Thursday, September 30, 2010

Singing the blues

Last night, Shannon and I were in the kitchen with all of the greys. The rest of the parrots were in the living room with Thomas. All of a sudden, we hear Rocky singing. This went on for over a minute, so we went into the living room.

He was in Beeps's cage tray, singing and dancing. He put on quite the show, and had us all laughing. It was clear that he was trying to sing words, but we couldn't understand him.

Later, Thomas told me that Rocky had asked him for some of Thomas's oatmeal dessert. Thomas said no, as Rocky had poop on his beak from playing in Beeps's cage tray. So Rocky had to sing the blues.

Goodbye, Steve!

Yesterday, I got to meet (for the first time in person!) a dear blog friend. Some of you may have guessed who Steve was going to...he's off to live with Shannon! Shannon read about Steve on this blog, felt a pull towards him, and decided to take him in.

It was great to meet Shannon -- she was as wonderful as I thought she'd be -- I only wish we lived closer! Her house will just be perfect for Steve. And he likes her already! Twice, when she approached him yesterday, he let out a fun whistle. It will take time for them to bond and form a relationship, but Shannon has worked with scared parrots successfully before and is willing to put forth the effort to win him over. I could not have asked for a better home for him, and I'm just so excited this has worked out so well!

Here's a picture of his carrier, waiting for him this morning. We threw in three of his favorite toys, about 20 wrapped Harrison's pellets, and a dish with a little bit of water filled with watery vegetables/fruits (cucumber, apple, strawberry):Shannon will also be able to slightly open the carrier and offer him water and/or juice on a spoon.

Here's my last picture of Steve, in his carrier. He's biting his nails, but since the screen is in the way, it kind of looks like he's waving goodbye:
I got an e-mail from Shannon saying that they'd made it through security just fine and were waiting to board the plane. Right now, as I type this, they are in the air.

I may have periodic Steve updates here, but for more Steve action, and to watch his continued progress, check out Shannon's blog!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Today's the day!

Steve meets his new owner today! They leave tomorrow for his forever home. I am so excited!

I never get tired of taking pictures of him coming down to visit with me in the morning:I dropped my farmers' market vegetables at home en route to going to work this morning. A pepper fell out, so I took that as a sign to wash it and give it to Steve. He loved it!
I was hoping to catch his excited "Wooo!" that he does when he's getting food, but he doesn't do it in front of the camera! In any case, I love how he's stretching to get this food. I don't think I'd ever given him a red hot pepper before, so he's this excited for something new. I'll send some home with his new owner for him to eat on the plane.

Today's going to be a busy day -- more details on Steve's transition to come later this week.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Stella wants to be friends

Things have been ridiculously crazy for me lately, so posting has been a bit more sporadic than usual, and I've barely been able to read any blogs, so I will be catching up with everyone on a delay. Have been taking very few pictures at home, but things are pretty much normal.

Except that Stella appears to want to befriend Max, who wants nothing to do with her. This is the scene I came upon last Thursday when I got home late:Thomas had had the parrots' food dishes lined up on the counter, and the greys flew over to help themselves. He said that Stella moved her dish closer and closer to Max's until the dishes were touching! Max was not pleased with this, so she flew away and then Stella started eating out of Max's dish. Had I been home ten minutes earlier, I would have had some of that on camera!

And here's Stella, looking at Max, and Max, pointedly ignoring Stella:In the shower, they start on opposite ends. Stella slowly makes her way toward Max, until she's about a foot away. Then she slowly moves closer to Max, a centimeter or so at a time, until she's only an inch or so away:Max continues to forage in our kitchen; helping herself to some spaghetti squash:Which is healthier than Stella helping herself to Thomas's toast this morning!Over the weekend, I was transferring some pellets into a different container. Rocky grabbed a pellet and started throwing it around. Stella then flew over and ate it -- strange as it was a Harrison's pepper and not high potency pellet. Usually she is more discerning!Steve meets his new owner in just two days! We can't wait!

