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Shortie - to foster or not to foster... that is the question...

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Author Topic: Shortie - to foster or not to foster... that is the question...  (Read 128 times)
lorek
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« on: August 31, 2011, 10:24:47 am »

okay so here's the current dilemma on my plate right now:  what to do about shortie?

shortie is the milligold macaw i seemed to have bonded with to some degree.  he can be a loud aggressive bird at times, but for the most part he is very laid back around me and seems to really calm down when i'm around.  my friends in town bought him to get him out of the pet store he had been living in for nearly two years.  he is now a part of their large flock (13 or so birds, and 1 of 4 full sized macaws.) 

shorties history:  he is about 5 years old, he lived with one lady and her bf for the first 3 years of his life before she sold him to the petstore.  at the petstore they would not handle him and he definitely learned to bite and that hands were bad.  he does not step up.  he did not have toys or perches to stand on save for one pvc pipe and 1 pvc toy.  he was fed a diet of seeds only.   cage rarely cleaned.  when my friends brought him home and started to clean his cage, it was so infested with roaches they just pitched it and bought him a new one. 

he loves his new cage, its bigger (taller and wider) but he still doesn't play with toys, despite having a wide variety in his cage.  he is in a room with 3 other macaws, all younger (2, 1, and 6 months).  he gets a great variety of foods now, nuts, fruits, veggies, seeds, pellets.  he eats almost all of it.  his cage is cleaned regularly.  his favorite toy is pulling the papers up off the bottom of his cage and shredding them. 

both of my friends smoke heavily in the house and it is a very busy atmosphere, between all the birds, and multiple generations of kids coming and going all day, there's never a dull moment.  the wife works at home so the birds are always getting attention.  she does run a grooming salon so there are dogs around nearly all day.  they also own three dogs of their own and half a dozen cats or so.

shortie has developed some behavioral problems and as such they are considering letting me foster him to see if it helps.  first he always lunges at the wife.  always.  she's the one that feeds and cleans but she cannot get near him.  she won't even take him out of the cage when her husband isn't home.  i can come over and walk right up to the cage and he'll come down and play with me, let me pet him on his head, back, belly, feet.  he rolls over and we play games through the cage bars.  he will gently take my fingers in his beak and lick and taste them.  but if the wife walks by he lunges, even at me. 

when he is out and sometimes on the one perch inside that stretches all the way across, he will walk back and forth across the cage and just just swing his head in figure eights.  again and again and again.  when he stops he uses his foot to scratch his cheeks and in doing so has barbed all his feathers from his cheeks to shoulders. on both sides of his head.  his feathers in general are looking much better on the new diet, but he also is destroying his tail feathers for a few inches near the base of his tail but they are fine further down near the tip.  he has left only shafts up top and we aren't sure when or how he is doing it.

the husband can pet him on occasion but even then not reliable.  i have myself have only interacted with him outside the cage twice.  the first he was very gentle and held my fingers without biting them and let me scratch his head.  the second he would take treats from my hand but wouldn't let me pet him.  he will not step up, but he also does not climb off his cage or fly away. 

they have had him now for about two months. 

other things to consider:  my guys are flighted, my guys are small and could fit through his cage bars.  shortie does not seem to like other birds and lunges at the cats when they walk by his cage.  my dog is blind and could bump into his cage until she realized it was there.  he is loud.  i am working full time and going to school full time.  it would theoretically just be temporary.  i am moving in a year or two when i am accepted to pharmacy school. 

so its been over a week and i'm still contemplating what to do... should i foster him or not? there's a lot of variables.  what would you do?
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Ditty
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« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2011, 12:36:47 pm »

nope i would not.  fall more in love with him to let him go ...i could not let go
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« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2011, 12:40:24 pm »

I would worry about what would happen if he did very well with you and was happy and then you had to give him up down the line.  think if you were able to keep him if it went well then it would be great for you both. I am not saying to rule it out, do what your heart says.
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« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2011, 03:55:34 pm »

I agree with the last two posts.  There also seems to be more minuses than pluses,  plus the bird may bond with you and when back to the owners may develop even greater behavioral problems.  Would not be fair to the bird IMO.  Your busy schedule and all the others in your home are also many minuses to this thought.  You do what you feel in your heart and just remember you can't save/help them all. 
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vistosmommy
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« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2011, 04:13:56 pm »

