During this whole journey with Morgan the macaw, I was getting a ton of people saying things like, "But what if Morgan NEVER likes her owner again?" and "What if Morgan has chosen YOU over her owner forever?! Then what?!"
Here's how I was ensuring the switch of affections:
What Patty did to EARN the bond:
Patty was 100% in charge of Morgan's daily care after her initial week (or less) with me. She would feed, water and change her enclosure. She would also be the one to give new toys. Because this is a positive interaction, Patty was gaining points for constantly being the one to provide good things (like food and toys). This gained her bonding points.
After the initial two weeks with Morgan, Patty began stepping Morgan up out of her cage for a treat, weighing her and putting her back - all for a giant almond. Morgan was stoked about this because when I was doing it, she only earned a pine nut here and there so we made it way more reinforcing when we switched the responsibility to Patty.
Touch Training 1-2x Daily
The biggest benefit came from Patty cuing an already-learned behavior. This way, Morgan could associate Patty with "speaking her language" which so far, NONE of her previous owners knew how to do. So this is a BIG one! Probably the game-changer. It was constant, positive interaction and clear communication.
What I did to ALLOW Patty to earn the bond:
Not Daily Care
I took daily care of my own birds, which are in the same room as Morgan. So she saw me interact and take care of my own birds every single morning and evening, and then her person came and did it for her. I think it was a very important thing for her to constantly witness and be reminded of.
I Remained Her Trainer
It's easy to want all the affections from an animal, but if you do everything for that animal - are its playmate, its caregiver, its trainer, its cuddle-bug, etc... then there's no space for another person to create their own bond. So my bond was strictly on training and fun, interactive mental stimulation.
I did not cuddle Morgan, or play with her in a casual way, I didn't take her out to do anything but train (after our initial days of "hanging out" and establishing that initial bond.)
Because I maintained my "trainer" status, that is leaving all those other avenues wide open for someone else (Patty) to fill. In due time, of course, but they're there for the taking. If I had taken those up, it would be a much harder climb for Patty to earn back Morgan's affections.
Many people don't fully comprehend this lesson. A new person in a bird's life can be doing everything right, but still fail because the "not new" person is making it impossible for them to be "let in" by taking up ALL the roles in the bird's life.
If you want someone else to be able to have a positive relationship with your bird, then LET THEM IN. Give them a role that is THEIRS. Help them both to communicate positively. (Trick training is GREAT for this.)
Because the "scale" of how much Morgan liked me vs Patty was not that far off (we talk about 60/40 a lot... which is about what it was) it was easy to transition the bond over to Patty.
The hard part? For Patty to KEEP it. As you'll see in our journey. View the playlist here.