26 August 2010

Parrot Trasnport and One Chubby Bunny

With this productive summer finally at an end, it is time for an update from the Feather Dorm. The Feather Dorm blog will from now consist of stories set on the east and west coast of Florida as Ms. Flock Advisor has accepted a new job in an exciting new locale. As for the flock, we've decided to heft equal shares of the cage cleaning burden by sending Sprite and Lennon to the Gulfside while keeping Coconut and Cher here at the Seaside. Kenobi will likely be traded back and forth like a chubby little divorce child, spoiled at one end by boxes of vanilla wafers.

We are now less than 48 hours away from the Sprite/Lennon transport, and preparations have gotten serious. Lennon will be fortunate enough to be transported in the familiarity of his cage. Sprite will have to endure the trip in his carrier while his towering domicile rests in the bed of the truck. The last time Sprite was transported was in January when he was towel-grabbed by the owner of the pet store and put into his unfamiliar carrier only to be taken to a strange set of surroundings. It wasn't a terribly traumatizing ordeal, but definitely at least a smidgen shy of positive. He has now become accustomed to these new surroundings, his third home, and will be moved into a new house. He still has a home with us, and we are hoping that all of the work we have put into building a relationship with him will make our continued presence in his world trump the strangeness of Ms. Flock Advisor's new abode. My mission for the last several weeks has been to make his carrier a positive place. It has been present in the room at all times and he has gotten treats in it repeatedly. Ms. Flock Advisor and I have routinely worked the carrier into his life as an enrichment device by hiding treats, toys, and shredding materials in it for him to access. Today I placed his food bowl directly in the carrier instead of in its normal place in his cage. He showed no aversion to having his breakfast in and on the carrier.

Training has also been a key component to Coconut's preparation for the move. As loyal followers will recall, Coconut has developed a smitten relationship with Lennon over the past year, but the feeling is never reciprocated. Still, Coconut has learned all of Lennon's whistles, mimics, and calls. Lennon will most likely be overjoyed to spend his days with Ms. Flock Advisor, but we have been concerned about how Coconut will respond to the sudden absence of his "buddy." Enter the mental stimulation that is his target training. As followers will also recall, I have been working to train Coconut for some time now. Over the summer, he has become quite the interactive little guy. He no longer frantically twitters and bounces around his cage every time a human comes near. He calmly sits on his perch and waits for his food bowl in the morning and eagerly takes treats from my hand. He follows his target stick around his cage, and even responded to it in Cher's cage when he snuck in there during my last cleaning-fest. Little by little, Coconut has grown to trust the Flock Advisors and I believe that the relationship we have built thanks to the training sessions will help to ease the loss of Lennon. Coconut has learned that his training sessions are a time when he can receive millet (his favorite reinforcement), and he has inevitably associated myself and Ms. Flock Advisor with that positivity. Trust and confidence are the two most beneficial side effects of positive reinforcement training, and I am very happy that we have seen Coconut developing both.

Check back for a post-transport update after the weekend, but I expect that it will go relatively smooth. Kenobi will be staying on this coast for the time being, so his vanilla wafer intake will be tempered for now.

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