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Old 04-08-2008, 07:13 AM
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help with a few conure habits?

I am newly married. My dh has had a sun conure for about 3-4 years, his previous wife died of cancer and the bird was quite attached to her. Now he's attached to me. He ADORES me. I have always wanted a bird like this, so, I am fine with his attachment! We've only been in the same home for a few days now and I've read "Parrots for Dummies", but thought I'd seek help for a few habits...

1. It's busy here with children getting out the door for school and then in the afternoon when they all return (several children). I feel it is safest for Starburst to stay in the cage at this time, with the doors opening so much at those times. But, he gets to screaming at these times, like he wants to get involved in all the activity. I read it is mean to cover them to quiet them a little... but that works and it's only for a few minutes... Should I do something different??

2. Starburst wants to be on my shoulder for hours. I dont mind too much, but some parts of the days I need to clean bathrooms, etc. and want him to stay on or in his cage. Should I just adjust to his desire to be with me so long as it is safe? He's not mean to others in the family... he'll get on their shoulder, but only as a step to get closer to me!

3. The biggee for me is that he chews holes along the shoulders of my shirts. I really don't want to have to keep changing shirts or have new ones ruined. For now I have my couple of "bird shirts". I read that I should ignore bad behavior, but he just keeps chewing up the shirts. Any ideas?

I feel totally blessed to have Starburst in my life... he is so loving - rubs his beak along my cheek and snuggles up to my neck and hair... but I want to love him long term and deal with these things...

Thanks,
B
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:50 AM
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Re: help with a few conure habits?



Hamlet heard that there was another sunny somewhere around here and she wanted to come in and say HI!

All of those things sound completely normal ... most sunnys are complete cuddlebugs ... I have met only one or two who were more independent ...

Ham has also started chewing on clothing ... I have been trying to redirect her when she starts doing that ...

Are Starburst's wings clipped? I think that you are pursuing the safest (and most common sense) approach when you have the doors opening and closing ... the safest place for the little fellow at that time is safely in his cage ... as for the screaming, if it isn't causing any issues let him yell ... all suns need a chance to scream and if Starburst is using this time to yell and he isn't yelling a lot at other times of the day ... eh, let him scream ...

I have more information, but I also have to get to work ... post more later.


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Old 04-08-2008, 05:55 PM
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Re: help with a few conure habits?

Welcome to the forum. First off let me tell you how lucky you are. Given that Starburst bonded to someone else then took to you so well is something to be quite happy about.

as far as the questions:

1. I agree with Tex in that there's nothing wrong with a parrot having their couple of screaming-times per day. However I also don't see anything wrong with covering him. In contrast to what you read I would not say it is mean at all. He screams cause he wants something he cant have. If he's covered and not screaming he's clearly not that agitated. If you continue to cover him during these times I would encourage you to ensure that you cover him BEFORE any of the activity gets going - preemptive prevention - as opposed to RESPONDING to his screaming by covering him.

Other than accepting this as a screaming time, or covering him during this time, I cant think of any way to reduce this screaming. Birds are very social, and this is a social behavior. You can train many things, but you cant train a bird not to be a bird.

2. "Should I just adjust to his desire to be with me" - As phrased I'd say certainly not. But there's nothing wrong with compromise. The reason I comment on the phrasing is that if you set a rule or give a command you MUST enforce it. Do not let him control the relationship or it will cause problems. That being said there is nothing saying that you cant choose to take him with you around the house. Note though that most (if not all) household cleaners have vapors that are VERY dangerous to birds. Just to be clear let me say that again: Household cleaning vapors are deadly for birds. Dusting, vacuuming, and dishwashing may not be such an issue, but nearly anything used to clean a bathroom could be a big concern. Check out your cleaning supplies and feel free to ask here which one's are bird safe or dangerous.

If you want to encourage more "independence" in him (ie playing by himself on his playstand) there are ways to do that. I can post that later if you'd like.

3. You got me on this one. I don't have any shirts without holes. However I've never attempted to manage his shirt chewing behavior. Generally many "for dummies" books recommend just ignoring bad behaviors. There is good reason for this as MOST people's reactions to 'bad' behaviors are quite counter-productive and make things worse. Unfortunately just ignoring it rarely makes it better, so the advice is only to prevent beginners from making things worse.

