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So, since for a while I was posting every other day about my new Black and Gold Macaw, Skittles, someone suggested I just make a thread of it. So, here we go.

Skittles has been with me for about two months now. The shelter where I got her estimates her age at "a bit less than 20", and I am at least her third owner (though I suspect she has had more). When the shelter first got her seven years ago, she was completely bald from plucking. She'd been living in an auto shop and super stressed, so one of the employees finally brought her to the shelter in the hopes they could find her a better home. They did, with a wonderful family that loved her to bits. But then the father of the family unexpectedly died, and the mother had to move in with adult children whose apartments didn't allow birds. So Skittles went back to the shelter.

Which comes to our short lives together. In the beginning, Skittles did a lot of screaming and biting and not a lot of anything else. She can't fly, as a lot of her feathers never grew back after she plucked them the first time and now she barbers what's left. She loves grapes but hates carrots, and she likes chewing on plastic beads but I won't let her have them any more because she once gave me a scare when I thought she'd swallowed one (she hadn't).

We've learned to work together a little. I use a fleece blanket to protect my arms and hands when I have to make her do something she doesn't want to do (like go in her cage, or get in my arms so I can bring her to another room). She's smart, so she's learned not to fight the blanket and to cooperate at least a little. It would be better if she was ok with riding on any part of me, but she seems to feel insecure with her feet on anything that isn't inanimate. Her favorite place to stand on my body is on my head, feet tangled in my hair, but she doesn't love that and her nails scratch my head up. If I trimmed them, she wouldn't even be able to get that good a grip. Now I'm trying to get her used to being carried in a basket or something, but she's not a fan (though she will stand on the rim and eat pistachios out of the basket).

I'm working on our remaining issues. She seems to trust me (she lets me pet her, even her eyelids, when she's in the right mood). With the exception of one afternoon screaming fit every day, which I'm told is typical for her breed, I can generally keep her from screaming by not leaving her alone in a room too often and by turning off the lights before I leave to get ready for bed at night. She does lose it whenever I'm on the phone, which is frustrating for both me and whoever I'm speaking to. As far as the barbering, I'm at a bit of a loss. She does it less often when she's in the cage, so I often put her in there when she starts if just redirection doesn't work. Paradoxically she seems to get a lot more exercise in the cage; climbing around, playing with toys, etc. I'm considering using the home remedy of spraying her with a diluted mustard mixture to make her feathers taste too bad to chew.

By the way, I decided she's female on the basis of no information at all. I haven't brought her to a veterinarian, partially because of Covid, partially because only recently have I managed to get her into a carrier, and partially because I have had a very bad experience with avian veterinarians in the past. My first bird, which I had when I was a teenager, died within 24 hours of a vet's visit. She'd been barbering too, and though I was almost sure it was because of stress related to my brother's new puppy in the house, I wanted to rule out something medical. The veterinarian took a feather for biopsy and cauterized the spot. In the night, she tore off the scab and bled all over the cage. The cut was closed in the morning but she seemed lethargic. We spent the day together, and by the time I realized something was seriously wrong it was too late. She died in my hand before we even got into the car to go to the animal emergency room. Rest in peace, Dandelion.

So I'm hesitant to go the medical route, but I would really like any tips and tricks to help with the socializing, the remaining screaming, and the barbering. Any advice is appreciated.

If you know of anyone who used to have a Blue and Gold, and who has people in their household named "Raquela" and "Jackie", I'd be curious to talk to them. Skittles says their names to herself when she's bored and feeling chatty, and I'd like to know more about her past.
 

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Great Post! It's lovely to hear you are still trying to work out some issues with your new Skittles. If you are having moments of petting and touching her after 60 days then you are well on your way to still earning trust and she will stand on your arm at some point.

What type of perch does she have in her cage? I do know of a few people who are rescuers of older birds who don't trust hands and they use a perch to move them around the house. The birds have gotten use to the perch and feel this is safe while their human is holding one end of it.
This might work for you?

I think you've done really well with her over this short time and only more attention and time will really win her over. Thanks for sharing your story with us and I look forward to more updates!
 

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So, since for a while I was posting every other day about my new Black and Gold Macaw, Skittles, someone suggested I just make a thread of it. So, here we go.

Skittles has been with me for about two months now. The shelter where I got her estimates her age at "a bit less than 20", and I am at least her third owner (though I suspect she has had more). When the shelter first got her seven years ago, she was completely bald from plucking. She'd been living in an auto shop and super stressed, so one of the employees finally brought her to the shelter in the hopes they could find her a better home. They did, with a wonderful family that loved her to bits. But then the father of the family unexpectedly died, and the mother had to move in with adult children whose apartments didn't allow birds. So Skittles went back to the shelter.

Which comes to our short lives together. In the beginning, Skittles did a lot of screaming and biting and not a lot of anything else. She can't fly, as a lot of her feathers never grew back after she plucked them the first time and now she barbers what's left. She loves grapes but hates carrots, and she likes chewing on plastic beads but I won't let her have them any more because she once gave me a scare when I thought she'd swallowed one (she hadn't).

