alters their hormones. They are OBSESSED with getting pets and finding dark spaces (cavity nesters) and they don't sexually mature until 6-8. The babies are notoriously sweet but it is so very important that you start sustainable expectations now and not do anything that will be sexual or inappropriate at sexual maturity. A large proportion of these guys get re-homed before puberty, but even more at that age because they are so easy to overindulge and they tend to be obsessive and overly clingy if not taught boundaries and expectations. If you touch the bird sexually or allow him to go in boxes now, that will become an expectation and it can really mess them up over time (behaviorally, mentally and physically). They can be very persuasive, but your whole family must remember boundaries and touch love. MAKE SURE you kids know "head and neck only" and no shadowy spaces in or outside the cage. I cannot emphasize this enough.

Another SUPER SUPER important thing for u2s is the fact that they need 2 hours more sleep than other parrot species. They need 12-14 hours vs 10 and it must be within the same hour or so each day because they have an internal clock that you are basically setting. If it is always at a different time, you will mess with them and their hormones because in the wild, bedtime and wake-up = same time and they are photosensitive, so too long of a day triggers a breeding response. It also weakens their immune system significantly, and can trigger many undesirable behaviors, such as screaming, plucking, agitation, aggression etc. Remember, 12 hours sleep nightly. If you haven't already, I would try to find a way to get this bird a 2nd cage for sleep that can go in its own room. They need a dark quiet space because they are "party animals" and, while they may be quiet in their cage, they won't actually sleep if people are walking around by it and making lots of noise. With my U2, if she doesn't sleep well, the difference is subtle but immediate the next day (and that is just from 1 day). It really takes a toll over time if they aren't getting 12 hours dark sleep on a schedule in a quiet place.

With a U2, ABA (applied behavior analysis) is your new best friend....start learning it now (I will post more on this).

You will also want a variety of portable tree-style perches/play stands--- look for ones on heavy platforms with larger manzanita, dragonwood or grapevines. While these guys must spend some time alone, they do need to be included. Having perches around makes it easier to establish what is theirs and what is off-limits...not that they will always stay there.....Look into station training and also- avoid allowing your cockatoo to spend time on the ground. 1. it is too easy for them to get into things they shouldn't down there, 2. there are too many shadowy spaces and 3. it can often lead to chase-type behaviors and eventually charging/tow biting etc. I know a lot of people do it, but A LOT of people make a ton of mistakes with these guys, which is why they are they most re-homed parrots out there.

How old is your bird? Answering this will help you prepare behaviorally. It's great that you rescued rather than buying from a breeder, as these guys are re-homed at such high rates that breeding generally just exacerbates the problem.

That cage is much better by the way. Keep in mind that even if you work etc, this bird will need a bare minimum of 3 hours out each day (and the interaction shouldn't be mostly passive or mostly physical). I also find that they appreciate it when you label routines etc because it helps them anticipate and learn vocabulary associated with certain things. They also are a species that holds you to whatever standard you set-- so lets say right now, your parrot is getting a ton of attention and out for 8 hours a day for a month--- when that stops (due to work, school, whatever) they do not understand and will take it personally, so make sure you only do what you can sustain long-term if it is something you plan to do on a regular basis. They do not understand the idea of "too much"/"excess" and will hold you to whatever standards you set.

If you notice your bird getting very obsessive with one person, have that person back off a bit and allow other people to interact without them in the room. Make sure the other people are associated with all of the positives as well (so fav person should take a break from treat-giving etc). While these guys can bond with multiple people, they are still programmed to find a mate and you do not want to be that mate or it can turn into aggression against the rest of your family and extreme jealously. That is why mitigating hormones, enrichment, and socialization on a regular basis= particularly important for u2s.

It's also super important that you read signs of interest over signs of fear/aggression (as you have already gone too far if you are seeing signs of fear etc). I saw that you mentioned that in your first post and it is easy to push them too hard without realizing that ignoring signs like them moving away harms trust but can also lead to biting if they feel that it is their last resort. These guys are also easily over-stimulated, so things can go from a fun/silly dance party to a trip to the ER quickly. A bird up past its bedtime is even more prone to this sort of thing (even if the bird doesn't want to go to bed). A lot of people really struggle to read these guys because their body language is downright discrete compared to some, but once you know your bird really well, you will be able to read it.

If you are new to parrots, here is some very important information that I post for parrot owners-- even if you are not new, it's worth a read because so many people don't know this stuff. See the following post and read my replies and view the links. It's not cockatoo specific, but just humor me and take a look : http://www.parrotforums.com/new-members-welcome/90121-soon-first-time-sun-conure-owner.html (remember- u2s need 12 hours sleep, but post says 10 because it is more general)

This post doesn't apply to you yet, but it gives an overview of the concepts of ABA- see my responses to the OP- http://www.parrotforums.com/questions-answers/89733-new-parront-here-biting.html <-- read for detail

Finally- you will inevitably encounter screaming in the future and making sure the whole family understands what to do before it starts is key-- See my responses to OP (especially the 2nd one at the bottom of the page) because it talks about what to do when screaming occurs and it works- http://www.parrotforums.com/behavioral/87543-cockatoo-always-biting-screaming.html
 
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