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Old 05-07-2019, 04:42 AM
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Agressive/hormonal amazon?

Hi all, new to the forums and amazons.

A quick intro into my predicament...

My husband and I own a bfa female, Chelsea. We've had her since she was 6-8months old, shes now about 2.5-3years.
When we brought her home, she seemed to like men and women equally. As shes gotten older, she prefers the company of women. I've become the favorite, to the extent that when I come home from work I try not to over-excite her, or else she'll swoop me and my husband, and can sometimes bite him. This has happened a couple of times in the last year.

Now we went away for all of April and had to leave her with a parrot sitter (This woman boards all kinds of birds and parrots). We've had her back home for 3 days and her behavior is the worst its been; she's happy to see me, sit on my shoulder, step up etc. But she's swooped and bitten my husband in almost every interaction.

He seems to think she might settle down, having been away from home with other birds and stimuli for a while.

My question is this: should we train this out of her now? Is she possessive of me? Is this hormonal??? Please help!
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:35 AM
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Re: Agressive/hormonal amazon?

I could be hormonal- I mean, 1-4 is the age range for sexual maturity in Amazons, so it's kind of a wide berth.
It is not uncommon for birds to change significantly from the time they are babies, but you should definitely train her out of the biting behavior.
I will try to post a link to a response I wrote for someone else in a similar situation. I just have to find it..

Also, my bird was very irritable after I took a 3 day trip. It lasted about 2 weeks for me...

In the following post, it's the husband who is the "chosen one" (his wife wrote the post) but it's going to be a lot of the same stuff either way-just substitute "you" for "your husband" when you read it lol:

Quote: Originally Posted by noodles123 View Post
Quote: Originally Posted by Birdmom12 View Post
Must vent to others that can understand: I’m very new to the large bird world. New as in February of this year new. George (aka Georgia) doesn’t like me which I know! My husband up until today thought it was all in my head. After a few dive bombs I always keep my eye on her, cautious of her behavior and a good distance. I try my best to respect her space and avoid an attack. Today she was on his shoulder he was walking around doing house work and would walk past me. I kept my eye on her and she was shockingly behaving! When it came time for her to go back to her cage for supper he had her at her cage door. I was in another room but within eye sight. Suddenly she took off for me. As her normal attacks she flew right for my face so I knew she meant business not wanting to be on my shoulder. I turned away she nailed me, I drop to the floor she swoops back around comes for me again so I swat her away expecting her to stop, nope she circles back around so I cover my head where she grabs my hand and rips into my knuckle. I know I shouldn’t have reacted...but I know she means business when she flies at me like that, it’s hard to stay still and calm.. My husband had to get in between us to stop the attack. I’m now left with a swollen, throbbing and bloody hand. I’m also devastated to say the least. Had I knowingly provoked the attack I’d understand...but I was a room away minding my own business. I just don’t know what to do to stop these moments from happening.
Your bird sounds like it is defending your husband as its mate. There is a likely a hormonal component at play here. Consequently, you should try your best to limit exposure to hormonal triggers (shadowy places--under furniture, boxes, huts, in pillows/blankets, under clothing), mushy foods, and cuddles are the main offenders). Also, pay attention to light-cycles (too much or too little sun can mess with hormones and consistent sleep is also important--solid 10-14 hours nightly). Finally, some birds are triggered by shreddable sea-grass-type toys. If you have these in your bird's cage, consider replacing them with the wooden chew-block types of toys (at least until you know whether they could be a potential trigger). Excessive misting with water can even cause a hormonal response in some birds (as it can simulate "spring rains").

Make sure your bird is getting plenty of time outside of his cage and lots of activity to keep him engaged/ provide an outlet for his energy.

The aforementioned suggestions for minimizing hormonal behavior apply to sexually mature birds in general (regardless of gender)--it is always best to avoid hormonal triggers (such a as shadowy places, petting down the body, too much or too little light, too much or too little sleep etc) because excessive hormonal behavior can lead to increased screaming, aggression, feather plucking and, in females, egg-laying (and potential egg-binding).

Even though your husband may be the chosen one, you and anyone else interacting with the bird must be aware of these things because petting a bird in places besides the head or neck can trigger hormones...even if they don't like the person petting them. It is also important that your husband not run to the rescue every time this happens, because then your bird is getting his attention (which it clearly craves). I would suggest that he ignore the bird when it does these things....but that's just me. When you are attacked, do your best to remain as neutral and silent as possible. Your bird WANTS a reaction. Furthermore, following an attack, no one should change what they were doing before the attack occurred--- AKA, if you were attacked when playing Scrabble with your husband, you should go back to playing scrabble with your husband.

If the bird does come after you, your husband shouldn't be picking up the bird etc...but, if he must do something, I would say that the bird should go straight to a time-out cage (following an attack) with as little eye-contact/reaction as possible (for 5 minutes or so---shorter initially, ---and I wouldn't take him out if he is screaming either). I am sure that others will have their own takes on this, but your bird clearly wants to be near your husband, and he can't do that if in time-out. Similarly, by continuing with your lives, you are showing the bird that the attack didn't have an impact.

Another point worth mentioning, is that if your husband has been inadvertently leading your bird on, the aggression may eventually shift towards him (instead of you) unless he is able to re-frame their relationship as non-sexual. Birds sometimes become frustrated and "turn" on the object of their affection.

For now, in terms of who gives treats etc, ask your husband to step back a bit and make it so that your interactions with the bird are largely positive. Try not to put yourself in a position where you know you will be bitten (at least for now). If you get bitten only when your husband is around, then try asking him to leave the room for awhile so that you can focus on the positive side of the relationship...NOTE---You must ask him to leave BEFORE the dive-bombing occurs, not after.
If you want to see other posts on the thread, the discussion on dive-bombing etc starts on page 4.
First vet visit

EllenD's reply to page 2 of this thread may also be helpful:
This parrot hates me

On page 3 of this post, I wrote 2 long-winded (but hopefully semi-helpful) replies about responding to biting, using ABA, and a TON of parrot training videos (don't know which ones apply, but I think most people find it helpful to see what things could possibly work for them:
Behaviour Issues

I hope that helps! Remember to only ever pet your bird on the head and no shadowy places!

Last edited by noodles123; 05-07-2019 at 06:12 AM.
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Old 05-07-2019, 11:12 AM
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Re: Agressive/hormonal amazon?

Noodles advice is great:

I'm in the same situation you are in. We are also new to amazons. Ours came from a rescue, shes dna sexed female, is wild caught and estimated 17-19 years of age. She favors the male in the house and completely despises me. She swoops me just like your husband and often lashes out. I believe her horrible behavior is partly due to hormones...but I also believe its years of bad handling from previous owners. We meet a behaviorist this weekend to hopefully train this out. At the very least get advice on how to manage it.

In the mean time I've been doing my own research and have started to use some tips I've discovered. Below is our routine we are currently doing to help the situation. I'm by no means well educated on this topic so take it as you will. I would definitely work on training it out of her now vs. when it REALLY GETS BAD.

Parrots generally speaking can be "tame" even though they are basically wild animals. They will always favor someone over the rest of the household. However, everyone should be safe when the bird is out. Everyone should also be able to safely interact with the bird.

I've discovered that to much exposure to light, inadequate sleep, poor diet, lack of play time/flying, and improper handling all lead to bad behavior.

For our bird we have started a routine which so far is helping little by little each day.

at 6pm she gets moved upstairs to a spare bedroom for sleep. She has a smaller cage she sleeps in and a larger cage in the main part of the house during the day. The room is fairly dark. From 6-8pm shes in the room with no lights on with the curtains open. At 8pm black out curtains are drawn and she sleeps until 6am. At 6am her door gets open and curtains pulled back. At 6:30am she goes down stairs to sit on her perch while breakfast is made and just before 7am gets caged with fresh foods. She doesn't much care for pellets so she gets a small variety of the following Pea pods, berry mix, carrots, sweet potato, chickpeas, black beans, egg, greens, etc... we give her a few pieces of each. She continues to have pellets out but rarely eats them. She gets fed again at 5pm.

What I've read is you want to mimic the wild as much as possible. The lighting they get exposed to (especially during this time of year) can really make them moody. We do this sleep schedule 1-because of our work schedule 2- it comes back to exposing her to the sun down sun up naturally. Perhaps you can find a schedule that works with your life.

In her day time cage she has a box at the bottom. She plays in the box, rips it, throws it and so on. Some might disagree with this but it helps her get out her aggression which she clearly has. The rest of her cage consists of a wall of perches to climb on, block toys, rubber hoop rings to bite, and shredding foraging toys. Occasionally as a special treat she gets food foraging toys.

When shes out of her cage shes being taught flying commands. This helps burn off some steam, helps her exercise, and its quality time she gets to spend with her human. Since she has started to lash out at me she has now been banned from the shoulder. I read that spending to much time with your bird on your shoulder only reinforces that strong bond which can turn negative. In the wild birds "cuddle" for short periods of time and its only for mating. After that its down to work of living. When we walk around with our bird on our shoulder all day its not really natural. It also can create an insecure bird. So with that we let our bird on a hand (and gently hold her one claw so she can't climb the arm), we practice flying, we work on target training on a stand, or otherwise she is free roaming the house stands playing, looking out windows, or just preening. We have discussed allowing her on the shoulder again down the road. Once shes established boundaries she can ride the shoulder again for short periods of time. A general rule of thumb is if the bird gets off your shoulder easily when asked they get to ride it.

With that said though her outside cage time is minimal right now. Her attacks have gotten violent so she is typically only out when I'm not around. We are slowly working towards a healthier well behaved bird but it takes a lot of time and effort. You also have a younger bird which could be reaching maturity. I've never dealt with this...but I would assume its the best time to train. You can establish a healthy bond, create safe boundaries, and ultimately have a mentally healthy bird.

Last edited by Birdmom12; 05-07-2019 at 11:17 AM.
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Old 05-07-2019, 04:00 PM
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Re: Agressive/hormonal amazon?

