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Old 02-02-2015, 10:35 AM
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Male conure 'heat'

I have a 4 yr old male conure in 'heat'

usually a sweet boy has become very aggressive, attacking primary care giver the person he's normally bonded too, taking chunks of skin out of lips, ears and fingers. he has a little more patience with me, but i also do not let him near my face and do not let him try to puke and redirect him with a hand clap (the sound startles him and stops him in the moment) if he tries to hump anything.

we have tried everything and are now leaving him in is cage (his wings are not clipped, we've never clipped) i guess waiting for the 'heat' to end.

he tries to puke for things, tries to make nests everywhere, and pretty much will hump anything but mostly has a foot/shoe/sock fetish.

this has been going on and escalating for about two months now and we are completely at wits end and are mostly ignoring (obviously his needs of clean bird house, fresh water, seed, fruits and veggies, proper light and dark cycles are met) but we do not pet or really can touch this once sweet baby bird any longer.
we used to be able to handle him, help preen his head and neck, and feel safe to have him out and with us, now we cannot.

I'm wondering what else i can do to help him get through this (no other birds are here in our house)
how long this lasts (is this forever?)
do I need to get him a mate? (they're gonna make babies i don't want then what?)
I'm not giving him up, or giving up on him, I need help with how we can comfortably coexist again.

Any and all advice is welcome.
Thank you in advance for your response,
Heather
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Old 02-02-2015, 12:33 PM
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Re: Male conure 'heat'

Looks like he's a late bloomer for hitting puberty. It's entirely normal for this to happen, and the behaviour will eventually stop. It's important that you don't simply lock him away in his cage, because he'll remember it and likely become aggressive for other reasons. When you're unable to interact with your hands, simply being vocal, target training, and using rope perches or other wooden perches to bring him out and about are best. I definitely do not suggest getting him a mate if you don't want them to breed. Avery just went through hormones and she was often untouchable for days on end, but I still opened up her cage and let her out and talked to her, sang, or trained using a target stick. Now she's back to her cuddly self and all is well again.
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Old 02-02-2015, 01:44 PM
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Re: Male conure 'heat'

This will be a long post because I am basically copying a section of an article I wrote recently. Please read all the way to the part where I discuss getting your bird a mate. Since it is not addressed in the article but you mention it, I will address right now the issue of clipping. I am pro-flight for many reasons such as health, safety, and the freedom to interact with the family on a voluntary level. However, if the fact that the bird is able to fly makes the home unsafe for the humans and leads to him being locked away then the ability to fly TAKES AWAY from his health, safety, and human interaction rather than adding to it. follow the suggestions below, but if you are still not able to allow your bird to be out of his cage safely and often then not clipping achieves the EXACT OPPOSITE of what most people want to accomplish by leaving the bird flighted.



WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR BIRD WANTS TO HAVE YOUR BABIES
-Recognize your bird’s natural breeding season and be prepared to take extra measures.

