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I have a 19 year old senegal who we love. He was my

I have a 19...

I have a 19 year old senegal who we love. He was my husband's best friend,and I was a good but lesser friend. My husband died last May and I knw Senny is still grieving as I am. In the past, he has bitten me on occasion--mostly on the hand or fingers, once on my ear lobe which was very painful, but not long=lasting pain. I started wearing a kerchief that covered my ears after that. A few days ago he bit me in three places during the same episode--a deep bite on my thumb, smaller one on the back of my hand, and large one on my shoulder. The bite on my thumb was significant and I saw a doctor who gave me a tetanus shot and prescribed 2 antibiotics taken together. I'm recovering and healing. However, I want to understand why he (or she) was so aggressive. A sudden move on my part? It's beginning to be spring in NYC and other birds have come back. Is it hormones or fear, or love, or grief? What can I do? I don't want to have to say goodbye to Senny.

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. Is the bird bleeding a lot?

I see a lot of information on the lefthand side of the screen, which I'll check out. I don't think the chat option is working.

Veterinarian's Assistant: What is the bird's name and age?

No bleeding that I can see. His name is ***** ***** he or she is 19 years old. I don't know if you were able to see my question or not--it was a long explanation. Here it is, for reference:

Veterinarian's Assistant: How old is Senny?

I have a 19 year old senegal who we love. He was my husband's best friend,and I was a good but lesser friend. My husband died last May and I knw Senny is still grieving as I am. In the past, he has bitten me on occasion--mostly on the hand or fingers, once on my ear lobe which was very painful, but not long=lasting pain. I started wearing a kerchief that covered my ears after that. A few days ago he bit me in three places during the same episode--a deep bite on my thumb, smaller one on the back of my hand, and large one on my shoulder. The bite on my thumb was significant and I saw a doctor who gave me a tetanus shot and prescribed 2 antibiotics taken together. I'm recovering and healing. However, I want to understand why he (or she) was so aggressive. A sudden move on my part? It's beginning to be spring in NYC and other birds have come back. Is it hormones or fear, or love, or grief? What can I do? I don't want to have to say goodbye to Senny.

Veterinarian's Assistant: OK. To minimize me, please click the down arrow at the top right corner of this box.

When I minimize you, it looks like the chat is beginning again. Not sure what I'm doing wrong. Are you able to see my lengthy question?

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Senny?

When he bit me hard on the thumb and hand, it was so painful that I lifted my hand and tried to jerk him off onto the floor, where he landed on his feet. He was stunned and so was I. I tried to calm him down, but he would hardly move. I waited a while and offered the stick forhim to climb on and put him in his cage. My hand was bleeding profusely. That was 4 days ago. He is almost back to normal, but he does pin his eyes and I know to stay away. Could it be hormones. Senny is very loving. He opened the door of his cage one morning and began flying into my bedroom and landed on the bed where he snuggled. I know he misses my husband. I've been leaving his cage open at night, and he flies in every morning. It has been very pleasant, but today he had those pinning eyes after a shower and I was afraid of getting bitten again. So I left him on the shower bar to dry and waited for him to call me. Only then did I ask him to step up onto the twig and put him back in his cage.

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Answered in 10 hours by:
3/10/2018
August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7,774
Experience: Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
Verified

I'm August Abbott Cert.Avian Specialist; ownr N.CA Parrot Rescue. Allow a few minutes to review & respond (please ignore site offers for phone svc)

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OK, I've just reviewed your question and hopefully this forum will work for you now. This will work like an email since we're in entirely different time zones (I'm Pacific time)

I'm truly sorry for your loss. I understand why you want things to work out with Senny, especially in honor of your husband. And I admire you for being so patient. This first bit of advice is going to likely surprise you, but I'll explain it: Tell Senny what happened to his 'mate' (your husband). Explain to this bird why his papa or daddy or whatever your husband called himself to the bird, is not around anymore. Talk like you would to a human 3 or 4 year old.

These birds are sentient/self-aware animals. There are only four animals on earth that are considered as such: Humans/apes (share the same level), Elephants, Dolphins and Psittacines (like your bird). He is likely very confused and frightened having lost the man his heart was bonded to. They actually feel love quite similarly to humans and they mourn too.

Once the two of you share the sorrow you can build a relationship out of the love you shared for your husband.

