Stepping up and biting

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Stepping up and biting

Post by nicolem »

I just picked up my two babies last Monday (5 days ago). They are about 4.5 and 4 months old--the blue 4.5 month one (Marcel) is a BIT more tame than the green 4 month (Ollie). Although they seem healthy and playful, they're very wary and not very tame. I think it's because, despite being well-cared for, they were part of a large aviary, and didn't really get much human interaction beyond feedings. I've been slowly working to build their trust by just being around them and talking with them. In general, they're pretty calm around me now, even if I go into their cage to do something that's not too close to them.

Marcel already was taking food from my fingers through the cage bars on the first day, and both of them have become pretty comfortable with that, although Ollie is still a bit more shy. Marcel will even come over to me if he sees I have a treat. I have been trying to use this treat system to entice the him to learn to step up. However, he doesn't really seem to understand the idea of stepping up at all.... if I let him taste the treat and then move it behind my hand, he just goes to nibble on my finger or hand instead. It's not really that painful, but I don't necessarily want to encourage the behavior. It's definitely a prolonged nibble rather than him just using his beak to test stability/use to help him step up. He seems utterly confused by the idea of being asked to step up onto something, even if it's to get something that he clearly wants.

Has anyone else experienced something like this? I'm wondering if a perch other than my finger might initially be useful to try to teach the "step up" command, and then I could then associate that with my hand. Any thoughts?

I hope it doesn't come off that I have unrealistic expectations...I know 5 days is a very short time, and I'm resolved to take as much time as it takes to build trust with them. I've just never encountered a bird who seemingly struggles so much to understand stepping up.

So I did try to switch to a longer perch, and that's a bit better, except for the fact that Marcel just wants to shimmy down the stick to find my hand that is holding the stick and chew on my hand.... :roll: And when I'm trying to work with Marcel, now Ollie is getting excited and is brazen enough that he will even willingly fly to the stick or my arm, even though he's still afraid of my hands. They don't seem to be afraid of me, so I don't think the chewing is a fear response. They are coming to me completely of their own accord. When Marcel is sitting on my hand, his feathers are relaxed and he doesn't seem to be displaying any fearful or threatened body language. The only negative reason I can think of is that it might be an aggression thing? Could they be scared of me and trying to fight me off?? How would I remedy this?

Any suggestions on how I can dissuade this chewing? It seems to be their first instinct as soon as their beaks are not occupied with a treat. It's not terribly painful, but it's not something I could tolerate for a prolonged amount of time either. I've been keeping their little sessions outside of the cage rather short as a result.
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