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Old 12-16-2012, 05:17 PM
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Unhappy Shocking new behaviour - puberty?

I shouldn't be shocked because I've read about it... but it's different when it actually happens in front of you...

Prim was born early October 2011, the past two months she has been on a downward slope. She went from /never/ biting, to occasional moody nips, to now lunging at faces and hands. And the worst part is sometimes it comes completely out of the blue! Today she attacked my face and drew blood... this is the first time she's broken the skin. I wish I could say I reacted with composure but she bit the bridge of my nose and I literally screamed and flung my arms around. I calmed down enough to get her back into the cage before crying out of heart break.

I have tried several methods and I feel like I need to find the right combination but nothing has worked so far... First of all I try not to react when I get bitten, I usually don't, however, my fiancée has a lot of trouble in that area so she usually gets a reaction out of him. Second method was to remain calm and put her back in the cage gently. Well from this she learned to attach to my clothes and bite me harder so she gets 5 seconds more out of the cage (then she sits in her hut and makes pissed off PUFF noises). I try to reward her when she goes into the cage by giving her her favourite treat but she just takes it then attempts to bite me.

She bites even harder now but I decided to let her go on her biting rampage on my hand without reacting. Well a minute went by and she was still attacking viciously. I tried to get her to step onto my other arm so I could move her away but she just runs to that hand and bites. So I grasped her gently with one hand and held her head away from my hand and gave her the "stink eye" to which she looked VERY frightened. Immediately after she snuggled me like crazy as if in apology. She then decided to go to Joel and started biting his acne so I took her back to me, she ran up my arm, lunged at my face and bit me on the nose! Back into the cage she went where she made even more angry puff noises... She went into her hut and grabbed a piece of felt in her beak and closed her eyes... I covered over half of the cage so she can have some privacy...

It seems like her biting is usually a result of a "no". If she can't do what she wants she bites. I don't reward her for this behaviour, I don't give her what she wants but she continues to try it and it gets worse and worse... When she attacks now it's totally single-mindedly and sometimes it seems like she just won't stop. I should also mention sometimes she acts like "hands" are threatening, probably because they have to do with putting her into the cage. So if I move my hand suddenly or try to move her with it she may decide to attack it.

I have also tried leaving her in her cage for a few days without paying attention to her. When I let her out she's usually friendly then bites after a few minutes...

Is this just a "phase"? Will this pass? What am I doing wrong? What else can I try? She eats normally, drinks plenty, gets regular baths and I try to give her lots of time out. She and my cockatiel share a cage in the main living area as well.

There are only a couple of vets in my province, the closest being 5 hours away if they are even "certified". I am going in that direction on boxing day so if there is a vet there I would like to have her checked up...

This is really heart breaking. She has been an extremely affectionate bird. She used to be very calm and snuggly, then playful, and now just vicious half the time or more.

Help!

Last edited by everdusk; 12-16-2012 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 12-16-2012, 05:28 PM
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Re: Shocking new behaviour - puberty?

The best thing for you to do is to remove that happy hut! A lot of people suggest in cutting back on the day light hours so they wouldn't be so hormonal. Plus they suggest about where not to pet them and such. BUT I deal with it differently. I leave them in their cage until the hormone passes. When Malachai went through it not long ago, he was absolutely vicious and it really shocked me. We allowed him to grow back his flight feathers, I opened his door, he jumped out and bit me on my finger multiple times in different areas and draw blood then flew to my partner and did the same thing. He was uncontrollable along with Willie, he gets really mean too, he never bites me while I'm holding him, when his hormone hits, he will! And a macaw's bite is nothing you just ignore cause they peel your skin like banana peel. So I let them be and talk to them outside their cage until their hormone stage passes.
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Old 12-16-2012, 05:35 PM
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Re: Shocking new behaviour - puberty?

Thanks MikeyTN. I just removed her hut. We'll see if that helps at all. I was considering it as part of the problem. I am also wondering if I should clip her wings? Because what you described is basically what happens to us. If she bites me and I go to move her she flies to Joel and bites him or vice versa. She gets to fly around when she's out and go wherever she likes and I'm not sure if that's enabling her to feel superior?