---- Believe me, I know this might sound very strange, but it's all true ----

Next is an exercise I developed many years ago and has had great success with birds that need to learn to trust a new human.

You're going to re start your relationship with Senny as if he's a brand new bird, ok?

Approach the cage when the Senny is calm. Be slow, keep your movements smooth and don’t raise your hands above your own shoulder level – or above the eye level of the bird. Speak with a soft voice and give the bird time to calm down and accept your presence. Go ahead and use words your husband used to use

Remember, patience.
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I’d approach Senny an hour or so after tucking him in for nighttime. Cover his cage on all sides, leaving just ½ of the front uncovered so he 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.
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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 his eye level.
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When you notice him 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 him be for the night and the next day use the same tone of voice and slow, calm movements around him.

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

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

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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 act confident even if you aren't.
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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.

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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.

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Once on your arm, start the whispering again. Have a conversation with him, tell him what you hope for and how he came to be the way they are.

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

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.

Does this sound like something you can do?

August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7,774
Experience: Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
Verified
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thank you for your very thoughtful, informative, and useful reply. I look forward to taking your various suggestions. One thing I'm not clear about is how to put on the sock without the toe. Is there a photo I can look at? Senny is still pinning his eyes and I want to be sure to approach him protected. Thanks for any clarification.

Once you cut the toe end off a pait of thick socks, like men's tube socks, fit one sock inside the other and slide the resulting double-thick 'sleeve' onto your arm. I'll try to post a photo later.

Thank you for your rating. I will always be here for you as you and Senny work through this. Just follow up right here and it won't cost you anything more unless you choose to either rate again at any pint or give a bonus. My motivation is to keep this little guy and you happily together.

By the way, I'm August. What's your name? I was born and raised in upstate NY. Albany, Lk George area

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago

Thank you, ***** ***** Alice **** . We live in NYC--the last block in Greenwich Village. Senny is an expert on traffic flow outside our window. I'm hoping to write a children's story about him in the near future.

That would be wonderful! I've been to your neck of the woods many times. It's great shopping! At least it was in the days of my youth and b4 life led me to bird care.

Sounds like you might have been a teacher?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I've been implementing your ideas and already see a difference in Senny. One difference was returning to covering his cage at night. I stopped for a long time while my husband was in the hospital and just kept it that way. Last night I put it on, and he woke up this morning saying hello and good morning, just as he used to. Thank you. I tried to find an image with the socks you described, but was unsuccessful. I've seen pictures of mittens with the finger tips cut off--would that do as well? If not, please send a photo when you have time--I imagine you're really busy. Thanks for the insights.

Alice - you just made my WEEK! I'm printing the pic and framing it (I don't do this often at all) - Senny and you have just reminded me of what this is all about. God bless you for that

I'm here for you both as you start your journey to re-learning each other on a new level. Follow up with me as you need and to just check in to let me know how it's going, ok?

Thank you so very much!

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
We will be glad to stay in touch. Thanks again. Alice
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Hi August, a new situation has arisen. Senny is definitely sweeter in the morning. However, immediately after a nice breakfast together, he flies into the bathroom and paces on the sink until I can give him a shower. He paces back and forth on the sink with his wings slightly raised and looking somewhat menacing. He lets me give him a scritch on the head but nothing else. He used to visit David at the sink while David shaved. Since I obviously don't shave, I put senny on the bar over the bathtub and give him a shower--as I have always done. Usually he stays on the bar until he is fluffy dry, and I then return him with a "step up" to his cage. Now, he pins his eyes, threatening to bite me. Even when he is dry, he won't step up, even on a twig. So I let him stay or fly around. I don't like being afraid of him. I am taking him to a vet on Friday to check him out, as it's been many years since he was examined. Is he looking for a mate? It's almost spring, and these angry gestures are common for the last month. Any thoughts?

I have to commend you once again for excellent instincts with Senny. Doing a usual routine in the bathroom is probably both comforting and disturbing to him since he's in the place his buddy used to share with him, but his buddy is nowhere to be found. Again, we're talking the emotional maturity of a 3-4 year old child.

Once again, use this opportunity to explain to him what happened, that his man didn't leave him because he wanted to and that you're very sad too. Tell him you are all he's got now and he might as well be nice about it.

I know, I know, this sounds crazy - but it works.

