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Old 12-27-2018, 06:50 PM
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Unhappy Conure Behavior Problems

Hello All

I need some advice on how to work with my green cheek conure. Merlin is about a year and a half old. He's a pretty friendly bird and he knows some basic training like step up. I've been feeding him a combination of pellets and fresh fruits and veggies. My husband and I work full time so our bird usually comes out in the evening.

For the last few months Merlin has been screaming more and more and I can't quite seem to figure out why. He's also becoming more attached to my husband who doesn't care for his company.

Whenever we leave the room or don't pay attention to him he screams non-stop. When I do have him out of the cage he is like a magnet to my husband. He wants to be right on him, in front of his face. As soon as I move him to a perch he flies right back. If my husband even stands up to move he flies over to him. It's getting to be really frustrating because I want him to be out with us without being a nuisance. (We like interacting with him and playing but the level of "clingy" gets to be a too much too fast).

I guess my questions would be what should I do about his behavior and why is he acting this way? I feed him everyday and spend time with him but I don't understand why he clings to my husband who doesn't like him. He seems to be ok with me but if my husband is around he has no interest in me.


Thanks in advance!!
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Old 12-27-2018, 07:47 PM
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Re: Conure Behavior Problems

Well, first off let me say this is all typical conure behavior and by that I mean there isn't anything 'alarming' but there is a potential for further behavioral problems.

Secondly, your conure is approaching puberty (1-2yrs) and conures go through "terrible twos" in major ways. lol. So part of it could be hormonal. Regardless, its VERY important to set limits and boundaries early on and stick to them. Equally important is to develop a routine for "quality time" that you can stick too. By that I mean the time of day and the length of time you spend with your bird. It's not the end of the world though if you have to break that pattern every so often, just try to stick to it as much as you can.

Thirdly, the screaming when you leave the room is known as "calling the flock". In the wild, parrots use this method to locate the rest of the flock since they are rarely seen solo due to predators. So they make sure the rest of the flock is nearby. My suggestion to this is that when you are nearby and leave your birds line of sight, reassure them that you are nearby and alright. When I have to leave to run errands, I always take a few minutes to reassure Skittles that I'll be right back. I have seen it make a major difference. In fact, if I leave the apartment without doing it, he'll go on and on with his screaming. But if he's reassured, he only does a few screeches before I leave and by the time I close the door and leave he is quiet.

As for the bonding with your husband, birds tend to pick choose their 'favorite person', aka 'flockmate' and you can't really do anything to change their minds. However, there are steps you should take to prevent 'over-bonding'.I have heard you can try to re-focus their attention by increasing the time the 'caretaking parront' spends with the bird and decreasing the access to the chosen person. But that's easier said then done and I've no experience with that factor. Truth of the matter is, in order to have a successful family dynamic with a bird, all humans have to be on board with it and contribute. So your hubby is going to have to just suck it up and accept that. lol. But I highly suggest taking steps to address this to prevent 'possession' issues. I've heard multiples stories of couples who have a bird and it will attack one if it gets too close to the other. So its good that you are reaching out to address this sooner rather than later.

In a multiple person house, its funny how the bird always seems to pick the spouse who cares least for it. You'd think that since people tend to avoid those who they don't care for (or vice versa), that conures would do the same but its the opposite. They are determined to make sure EVERYONE loves them as if saying "how dare you not think I'm the greatest thing ever, I'll show you. You are no match for my cuteness!"

I'm not sure how to address the bonding/possession issue with others since I live alone so I'll leave that issue to be addressed by someone with more experience and better solutions for that aspect. I'm merely mentioning suggestions based on my limited knowledge of that aspect. I know that for me, having a 'roommate' or having 'company' over regularly are both out of the question. Skittles wouldn't allow it and that's just fine with me. It works out for both of us.
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Last edited by Skittys_Daddy; 12-27-2018 at 07:52 PM.
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Old 12-28-2018, 09:49 AM
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Re: Conure Behavior Problems

