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Hello, Hannah needs our help (long)

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kroden
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Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:42 am

Hello, Hannah needs our help (long)

Post by kroden » Wed Sep 17, 2014 7:29 am

Hello,
A friend of mine adopted a IRN from a local rescue last year. They didn't know any history or the age of Hannah except that she bites. They used a towel to transfer her from one place to another. Since having her, my friend also has used the towel method to handle her. I have seen her get more aggressive over the past year to where she has attacked the other birds in the house, mutilating a cockatiel (Hannah got on her cage), and almost severing her lower beak. My friend also has a parakeet with several toes that have nails missing, don't know weather to lay this at Hannah's door or not since the parakeet shares a cage with another parakeet. Hannah is a beautiful bright yellow w/red beak and very unhappy.
After some discussion with my husband I asked my friend if Hannah could come to our house for awhile, maybe forever but don't tell my husband. We have a crazy 2 yr old male parakeet, Petey, now. He has a huge cage and loves anything with bells, he starts singing and talking the minute I uncover him in the morning and doesn't stop until he's covered at night. He get's out of his cage after supper and throws around his little plastic cat toy balls with bells in them, pulls the hair on the dogs tail and generally makes a nucience of himself. When he's had enough he has a ladder to get back up into his cage. This is what I want for Hannah.
Anyway, I am going to go pick Hannah up today. I read on here that when they go through their bluffing stag if you discipline them or just leave them in their cage it permanently changes them. I said all that to ask this. When she bites me, am I in risk of loosing a finger or just needing a bandaid? Can she be turned around? At least to where she can enjoy her cage? or a play stand? My plan of attack is her cage will be in the same room my chair is in. While I'm knitting or watching TV she will be only about 4' away but I will not be facing her directly. I plan on leaving her like that until I sense some change in her, like not freaking out when I reach in to change food/water. Then I'll open the door, there is a perch on top the cage. Or should I do that sooner? I just plan to have her close to me in a passive way until she is comfortable before I try getting her to get on my hand/arm. Pete's wings are clipped and he is in the opposite side of the room with a short wall between them so no "accidents" can happen. They won't be out together.
Open to any and all suggestions, sorry for the long rant I just want to do right by this bird.

MissK
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Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 3:46 pm
Location: Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.

Re: Hello, Hannah needs our help (long)

Post by MissK » Wed Sep 17, 2014 8:42 am

Hi. I'm pleased you are wanting to help Hannah out, and you've done well to come to the forum. I would caution you to remember that the bird you get is the bird you get and any positive changes are a bonus. Likewise, glad to hear you will be protecting Petey.

A lot has been written about taming/calming so all I will really say is use SEARCH and add food to your plan.

About the biting, you won't lose a finger unless it gets infected. (Don't let a child be bitten. Their fingers are smaller and you are supposed to be protecting them, too.) People and birds are different. Some get bitten and just keep on going, while others run away and cry over it. Keep it clean and use some antibacterial soap on the fresh wound even if it appears quite minor (which it will). BETTER STILL IS JUST TO AVOID BEING BITTEN.

NOTE that not all bites are the same. You might be bitten hard by a bird scared for its life, or you might be nibbled by a bird investigating you, or you might just be briefly touched while the bird keeps its balance. Don't be surprised if you get a quick bite just because your finger was there holding the food. I think this type of bite is a fact-finding procedure or possibly a way to address the finger before it becomes a problem so they can get to the matter of the food in peace. When I faced this bite I generally used the food to block it, and I feel that reinforces the idea of biting the food while redirecting the idea of biting the finger. SEARCH here for blocking the bite.

NOTE as well, keep the face and ears, etc out of range (duh). I have an untame IRN since May and he has *never* bitten me because I don't put him in any situations that would make that seem like something he needs to do. I saw him bite the bejeezus out of his previous owner (she asked for it) and I know he would not hesitate if he saw the need. I make sure he sees no need. Give Hannah the respect she deserves, don't provide any motivation for her to bite, keep calm if it happens, and go about your business.

I will say I don't think handling the bird is doing anything good for her. I would strongly urge you not to do it. I might be bending over backwards on this, but if you have the choice see if you can get the current owner to pack Hannah up and deliver her *into* the new cage in your house. If you are using the same cage, have them put her in a transport cage and you move the regular cage to your house for cleaning and setup first. I say this so that you can build positives with Hannah from the get go, and not be asking her to overlook anything offensive before you have a relationship. Learn every detail about her likes/dislikes/habits/daily lifestyle from the current owners and write them down. You'll thank yourself later.

Another item to consider is wing clipping. I got the impression Petey is clipped, due to he has to climb a ladder to get back home. I think clipping would be inadvisable for Hannah because she is already at a disadvantage. Imagine how you would feel if a bunch of scary giants picked you up and moved you from one frightening situation to the next and all the while your sneakers were tied together. Do her a favour. Shoulder the responsibility for ensuring her safety by being careful about the surroundings and keep her whole.

