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Old 06-14-2010, 05:21 PM
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Unhappy HELP - Angry Male Cockatiel! need advice

HELP!
- Our once sweet male cockatiel, Budy, has slowly become more and more aggressive towards me. Budy used to be an only child, and my wife and I both work 8 hours a day. Though he was out of the cage and spending alot of time with us when we were home, we would come home from work to a attention hungry Budy, who would cry and panic until we got him out. Once out, he was a sweet little lovable snuggle bug to both of us. My wife and I would sit together and give him lots of finger preening and love, kisses and snacks. He used to run between us and trade kisses and time. He has learned several whistles and says “Hello”.
- Now, Budy was very young when we got him, his head feathers were scrubby and he was a skinny little tiel. The first months (almost year) were wonderful, he was so cuddly and sweet. During a period at a later month, Budy changed, became more attracted to my wife, and started pecking me away. Though we spent hours a day with him, we feared he may just be attention starved (8 hour work days), and we got him a female companion, a baby female tiel named ChuChu. The first day he hated baby ChuChu and chased her on the floor, but three days later they were best friends, and Budy became infatuated with her, they are now hard to separate.
- So, Budy has slowly gotten worse, and now lunges and bites. At first I was just ignoring it, or doing little time outs in his cage. But at one point, budy attacked me so hard I had to pull him from my bleeding neck. He got a shower (luke warm and soft) and it settled him for a short time. After a few more attacks he got wrapped in a towel and carried like a baby for a while, I held him gently and talked to him softly- I did not know what else to do. Even though the “punishments” were gentle and not harmful physically, I later learned that punishments like shower or towel only make the problem worse, so I do not do that anymore, I don’t want him to fear me or think I am a threat. He now just gets time outs again. I was hurt and confused, and just did not know what to do with him being vicious. So, now a days I just leave Budy alone and try to give him space. He continues to be mostly sweet with my wife, he will come out of his cage, go over to her, and ask for snuggle, but sometimes bites her now too. I however continue to get lunged at and bitten if he has a chance. Budy is great and well mannered with the other birds, ChuChu and Binky (our parakeet). We got the parakeet recently, and he is super sweet, and he too is responding well to training, likes finger preening and kisses, sings, etc. ~ It’s just Budy who for some reason will not be nice.
- Some contrast: Our baby girl ChuChu (cockatiel) is just fine with me, As is Binky (boy parakeet) and both are sweet and their training is coming along well, both responds well to everything we do with them. Despite Budy making her (ChuChu) stress a little by screaming and calling her when I take her to a different room for training, she still allows me to give her kisses and finger preening. ChuChu (girl) still gives little squeeks or hisses if something is not as she likes, and I just stop and talk to her till she settles, this is often dependent on how noisy Budy is being. She is naturally very mellow, but will call to Budy when she decides to be done with training and wants to return. If Budy sees me with her, he will come over and bite me, thus we go to a separate room for training. Budy does not care if I take Binky (parakeet) to the room, but sometimes Binky usually wants to see the tiels after a little training –lol- it’s cute, Binky is super well behaved and training long very well.
- Well, my wife and I are desperate, and have gone so far as to build Budy a separate cage now. The first cage I learned was too tall, 7” and above eye level. So ChuChu being female now gets the tall cage, and Budy gets a shorter wider cage. Both birds have big cages and lots of toys, fresh water, pellet and vitamin enriched food. We have even tried AviCalm and been scouring the internet for answers to this problem. We think it might be hormones / puberty related, it is about that time of his life. We even wonder if he has a mental condition, or if he is reacting to something we are un aware of, simply, we don’t know what’s wrong with Budy. We are both feeling sad and want to help our beautiful Budy get better and be happy again, we love him and miss his cuddles and smiles.
Some events and circumstances:
We got Budy very young (later ChuChu too). Budy used to live in a big tall cage, and is now in a shorter wider cage. After we got ChuChu, they lived separate for about a week, but then lived together for months until just recently. Budy and ChuChu get along great, and Binky too. We have had Budy over a year, and ChuChu for about 6 months. Binky (parakeet) is a recent addition, with us less than a 6 weeks, he gets along great with both Budy and ChuChu, ChuChu always begs Binky for cleaning. Budy mostly gets time outs for biting, but there were a few instances, after a he drew blood, where I wrapped him in a towel and carried him like a baby, and a couple times he got a soft shower. I learned any punishments are bad, they do not teach or change the birds behavior, so that has ceased, just time outs now. He does enjoy showers with my wife and I, he will drink the water and is playful, and never bites when in the shower with us. He has never received forceful physical discipline, no squishing, no flicking, never hit, hurt or anything that could injure, he is a little tiny birdie that we love and gets treated in that regard. We used to make a “loud squeak” to let him know it hurts, but later learned that reacting encourages biting, so we stopped audible “ouches”. We don’t yell at him, just a firm slow “nooo” when he makes a bite face. Since he has been feisty, I have continued giving him snacks by hand, and lots of soft talking. He is just fine and happy to eat snack from my hand, or eat off my plate with me. When food is done, he gets upset and may bite again. Budy is great with the other birds, shares food, sings, and preens. Budy has so far been good with my wife, but recently started biting her a little too. Budy and ChuChu used to live together, but we have now separated them with an intent to train them individually, mostly Budy. Budy’s got a new cage now, and all cages are big and have lots room, branches and toys. At this point we feel a bit lost, infact not even sure separating the cockatiels will benefit Budy or create more problems. We feed them pellet with some seeds, they drink water from a hamster style ball-drip. All of the birds are allowed out of the cages for several hours almost every day (usually if we are home the birds are out). Each bird gets some one on one training for about 30 minutes a day most days, even Budy spends time with me just sitting in close proximity where I talk soft and loving and give snacks when he is good. I put some pictures of my wife and myself at the top side of each cage (alpha bird sits at top right?) and a picture of me by Budy’s food dish, we hope this translates to me being an icon of snacks and good rewards. We cover the birds at night, and try to make sure they all get a solid night’s sleep. We respond to the flock calls by calling back or going to the cage and talking sweet. We love our birds very much, and are desperately trying to figure out what is wrong with Budy, or what we need to do.
- Any advice on what to do would be appreciated.. Please offer any advice that may be constructive and help our poor Budy Birdie.

