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Parrots/14 year old Double Yellow Amazon

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Question
My husband purchased a 14 old double yellow amazon parrot over a year ago. My husband is his 3rd owner, we believe that he was abused by the condition of his cage. Murray is attached to my husband this bird has bitten my sister in law. My husband spends alot of time with him. His screaming has gotten worse. If my husband talks to me he screams if my husband is not in his sight he screams basically he screams not stop and it has gotten worse. He is out of his cage alot and has toys for which he will not play. He doesn't talk. the only time that Murray is quiet is when he is on my husbands shoulder. Please give advise my husband really likes this bird.

Answer
-- I admire you ALL for loving this bird even when he's difficult to love.  No one likes a bird that misbehaves and not much is worse than biting and screaming.
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There are a lot of factors involved in successful taming of a bird (of the pet variety).  Whether it’s been with all varieties of macaws and Eclectus,  or raptors (hawks, owls, etc) of all sizes, the most important tool we have is patience.  Look at it this way, if you aren’t patient and push for immediate or ‘quick’ results, you will fail and have an aggressive or frightened bird for a long time, if not the rest of its life.  Taking your time and letting the bird learn you, adjust to their surroundings and ease into sharing life with you – is by far the better choice.  Even if the bird never learns to truly trust, at least to live in peace, comfort and care is a huge accomplishment.
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It’s important that the bird knows it is not in ‘flock leader’ position.  To help insure this, a modest wing trim should be done.   Your bird should not have the ability to get distance or lift out of a flight, just the ability to glide safely to the ground or nearest surface.  
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When doing this to a previously fully flighted bird there may be some confusion and acting out on the bird’s part, but giving lots of reassurance and consistently being there to  pick up and move your companion to where it planned on going, within reason, will help move past the insult more quickly.
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When it comes to the cage:
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Approach the cage when the bird is calm. Be slow, keep your movements smooth and don’t raise your hands above your own shoulder level – or above the eye level of the bird.  Speak with a soft voice and give the bird time to calm down and accept your presence. If it doesn’t adjust relatively quickly, back away until it calms down – the last thing we want is for the bird to injure itself by flailing around in fear.  
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  Remember, patience.

I approach our new additions (usually abused birds entering rescue/rehab) an hour or so after tucking them in for nighttime.  Their cages are covered on all sides, leaving just ½ of the front uncovered so they can see out and feel secure. It also insures decent air circulation.   The room light would be very dim, but not totally dark. Most birds have poor night vision, unless they’re nocturnal birds like owls and approaching them in total darkness is frightening to them.  
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  At this time, whispering, putting a hand up against the cage and just holding it there is a start.  Remember, keep it non-threatening and below their eye level.
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  When you notice them calmly stretching a wing and leg slowly out to the side and back, mimic the action with your own arm slowly stretching out to the side and softly stay engaged vocally (“what a good bird you are”, “that’s a pretty bird”, etc).
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  After just a few minutes of nice interaction, leave them be for their night and the next day use the same tone of voice and slow, calm movements around them.  
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  Open the cage door (as long as your bird is not panicking and will be safe if they escape, unable to get to places you cannot recover them from) and offer your finger/hand just above the feet and gently touching at the breast area there  say “step up”.  This command is important to use every time so that when the bird hears it they know it’s time to be on hand/finger.  
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Remember to respect your bird.  Sometimes it won’t feel like stepping up or interacting, just like sometimes you might not feel like doing something.  That should be ok.  Try again later.   
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Don’t wake a bird up to play and don’t interrupt them while they’re eating.

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 In an untamed bird there may be some biting and squawking, but if you can tolerate it until they are on hand, you’ve accomplished a very important step.  Once up they usually stop biting where they’re perching (your hand) and if they don’t, giving them an “earthquake” a gentle shaking of your hand, but not enough to dislodge them or cause them to feel insecure, will often distract them.   
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I’ve also found that walking quickly into a different room (which isn’t hard to do with a big macaw chomping down on my arm like a pitbull) will surprise them enough to stop.  Suddenly, in new surroundings, I’m their best friend.  
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  If you cannot get your bird to cooperate right away with hands, remember, you’ve got years ahead of you – it’s worth it to do this right.  Try just placing your hand in the cage for a minute and letting them get used to it being there.  Having a treat in hand will help make your fingers a positive thing.
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  Continue the night whispering and no matter what, don’t give up.  

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Rev. Dr. S.August Abbott

Expertise

Certified Avian Specialist; Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council member; Own animal rescue org; National Wildlife habitat #66378; bird care, nutrition & behavior consultant; International Assoc. of Animal Behavior Consultants Associate; National Wildlife Federation Leaders Club member; published bird care, info and behavior articles and guides. Ongoing education in exotic bird behavior and nutrition I can answer behavioral, nutritional, environmental, characteristic/personality questions as well as general health and health care. No animal emergency can ever be addressed on the internet. We cannot see your animal, perform an examination, provide necessary care or medication. Please value your companion for the priceless, living creature they are; not for what you might have paid for them.

Experience

Certified Avian Specialist. For more than 30 years I've worked with veterinarians, protective facilities, nature centers, preserves and on my own in providing care and education with regard to multiple animal species, including raptors (hawks, kestrals, owls, etc) and marsupials. In recent years I've focused on parrots, usually rescued from abusive or less than ideal situations and helping educate owners as to proper care. Expert in behavior studies and modification of problem behavior.

Organizations
4AnimalCare is the organization I run as an animal ministry; World Wildlife Association, Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, National Wildlife Federation Leaders Club and more

Publications
Bird Talk Magazine articles about rescued and problem macaws.

Education/Credentials
Doctorate, Ordained Minister

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