When it comes to the wings out and what you're perceiving as anger display, might be fear display. You have every right and reason to be wary of him after your recent bouts of biting and so, Senny is reading 'micro-expressions' on your face and in your body language that tells him you're unsure at the very least and frightened at most. For a bird this is unacceptable. He wants someone who is confident, self assured and in control. He wants to know that he can trust you to have his back in this new flock of two. When you're hesitant his instincts dictate to not sign on for much, if any, interactions with you

This said, changing your reactions to him is probably going to be the hardest thing to do. How does one exude confidence, strength and control/leadership when the subject has such a powerful beak and knows how to use it?

And it's those micro expressions on your face that say even more

I happen to be working with another lady, in person here in CA, who is experiencing the same thing with her mini macaw. She and the bird were great friends until one day when the bird bit her hard, while looking at something else that frightened her. Birds tend to live by "if you can't bite the one you want, bite the one you're with" philosophy. Try as I might to assure her it probably won't happen again - she's now pretty fearful of this bird and the bird knows it - sooo, the pattern is established.

In your case, let's try the explanation of why things are different in the bathroom and what you expect to happen as you both move forward. Tell him he needs to cooperate because it won't get better if he doesn't.

Talk soft, sympathetic, as if he were a 3-4 year child. Use your 'sock cuff' to confidently get him to step up. Once you're not fearful and you accomplish this your confidence will build, so will his and it shouldn't be too long before you don't need the cuff anymore.

Don't give up. No matter what, don't give up. I'll be here for you

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thank you so much August. The reason I didn't make the sock cuff is because we always said "step up" to our fingers. I never considered having him step up to my arm. So now I am determined to take your suggestions and make a new relation with Senny. And hopefully I won't have to recite this nursery rhyme written by another kind of bird, again: "When she was good, she was very, very good; but when she was bad, she was horrid."

Well, you can pull the cuff over your fingers. It will be awkward at first, but painless until you regain your confidence and he regains his.

And I love that Longfellow poem:

THERE was a little girl,

And she had a little curl

Right in the middle of her forehead.

When she was good

She was very, very good,

And when she was bad she was horrid.

One day she went upstairs,

When her parents, unawares,

In the kitchen were occupied with meals,

And she stood upon her head

In her little trundle-bed,

And then began hooraying with her heels.

Her mother heard the noise,

And she thought it was the boys

A-playing at a combat in the attic;

But when she climbed the stair,

And found Jemima there,

She took and she did spank her most emphatic

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
August, I have a lot to discuss with you. I took Senny to an avian specialist in NYC yesterday, and the upshot is that Senny has become so aggressive because of mating behavior--this is the first spring without David, and he misses David and I cannot take his place. Her recommendation was to give him a hormone injection--Lupron-- which may or may not work. This came as a shock, but I said okay because I am afraid of Senny in a way I never was before. I didn't go for the implant idea,first because of the expense; second, because the hormone may have side effects I don't foresee, and also it may not work. He enjoyed the trip outside in a new bird carrier and got to see people and sights he never did before. He was very pleasant INSIDE THE CAGE. Once home, I knew we both needed a rest and tried to put him into his cage. He flies directly to my head and won't get off, even if I shake it lightly. He is menacing. I had a sleepless night. This morning I let him stay in the cage until I had my breakfast. When I opened the door, he flew right to my head. I managed to give him an apple slice and he flew to the back of my chair. I opened the bathroom door and he immediately flew in and started strutting and pinning his eyes. I have so many questions for you. I considered whether another bird might be a companion for Senny, but the avian veterinarian said that he would have the same problem with that bird as he does with me. We did have another bird with senny ten years ago, a cockatiel, and they could not be in the same cage together because he went after her. If Senny is a one-man bird, I don't know what to do. If the hormones do work, I can't afford to pay for their continuing every few months for however many years. Are there any homeopathic solutions to the hormone situation? And if the hormones don't work, I can't see keeping him in a cage for the rest of his life. So this is only day one after the hormone shot, and I will be patient. But I don't feel safe letting him fly free at this time. Will keep David's picture near his cage; will show him videos of David--beginning today. I talk to him a lot. He says new things--probably from the past. Any beginning thoughts?

Hi Alice - I'm sorry you're still having this stressor in your life and of course I'm happy to continue to help. Hang in there with me. You're not alone.

Lupron injections, as you surely know, are not usually cheap and often require routine re-visits for additional injections.

