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My brother seems to think that my black headed parrot may…

Customer Question
My brother seems to...

My brother seems to think that my black headed parrot may have mites, what is the scratching for? How do I shower a parrot?

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. There are all sorts of infestations the bird can pick up. I'll have you talk to the Veterinarian who'll sort out what is wrong and help you decide what to do about it. What is the bird's name and age?

Gizmo is his name. He is approximately 4 yrs old.

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Gizmo?

Yes, he is a biter, he all ways try to bite me ever since I had to get him out of a insulation corner of my remodeled bathroom, I guess he didn't like that, then he got out of his cage while cleaning it, had to chase him down with a broom, now he thinks he is playing tag every time when I get near. He still likes my brother even after he bite him on his temple. He loves my wife but now she is scared to allow him on her shoulder anymore, p.s. I am the 3rd owner. He is a rescue bird I got from my friends sister, I think he likes girls better.

Submitted: 3 months ago.Category: Bird Veterinary
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Answered in 1 day by:
3/26/2018
Bird Veterinarian: August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist replied 3 months ago
August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 7,852
Experience: Work w/Avian Vet; published bird care nutrition& behavior articles; consults, research
Verified

I'm August Abbott, owner of an animal rescue org.& state preserve wrkr. I cannot provide phone svc, but will compose a comprehensive reply for you

I take it Gizmo is a Caique or Conure?

Has this bird been sexed (or ever laid an egg)?

Has the bird ever been kept outside for any length of time (ie: to live)?

If you're up to it, I can help you tame him too

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
To the answer of your questions, are no. The bird is a male and we don't know if he has been ever was kept outside. Only have had him for 4 months. He is a rescue bird.
Bird Veterinarian: August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist replied 3 months ago

I LOVE that you've rescued this lucky guy and I'll be more than happy to work with you 100% on establishing the best life possible for both of you

Chances are slim to none that he has mites. The 'slim' part exists if he's ever been living outdoors or if his indoor conditions were allowed to deteriorate to the point of bad food left in the cage, not enough cleaning and generally dirty

This is the time of year we see a molt happening - which means a lot of itching/scratching, feather loss and pinfeather regrowth which is miserable for most birds. In another month or two it will ease up and then begin again come Fall or late Summer

Bathing is important not just for cleanliness, but overall health. There are a lot of ways to do this including putting room temp water in a shallow pan or dish with straight up sides rather than angled (for gripping ease) - at the bottom of the cage and tapping your fingers into it so he knows what's what. If it's bath time in his mind he'll use it. Hopefully. Leave it there over a period of days - of course making sure it's clean every day and throughout the day - until he bathes.

Don't worry if he doesn't. Some birds, like humans, are more the showering type than baths.

For this it's a little trickier. You can put him on the bottom of your shower or on a perch in the shower or, eventually, on your own shoulder as you shower and let the shower spray 'bounce' to him. That is, spray it onto the side of the tub or wall and let it get to him indirectly. If he wants more contact he'll move to be in it to the degree he's comfortable with.

If you have a hand held shower head it's even easier. Get right down to his level, speak with encouragement and be sure to use a gentle voice while assuring him this is a really good thing. Move the shower head over his tail first and let it soak in. He should soon realize this isn't a punishment or a threat and he'll settle down. At this time move the shower head up a tiny bit at a time until you're at his shoulder area.

If he's frightened/uncooperative, make it a quick event, keep praising him and reassuring him and give a treat as you put him back in his cage or on his day perch. It shouldn't take long before he associates the shower with all good things and even looks forward to it.

Try doing this the same day - once a week

----------------------------- Now, let's tame him ------------------------

I’d approach our new additions (usually abused birds entering rescue/rehab) an hour or so after tucking them in for nighttime. Their cages are covered on all sides, leaving just ½ of the front uncovered so they can see out and feel secure. It also insures decent air circulation. The room light would be very dim, but not totally dark. Most birds have poor night vision, unless they’re nocturnal birds like owls and approaching them in total darkness is frightening to them.
---

At this time, whispering, putting a hand up against the cage and just holding it there is a start. Remember, keep it non-threatening and below their eye level.
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When you notice them calmly stretching a wing and leg slowly out to the side and back, mimic the action with your own arm slowly stretching out to the side and softly stay engaged vocally (“what a good bird you are”, “that’s a pretty bird”, etc).
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After just a few minutes of nice interaction, leave them be for their night and the next day use the same tone of voice and slow, calm movements around them.

************************************************************

Your next step, once you see that your companion is calm and accepting of your presence, would be to have physical interaction.

---
Open the cage door (as long as your bird is not panicking and will be safe if they escape, unable to get to places you cannot recover them from) and offer your finger/hand just above the feet and gently touching at the breast area there say “step up”. This command is important to use every time so that when the bird hears it they know it’s time to be on hand/finger.
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Here’s where a handy trick for your arm comes in: Cut the toe end out of an old pair of thick socks and pull them on over the arm you’ll be using. I’d wear a long sleeve shirt over this so it doesn’t look too unusual to your bird. It’s a lot easier to be confident about picking them up when you know a bite won’t amount to much more than a pinch.

---

You have to be very calm and if the bite occurs, no flinching or reacting. At the most, a slight ‘earthquake’ to distract her should be enough. Also, quickly walking into another room will usually stop the bite. I’ve actually trotted down the hallway singing “Fah La Lahhh!” as a big macaw seemed determined to bite to bone. The quick movement of my trot and unusual sound coming out of me got her attention.

---

Once on your arm, start the whispering again. Have a conversation with the bird, tell them what you hope for and how he/she came to be the way they are. You would be amazed at how much these birds understand. It’s not so much the words as the tone and the fact that you’re taking the time to have this interaction.

*****************************************

In an untamed bird there may be some biting and squawking, but if you can tolerate it until they are on hand, you’ve accomplished a very important step. Once up they usually stop biting where they’re perching (your hand) and if they don’t, giving them an “earthquake” a gentle shaking of your hand, but not enough to dislodge them or cause them to feel insecure, will often distract them.
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I’ve also found that walking quickly into a different room (which isn’t hard to do with a big macaw chomping down on my arm like a pitbull) will surprise them enough to stop. Suddenly, in new surroundings, I’m their best friend.
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If you cannot get your bird to cooperate right away with hands, remember, you’ve got years ahead of you – it’s worth it to do this right. Try just placing your hand in the cage for a minute and letting them get used to it being there. Having a treat in hand will help make your fingers a positive thing.

---

Continue the night whispering and no matter what, don’t give up.

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Bird Veterinarian: August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist replied 3 months ago
Hi,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

August Abbott, CAS
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