Feather destruction question

I received a question in the comments on this post from Becky W., which I will reprint here:
I love reading about Steve and his progress. Your tips of grey behavior are very helpful to me. I was wondering if could pose a question here, as I have seen other people do.We have a sweet CAG that we adopted about 1.5 years ago. She is about 8 years old, and there was no suspected abuse from the home she came from. She was quite mutilated when we got her---picked her tail completely off, and one wing had no long feathers left on it. She has grown to be very affectionate with us, and is the sweetest creature I've ever encountered. We adore her so much. She loves my husband, and will run over to him to get his affection any chance she can. I thought the new home would help her feather destruction, but it has not. She has plenty of toys to chew and destroy, which she does every day. However, if we are home and not giving her our undivided attention, she picks herself, chewing off more feathers. This happens more when my husband his home, and she seems calmer when it is just me. But, if he is walking about the house, just getting home from work, just getting up out of bed to head out the door to work, etc...she will hang upside down from the top of her cage, contort her body so that she can reach a feather to chew on, and pull part of it out. The only way we have found to stop this is to pick her up and give her attention. We just got back from vacation, and I was worried our absence would have made her feather chewing worse. But, I was shocked when we got home, and she had two large tail feathers fully grown in, and a few feathers on both wings that have started to open and grow. We have been home for two days, one of the tail feathers is gone, and she is continuing to chew on her wing. I feel terrible that it seems our presence is making his problem worse. Do you have any advice? Should we not pick her up when she starts to do this? It is so hard for me to watch, but I realize that I'm probably re-enforcing her behavior by giving her attention. Thanks for any input you may have, and thanks for a great blog.
Hi Becky, and thanks for the question! I am a bit unclear if she is actually mutilating (i.e. causing to bleed) herself or if it's just feather destruction. It kind of sounds like the latter, though it really doesn't matter as my advice would be the same.

First, I'd recommend that she go to the avian vet for a full check to make sure that there isn't a physical reason for her mutilation. I've seen birds with a yeast infection, for example, which causes them to pick their feathers in an attempt to relieve the itching. Once treated, the feather destruction clears up.

However, given the fact that she allowed her feathers to grow in while you were on vacation makes me suspect that this might be behavioral.

Parrots are extremely empathetic and in my (probably biased) opinion, greys seem to be more in tune with their owners' emotions than other parrots. It is really important that you try to get to a point where you don't care if she feather destructs. Believe me, I know this is hard to do!

I believe that some parrots are less able to handle captivity than other parrots. I have seen parrots come out of horribly neglectful and abusive homes in perfect feather, and I have seen parrots come out of very loving homes who feather destruct. Her feathers (or lack thereof) are not a reflection on you as a bird owner. They are not even necessarily a commentary on her happiness. Stella, my CAG, plucks, and she is one of the happiest captive parrots I've seen!

You are exactly right in that the solution that you found to stop her from plucking (pick her up when she starts to destruct) is making the problem worse. If she wants attention, all she has to do is pull out some feathers and she gets what she wants!

The problem is that now that this has been reinforced (plucking = attention), it will take some work and willpower on your part to break the cycle. It may get worse before it gets better. Since plucking = attention, when you first start to ignore the plucking, she may escalate, plucking even more ("this has always worked in the past -- maybe if I pull out more feathers, it will work again! I just have to pull out more so they notice!") You really need to not react, even if it gets worse, or the problem will just get even worse, as you will have raised the bar for attention-getting: now she knows she needs to pull more feathers to get attention.

The trick is that not only do you want to teach her that plucking no longer equals attention; you want to give her a tool, a communication method, that she can use when she does want attention, that she can learn to use instead of plucking to get what she wants.

Since every bird is an individual, you may have to try different things before finding a solution that works for your family. I have so many thoughts swirling around in my head; I hope this makes some sense, but please let me know if it doesn't!