We've learned to work together a little. I use a fleece blanket to protect my arms and hands when I have to make her do something she doesn't want to do (like go in her cage, or get in my arms so I can bring her to another room). She's smart, so she's learned not to fight the blanket and to cooperate at least a little. It would be better if she was ok with riding on any part of me, but she seems to feel insecure with her feet on anything that isn't inanimate. Her favorite place to stand on my body is on my head, feet tangled in my hair, but she doesn't love that and her nails scratch my head up. If I trimmed them, she wouldn't even be able to get that good a grip. Now I'm trying to get her used to being carried in a basket or something, but she's not a fan (though she will stand on the rim and eat pistachios out of the basket).

I'm working on our remaining issues. She seems to trust me (she lets me pet her, even her eyelids, when she's in the right mood). With the exception of one afternoon screaming fit every day, which I'm told is typical for her breed, I can generally keep her from screaming by not leaving her alone in a room too often and by turning off the lights before I leave to get ready for bed at night. She does lose it whenever I'm on the phone, which is frustrating for both me and whoever I'm speaking to. As far as the barbering, I'm at a bit of a loss. She does it less often when she's in the cage, so I often put her in there when she starts if just redirection doesn't work. Paradoxically she seems to get a lot more exercise in the cage; climbing around, playing with toys, etc. I'm considering using the home remedy of spraying her with a diluted mustard mixture to make her feathers taste too bad to chew.

By the way, I decided she's female on the basis of no information at all. I haven't brought her to a veterinarian, partially because of Covid, partially because only recently have I managed to get her into a carrier, and partially because I have had a very bad experience with avian veterinarians in the past. My first bird, which I had when I was a teenager, died within 24 hours of a vet's visit. She'd been barbering too, and though I was almost sure it was because of stress related to my brother's new puppy in the house, I wanted to rule out something medical. The veterinarian took a feather for biopsy and cauterized the spot. In the night, she tore off the scab and bled all over the cage. The cut was closed in the morning but she seemed lethargic. We spent the day together, and by the time I realized something was seriously wrong it was too late. She died in my hand before we even got into the car to go to the animal emergency room. Rest in peace, Dandelion.

So I'm hesitant to go the medical route, but I would really like any tips and tricks to help with the socializing, the remaining screaming, and the barbering. Any advice is appreciated.

If you know of anyone who used to have a Blue and Gold, and who has people in their household named "Raquela" and "Jackie", I'd be curious to talk to them. Skittles says their names to herself when she's bored and feeling chatty, and I'd like to know more about her past.
Thank you for sharing with us your experiences with Skittles.
I plan on following your Skittles Journal just to find out what happens next with your journey with her. Good luck! ~Sweet Parakeet 🦜
 
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I'll keep you updated! I've made Skittles' first vet appointment for about a week from now, so we'll see how that goes. It's a curbside appointment, so I have to bring Skittles, drop her off, talk to the veterinarian from outside, and take her back.
 

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I'll keep you updated! I've made Skittles' first vet appointment for about a week from now, so we'll see how that goes. It's a curbside appointment, so I have to bring Skittles, drop her off, talk to the veterinarian from outside, and take her back.

I really dislike these curbside examinations as I know my bird would be much happier if it saw me in the doorway while the Vat pokes her in places she doesn't wanna be poked. I want the vet to see the shame and my face all red in color while my tiny budgie swears at him in colorful expletives.

But if curbside is all you can get .. then do what you gotta. It's strange times these Covid days!

Skittles will do great!
 

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Skittles doesn't curse . . . quite. She says "stupid" and "stop that" almost interchangeably, and in context! When I do something that bothers her, she uses those two. And sometimes, after she screams a few times, she'll cheerfully tell herself to "shut up"!
 

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In her cage she has wooden posts, but she will also stand on the folded up cereal boxes I poke through the bars (when she's not shredding them). I'm trying to make her a happy place I can carry. So far I've tried wicker baskets, but while she stands on them when I put them down somewhere the minute I pick them up she panics and climbs my head. Which isn't easy for either of us; she has trouble balancing, and her talons hurt!

I heard she used to like being carried on her back like a baby when she was with her last owner, but she won't do that with me. I've tried. Honestly, if she wasn't so relaxed and happy once I put her down in new destinations, I might have given up trying to relocate her entirely.
 

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Skittles doesn't curse . . . quite. She says "stupid" and "stop that" almost interchangeably, and in context! When I do something that bothers her, she uses those two. And sometimes, after she screams a few times, she'll cheerfully tell herself to "shut up"!
She sounds like she's got quite the determined personality. And saying "shut up" after a session of screaming, sounds like a perfect learned response. It would do the vet good if he heard her exclaim "stupid" while waiting for curbside pick-up before her examination session. I know we need to use a different strategy for social distancing during this pandemic, but bringing more social anxiety for your bird during your vet appointment is not appropriate to me.
Good luck with Skittles! And take care, ~Sweet Parakeet 💙
 
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