#7 On Top of the World

One thing I’ve learned from having Echo is that he is a shoulder and forearm bird. If anyone picks him up, especially me or Roomie, he’ll stay on our finger or hand for a few minutes but will eventually move to one of those places. I’ve been able to get him on heads a few times but it’s become really rare nowadays.

The first time I got him on anyone’s head, it was on mine. He was still really young. Roomie and I were picking him up, passing him between us, building bonds with him. He jumped down onto the back of the couch we were sitting on and decided to climb up the back of my head. I helped him up because he was still practicing with climbing, and then he just sat up there for a few minutes.

Now, I’ve had birds on my head before, thanks to my childhood parakeet, but the ‘keet was small and barely noticeable. Echo had a lot more heft to him than I was used to so when he climbed up there, I could definitely tell he was there. It felt like my neck was springloaded and Echo was pushing down just by sitting on my head. It was fun to have him there though, and it was an interesting sight.

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This whole event lasted for maybe 5 minutes. Unfortunately for the bird, there’s not a lot to do on top of someone’s head other than chew hair. He climbed (read: slid) back down and we kept playing with him after. We both love having him on us, but anytime he decides to go up there again, it’s a rare treat.  blog-feather-small

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#5 Training

Before I got Echo, I saw a lot of sources online and otherwise saying that training, especially clicker training, is really good for building a bond. I decided to do that with my future bird, and when I got Echo, I let him adjust to his new home before trying much.

I started training with Echo about a week after we brought him home. Since he was still so young, it seemed like a fairly easy transition for him. I decided to give him sunflower seeds as treats only, to make him want them more. He was reluctant to try them from my hand, so I put some in his food bowl to let him know to try it. That tactic worked and he started wanting the seeds more and more. I picked up a cheap clicker from a local pet store one night and started training with him.

Clicker training is super easy. To train a bird, or any animal, to respond to a clicker, all you have to do is click and then give them a treat. Click, treat, click treat. Repeat until the bird starts looking for the treat after you click.

Since I didn’t have an easy place to put him for training yet, I set him on the floor near me. I clicked and handed him a sunflower seed. Click, seed. Within 10 minutes repeating this process, he was clicker trained. Of all the training I’ve done with him so far, this was by far the easiest training to complete. It’s so worth it because it provides rewarding for future training and it makes him look forward to getting treats. I just can’t give him too many since they’re not as healthy for him… much to his chagrin.  blog-feather-small

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Post- clicker training mess. Vacuums are a must.

#4 Vet Me

I mentioned in post #2 that the breeder suggested to take Echo to the vet for a preliminary checkup. I picked a clinic that looked like it had the most avian experience at the time and scheduled an appointment for that coming Saturday.

Between the time I picked the bird up to the day of the appointment, I picked up a cat carrier and put it together for Echo. It was unfortunately pink, which is not a color I generally like, but it was the only one available at the time. I put newspaper in the bottom to protect against the inevitable poop too. With this, I could return the carrier I borrowed to our coworker.

When the time came to go to the appointment, I was a bit nervous about getting Echo into the carrier. I was able to pick him up with relative ease, but he fought a little bit when I put him in. I did succeed in getting him in it though, and we headed to the appointment. When we got there, I got him checked in and they led us to a double door room. Took a little info and then the fun came. I had to get him back out of the carrier.

The nurse couldn’t get him without being bit at, and the carrier was slightly broken in that one of the snap latches wouldn’t snap, so I had to screw it together. She tried to undo the top, only to be told that I had to put it together that way, so that was out. She then asked me to try, so I stuck my hand toward him. He startled and flapped out of the carrier, running around the floor for a second until he was cornered. I reached my hand to him and he stepped up to the person he knew. The nurse commented on it, saying, “Well, it’s a good thing he trusts you.” That made me happy.

The nurse pulled a scale out and set it on the floor, putting a triangular perch on top. She zeroed it out and I put Echo on the perch for a weight. Then the nurse and the vet grabbed towels and gently grabbed Echo in the towel before he could react. He squawked of course, because he wasn’t used to being bird-handled like that, but he wasn’t biting thankfully. The nurse and the vet did the exam as quickly as possible. Other than a slight defect in his toe that I noticed from the start, he was perfectly healthy.

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It’s a horrible picture detailing the mess he’s created on top of his cage in 3 days, but if you look at his foot, that back toe has a bend in it. It doesn’t seem to bother or hurt him, so there’s no need to try to fix it. That said, I’m happy that I got a healthy bird and I’m happy that he is staying that way.   blog-feather-small

#3 The First Outing

I explained a tiny bit about the first time Echo was out of his new cage, but let me explain a bit more.

We had left Echo in his new cage for about 3 days to acclimate to being with us. The first couple tries that we opened the cage door, he couldn’t quite figure out how to maneuver around the doorway and stayed in. We left him to climb out on his own but he wasn’t that great a climber yet. It was a work in progress.

The night he figured it out, Roomie and I had ordered food for delivery. We figured we’d open the door to the cage and let him practice again, but we didn’t expect he’d figure it out right then. His cage door has a shut-swing-latch mechanism, so once it’s closed, you rotate the lever to lock it. He learned that the other part of the latch was on the side of the door opening and used that to grab onto and swing out.

We immediately grabbed our phone cameras and started taking pictures. I even took a video of him to document the moment. We were congratulating him, encouraging him to keep climbing, when he spun upside down and looked out at us. It startled Roomie because she still wasn’t quite comfortable yet. He started climbing up again right as our door buzzed for our food. I caught this part on video and I remember saying, “Oh perfect.” He stayed put as we got our food, thankfully. Not long after, he climbed back around and into the cage again.

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We closed the door after that; we had enough excitement for one night. This event was the start of him getting used to us. We opened the cage each day after that, let him practice climbing more, and a couple days later he let us pick him up without issue. It worked out too, because I had to still take him to the vet for a general look-over, per the breeder. More on that soon….   blog-feather-small