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Old 04-15-2019, 10:00 AM
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Suddenly aggressive GCC

So I have had my GCC for about three weeks now, I have owned and/or worked with dozens of animal species however he is the first bird I've ever owned. Long story short - he was abandoned at my place of work and the nearest bird rescue is over three hours away. I work at a pet store that sells GCC so I have some experience handling them ( it's against policy to take in foreign animals as they may have illness or disease that could spread ) I decided I would take him home with me because I have been wanting to get a bird for some time. For the first week and a half he was the sweetest, most gentle and affectionate bird I had ever handled (I'm used to the GCC at work nipping) however this last week he has done a complete 180 and will suddenly turn very aggressive usually biting hard enough to break skin. He has a very large cage that I leave open all day and a separate playground area connected to it, with ladders leading to the floor so that he can come and go as he pleases when I am home. His favorite spot to sit is on my shoulders/head and just hang out with me as I do my daily tasks. He eats a mix of bird seed, fresh fruits and veggies, millet and nuts. I know you are not supposed to show any reaction to being bitten so I try my best not to and put him in a third slightly smaller cage I have that is the "time out" cage (I don't want him to associate his normal cage as a negative thing.) The time out cage still has three perches, food, water, and two toys. After a few minutes I'll pull him out and try again. He already ladders very well and I am trying to train him to only go on my shoulder when I allow it so he does not become shoulder bound. I do work part time but am usually home by 1-2 in the afternoon. During this time he stays in his cage and he is let out when I get home and I have a bird carrier backpack I use to take him just about everywhere else with me since I know they don't like to be left alone. He puffs up a lot and raises his wings at me too. I did get him a vet check and they said he is healthy. Is this a hormonal thing? Is it because I leave him alone for 6-7 hrs in the morning when I am at work (usually just 4 days a week) ? He will go from cuddling and chirping to peeling the flesh off my finger in .5 seconds. I love him dearly and want to try everything to learn him and give him the best life. I was told his approx. 3 years old. However he can be extremely frustrating at times. Today I have felt a little under the weather and while eating some fresh fruit with me in bed he decided to run up and bite my lip making it bleed pretty bad, this is the worst bite I've ever received from a bird and it made me cry which only made him attack me more and more. I used a perch to get him in his time out cage but I am covered in cuts and bruises from bites now. What am I doing wrong? Is this normal GCC behavior or is there something else I can do to help him? He was so gentle the first week he could even preen my eyelashes but now I'm too afraid to hold him near my face.
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Old 04-15-2019, 04:47 PM
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Re: Suddenly aggressive GCC

Thank you for helping this bird!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Old 04-15-2019, 05:15 PM
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Re: Suddenly aggressive GCC

You have a long way to go.
He has only been with you for a few weeks, so he is still adjusting and learning boundaries.
He will need some kind of "birdie time-out" when he bites. Whether it's putting him back on the perch, or placing him on the floor for a little bit, you have to decide what works.
Remi left my hands in scars and bruises during the first few months of being with me. With time, our bond strengthened and the biting has reduced tremendously. Trust and boundaries. With time, he settled in a routine, started feeling safe more and more, and wanted to be with us more.
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Old 04-15-2019, 06:14 PM
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Re: Suddenly aggressive GCC

You are so right RemiBird.
Learning their body language helps tremendously also.
You often get an initial 'honeymood' period where your new bird is weighing you up.
If it's any consolation I rescued a GSCC after being told it was vicious and aggressive. Unsurprisingly he had had 6 previous homes but was a little angel when I first had him. This made me feel like the bird whisperer but pride comes before a fall and boy do I have the scars to prove it!
However I persevered and it took me almost 12 months to gain his trust. Now the snuggles and kisses are well worth all that pain. I'm not saying he NEVER bites but I usually get a warning nip first instead of a savage attack and I'd be a fool to ignore this.Putting him back in his cage for 10 minute time out usually does the trick.
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:02 PM
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Re: Suddenly aggressive GCC

Welcome!

This early on you should NOT apply ANY TIME-OUTS until you are 500% sure he trusts you!! He could easily be biting out of fear (not attention-seeking) and giving him a time-out could increase the likelihood that he bites again because a fearful bird wants to get away (escape). Even if he was nice---On day one, my bird stepped up to come out of her carrier because she was terrified, but that was it for 3 months....

Time-out rewards escape behaviors and you are 3 weeks in, which means you probably don't have much of a relationship built up yet. I love time-out in certain instances, but NEVER in a case where a bird may be fearful. It will backfire, and hard. If you are bitten by a bird who trusts you and is annoyed with you, that is one thing, but an abandoned bird in a new home is unlikely bonded to you and you are getting bitten because you are not attending to his cues....That is the most likely scenario anyway...but then there are hormonal possibilities as well...

3 weeks is like a day for a bird--- you likely need to slow way down. I feel like a broken record saying this, but my cockatoo didn't step up for 3 months...and she knew how. You are also dealing with a bird who was abandoned. Build trust by doing quiet things near the bird, let it see you put food in the cage (treats) and see if it will take from your hand---do not rush. Do not push food closer (and if the bird won't take food, don't try to touch the bird---even when it does, you shouldn't rush contact).

