Join Date: Dec 2020
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In Over My Head
I joined because I need all the help I can get. Quarantine got me down, especially when my beloved Lovebird, Strawberry, moved on to that tall top-of-fridge in the sky. Finally I couldn't take it any more, I needed another pet.
I met Skittles, a rescue blue-and-gold macaw. She's had a bit of a rough life. She started (as far as we know; this may not have been her first situation) living in an auto shop getting bothered and messed with all day every day by clients. The shelter took care of her and her plucked feathers mostly grew back. She got a wonderful Forever Home, and was there for 7 years.
Unfortunately, her Forever Home wasn't forever. A sudden death in the family meant they had to move, and the new apartment didn't take birds. So back to the shelter she went, away from people who really loved her. Apparently she was super affectionate with them, let them hold her like a baby, was a total mush.
And now, we live together. It's been 48 hours. She bites at me if I get too close for too long, and screams if I leave the room. I'm a special ed teacher, and we're known for our patience. I'm doing my best, providing toys, enrichment, talking to her, trying to both respect her boundaries and push them enough that she knows she can't scare me away. She's let me scratch her head a few times, and we talk back and forth (saying Aaaah, but conversationally). I know patience is the key, but this isn't easy. I've never had a bird big before, and I've only ever gotten babies who love you the minute you lock eyes with them. The biting and the screaming is really getting me down.
So far, I'm using my education training. I'm responding only to non-screaming vocalizations, and providing treats when she lets me leave the room without losing her birdy mind. I do my best not to react at all to screaming or biting, but back off and leave her alone if she walks away from me (I'm trying to teach her that she can make me step back by stepping back herself, not by trying to scare me away). Her cage isn't really big enough, she can't spread both her wings at the same time in there, but I can't afford a better one right now. Anyway, it's the cage she had in the shelter so she likes it well enough. I only make her go in to sleep or if I leave the house, the rest of the time she hangs out on top of it like Snoopy. She eats a mix of seeds and pellets with her favorite things (green apples and peanuts) as treats. I also offer her a bit of whatever I eat, so long as it isn't chocolate or avocado.
Am I doing everything I can? When can I start seeing some results? Help?!