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Made a breakthrough!


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Alfie has known my current housemate for several years now. My housemate was never particularly keen on Alfie and gave him a wide berth. However over time they have slowly built up a relationship. My housemate would give him the odd treat and Alfie would watch and listen and has picked up a couple of sounds and sayings from my housemate. After a long while, Alfie started putting his head down for scratches through the cage bars. My housemate started obliging... with the end of a teaspoon at first... then eventually he was brave enough to use his fingers. This has been going on for some time. I keep joking that they have a 'secret bromance' going on. xD

When Alfie was out of his cage my housemate would stay clear. I said he was welcome to come into or walk through the room to the kitchen but for the longest time he didn't. More recently my housemate has been 'brave' enough to walk through when Alfie is out of his cage (I have to keep the door to the upstairs of the house shut due to the cats). He even changed a lightbulb for me in the room when Alfie was out.

Yesterday we had a major breakthrough. Alfie was out and my housemate came home. He came through the front door and the noise spooked Alfie. He flew off his shelf, around the room and landed on the floor. Alfie doesn't normally stay on the floor- he normally flies straight up to a higher spot. My housemate wandered in to say hello and watched Alfie for a while. Alfie wandered across the room on the floor and was checking everything out on the way, exploring and poking at things. My housemate then crouched on the floor and waited for Alfie to come over. Alfie slowly made his way over (checking out everything else on the way) and poked at my housemates shoe and knee. Well I thought that was a major breakthrough in itself...

Later on- dinner was ready and Alfie was still out. My housemate would normally opt to stay upstairs with his dinner than join me and Alfie. Yesterday he decided to be even braver than earlier and came and sat in the room with us. He sat in the armchair and ate his dinner. Alfie wandered over to take a look and sat on the table next to the armchair then he worked his way on to the arm of the chair. My housemate was very patient and calm and offered him some food, which Alfie wasn't interested in. After some time, Alfie started dozing on the arm of the chair. This went on for about half an hour before Alfie decided to go and sit on my housemates knee. This is the first time they have ever had actual contact with each other without cage bars being in the way. Alfie dozed for another half an hour or so and every so often edged towards my housemates hands. I instructed my housemate to wait until Alfie asked for head scratches- which he normally does by nudging my hands or arm. I could see that Alfie wanted to ask for scratches but might have been a little out of his own comfort zone at that point. I watched and waited (as did my housemate) and Alfie kept dozing off for a little while before thinking about asking for scratches. After a while he suddenly lunged forward and half tapped/half scratched at my housemate's hand with his beak. He then immediately backed off and puffed up. My housemate did try to gently scratch his head but Alfie slicked his feathers back. At this point I decided to intervene and removed Alfie from my housemates lap as I felt Alfie was changing his mind about whether or not he wanted scratches and might have ended up nipping my housemate- something I didn't want to happen.

All in all, this was a massive breakthrough for both Alfie and my housemate. Alfie isn't really used to being in close contact with anyone other than me because everyone we've lived with has been too wary of being bitten so would keep out of his way when he was out of the cage. My housemate has needed as much 'grey time' as Alfie has to get to this point and I'm really happy that yesterday played out as it did.

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19 hours ago, SRSeedBurners said:

Did I read that right?   Alfie was offered some dinner and was not interested?    Are you SURE you have an African Grey?  A parrot even?   I have never known a parrot to not be interested in dinner xD

Alfie isn't overly food motivated. He likes his food but will mostly just eat out of his bowls. He doesn't tend to steal anything I'm eating. He might have a look and a quick poke at it but generally he's not interested and will just throw it to one side. It means I can't really use food as a motivator or a reward because he's not really interested... even when it's a favourite food. Generally he prefers praise and head scratches over food as a reward/motivator.

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