1. Is there any sort of pattern to her plucking? It may help to keep a journal. You mention that it frequently seems to happen when your husband is around but not paying attention to her. Try to figure out if there are situations that set her off, or if she does something before she plucks.

a. If you can figure out situations, you can rearrange things to not have those situations occur. For example, if she starts plucking 5 minutes after your husband comes home, perhaps the first thing he does upon arriving home is get her out of her cage, smother her with 3 minutes of attention, and give her a cashew to eat while he changes out of his work clothes. Try to figure out ways to distract her and keep her busy by being proactive. Maybe he needs to tell her something before he leaves ("I'll be back!") so that she doesn't think she's abandoned. Or, if he's going into another room for a quick errand, maybe he takes her with him.

b. If she does something most of the time before she plucks, you can try to be proactive and give her the attention then -- before it escalates to plucking. In this post, I talk about how we did that with Rocky and screaming. For example, if your grey frequently plucks after she does a loop around the top of her cage, when you see her doing the loop, run over and give her attention then -- before she plucks. She will learn that doing a loop gets her attention but plucking no longer does.

2. When Max, my TAG, started plucking, I did a lot of research and did as much as I could to enrich her environment. My thoughts were two-fold: I wanted to make Max's environment as conducive as I could to her keeping her feathers and I wanted to assuage my guilt -- if I were doing everything I could to keep her happy and she still plucked, I wouldn't feel guilty and pass my feelings off on her. For example:

a. What kind of diet does she have? I'm a big fan of Harrison's High Potency for greys, supplemented with small amounts of a high-quality seed mix and fresh vegetables for their main diet.

b. What kind of exercise does she get? In the wild, parrots get tons of exercise flying around. In captivity, far too many birds are far too sedentary, which leads to physical health and behavioral problems. They wind up with too much energy that they channel into screaming, aggression, or self-destruction. Can you get her panting and flapping several times a day? Maybe right before when she typically feather destructs, as she may then be too tired out to pluck.

c. What kind of bathing does she like, and how frequently? Frequent baths can help with feather regrowth. Also, maybe right before she typically feather destructs (like your husband could bathe her before he leaves for work) as then she can preen her feathers instead of pluck them.

d. What kind of mental stimulation does she have? You mention toy destruction -- which is fantastic! Does she have to work for any of her food? As you probably know if you've read this blog, I'm a big fan of making them forage for food, and also of clicker training.

e. Does she have a place where she can go in her cage to feel safe and not be on display? They are prey animals, and some like to hide behind a large toy. Not having a safe place can make them feel exposed and vulnerable, leading to plucking.

Feather destruction is a very complex thing. There are no easy answers. We've had Stella for over two years. She flies, has a stimulating environment, good diet, loves us both, appears to be happy...and she still plucks. We've gotten to the point where we truly don't care. You say that your grey is very sweet and affectionate -- congratulations! Focus on her inner beauty. Maximize her environment and provide her the best captive life you can, but don't get too hung up on outer appearances (especially if it's just plucking and there are no open wounds -- those can be a bit more serious as they can lead to infection.)

Greys feed off of our emotions. They are amazing flock animals and pick up on body language that is so subtle we don't even realize the signals we're giving them. If you're upset about her plucking, she knows you're upset. She might not know why you're upset, but you are. You're in her flock, so she instinctively is upset. One way she manifests this emotion is by plucking -- turning this into a vicious cycle, as you just get more upset by this, so she plucks more, etc.

Believe me, I know how hard it is to get over this. I tend to be a perfectionist and felt like a major failure when Max started plucking. I obsessed about it for weeks. But my worrying was only making things worse.

You guys sound like great owners, and she sounds like an amazing grey. Enjoy her!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Steve: one week left

Steve is one week out from his trip of a lifetime. Exactly one week from today, he will be on a plane, en route to his forever home. I'm still pinching myself to see if this is real -- I could not have asked for a better home for him, and when he came to us, I suspected we'd have him a very long time (possibly years) before finding him a home due to his mutilating and catatonic personality. So this has been a very nice outcome!

Every day, he opens up a little more and shares more of his personality. If Thomas is still sleeping or not yet home, Steve will frequently come over near me, instead of staying on his high, safe perch. If Thomas is in the room, he'll usually only come down to eat. With only one week to go, I am not attempting to get him to come out of his cage. I discussed this with his vet last week, and we decided the best thing to do is to continue interacting with him inside his cage, which should allow his wings a greater chance of healing.

His new owner will have all the time in the world to work with him on coming out of his cage. I suspect he'll make great progress and can't wait to hear how he does!