I am going to try to reduce her daylight hours but as it is here it's dark at 4pm, but the house lights are on (dimly). I might get a blanket to cover her and move her to a more quiet place at night so we don't bother her if we stay up late watching television.
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Old 12-17-2012, 02:18 AM
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Re: Shocking new behaviour - puberty?

I teach my birds to be 'gentle', they know the word and stop their pressure immediately. .. This is for the young ones...

I have quite a few older rescues, birds that I took in, because they were biters! They never bit me and still haven't...

When did you get Prim? How old was he?
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Old 12-20-2012, 05:23 AM
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Re: Shocking new behaviour - puberty?

I got prim last year in November, she is 14 months old.

I am really feeling hopeless right now guys... She is getting more and more vicious every day she is in that cage. I ignored her for a day, but she would lunge at the cage bars as I walked by. So I tried for a couple days just going over and talking but she would puff up and make angry noises. Every time I try to change their food or water she lunges when I open, she attacks my hand as I'm moving dishes, etc.

I am thinking this may have something to do with Pip, the cockatiel she lives with. I feel like she is acting territorial and displaying nesting behaviour. She has been exceptionally snuggly to him the last couple months when this began, often to his annoyance.

I didn't want to separate them but I cannot feed them, my trust is totally shattered, and I don't know what else to do. I tried to take her out this morning and she immediately ran up my arm and lunged at my face. If I attempt to block her with my hand and keep her low she gets agitated and bites whatever she can reach... When I look her in the eye it's like the little bird I had two months ago is totally gone, replaced by this vicious, angry bird. I can't stand to cry over this every time I try to work with her...

I clipped her wings so in the future she can have "out" time but she will be unable to go wherever she pleases, and in order to get all unpleasantness over I also clipped her talons. She's totally upset with me right now for good reason...
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Old 12-20-2012, 05:25 AM
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Re: Shocking new behaviour - puberty?

One more note: Stink eye is a HUGE no. If she gets the stink eye she turns psychotic and will draw blood, it's almost like I'm saying "I dare you" instead of "no".
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:32 AM
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Re: Shocking new behaviour - puberty?

She lives with a cockatiel in her cage? That's your problem right there she is protecting her mate.
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Old 12-20-2012, 11:31 AM
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Re: Shocking new behaviour - puberty?

I had a female cockatiel named Piper and when she was hormonal, she was a little terror. Usually in the spring when her hormone behavior started, I immediately cut down her daylight hours. She would be covered from 12-14 hours a day. The first few years when she was hormonal, she attacked me too to where she drew blood. I finally ended up taking her to the vet and they administered lupron injections. They did do a complete avian exam before I authorized the vet to give her the drug. It took 2 injections one season and the following three seasons, I was down to one injection, then I got to the point where I recognized her behavior where I caught it before injections were needed. As soon as she was through with her nesting phases, she was the sweet little social bird that loved to be loved..
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Old 12-20-2012, 01:00 PM
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Re: Shocking new behaviour - puberty?

Yes I think that could possibly be the issue. They've been living together for half a year though and the behaviour only started the last two months so I didn't connect it at first. Pip also doesn't seem to be bonding with her. He likes her to give him head scratches but he's totally fine now that she's out of the cage. He cried for days to go back to the other cockatiels that attacked him though.

Niner it does sound very similar... I have to drive 6-7 hours though to get to a vet, and an exam and bloodwork here would cost $300. I'm also not sure I want to treat her hormones with an injection... (Which would cost a lot I'm sure). Going to keep her in a smallish cage in the bedroom for the next few days. She's all ready seeming more relaxed although she does the occasional lash out when I put my hand near the cage. I'm also looking at getting a bigger cage if this has to be permanent.

What do you guys think? Should she see a vet? Her eating and drinking habits are fine, poop is fine, energy level is fine. Seems pretty clear this is hormonal.
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Old 12-20-2012, 04:08 PM
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Re: Shocking new behaviour - puberty?

I just learn to live with it and let them be until hormone is over....
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