My First Consultation:A Mistreated Wild-Caught Mealy Amazonby Sally Blanchard
As I recall, the first actual consultation I did was with a wild-caught Mealy Amazon. I was at a bird show where there were quite a few wild-caught parrots for sale. The seller said the Mealy wasn’t tame. I was looking at a big, beautiful Mealy Amazon and talking to a woman who was interested in purchasing him. I had only seen one Mealy before but had never handled an Amazon this large before. I told her I had handled several wild-caught double yellow-heads and we made a bargain that I would help her with the Mealy if she bought him. I told if I could work with the bird and get him to step on my hand to have his head petted; I would charge her $25.00. If I couldn’t make a difference, I wouldn’t charge her anything. She paid for the Amazon and I was appalled when the seller put on a heavy glove, virtually pulled the bird out of the small cage by his leg, and threw him in a cardboard carrier. Of course, the bird screamed really loud.
She bought the bird and we took him upstairs to her hotel room. I really didn’t have a plan. I got a large towel and placed if flat on the bed. Then we let the Amazon step out of the box on the bed and he stepped right on to the towel. I had slowed down my energy and didn’t stare at him. I moved very slowly and brought the towel up and around him from the front. From then on, it was easy. Once he was in the towel, he relaxed. I don’t think that parrots are naturally afraid of towels or being toweled. I think that they are far more afraid of the way they are toweled. Far too many people still swoop down from behind like a Harpy Eagle looking for lunch. I took the toweled Mealy and brought him up against my chest as I hummed to him gently. I slowly placed him on my fingers while he was still in the towel and with my other hand; I started to “skritch” the back of his head. At first, he seemed upset so I stopped for a while. Keeping myself calm, when I started again, he seemed to enjoy the attention.
My logic was that most parrots are social animals and appreciate and accept a good head “skritch” especially from a calm person who is not threatening them. After a minute or so I removed the towel. At that point, he realized he was sitting on my hand. At first, he seemed concerned but stayed on my hand. While I was pleased with my progress, I realized that although the bird was not yet tame, his gentle personality and my trust-building manner let him relax and trust me. I wasn’t afraid of him because I had heard that Mealy Amazons usually had a reputation for being gentle birds. Maybe it wasn't always true but it helped my confidence to think it was. The fact that I didn’t project any fear or aggression made a huge difference. I had the woman watch me very carefully and I was fortunate that she was able to slow herself down and do pretty much what I had done and had the Mealy on her hand. I got my $25.00.