Some of my recent posts have been about milestones Moriarty has achieved as he settles in. But milestones do not need to be about the young or those in new, developing situations, they can also apply to the old, or those in well-established routines.
Take Lennie, for example. From some point early on (post-quarantine days) he decided he needed to be wary of me. He will always give me a wide berth – sometimes very wide! His only slight exception will be if millet is involved. Ordinarily, this would be a great training tool but since Lennie is very overweight, I decided it best not to encourage more millet-eating just so I could get near him.
So, you can imagine my surprise when, on the 1st of May, he voluntarily landed on my finger!
Alas, it was not a new-found acceptance of me but a need to not miss anything with Perry & Moriarty!
Perry & Moriarty were on my hand, in front of Moriarty’s cage, flirting & running up & down my arm. My other hand was beside them (between them & the cage). Their flirting intensified & Lennie made his way over to the top of Moriarty’s cage to investigate. I could see he desperately wanted to join Perry & Moriarty but was holding back as they were on me! Nevertheless, I kept my free hand out, positioned where he could easily fly down to it, thinking he will never come, but he wanted to join in the fun so much that he actually flew down onto my finger! He was not there long as he realised pretty quickly that this was an out-of-the-ordinary event & he did not want me to get the wrong impression!
Still, it was a nice feeling & nice to know that even when habits & routines are well-established, an occasional leap into unknown territory is possible!
5 September 2018
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Lennie can be a bit skittish & wary of me. He does like millet though. He really likes it.
This is handy for taming purposes, but my initial motivation for giving Lennie personal attention with millet, was to distract him from interrupting Dalai & Perry from their kissy-kissy sessions.
I started off just holding a bobble of millet up to him, but now he will fly (more of a jump with the aid of wings) to my hand. He has developed a ‘Millet Cry’ (see video below). It feels like a form of communication. He watches where I am & shouts, “I want millet…. NOW!” Sometimes I hear the battle cry when in the kitchen & when I come out I see him on the triangle platform perch, facing the kitchen door – so he knows where I am even when I am not in the room.
Some would perhaps not want to encourage such bossy behaviour but I like to reward him for wanting to interact with me, even though I know it is the millet he really wants to interact with!
I put a millet bobble (or even loose millet seeds) in my hand & hold it out to him. He will munch his way through those seeds & then inch down my arm as he knows I have another millet bobble in my other hand, behind my back, waiting to give to him after he has finished the first lot of millet.
This routine may happen 2 or 3 times in a row. Whilst we are engaging in our millet game, Dalai & Perry take the opportunity to have a little flirt together. It is not long before Lennie gets jealous & abandons the millet in order to disrupt Dalai & Perry. Abandoning the millet is not an easy decision for him as he gives a few strangled chirps, whilst trying to get as many seeds into his beak as possible, then dashes into the Silver Villa to make sure he is not missing anything!
Three years ago I posted on the joys of curly paper (click here). The latest recruit is Dalai. He loves curly paper!
He quickly makes short work of what I peg up for him. The floor underneath him is littered with chewed up bits. I thought that curly paper may be the thing that helps with taming. (I say ‘taming’ but I really mean getting Dalai to not be scared of my hand.)
As soon as my hand goes into the cage, Dalai usually retreats to behind a mirror, whether it is his red mirror or the mirror on the swing. Food did not seem to entice him out. Curly paper has. I hold up a strip & let it wave & wobble & gradually his curiosity gets the better of him & he stretches out to chew it. As he tears off the paper, he has to get nearer my fingers. After a few days of doing this, he got to within about 3 inches of my fingers which was a breakthrough, given that he would usually hide. With a little more patience, he tentatively touched the tip of my finger with his beak!
We are now at the stage where he nibbles the tips of my two fingers that are holding what is left of the curly paper. He still does this from the safety of the swing.
I want him to associate nice things with my hand/fingers. I did not think that curly paper would be my ally in this task!
5 November 2012
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Phineas has always been a bit wary & suspicious of me. If I was very careful & very slow, he would eat millet from my hand… sometimes. Since joining the toyboys in the same room he has relaxed a lot more. When I put my finger between the bars of the cage he stopped running away & gradually plucked up courage to peck. He found he really liked biting & chewing this soft, wriggly thing!
I decided to work on his liking for chewing fingers as the millet did not seem enough to tempt him. I started putting my hand in the cage & twiddling my fingers enticingly. He soon discovered that a hand can be fun – fingers to chew & bite, fingernails to talk to & a nice bouncy surface. We would have bonding, biting sessions!
I would not recommend this method to others but it works quite well for me as my leathery fingers have already been toughened up by Pudding bites. 😀
Here is Phinny in action: