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Old 02-29-2016, 07:34 AM
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Senegal falling out of love with my wife.

I understand that it's very hard to give any advice, but maybe you can help me to see if I understand his behaviour correctly.

Oscar - DNA test male - is 2.5 years old, and my wife was always his favorite. When he was out of his cage, he would always try to be around her, and he pretty much ignored me. He never was aggressive towards me, but he did let me know when I got too close to them. When he was alone with me, he was happy to play with me.

Inside of his cage, he was equally asking/accepting cuddles. He is pretty good natured (for a Senegal I suppose), very talkative, and loves to order our two labradors around.

Since last October however, my wife is often away for her work and/or working very late, so that I became his main attraction outside of his cage. I was also the one waking him up/feeding him/cleaning his cage etc. The more she was absent, the more he started to show her he was not happy. It started with small nibbles. She didn't understand the behaviour, but I explained to her she was pretty much his darling, and felt neglected.

Over the last half year, he has really switched sides. He now prefers me around, and even tried to hump my hand last week. He regurgitates for me (I try to avoid it), and even just talking to him makes him start to grind/make friendly noises/sound like a happy kitten.

I knew they switched alliance if they felt it necessary, but what I didn't expect was the aggression he started to show towards her. He still flies to her first, but then starts to stare at her, followed very quickly by biting. And really not just warning: he keeps his beak locked, and leaves a triangular mark that starts to bleed only after a few minutes. He is really going for the proverbial jugular. What he does mainly is fly towards her, land on her arm, and within a fraction of a second plants his beak firmly in her arm.

I tried to find other possible reasons for this behaviour change, and wondered if he was ill or had other problems. But when he's around me, he never bites like that, is happy to play/talk and cuddle. If it was a health problem, he would show the same behaviour towards me, wouldn't he?

Yesterday was the fifth time he bit her, and obviously, she has been treating him very nervously, which doesn't help I'm sure. She now refuses to be present when I let him out of his cage, which is sad for both her and Oscar. I know this sounds silly, but after this happens he seems to feel bad about it, is jumpy and very unresponsive, as if he doesn't understand his own violence.

Is there anything she can do to make up to him without being chewed to pieces? He is still friendly to her when he's inside his cage, he loves to hear her sing (and makes something that resembles dance moves when she has music on), but he turns in to a Hitchcock extra as soon as he is let out, and it breaks my heart.
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Old 02-29-2016, 08:01 AM
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Re: Senegal falling out of love with my wife.

Hello, I think you have hit the nail on the head with

"since last October however, my wife is often away for her work and/or working very late"

If you think about it logically if you were a bird and unhappy with events happening in your life, how would you communicate that? What has a bird to use to show he's unhappy?
If things have leveled out for your wife and she is able to devote more time to him then go back to basics (training) with him, work with him in his cage. This works in two ways with Oscar and gives your wife some confidence again by having the protection of the cage.

I don't read this as he's extremely upset but none the less he is still upset. He still shows her affection albeit in the cage. If she works to gain his trust again hopefully things will return to how they were before.

If you can head things off before the humping activity begins then that would be better - read his body language just before and distract him, keep to just giving head skritches.

Good luck with Oscar.
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Old 02-29-2016, 09:59 AM
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Re: Senegal falling out of love with my wife.

Thanks for that, it seems logical indeed. Also - and I forgot to mention this - her job comes with a lot of stress lately, and animals pick up on that too. But even so I do think the main reason is he feels she abandoned him.

And yes about not encouraging him. It was the first time it happened, and I wasn't prepared for it/didn't expect it at this age. Now I know the signs, and the second time he tried it I just distracted him. I never touch him anywhere else but his neck and throat. I also find they almost always announce their next move - if you can read them correctly.

Good idea about her just working with him in the cage, as the trust needs to be repaired on both sides.
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Old 02-29-2016, 12:42 PM
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Re: Senegal falling out of love with my wife.

No words of advice — because once they change loyalties/favorites like that, their minds are pretty much made up — I just wanted to praise your really mature, dispassionate, logical take on it and for at least attempting to help your wife build a new, albeit different, relationship with her friend. At the very least, you're going to help the situation rather than make it worse. She's lucky to have you on her team. Good luck with the project.
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Old 04-21-2016, 04:50 AM
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Re: Senegal falling out of love with my wife.

A small update. You probably knew already that parrots aren't always "black and white". Complex animals with complex emotions. However, the little project is going well. To give you an idea, even though he was clearly still "mad" at her, when she started calling him Oscaréééééh just for fun, two weeks ago, it took him about a day to make that sound his own. After that he started saying it all the time. She, or at least her voice, still has a very strong impact on him. (At the same time, he probably finds its sound pleasing, so that helps too).

At first, he was still very moody when she entered the room (or completely ignored her and slowly walked to the other side of his cage...), but after enough patience, he's now warming up to her again. He stopped fluffing up his feathers, and lets her pet him through the bars.

We still don't let him out when she's around though, as his behaviour "in the wild" is one where he likes to test boundaries, and seems to feel audacious - maybe because he still has full flight capability. When I let him out with the two labradors in the room, he loves to fly right over their heads, as he knows he gets a great reaction out of them. BTW, he keeps calling their names, orders them to sit or to move over, starts shouting their names when they stay outside for too long (I wonder where he got that from? ), so he knows very well who they are.

