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Old 06-26-2014, 08:59 AM
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Unhappy Green Cheek Conure Aggression

Hello all! Here's another GCC owner question. I have had my boy Rowan since mid March and have been working with him every day to try and have him be less aggressive. He was hand-raised in a calm environment and the couple that raised him told me that although they felt that I was "the one" for him, he would push me around. He was hatched sometime in December, so he's quite young. He is out of his cage every day always over a half hour unless he has a tantrum. He will sit with me relatively quiet while I'm on the computer or working on illustrations and let me pet him no problem most of the time.

These days, now that he has some flight feathers coming back in, his aggression has gone back to square one and I'm not sure what to go. He will continue biting you even if you act as if the biting isn't a big deal. He ignores his favorite treats to go after arms and hands. He has always been afraid of anything to perch on outside of his cage, which is hard when trying the "step up" training, although we have been working on that. He bites everyone that tries to put their hand near him, even if done extremely slowly. It also has been tough trying to get him out of his cage these days. Once I do, he will cling to me and not let go willingly, so it is hard for me to put him back in his cage for a break. Most of the time, he will not come out off of his cage's side perch for minutes when I try to have him step-up, even with treats.

I'm not sure what to do, as my family is getting frustrated as am I. We love him, but he is not very nice and leaves bruises. My mom loves him the most besides me, and she has MS, so its hard to have her have extra pain. Rowan has left me shaking and crying many times, no matter how calm I am dealing with him. Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 06-26-2014, 09:10 AM
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Re: Green Cheek Conure Aggression

Conures are very needy and demanding, even the fairly mild mannered GCCs. Do you do anything with Rowan beside letting him sit on you while you do other things? And only for a 1/2 hour?

If that's all the attention he's getting, he's going to be a bit nutty. He's probably biting and being a pest because bad attention is better than no attention.

Have you tried singing with him, or playing with toys (mine likes wooden chopsticks, plastic balls, etc.) ? Do you try any training, like doing tricks or recall training to teach him to come to you? Conures like activity, so play time is super important to them. Even 10-15 minutes of real focused playtime and he'll be a lot more interested in snuggling than nipping.

Sounds like Rowan is bored teenager. You need to get him engaged and occupied!
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Old 06-26-2014, 10:40 AM
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Re: Green Cheek Conure Aggression

Yes, we do things all the time. While working, we usually work on tricks when I'm taking a break, singing, and dancing. So far he knows how to say his name and "hello", to dance on command to music, and kissing with noise. He's afraid of a lot of things (potatoes apparently being one of them? I dunno), so he usually plays with things such as a ball or ribbon under supervision. 30 minutes is the minimum with him if he is in a terrible mood. Most of the time, he is with me for 2-4 hours. However, he does indeed seem to like negative attention, as when he is out, he will attack my pen and then bite when I try to move it, my keys, my fingers, etc.

Here is a video of the two of us fooling around a bit. Sadly I noticed I made the mistake of pulling away when he was trying to bite my camera.

Last edited by Celloco; 06-26-2014 at 10:44 AM. Reason: added video
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Old 06-26-2014, 11:28 AM
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Re: Green Cheek Conure Aggression

I'm never sure why people say you should take a bite and pretend like it never happened. Ever. Do you ever see a parrot in the wild take a chomp from another parrot, act all tough, and then magically become the "dominant" one? I'm afraid not. Birds will get pleasure out of the sounds you make if they do bite you, no doubt. If your bird is a big, headstrong guy that is trying to scare you with his big beak, I could see why you would want to hold strong and show them you aren't afraid. But with conures, it's more like you're not reading his body language.

For one, he's playing with a pen and you just tried to take away his toy. He's ALREADY feeling playing, you take it away when he's having fun, no doubt he's going to chomp you. Perhaps the next time he starts playing with something you don't want him to, distract him with a favorite toy he can play with and then remove the object.

Conures are pair bond and social creatures. They thrive on attention and love, and I find they only lash out when you're pushing their boundaries or not paying attention. Avery only bites me when I'm not really paying attention to her body language or thinking realistically about the situation. He also sounds very fearful, with breeds biting birds. I highly recommend you introduce him to new things slowly and reward him for it. That potato can become an excellent training exercise to build trust between you and him, and him and his environment at home. I feel like you're expecting him to be super cuddly without respecting his desires to be touched or not, and that often results in our own emotional distress. Start learning his body language - every time he bites you, reflect on why he did that, look for particular things that could've set him off. Then learn from that and don't do behaviours that result in biting unless necessary. Keep a journal, even, to help you recall and reflect. It honestly does help you learn your bird more.
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Old 06-26-2014, 12:04 PM
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Re: Green Cheek Conure Aggression

I watched the video (with the sound off, so I might be missing something) but his body language looks frightened, not playful. He looks like he's in hyper vigilant mode. Is there anything you can think of in the household that could be keeping him on edge; a very predatory cat, another bird, big windows where he could see or hear predators?

I'll try to take a video tonight of Phlox when we listen to music. You'll see she's a lot more relaxed, less jerky movements and feathers held so tight against her body.

He looks like Phlox did last night when there was a crash in the other room (my daughter knocked some toys over). For a minute or two she was all tense, but then settled back down.

Remember, conures are very empathetic, so if you are nervous, she'll be nervous too, wondering when the "bad thing" is coming.
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Old 06-27-2014, 07:59 AM
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Re: Green Cheek Conure Aggression

WHen we got our GCC as a baby we sort of rushed things along. Expected way too much from the start. My daughter really was expecting that cuddly little loving creature all the time. I've found that our bird isnt all cuddles and love. Sometimes I'll just let him crawl around on me and he';s fine with it. If I try to force the cuddles and love he gets frustrated. He;s very opinionated.

Body language was a tough one to learn. THere are times when I think I'm raising a monster, but we have an understanding now. I wish I understood more of the birds before I got this one, it would have saved me on the frustration that you are going through now. My GCC goes through stages and it's all about timing, playtime, patience and love.

Be consistent. He';s young.
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Old 06-28-2014, 03:56 PM
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Re: Green Cheek Conure Aggression

Thank you all for the many replies! I'm not sure what he would be anxious about, because I live in quite the quiet household. Although I'm usually awake until about 12 AM, Rowan sleeps at around 9 PM, so he also gets plenty of sleep. The bouncing thing is actually a trick learned by mimic. I was dancing in the room that he was in once, and he started to bob his head. Now whenever I have music on or say "dance Roro dance", Rowan will bob his head. As for body language, I can pick up the normal things such as when he stops what he is doing and lowers himself when something such as a hand or object is. I believe he was nervous because of the dogs barking in the background. We had an incident when I was recovering from surgery and sleeping where his cage was not shut properly and one of the dogs tried to attack him. So, he's pretty nervous when he hears them and I dont blame him.

Today I have been trying to have him step up when he gets anxious. It seems to calm him down a bit, and I'm hoping that he'll be less nippy because of it. However, just sitting on my finger with me unmoving, he will bite it, even if I attempt distract him with a treat or toy.
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