It’s been almost 8 months since I found and rescued Artoo and she’s come a long way since that day in July. Now she’s healthy, happy, and just coming out of a moderate spring molt and has pin feathers all over her head and face.
Her new favorite green thing to eat is kale. She imitates a bird whistle that I make and that is now our call for each other. And she rings a bell when she wants something (usually if I leave the room and she wants me back). It’s too darn cute. I've been owned.
Her cere is still brown, but not as much, and her hormones aren't raging like they were the last time I posted. She will still coo at me and raise her tail once in a while (usually in the morning when I'm cleaning her cage and making her breakfast), but she's calmed down a lot. The kabobs and an extra early bedtime helped. Now she prefers to go to bed at sundown and so that is our routine.
Artoo has been very resistant to hand training and while she will take millet from my hand and is not afraid and allow me to clean her cage, rearrange she stuff, and give her food, she won’t tolerate a dowel perch inside her cage for learning how to “step up”. Nor will she step up on a finger.
Until last Wednesday she even refused to come out of her cage at all. Then all of a sudden she decided that human clothing was The Most Interesting Thing EVER and had her first outing. The first thing she did was to come and check out my shirt. Because I have her cage on a rolling kitchen cart and take her between the office, living room, dining room, and kitchen, she is familiar with those rooms. She did a few laps around the living room and dining room and then flew back to her cage and explored the top, looking down inside at all her things.
Since then I’ve been working with her outside her cage for about 30-60 minutes a day — when she’s ready to go inside she just goes in herself. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I imagine that she'll want to stay out longer when she's ready.
I put a perch on the outside of her cage - near the main door - so she’d have something to sit on. She’s very particular about where she perches when she flies into another room, and really prefers to just do a lap or two, then come back to the top of her cage. She’s not interested in playing with toys or anything while she’s out yet — I think she’s still in the OMG THIS IS SO COOL LOOK AT ALL THIS STUFF stage.
Because she is not hand tame, or tame in any way at all, the fact that she wants to fly to my shoulder or arm when she is out is surprising to me. The thing is, once she flies there, she starts to bite. It seems that she pinches and pulls skin in the same way that she does when she preens herself so I’m thinking that she’s preening me. I think. Except that it hurts a lot. I try not to react, but it’s hard.
Today I got her to step up on to a dowel perch twice while she was outside her cage. She got lots of praise for that. I will continue to work on that with her. She’s very smart and I’ve been letting her determine the pace for everything.
I’ve been reading the taming and bonding stickies and, in particular, the article on biting. And that’s where we are now. I hope I can encourage her to be more gentle or something.
Welcome back! It's good to know that Artoo has been doing well, her hormones are under control and she's starting to take full advantage of her out of cage time.
Preening isn't supposed to be painful, in fact it's more of a gentle nibbling that can even cause more of a ticklish sensation.
From your description, it seems Artoo is truly biting.
Hopefully with continued work and by using positive reinforcement techniques, you will be able to limit or put a stop to the biting.
You have been doing an excellent job with Artoo and I'm wishing continued success with her.
RIP sweet Tito (Summer 2008 - January 17th 2013).
You are missed and never will be forgotten.
I’ve taken Deborah’s advice and have begun wearing a long sleeved shirt when Artoo is out of her cage. It’s helped. The shirt doesn’t care about biting. She still wants nothing to do with stepping up on to a finger and she is terrified when I hold a perch near her. But she will step up cautiously on my arm. We work on that a little at a time.
Each time she comes out she explores a little more. It was fascinating to watch her climb all around the outside of her cage getting new perspective on her birdy house.
She is such a good flyer too. She does a lap or two around the living room, kitchen, and dining room and then lands back on top of her cage like a pro.
In the last few days she’s decided that birdy kisses to me on the cage bars is not enough and she’s been giving them to the back of my hand when I have my hand in her cage to swap out a toy, clean or give her something else to eat. At first I thought she was going to bite, but then she just did those quick little taps with her beak, eyes pinned. And she also lip synchs when I am close to her and talk, opening and closing her beak in time with whatever I’m saying to her. This is the sweetest thing and I almost tear up when she does it.
I’ve ordered a play gym for her and hope that will make her outings even more fun.