I've taken in a lot of second hand animals in my million years here on earth and, overall, the things I found to help them the most are compassion and time. I look forward to hearing how things go with Hannah.
-MissK

Wessel Gordon
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Re: Hello, Hannah needs our help (long)

Post by Wessel Gordon » Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:43 am

MissK,

Very well summed up.

Kroden,

I fully agree with MissK...the only thing I would add is to suggest you figure out what Hannah's favorite treat is and use it for positive reinforcement. You can start this by "rewarding" her for simply not freaking out whenever you need to change the food and water or whenever you are close to the cage. From there you can begin training her to work harder for it, i.e. actually approaching you out of her own free will. The point of the exercise is for her to realize that you and the treat are inter-linked....considering how food motivated IRN's are most of them figure that part out pretty fast.

As MissK remarked there's different kinds of bites but I do know that when they first put their beak around your finger you're not going to analyse what kind of bite it is before you instinctively want to react to it. I have a female that I avoid physical contact with at all cost simply because of her unpredictability (her kinds of bites can switch in 0.00005 seconds) while I had a male a few years ago that "scratched" my nose with his beak with a feather light touch. Unfortunately the odds are you are going to get bitten - it happens to us all so don't feel bad if it does. The key here is to get to know her moods and to know them well. That way you can more or less predict whether a strategic retreat or pushing a boundary or two at that very moment is your best option.

Regards,

Wessel

kroden
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Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:42 am

Re: Hello, Hannah needs our help (long)

Post by kroden » Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:55 am

Wessel,
Although I know it is apples and oranges I have been chewed on by parakeets and bit by cockatiels. While neither is fun I'd like to think I've at least learned not to pull away... yeah, I'd like to think that... :) Knowing now that coming back with a stump isn't going to be the result will make that much easier.
Thank you for the advice about treats I'll use them wisely.

kroden
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:42 am

Re: Hello, Hannah needs our help (long)

Post by kroden » Wed Sep 17, 2014 11:03 am

MissK,
Thank you, She really doesn't have any routines clean, food and water and a cover over the cage if she gets to loud. She stays in a back room with occasional company. We are bringing her cage here, I plan on leaving her cage on the floor with the door open and butting the carrier up to it with the door open and letting her transfer over when she wants. No little ones around anymore to worry about. :) Thanks for all the great input and your interest in helping me help her.

SunniDai
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Location: Washington state, USA

Re: Hello, Hannah needs our help (long)

Post by SunniDai » Wed Sep 17, 2014 11:50 am

Kroden, we rescued three of our fids, and when we first got them, they were clipped. We also watched previous handlers get bit severely, so we wanted to avoid that, but knew there would be times we would have to move them from one spot to another. We stick trained them, and they do very well.
Just something else to consider.
~Dana

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Wessel Gordon
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Re: Hello, Hannah needs our help (long)

Post by Wessel Gordon » Wed Sep 17, 2014 12:44 pm

kroden,

I have thought of something else since that last post.

Since she's a rescue and you have no prior history on her before your friend had her it might very well be that she has certain "triggers" for a negative response i.e. a certain movement or a loud/sharp voice. Her previous owners might have subjected her to who-knows-what (I am not making them villians but simply trying to make a point) that incorporated that "trigger" and she learned the only way to cope with that kind of situation was to bite. I would suggest that as part of learning her moods and habits you learn those triggers as well. In the female I mentioned earlier's cage her "trigger" is her nestbox...if I have to clean or move the nest I need an assistant to keep her distracted while I do my job or vice versa since she absolutely will without any doubt try to make sure you hand leave with less fingers than you had prior to touching the nest. I can't blame you for a bit apprehensive about her bite: I had to move 3 of my 6 IRN's for various reasons over the last few weeks and between them I ended up with 7 blood-drawing bites.

Fortunately IRN's (like dogs) have several ways of warning an intruder, in this case you, that the bird is uncomfortable or feel threatened and might be getting ready to bite. This might include pinning of the eyes, fluffing out of the feathers to make it look bigger (especially around the head) and lowering of the head that might be mistaken for a submissive gesture but from experience I know that's sometimes a prelude to a bite - think of a snake coiling itself up for the strike. What I know about IRN's they will only bite after the human ignored all those "warnings". So learn to read the subtle signs that she's giving you that she would rather be left alone for a few minutes. I'm convinced that once you know her moods and "triggers" you will suffer a lot less bites.

The stick-training Sunni-Dai mentioned might be a great help.

PS: my birds' favorite treat is peanuts that's still in it's shell but I also regularly give them apple that I chase through a grater together with a carrot that's also grated. It makes a nice "apple and carrot salad" that my birds particularly seems to enjoy. I used to cut the apple and carrot into bite-sized bits but I noticed they actually eat more of it when it's grated simply because they don't have to hold on to chunky pieces that might slip out of their paw before they got a good bite out of it.

