February 28, 2015 § Leave a comment
It must be that time of the year, because I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about nippy and hormonal cape parrots. It hasn’t quite hit Lola yet, but one of the things I’ve done to prepare myself and others for when that time does arrive is to train her to use a hand-protecting step up perch. I think this is really key for when hormones do strike– and even better if you can get started well before they do, so that your parrot is trained to step up immediately by the time hormone season rolls around.
The right type of step-up perch is necessary. I chose one that is simple with no distractions, but also amply protects the hands so that you can safely transport your parrot into or out of the cage during those difficult times when you your parrot doesn’t want to be handled otherwise. It’s simply made of two dowels and a stainless steel screw, along with a small sheet of clear acrylic that protects your hand. It’s called the Buddy Perch and you can buy it at 4Z Birds, but I’m sure that if you’re crafty you can also make one yourself. (That being said, I was really pleased with the excellent customer service I received from 4Z Birds and highly recommend them! They were really fantastic to work with and put a lot of care into their products.) I’ve seen others that use coconut shells and natural perches, and a plastic one as well on the market.
Funnily enough, Lola, who is normally not afraid of any new perches or toys, was absolutely terrified of this thing when I first took it out! It took a few weeks of persistent training and many an in-shell almond for her to realize that it’s her friend, not foe. At first, the most I could do was get her just to touch it with the tip of her beak. But we went at her pace and she learned very quickly. I made sure to train her to step up whether it’s me or anybody else holding the perch. She is a little more hesitant with strangers, but she knows that stepping up = reward. It took less than a month for her to get really comfortable with it, and we practice consistently, even though hormones haven’t hit. That way, when they do come around, we’ll be ready.
I think having your parrot trained to use a step up stick can also help in a lot of others ways. For example, if you ever want or need to travel and require a bird sitter, it can be difficult for the bird sitter to allow out of cage time or even retrieve your parrot if they accidentally sneak out of the cage while changing bowls or cleaning. But now that Lola’s trained to step up for anybody anywhere, I know that there will be no problem with getting her back in the cage safely and keeping everybody’s fingers in tact in the process. I definitely recommend training your parrots to use step-up perches as well. It’s great for some peace of mind and I’m sure it will come in handy when we find ourselves dealing with hormones!