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Jessi shows you how to handle larger birds like macaws, how to safely work with aggressive parrots, and understanding some of the most common basic problems people have with their pet birds.

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Welcome back to Animal Wonders! Awhile back I did a how-to on how to get a smaller bird to step onto your finger and stay safely perched. Well, we had two follow-up questions and I'd like to tackle them now.

The first one was asking how you would handle a larger bird, like a macaw, and the second one was asking, how do you handle an aggressive amazon parrot? I've had the exact same questions.


There are so many species of animals out there, and within each species there's countless personalities. It's almost impossible for me to give advice without seeing the animal's behavior first. So, I'm going to do my best to give some general advice and ideas on certain situations.

First question was from Hybridherps, you can read the full question here — you can pause it if you want to, but the basic, general concept was: how do I handle a larger bird?

So, I would feel uncomfortable with one finger with a larger bird, I would offer multiple fingers or a palm up or my arm to stabilize their heavy weight and large feet. The idea is similar to a small bird with a single finger perch, you're going to move slowly forward and approach your arm, palm, fingers, perch, right even with their chest. If you're very comfortable with your large bird, macaw, or cockatoo, go ahead and move that perch all the way up to their chest.

If you're still establishing a trust bond with that bird, you want to present the perch and wait for them to show signs that they want to step onto it.

The main sign of the bird wanting to step up is to raise their foot into the air and offer it like this, without pitting of the eyes. If they lean toward you maybe with an open beak, remove your perch and try again in a moment. Remember, you can't make a macaw do anything that they don't want to do.

Now, they could just be grouchy, but if you haven't established a trust bond yet, take a step back, work on your relationship, build it up, feed them, talk nice to them. Feed them treats through the bars, and then when they're out. Groom them through the bars, and then when they're out. It could take time.

It took Joy and I about eight months to establish our trust bond. Nom, nom, nom. Mmm, delicious.

Second question from Laughingatthedark: here's the full text right here, basically: how do you work with an aggressive parrot?

So, older psittacines that aren't bonded to you or aren't very well socialized are really difficult, especially Amazon parrots, which have quite a spunky attitude. Laughingatthedark's parrot, I would NOT suggest putting my finger near that bird until you're fairly confident he won't bite. The process to creating a trust bond with an aggressive Amazon: it takes time. It could take several years, if ever.

This is Chongo, and he is a lilac-crowned amazon parrot, and it took us about a year to create a trust bond enough that I was comfortable enough to pick him up and he was comfortable enough to stand comfortably on my hand. And get all the treats that he can eat!

This is Archie, he's a blue-fronted amazon parrot, and we're still working on our trust bond! I use precautions when I work with him. Yeah.

This is how I approach this situation. I would use a handheld stick to use as a perch so I keep my hands safe, and then you always want to be able to offer them treats, so I would use a spoon, or you can go ahead and just put it in a bowl. So I would show him the perch — and we've already established this relationship already this — so he would step up on the perch, and then you can use the spoon to give the treat. There ya go, bud.

So this allows you to stay safe, allows you to make sure that he doesn't get nervous, if he does bite you, and you can still work on establishing your relationship together. He gets treats, you work on stepping up, win-win situation.

That's as far as me and Archie have gone in our relationship so far, it's going quite well. The next step is going to be me moving my hand down the perch and getting closer to him.

Now, if at any point he does bite me, I do my best not to react. Don't react to a bird bite by saying "Ouch!" or yelling or anything like that. Quickly and calmly remove yourself from the situation. Reacting to any behavior of your bird is going to increase the chances of it occurring again. So if you don't want a behavior to happen again, remove yourself, your attention, any potential interesting or positive things... Remove that and the likelihood of that behavior happening again is going to decrease.

For now, Laughingatthedark, with your Amazon parrot, try using the stick and the spoon, make all your interactions positive, good luck!

And now, here's just a couple more tips for tricky situations with birds!

My bird won't come out of his cage!

Open the door. Let him come out on his own. Maybe he'll come on top of his home, maybe he'll just come out onto the top of the door. Both are fine. Maybe even put a little bowl on top, put some treats in there, entice him out that way.

My bird runs away from me!

If they're running away, it means you haven't spent enough time on your trust bond with them. Take a step back, make some more interactions with your self positive, lots of treats... no pressure. If they're just playing games with you, put your hand behind them and encourage them to come toward your finger.

My bird is biting me all the time!

Psittacines use their beaks to explore and communicate. So, either they're just trying to figure out what the hard thing is inside your finger, or they're trying to tell you something. Listen! Are they nervous? Are they scared? Is there something out the window that's scaring them? Is your cat staring at them? Respond appropriately. Help them out, listen to what they're saying.

My bird won't stay on my finger!

Well, either they're bored or they're too nervous. If they're bored, give them something fun to do on your finger! If they're nervous, take a step back, and reinvest in your trust bond.

My bird is scared of my hand!

Start offering treats for the spoon or tweezers, start establishing a positive relationship with your hand and your fingers. You can also get them onto the floor and offer a flat back of the hand for them to step onto, or even a finger from the floor. Birds always want to get to the highest perch, so that's a good way to start establishing your finger as a friend. The most important thing you can do for your bird is listening to what they're telling you. Body language is key to their communication. So establish a trust bond, and use these tips I've shared to help navigate a healthy, interactive relationship with your feathered friend.

Thank you guys for watching and a huge thank you to our Subbable subscribers and all of our other donors who literally make this video content possible, we could not do this without you!

If you guys have any comments or want to suggest a topic, or name an animal - yeah - or get some awesome perks, head on over to Subbable, check it out, subscribe, and if you have any comments or questions, go ahead, leave them below or find me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. Hi silly!

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