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Old 09-08-2011, 02:38 PM
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Shouldering a GCC... Biting my neck! Eeek!

Hi! I need some help re. my GCC nipping at my neck...

My bird doesn't usually nip at me, unless I am doing something he really doesn't want me to do (like, say, holding his feet). I was told not to shoulder a bird because you can't read their cues, so I purposefully haven't been doing it.

However, my 5 mo. old male GCC won't take no for an answer. He constantly wants to be ON me. Much of the time it is fine (except that his nails are really uncomfortable on my skin... kind of hurts and my skin gets red). But sometimes he gets to picking at my hair and then goes after my neck!

It's really hard to not react to a neck bite!

Any advice on how to keep them from getting on your shoulder in the first place? Or keep them from biting/nipping?

At this point, I'm hoping it will get cold soon and then I'll just wear turtlenecks... But I'd love a viable method of training him to knock it off.
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Old 09-09-2011, 04:20 PM
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Re: Shouldering a GCC... Biting my neck! Eeek!

I may not have any great advice for you but I'm interested in people's solutions to this. I've heard of not shouldering large birds because if they are higher than your eye level they feel in charge and also because, like you said you can't read a bird on your shoulder and that can lead to a serious injury on your face if it's a larger bird, but I always wondered if its the same for smaller parrots, since they aren't exactly tall enough to be above your eye level.
anyway with that said, the only way I've read of correcting bites is to 'ladder' the bird, i think it's called. I read it in an article by a parrot behaviourist by the name of liz Wilson. Basically what you do when your bird bites or nips at you is you ask the bird to step up onto your finger then onto another finger using both your hands so that the bird's just stepping up onto a finger and the another and then another, like he's walking up stairs i guess. This reminds the bird that your in charge and sort of redirects his energy from biting you to stepping up for you. And its completely non violent/ aggressive. She also mentioned making a very OUCH face before you do this to let the bird know you did not like being bit. Birds won't enjoy making u unhappy unless they get something out of it (like screaming at your bird for doing something like this wont work coz birds are vocal animals and if they can do something to make u vocalize with them then theyll get a kick out of it and learn that biting gets their person to make loud noises at them!) so basically give your bird the stink eye then calmly remind him who's boss. Again i don't know if you've heard of this (try Googleing Liz Wilsons articles if you'd like to read it for yourself, sorry I can't provide a link for you ) & i don't know how useful this advice will be if you can't get him to stay off your shoulder in the first place but it's worth a try lol.
Good luck!
-Mel
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Old 09-09-2011, 06:21 PM
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Re: Shouldering a GCC... Biting my neck! Eeek!

I will tell you what has worked for me and my GCC but what worked for me may not work for you so hopefully you will get lots of suggestions!

The shoulder being a dominant position is sort of a myth as parrots don't really live in hierarchical societies (ie there's no alpha male) so the dominance thing doesn't really jive with their psychology. What my vet said is that being on a shoulder makes them difficult to control (so if for some reason you need to quickly access your parrot, or as you're experiencing they are biting at things they shouldn't) so its not as safe. For us, since our parrot is having hormonal issues, it puts him into direct connection to our head which is like the "parrot" to him and therefore can exacerbate them (mated parrots snuggle each other and we don't want to encourage that with ours).

How we stop Charlie is to put our hands in the way as he scoots up our arm. That way he is blocked or will just step up onto our hand and we take him off. We tell him "no" firmly (and sometimes he mutters "no no no no" into our hand as he tries to force his way up) and he knows what it means even if he sometimes ignores it! Regardless, his mission in life (besides eating as many almonds as possible) is to be on our shoulder so we are always trying to enforce this behavior. Sometimes if he gets up there and I'm wearing a sweater, I will just take the sweater off (being careful not to hurt him) so that he comes off with it. Too many shoulder attempts means he gets put on the ground.

you can also try wearing short/no sleeve shirts so that they have nothing to climb. You can hold her arm at a sort of 90 degree angle and a bit away from your body so that they can't climb anything. That was how we started. We also have him stick trained so that if he climbs up, we put a stick near our hand and he knows that if he touches it with his beak, he gets an almond so he climbs down to get his treat thus reinforcing positive behavior. You can just use a treat if they are not touch trained and they will climb down to get it.

