Monday, November 5, 2012

What if they are ready to move to the next step but not you?

I've been talking lately about how I've had a set back with Léa but I failed to mention another bird-human relationship in which I'm the one who's holding back a bit when it's apparent that the bird seems ready to move onto the next step.

The bird in question is Joey.

Our beginning was rather rough; in Joey's previous home, his previous owner, a man, gave him a lot of attention and I think at some point, that man's then wife might have resented Joey for it (going from what I've heard from some people). That tense relationship has played a role in why Joey was in need of a new home. While Joey didn't flat out hate women the way Petey does, he was always more comfortable with the Boy and other men when we first got him, while I got my fair share of bites and nips.

It seems that I got some emotional scarring from those bites and nips - I didn't resent Joey for them, after all he's a bird and those come with the territory - but as a result, I would handle him around with a perch and wouldn't allow him access to my shoulder, a thing that I only really allow with birds who I trust won't try to go after my earlobes or my face (which really means Piper, Shade, Pixel and occasionally Zuri depending on what mood he is).

While I had to restart gaining some of Léa's trust around stepping up, it dawned on me how ready Joey was to move on. He's much more predictable around my hands, when he asks for head scratches he no longer flips out like he used to when he started to abandon himself to it and he just enjoys the scratch for however longer I decide to give it to him. He also looks ready to do a perfect "step up" onto my finger but that is where I freeze - instead of focusing on the progress he's made and that things will go well, I remember the bites that led me to handle him with a perch instead.

This is something I will have to get over, and honestly, a bite is just a bite and if it comes down to him biting, so what? In fact, if I show any hesitation because all I can focus on is the bite that didn't yet happen, he'll most likely sense it and bite away. I need to get to the point of being confident, of not caring about the outcome and it'll probably go well.

I need to think about how wonderful it'll be to finally be able to hold him on my hand and have him happily perch there - and that should be plenty of motivation for me.

1 comment:

Victoria Fleck said...

I am having the same situation with my red-bellied, Draco. While I do not think he is completely ready to step up on my finger instead of the T perch, he really has come a long way and actively seeks head scratches and, of course, lots of attention. I totally understand your hesitation though, those bites are so nasty. But I think that the best bet is to just assess him every time before you pick him up, as you probably know already. Good luck, I hope that your fingers stay whole!