Changing Your Bird’s Environment

The night Storm got to our Florida home, we moved him to his new cage… it was a BIG change from his usual home, especially for a bird with no real experience playing with toys.

The goal? To get Storm to start exercising more by climbing all around this new, larger environment and get active with new toys and things to do throughout the day.

We put him in a giant cage with plenty of new and fun food finding toys. Some of you may recognize them if you’re on our monthly toy program!

Now, Storm had never foraged before. So I also included a bowl of pellets so not to completely shock his system. His owners told us he loves cooked chicken so that is what we used for training the following day.

In the morning we placed Storm on a scale and weighed him. His weight was 572 grams (72 grams over the normal heavy weight for his species) and we worked on touch training with his reward being chicken. Dave used a chopstick while I used a fork to give him his reward. He was very nippy that day and would slyly reach out his foot to step up and then pull Dave’s hand in to bite it. Dave used a glove as Storm’s bite was very well learned and strong. By looking at him you could tell he actually liked to bite… his eyes would pin excitedly during and after.

Storm would actually step up with one foot, pull the arm in to bite it and end up standing on the hand, eventually stopping his biting. You could tell all his actions were learned from previous owners.

He enjoyed staying on the counter of the kitchen. With Dave, Storm has been lunging with all his feathers slicked down. With me, he pins his eyes, fluffs up the feathers on the back of his neck, fans his tail and gets very talkative. That day he puked for me over and over. It was interesting body language as eye pinning can be angry/manipulative or excited… same with all the other behaviors. My cockatoo fluffs up her feathers when she gets excited to get kissed on the head… but those feathers can also signify fear. I wasn’t sure if he hated me even more or actually liked me.

And he proved to us we wouldn’t figure him all out in that one day…

He stayed out on the perch and kitchen counter and watched a movie with us then went to bed.

The first day he screamed when I would walk away from him. First he would say, “Where ya goin’?” and then he would just scream. I would leave as I had intended, wait around the corner until he stopped screaming for a minute or two solid and then come back and excitedly say, “Hello Storm!” and he would say "Hello" to me, too. By day two he wasn’t screaming when I would leave, as I taught him I’d always come back at some point in time. I made it a point to say hi to him from one room, then go to another room where I could see him and say hi to him from there, too. I never walked in to say hello to him if he was screaming. I also learned he was less likely to scream if I walked back-first out of the room.

And some of you may have noticed Storm is missing a few toe nails. The elderly couple found him missing those and had said they were already healed so no one knows what happened to cause that… it impacts his balance and climbing a bit but nothing majorly.

Tip to Take Home: The first thing we did with Storm was change his environment to set him up for success in exercise and more. His water and food was put on OPPOSITE sides of this large cage making it so that he has to be more active than he has been in the past. It also provides the opportunity for him to climb and really play. Getting this overweight and unhealthy parrot more active was a giant step (though it seems small) in getting him back to health.

Jamieleigh Womach has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots with whom she shares the stage.

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