Here he is this morning, asking for some of my breakfast:
I was up early to run, so it wasn't officially time for him to get up yet. He decided to come over to the uncovered part of his cage for some beak rubs:
Last night, he was talking, whistling, and making so many grey noises. I actually thought there might have been two greys in my kitchen, but Max and Stella were within my eyesight, so I knew all noises were coming from him.

I'm really going to miss having him around -- Thomas even agreed with me on that yesterday. I found that surprising, since Steve doesn't really like Thomas. Thomas was also quite resistant to bringing him home, so I'm glad things have turned out so perfectly!

I know I'm getting ahead of myself, but the question will soon be -- who to foster next? The woman who runs the rescue where we volunteer wants us to take in a severe macaw (the one that loves me, that I've talked about before.) This guy:I'm hesitant. She wants us to take him in because he has special needs that we can take care of, but also because she hopes that he and Rocky would get along well and form a little bonded (same-sex) pair of severe macaws -- i.e. a permanent situation. I'm not looking to add anyone permanent to our house; in fact, due to the 2 amazons that we have willed to us, I do not want to add anyone permanent -- we have to make sure we have room for the guys we've committed to, should they need to come to us sooner than expected.

I'm sure I'll be talking about this much in the upcoming weeks!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Grey mischief

Last night, I had another meeting, so Thomas was mostly alone with the parrots. I took off of work an hour or so early so I could make the parrots dinner and get other things ready before I had to leave for the meeting.

The greys must have been ravenous, as they started in on their dinners while the dishes were still on the counter:They each went for their own dish, so I could distribute everyone else's dishes with no problems!

After my meeting, I noticed that I had two voicemails, both coming from Thomas's phone. One was an actual message, but one was just some weird noises. When I got home, I checked the camera to see what they were up to without me and understood my weird message:
Max got into trouble last night. She'd flown into the kitchen and Thomas didn't bring her back in the living room soon enough. Usually she just plays on her stand, but last night she decided to empty out as much of the garbage can as she could reach:
So Thomas had to unexpectedly wash the floor; he was not happy about that!


We changed the substrate in the lizards' tanks on Sunday. We use pool filter sand for them. These lizards are just so unlike the parrots! Thomas used the shop vac to suck up the majority of Elsa's old substrate; she just stayed in her hide, not even peeking out to see what all the noise was -- my nosy parrots would have been trying to destroy the vacuum hose.He put her in her upside-down hide while he finished vacuuming and then cleaning her tank:
Unfortunately, her bag of sand was wet (Andreas's was dry), which could cause her major health issues as uromastyx need very low humidity environments. They had to spend the night together; neither one ventured out from their hides overnight (you can see Elsa's head poking out, and Andreas's tail):
The next morning, despite a heat lamp, Elsa's sand was still wet, so I had to remove the sand and she's temporarily on newspaper. We'll be more careful to make sure the sand we buy is dry next time -- if it doesn't dry by tomorrow, I will have to buy another bag as I don't want to keep her on newspaper for too long.

Football Sunday

On Sunday, Thomas was watching football with the parrots. They really like fall, as they get him staying in the living room with them for several hours most weekends. I'm generally in and out, only partially watching the game.

The parrots were being so adorable this past weekend, that he kept calling me in to see what they were doing; I only got some of it with the camera.

Rocky was perched on his chest, getting his head preened:
Beeps rarely goes to the floor, but decided to on Sunday. He'd been playing on Rocky's cage when he was distracted by the basket of wood we keep on the floor. This basket of wood helps to reduce the incidences of Rocky chewing on things he shouldn't (like the baseboards, walls, or aquarium). When Rocky has the urge to chew, he must chew now, but will take acceptable wood from the basket when it's available.

Max, who does not really like Beeps, came down to keep an eye on him:
Beeps caught his reflection in the glass of our TV stand. He was dancing and displaying quite a bit, though not for the camera. This guy has boundless energy!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Another trip to the marsh

It has been a beautiful past two weeks here, except during the time when I am doing my long runs! The past two Saturdays, it has downpoured for four hours on Saturday morning -- exactly during the time I ran 22 (last week) and 15 (this week) miles. As soon as I got home, both days, the rain stopped! I am hoping these unpleasant running experiences will translate into a great race. It must be making me a stronger runner, right?

