Monday, May 25, 2009

The Fun Continues!

In the way of a brief overview: Coco and Sammy (amazon and cockatiel) have lived together, and in an open cageless environment, for quite some time). Strider is new to the flock, having been rescued from a tree last September and remaining with us when his original home could not be located. Over the past 8 months I have worked with the three birds, through positive reinforcement, to encourage communication and relationships within the flock, and to transition Strider to the same cage free life. This transition was completed several weeks ago, punctuated with a fort expansion project that is the subject of this post.

Sunday was another day filled with flock fun and frivolity! I gave the birds plenty of space (watching from what I believe to be an invisible location). They vied for perch space, slept, ate, played, preened, postured and shared. I might be enjoying this more than the birds! It is incredibly rewarding to see them together, and fascinating to watch how flock dynamics change in conjunction with the expanded fort system.

Talk about enrichment - they have been living it these past few days! With all the new areas to explore, and change of scenery, I have three tired birds on my hand at day's end!

Here are some of my observations on flock dynamics.

Mr. Strider (also known as "Big Man on Campus"):
Strider fancies himself a 25 pound bird caught in a 25 gram body. He only wants to have a little bit of non-stop fun! This is initiated by constantly buzzing around, trying to feed the other birds, chasing them, and getting in their faces (literally).

When Coco and Sammy posture or lunge to advise him that they have had enough of his antics, he flies away - just long enough to regroup and try again.

Their body language works to get him to change his behavior, so they do not need to 'amp it up'.

It remains to be seen if the kind of relationship he desires will ever develop.

Strider is the social butterfly of the group. He desires physical activity and tries to promote this within the flock.

I cannot underestimate the value of Coco and Sammy's ability to teach Strider what flock living is all about. He follows them, eats what they eat, perches where they perch, and since they do not hang from the chandeliers, curtains and picture frames, Strider is learning from them and also exhibiting desirable behaviors.

Sammy (also known as the 'Grumpy Old Man' at 28 years):

Sammy is most thrilled with the new dual-sided food hut. I am happy to see that his exercise levels continue to increase, especially important at his age and given his love of buffets.

He appears to be completely opposed to being 'budds' with Strider, and has no problem asserting himself. At his age, the direct approach works well for him.

Sammy's relationship with Coco, on the other hand, is tight. They have a unique understanding. Their interactions with one another are smooth and effortless. They seem to communicate with an ease and deep understanding that comes from living together for 13 years (since Coco was just 3 weeks old).

While Strider is new to flock-fort living, Sammy and Coco have it down pat. The two of them maintain one another's personal space, while sharing perches and food with comfort.

Coco (also known as "The Diva"):
I am most proud and pleased with Coco's willingness to share and exhibit patience and tolerance. She is comfortable with Sammy, but still exhibits some nervousness around Strider. When he buzzes past her or lands near her, it seems to take her by surprise. I did notice on Sunday that she is exhibiting a decreasing reaction as her comfort level and communication increases. This is especially supported by flying around the room together, as they communicate and learn about one another through flight.

While the original idea was for Strider and Sammy to have their own Fort, they still spend much of their time all over 'hers'. It seems to me it will in reality become one large fort with no boundaries or borders.

Coco usually defers to Sammy and Strider, moving away if they want a perch (after she has given plenty of sass and body language). Strider follows her around like a puppy dog, and I get the impression from her body language that she is not amused. Yet, Coco is quite laid back. (All of them can get away at any point they desire, so this removes any pressure to interact or feel cornered.)

Revisions to the Newly Expanded Fort System:
More flight than ever is taking place with the recent expansion. We have made three changes since it was first installed.

1. Sammy's stand alone t-perch and mirror combo was raised two feet. He chose that as his sleep-spot on night #2, indicating his approval of this design improvement.

2. A glass divider was placed inside the dual-sided food hut to replace the wooden divider. This allows the birds to see through the food hut and to see one another. A divider was needed as they were stepping across the bowls and creating the possibility for soiling and for food fights.

3. The top perch of what I call the 'goal post' was replaced with a dowel appropriate to Coco's feet. With Strider and Sammy hanging out on her fort much of the time, she has expressed a desire to explore their Fort! So I wanted to provide an appropriately sized, comfortable dowel for her.
I am most pleased that clean up remains a breeze. Once everyone picks their sleep spot, I place a newspaper below them just to make morning clean up a bit quicker.

Here are some new photos:

What are you doing in the corner, Coco?

I agree, let's go! I'm right behind you!!

By the time I get up there, you'd better be off my swing!

Listen up.. let me explain how things are going to work around here!
Now - stay on your own perches! I am the queen, and I say - no dive bombing!

Fort living is a constant assessment of flock dynamics as well as practicalities of fort design. There is always room for improvement - which is my daily goal - to make their lives just a little better in some way. Meanwhile, the fun continues!

1 comment:

wolfgirl1987 said...

I am so glad to see your three living so peacefully together. I would love to provide something like this for my fids one day :)

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