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Old 11-07-2018, 06:21 AM
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Exclamation Selectively scared

Hello everyone!

English isn't my first language, my appologies for any grammer or spelling mistakes. I really need some help with figuring out what's bothering one of my two conures.

For about a year now he (or she, we never bothered to had their sexes examined) has been developing a growing fear of hands. But he's only afraid of hands when it comes to petting, holding and headscratches. Most of the time he'll take a running jump to hop on my finger without hesitation, sometimes he'll shy away and become reluctant. When I've got food or treats he becomes his old self again, he'll start bobbing, waving, giving kisses and jump on my hand without hesitation.

It used to be that he only displayed this behavior towards me, but as of late he's also showing the same behavior towards my girlfriend.

I have a pretty good idea where this started, christmas last year we were having a gourmet night at home (I don't know if that translates well to english, it involves a big heated plate where you can bake small pieces of meat and veggies) I had placed the birdcage in the hallway outside the livingroom because the pan has this non-stick teflon coating and I'd like my birds to stay alive.
Somehow, Dicso, the main character in this help-request, managed to open the cage and escape. He must have been patiently waiting on top of the cage because as soon as someone opened the livingroom door to go to the bathroom, Disco came flying in. He was really hyped up and would fly away everytime me, my girlfriend or someone else came near him. After about 20 minutes of people chasing him around the livingroom (he's one fast and agile bird) he was completely out of breath and I could pick him up and put him back in the cage with his friend.

At first this didn't seem to affect him, but over the following months he started showing the problem behavior.

Since early this year I've been unable to work due to cancer, and a burn-out caused by being diagnosed with cancer so I've got a lot of time to spend with my birds. But for the life of me I'm not making any progress with Disco. Somedays he's a bit more willing than others but in general there's very little improvement.

Some behavior examples:
-He's not a biter, never has been. If I do something unwanted, he'll gently pinch a finger but it's never a full on, mark-leaving bite. Except when trimming nails, he HATES that.
-He'll wave and give a high-5 with my pinky without hesitation
-I can pet his head with the tip of my pink sometimes, but usually he'll shy away or bend all the way down in somesort of fear/submission behavior.
-open palm hands scare him away. Except if you've got treats.
-He used to dive into open palm hands as a place where he could cuddle and fall asleep.
-He used to spend a lot of time with us, sleeping on his back. Usually when watching TV, he'd scurry over, lean into my hand and fall asleep. Other times he'd roll himself onto his back on my chest and sleep for a while.
-General behavior is a lot more distant at times. He won't sit with us for more than a minute or two before moving on. As of late he's found himself a little hiding place between a some pans on a shelf in the kitchen where he likes to hang out.

Our birds have a lot of freedom around the house. Outside of summer season we don't clip their wings. They are out of the cage most of the day and are free to follow us wherever we go. Though as long as we're in the livingroom, they'll perch nearby.

A part of me thinks Disco's behavior may be related to the other conure (who's name is Kip) aswel. Kip does this weird slow-motion fancy walk sometimes, combined with doing a weird slow-motion dipping. Sometimes Kip will raise up her tail feathers and chase Disco around walking backwards. This makes us believe Kip is female, but Disco isn't interested in this behavior.

Some other maybe relevant info
Kip will be 2 years old on December 10th. She had to leave the nest early because the parent birds kept attacking her. Hand-raised her from about 2 weeks old. A loving and affectionate bird that missed alot of socializing. That's when we got Disco to keep her company
Disco will be around 3,5 years old. The breeder claimed that he was around 2 years old aswell but his development was much further. He came from a nest of about 8 birds. Very easy to get along with, very tame.

Kip looks a lot frailer than Disco. When Kip takes a bath, she's soaked all the way through. When Disco takes a bath, his outer feathers are wet but the fluffy ones stay dry. Kip has a slightly longer, thinner pointy beak, Disco has a bit wider, stubby beak. Disco is curious and will approach new things with minimal hesitation, Kip will wait to see what Disco does.

What can I do?
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 11-07-2018, 07:48 AM
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Re: Selectively scared

Welcome to Parrot Forums!

Parrots do not always connect 'us' with our bits, like fingers, hands and arms. The effort is to assure that only good things happen when they are around. Also, not all Parrots like or want to be petted.

May you regain your health. Warm Amazon Feather Hugs and Prays for you.

FYI: If you are going to keep two Parrots together, you should have their DNA tested!

In each Morning's early light; there is a promise, an Amazon makes!

Last edited by SailBoat; 11-07-2018 at 07:51 AM.
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Old 11-07-2018, 09:54 AM
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Re: Selectively scared

Welcome, come on in!
Your fids are beautiful!
Your English is very good, better than mine.