-Limit daylight hours. Be sure the bird has 100% DARK AND QUIET for at 12- 14 hours per day. You may need a second cage for sleeping to make this possible. Long days means spring means BABIES!
-Make sure the cage is in a bright place (no dim/nesty corners) Dim areas can stimulate breeding and nesting behaviors.
-Rearrange his cage and even the room he is in, or move him to a different room. Safe and steady environments are signal to him that this room is great for raising a family. You want him to feel safe, just not feel like everything is steady and safe enough for him to think “Hm, looks like a great neighborhood to raise a family…”
-Limit fatty foods. If you are feeding an all seed or seed/pellet mix, it is time to change that. Research sprouting for your bird, it is easy and cheap, super healthy, and an easy switch from seeds. Diets high in fat are great for raising babies and your bird knows it! Begin incorporating as many safe veggies as possible and a few safe fruits. See the article on transitioning your bird to a healthier diet. An added bonus is that the new and more interesting food may take some of his attention from the idea of nesting.
-No mushy or warm foods because that is what parrots feed their mates when they are getting ready for and raising chicks. That regurgitated goo he left on your shoulder? Warm and mushy food for his mate – you.
-ABSOLUTELY NO snuggle huts, tents, nest boxes, and no letting the bird get into tight places like shoes, etc, because those are all great places to raise babies! Also, despite what the sales person at the pet shop might have told you, no parrot needs these things to be happy. In fact, they are some of the most dangerous items commonly found in bird cages as they are often made out of fabric and the chewed strands are perfect for entangling toes and injuring or killing birds. Also, nesting parents have been known to eat rope and cloth toys and feed the fibers to their babies – not healthy.
-DO NOT allow your bird to snuggle under your hand AT ALL. Allow him ONLY to step up and get head/neck scritches. No shoulders as those can be snuggled against your will. Do NOT put your hand over the bird's back unless there is a true emergency. Every time you touch him, or even almost touch him on his back it can be sexually exciting for the bird.
-EVERY time your bird backs his (more likely her) butt up to you, tail in the air, tries to mount your hand, or does any other "nesty" things, immediately put the bird back in the cage. You need to send the signal that you are not interested in raising a family with him. Once the bird has calmed down, get him back out and distract him with a non-cuddling activity.
-Increase hands-off training. Just because your petting time with your bird decreases does not mean the amount of time out of the cage should be cut. Put all that birdy energy to use and spend some time teach your bird new behaviors and tricks which do not involve excess physical touch. Things like teaching the bird to wave, come when called, return to his or her cage on command, turn in a circle, etc are all fairly simply behaviors that can be taught and need not involve snuggles if the proper food treat is located. Learning new things helps keep your bird’s mind busy and gives you a non-sexual way to spend time together even at the height of hormone season.
-Limit food. Be sure your bird has enough to eat, but don't allow grazing. Feeding two "meals" a day and then removing the food is best here, because where there is an abundance of food, birds have enough food to feed babies. If you are going to do this, I highly suggest incorporating foraging toys into the bird’s life if you haven’t already. A foraging toy is anything that makes the bird work for his food, usually something that has been put inside the toy. Foraging is simply looking for food, and it is a natural behavior for birds, but is learned. If your bird has never foraged before start with something simple like switching the food and water dishes, then moving the dishes to new locations inside the cage, maybe even outside the cage! Work upward in difficulty but be sure your bird is getting enough to eat as he learns to work for his food.
-Make sure others in the home are handling the bird. It is tempting when a bird is misbehaving to simply put him in his cage and leave him there, or to have only the person who is least likely to get bitten handle the bird. However, neglecting the bird is cruel and irresponsible, and having only the favorite person handle the bird serves only to increase the mate bond the bird feels with them, thus encouraging hormonal behavior. Insist that the bird interact with other members of the family. This does not have to mean that other people put their fingers in harm’s way; interaction can be as simple as a third grader reading to the bird, a teenager doing homework while the bird is on a playstand nearby, or a spouse assisting in a training session by being the one to offer treats. Any positive interaction people other than the perceived mate can have with the bird is a step in the right direction.
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Old 02-02-2015, 01:45 PM
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Re: Male conure 'heat'

WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN YOUR BIRD WANTS TO HAVE BABIES
DON’T GET YOUR BIRD A MATE! While it can feel like this is the kindest thing to do, there are many things to consider before you bring a mate home for your hormonal bird.
-Most pet birds are hand raised and thus imprinted on humans. There is no guarantee that your bird will accept the new bird, even if the new bird accepts your original pet. This is especially true if the bird has already decided that you or another human member of the family is his mate; how do you expect him to react when you are suddenly “cheating on him” with another bird while his urge to raise a family is in overdrive? Then you will be left with not one, but likely two highly hormonal birds who do not want to be together. Do you have time to work with both birds, knowing that they may never be able to come into contact with each other safely?
-Some birds utterly reject their human family when provided with an avian mate. Your bird may very well love his new friend; and hate you. This does not happen in every case, but it is quite common and often devastating to the family who lost their beloved pet to another bird because the pet now wants nothing to do with the humans he used to enjoy interacting with. Are you willing to risk forfeiting the relationship you have with your bird by bringing another one into the house while your current pet is desperate for a willing lover?
-They might actually have babies. This may not seem so bad, but most homes are woefully unequipped to properly raise even one clutch of babies. When considering whether or not you should allow your bird to breed, please first ask yourself the following questions:

>How will I make sure I am not inbreeding my bird? Am I 100% sure that the bird I buy from the store is not related to my bird, even though most pet stores work with only one or a few breeders to supply their stock, and even though many breeders supply multiple stores?
>Does my bird have any traits that may be genetic defects? For example does my bird, or a known relative of my bird lay eggs often when no male is present?
>Do I have a firm grasp on what kind of mate I need to get for my bird? Do I know what color combinations can produce things like baldness, even if both parents are fully feathered?
>Has my bird been to an avian vet recently to insure he is healthy enough for breeding?
>Do I have thousands of dollars in savings for a potential trip to an avian veterinarian EVEN ONCE with a problem in the nest?
>Do I have a detailed understanding of the specific nutritional needs unique to my species, and furthermore the additional nutrients they require while laying and feeding?
>Can I afford even the most basic breeding and feeding equipment which can cost many times the price of the original bird?
>Do I know the developmental ramifications of hand feeding, co-parenting, or allowing the babies to be raised by the parents, and do I understand the pros, cons, costs and time commitments involved in each?
>Do I spend the majority of each day at home so that I can quickly react to problems in the nest, and so that I can hand feed babies in need even if hand feeding is not my first choice?
>Do I know the signs of distress, illness, dehydration, etc, which could make it necessary to pull a chick for hand feeding?
>Do I know how to hand feed a chick formula, including the importance of exact temperature in order to avoid burning a hole in the crop, or slowing digestion and causing crop stasis, both of which can be fatal?
>Do I fully understand the life-long consequences of clipping the wings of a young bird before it is a strong and confident flier able to expertly navigate?
>Am I prepared for a clutch of baby birds to learn to fly in my house, even though they will likely crash into things, poop all over, not come when I want them to, and in general act like young birds who just want to fly? Is my house a safe place for this, and do I have hours a day to supervise fledging babies?
>Do I understand the vital concept of abundance weaning and the devastating effects of force-weaning? Am I therefore prepared to allow baby birds to wean on their own schedule, even if the new owner is waiting impatiently and pressuring me to “hurry the baby along”?
>Do I have the knowledge and experience necessary to responsibly guide the owners of my new babies through challenges with their new birds that I sold them, including how to handle excessive hormones, biting, training, nutrition, etc?

AND HERE IS THE BIG ONE:
>Knowing that parrot sanctuaries, craigslist, and other venues are overflowing with unwanted parrots, how do I justify producing more? Will I keep them all myself? If so, how will I handle THEIR hormones when the time comes and they all want to inbreed with each other? What if the unthinkable happens such as the loss of a job, family illness, or other extreme financial hardship occurs, what will happen to all the babies then? Will I sell them to new homes? If so, how will I insure that my birds are never unwanted and alone, bouncing from home to home? What will I do next year when the whole cycle begins again?
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Old 02-02-2015, 04:29 PM
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Re: Male conure 'heat'

My avian vet said they do go through puberty once at about the age of 2. Sheldons coming up on that date. He also said his behavioral change will last a couple of weeks. Not to push the issue of handling him because then he may not trust you for a while. He said he'd come out of it and start feeling lonely and want to be with us again. Lately due to his molting he's been a bit cranky.
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Old 02-03-2015, 12:38 AM
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Re: Male conure 'heat'

SilverSage

OneHorseRanch

Dinosrawr

THANK YOU for such good information!!!
I realize we can do a lot more to help him (and us) through this, and I see some of the things that we are currently doing incorrectly!

I will keep you posted on him and us, and let you know how it all panned out!

My first few steps are:
Taking away materials he shreads in his house.
More down time. (darkness)
Moving his house to another part of the room.
Taking away his little bird coozie.
No more wrapping my hand around him. (i didn't know he was 'hitting' on me!)
Thanks again for everything
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Old 02-03-2015, 04:09 PM
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Re: Male conure 'heat'

That's why we are all here each of us has info that others need. Keep us posted
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:04 PM
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Re: Male conure 'heat'

This is a very helpful post, it came at a perfect time! I am also taking steps to change the things I was doing incorrectly. I should have known something was up, whenever I would put my hand over Fiji, she would start this high pitched squeeking OH, and my 2 "lovebirds" have started to go at it, every time they are on my shoulder now. I would tell them, "get a room!" but they would just say, "we WOULD, but you took our sleepy hut away!"
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Old 02-04-2015, 09:11 AM
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Re: Male conure 'heat'

This has been extremely interesting - little JellyBean is almost 2 now, so I am getting prepared for change!!!
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Old 02-07-2015, 07:58 AM
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Re: Male conure 'heat'

Chopper is doing the hand humping, thats about it. I simply distract him by rolling him over and tickling under his wings.
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