Thomas and I had planned on going hawk-watching this weekend; however, the weather was not ideal for hawks, so we decided to go to the marsh instead. We were able to positively ID and add 8 birds to our life list! One of the nice things about being a beginning birder is that pretty much every birdwatching trip results in a significant addition to this list!

Among the birds we added this trip was a great egret:A belted kingfisher (this picture was taken through the scope provided by the marsh):
And a peregrine falcon!
We were also able to more closely observe the behavior of some birds that had already been on our list, like the American Coot:We also had a great day with the parrots, though I didn't take any pictures. Rocky was in a great mood -- everything was making him laugh, which made us laugh.

Also, Steve has completely recovered from yesterday's vet visit. He did not talk at all Friday evening, which is unusual for him. He did whistle a bit, but was not himself. By today, he was talking like nothing had ever happened. What an incredibly resilient bird!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Steve's vet visit

Steve had to go to the vet today so he could get his health certificate that is required for travel. He was not happy about this, but settled down once he was in his carrier:Our little trip today gave me more confidence that he will travel just fine later this month. He wasn't happy to go into his carrier, but was fine once he was inside, even clicking a little bit for me.

Unfortunately, at the vet's, he flapped his wings very hard and reopened his wounds. The vet said she could tell that one of his wings had been completely healed and the other had been nearly healed, but today's experience reopened the wounds. She rubbed some SSD cream on him and did a laser treatment, which is supposed to help him to heal and to feel better. His exam went relatively quickly, and we got him back to his cage at my house as soon as possible.

She was impressed by how well he had healed, and by his demeanor -- he was much calmer than on his previous visits, and the growling he did was typical angry grey growling, not the out of control terrified growling that just breaks your heart. I asked her her thoughts on his wounds -- given the healing that had taken place, did she ever think that he might be fully healed, say in 1-2 years? She responded that she didn't think it would take that long! To just continue not forcing him out and with a good diet, he'd heal on his own.

All in all, a good visit, though I wish it hadn't been necessary to pull him out of his cage. I told him he'd have to come out one more time in two weeks to go home, but that his new owner would let him take all of the time he needs to come out and feel comfortable.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Angry cookie monster

We do limit the junk food our parrots get; last night was a rare treat where they each got a piece of cookie. Thomas said Beeps started displaying, so he got the camera and created this montage he called "Angry cookie monster"Not sure why that first one was blurry; also Thomas prefers to zoom in really close, so none of these are cropped.

After this, we left him to eat his cookie in peace. He's really not a fan of the camera!

More wandering...with food

Max was eating a carrot last night, when she apparently had this urgent need to fly to the basement door (which was open as Thomas went downstairs.)She brought the carrot with her and left little carrot tidbits on the floor.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Wanderer

Last night, Thomas had to go upstairs and do some work on the computer. I was downstairs making dinner and watching the parrots. Only I wasn't closely supervising the parrots as I had to pay attention to dinner, too. I was keeping an ear open for the sound of trouble, and every 5 minutes or so doing a parrot census to make sure everyone was accounted for.

On doing one of these censuses, I realized that I could only account for two greys -- Max was missing. I searched all of the usual places, then started in on the unusual places. I misunderstood Thomas's response when I asked him if he'd seen her, lengthening my search by several minutes.

Here she was:I didn't hear her fly down from the chair where she'd been perching, which means she climbed down the chair, walked to the stairs, walked up the stairs, and found Thomas in the office. When I found her, Thomas requested that I take her back downstairs with me, which I did. He joined us shortly after that.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Steve - training

Yesterday after work, Steve saw me cutting up his cashews and knew that training was about to begin. He got so excited that he came down to the perch on his cage door. He's done this before, but usually climbs back up to a different perch when I open his door to train. But not yesterday! He was visibly a bit nervous at first, but after a few targets, relaxed and enjoyed his training session.This makes it easier on me as I don't have to stand awkwardly to reach him; I just pull up a chair in front of his cage! I'm hoping that the rest of his training with me will take place here. If he gets used to training here, that will make things easier on his new owner to work on step up.