In general the least problematic way of eliminating an inappropriate behavior is to encourage (reward) an incompatible behavior. For example the first idea I'd have in managing 'shirt chewing' is to give him something else to chew while on your shoulder. A shoelace, a leather strap, something of that sort. Praise and reward him when he chews on the chew toy, and every time he goes for the shirt take the toy away and put him down (in his cage, or on a perch) for a minute or two. This is essentially a time out - what people miss about time-outs is they need not be long ONE or TWO minutes tops, they DO however have to be immediate. He goes for your shirt you IMMEDIATELY put him down and walk away.

Last edited by Auggie's Dad; 04-08-2008 at 06:04 PM.
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Old 04-08-2008, 06:00 PM
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Re: help with a few conure habits?

Note: my ideas for an appropriate chew toy were off the top of my head, some may have concerns on the safety of shoelaces and leather straps as chew toys. I am not implying these are appropriate, I was focusing on the training method. Others here may have better advice on what would be an appropriate toy for such use.
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Old 04-14-2008, 11:58 AM
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Thanks for the messages! m

I really enjoyed the resonses... my first basic lesson with Starburst is (drum roll, please) Patience!!

Okay, tolerance, too. I am very glad that Starburst doesn't scream all the time, so I am okay with his couple of daily squaks. He seems to be getting used to my daily routine and is doing better spending some time inside the cage without having to be with me and he has been friendly with other family members.

I am a little hesitant starting some training with "step up" because we are going to be quite busy remodeling and having out of town guests for our marriage reception this summer... should I wait and just keep up the social relationship with him and then when life settles down a bit, train when I can be consistent, or is it worth it to try a little here and there?

He gets on our shoulders, but doesn't like our hands... how would we go about holding him to clip wings? I have a feeling if we try to hold him and spread those wings, he's going to chomp away at us and I don't want to become afraid of bites - right now I am confident and he is not biting... should we towel him?

Thanks!
Betty
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Old 04-14-2008, 03:18 PM
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Re: help with a few conure habits?

First I'd recommend 'step up' training when you can. Its a handy simple routine that doesn't take much time nor will it be damaged by a break in schedule. In fact it should just be an occasional activity - you don't want him to think the step up command only means something during "training time".

Since you may be rightly concerned about getting chomped on you could start with stick training - just doing step ups on sticks/dowels (I use the handle of a wooden kitchen spoon as a perch when Auggie gets nippy).

For wing trims you can have a vet or groomer do that, or if you want to do it yourself there are a few options. First have a vet or well experienced groomer show you how to do it well. Restraining a parrot is truly an art that these experts have mastered and should happily teach you.

As for the need of a towel there is nothing wrong with that. Lately Auggie's been on some medication; I have to towel him to give him the meds. Wing trims should not need to be repeated so often as to be a concern.

That said it is possible to teach a bird to display a wing for trimming. I have taught Auggie a command "wing" for which he will lift up and stretch out the wing I'm pointing to. I don't trim him, and if I did it may damage the training - "I do what he asks and he chops my feathers off, Im not doing that again!"

Anywhoo, keep us posted on starburst.
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Old 02-27-2012, 06:42 PM
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Re: help with a few conure habits?

i just made an account so idk how 2 work this website ().anyway i hav 2 baby sun conures (elvis and prissy) they follow me around a lot .A bird expert told me tht wen i spend too much time with them then thts wen they get TOO attached.but its not bad or good ,wen it starts 2 bother u or distract u then thts wen i put them in the cage and cover the cage (it mite squak though).bonding is wat it is called,if ur other family members cant go near it without it biting or screeching then let them bond with the bird.thts how i got my bird 2 be very cooapretive.my birds cant speak yet though.but i know wen they need something.your reletaves shouldnt be afraid of wat pet u hav or how the pet acts, i know mine is even though i trained it.there r some perches where it trims nails and (i think) softens beaks.i will give both the birds treats if they start to bond with others they dont like. tell me if u hav any other tips or questions.ty
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Old 02-28-2012, 02:55 AM
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Re: help with a few conure habits?

The post you're replying to is 4 years old... but... Welcome to the forum...
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