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Sending the Wrong Signals

How you pet can affect your bird in ways you never imagined.

By Mattie Sue Athan

Jojo, a 9-year-old male Goffin’s cockatoo, entered Positively Parrots’ adoption program with reported screaming and biting issues. Every member —  young and old — of Jojo’s family was guilt-stricken and heartbroken to see him leave. I assured them that nine years with a cockatoo can hardly be called an “unsuccessful” placement. In fact, I believed that they should be commended for staying with the goofy little bird until in-home care for an Alzheimer’s-stricken grandmother forced a major lifestyle change.

Driving home, I watched him sit as close as possible to me, with one wing lifted and his body plastered flat against the grate front of the carrier. It was my first clue as to what had happened to Jojo. It’s a common issue in cockatoos; the way they can train their people to pet them. I’d seen it so very many times and frequently with greater complications than Jojo was experiencing. The fact that he had lasted so long in his first home with only the few behavioral issues described spoke well of the care he had received.

**For the full article, pick up the April 2008 issue of BIRD TALK**

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Reader Comments
I would really like to thank you for this article. We have an umbrella cockatoo named Rose and didn't know that it was bad to pet her under her wings. We got her when she was 9 yrs. old and she would raise her wings and we would pet her and she would say, (right there). We thought this was cute and would pet her. After reading your article I was grossed out and would not pet Rosey there again. She gets real mad and once nipped me out of anger. I think with patience we can train her to be petted in the right way instead of her training us where to pet her. Thank you for educating me.
Rhonda Foster, Bowdon Jct., GA
Posted: 4/10/2008 11:28:50 AM
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