Doesn't he look kind of spooky when he stares at me, head-on?
Feeling so comfortable, he's perching on one foot!
He was also talking and whistling up a storm yesterday. I'm pretty sure I heard "I love you!" but that could just be my imagination twisting his words. He certainly hears it enough from the humans and parrots in the house, so it's not outside the realm of possibility.

He's been making up whistling songs (or remember whistling songs from his past) and Stella has picked one of them up, which will leave me with an aural reminder of him.

Speaking of which, time continues to fly by. In just two weeks from tomorrow, he will be meeting his new owner! This Friday, he returns to the vet to get his health certificate for flying. His vet should be able to give me a better update about the progress of his mutilation sores. I can't wait to see her reaction over their improvement!

Monday, September 13, 2010


I had set a box near the door to the garage so that it could be recycled. Stella took this as an invitation to dig in a dark, enclosed space:I moved the box and redirected her to an activity that would not promote egg-laying. Luckily, she remains very sweet even when she is nesty, and immediately steps up without aggression.


Rocky managed to get into some cobwebs. I think he was behind the fishtank, where cobwebs often accumulate. You can see them hanging off of his beak:
When I first tried to take this picture, Max was unhappy that Rocky was getting attention, so she buzzed him. He managed to hang on, but I took this picture when things were perilous:Sadly, the photo is not centered, as everything was chaos!


The parrots got raw cauliflower over the weekend. I'm not sure I have ever offered this to them before, but they loved it. Look at Max's eyes pinning:And Steve, though he's already eaten dinner (with the evidence all over his cage and beak), digs in:
We will all be very sad when winter comes around and we are without our farmers' market again.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Another adventure

Beeps had an adventurous day yesterday. He escaped from his cage; though this time, without help from Rocky.

Once again, I thought something was up from the beeping Beeps was doing when I got home from work. It was louder, more insistent, more joyous even. I thought he was really happy to see me, but now I think he was showing off his intelligence!

Doesn't he look proud of himself?
From the location of his droppings, he spent most of the day on his cage. He also went over to the lizards' tanks. He managed to get Andreas's top off about 3 inches -- enough for Andreas to escape if he wanted to; luckily Andreas stayed put.

I've been saying this for years, but it might be time for a new cage.

Steve retrieves

Disclaimer: this is a horrible video! The retrieve trick pretty much requires three hands to do properly, so throw in a camera, and I needed four hands.

Usually I make Steve stretch a bit more to put the bead in the cup; for example I'll hold the cup at head-level, or make him stretch his head to the left or right. In this video, he does stretch a little in front of him, but he is actually more advanced in this trick than the video indicates.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Urban "wildlife"

Last night, Thomas and I were making dinner, when we caught something out of the corner of our eyes (pretty much at the same time.) My first thought was a black bear was walking through our yard, but on closer inspection, it was revealed to be......our neighbors' dog. He must have slipped under or jumped over the fence. He had a great time:
Dog meeting with the dog that lives behind us:
They came and got him after about 20 minutes.

Left behind

Thomas ran downstairs, taking only Max with him. Stella pined for his return.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bitey lovebird

D. Richard left the following comment on this post:
I have a peach faced lovebird that also demands attention seems to be quite happy but the moment you let her out she wants to bite . She will fly straight from the cage to your head or shoulder and within seconds will draw blood from your neck. I thought she was just hand shy and bites when she sees your hands so this last time I deliberately kept my hands down and away, and within 30 seconds she drew blood. Have you had a problem like this and how did you handle it?
Hello, D. Thanks for leaving a comment! I figured it would be easier to respond here instead of in the comments.

Since parrots are not "one answer fits all" birds and I tend to be a bit wordy anyway, I will write a bunch here; hopefully some of it will be useful!

And, just for fun, I will start with a picture of Thomas's favorite lovebird. She was adopted out about 5 years ago, and he still talks about her. She loved to hang out in the front pocket of his hooded sweatshirts!Back to the question. The first thing I would do is try to figure out what is happening when she bites. Maybe keep a journal. Does she fly over and bite every time you let her out of the cage? Is there ever a time when she doesn't? What's different? It's possible there is some kind of trigger. If you can identify and eliminate the trigger, you can eliminate the biting.

