Following is an article by Karen Walker, a woman who
attended a workshop in the Chicago area. She
after a year and a half, she was finally able to connect with her
I never worked with this
bird; it was Karen who, after attending my workshop, was able to apply what she learned
and do all the
taming on her own.
I'm amazed and gratified that people will go to
so much trouble to write report of their
experiences and share them with others.
Ed, My Once Phobic Amazon
By Karen Walker
I purchased Ed, an Orange Wing
Amazon, from a co-worker, at a bird fair in
September of 2002. I knew he would be a challenge
when I found out I would be Edís fifth home in eight
years. Ed had been living in a shed. I felt that I
was his last, best hope.
When we got Ed home we saw how
bad he looked - dark feathers, flaky skin and that
frightened, beaten down look of a neglected animal.
He bit repeatedly and drew blood from my husband and
me. We decided to give Ed a few weeks to get used to
us. That did not go well; whenever we left his cage
door open he would scramble to the top and fly at
our faces like a blood thirsty demon. Or, heíd fall
from his perch to his back as if facing oncoming
I needed help. I read several
books, searched the Internet. Finally, I was
referred to a noted Midwestern avian behavior expert
who, coincidentally, was in need of a volunteer.
Her first recommendation was to take Ed to an avian
vet for a complete exam.
The vet said that Ed was the
most aggressive bird he had ever seen. He took
samples of Edís blood and stool, groomed him and
trimmed his wings. All tests came back negative.
Ed was disease-free.
The behavior consultant and I
came to an arrangement: in exchange for my time
cleaning cages etc. she would help me with Edís fear
and aggression problems and share with me her
knowledge of avian behavior.
I worked as a volunteer weekly
for a year and a half during which I learned about
proper nutrition, cage placement, and layout etc. I
also assisted at her avian behavior classes. During
that time, what I learned about avian behavior
helped our relationship with Ed improve slightly,
but not nearly enough. He was still living in fear
As per the recommendations of
many books and experts, we were "letting Ed be a
bird." This included allowing him to exit the cage
on his own terms. Since Ed did not want to be
touched, I didnít push it, but would let him step
onto my hand when he felt like it. When I needed to
get Ed out of his cage to clean it I had to wrap a
towel around my hand because he would bite
Ed merely "tolerated" us.
Whenever we came near him he still hunched his
shoulders in fear, fluttered away and occasionally
fell back off his perch in panic. Ed was living in
constant fear and was not a part of our family. I
wanted a pet, not a prisoner
With Friends Like These...
In May of 2005 my bird club
hosted Ken Globus, "The Bird Whisperer." I had
visited his web site and found his techniques
interesting. I saw this as an opportunity to learn
more. When I told friends I planned to attend, they
became hostile toward me, but I decided to go
anyway. As hoped, I learned many things that have
helped me better understand Ed. There is so much
more involved in owning a phobic bird than just
providing a good environment and letting him "be a
bird". Ken Globus taught me the handling techniques
that have helped Ed to become part of the family.
Karen Walker & Ken at the workshop
The techniques that Ken teaches
were designed to solve the problems that I had. I
feel fortunate that I attended his training session;
I only went as an observer, so Ken actually just
trained me and not my bird. This proved to me that
his techniques work for people who are not
professional bird trainers.
Kenís seminar is hands on. He
teaches birds to overcome their fears and explains
the process in detail. He describes it as
progressive desensitization. The techniques that
were so basic to Ken were vital to my progress with
I had been instructed by the
behaviorist to allow Ed to come out of the cage on
his own and to come to me when he wished. This
simply did not work; Ed was too phobic to trust me.
Ken taught me safe ways to take a frightened bird
from its cage and how to encourage the bird to sit
calmly on my hand. This was a major achievement.
Ed and I progressed farther in three days using
Kenís teachings than we had in the previous year and
a half. I was shocked and encouraged. I progressed
to the next step, being able to touch Ed without
getting a bloody bite. The ďbubble of fearĒ that
Ken describes worked best for me with Ed on my lap
I also used Kenís approach on
my Timneh African Grey, and he progressed through
the steps in less than 1 hour with no aggression.
He had been a persistent shoulder bird and did not
want to be touched. He does still enjoy my
shoulder, but only when I put him there, and I can
touch him, trim his wings and toenails without being
Ken explains in his session
that there are 3 fears that keep birds from becoming
part of your family. We suffered from all three of
the fears and they were difficult to overcome. The
first is the birdís instinctive fear of us. The
second is our fear of being bit. The third is our
fear of hurting the bird. Kenís work is to help
people and birds overcome their fears Ö.an approach
I have not heard from any other avian expert. And
when I understood it, I realized that Ed and I had
to overcome our fears together.
With Kenís help our relationship is better than I
would have believed possible. This cowering Orange
Wing Amazon that used to panic and flutter away from
us now steps up without
hesitation. He lets me pet his back, snuggle him
and touch his face, wings and feet. He seems to
enjoy the contact. He has the confidence to be
ďEdĒ. I cannot express the happiness I feel to
finally be observing this bird that has become
comfortable, with himself and with us. He is truly
a happier bird.
I strongly recommend Ken and his techniques. If you
are at wits end and want to improve your
relationship with your bird go to one of the Bird
Whispererís seminars and let him teach you to
understand your pet. Or, for faster results, have
him work with your bird and teach both of you at the
same time. With some work and patience your fearful
pet can become your companion. Thanks, Ken - Karen
Walker, Joliet, IL
Ed.... enjoying life