I agree with Skittles in that what you are describing is just typical Conure behavior in-general...They are called "Velcro-Birds" for a reason, and they are absolutely "clingy"...If you think that this is a "nuisance" to you, then you have a problem...and I'm not saying that to be nasty or mean, but I'm telling you the truth...He is screaming because he wants to be with you, and I'm going to guess (if I'm wrong then I'm sorry) that his main-cage is not in the "main room" of your house? Meaning the room where you spend most of your time when you are home, the room where you watch TV, read, talk, eat meals, hang-out, etc. (usually the living room, family room, etc.)? If his cage is not located in the "main room" of your home but rather in a spare bedroom or a room you're designating as the "bird room", etc., then the first thing that I would do is to move his cage to the "main room" of your house, so that he is in the room with you guys when you're doing whatever it is that you're doing...You don't have to be "directly"
interacting with him all the time, but just having him in the room with you guys (Passive-Interaction) will stop the screaming and encourage him to entertain himself inside of his cage.
They are "Flock Animals", and you and your husband are his flock, and when he knows you're at home but he can't even see you (can hear you though) and isn't among his flock, then he'll scream. If you just have his cage in the room where you guys spend most of your time when you're home, this will make him feel much more secure, comforted, and a part of the flock.

As far as him "choosing" your husband, that's who he chose...There is little rhyme or reason as to why they choose who they choose to be "their person", a lot of the time they choose the person that doesn't like them or want anything to do with them, and never spends time with them...but that's who he has chosen apparently...All you can do is to make sure you're the one who is spending a lot of time with him every single day outside of his cage, you're the one giving him treats, etc. You may be able to sway him your way, but there is no way to "force" him to change his preference to you from your husband...

Honestly, if you guys don't want him out with you when you're home, and you want to let him out of his cage with you but you don't want him "on you", etc., and you get aggravated when he's always flying to you, etc., I honestly gotta say that you probably shouldn't have brought home a Green Cheek Conure. And again, I'm saying this to be totally, 100% honest with you and not to be critical or mean with you at all...I'd rather tell you the truth than lie to you and say only "happy" things...All species of Conures are called "Velcro Birds" because that's what they are...they want to always be with their people when they are home and they always want to be "stuck" to them, sitting on them, etc. My Green Cheek is with me pretty much 100% of the time whenever I'm at home, as all of my birds are out of their cages whenever I'm home, and he just stays with me when he's out...That's how they are, that's when they're happiest, they want to be with their person/people all the time, and they are not the kind of bird to get if you want a bird that will be happy staying inside of their cages entertaining themselves until you decide you want to see them...That's not a Conure at all. Most people spend at least 4-5 hours each and every day, usually more, with their Green Cheeks, Suns, Jendays, Nandays, etc. and that keeps them happy and healthy...So I'm not sure what to tell you to do because this is an odd situation...you DON'T want your bird to want to spend a lot of time with you, and typically the problem is the opposite...
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Old 12-28-2018, 11:24 AM
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Re: Conure Behavior Problems

EllenD - We don't mind him being out and spending time with us.. it just seems as if his behavior, being clingy and screaming is escalating. He's been a good bird but we didn't know if something was causing it (maybe bird puberty as Skittys Daddy mentioned). He isn't content to be on my husbands hand or arm. He wants to be right in front of his face all the time. He finds it hard to do anything while the bird is out. Eating, drinking, watching tv etc. It's also weird that that Merlin has never pecked me but has no problem biting him.. which makes him nervous.

We have a small house and keep his cage in front of a window in our bedroom. We usually keep the door open all the time except when we cook. We were told not to keep him out when we cook meals because teflon cookware could kill him. I would like to move him out to a main area but I'm not sure if that would be ok. Thoughts?
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Old 12-28-2018, 12:53 PM
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Re: Conure Behavior Problems

Mango totally did this. Screaming to the point where I thought I'd go insane and overly clingy to my husband. Mango didn't dislike me but my husband was soooo cool.

The person I really had to train was my husband. It became clearer over time that the reason he loved my husband so much is he didn't set any boundaries and Mango could get away with whatever he wanted. Mango would scream? Husband would go to him to quiet him down. Mango wanted to climb all over him like a gym? Husband wouldn't stop him. Husband was on the computer and I wasn't home? Not paying attention to Mango, so Mango could go over and destroy mine (now THAT ticked me off).

