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Old 11-09-2012, 09:33 PM
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Maxy24 Maxy24 is offline
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Default Basic bird info

At school I am part of the pre-vet club. We are thinking about volunteering at a bird rescue center in the area and I'd like to go, I don't have any experience with birds at all, it's one of the only "genre" of animal I have zero experience with and I'd like to change that. I am a little concerned since I know birds, especially large birds, can be aggressive. I was wondering what you all thought someone should know before working with birds. I'm thinking along the lines of etiquette (how does one greet a bird properly? How do you handle it? Are they territorial and how do you deal with that when you need to clean their cage? Are their any human behaviors they tend to hate (like eye contact)?) and body language (how does a bird act when happy, scared, angry, etc?). Also some basic information on care, behavior, and some of the more common (that you'd see in rescue) species would be great too.

I'm hoping to go check the place out on Sunday, we'll see how it goes!

I believe this is the place we are going: http://www.seymourbirdrefuge.com/
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Old 11-09-2012, 09:49 PM
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Fun! My boss and I have thought about doing a field trip up there. There's also a really nice sanctuary type place in RI I've been told.

Just keep in mind, all birds can/will bite. I personally don't touch or try to handle any bird that I don't know, unless it's a baby or I've watched it interact with other people. They can be extremely territorial towards strangers. I would imagine the rescue would know each bird and if it can be handled by strangers...I'm not sure how much actual handling you would do. Personally? I don't do big birds. I don't let strange birds on my shoulders or around my face. Haha...I'm not trying to scare you, I'm just cautious with them..I like my ears and my fingers.

As far as about to bite, the eyes will pin (dilate) if you can see their iris, they might puff up or yell at you. Most of the birds I've known will definitely vocalize if they are bothered.

In rescue, you typically see Macaws, Cockatoos, and Amazons. Amazons are usually one person birds and are known for being hormonal/going through extreme behavior periods. Cockatoos are mostly really nice birds, but they are LOUD. Macaws can be nippy/loud/too big. And then the cheap/popular parakeets and cockatiels, maybe some various Conures because they are louder than people expect. Some people have no clue what they are getting into. The most successful really large bird owners typically devote a lot of time and money into them, and don't have many other pets..the macaw or the too is it.
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Old 11-09-2012, 10:04 PM
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Yeah, I definitely don't need to be cuddling with them or anything, that's what the dog shelter's for lol. I mostly want to go to learn about them and just gain experience with them, but will obviously need to be able to clean the cage and feed them and want to avoid getting bit!


Can the birds be worked with to help them be more social/trusting? Or are their temperaments pretty set in stone by adulthood? Or is it the sort of thing where they'll become friendly only after gaining your trust and forming a relationship with you?
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Old 11-09-2012, 10:23 PM
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I've had fairly good results with marker training hand shy birds that were already fairly reasonable. I know there are bird behaviorists that do well with marker training for bigger/more aggressive birds. I've seen people take their time, totally on the bird's terms, trying to train really scared birds..and they make little progress after years. There's a lot of debate about flooding birds but I do think some 'desensitization' is necessary. But, you definitely can't do that with like..macaws..you'll get hurt.

You can generally clean cages and feed without getting bit, just be aware of where the bird is. Some birds are cage aggressive but that isn't the norm. Usually people with aggressive birds will make sure they are in a cage with pull out trays and pull out feed doors.
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Old 11-10-2012, 01:16 PM
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Most cage aggression in birds is caused by the bird thinking you are going to take them out. Meaning most birds are not going to come flying/running across the cage to bite. Even my meanest bird would not attack my hand when it was in the cage. UNLESS it was a hen and there was an egg in there. Then all bets would be off. Warning signs that a bird might bite is fluffed up feathers, screaming at you. And the biggest sign to watch for is their eyes. They will dilate their eyes rapidly. No quick jerky movements and you should be fine. Happy or content birds will grind their beak. It sounds horrible but it seems to be a contentment sound.
As far as human behaviors they hate, it varies from bird to bird.
As far as greeting a bird, just talk to it. They understand way more than most think.
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Old 12-09-2012, 07:26 PM
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Did you get the chance to do this?

Birds will generally look skinny when afraid, puffy when aggressive, and the best warning sign for when a bird is going to bite is that you are telling it something it doesn't want to hear.

Birds can be rehabbed, but it takes many months to earn their trust and teach them about a new life. It took Poe two weeks to want to hang out with me when I brought her home last year, and she wasn't even a problem bird or shy at all. Now she wants to be on me most of the time, unless there's something really fun to destroy.
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