Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Meet The Flock: Lucha

Here's a little bit about the green man whose name graces this blog... Lucha
Lucha came to me in December 2006 and was not in the best of condition.
He had been living in a tiny cage which was best suited for a single lovebird. His only amusement was a dirt encrusted mirror, a concrete swing and a single wooden perch which he had chewed all the way through. For the past 25 years he had been fed a diet of chicken scratch, sunflower seeds, oranges and the occasional handful of bird seed. His nails were grown almost into a circle and his feathers were very dirty. He was terrified of hands and was generally a not very happy birdy, which given his history was completely justified.

Lucha was bought out of the back of a van in South Texas 28 years ago as a mature adult. Apparently the man who sold him was very proud of the fact that his birds were smuggled in from the wild in Mexico and therefore would not have been exposed to to sick birds in quarantine. The only thing was, Lucha was already sick. The lady who bought him took him to a vet who gave him some meds. Lucha then lived with her for 25 years until she died. He then lived with her daughter for a year before he came to me.

His health is an ongoing concern though. Thankfully, until he moved away recently, my Avian Vet was Dr Scott Echols who has helped so much in working out his health issues. Although after a lot of hard work on his diet all his blood tests now come back whithin normal ranges, but he still has polyuria/polydypsia. Numerous tests have been done inlcuding water deprivation and blood pressure, but there is still not an obvious cause. But as the next step is an endoscope we have decided that as long as his bloodwork keeps coming back good, we will hold off on such invasive tests. Since Dr Echols left town, Dr Ginger Davis (also of Westgate Pet and Bird) has taken over the veterinary care of my flock, and she does a wonderfull job.

Lucha has come along leaps and bounds since he first came into my house as a scared bird by making his own choices about his life. He now steps up, allows touching on the head as far down as the base of his neck, and he loves his beak rubs.
After much encouragement, and some teaching by my African Grey Marnie, he now actively forages for all his food (except the spoilable stuff) and will move heaven, hell and clear acrylic foraging toys for an almond in the shell.

Lucha also loves to train with positive reinforcement!
His favorite training treat is pecan pieces with an almond in the shell as his final jackpot reward.
So far he has learned to step down onto a scale for weighing, take liquid from a syringe (this behavior was started at a Barbara Heidenreich workshop) and we are working on a turnaround. This is of course in addition to step ups and learning to trust hands enough to be touched.
In the future I would love to work on his acceptance of touching on parts of the body other than his head and from there to more readily accept a physical exam.

1 comment:

  1. That is great you have had such success with Lucha! It is very unfortunate there is a "rumor" that still persists that rehomed/rescued birds will never "come back around" to be a good companion. Lucha sounds a bit like Chester, my SIE, it came to me from a bad past as well. I just wish I knew how old he actually is.