The problem with this is that in the long term these injections become less effective. Remember, birds are the evolutionary result of dinosaurs that survived the last massive extinction on this planet some 65 million years ago. They are remarkably adaptable and evolve relatively rapidly. Shaking off the effects of Lupron in order to be fertile and ready to mate again is what they do.

Technical info about Lupron: This is a gonadotropin releasing hormone agonist (leuprolide acetate) that lowers pituitary receptors behavior.

This said, yes, there are what might be called homeopathic options. Actually, they're more informed reactions to a bird's natural biology.

Now that you're covering him again at night, let's increase his "night" . Light perception lengthens as we enter spring/summer and this triggers a bird's thoughts of making little ones. With the females in my sanctuary I've had great success with 12+12 hour days/nights, but there's one female who tends to figure that out and begins egg laying. For her I'll add an hour to 'nighttime'. Sometimes I need to add two. With Senny, try making his nighttimes last 13 hours.

The other thing I strongly, emphatically suggest is having those wings trimmed. He has all the power in his ability to fly. He gets to rule the roost, decide where he wants to go, when he wants to go and way too much more.

Keep in mind I said "trimmed" rather than clipped. We don't want to make him thud to the ground if he tries to fly - we just want to keep him from getting any lift or distance.

A trim to start with would be about the first 4-5 wing feathers down to the length of the feather at the 2nd level. If you've never done this or respect his beak and don't want to do this, a vet SHOULD do it for you for a nominal fee rather than a full office visit price. You can also ask your vet who they recommend for wing/nail trims. Many individuals with plenty of experience do this as a house call for just a few dollars. Pet Smart and Pet Co are good places to call to ask if they have options on site and if you're lucky enough to have a specifically bird supply store nearby many of them do it on site for as little as $5 - 10.00.

At first you're going to feel guilty and he's going to feel confused, but once he learns he can't have free reign, that he needs you for his own wellbeing, you'll see things change.

Once he ends up on the floor by the way - you should be able to pick him without him being aggressive at all, after all, he really wants to get off the floor.

Easy enough to implement don't you think? Let's give it a try

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
For some reason my reply to your latest email didn't go through. I think it's because I tried to add a video, for fun. So I'll try to remember what I wrote. First, thank you for your kind and sensible suggestions which give me hope about Senny. I much prefer your ideas which seem sensible and kinder than the hormone injections, which are not only more expensive, but may not work. I have an appointment tomorrow with Bird Camp, a Pet shop that trims wing feathers and nails at a low price. $10 and $10. We will start the 13-13 hours tonight for Senny's rest. A friend suggested that along with a photo of David, near the cage, that I show Senny some videos with David speaking, which I'll be glad to do in a day or two when things are more settled. If I remember what else I wrote earlier, I'll send that along. Meantime, thank you again and I'll keep you posted. Here is a photo taken while waiting for a car to bring us to the vet yesterday. It was a wonderful first-time meeting in person between Harrison and Senny.

Oh thank you for the pic! So many captions could be applied to the looks on their faces. I love things like this!

Hold off on videos for a while. It's a sweet thought, but I'm not sure he'd understand why he can see and hear David, but not touch him and be held by him. What you want to focus on in the next days or weeks is establishing a new bond. With you.

The photo near his cage is fine - it's something 'understandable' for them.

They see pics all the time and realize they are just static objects that they either like to look at or not look at or just accept are there.

There's a fascinating test that researchers do to establish whether an animal is sentient; self aware. They've done this with apes, elephants and yes, even dolphins along with, in very recent years, psittacines like Senny. The put a mark on the animal that they can't see or feel, like whitewash or coloring of some kind and then they introduce the animal to a mirror. Not that this is the first time they see a mirror, but it's the first time they see themselves with a mark on their face.

Now, a dog, cat, rat, gerbil, ferret, even other non psittacine birds have no idea what a mirror is. As babies they react to what they think is another animal in front of them and this is where the 'funniest videos' catch some truly hilarious reactions. Eventually though as they grow and learn, they come to the conclusion that the moving thing in the mirror is not a threat; not a mate and not food - so it's irrelevant. It becomes nothing to them.

Self aware animals also learn with exposure that the moving thing they see isn't a threat; mate or food, but their learning curve continues.

Eventually, when they see that animal with a mark, they move to somehow touch that area and quite often work to remove the mark, checking back in the mirror to see if they got it off.

Eureka! This is self-awareness. They know they 'are'.

