Thursday, May 21, 2015

A step forward

Joey joined the family a little over seven years ago, on March 1, 2008. He was just shy of his third hatchday at the time.

His original owner was a man and Joey showed a clear preference for men over women. Not that he was vicious against women (as Petey can be), but given his past experience with women (his previous owner's wife at the time) weren't positive, we weren't surprised that Joey was more comfortable with the Boy over myself.

Then, as months and years passed on, this preference dissipated, and it was clear that Joey was comfortable with either of us, often choosing to come and spend some time with me even if the Boy was around.

However, marked by our initial interactions, which involved biting at times, while I was always comfortable scratching Joey's head (and got really good at avoiding possible bites by reading body language), I no longer allowed him on my shoulder (my ears are thankful for that) and I would move him around with a perch, rather than getting him to step up on my hands. This works wonderfully for all involved.

I've been toying with the idea of trying to get him to step up on my hand again, given that we are in a really good place now. I'm pretty sure Joey is ready, but I've always been the one to "chicken out" at the last minute and remove my hand and go back to the perch (what can I say, some of those bites really hurt!)

I've recently tried the same with Zuri, with mixed results, and we are back to moving him around with the perch. If he doesn't bite, all is good, but if he decides to chomp down, he really chomps down (although none of my birds have got me as bad as Petey did that one time; Petey and I will most definitively always remain in a "hands off" relationship). So, for the sake of not always having band-aids on my fingers, I'll keep moving Zuri around with a perch (the wisest choice when you consider how he can be when asked to step up to go in his cage and he doesn't want to...)

Back to Joey though, earlier this week I decided to be "brave". Joey looked to be in a particularly good mood, so I thought why not try getting him to step up on my finger. I proceeded to provide my finder and he was just about to step on, looking like this is something he did all the time, and I pulled away - there was no reason to, based on Joey's body language, it was just a mental block I had. Joey didn't seem to think much of it and resumed playing with a piece of wood. I, on the other hand, felt bad and was kicking myself for having done what I did. We can't move forward if I don't take that step, and show trust in Joey like he seems to be showing in me. It's been seven years since I had any reasons to be weary of him biting my fingers.

So I took a deep breath and offered my finger again. And he stepped up nicely. There was still a little "bite fear" in me, but, overall, I would say the sense of happiness of having gone through with it and pride that this little guy trusted me enough overpowered that other feeling. He did get a little beaky with my fingers after a while, but he didn't bite down, just gently moved his beak around, which the Boy said was normal Joey behaviour with his hands as well.

There we have it, we took a step forward; a step I believe Joey was ready to take a long time ago, but one where I just started being comfortable with. It was a really nice feeling!

No comments: