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On this special page we let you in on the joys and frustrations of our winged companions and our own challenges and successes. All of our birds (except Lauralei) have had psychotic or severe neurotic behavior challenges to overcome. Most are on medicine because of those issues. Don’t let that fool you! They are 100%, in your face, alert and attentive! Those who test that theory are likely to lose buttons, earpieces, or anything our flock members choose to extract from your person. The heart you lose might be your own…they can play heartstrings like a maestro.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your patronage. Our video presentations take much time and effort. Knowing that we have your support, that you find our work of value, helps to keep us focused and moving ahead. — Don Scott, founder and executive director
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Updates on the flock 3-27-15
Salamander (Sal, to his friends)
The results of his x-rays show that no surgery can be performed to fix his condition. He has a twisted pelvis. It could have been early injury or might be congenital. To look at him the way he acts one would think he was in no pain. To know the answer to that question with some certainty we are giving him an anti-inflammatory to see if it increases his activity level. Based on observation it will decide whether we should give him Metacam on a regular basis. Since he is four years old keeping him from becoming overly sexually active is challenging. When he came to us he often acted like a cruise missile with anyone who seem to be breaking the rules of relationships. Today, he is doing well and meeting new people.
The two most dangerous object to have anywhere near him are: headsets and beer bottles. Although I do not drink I once brought in an nonalcoholic beer–you would have thought that I set off an atomic bomb from his reaction.
Peaches is a pleasure to be around despite the volume of her voice and her intense need for attention. When she came to us originally she had feather destructive behavior on her chest. It was limited to that region because of the limited mobility in her neck. At that time, we did not know of the six fused vertebrae in her neck. Since she makes the sound of a smoke detector– The loudest smoke detector I have ever heard–and the sound of a crying human baby most people can only take her in small doses.
For the most part we only need to medicate her a bit during mating season. Without medication, she will pull the feathers out on her chest. We are cautious, because too much medication will cause her to lose weight. We are used to walking the balance beam hear, walking on egg shells if you wish, and we are able to stop her from pulling her feathers while keeping her fat and sassy. Well, not exactly fat but definitely sassy.
Snowball is Chloe’s mate. But don’t let that fool you. He has an extensive vocabulary, loves to play frisbee and fetch, and is always inviting anyone to the game. He recently had a growth on his right foot at the back pad. Dr. Jenkins of avian and exotic animal hospital in San Diego removed and put the specimen aside. We are waiting to see if anything grows back. Should a growth recur then the original sample will be sent in to the lab to be analyzed. He is doing great and the wound is almost completely healed. It is scabbed over and there is almost no weeping.
He is our star athlete. But is happy attitude and playfulness make him more than just an Olympic contender.
I remember well the day that I picked up Snoball. He was sitting on the kitchen chair and a man bumped him as he walked by. The man did not even stop to say he was sorry. Snoball took it all in stride. He was terribly upset when I put him in the small carrying cage and placed him in the passenger seat of my car. He cried all the way to his new foster home.
His first temporary home was with Carolyn. Carolyn took good care of him and his confidence rose. He remained slow to come off of his cage and nervous about his environment, though. He liked to play games where toys were tossed. It was a little dangerous to play with him because he tended to get overstimulated and he might miss the toy and get you. He enjoyed living with his foster parent and spent about three months with her.
In the short time he was in Carolyn’s care he made good advances. He still had some issues. He liked to nibble on the freckles or skin discolorations on arms; he could get a little overzealous and actually draw blood on occasion. He tended to want to stay on his cage or in his cage and not venture out: sometimes taking him out of the cage required prying his feet and beak from the bars. He would often hang from the side of the cage and do a dance with his feet. This was a kind of psychotic episode. For a cockatoo he was fairly quiet and this, in itself, was problematic. His vocalizations were usually “Snoball…Snoball” when he was obviously unhappy. His confidence level was still too low.
He came to live with me when I was still at my old apartment, the one that was destroyed by fire. He and Babalu arrived on the same day. Murri, our Congo African Grey, had a few choice words to say about to large cockatoos moving into our environment. Murri had not been particularly happy about all the changes in the preceding weeks anyway. I had hung soundproofing on the walls to avoid having the neighbors complain and made other changes. Many of the changes that I made improved the overall environment for all the birds. Murri had different ideas, though.
When Snoball came in the front door Chloe stopped and stared. She was quite transfixed. Here was this gorgeous and handsome young umbrella cockatoo right in her living room. She made quite a fuss over him. It did not take long for them to become friends. Babalu did not make such an impression on Chloe. Because of Babalu it took a while for Chloe and Snoball to become fast friends. At first Chloe chased Babalu and then the situation reversed. I spent quite a bit of time redesigning the environment to keep them from fighting.
After the night of the fire we moved several times. Finally landing in Fallbrook, things began to calm down. Because the bird room was quite large (my living room to be exact) Chloe and Snoball were able to come closer together. It is necessary to mention that Chloe is incapable of having children. She had a salphingohysterectomy before she came into my care. Allowing Chloe the opportunity to get to know Snoball, I reasoned, should not be much of a problem. That turned out to be mostly true.
Snoball and Chloe began to spend quite a bit of time together. Chloe created a nest whenever she could. And Snoball would often come over to inspect the nest. Soon, Snoball began to defend Chloe from the approach of Babalu. He would hunker down low to the ground, raise his head toward the ceiling, and stalk Babalu. Faced with a new circumstance – having more than one umbrella cockatoo confront him – the big greater sulfur crested cockatoo would turn away.
Snoball also protected his adopted daughter, Lauralei. Lauralei came to us as just a small baby. I was fortunate to be able to convince Chloe that Lauralei was her baby. Now, Snoball also felt the same affection for Lauralei.
The family unit grew stronger. It was not long before they started working together as a unit and pushing away the other birds. This is normally what would happen in the wild. If Snoball confronted another bird then Chloe would join in. If Chloe confronted a bird, Lauralei joined in. Now they have their own family room where they spend most of their time. Lauralei does get moved into the main bird room every day for at least a few hours; it is important that she is socialized with other birds besides the family unit. Lauralei does get along with almost all the other birds most of the time.
Snoball is now a confident young bird. No longer does he hold onto the side of the cage with his feet and beak and refuse to come out. He does not hang out on his cage and refuse to step up. He likes going into the back room. At night, when things are winding down, he enjoys going back into the living room for his dinner. He now vocalizes much more than in the past and this is a good sign. He still does his pacing from side to side saying “Snoball… Snoball… Snoball.” But now it seems to be mostly when he is happy.
Snoball has great way from that first day when I picked him up. I think he would improve even more if he had a larger cage but at this time we cannot afford one. He still does nibble the skin but it is easily controlled by playing with his tongue. Having his family unit has given him great confidence and improved his overall view of the world. He is a delightful creature to watch as he cares for Chloe and Lauralei.
When Cecil came to us it was more like a cockatoo doll a cockatoo. His head had not been preened and looked like the spines on a prickly Pear cactus. It took nearly 2 years to bring him out of his emotional stupor. Now he is the Elvis of our flock. It is essential to make sure he doesn’t cozy up to any of the females here. Pair bonding is not good for cockatoos in our world. Is only issues are slight other destructive behavior to the outside primary feathers on both lanes. We have been able to reduce that behavior to almost nothing by simply spraying those feathers with water everyday several times. Should the condition worse and we will, of course, use medicine but we try to control minor FDB in other ways. It’s important to catch FDB early to avoid a lifelong need for medicine.
He just learned to say hello in the last month. He is now working on I love you. He is such a bright-eyed and wonderful boy!
Babalu was rehomed 8 times in the first 11 years of his life. His abandonment issues are severe. He was kept in a cage outside where people passed by him all day long often without saying a word. The only time he got out, for the most part, was when they were cleaning his cage. He developed an amazing ability to control humans by threatening with his beak. The threat rarely had any “teeth” in it but on occasion he would bite. When he first came to Don it took awhile to discover the causes for his behavior. Once Don figured these out the threats and biting stopped.
Of all the birds here he is the least likely to find a home if something happens to our sanctuary. Because he required 100% dedication, lack of fear on the part of his caretaker, and a deep understanding of his unique psychology and species specific behavior, the outlook for him is bleak outside of our care facility.
He is completely devoted to Don. Don gives him the unconditional loving-kindness that feeds his spirit.