I agree with everyone else, you have to do what you feel is right, but seems like there are more minuses than pluses with fostering.  I wish everyone in the situation luck
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steptoe91(tozie)
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« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2011, 04:17:11 pm »

i think right now your plate is full and to foster this guy, you would be putting your birds at risk of neglect.
Shortie needs time. two months is not long. i assume your friends are pretty experienced bird owners. but maybe they arent thinking that #1 lunging is a macaw thing. most of them do it. its a test. if ya flinch, they enjoy it all the more. so the wife is probably encouraging the lunging by accident. #2 Shortie is gonna take alot of time and patience. (think ollie with a bigger beak  dmblaf  )  he's been neglected for a long time.  the figure 8's and scratching is frustration and aggression. he doesnt know how to let out all that aggression in a healthy way. ie. i have the bottles for skittles to beat up. it is an outlet for all his frustrations. shortie doesnt play cause he doesnt know how. again, think ollie. its taken him a year to learn to play.  i even had to teach skittles how to play alone. when shortie so much as touches a toy, shower him with praise. i'd let him rip up all the paper he wants to also. its another outlet for that aggression that he's been supressing all these years.

do i think you could do wonders for shortie? yes. as an owner. but just to foster him is setting him up for more instablility. maybe you could help by coaching the friends in shortie's progress?

of course this is just my opinion. i've had ONE macaw for my experience. so alot of my thoughts are just... uneducated guesses. <grin>
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« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2011, 04:23:04 pm »

Some questions.

Have the bird had bloodwork to rule out sickness? The roaches could have given him something and petstore life evidently wasn't good for him. How much time every day can you give him one on one and how much out of cage time can you give him? Can you keep your smaller birds away from his cage when you are home? Are you willing to either keep him permanently, or let him go when the time comes? Are you willing to take a chomp or two and go back for more? Are your friends willing to give him up permanently?

Macs are HUGE bluffers, and when some one shows fear they take full advantage of it lunging simply for the reaction. It could be the wife reminds him of someone who hurt him either emotionally or physically.
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vistosmommy
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« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2011, 04:28:22 pm »

Tozie, I was thinking the same things.  Fostering is more instability. But it sounds like with dogs and 13 birds in their flock, he may not be getting the time he needs where he is at.  

Sondra those are really good questions
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Debz
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« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2011, 09:42:17 pm »

 I think it all comes down to the amount of quality time you are capable of offering everyone.  
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lorek
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« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2011, 08:54:48 am »

okay you guys have pretty much all solidified my thoughts.  i love this bird a lot, there is no doubt about that, but in my heart i want to help, but logically i don't think it is a good idea.  i didn't want to influence you all, but here have been my thoughts.  i guess i was looking for some validation, if you all thought i should i was going to reconsider.  do i think shortie would do better with me? yes.  do i think its worth all the other negatives? no :/

1) he definitely shares some sort of bond with me and is definitely, in my book, unhappy where he is right now.  but if he were to come home with me and actually do better and then i returned him to where he is at, i would think that would be more psychologically damaging and would actually hurt his trust of people, not gain it. 

2) even if they did offer to let me keep him, i am in no position to actually do so

3) if one of my little guys got hurt landing on or flying by his cage i would not handle it well. 

4) i don't think he's in the best situation for what he needs, he def doesn't get out of his cage much or much interaction, and no he wouldn't get a whole lot from me... but he would get more than he gets now.  and less stressful incidents of it too.  but this single benefit is not enough to outweigh all the potential hurt that would come from it

5) like ditty said... i'm already too attached, i don't think i'd handle having to give him back very well.

thanks for helping me out guys <3
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Canary Winged Parakeet - Kiwi 2006-2012.  fly high baby boy, i miss you.
Normal Green Cheek Conure - Tumbler (4yo)
Turquoise Green Cheek Conure - Dart (3yo)
Illiger's Macaw - Anduin (15yo)
White Winged Parakeet - Mango (2yo)
Normal Cockatiel - Apollo (unknown)

Raised in Pennsylvania... now living on the outskirts of Kansas
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« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2011, 11:33:52 am »

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