Improve a close relationship-Eclectus
Posted: 13 March 2008 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hey there Phoebe. Yes, I’ve taken Susan Friedman’s LLP in addition to two of her online TELE courses, one workshop, and watched her at AAV last year. Her information is very captivating and even better yet, it works. I travel a bit throughout the year attending different workshops and seminars.

Wow, how cool you asked about hens keeping close relationships with human caregivers. I have a 7 year old eclectus hen. She was rehomed to me about two years ago and from what we know, just laid her first egg a month or so ago. She has laid two more since. The first two broke. I then provided her with a nest and that is where she spent two weeks of 23 hours of the day….on that egg. Unfortunately there was a mishap, probably my fault I’m not really sure, but too coincidental and she ended up eating the egg. I still provide her the nest and she sits in there a lot but no where near what she was earlier this year. She’s up and about her cage half of the time also. As far as our relationship? That is questionable and has taken a turn down hill since she became so broody around the beginning of September. She is now coming out of it and we are interacting more, but no where near what we did the first year and a half she was here. Maybe that is due to me needing to learn more of what I need to provide to her during these times, and I am trying so hard and paying close attention. She’s been a good teacher and she has opened my eyes to owning a hen. I like your description of the box you have provided. It sounds more suitable than the box at the bottom of the cage I am providing her now. If you have any more suggestions, I’m all ears.

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Lara

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Posted: 13 March 2008 12:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hi Lara,

Great to hear from you; thanks for writing back about your eclectus hen, nesting, etc. I can tell you what Cella really likes and perhaps you can use some of those tools as you continue to forge companionship with your re-homed eclectus.

It’s not at all unusual for eclectus hens to be protective around the box and to come charging out of it, snapping mad, when they are on eggs. Cella is so mild—and very interesting—she is exactly like her mother was. Her biological mother was famous for being the sweetest hen. I just scoop my hand under Cella to remove her from her nest and she comes out and kisses me, snuggles, etc., just like her mother used to do. Cella readily steps on the hand of every person she meets. Anyway, this is highly unusual and I don’t think Cella’s compliance has as much to do with my influence as it does with inherited traits. So, if your hen is reluctant, that’s probably how she is, although of course, she can be trained. Cella puffs her feathers and shakes them, spreads her tail, etc., when given cues to do so. As you know, these simple actions both relieve stress just like a good stretch does, and they build relationship.

Cella loves her mega millet (proso wheat millet) which she gets in large stalks, hung from the top of her cage. She munches, munches, munches but her crop doesn’t fill with it—she’s merely using it as activity. Well, she eats a little bit of it, but the amount she consumes is neglible to the amount she destroys. The millet is a sure way to get her out of her cage for a while during nesting. Try it with your hen—hopefully, she’ll like it, too. Cella also favors bamboo toys, particularly the center parts that are kind of papery and squishy. Otherwise, she pretty much just chews up boxes.

When Cella showers, it’s imperative to have some rather loud droning background noise going on. If I offer her a spray or shower without noise, nada, statue bird. In the bathroom, I turn the hairdryer on high (it’s a teflon-free dryer, plugged in far away from any water and the heat is not pointing towards her) and she goes crazy in the bath. In the birdroom, while the sprinkler is on, if Cella is going to bathe, the vacuum cleaner must also be on. Go figure. She will not bathe or shower without droning noise.

Lara, I hope a couple of these suggestions help you and your eclectus hen make a good life together. It’s so important to have people like you who take in birds and are dedicated to their well being. Let me know if anything works with her, especially the modified nest box ideas.

All best,
Phoebe

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Phoebe Greene Linden
Santa Barbara Bird Farm
Santa Barbara CA
http://www.santabarbarabirdfarm.com
805 969 1895

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Posted: 17 March 2008 05:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Ok Phoebe, I went out this weekend and bought the box. I cut a hole in it like you did yours. The only difference I have done with mine is place it on the bottom of her cage. She loves it. I filled it with Eco Nest. I don’t know why because she went in and dug it all out. Like you said, she sits in there and digs and digs. She loves it. I wish I could provide her with better digging material such as the hollow of a tree, but I don’t know what I could use to similate. I think she would be very content in chewing it up and digging it out. Any suggestions?

You said you provide millet, I do that too once in a while. You know two other things that I provide that she loves to just crunch are noodles strung on Paulie Rope. She loves snapping noodles anything grapevine. I provide her with a lot of foraging toys and with them being the eaters that they are, she enjoys the challenge. I’ll string wooden cups on a s.s. wire. In between each cup I will put a cardboard coaster. This way she has to chew through each coaster to get to the cup.

Thanks for responding back with your ideas. The box was and is a hit!

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Posted: 26 March 2008 11:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Hi Lara,

I can just see your eclectus girl digging away. So cute! The only way I’ve found to keep them from digging out all the substrate is to make the box nice and deep, like 15” deep. You are so right about grapevine and thanks for reminding me—I’d forgotten how much eclectus love it. Cella nibbles off just the curly little tendrils. And noodles, too, yep.

Do you think your relationship has gotten better since you’ve given her a box? I find that, when my birds are happy, I’m happy. Even if it means they are less like a “pet” and more like a parrot.