But the level of intelligence on this level varies. Psittacines are pegged at between 3 to 4 or even 5 year old human toddlers. Elephants, dolphins and of course apes have what is believed to be far more complex sentience, but the studies with psittacines is still in it's relative infancy. We may find out that they are lightyears ahead of everyone.

I mean, they can understand us as we explain death, grief, mourning and what we hope to have with them going forward. It isn't words that gets the message to them, it's our micro expressions, our tone, our pupils, tiny things all pieced together that surpasses language barriers. And they feel compassion for someone and other 'things' in pain or in fear.

I know I digress, but the more you know, the less likely Senny will have to go. I'll try to move mountains for you in order to keep you two together.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Do you think that after I have his wings trimmed (and I'm assuming you are for BOTH wings being trimmed) in time Senny may be able to fly again? I'm planning to go today.

Oh yes, he'll be fully flighted again in just a few months as new feathers come in and if you let them grow out - but keeping a 'baby trim' in place (yes, both wings) will still let him fly, just not any great distance and no height.

Btw, I apologize if it seems there's a lag in response time. We do have the time zone difference, but on top of that this site has glitches galore when it comes to notifications in my email.

Hope your weekend has been good!

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
The experience at the pet shop--Bird Camp-- was very good. The current owner, Roz, sells and houses all kinds of birds and clearly loves them, as does her staff. I knew her son years ago, and he was my go-to person for our birds, never steered me wrong or tried to sell stuff. Senny really enjoys these trips outside. He talks up a storm and loves people looking at him and talking to him. He also enjoyed the interactions with other birds--as they know how to talk to each other. There was no problem wit the wing clips.
Here was some advice Roz gave me, and let me know your thoughts: Since he can't fly up to his cage, I will have to put him back with a step-up on a twig, or, if I'm comfortable, with my finger.
Also in relation to the meals we have together--breakfast and dinner, I have a bird playground for Senny that we hardly ever use, and she suggested that while I can keep water and a small amount of food in his cage, I can let him eat with me at the table, in his playground which has bowls for food and water. This way, we're still good friends, and I can let him step up from the floor or from the cage, and he won't have to fret about not flying up to the table to join me. I feel more peaceful about Senny this way. After his shock at not being able to fly up, he seemed to do just fine with stepping up from the floor onto a twig and being put back in his cage. Relieved and thoroughly exhausted, I'll close for now, and welcome anything you might say about all this. Alice

I'm so happy to hear this Alice AND I think Roz rules with her advice thus far. You'll be surprised to discover what Senny has in mind for transport UP when he wants to. You can put a branch there (that bird store may have 3-4' manzanita branches for sale) - or even a thick length of rope from your hardware store; plastic 'chain' (same hardware store, like Lowe's) or whatever your creative mind thinks works with the decor ;-)

I'm excited for what's yet to come!

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Going to sleep much more peacefully than yesterday because of your encouragement and that of others, including Roz. Senny is happily snoozing, too.

This makes me feel very good Alice. You are not alone in this anymore. I can't help but think that David has a hand in this - making sure both his little guy and his lady are going to be ok.

Take a look at this lighthearted, fun video of one of the residents in my rescue here. I think you'll enjoy it Click here