Hope that gives you some help and some starting points. They are determined little guys for sure!
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Old 09-09-2011, 08:54 PM
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Re: Shouldering a GCC... Biting my neck! Eeek!

When they head up your arm to go to the shoulder pick them up with your other hand.
Have them step up onto your opposite hand from the shoulder that they are trying to climb onto.
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Old 09-09-2011, 11:32 PM
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Re: Shouldering a GCC... Biting my neck! Eeek!

Some birds are just not ok with certain positions. It's usually caused from how they were acclimated when hand-fed (or treated as adults), and it can be really difficult to reverse once they are older. My GCC is not allowed on my shoulder unless I have sleeves, I'm well aware that he will go after my shoulders no matter what I do. Trying to get him to step up, distract him, or anything else will only cause him to bite more and ends up with us in a feud. It's just not worth it in my opinion.

The shoulder is indeed a dominant position as someone else suggested (I read that wrong, they said it was a myth. I tend to disagree). You have to realize that they see they are ABOVE the majority of your body. Your hands (the things they are most used to) are now well below them, and they feel in charge. Your bird is exploiting this and taking advantage. Don't allow the bird to be on your shoulder until YOU are in control. When the bird is clearly being well behaved and allowing pets and such on your hand, you can move up to the shoulder. It should be a mutual agreement, not a matter of where he wants to be or else he'll bite lol.
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Old 09-10-2011, 01:50 AM
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Re: Shouldering a GCC... Biting my neck! Eeek!

I learned pretty quickly that I needed to be careful letting Puck on my shoulder (or head)! If he's feeling bitey it can be difficult to remove him without getting myself bitten! Now that we're more acclimated to each other, I get a feel of when it's okay for him to go on my shoulder. I didn't let him on it at all for a few weeks after I learned how bitey he got. Maybe you just shouldn't let him on your shoulder for a while.

Rod V on Bird Planet suggests only letting them on your shoulder if PUT them there, but not letting them climb up themselves... For a bird with dominance issues, this seems to be a good idea to me.

Also, if his nails are painful for you, it might be time to get them trimmed! Puck's nails can get pokey. When I first got him, his nails were RAZOR sharp and would make me bleed!
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Old 09-10-2011, 02:43 PM
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Re: Shouldering a GCC... Biting my neck! Eeek!

Quote: Originally Posted by Remy View Post
Rod V on Bird Planet suggests only letting them on your shoulder if PUT them there, but not letting them climb up themselves... For a bird with dominance issues, this seems to be a good idea to me.
Exactly. The shoulder should be a treat, something fun you both enjoy. It's not meant to be a demand by the bird. One of the biggest problems people have is biting and getting control over "step off" from the shoulder. It's even worse when you have long hair, because many times the bird will find you hair is a nice "nesting material". Then they become more aggressive and territorial.
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Old 09-10-2011, 05:39 PM
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Re: Shouldering a GCC... Biting my neck! Eeek!

I would say just like you can clicker train a bird (click=treat) you can also train them "no"=end of fun)In this case a neck nibble would earn a "no" and being scooped off and put back in the cage for a time out. A few minutes later try again. Staying on the hand/arm gets scritches in his favorite spot and maybe a treat or two. if he starts for the shoulder repeat the time out. As many times as it takes!
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Old 09-10-2011, 10:49 PM
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Re: Shouldering a GCC... Biting my neck! Eeek!

Quote: Originally Posted by emilye2 View Post
I would say just like you can clicker train a bird (click=treat) you can also train them "no"=end of fun)In this case a neck nibble would earn a "no" and being scooped off and put back in the cage for a time out. A few minutes later try again. Staying on the hand/arm gets scritches in his favorite spot and maybe a treat or two. if he starts for the shoulder repeat the time out. As many times as it takes!
A lot of people don't suggest the "no" time out for birds. Often birds bite because they want you to leave them alone, so many times when you put a bird back in their cage, it's what they wanted the entire time. It does work for some instances, but mostly it teaches the bird that they can get back in their cage by biting and creates a worse habit.
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