Unwanted breeding behavior

by Deb Tindall
(Yakima, Washington)

Three weeks ago I took in two rescued parrots - a 14 year old green-winged macaw (male) and a 15 year old female congo african grey. The first two weeks I just talked with them, fed and cleaned cages, but did not attempt to touch or handle either bird to let them get used to me and their new surroundings. I am sure the change in light patterns from their old environment to mine has made them hormonal as well. The male does masturbate upon his perch and is wanting attention but has not been handled much, is learning how to play with toys and is being stubborn about being touched along with the hormonal swings and territorial attitude toward his tree perch. I figure time, consistency and perseverence will deal with him.

My main question is with the little grey. She is wanting attention and allows me to handle her. Loves to come out of her cage and visit, but after five minutes she is driving me nuts with her panting, regurgitating and being a "whirling dervish" trying to I am sure show she is in breeding mode. She is allowed to sit on my hand or on the arm of the chair or couch, but not on the shoulder or up around the face. When she gets too persistent I try to put her back and she will dig her claws in my hand and fight not to go back inside the cage.

How long will this last? I am keeping them on a light schedule like my other parrot - a 27 year old mealy amazon - who doesn't show these behaviors much any more - he is on a set schedule with a night cage in a dark room. Unfortunately, the macaw is tree trained and since I cannot handle him, couldn't put him in a cage if I wanted to - her, I suppose I could find a small cage and put her in another room at night if it will quicken the demise of this breeding behavior. Is this the best way to go or do I just ride it out another couple weeks?

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Jul 12, 2010
Vet visit - quarantine
by: Deb

Both birds were vet-checked before coming into the house - and were quarantined away from the existing Amazon for the pre-requisite 2 weeks before all becoming "family" in the "bird room" AKA the living room.

As for the large macaw - the cage will have to wait until I can afford the cost of one the size he will need - even used, they are a bit spendy. He does not know how to fly, and has never left his "tree" so for now, he will have to be a "tree bird". My hope for him is to get him into a cage and get him hand friendly. The only time he will come to me willingly is if he falls off his tree and he will not move until you help him back up. He is exhibiting play behaviors, but is still a bit stand offish and doesn't really want to be scratched, but he wants interaction so I am seeing that as a good sign.

The female grey I have taken to putting into a smaller cage in another room at night, covered and am starting a set daylight schedule for her. She is ripping the paper in the bottom of the night cage up and that is where I find her in the morning when i go to wake her. I hope it is not nesting behavior, but just sleeping behavior. Not having dealt with a female bird before it is hard for me to understand what is normal and what is breeding behavior.

Jul 09, 2010
Unwanted breeding behavior
by: Linda

The very FIRST THING that needs doing here to is to take both birds to an Avian Vet in your driving area. All new birds and especially rescues need to be checked out by an Avian Vet BEFORE they are in new home. Many infections or other physical problems can be adding to these behaviors, so NO TRAINING CAN BE STARTED WITHOUT A CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH.

Regarding the Macaw, YOU HAVE TO BUY A LARGE CAGE FOR THIS BIRD, OUTFIT IT WITH NATURAL BRANCH PERCHES, DISHES AND TOYS AND GET BIRD IN IT. How you can handle the large birds is to wrap them in a large towel or smaller bed sheet and then transfer bird to cage and or carrying crate for trip to the vet. If you do not know how to handle wilder parrots, get the Avian Vet to show you or a friend who has experience. The larger birds are potentially very dangerous if afraid and/or wild from lack of handling. I've raised and trained Macaws, and even the very wild ones directly from their jungle homes can be handled though you will need to be quick and careful to not hurt bird or get hurt trying to handle which is why I mentioned toweling bird. Once Macaw has been handled quite a bit, it will settle down.

You cannot put a large Macaw in a small cage as they will go crazy and destroy cage by breaking all the bars. Your Macaw will need a cage made for a Macaw, and this means thicker bars and door locks/latches that cannot be manipulated easily. We have an HQ double Macaw cage, and we have an Amazon in each side. So, one this size and qualilty will work for your bird and sometimes you can find them used. Just make sure all the powdercoat paint is still on the bars and that there are NO rusted out places or broken/bent bars on a used one.Also make sure it is scrubbed clean and disinfected with a bird safe product(NOT BLEACH, AMMONIA OR OTHER HARSH CHEMICAL) BEFORE BEING BROUGHT INTO HOUSE AND SET UP FOR BIRD. Most of these cages have wheels which means cage can be rolled into another room for sleeping.

So, first get both birds to an Avian Vet. When you bring in new birds without first taking them to the vet, you risk infecting any other birds already in your home. Some infections are so bad that they kill all the birds in range of each other, so always good idea to take new ones to vet and/or quarantine them out of house for at least two weeks.

Thanks for writing,

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