Are Hyacinth Macaws The DREAM Bird?
– A while back, I did a YouTube community tab poll and asked you guys if you’d want to see some old footage from my second project bird, which was a hyacinth macaw named Hymie Now, I didn’t really get to document Hymie in a video style as I would today, because back then, blog posts were more, um, followed, I guess? And so I more so blogged about Hymie and his progress, but I do have quite a bit of video, it’s just, it’s old school, guys It’s not the best quality, but I asked you if you were still interested in seeing that entire transformation with Hymie and you guys were, so I wanted to share a video and go over what I did with my project bird, Hymie How this came about was my first project bird was from a lady named Jeannie, and that was Storm, the blue fronted amazon If you haven’t check him out, he has a whole playlist on the channel He is called the interrupting amazon parrot because every time I talked in a group setting, he would always interrupt me and talk over me, so it was pretty funny Jeannie lived with Sherry at the time, and Sherry was one of our free flight students And so, after working with her and getting her bird Chex outside, I offered to take Hymie for a little while, because he had a very bad habit of rushing the shoulder Now, it’s on thing to have a small or medium-sized parrot rush your shoulder and be up there, it’s a whole other gambit to have a hyacinth macaw up there, so it was a habit that we really wanted to break with him and see where we could go Now, I thought that that’s all I was doing, was breaking this terrible shoulder habit, but what actually came to fruition after day one was that he not only had that, but also, of course, I was interested in flight training him So I had to give flight training a try and, in the midst of making a bond and creating a bond with him and an overall relationship, I did a ton of other type of training and I also found that his diet was pretty horrible So I also revamped his diet One of the main problems was he was living on macadamia nuts and, although hyacinths do need a higher fat content, you have to keep in mind, if they are not burning off any of that fat, it can be very excessive and become quite the problem So, although he was on this high fat diet, he was on a not burning any of it exercise regime, or lack thereof So, I wanted to make sure that I was flight training him, I also wanted to find a treat that I could use that was not a macadamia nut And it was really a fun journey, because his owner, Sherry, didn’t believe anything. (laughs) She was just like, “No way you’re gonna change the diet, “no way you’re gonna be able to keep him off your shoulder, “no way you’re gonna be able to catch on your hand “or hold him on your hand.” That was another thing I found out later, is that during flight training, he only wanted to land on my arm, which is a no-no thing for me So I wanted to move that to my hand and be able to hold him on my hand, which was another problem, because he didn’t like his feet being held So, lo and behold, I got into this project bird thinking all I’m doing is curing the shoulder rushing, but it actually ended up being a lot more than that and I hope you enjoy the journey Takin’ a break Hymie got some macadamia nuts Got three, I think How is it, Hyme? (giggles) Hey, Jinxie! Jinxie and the guys got some pellets (birds squawking) And we’re gonna take off again soon On the road (birds chirping) Hymie just got here, he’s just hangin’ out on his travel cage In the bird room He’s gonna go in that cage Eventually, once he’s stretched out, warmed up for a little bit He matches our walls. (chuckles) What, Hymie? (squawks) Huh? (birds chirping) Hey, buddy Ooh Everything’s so different around here Hymes Aw, you’re doin’ all right
Yeah, it’s been a long day Really sleepy You’re gonna be seein’ a lot of this camera for the next while – [Woman] Did he just bite ’em? – [Man] Pops it right open, yeah Hey, buddy – [Woman] He’s so pretty – [Jamieleigh] Look up – [Man] Aside from just having one bad habit of flying to your shoulders, he’s a pretty good bird – So one of the very first things that I did with Hymie was I wanted to form a language where he could understand what I wanted from him and I could clearly communicate to him what I was looking for and this is just the language of training And so, the first thing that I worked on was trick training him a variety of tricks that I could, kind of, use in my tool belt to cue him and to just, kind of, create a relationship with him where he looked forward to spending time with me, because he knew it was gonna be engaging and interesting and it was a way for him to earn his favorite treat Stick ’em up! (clicking) Good (bird caws) And spin (clicking) Good! Good boy, Hymie (uplifting music) Spin (clicking) Good Stick ’em up (clicking) Good Good boy Up (clicking) Good Now, in order to get him off of nuts so much and preferring other foods, I was using fruit as my treat So, keep in mind that I was pretty excited when I got him to take papaya over a macadamia nut, because, keep in mind, macadamia nuts had been making up a huge percentage of his diet and I wanted to kind of get away from that And I knew I was going to be flight training, so I could burn off a lot of that excess sugar, and everything, and so I was really excited about this So I’m going to show you some clips of me working on the beginning stages of flights training, which, yes you will see him landing on my arm initially And then, I was also working on the spin type of training and stick ’em up, ’cause I thought that was pretty cute and just a variety of tricks so that we could, kind of, just form a relationship based on positive reinforcement And it went really, really well Watcha eatin’, Hymes? – [Man] Papaya – [Jamieleigh] What a masculine voice you have (both chuckling) – [Man] Papaya – [Jamieleigh] Yummy papaya, huh? This is the first healthy food Hymie’s eaten since he’s been here This is day two, so I think we’re doin’ pretty darn good (birds cawing) You can’t tell, it’s all over his face (birds cawing) Hymie thinks papaya is better than macadamia nuts Okay, so I have a macadamia nut and a piece of papaya and I got Hymie Oh, oh wow, will you look at that? Who would’a thought? Also, I want to mention that those first few things that I taught Hymie were targeting, of course, because I knew that, eventually, he was gonna find his way up my shoulder What Hymie tended to do was land on the arm and then just immediately go up on the shoulder and it didn’t take more than one to two steps for him to just be up there before you had a chance to react So, since I knew that that was most likely gonna happen, and that he wouldn’t come down willingly, and that I didn’t want to fight with him, ’cause there’s no way I wanted to get bit by a hyacinth, one of the number one things that I taught him right away was targeting And I had to make sure that it was a gentle target Now, this where I really learned about, actually I trained him to target with his tongue And the reason I did that is because one bite from a hyacinth was going to just make my target stick into splinters So he has the ability to break things a lot easier than some of the birds that I’m used to working with And so I had to really focus on that gentle target,