For example, my caique, Beeps, flies over and bites us if we read magazines on the couch. We can read books on the couch; we can read magazines in the rest of the house; but there is something about the magazine + couch equation that = bite.

You mentioned that she bites after 30 seconds on you. Will she step up for you, or are all of her movements her flying around? If she tends to bite after 30 seconds, I would only allow her on me for 20 seconds. Have her step up, possibly give her some kind of treat, or at least verbal praise for being so good, and put her somewhere where she can't bite you, like a playstand. Keep your physical interactions short and well within the time frame where she won't bite.

If she doesn't like hands, you might try to have her step up on a stick, or cover your hand with a washcloth. Many birds who are afraid of hands will happily step up on a hand that's covered with a shirt or towel.

The problem with biting is that, like with most things, practice makes perfect. Every time she bites, she's perfecting her technique. You want to do everything you can to avoid getting bit in the first place.

Does she give any physical clues that she's about to bite? Some parrots have extremely subtle body language, but they almost always have some signs that they are agitated and may bite. Pay special attention to her feathers -- does she fluff up before biting? Or spread out her tail? Since she knows how to fly, if you spot these clues ahead of time, you can toss her to an appropriate perch and escape danger (we do this with Beeps when he gets agitated.)

You mention in your question that she will fly to your head/shoulder and bite. That makes it hard to watch her body language! In our house, parrots are not allowed on our heads/shoulders (though they do try occasionally and I do have some of those pictures on our blog, but we generally discourage that.) The main reason is that you can't see body language when they're out of your field of vision, so she might be sending off all sorts of signals she's about to bite. If she were on your hand, you could have tossed her to a perch. The other reason is that a face bite is exponentially less pleasant than a bite anywhere else. I know several people who have had to have stitches in their face from a parrot bite. Even though this level of damage is unlikely with a lovebird, I still would not want to take that risk!

If you do want to keep her off of your head/shoulders, you need to try everything you can to prevent her from landing there. When my birds were leaning this rule, this sometimes meant I'd have to quickly drop to the ground or swerve my body so they couldn't land. I would not recommend this with a bird that's just learning to fly, but experienced flyers are able to alter their plan mid-flight and find an appropriate place to land.

Currently, when a bird lands on my head/shoulders, I immediately have them step up on my hand. If they resisted stepping up nicely, I would have to go back to not allowing them to land there in the first place.

Also, you could try giving her a lot of exercise when she first comes out -- a tired bird is less likely to bite! Get her flying, panting, and tired out! This really works for us with our severe macaw, Rocky. He is much less aggressive when he's exercised. (Also true for me!)

Finally, and this is not the solution I'd choose first, perhaps you need to clip his wings and work on teaching her appropriate behavior. We did this with Beeps. He was very effective at using biting in a previous home; in fact, his previous owner was in the process of releasing him outside in winter, to his certain death, when his rescuer happened upon him and saved his life. The reason? Apparently he'd bitten her so badly she needed to go to the emergency room for stitches. His rescuer, a wonderful person but with little parrot experience, kept him in his (large) cage for 9 months because the few times he came out, he flew at and attacked people.

Thomas and I took him in the day he was surrendered to foster him and teach him manners (then we adopted him.) The first thing we did was to clip his wings in order to work with him on appropriate behavior. When he could no longer effectively launch attacks, he learned that good behavior got him treats and attention and bad behavior was no longer effective.

One last thought that is purely anecdotal based on my experiences at the bird rescue. I have never seen anyone else mention this, so I could just be imagining things. Frequently, the birds that bite and attack the most are among the more intelligent birds. I'm probably anthropomorphizing, but in my mind, they get bored with captive life and start to act out -- just like gifted kids sometimes do in school.

I'm a big advocate of clicker training; here is a link to a free yahoo group that can get you started. Much of Beeps's undesirable behavior vanished once we gave him an outlet for his intelligence through learning tricks.

And, for more fun, I will add a picture of my favorite lovebird. He's still up for adoption, and it is a struggle not to bring him home after I visit!Good luck and hopefully some of this will be helpful. If you have additional information/questions/comments, please let me know and I will do my best to answer.

Thanks for caring enough about your lovebird to try to fix this problem instead of rehoming!