Jesse, my first large
macaw, was handled in towels from an early age, so she accepted them,
would happily "step up" on them and would allow me to drape
one over her, etc. No worries.
We had white towels, green ones, brown, etc. Never a problem.
But one day she encountered my bright purple beach towel - and oh,
my... she was terrified. She saw me lifting it from the laundry basket -
screamed and ran off. She wasn't afraid of other things that colour, and
as I said, she wasn't afraid of towels. Just this one towel. No
matter what I did to calm her, she remained truly afraid of this one
So we started calling it "The Purple Towel of Death".
It came in handy.
When we had brand new replacement windows (VERY expensive...) Jesse
quickly formed the habit of climbing onto the windowsill next to her
cage and happily mangling the vinyl edge. I could see a bad habit was
forming, so I removed her and draped the "evil" towel on the
windowsill. As long as that towel was there, she stayed off
the sill. I left it there several days so that she fell out of the
habit of going there every time she had her freedom. When I
took the towel away, she still occasionally went to that spot, but it
wasn't automatic anymore.
From that point on, if
Jesse developed a fascination for anything that was verboten, we'd
simply apply The Purple Towel of Death and she'd leave it alone.
It took quite a while
before Laka (our B&G) ever displayed any fear of an object, but it
finally happened. I found a lovely gum tree branch in the yard and
brought it inside, thinking it would make an interesting perch.
But when I approached Laka's cage with it, she freaked.
Clearly this harmless
looking branch is really "The Gum Branch of Death".
Unlike the towel,
however, the branch is large and unwieldy, so it hasn't proven to be
much use in keeping Laka away from forbidden objects.