At roughly two hours, this was my first significant visit with Oliver – escorted by Nicole, the vet-tech caretaker. Oliver is very bonded to her. He started by letting out several “screams”: happy to see her and the onset of feeding time? disturbed by the presence of a new person? This behavior repeated only 3-4 times in the last 90 minutes of the visit.
Nicole warned me that he is kind of a bully with other birds – and I did see that behavior when he and another parrot were released from their cages and Oliver flew over to him. Not attacking but nudging – pushing the other bird around.
I non-intrusively offered my hand for Oliver to step up on. Nicole said that’s not desirable because he might try to masturbate on my hand – a no-no. Sure enough, later – when Oliver was up on my shoulder, I stretched out my arm for him to climb down and he went right to my hand and started to rub himself on it. We needed to “re-direct” – to offer him the half-hula hoop to climb up on (no negative reinforcement here – not even the word “No”).
Early in the session, when Oliver was on Nicole’s shoulder (not yet coming to me), she pointed out to me his chewing behavior. “He’s regurging – regurgitating his food to feed it to his mate – that’s what they do.” Ooh, makes me feel all romantic just thinking about it. “We’ve got to redirect him.” Late on, when he had decided he liked me, he did this several times with me.
Oliver spent a lot of time on my shoulder, which both of us liked a lot. He gave the tenderest nibbles, with his big beak, on the back of my ear – very sweet. When it was time for me to leave, he didn’t want to come down off my shoulder. Nicole said this was a common challenge. She got him down for me, but I obviously am going to have to get good at doing it for myself.
- We’re sure over the hump – oops, Freudian slip. The mating behavior is problematic, but Oliver has definitely decided that I’m a good guy.
- Although I relaxed more as the visit went on, needing to be so vigilant about mating behaviors kept me off balance.
- When Oliver would flap his wide wings to fly onto my shoulder, brushing them against my face, this was very impressive and would also set me on edge. Was he “flying at me”, which Nicole said he had aggressively done with the husband at the last home? Answer: no, not aggressive – just making his way to my shoulder.
- I have been pre-occupied with him ever since. I did get one photo of him sitting on his cage, which I have not managed to download on to this blog site. I did download it to Facebook and now have a lot of my friends cheering me on.