27 February 2011
Nellie turned 58 today over at Marineland; she is the oldest dolphin you'll see at any zoo or aquarium in the world. Her birthday is a celebration every year, and I was there with my camera. Nellie's birthday included a cake made for her by the trainers. This year it featured sushi snacks in addition to her normal fare of herring, capelin, and gelatin. The birds had to stay home for this one although Ms. Flock Advisor and I contemplated taking Kenobi attached to a string device. He ended up staying at home, though. It would have been difficult to explain that the harnessed animal at the end of my leash eating the gift shop inventory is my service animal, and so he must be allowed in to Nellie's big bash with me. Besides, I've seen what my turkey calls do to his ears, no telling how the trainer's whistles would affect him.
20 February 2011
Cher went to the park today for Parrots in the Park, our local gathering of parrots and people. This was not her first trip to the park, but it was her first photo opportunity with another Sun Conure. His name is Screech. He was there with his own flockmate, Maya, a Nanday. With vultures cruising by in the distance, a curious puppy roaming about, and any other reason they could think of, conure screeches filled the air on an otherwise peaceful day at the park. Although it was fun to see Cher interact with another conure, the day at the park with other parrot owners was also a great step in her socialization progress.
Cher developed a bond with me about two years ago and ever since has shown aggressiveness toward other people. This is the type of behavior that many conure owners observe: the bird will develop an extremely close bond with one person, but displace or act aggressively toward any other people. Cher has shown this tendency at home, but also in other environments as well. She has been aggressive when we've visited my parent's house toward people she has never seen before. Her aggressive behavior toward Ms. Flock Advisor, however, is especially unacceptable. We have developed a new plan to curb her behavior at home, once again.
The first step in our new plan was to clip her wings. Cher has been flighted for about a year now and that has allowed her recently to aggressively fly at Ms. Flock Advisor. Clipping her wings not only prevents her from acting out aggressively from across the room, but it also has an effect on her overall demeanor. She is less able to exert herself as dominant throughout the house. We theorize, based on research and other conure owner experiences, that a driving force behind her aggression is to protect me or ward off threats to her own social status. By attacking, she is employing the "best defense is a good offense" technique. Cher has to understand that it is not her role. Ms. Flock Advisor theorized, based on her own research, that Cher will actually lead a less stressful life when she learns that protecting the flock is not her role. I hope that means she will not feel she needs to alert us all whenever a buzzard glides over.
We also decided to curb Cher's time on my shoulder or in the neck of my shirt. These, as far as we can tell, are her favorite places and from now on they will be a reward for good behavior. To create a baseline for our training, she was restricted from my shoulder for two weeks following her last aggressive instance. The purpose was not to punish her, but to create a good solid baseline desire for those two perches. After the period of restriction, sitting on my shoulder or climbing in my shirt became more reinforcing than ever for her.
11 February 2011
Sprite is mashing some banana chunks in his beak right next to me as I write this. I wheeled him into the office on his tree stand (home office, that is), and loaded him up with snacks to keep him occupied.
Sprite has been through a lot of changes recently, as have the other birds, and I've noticed him developing a bond with Lennon through it all. He moved to and back from the west coast with Lennon. The two of them lived over there together with Ms. Flock Advisor for several months before being re-united with the rest of the flock. They do not interact directly, but I've noticed Sprite showing interest in Lennon being handled by the Flock Advisors.
I could hear Sprite in his cage behind me making his mumbling noises and clanging about his cage. Lennon had my full attention though as he wriggled and nipped at me as opposed to settling into his carrier peacefully. When I finally got him into it, I turned to see Sprite flaring his tail feathers and pinning his eyes wildly. When I lifted Lennon's cage and began to disassemble it he started calling to Lennon.
The whistling back and forth kept on until Lennon was set back in his fresh cage and I moved on to Coconut's. Sprite showed no interest in my taking apart Coconut or Kenobi's cage, and simply moved out of the way as I cleaned his own.
Sprite has been whistling along more lately with Ms. Flock Adivsor and Lennon. Even though we will not let the two interact directly, due the extreme size difference and potential for Sprite to injure Lennon, it is fun to see them developing a bond.