Kindly
Bat
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Old 06-14-2010, 08:56 PM
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Re: HELP - Angry Male Cockatiel! need advice

It could very well be puberty. I have a Linnie who just got through puberty, and was problematic for approx. six months. He developed an intense dislike for my husband....biting, and actually jumping from his perch and attacking hubby's feet. Puberty is over, things are better, but Levi still would prefer that Ken move out!!!

Budy mat revert to his old self, when this period is over. It sounds like you're doing everything you can....
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Old 06-15-2010, 11:27 AM
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Re: HELP - Angry Male Cockatiel! need advice

Well, for what you have written and in my personal opinion, the problem is that your bird is now sexually mature, in high breeding condition, has bonded with a female and perceives you as a threat -an impression you created by punishing him for a perfectly normal behavior, separating him from his mate (different cages) and taking the female away from him (when you take her to another room for training). These are all no-nos during breeding season. You simply do not split a bonded pair and you don't take away the female from the male during this time of the year. If you do, even the mildest tempered bird will attack you. You can get away with these things in the winter or with old and/or sick and/or weak and/or unpaired birds but not with strong, young bonded birds during breeding season (and we are smack in the middle of breeding season). You also have made the sexual hormone situation worse by a diet too high in protein. You mention treats, seeds and pellets and these are all high protein foods. You don't mention cooked whole grains, veggies, raw fruits or leafy greens and these all have to be part of their daily diet. High protein is breeding food so they are not supposed to eat it all year round (it will also destroy their liver and kidneys in the long term). You also mention warm showers, another no-no when one doesn't want a tiel to get in high breeding condition. In their natural habitat, tiels breeding season comes right after the rainy season so rain and/or showers will induce the production of sexual hormones in them. And those hours of interaction during the evenings after you came home from work made things worse because birds are programmed to produce sexual hormones when the days are long only but you have been making artificially long days all throughout the winter so he has been producing sexual hormones for a looooong time.