I only know two languages, English and bad English.

You don't have to be crazy to love parrots........but it helps!
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Old 11-07-2018, 10:18 AM
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Re: Selectively scared

I am sorry to hear about your cancer, hope everything goes well with your treatment.

You have a pair of beautiful birds! I kinda envy you seeing them together like that. My fella seems to not approve the female that we got for him.

One day I was sleeping and my fella wanted attention, somehow deep in my sleep, I pushed him with my hand. He began to attack my hands for the next 5 weeks (but that only occurred while on the bed, go figure).
Keep trying every now and then without stressing him. Mine now goes below my hand while I am texting to be petted.
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Old 11-07-2018, 10:32 AM
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Re: Selectively scared

Welcome to you and your pair of adorable GCCs!!! I hope you become an active member, and do t forget to join the photo of the month contest! I hope sharing your love of Parrots with us helps lower your stress. I hope you can kick the big C butt!!
May your joy be as deep as the ocean, and your sorrows as light as the foam.
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Old 11-07-2018, 11:38 AM
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Re: Selectively scared


it kind of 'a rule of thumb' that out-of-the nest, human-handraised birds are smaller and lighter than the ones that get raised naturally by the parents.
(it just that hard to be a surrogate-parrot-parent)

Not wanting to cuddle like before, finding their own secret special (darkish) place, wanting things more their way ... sounds to me like and adult bird trying for a family.

It would be fun to have them DNAsexed, you might even have a same sexed couple of birds there.

(and even if they are male - female .. I have a set of grey nutcases that are still -unsuccesfully- trying to figure out if they are the same species! )
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Old 11-07-2018, 12:07 PM
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Re: Selectively scared

I just want to add something that is absolutely terrifying, and you're extremely lucky that your birds did not die already from this....You absolutely cannot use any type of pots,
pans, grill, cooktops, etc. anywhere inside the house when your birds are also inside of the house, regardless of where in the house they are! It doesn't matter if they are on a different floor of the house, behind a closed door, etc., the deadly fumes off-gas and spread through every crevice of the home, and one little whiff of them and your birds will be dead instantly, with nothing you can do at all to help them!!!
We just had a long-time member last week post about all 3 of her birds dying within minutes of each other because her husband cooked a single egg in a Teflon pan, while her 3 birds were all in different areas/rooms/floors of her house, one behind a closed door. All 3 of them died within seconds to minutes. The only reason that your birds did not die when you used that Teflon-coated hot-plate inside of the house when they were also inside the house is because it probably didn't reach a hot enough temperature to off-gas the lethal fumes into the air...but the next time it may and that will be it. Your birds could literally be 2 floors away from the Teflon hot-plate, and be behind a closed door, and drop over dead instantly, as it happens all the time. So "placing the birdcage in the hallway outside of the living-room" where this Teflon hot-plate was used was not at all safe, and I'm actually quite surprised they didn't all pass-away.

You've been so extremely lucky so-far, especially if you've been using this Teflon-coated hot-plate multiple times while your birds have been inside the house at the same time, or if God forbid you're also cooking with any Teflon-coated pots, pans, bakeware, cookware, or using any space-heaters, hair blow-dryers, etc. that contain Teflon inside of them, as many do...Eventually your luck is going to run-out...I mean, just simply moving their cage to the "hallway outside of the living-room" where this hot-plate was being used, you have no idea how lucky you were...Please do not EVER use this hot-plate or anything else that has Teflon or fluorinated compound non-stick coatings on them with your birds ANYWHERE inside of the same house ever again...
"Dance Like Nobody's Watching".
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Old 11-07-2018, 03:04 PM
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Re: Selectively scared

I never heard that hand-raised-birds-are-smaller thing. But I do certainly agree that a lot of this stuff could easily be related to hormones. Just simole transitioning from babies into mature, more eccentric, independent, headstrong adults. You might want to think about that DNA test... are you prepared for possible mating/eggs?

Ooooooh, that teflon thing scares me, too, a lot! Most of us don't even have teflon stuff in our homes.

Actually, on the whole, I think your birds sound pretty happy and healthy. Parrots are often just a little... ummm... weird. They're just not cuddly kittens or friendly puppies, ya know?

Thanks for sharing your story. Oh, and I really support Mr. Boat's thought o how birds don't always consider our hands/bodies to be part of our "real selves"... our heads.
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Old 11-08-2018, 06:00 AM
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Re: Selectively scared

I want to thank everyone for your thoughts, insights and advice!