Anyway, it will probably still be weeks/months before we try to let him out when she's around. Her trust was broken too - she still has a scar on her arm, they really do know how to bite - and going too fast would be bad for both. We make sure she's the one who gives him his evening treat, and I got her to stop trying to engage when he's not responsive.

Not over yet, but improving.
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Old 02-06-2017, 07:36 AM
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Re: Senegal falling out of love with my wife.

Quote: Originally Posted by OOwl View Post
No words of advice — because once they change loyalties/favorites like that, their minds are pretty much made up
Almost a year later, and it turns out you were right. He's very much my pal, and is still pretty hostile to my wife - to the point I don't let him out of his cage when she's around.

We've tried quite a few things, like letting her give most of the treats. He can not be bribed it seems.

Oddly enough, when he learns new words, it's still mostly from her/in her voice. And he still talks to her as long as he doesn't see her. As soon as he sees her, he puffs up, demands a treat, and is ready to attack.

My wife has given up at this point, which kinda breaks my heart. She still enjoys his stand-up comedy and his cleverness, but she no longer really tries to make up.

Oscar now speaks about 50 different words (we counted), seems to be generally happy, and starts grinding as soon as I start talking to him in a friendly way. He loves doing call-and-response games with me where we imitate each others noises. He loves the constant traffic of dogs and cat, has arguments with the birds outside, and loves being petted (well, by me). As soon as I near the cage he walks up to me and presents his neck. Most of the time, I'm the one who stops the petting. Yet at the same time he seems happy to be alone when I'm in another room, playing with whatever has his attention that week.

All that just to say that he is not a mean bird who doesn't like people. Just my wife. Not sure if I can do much about it now. She asks me to be less friendly to him, to punish him for being aggressive to her, but somehow I think that would only make it worse, as he would not understand why I'd change my attitude towards him.

Anyway, just wanted to update, maybe it helps for others who find themselves in the same situation.
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Old 02-06-2017, 08:01 AM
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Re: Senegal falling out of love with my wife.

Oh Don't punish him. Parrots do not react well to negative reinforcement, and especially one that's as convoluted as this situation. Ask you wife to not give up trying to make friens again with Oscar. SHe should be the giver of treats - always. She should be telling Oscar when she will be way and for how long and assure him that she will be back, and do it several times before she will leave. I am away in Asia for 2 weeks at a time, and if it forget to tell Salty, and really tell him like I mean it, assuring him I will be back in 2 weeks, then when I get home it takes weeks before he is close to trusting me and acting like his old self. If I do tell him, its only a day or so, and sometimes there is no change in him. I tell Salty if I am going shopping, or to a rehearsal, or away for the weekend doing a gig, anytime I will not be in the house for any length of time. And I even let him know when I will be in the bathroom for awhile ( it cuts down on the contact calls). You both should practice this , but you especially.

I realize that your wife is on the 'outs' right now, but she and Oscar are still a part of the family. Senegals can be stubborn, like leather, but patience can beat stubborn. Oscar obviously still has some feelings for yur wife. Good Luck!
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Old 02-07-2017, 10:31 AM
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Re: Senegal falling out of love with my wife.

I told her what you told me, so let's hope being extra stubborn pays off. Of course I would never try negative reinforcement, doesn't work with most animals, certainly doesn't with parrots.

I know what you mean about keeping him in the loop when going away. He is acutely aware, and each time I actually say "See you later Oscar" to which he responds "See you later!" Putting on shoes or coats even makes him say it first. Though he won't understand everything I tell him, I do talk about what I'm going to do, how long I'll be gone, I ask him to look after the dogs etc. When coming back there's a whole greeting ritual, and the longer I've been away, the longer that needs to be for him. He's not freaking out when alone (I recorded a video of that), and either plays or sleeps, but still.

They know much more than I would have imagined, are very sensitive, and I do think that, in the end, the frequent business trips are what broke his trust in my wife. From his p.o.v. it makes a lot of sense.
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Old 02-07-2017, 11:10 AM
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Re: Senegal falling out of love with my wife.

You have to out-stubborn birds. It took me three years to get to the point with MrC's YNA where the bird is no longer plotting my murder. That breakthrough was last year, and I'm still working on things, and he still only just barely tolerates me, though getting a little bit better with each passing month. Senegals are just as stubborn as YNA's (I have one of those too). As much as it sucks for your wife, it's just going to take time.
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Old 03-26-2017, 05:21 PM
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Re: Senegal falling out of love with my wife.

Quote: Originally Posted by wrench13 View Post
I am away in Asia for 2 weeks at a time, and if it forget to tell Salty, and really tell him like I mean it, assuring him I will be back in 2 weeks, then when I get home it takes weeks before he is close to trusting me and acting like his old self. If I do tell him, its only a day or so, and sometimes there is no change in him.
Funny. I'm just back from an 8 day trip abroad with my wife. I did prepare him, and really took my time. He does know and say "See you later!" so that's what I talked about. For about a week in advance I started preparing him. Of course, you never know exactly what they understand or not, but given that he has surprised us quite a few times, I did my best, and took it seriously.

Driving back, I was weary, as I had seen how he had reacted to my wife being away. To my surprise, he was just ... extremely glad to see me! Happy, chatty, very physical, the regurgitating behaviour. I am hugely relieved, but I guess following your advice did pay off. He was friendly to the minder, he accepted treats out of her hand after 3 days, generally well behaved. So he didn't panic, and I think it's fair to say he - on his own level - understood there was nothing to worry about.

He's now making his grinding sounds on his favorite branch, and I'm glad this ended well!
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