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Old 04-19-2009, 08:53 PM
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New Sun Conure

Hello all,

I am new to the forum and new to owning birds. I have handled many birds as I work at a Pet Shop that cares very well for their birds. I am part of why the birds are cared for so well.

I have never personally owned a bird so this is my first one. I was given the opportunity to give him a new home so I took up the offer and picked him up today.

He is a 16 months old and is quite the character. Beautiful coloration although some of his tail feathers fell off. I am going to name him TT for Trinidad and Tabago which is where I fell in love with parrots.

However I do have a couple questions-

What can I do to help him with his transition and make it as smooth as possible?

How much should he be handled in the first couple days?

He does not like to be taken off of shoulders, he tends to bite at the fingers when you try to do that. How do I break this?

I am glad to be on the forum and hope to learn a lot!

Thanks,

Matt
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Old 04-19-2009, 10:13 PM
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Re: New Sun Conure

Here are some pictures of him! I am not liking TT so I think I will call him Mr. T!





Matt
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Old 04-20-2009, 08:49 AM
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Re: New Sun Conure

Welcome to the forums Matt, the pictures are awesome.

How much should he be handled? I'd say leave that up to him. If you can be in the same room with his cage door open he can choose if he wants to be with you or in his cage. It is possible, but highly uncommon, for parrots to get too much interaction. When I have a holiday or long weekend at home spent with Auggie he can get cranky and I need to give him his alone time in his cage, but that is only when I've spent 12 hours or more per day with him. Usually our parrots want much more interaction than we are capable of realistically providing. In other words give him plenty of chances to interact with you, but also let him choose if he wants to or not.

Auggie also bites when I try to get him off my shoulder. I suspect there are a couple of reasons for this: one, while they like the shoulder it is not all that stable of a perch so they are already jumpy if you are moving around; two, when you bring your hand up to your shoulder it is quite difficult to coordinate smooth hand movements, and that's if you can even see where TT is at all. So combine an unstable unpredictable perch with a blindly flailing hand coming at them to dislodge them from their barely adequate perch... it's no surprise to me that they bite.

I don't know if there is a good way to prevent this other than teaching that he is not allowed on your shoulder. When I first had Auggie I loved having him on my shoulder - there are few things more relaxing than when a conure is gently nibbling on your ears. But then there are also few things more painful than when a conure decides to take a chunk of flesh out of your face or neck. For whatever reason the former became less and less common and the latter more and more common. I quit allowing Auggie on my shoulder as (as corny as it sounds) it was ruining our relationship. He has now learned quite well that shoulders are off limits. On occasion if he gets spooked by something his first reaction is to fly to my shoulder which is fine - actually pretty handy, if anything actually dangerous happens I know he'll be out of harms way. Once he's there however I walk him back to his cage and bend over to 'dump' him off my shoulder.

In my opinion being a successful conure owner is less about teaching them to not bite in certain scenarios and more about learning what scenarios lead to biting and making sure those scenarios are not allowed.

That may sound a bit pessimistic, but I went through a phase of struggling with the idea of getting rid of Auggie because of his biting (Probably the most emotionally painful and miserable experience of my life, which I've heard is not uncommon for conure owners to face) to being completely bite free for months at a time. He did take a piece out of my finger a few weeks ago, but I was watching an action movie... Auggie hates noise and violence on TV; he bit me when a barrage of machine gun fire went off. Perhaps he was spooked, perhaps he wants me to make better choices in movie selection. Either way all our problems were solved by knowing what situations to avoid. In my opinion a conure on a shoulder is one of those situations.

I have no doubt that others here may disagree with my view on that, and they may be quite right that he can be taught to stay nicely on your shoulder. If that is your goal I wish you luck and truly hope it works. But if you ever get too frustrated or angry in trying to teach this then realize there is a very simple and successful solution: don't let him up there in the first place.
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Old 04-20-2009, 09:39 AM
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Re: New Sun Conure

Hey Matt, I am going to put a little more information in here later, but I will say this for now ~ please, everyone, don't forget that right now is "hormonal season" for our birds ... and, though counres are the lest affected by hormones, it can still play into their behavior issues through early summer.

My sun conure, Hamlet, is about as needy as they come (mostly my doing ~ gahhk, dumb human) and I do allow her on my shoulder, and I don't see it as an issue as in 3 years she hasn't taken any flesh out of my face or ears (but this is a personal decision; and, I am in no way trying to contridict what AD said in his post).

As to what might be causing the biting when you are trying to get off the shoulder ... I have two other theories to throw into the mix with AD's thoughts ... 1. He just doesn't want to be taken off your shoulder. He likes it there, wants to be there and has a mind of his own that says he should be able to stay there (liken this to taking away a 3 year-old's favorite toy ... IT'S MINE and I am going to scream until I get it back) and he bites because he thinks that this is going to stop you from removing him from his favorite pearch ~ you! (BTW, this is not an OK behavior) 2. It is quite possible that you are scaring him when your hand comes "out of no where" and goes after him ~ the startle causes the biting reaction (this type of behavior is, however, at the very least, understandable and can't really be traind out).

How do you determine what type of behavior it is ... well, how I have addressed this with both of mine is that I give a vocal "step-up" before I start to put my finger's near them when they are on my shoulder (they are both very well traind and will step-up 98% of the time, unless they are just being stubborn) and they know that my hand is coming. Then, I will give another step up as I show my hand and that will usually eliminate the "startle bite" reaction ... which just then leads to them not stepping up because they are being stubborn and, when this happens, they get dumped just like AD described in his post.

So there are some ideas, think about them but think about them from WHAT YOU DO point of view ... remember that training parrots is more about training the HUMAN than it really is about the parrot.

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