Dexter – Delightful or Demonic?

On Saturday, Aug 10, we did an educational outreach where we met Dexter, a 17 year old Severe Macaw. Dexter’s mom asked us to come out and see if we could help her understand how to handle Dexter. They just recently adopted him and he became very bonded to one member of the family and would scream and bite if anyone else approached his cage. She wrote

“… He does not tolerate any other person in the house AT ALL. If he is out, he will either fly at you or crawl down the cage to run and attack. If you speak in the same room or even from another room and he hears you, he screams. Some days are worse than others. He does have moments where he is sweet and I can enjoy him from afar. He is very cage protective. He has also attacked and bitten 2 different friends on 2 different occasions so he is no longer allowed out of the cage when we have company, not that we could talk to company over his screaming anyway… If he is out, me and the kids stay in the back of the house. He is good for about 15 minutes then will start to get violent.”

After meeting the entire family, it was clear that they all loved Dexter, but Dexter had a completely different idea of the situation. We spent about three hours with Dexter and his family, discussing ways to build trust and reduce fear. Luckily, Dexter was not afraid of being toweled, and his mom learned how to turn the act of toweling into a game. We were able to do a basic clipping of his talons and wings. By the time the visit ended, both Dexter and his mom had a better understanding of each other. Its going to take a little more time and effort to get Dexter to be completely well behaved for the rest of the family, but he clearly demonstrated that he is a very intelligent bird and was capable of learning the social skills necessary.

We wish Dexter and his family the best of luck in their new training endeavors.

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