It had not occurred to me that it could be as simple as Disco developing a more independant behavior because he's growing up. I suppose it could be compared with a teenager that simply does not want his parents hugging and holding him all the time.

I have thought about getting their sexes ID'd, but pulling some feathers out of those frail little bodies is not something I'd be keen on doing. There's also the risk of them losing trust in me because of that.
If i were to pull some feathers from my conures, what spot would be ideal? I can understand I'm not supposed to pull their large flying feathers, but which ones are okay?

I've looked a bit further into the differences in my conures and I think I understand why Kip is smaller compared to Disco. Apparently Kip belongs to the 'Molinae Molinae' group of conures, while Disco belongs to the 'Molinae hypoxantha' group. The largest noticable diffence between hand raised and nest raised I can notice is their willingness to fly. Kip can fly well, but it's just a means to get from A to B. By comparison Disco will fly everywhere quite easily and he'll even hover in place like a hummingbird if he feels the need to.

What I'd like to address is the fear and terror concerning teflon coated pots and pans. Nobody can ignore the fact that PTFE poisoning/toxicosis is fatal to birds. If you've got birds in your home, you really should not be using anything with a teflon coating. Over the course of some time I've replaced all my pots and pans because I simply had no idea which ones contained teflon and which ones didn't. Manifacturers should really put somesort of permanent indicator on their cookware.

The reason my birds haven't died is rather simple in my opinion, with normal use it's not possible to heat a pot or pan to the temperatures required to damage or separate the teflon particles. Also, we've got this hood above our electric stove that's strong enough to tug on your hair if you get too close, the air it sucks in goes directly through the ajacent wall outside.
How its possible for a teflon pan to kill a bird in a different part/level of the house leaves a lot to speculation. Perhaps this took place in the type of house we see on TV, plasterboard walls, thin wooden frames, require a lot of ventilation to prevent mildew and mold. Here in Europe houses are made mainly of reinforced concrete, even interior and non-loadbearing walls are made of concrete blocks.
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Old 11-08-2018, 07:06 AM
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Re: Selectively scared

Maturing definitely can cause changes in behavior! Parrots go through puberty just like humans and then mellow out into their 'adult' personalities. I'll let those who know conures advise on the conure puberty timeline as I have only dealt with larger birds. And as mentioned by others, some birds just aren't the touchy feely types as adults even if they were as babies. I have one of those (although I didn't adopt him until he was 10 and have no idea how he was as a baby/juvenile). He's a great bird, very interactive and wants to hang out with us, but he DOES NOT want to be touched or petted by humans. As not much of the touchy feely type myself, I understand his aversion. It is what it is and some traits you just accept because every parrot is an individual. So long as he's stepping up on your hand and is still sociable, I wouldn't be worried about it.

DNA can be obtained 2 ways- plucking feathers or clipping a nail past the quick so it bleeds and sending off a dab of their blood on a card (the lab would provide whatever card they need the blood to go on). If you choose that route, have styptic on hand as bird can bleed profusely from cut too short nails and it will need to be stopped. You can also always have your vet do the DNA extraction so the bird doesn't associate the experience with you. And really, unless you plan to breed, gender doesn't matter. The bird doesn't care if it has a girls name but is really a male (or visa versa). We were told upon adopting our bird he'd been tested as a male at some point, but we've never bothered to verify that. It's wholly irrelevant if he is really a she since we have no intentions of getting him a girlfriend.

I don't know if a home constructed of different materials than the typical US home is would prevent teflon fumes from spreading, but even with concrete blocks, you still have doorways (yes the fumes can seep under them even when shut) and possibly through the ductwork of your heating and/or A/C system. Look at it this way, if you say, cooked food with an extremely strong smell, would you not be able to still faintly smell it in other rooms/areas of your home? I haven't been in a house yet where you couldn't. I find it hard to believe any normal home anywhere would have hermetically sealed areas fumes couldn't penetrate. I used to live in an old apartment building in the US southwest constructed with concrete blocks (a relatively common material there, as is adobe, which is a like a natural mud brick that hardens like concrete and I've been in several adobe homes too) and strong smells most certainly permeate into other rooms with closed doors, so odorless fumes would be just as likely to seep under doors or travel through any ductwork.

You are wise to replace ALL teflon or any questionable pan/appliance that may have PFOA/PTFE. I'm sure some of the newer ceramic coated 'non-stick' pans are available in Europe, though I'm sure brands are different than in the US. You can also try glass or (solid) ceramic pans, if they're available in Europe. I found my husband a vintage glass pan in a thrift shop for eggs and it has proven to be non-stick for him (he just never got the hang of cooking eggs in a stainless pan without making a big mess).
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