Birdmom12- Glad you guys are making progress! That is awesome!

Last edited by noodles123; 05-07-2019 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 05-08-2019, 01:05 AM
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Re: Agressive/hormonal amazon?

Thanks for the advise
Shes ok with him when I'm not around... but as soon as I'm in the picture she's all fluffy and eyes pinning and churpy on my shoulder, until she lunges and bites him.
She only gets petted on the head (she hates her body being touched), we never give her mushy food, she doesn't seem interested in shadowy nesting places... although I've need ever seen her sitting on my shoulder as encouraging negative behaviour, so a limit to "shoulder time," might do good.
We will just perservere with training and see what happens.
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Old 05-09-2019, 01:50 PM
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Re: Agressive/hormonal amazon?

Quote: Originally Posted by Emma1 View Post
Thanks for the advise
Shes ok with him when I'm not around... but as soon as I'm in the picture she's all fluffy and eyes pinning and churpy on my shoulder, until she lunges and bites him.
She only gets petted on the head (she hates her body being touched), we never give her mushy food, she doesn't seem interested in shadowy nesting places... although I've need ever seen her sitting on my shoulder as encouraging negative behaviour, so a limit to "shoulder time," might do good.
We will just perservere with training and see what happens.
We started out with ours being "friendly" to everyone. When it was just her and I she was very interested in training. I could play with her, practice tricks, hand feed her, and she would fly to my shoulder for a ride. The only thing she didn't want was for me to ask her to step up. We never got to that. However, when her human was within ear shot or sight she was easily distracted. She would fly and look for him, lash out at me, or completely ignore me and only perform training for him.

Eventually after about 2 months of this I got pushed to the side completely and then the attacks happened. Now I can't safely be around her when shes out of the cage. Like I said thought our routine we started is making her less pegged. Shes starting to calm a bit. I think us humans unknowingly send birds mixed signals all the time. I know we did.

We were recommended that I be the only one that gives her, her most favorite treat! Eventually she would start to view me as less of a threat. The trick is her human isn't suppose to be with in view when I do this. I guess they can associate my nice treat and peace offering with oh look favorite human special treat.

I hope you get this resolved or at the very least on a positive track. We are planning to give ours probably a year of training after we meet with our behaviorist. After that we agreed to reevaluate our situation.
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Old 05-19-2019, 08:58 AM
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Re: Agressive/hormonal amazon?

We recently saw a trainer for this behavior in our own amazon. Remembering your issue I wanted to share what we were told. Basically amazons mate until death in the wild. They have miles upon miles of forest to “nest” in. Your tiny house (I say tiny bc it’s not the wild) is now her nest and you likely her mate. Your husband is a threat.

Since at home I’m the hated human I now have to give all high reward meals. This for us is blueberries and peas with breakfast! My husband give her boring pellets. Anytime I walk past her cage I give a tiny walnut sliver...either by hand or dropped into her dish. Any time she sees me I treat her or give a hello in her voice. These are all positive interactions for her. If she lashes out at me her punishment is my husband leaving her sight, staying quiet, and leaving me to handle the situation. That means if she flutters to the floor I have to get a perch and put her back on a stand(she won’t step up for me yet). Basically we have to break her bond with the husband and build a bond with me. He will always in a sense be hers but it will be safe and non sexual like she’s trying to make it be now. We also are feeding her less in a bowl and finding ways to put meals in foraging tools so she can have that stimulus.
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Old 05-21-2019, 05:10 AM
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Re: Agressive/hormonal amazon?

Yes Birdmom12, that makes alot of sense. Our Chelsea has settled for a bit now... but whenever she flares up I ignore her. Hubby is the one who does her breakfast (apple) and gives her her favorite treats (cashews), all i give her are pellets. Its working... slowly but surely
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:35 AM
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Re: Agressive/hormonal amazon?

Quote: Originally Posted by Emma1 View Post
Yes Birdmom12, that makes alot of sense. Our Chelsea has settled for a bit now... but whenever she flares up I ignore her. Hubby is the one who does her breakfast (apple) and gives her her favorite treats (cashews), all i give her are pellets. Its working... slowly but surely

Your right it is a SLOW PROCESS. It being hormonal season only slows things down. Our behaviorist warned us that this is 1- a common problem with amazons, 2- Amazons are a difficult bird to break this behavior in, and 3- it takes A LOT OF TIME and consistency. I have a feeling ours is a bit more high strung in her hatred towards me then what yours sounds like. This is great for you because hopefully it will be easier to correct.

For the past few days I have made minimal progress but its a start. When I walk past her cage she gets a tiny walnut bite. When shes out I keep my distance but talk to her. If she flutters to the floor I walk towards her and toss treats down. She then roams the floor looking for scraps. When shes calmed a bit I walk a play stand over to her and she climbs it and gets back to her spot. Sadly we were highly recommended to clip her wings until she is more neutral towards me. Right now even with 5 on each wing clipped shes a phenomenal flyer.

Best of luck though! I hope your husband and her can earn some mutual respect.
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