Sunday, July 19, 2015


On the whole, Loki is not brave. He is the biggest chicken-psittacine I have ever met. Any new surface is hot lava. New toys are to be avoided, given the stink-eye, then carefully inspected over the course of several days/weeks in order to determine the presence or absence of Satan himself. If he even thinks that there is a chance that I might move my hand away from his cage after he has stepped up onto it, he will simply refuse to step up; it's just too big of a risk to be more than six inches away from his cage. Something could kill him.

Loki is to his cage as many children are to pulling their sheets over their heads so the monsters in the dark can't get them.

All of that being said, Loki has made some impressive improvements over the past several weeks. After going through the worst of the Great Grumpy Molt of 2015 (ugh, pin feathers are THE WORST), he is now receptive and actually eager for head scratches. I've been teaching him a new cue: I'll tap a spot on the top of his cage or a perch and say "come here." If he comes over to the spot I tapped, I'll give him all the head scratches and preening he wants. Sometimes he'll run to the front of the cage as soon as I walk into the room, because it means preening time.

Parrots preening each other (called allopreening) is actually really helpful during molting. A parrot can reach almost any feather on its body, except the ones on his head - so parrots often preen each other's heads so that all those tricky little feathers are in good shape. During a molt it helps alleviate the irritation of having all those little hard shafts bursting out all over the place. Scratching his head sort of mimics the natural action of allopreening, and he freakin loves it. It's great bonding time.

The other thing that has impressed me is how quickly he accepted his new travel cage. The carrier that I normally use is a cat carrier that has been reinforced with steel mesh so when he chews through the plastic sides (which he has already begun), he still can't escape. He hates the cat carrier - it's dark and he can't see where he's going. So I got him a travel cage that is actually designed for transporting parrots. It looks like a miniature wire dog crate with a perch in the middle. I set it on the table next to his cage thinking, "yeah, maybe I'll get him to come near this in 10 years," but lo and behold, it's only day two and he has already explored the top of it AND the inside (to get treats, duh). He doesn't really seem bothered by it at all.

My brave chicken.

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