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I thoroughly enjoyed your video, and seeing a little of the rescue center where your work takes place. This morning was different from others and I think Senny and I learned a lot about how things will be different--including where and how breakfast is prepared and eaten. He is trying to make sense of not being able to fly up, but seems to navigate flying down ok. He is eager to step up onto a twig. He never cared much for the playground, but sat on a few branches for a while and then flew off. He did fly up to low places, and when I turned around once I found him on the top of a living room chair that was David's. I didn't see him fly up, but somehow he managed it. From there he flew onto my shoulder, which I'm not comfortable with at this time, so he stepped onto the twig I held and went down. And since I learned that his posture of strutting and flapping his wings on the bathroom sink is not menacing, I am not afraid to give him head scritches, which he loves and deserves. I didn't see him pinning his eyes. The shower on the towel bar went well, too. I will buy some rope or branches in the next few days.
I don't know if I mentioned a poem that I love, about a bird mourning for his mate. It is the great poem by Walt Whitman, "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking." I heard it years ago in a class conducted by Eli Siegel, the American poet and founder of the philosophy Aesthetic Realism. David and I were honored to study with Eli Siegel for many years, and now with the Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education Ellen Reiss. This morning, I played a Youtube recording of the Whitman poem, recited by Ed Begley (one of the better readings). It is tremendously moving. When you have 15 quiet minutes, I think you will enjoy this very much. Here's a link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lv-066S1nmk
Customer reply replied 20 days ago
Dear August, it's been a while and there's lots of progress to report and some questions to ask. Since Senny;s wing clips, he is trying to make sense of the changes--flying down, often to the floor, but not up. He seems to be okay, but I can't leave him on the floor for long as I need to go into another room. He usually won't step up onto a branch without my first using the branch to give him a head scritch, which I am glad to do. Otherwise, it seems wise to wait to try to have him step up because he begins to look a little menacing if I insist. I can only imagine how he feels about not being able to fly up. He seems more peaceful since the hormone shot, at first a little more sleepy, but now not so much. Another change is that he seems to be talking a lot more words--most that he remembers from the past, and some new ones, and talking more often. I take that as a good sign. I'm keeping a record of what he says, because sometimes he'll say a word or two that a friend from the deep past used to say, and that is amazing. We also got the blood sample results and Senny is indeed a boy!
I put a little ladder against the window that looks out onto the street, and he is beginning to climb up the ladder to get a treat. He's very smart. If there is anything I should be looking out for, given the fact that he wants to fly up and can't, please let me know. If he flies down to the floor a lot, can his feet get hurt? I notice he often rests on one foot, and was wondering if that is because his feet hurt, or if he's doing a senegal parrot thing as he's done in the past. He seems to be happy. Because I'm going to be in Memphis next week, my daughter Rachel will be caring for Senny once a day. If there is anything you feel she should look out for, please let me know. Senny loves her, too.

Alice how wonderful to hear from you! And such good things about Senny. I love how much you care for him and look out for him as noted by your asking about his little feet. A glide down to the floor won't hurt him at all - it's the flops or falls that end with a thud that we want to avoid and that's easy enough with a plush throw rug here and there.

As long as he has a ladder or other way 'up' to a safe place he's fine. By taking back your dominance in his 'flock' he's adjusting to his new position as Beta bird to your Alpha.

Picking one leg up at a time is every bird's way of resting that leg. I mean, they're on their feet 24/7 right? Now and then they need to get off them and that's how they do it.

His chattering is also a good thing - trying to communicate with you rather than be the king he was who didn't think you were worth the bother.

As with all birds and bird owners we want to always monitor the droppings and make sure they are consistent in consistency, size, volume and frequency - whereas a single day of 'off' droppings isn't usually a problem, when droppings are excessively watery, ill formed or on the other hand, pasty - it's something we want to check into early.

With Rachel watching him while you're gone be sure she interacts with him daily for at least an hour. If possible leave the t.v. on a timer (many have a 'sleep timer' built in ) and make sure he can see life happening out a window if possible.

For a vacation stay - cover 1/2 of his cage leaving the side facing 'life' and t.v. open. What's important is having a dark corner to retreat to when it's sleep time. And keeping in mind he's a human 3 or 4 year old, tell him before hand that you're going away, but you WILL be back. We don't want him afraid he's losing you like he lost his 'man' . If Rachel has a video option on her phone let him see you every day or every other day via video chat where you tell him you will be back soon. Sounds nutty, I know, but as you've discovered he's pretty in tune.

Rachel can contact me via this threat if need be. Just show her how.

DO expect a little attitude when you return. This isn't unusual. Bring home a little toy or treat to help make it easier.

And have a lovely time in Memphis! Be happy and be safe!

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Customer reply replied 11 days ago
Hi August, we followed your suggestions and Senny had a pretty good time while I was away. I've noticed that he is in a funk--he eats in his cage, but not so much with me as he used to. Even his previous passions--pecans and blueberries, he avoids. He seems to want to stay on top of his cage, rather than step up onto a branch and come down. I know he misses flying very much. He will often fly down from a medium height, and does try to fly up, sometimes succeeding. If I were him, I would be sad at not being able to fly with ease. How long before his feathers grow back? He definitely is more docile, and I don't have the fear I had before about his biting me. Am I being kind to him? I talk to him a lot, and bring him into the room where I am working and where he has a playground with a perch, but he just sits there and doesn't seem to take much interest. Is it just a funk? His droppings are consistent. He took a bath in his water bowl--didn't want to come with me for a usual bath in the sink or on the perch over the bathtub. Any thoughts are welcome.