Coco is our official greeter. She knows just how to capture people when they visit and start teaching them to pet her the way she prefers. Those that fail to pet her continuously discover that she uses her beak gently to persuade them to continue stroking her head. When she came to us she was breaking her primary and secondary feathers in half. She had been doing this since she was a year old. Using the protocol from Dr. Jenkins we fully restored her feathers.
She came to us a shy and retiring little girl. Today she is a powerhouse. Babalu and Salamander will not try and win any battles against her. Babalu preens her and defers to her judgment in most matters.
Coz (the crash test helicopter pilot) and Simone (Gozer the Gozarian)
These two came to us as a unit. Simone was the shy one and Coz (Cosmo at the time) was the extrovert. Their roles have reversed. Both make the sound of a choo choo train and say “cockatoo.” Both can be sitting quietly and then suddenly fly and scare the heck out of another bird. Each had terrible FDB when they came to us. Simone, though, runs her own barber school: teaching other birds to pull her feathers. Fortunately, both the barbering and the FDB are under control with medicine.
Coz has the best head shake routine in the world. If you want someone to agree with you, Coz is your girl Friday. Simone is the world’s best hugger.
Rome was living at an animal hospital and had a kingly disposition. Unfortunately, when they moved to a new location he did not like his new digs. He started self-destruction and we took him in. At first, he wanted nothing do to with anyone. In fact, in order to get him into his new $900 4X6X6-1/2 cage we had to disassemble the one he was in!
Today he is fully feathered and is quite likely to run up to you, climb up your arm, bury his head in the crook of it and then say “I love you. I love you. I love you!”
He remains on a small dose of medicine to reduce his remaining anxiety. We hope he can be drug free in a year or so. We did get him on the protocol in time.
A bit of his history:
His anxiety was palpable. Using functional analysis I examined his behavior. I spent quite a bit of time analyzing and I had several ideas. After speaking with two of the directors we had a solution to test. Melissa, Rita and I strongly believed that Romeo had a problem with his cage. This cage had been his new home when he was moved to the new location by his former caretakers. Since that had been where he had begun his functional misbehavior it seemed clear that the cage needed to be changed. Where possible, you should attempt to fix the environment to positively affect behavioral change.
The sanctuary bought him a new cage of the proper size for an umbrella cockatoo. Richard at King’s Cages was kind enough to give us a discount because we are a sanctuary. The cage required by a cockatoo is as large as the cage required by a macaw. Cages this size, even though they are broken down for shipment, must be freighted in using a regular freight line.
Romeo would not come out of his cage willingly to be put into the new cage. After pondering this for a while I decided to start breaking down his old cage with him in it; because of the design of the old cage there was no danger in doing so. I placed the new cage door close to one side of the cage opposite where I was working. Since Romeo’s typical behavior had always been to run away from me this worked well. As he ran away I positioned my body in such a way to direct him to the new cage door. Once he was inside then moved the cage into its proper position. I left he cage door open so that he would not feel trapped in the new, toy decorated, environment.
In a short time his attitude, his anxiety, and his level of interest changed. What once had been a reclusive boy turned into an interested and attention seeking boy. He now comes out of the cage and hangs on his door looking at me with obvious intent. I put out my arm and he climbs on. He loves to sit and be petted on the head and spoken to. He has always said “I love you” when I was making dinner. Now he says that when he is sitting on my lap and being petted. He also responds to me when I talk to him from outside the cage which he never used to do before. If I say “Hi Roman” he will respond with “hello.”
Chloe (Chloe is on the right and Snoball on the left)
[See Snoball’s story, too!]
A couple had to get rid of Chloe by the next weekend. Don noticed an item about this on the Internet. He went down and picked her up and in the matter of a year his whole life changed. Chloe had feather destructive behavior but she was alert, intense, and friendly. She taught Don about the way cockatoos use feather position and body language to communicate. It was through Chloe that Don learned just how much cockatoos suffer in our world. One weekend in late 2007 Don and Chloe spent the entire time generating stacks of paper from the printer for the Internal Revenue Service and the State. Thus the Chloe Sanctuary was hatched.
She cannot have babies because she had a salphingohysterectomy prior to coming to the sanctuary. She nearly died after the fire in 2010 because she lost her cage (now restored by Dan and Deb) and she wanted to mate with Snoball. She and Snoball are now a number and medicine has the FDB in remission. Her medical history shows just how much of a problem she had. All is better now.