Another trick an ex-breeder gave me was to take ordinary brown bread (NEVER EVER white bread) and break it into bite-size pieces and sprinkle a few drops of water over it to just moisten it a bit. I can't remember why he emphasized to never use white bread but there is some nutrients, i.e. corn, in the brown bread that the birds need.

Wessel

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InTheAir
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Re: Hello, Hannah needs our help (long)

Post by InTheAir » Wed Sep 17, 2014 1:33 pm

kroden wrote:Wessel,
Although I know it is apples and oranges I have been chewed on by parakeets and bit by cockatiels. While neither is fun I'd like to think I've at least learned not to pull away... yeah, I'd like to think that... :) Knowing now that coming back with a stump isn't going to be the result will make that much easier.
Thank you for the advice about treats I'll use them wisely.

If I do something that results in my birds biting me I do pull my hand away (not if they are nibbling or using their beak to balance, only for those proper annoyed irn bites) and it hasn't escalated the biting at all. They are biting to tell me to stop doing whatever I am doing, it is the result of me being at fault not them. If I had responded to the body language that was presented before the bite, I wouldn't have been bitten.
I recommend checking out this link:
http://learningparrots.com/blog/trainin ... l-parrots/
I found it incredibly helpful for making friends with my scared irn.

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Donovan
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Location: North Carolina

Re: Hello, Hannah needs our help (long)

Post by Donovan » Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:08 pm

InTheAir wrote:
If I do something that results in my birds biting me I do pull my hand away (not if they are nibbling or using their beak to balance, only for those proper annoyed irn bites) and it hasn't escalated the biting at all. They are biting to tell me to stop doing whatever I am doing, it is the result of me being at fault not them. If I had responded to the body language that was presented before the bite, I wouldn't have been bitten.


I agree with this statement completely. My first bird will bite the crap out of me now because of my lack of education. My second bird gives me beak bumps only and I respond with full respect. It usually happens when I try to pet him. Sometimes he's willing to be pet and sometimes he's not. My first bird got no respect from me. Before he could fly I would handle him or do things he didn't want because he couldn't fly away.
Literally the next say after he realized he could fly (I actively encouraged him to fly when his flight feathers came in) he no longer tolerated my attempts to touch, pet, or otherwise handle him.

So there is a lot to be said for negotiating with a bird vs forcing them.

MissK
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Location: Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.

Re: Hello, Hannah needs our help (long)

Post by MissK » Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:18 pm

Hi again Kroden,

I would suggest that the receiving cage be placed in the long term spot, not on the floor, because she will be upset when you then go to move the cage. You can use a table, or a stool on a table, or a box on a stool, or whatever you must to line up the doors. Don't expect her to run right in. She may need sometime or "encouragement" and you want the previous owner to do that if it is at all an option. If not, ask your neighbor.

Try and investigate or observe her routines in the current home. They may not be fancy but they are there. For example - when I wake up I take my dogs immediately to the back door to relieve themselves and then we just do whatever. That's my routine. At least that's what I would tell you. Closer examination reveals nearly always one of my dogs has told me to get up before I consider it, I always put on my glasses before quitting the bed, I almost always hit my own bathroom on the way to the door, and once I let the dogs out I check the thermometer outside. There's a lot going on in the simple act that is not disclosed. If I had to vary something, say, putting on my glasses, the whole thing would be thrown off. So look again at how Hannah spends her day. It really may reveal something to help you, either in including something she relies upon or skipping something that's not so great for her.

Incidentally, the mention of putting her cage right on the floor somehow has me suspecting this cage might be on the smaller side. Word to the wise.

Other good points have been made by the other posters here. I'd like to add that I would prefer to sustain any finger bite from any Ringneck over just a little bite from a Budgie on my nose. :lol:
-MissK

kroden
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Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:42 am

Re: Hello, Hannah needs our help (long)

Post by kroden » Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:44 pm

The cage is larger than I remembered and not in 2 pieces. What I wound up doing was I set the cage up with food and water and put a ladder at the door so she could get in. Then I opened the carrier put a few almonds which she loves I'm told on the floor and left the room well I sat in the doorway with my back to her. She came right out and sat on the carrier door, after awhile she climbed down and waddled up the ladder into her cage. She went straight to her feed dish and started eating. I left it like that a few minutes then calmly went over and closed the door, she paused until I was done then went right on eating. I couldn't have asked for a smoother transition. Thank you for all the advice so far. Oh and I put the almonds she didn't eat on the floor into her treat dish. :)
I'll update in another forum soon.

MissK
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Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 3:46 pm
Location: Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.

Re: Hello, Hannah needs our help (long)

Post by MissK » Thu Sep 18, 2014 11:11 am

Good start!
-MissK

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