Between his wing trim and your leaving for a while it's perfectly normal for him or any bird with this intelligence to feel a bit 'depressed'. His wings should be back in full splendor within the next 2-3 months and I wouldn't blame you for allowing him his full flight as long as he remains good to you. This temporary trim may be all he needed to remind him that he's not the boss of you :-)

Keep monitoring his food intake - which can be done by monitoring his droppings just as you have been. As long as we see poops he's eating something.

Also keep reassuring him, talking to him, handling him and making a routine that is easy to maintain. Birds LOVE routines they can count on, but shaking it up now and then keeps them on their toes, just as it does us.

If you want to - try moving his cage from one area of the room to another. A different perspective is as much fun as moving our own furniture around now and then.

I wouldn't do this right now though - wait until he's out of his funk.

If you don't see him improving in the next few days (3 to 5 days) it might be time for a follow up with his doc. Hopefully not though. I had a little bird here who, after seeing a vet for the first time, went into the deepest, most troubling depression I've seen with a bird. Took him almost a week to the day to bounce back.

Keep me in the loop. Let me know how you're both doing

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Customer reply replied 9 days ago
Dear August, you've been very useful. Do I credit you for each interchange? I tried to do that but it didn't seem to work. Please advise.
Senny appears to be coming back to his sweeter self slowly and in a nice way, and I'm grateful. When I open his cage, he climbs to the top. He can stay there a long time. Then he will fly down to a chair seat next to his cage. Today, for the first time since his wing clips, he fly from the cage top about 15 feet across the room and landed on the back of David's lounge chair. It was a happening. He was happy and I was happy, and he we had a little celebration with banana slices.
I am writing about Senny, as I may have mentioned to you, with a children's book possibility down the road. I'm also looking at him in relation to an anthropology class I am taking and how senegal parrots evolved.
Early in my correspondence with you, you wrote the following:
August: These birds are sentient/self-aware animals. There are only four animals on earth that are considered as such: Humans/apes (share the same level), Elephants, Dolphins and Psittacines (like your bird). He is likely very confused and frightened having lost the man his heart was bonded to. They actually feel love quite similarly to humans and they mourn too.
Once the two of you share the sorrow you can build a relationship out of the love you shared for your husband. end of August quote.
Can you recommend a text where I can learn more about what you wrote above? --is there anything Darwin or Linneas or someone else may have written about Senegals that I can study? I'd be grateful for a source you recommend. Thanks again. Alice

Alice, I just love hearing from you and all the milestones with Senny, especially the happy times. I think you've established a new, stronger relationship with him that was long overdue

Give me a day or two to do some research on sources with regard to psittacine sentience. If I'm not mistaken it's relatively recent and was truly rounded out by a PhD named Irene Pepperberg's research. Her story was amazing in and of itself. When she started to grow her educational career, Irene adopted a young African Grey parrot to keep her company through long nights of grueling study. Before long she began to realize that this little bird was not just really smart, but seemed to have reasoning skills. Not only did this (now famous) bird named Alex, recognize colors and shapes, but could differentiate on a rather complex level. He didn't mimic or ape or parrot words, he was learning the meaning of the words like a human child does and forming his own sentences, verbalizing his wants or needs.

Long after this student, Irene Pepperberg, became a now famous, Dr. Pepperberg, one day became the worst in her life. Alex was found deceased. And just like that, the most famous bird in the world was done. BUT - Dr. Pepperberg's research, her experiments and published papers helped change how scientists worldwide viewed psittacines.

While it wasn't just Dr. Pepperberg - it was arguably because of her that the scientific world stood up and took notice

Read more about this here: Click

And it doesn't matter that Senny is a Senegal. He's still a psittacine and that means his awareness is amazingly human. On a very sweet, innocent, child-like level of humanity.

So please hang in there for me and I'll get back to you on this with more specific research.

When we diverge from the original subject/question we're supposed to ask you to post a new question. I keep finding ways to associate your follow ups with the original question so don't worry about that.

And you most certainly do not have to 'accept' after each reply, but if you would like to compensate me for additional work I think you can just hit 'accept' again at any of the replies. If that doesn't work - you can choose to add a "bonus"

I'll back to you soon

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I haven't forgotten you Alice. Still working on it.

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Customer reply replied 6 days ago
Looking forward. Your thought is much appreciated.

