Out of all the species of parrots, my opinion on Cockatoos is they are the most difficult of all to live in captivity. These adorable fluffy clowns can not only turn into an attacking monster, but will also turn on themselves if not given the proper environment to thrive in. With great care, love, patience and commitment you can survive and prevail in your journey with a Too though. Don’t give up hope, these truly are beautiful angels that just need to be understood.
First step in bringing home any parrot, is a check up done by an Avian Vet. Birds can hide illness very well and you need to make sure that beautiful angel is healthy. If you have other birds you are also going to want to make sure that you quarantine your new flock member for a period of no less than 30 days in a separate airspace. You will need to make sure that you are very careful about washing up after any interaction (even changing clothes)with the new parrot, before going back to your other flock members also. Illness in birds can spread quickly, don’t make the mistake of thinking it is ok and then having your whole flock becoming ill.
Lets start off with bringing baby home. No matter the age of your Too, when first joining your family they will go through the “honeymoon phase”. They may begin very loving and affectionate. This is wonderful, however you need to be aware that your new little angel is deciding their place in your flock and is going to put you through a great deal of tests and trials to see who is boss. YOU need to learn to interact with them properly. Toos are very hard to resist, they want to cuddle and snuggle up and are just little love sponges. However this can lead to some very difficult issues down the road. First off a Too ( or any bird for that matter) should never be petted below their neck. In the wild the only time birds do any touching on another birds body is in their courting. You do not want to send the wrong signal to your Too. You can never be their mate, so why give them a confusing signal. Improper petting will lead to frustration, aggression and a whole lot of behavior issues especially during their hormonal seasons. So keep your relationship honest, don’t give false promises to your Too by petting inappropriately.
This link is an amazing step by step process for introducing your new parrot into your home/flock using Applied Behavior Analysis. I highly recommend this to anyone bringing home a new parrot.
I believe that everyone should have their bird learn step up. This is also a great positive way to interact with your new Too and it is fun for them also. Having your bird step up trained is very important in being able to handle your bird, and transport them whenever needed.
This link contains videos that show how to train stepping up, using only positive reinforcements
You also need to make sure your Too understands that they are a bird and need to play independently. A Too will sit on you all day long if allowed. I know when you first bring them home you just love cuddling up these precious fluffy creatures. They are so incredibly hard to resist, but you are setting up their expectations for a lifetime. Are you gonna be holding them for the rest of your life? Trust me, they think you will if that is how your relationship starts off. Now I am not saying you should never hold your bird, but be consistent. However you interact with them to begin with, is what they will not only expect, but demand forever. They do need loads of attention, but they need to know that it is going to be intermittent. As you go about your daily tasks, pass by and give them a nice scritch every so often. Do not pick them up each and every time. Allow your bird to be a bird, your relationship will be better in the long run by doing them this favor. Make your relationship with your bird a positive one that will last a lifetime.
Here are two articles that will help tremendously in making sure you are not reinforcing bad behaviors.
Create a trusting relationship with your Too. Only use positive reinforcement for all behavior. Think of it as a bank account that you must feed into on a daily basis. Negative reactions will only withdraw from that account. You need to be depositing positive reinforcement daily in order to build up that trust account. This includes praise, special treats, scritches, whatever your bird finds rewarding. This also means that you need to learn what these things are for your Too. Each one is an individual and what motivates one may be completely different for another.
Cockatoos are very empathic creatures and they do feed off of our emotions. It is very important to give your Too choice. I do not believe in forcing any of my birds to do anything. Enough has already been taken from them, by removing them from the wild. These are our companions and need to be given choice. WE are their friends and flock mates, not their boss. These are highly intelligent creatures who think and feel many emotions. Being the boss will only backfire on you in the end. It is much more important to have a Too that is willing to comply with your wishes because they trust and love you, rather than doing what you want because they are afraid of you. Watch your bird, learn their body language, be their caregiver and companion. You will be amazed at the relationship you can share with this amazing creature if you are willing to look at the world through their eyes.
I highly recommend that anyone who shares their life with a parrot to read “The Writings of Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D.
Remember there is no such thing as a bad bird, your relationship with your Too can be whatever you make it to be. It does not matter the age or history. Toos are very forgiving and loving if given the proper care. How you interact with them makes the difference.
Copyright © 2011 Deborah FeatheredAngels
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(My articles are free to repost, just do so in their entirety)