and so I actually ended up using his tongue as the target The other thing that I wanted to make sure that I worked on was stationing Now, I have a video on this if you guys are not familiar with stationing, we demo it really well with a couple of conures They’re sun conures and it was a collaboration with MikeyMo here on YouTube, so be sure to check that video out if you wanna see how to station But I taught Hymie to station to the training T-stand that I used and the reason that I did that was I felt like if there was not enough motivation or incentive for Hymie to target off of my shoulder onto the T-stand, I could always cue him to station to the T-stand And that could just be a constant cue that he’s used to using to, kind of, reset our training So I wanted to have backups to my backups (chuckles) for him getting on my back (bird cawing) Hymie Perch Good – [Man] Okay, we’re rollin’ – [Jamieleigh] Hymie, come on Good So, Hymie’s on my shoulder right now I’m gonna ask him to perch Perch (bird vocalizes) Good boy, Hymie Hymie, perch Good Good boy Stick ’em up (clicking) Good I didn’t kill ya yet Stick ’em up All the way up All the way Stick ’em up (clicking) Good That was great Another thing I tend to focus on when I’m doing a diet conversion or a diet revamp is I like to include foraging in there So I don’t wanna just take away the bird’s favorite foods, in this cases, in the beginning, the macadamia nut was a high-value food You’ll see later that it became a very low-value food for Hymie, compared to all the other things that I introduced him to However, in the beginning, since they were high-value, I didn’t want to just completely take them away and so I used them for foraging and I really wanted to get his mind used to working, because it wasn’t It wasn’t used to being engaged It wasn’t used to having to work or figure things out and I wanted him to be a bird in that sense and have to figure things out And so I highly encouraged foraging, which was a lot of fun And Hymie actually got to the point where, a lot of the time, he just wanted to interact with me if I was there, so sometimes it could be really hard for me to catch the footage I wanted But, for the most part, he did comply with me and he really got the hang of foraging, which is a lot of fun when you start offering your bird foraging opportunities Hey, Hymie I put some nuts in here, buddy See ’em in there? You’re not even paying attention Just tryin’ to eat the camera I put them in here See ’em? Oh, went away Oh, go get ’em (bird vocalizing) Go get ’em Go get ’em Look, they’re in here Hymie, look Oh, yeah (bird cawing) Go get it (birds vocalizing and chirping) No, that one was too easy, they’re all out Yeah Too easy You’re smarter than that (bird cawing) Come get the coconuts (birds chirping) Yeah, that one’s a little bit harder He’s like, “Come on, put ’em back in the green thing, “That was a cinch.” Aw, you got it!
Good boy, Hymie (birds cawing) Oh (birds chirping and vocalizing) (giggles) The combination of getting to the point with flight training where I was now catching him on my hand, I trained him to allow me to hold his feet, and then also everything in all my interactions with him, all the reinforcement came from being down on my hand and either on that T-stand or down here No reinforcement ever came of him being up on my shoulder, so that became less and less reinforcing in and of itself, and he just stopped shoulder rushing It was really awesome and I knew that any time he might do it, whether it was a fear response or otherwise, I could simply get him down with either the stationing cue or a target So it was really, really a neat experience to go through and, honestly, that didn’t take a lot of time So what I ended up focusing a lot of my efforts on was flight training, because at that time, we were very passionate about free flight and were just trying to spread the news far and wide about it and get people to do it And so I worked on flight training him indoors as much as possible at the time We were living in Florida, we had a two-story home and in the entryway it was really tall ceilings with a staircase And because the railing was right there, it was the perfect area for flight training I just absolutely loved it So you could fly the birds from the first stairwell that had a railing or you could fly them from the second story, which also had a railing So it was really cool, because you could work on ascending flights or descending flights or both So I absolutely loved it and I worked on flight training Hymie like crazy so that when I went back to Virginia to see Sherry, I could surprise her and we could fly Hymie outside Which, of course, was terrifying for Sherry, really exciting for us And yeah, Sherry, luckily she lives on 300 or 200 acres, I don’t know it all blends together when it’s that much that much acreage at that point, but she can just fly right there at home So it’s really neat, it’s beautiful and hilly So she could, we did a lot of free flight trips out on her property and this was one of ’em So I returned Hymie to her, she has some gorgeous aviaries just right outside of her home He was so happy to be back And Hymie’s in his net, his favorite thing ever (bird caws) Hymie, what’re you doin’ in there? Stickin’ your head through the bottom? (bird caws) How amazing is this view All of this All of this So amazing So, over on those hills is where we’ll fly our birds We’ve also flown them over at that hill, also flown them behind those trees there’s another hill And, of course I bonded with Hymie One of the things that drives me nuts about hyacinths in general, though, is the honking slash goose noise that they kind of make It drove Dave and I both nuts, so we made a lot of jokes about it So I wouldn’t personally want a hyacinth macaw, but it was so much fun to work with Hymie And he taught me so much – [Woman] It’s a goose! Hi! (birds cawing) – [Jamieleigh] Hi, Hymie! – [Man] Aw, miss wakin’ up to that noise (chuckling) – So I hope you guys enjoyed this rehashing with Hymie and got to hear some of my birds as babies in the background, because this was quite a long time ago And let me know what you thought of this video and if you would be interested in hearing or seeing more like it Thanks for watching (inspirational music)