Best,
Phoebe

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Phoebe Greene Linden
Santa Barbara Bird Farm
Santa Barbara CA
http://www.santabarbarabirdfarm.com
805 969 1895

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Posted: 22 April 2008 08:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Phoebe Green Linden - 26 March 2008 11:04 AM

Do you think your relationship has gotten better since you’ve given her a box? I find that, when my birds are happy, I’m happy. Even if it means they are less like a “pet” and more like a parrot.

Best,
Phoebe

Phoebe,
I am just now seeing your reply due to me overlooking some of my e-mails.

I wanted to answer your question. No, our relationship has not grown since I provided her with the box and if anything it has gone backwards, but right now I’m content with that and let me tell you why so I can get your response in if I am justified in my thinking.

Molly and I used to have a great relationship. I ended up finding out she had a slight bacterial or yeast infection, can’t remember which. I had to medicate her. She was not eating her meds on her food and I had to towel her to make sure she was getting them. I saw her trust in me declining through my week of medicating her. By the end of the week, she would still come to me but with each interaction she showed more preference for my husband instead of myself. I continued to work with her on building our relationship but I could see all of her hesitancy. Soon after that she laid her first egg and I provided her a place to do it. Since I provided her the box she spent more and more time in her box and only coming out for my husband and charging me. I am ok with this though for two different reasons and one is because she seems so happy and content with the box. As you’ve said, she is now seeming more like a bird and less like a pet, and I’m ok with that as long as it is what she wants. the second thing is that the relationship she once had with me, she now has and shares that with my husband just not as much.

What are your thoughts on this? I appreciate your input.

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Posted: 25 April 2008 06:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Hi Lara,

Molly might prefer your husband only during her brooding periods, so don’t worry about it too much. Possibly, he is in much greater need of eclectus affection than you are (he just might not know it yet, but Molly does.). It’s great that she has a choice!

I wonder if others see this, too—birds who have been traumatized, even slightly, by re-homing, medication, falling, etc., tend to grativate towards and feel most comfotable with the person who has not pressured or rescued them. ??

When Molly is not brooding her eggs, you might consider training her with both you and your husband together. He gets her out and sets up the session, he gives the cues, you dispense the rewards. Then mix it up so you give cues and praise, too, with him as appreciative audience. Might be lots of interesting ways to win back her affection, but probably you’ll reap best effect during non-broody times.

I think it’s really wonderful how you put Molly’s priorities over yours. Congratulations and yay for humanity when that happens. Molly is happy in the nest for now; it’s a season, it passes. Has she laid yet?

All best,
Phoebe

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Phoebe Greene Linden
Santa Barbara Bird Farm
Santa Barbara CA
http://www.santabarbarabirdfarm.com
805 969 1895

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Posted: 26 April 2008 07:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Hi Phoebe.

Interesting question about the rehomes and their preference on whom they have a closer bond.

Molly has laid one egg and that was quite a while ago. She ended up eating it 2 weeks after laying on it. Since I provided her the box, she has laid three more. After two weeks again, she ate one, kicked one out of the box and is still laying on the third. She has been laying on this one for over three weeks now. I’m starting to slowly change some things in her cage, such as moving her foraging toys to more challenging areas in hopes that she when she gives up on the egg she’ll not want to go in and lay another one right away.

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Posted: 27 April 2008 02:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Hi Lara,

Good idea about making the foraging more challenging, yep. Additionally, when Molly tires of brooding the third and final egg, remove the box entirely and begin your training sessions. I try to keep Cella really occupied with showers, foraging, flying and so forth when she is not brooding. Then, when she signals that she wants a box again (Cella does this by yelling, loud and often, which is abnormal for her: she only does this when she wants a box. Does Molly give specific signals?), I put one in her cage that has only a teeny entry hole. She must chew her way in, just like a real bird would do with a real nest site.  Once she gets the hole chewed, she sees that it’s packed inside with whole rolls of natural paper towels.

I deliberately try to make the nest difficult to access for her sake and because I think it’s natural to be thwarted during the nest selection process. To try, try again is natural and keeps the hens from over-laying. Lara, you might know that Harry (husband) and I watch wild lilac crowned Amazons near our house and what we see during nest selection season is fascinating: a pair will take two or three weeks just checking out a site. They fly around it, land on various perches, peer closely at the entrance. They’ll chew, chew, chew away on the entrance. We’ve watched them excavate deeply into a cavity, deep enough so the hen goes inside, the male stands outside and all indicators point to a happy nest. Then, they leave it (for no reason that’s apparent to us.) and start all over again at another site. Knowing this, and in order to challenge Cella so that she does not lay continuously, I both take the box away for several weeks when she finishes brooding, and then make the next box I give her hard to excavate so that she is challenged.

I do this by packing it solid with natural paper towel rolls, and/or making a small beginning entry hole, and/or putting a new bottom on the box that makes it deeper so she’s motivated to keep digging deeper. The goal here is to have making the nest be a real challenge. In these ways, she is not concentrated on laying eggs because there is too much to do before that happens. Does this make sense to you?

Thanks for discussing this with me. What works for Cella and me might not work with you and Molly, but if it does, yay.

All best,
Phoebe

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Phoebe Greene Linden
Santa Barbara Bird Farm
Santa Barbara CA
http://www.santabarbarabirdfarm.com
805 969 1895

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