Me? I ended up with a really well behaved bird that likes to snuggle, is WAY quieter when its just the two of us, and understands when I mean no. My husband? He's still working on that. Maybe one day he'll have as cool a bird as I do. Time will tell.

Treat your bird like you'd handle a 3-4 year old child. Be consistent, set boundaries, reinforce the actions you want, compliment good behavior, and calmly reject bad behavior. Spend time alone with him so your husband can't distract him. If he wants to ride along with you through the house, let him. Talk to him when he's on his perches so he knows he's being good and you're still there.

And teach your husband do it!!!
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Old 12-28-2018, 01:55 PM
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Re: Conure Behavior Problems

This is the straight up truth. My husband doesn't mind "watching" my birds when I step into another room but honest to god he does not stand firm with them. This leads my GCC to be an absolute little jerk around him, whereas he knows I won't allow him to get away with biting, chewing inappropriately, etc.
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Old 12-28-2018, 02:28 PM
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Re: Conure Behavior Problems

Quote: Originally Posted by Morty View Post
This is the straight up truth. My husband doesn't mind "watching" my birds when I step into another room but honest to god he does not stand firm with them. This leads my GCC to be an absolute little jerk around him, whereas he knows I won't allow him to get away with biting, chewing inappropriately, etc.
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Old 12-28-2018, 07:43 PM
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Re: Conure Behavior Problems

EllenD pretty much nailed it with her comments so I will echo that strongly.

I will say this, when I got Skittles he was already tamed and this made a BIG difference. He took right to me, which made the bonding experience incredibly easy but not surprising given how he 'chose' me even though I wasn't in the market for another bird at the time.

I was originally blown away by how 'interactive' he was. At the time I got him, I only had one other bird, my cockatiel Peaches (who passed away in 2015). Peaches was basically a 'houseplant' bird. lol. By that I mean she was calm, docile and completely drama-free which is typical of cockatiels.

Despite the research I did prior to getting Skittles, I was still blown away by how expressive he was and I allowed myself to be manipulated into being "owned" by him. I spoiled him rotten and never set limits or boundaries. BIG MISTAKE! lol. I ended up with a hellion covered in feathers. It took me almost a year to full re-train him, but I did and the difference is like night and day. He went from being a screaming spoiled brat to being 'mostly' cooperative sunnie (which is the best you're gonna get with a sunnie. lol).

I retrained him using timeouts which I will swear by (INCREDIBLY helpful, IF done properly and consistently). BUT the biggest change was actually done by me. Not just by enforcing limits and boundaries, but by integrating him into my day-to-day activities. In other words, I found ways to let him be a part of what I do when its appropriate and while it required me making a lot of adjustments and a few sacrifices, they were all doable and resulted in successful retraining.
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Old 12-29-2018, 04:17 AM
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Re: Conure Behavior Problems

I started out feeling sorry for this lonely bird, trying to fill up on people-attention and flocktime in the few minutes he is not alone in the house...

I know people have to work (of course) and is it only wise to exclude him from the cooking area while it is in use (too many accidents have happened with hot pans, pots of boiling liquids etc - not to mention getting poisened by teflonvapours (which may still happen is he is 'safe away in the bedroom' btw))

But he sounds understimulated and trying to compensate (as well being the species he is).

Does your bird have the radio/ TV to provide some kind of mental stimulation while you guys are off to work etc. or are you "it". Does it know how to play with toys and does it have fourage-challenges?
Aka- does *he* have a day-job?

Like any parrents/ trainers (as mentioned before) make sure you are on the same page!
Of course everyone has his/ her own style and way of doing things, but find the common sense eh ground.
What do you both want the bird to do and not to do.
How are you going to achieve this?

as an adolescent- of course things are escalating.... it is what this phase of life is all about: trying out the boundries, figuring out where you stand in a certain social group.
It is not fun- but letting them get away with anything will make them some really unpleasant adults to live with/ be around with (birds as well as humans btw).
You are lucky- is will only be a short time but it is an important time...

so draw up the battleplan together and start parrenting while you still can
Balance the boundries and challenge him right back!
(By making him use his brain, not the hormones)
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