Saturday, November 27, 2010

Look at the Mess You Made!

On May 21 of this year, in my post Hormonal and Nesty Behavior, I wrote of acknowledging the spectrum of behaviors commonly referred to as hormonal-ness or nestiness as opposed to overtly attempting to suppress them. In other words, approaching the annual cycle by allowing Coco to experience the changes - neither directly encouraging or discouraging her natural behaviors, but attempting to create a supportive environment within which she felt comfortable to express them in a healthy manner.

On October 10 of this year, in my post I Always Stay Put, I wrote of Coco's propensity to head to the corner of the room when I entered. This was most likely the beginning of her seasonal hormonal changes. Additionally, in that post, I discussed the role that the fall season's lighting and temperatures changes may play in triggering the hormonal changes. Over the years, I have found February through April to be Coco's 'most' hormonal time, but do feel that when she began to 'corner' in October, this was the start of the seasonal change.

Last year, I experimented by giving Coco an open cardboard box within her main house where she could create a make-shift nest if desired. Unfortunately, I cannot recall exactly when I gave it to her, but believe it was early February. Mind you, giving a female any nesting materials, let alone a make-shift box, is not something generally recommended. However, I have always wanted to do the things I felt were proven to work best for Coco and me even if they contradicted conventional wisdom.

So in preface, I will say that much of what I write about in this post may, and most likely will, fly in the face of advice provided by experts of both the true and self-appointed sort. In that regard, I can only say that my goal is to do what works best for me and Coco. I am willing to continue evolving my behavior and approach as her needs or desires seem to indicate to me as her companion that an environmental tweaking may be in order. That means considering the advice of all sources - including my own intuition.

As I wrote in my May 21 post, I believe that notwithstanding dealing with chronic egg laying, the temptation to attempt to reduce hormonal behavior in birds may emanate more from a human's desire to make the bird a better companion to us, rather than a desire to allow them to be the best bird they can be. And I also believe that in certain (perhaps many) instances, denying a bird the ability to express their natural hormonal behavior, and have it acknowledged in a healthy manner, could actually cause greater frustration and potentially set the stage for behaviors of far more concern - such as relationship issues between the bird and household members or even feather destructive behavior.

Last year I witnessed significant positive changes in Coco as she received the open box and began creating her area. If nothing else, she was certainly busy! So this year, she received the box earlier - within one month of me observing her heading to the corner of the room. Needless to say, she has completely disregarded the room corner (works well for me!) in favor of the more desirable corner within her personal space.

She is very proud of her nest, and seemingly anxious to show it off when I approach. While my being in her area is of no concern, she does show some small signs of boundary issues with my husband. However, since he stops when she begins to become uncomfortable, these have subsided. Last night we had company, and she showed no hormonal behavior or territorialism.

Overall, she has been calmer than ever. When she began going into the corner, she was also doing some regurgitation. However, this has stopped since she got the box. She does very little displaying, and encourages my advances into her space and interactions with her. Naturally, I try at all times of the year, to be very respectful of her space and enter when invited.

Additionally, I aim to be sensitive to changes she makes in the area. If she drops something, I give it back to her. But if she throws something out of her space, I remove it from view. I interact with her in such a manner as to consider what might be 'annoying' to me if I could possibly put myself in her position, and then do my best to react accordingly.

In her overall environment, I am doing none of the things that are often recommended for attempting to "reduce hormonal behavior". Nor am I necessarily doing the exact opposite, but again attempting to take a supportive role. Well... I understand that the experts advise to take away cubby holes and to not provide shredding materials, so in that regard I must accept my maverick status!

As for light, Coco goes to bed with the sun and rises with the sun. I have not reduced her soft foods, but have found that she is presently less than interested in them. Most important, I believe I am giving her an outlet to express and act upon her natural desires, and if it means that I am unable to approach her during this time, then so be it. I would rather her express those hormones, than become frustrated and potentially fall into truly destructive behaviors. To my delight, I have found a much more calm, settled bird than I could have imagined, one that desires interaction and is equally calm around family members and strangers alike.

I say all this through the veil of understanding that Coco is not a chronic egg layer (has never even laid one egg), and that I am quick to alter her environment if in the context of our relationship I see that it would be for her good. It is about meeting her needs, not mine. Therein, I am not recommending or advising this course of action for other bird companions, but simply detailing my experiences with Coco especially over the past two annual cycles.

I do believe that introducing the box in November instead of February has made, and will continue to make, a great deal of difference in her overall mental health and interactions with me and her environment. I also point out that the 'box' is not a traditional nesting box or an enclosed cavity, but simply a simulation that I hope allows her to express her natural and instinctive nestiness in a supportive environment, while I remain keenly aware of my responsibility to respond to her unique and changeable needs and desires.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

Thanks Arlene (aka.pody)!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Make My Day!

"Go ahead, punk... make my day"....

(Punk.... I mean, Mr. Daddy!)

Ok, I must admit - I've been feeling a little 'edgier' than usual. Mom says it is just that time of year, and that I may feel this way for awhile. Sometimes I just have this overwhelming urge to ask to see a Clint Eastwood movie...

In fact, when my daddy closed the curtain for me this evening (after having to scream *twice*... humans can be so dense), I seriously considered reaching over and grabbing the edge of his flannel shirt....

It was so tempting. Of course, I might have wanted to go a little further and ever so *gently* press my beak into the deeper layers of the flannel part that covered his arm....

But alas, dad and I have an understanding. I allow him in my area to do what he needs to do (and no more), and then he must leave my presence. Now, if I say 'bye' when he enters the room, I expect him to turn around and leave. (I must admit we are still working on this a bit.)

It is not an easy task to train a human daddy. For my part, I agree not to scream in his ear when he is directly below me cleaning up the toys that I have scattered. I amuse myself with dropping them over and over again.... ha! What a sap...!

But really... is it wrong to be amused by watching the humans pick up my toys time after time? I think not! I believe it to be enrichment for them, and goodness knows we parrots understand the importance of keeping our humans enriched!!

Chop-chop, humans, this floor is a mess!!!!!

PS: What does the dadders mean when he says I am lucky that Barney likes chicken and not parrots?

It seems to me all he really likes is napping!