Throw out everything you ever heard about leaving your bird alone in its cage to "adjust" for the first few days. Throw it out, out, out!
Anytime I see people "leave their bird alone in the cage to adjust for a few days" prior to interacting with it positively, the bird becomes so comfortable in its new space that YOU are the only thing "new and scary" now, after the adjustment period.
Whatever things make the initial first positive impressions, those are the "safe" things. So let it be YOU and not the cage.
Notice I said positive interactions and impressions. It's just as influential if you accidentally end up being negative in those first moments as well so be extra cautious that you're reading body language and allowing interactions to occur on the bird's terms. They will tell you!
After this first day with Morgan (a 7 year old female Camelot macaw with a deformed left foot and who knows how many previous owners... we know of at least 3+ previous ones...) day two I let her hang out in her cage and get used to her surroundings. I didn't want her to become too spoiled right away, and a bird does need time to adjust to the cage environment, it's just on day TWO, not day one.
Days 3-5 I randomly interacted with her. I started making her care part of my normal routine - I would weigh her just like I weigh my other birds (it just took more figuring out for the best way for her to step onto that perch, and it took a jackpot of treats instead of one pine nut since it was new and she overcame!)
I didn't tip toe around her, I went on about my normal business. I used a broom to sweep, I used a shop vac to clean up (which only made her nervous for maybe two days, after which she stopped reacting at all.) and I did not go over and give her attention or talk sweetly if I saw her a little uncomfortable. I simply kept going and let her realize these things were "non-threatening" on her own. And when she did, THEN the attention, talking and praise came. To her credit, she has my flock of 7 to look to for observational learning, too. If they aren't freaking out about it, she likely won't either. And to keep this within reason: if she became flailing upset, or anything over "slightly uncomfortable" (screaming, thrashing, wing flapping, etc.) then I would definitely need to take the desensitizing much, much slower. So keep this in mind if your bird DOES react like this, it means you may need to step over a few egg shells after all.
I also changed her pelleted diet on day two. When she went into her cage for the first time she had her original pellets her current owner was using but ALL the other birds (my birds) got my all natural pellets and dive right into them! It took her two days to do the same. She was receiving her normal veggie morning meal (more than she needed) and again, I was tracking weight. But honestly, it felt like she didn't want to be left out when my other birds got their pellets so it occurred to me that it would be a very easy transition given her new situation and it was! From pellets filled with nasty ingredients and lots of fillers to all natural ones with the best ingredients on the market. BAM!
Now, days 4-5 she showed me she really chose me by regurgitating for me. Ugh! So now I'll need to be careful about our interactions staying within the friend zone no matter how much she tries to convince me to pet her anywhere besides her HEAD... not happening, babe!
So, not to brag but I accomplished all this in less than a week:
- Formed a strong bond with a brand new bird on day one. (Meaning she WANTS to be with me.)
- Changed diet onto a healthy pellet in two days!
- Desensitized to my broom/vacuum routine by day three.
- Target trained in less than 3 minutes on day five (first try...)
- Have gotten about 6-7 flights to me in since she arrived (done in two days.)
I'm still a long way away from my goal: to free fly Morgan with my Camelot macaws outside! But the joy is in the journey, right?