Alice you are the most patient lady ever! I don't know about you, but patience is something I learned after years of lessons by the birds in sanctuary here.

When they come in, they are understandably scared, disoriented and more often than not, have been permanently injured by abuse. I have been waiting for our blind, broken resident, 'Thumper' to talk - to make any sound at all - for more than 4 years. Four very long, silent years. Thumper taught me to love him and nurture him and appreciate him for who he is, sounds or not and in that lesson, patience. And from that patience, very recently a sound! It could have been "Mmmaa ma" meaning me, or Mmmaa ma just for the sound of it, but it was more than all the years before gave me. Yay patience!

Jenny 'no legs', gorgeous scarlet macaw, was constantly fearful of my hands reaching in to pick her up. She'd cower and cry in terror. After all, hands dislocated and fractured both of her legs leaving them relatively useless forever now. Then, almost exactly on her 1 year anniversary living here, I reached in to bring her out as usual - and a foot went UP - as if to step up onto my arm and she hobbled forward - moving toward me rather than away to cower and cry.

What a reward to have this amazing girl gift me with her trust after everything she's been through.

And I digress - Yes I have the research showing a bird on the list of sentient/self aware animals on earth, but oh my! Looking for specific papers showing psittacines now included on the list of 'self aware' animals I am shocked to not find any proveable, reliable sources. There are plenty of anecdotal reports across the great wide internet, but none I'd hold up to scientific scrutiny. Yet.

I DO have Irene Pepperberg's amazing research that began with her African Grey, Alex who passed suddenly at the age of 31. Her ongoing research with other Grey's is going in the direction of proving sentience, although strangely, the one widely accepted test called the "mirror test" hasn't been done. This is where an animal that has been introduced to a mirror on a regular basis is sedated (to sleep state) and a mark is applied to their face or throat area. They are then put in front of that familiar mirror. Human children up to about the age of 2 or even 3 have no idea that they are seeing themselves in a mirror so this is a good basis to evaluate other animals reaction to themselves in a mirror. Self-awareness is determined when the animal recognizes that something is on their face. The great apes get it; elephants get it; even dolphins went to nearby objects trying to remove the spot they saw in the mirror and then returned to the mirror to see if they succeeded. They 'get it'.

The bird that actually did make the list was an Australian magpie type bird rather than a parrot.

Take a look at Dr. Pepperberg's overview here Click

Even more here with video Click

And an idea of the tests being given to the Grey's still carrying on Alex's research (amazing) - click here

While Senny isn't portrayed - he and the macaws here in my sanctuary - and even the little parakeets/budgies in kids' rooms all over the world, are psittacines just like the Grey's and believed to be equal to (at least) that degree of sentience and understanding.

I've done my own trials with a particular macaw (in fact, the very first large parrot to come to me in need of rescue) - we stand in front of a mirror and she loves to give kisses to herself. I tell her to "kiss Sadie" (herself) and she leans in to her own reflection to give kisses. I then ask her to kiss me - and she is admittedly confused. At times she leans in to my reflection to give a kiss, while other times she'll turn to me in person to give the kiss.

While I'm truly not interested in beginning the research necessary to prove self awareness (there has to be multiple, lengthy studies, blind studies; double blinds; control groups and verifications 100x's over) I have thought about contributing to ongoing, current researchers work.

As it is, the consensus among many if not most researchers is that psittacines like your Senny are self aware and as such, are as complex to raise, to teach and to understand as any human child of between 2 to 5 or 6 years old. And who among us doesn't know what a joy and nightmare that can be?

So continue with Senny as you have been, let him know you appreciate his cooperation and don't stop exercising your place as 'leader' by making decisions for him at least a couple times a day. That is: Bring him down from the top of his cage even if he doesn't want to, etc..

What you want to see is Senny cooperating because he knows you're boss and because he loves and wants to please you.

The set up you have is fantastic! Including him in the different rooms with you is super smart of you and I've got to say it -- Alice, you've got this!

Suggestion: When taking him outside remember the acrylic box can magnify heat. Bring a spray bottle of plain water and mist him (mainly his feet) regularly. If dealing with an overheating bird (beak agape, wings held out and low to his side, lethargy) cool water on the feet will bring a temp down pretty fast. Half water, half rubbing alcohol will work even faster in a genuine emergency.

Always have a bowl of water there for him too.

(all of this I'm pretty sure you are doing anyway)

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