Then there is a very common misconception that might not be helping things... birds do not live in packs, they live in flocks so there is no alpha, top or leader bird, dominance behaviors or anything like that so the perching to the top right and the tall cage versus the shorter cage won't make any difference whatsoever and the only thing the bird experienced by the switch was insecurity and confusion (he doesn't understand why you don't allow him to go to his mate or why you put him in an unfamiliar cage).

I suggest you allow him back into his usual cage with his wife, you improve his diet and you stop the training and leave them alone until breeding season is over which, if you keep him to a solar schedule, will happen on the summer solstice (June 21) and he will be his usual sweet self by the end of August or beginning of September (he will need a couple of months to get rid of all those hormones in his blood stream). But, remember, this only happens if you keep him to a solar schedule and expose him to dawn and dusk (it's the exposure to twilight that sets their internal clock), if you keep the long days, he will continue to produce sexual hormones.
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Batousaii (06-15-2010)
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Old 06-16-2010, 12:12 AM
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Re: HELP - Angry Male Cockatiel! need advice

~ TY Kindly Birdamor for a lot of food for thought, and SharonC for kind post. We have since returned Budy to the big cage with ChuChu, and training or people time will be limited and done in the same room when one or other asks for the attention. Our work days unfortunatly end late 3 days a week, though we intentionally remain quiet and lights stay off or low after birdie bed time. They have a night light to prevent night terrors and allows them to see if needed, it's soft. Budy knows the sound of the car, and the front door, and always wakes up and says "HeLLoo" when we come home. We always go over and say hello back, tell them we love them for a short minute, then cover the cages. The living room is big, and they are at one end, and we are around the corner in the computer area (at night). Again, we stay quiet and keep it dark after comming home or late at night to help them sleep. we quietly play a little WoW, surf the net then go to bed. The covers come off when we wake up, but the back is open and get's natural light, so, we will have to content with solar timing, or go to full covers (it's a big cage too -lol). We keep one computer on that playes soft tropical hawaiian music, gets tured off when we get home.... Any ideas or comments in this regard are apreciated.

~ I suppose i should specify regarding "snacks". They get alot of natural yummies, like green beans, spinich, fruits etc.They also love dry cerial, but we limit that to special treats. We have a big/chart of healthy (and bad or dangerous) foods that we posted on the fridge in the kitchen. I cant remember the name of the pellet style food, but ingredients mentioned alot of grain type foods, thats mostly what they get, currently mixed with about 1/3 seads, and slowly being weened to a full pelet style food. I will head the protien advice and read labels to ensure. We try to give them a healthy diet and as always good advice helps. millet spray is usually a "good bird" treat, but lately i try greenbeans instead, the both love them tons.

~ Anyways, thank you again for the great response, and we are going to try your advice Birdamor and see how things go. We are both patient and know the change will be slow, but hopefully the end result will be a set of happy birdies that enjoy both our companies. We just want to be a happy flock.

TY Kindly,

Bat
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Old 06-16-2010, 08:24 AM
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Re: HELP - Angry Male Cockatiel! need advice

A word of caution about pellets and tiels, there is evidence that tiels do not do well on pellets, there is too much vitamin A in them (you can pm me and I can send you the link). I don't feed pellets to any of my birds except as a temporary therapeutic tool for a depleted bird. I don't like pellets. I don't like the fact that they are processed food (parrots were created to eat raw plant material), that they are dry (parrots never eat anything dry in nature), that they provide calcium on a daily basis (it impairs their natural ability to move calcium in and out of bones), that the greatest majority of them have soy (nature did not mean for soy to be eaten, it's poisonous in its natural state aside from the fact that it affects the thyroid and sexual glands) and, most of all, that they have all those man-made vitamins in it (lots and lots of studies that show that man-made vitamins are not metabolized same as natural vitamins found in fresh food).

Tiels are partial ground foragers and granivores so, in my personal opinion and experience (I have several tiels over 15, including one that is severely handicapped) a small portion of a good quality seed mix (with more cereals than oil seeds) and fresh produce is much, much, much healthier than pellets.
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:10 PM
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Re: HELP - Angry Male Cockatiel! need advice

To all who advised Batousaii. Twas helpful for me with Nina vs Simon behavior. Nice to have joined...
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