Tiko is over 20 years old and highly prefers males. Ok... I was just being nice about it... he hates women. All women, except for my mother in law who he is sometimes nice to... and any woman willing to put in the time and effort of training so that he will learn to like you, but it takes a lot of work. And so far my mother in law is the only one that has put in that work with the help of my husband and brother in law. I'm not around Tiko enough to be able to do that kind of thing, but I've worked with him a tad in the past.
I was recently visiting him and because his owners were just moving, all their stuff was stuffed into their garage, along with Tiko on his foraging tree, to hang out and see everyone as they carried boxes in and out of the house to be unpacked...
So I saw Tiko every single day, and every single day he'd stick his wings out at me and scream. Reminding me, in case I forgot, that he doesn't like me or my "kind".
Photo by Dave Location: Centralia, WA Shown: Blue and gold macaw "Tiko"
I found myself using other doors, or going way far around so that Tiko wouldn't scream at me because it wasn't pleasant for me to hear, and I know it wasn't pleasant for Tiko to see me. Then I realized I was just being a coward instead of addressing the problem, or making it easier on both of us. Everytime Tiko saw me, it was never because I was coming over to harass him or having to walk by him all close, it was just because I had to get to where I was going, and he happened to be on the side along the way. But I could keep a good distance. I realized, Tiko learned how to say "buh-bye" from Chet leaving the room and saying it. So everytime someone left, Tiko would say buh-bye!
I thought... maybe if when he saw me, I said "buy-bye" to him, he would take it as a cue that I was leaving and not bother screaming. Instead, he would say good bye to me as well and let me be on my way without having a fit about it. And it would also be a way of letting him know I had no intention of hanging out with him and making him uncomfortable.
So I tried it. The next time I walked by Tiko, as soon as he saw me, I said, "Buh bye Tiko!" he stood up tall, almost like I interrupted his normal get-as-close-as-I-can-before-screaming-at-you routine, and pinned his eyes and said, "Buh bye!" and by the time he said it, I was gone and out of sight or almost always just barely in sight anymore and on my way. It worked, actually and I was thrilled. Now every time I see him I tell him goodbye so that he knows my intention is to leave him alone, which he approves of, and it gives him no reason to scream at me. It worked for the duration of my entire visit and I was thrilled.
Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She 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 whom she shares the stage with.