**If you have ANY huts, tents, low-ledges, cave-type structures or nesting materials (cloth, wads of paper, boxes) remove them from the cage ASAP. Any shadowy space can trigger hormones and aggression (Along with other problematic issues/health problems). These places also include blankets, pillows, under furniture, in a hole on your lap etc).

Also- NO CUDDLES and pet only on the head...Cuddling a bird can lead to aggression etc due to hormones. It is not fair to the bird and it's like making a promise you can't keep.

Side note (as a new bird owner):
Hoping you have read all about the deadly nature of Teflon/PFCs/PTFE/PFOA (all over the place in blow-dryers, space-heaters, kitchen stuff etc) and the dangers of using scented things (cleaners, perfume, paint, glue, air freshener etc) around your bird. Lots of people are unaware...

Last edited by noodles123; 04-15-2019 at 08:53 PM.
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Old 04-15-2019, 09:58 PM
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Re: Suddenly aggressive GCC

I would say that basically the "honeymoon" period is over. When I a bird 1st comes home they are more docile and sweet at 1st but then sometimes they can start biting and or screaming all of a sudden. It just means your bird is getting more comfortable with the environment. I agree also that time out is something reserved for a bird who fully trusts you and not one who is new to the home. For now just ignore it or gentle put the bird down (in the closest safe spot) and walk away for a minute or so. I for one used this method with all 4 of my Conures and it works like a charm. I did not need a time out cage. In fact why don't you turn the smaller cage as a sleep cage than you put somewhere quiet and dalrk for them to get their 12 hours of sleep they need which can help with biting also.
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Old 04-16-2019, 08:40 AM
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Re: Suddenly aggressive GCC

Yep, 3 weeks isn't nearly enough time to earn his trust and have him bond with you, you simply are the one who brought him home and gave him things and fed him well. That's it. And you've not been reading his cues at all, not your fault because you didn't know, but now as Noodles said you likely have to hit the "reset button" and start over with him, because he is very likely fearful of you, or at the very least does not trust you at all...That doesn't mean that he won't want treats/food and an occasional scratching/petting from you, as he did, but in-general he just doesn't trust you at all right now...

You have to remember that this isn't a hand-raised baby GCC who you just brought home from the breeder 3 weeks ago...In that situation things are completely different...This is a 3+ year-old GCC who doesn't know you, and if his prior owner just left him abandoned at a pet shop then his prior life with humans probably wasn't the best...It could have been a very abusive or probably neglectful household that he came from, so he's not been given any reason to trust humans in the past, why would he trust you right away after his prior owner just ditched him...He didn't know that his owner wasn't coming back for him when he dropped him off at the pet shop...So he has a lot going on, and now the Honeymoon-Period has ended, and now you're going to have to really earn his trust in order for him to actually bond with you/to you...And this takes time, and even more time for a parrot in his situation...

The "Timeout Cage" is a big no-no right now, but honestly what you provided him with was not a "Time-Out Cage" because it had food and toys in it, lol...That wouldn't do much to begin with, but because he wasn't bonded to you in the first place, he isn't going to listen to you anyway...As stated, to stop biting in a bird you're having biting issues with you just need to start respecting his territory and not EVER try to push him or force him to do anything at all, because if you do you're going to get bitten...And badly.

Earning the trust of an adult parrot who has been suddenly abandoned by their prior owner (who they may have been bonded closely to, you don't know) can take months and months...So you need to slow down, stop the time-outs and such, and try to read his cues..If you pick him up or put him on you when he doesn't want to do it, that will set you back further and further. But if you read his cues and respect his space, then eventually he'll start coming to you on his own, and he'll do it without the bites...But it's going to take patience and time from you...
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Old 04-16-2019, 09:47 AM
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Re: Suddenly aggressive GCC

Thank you everyone for your responses ! You have all helped me a lot and yes noodles I did read about how harmful things like Teflon and scented objects could be and have already thrown out all my candles and scented sprays and nonstick pans and what not. As I said this is my first bird so I'm doing as much research as I can but it can feel overwhelming at times. I definitely do not want to re-home him again as I feel once you take in a pet you are responsible for them for the rest of their lives. I'll stop the time out cage and start just setting him down. Thank you again for all of your advice and kind words and I'll keep you all updated on our progress ! ♥️
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:48 AM
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Re: Suddenly aggressive GCC

It can be really overwhelming, especially if this is your first parrot, so that's totally understandable...They are unlike any other species of pet (except for pet primates like monkeys, lemurs, etc.), parrots have the intelligence of a 2-3 year-old human child, and they can use logic and reasoning skills. So it's not uncommon for people to approach their first pet parrot like they would a dog or a cat, where they think that they need to "socialize" the bird by bringing other people into their house all the time and pass the bird around like a new puppy, or they think that punishing their parrot when they do something wrong is going to stop their bad behaviors just like with a dog, cat, etc...Instead, when you punish a parrot, a monkey, a lemur, or other primate, they are like humans...They get mad!!! And they take away their trust from you a little more each time...So you really do have to approach your new GCC in a totally new and differnet way than you've ever done before with an animal/pet...

Always use "positive-reinforcement" to reward his good behaviors, but NEVER punish him or use negative-reinforcement when he displays bad behaviors, like biting you...Parrots are Flock-Animals, and as such, even though he's not yet bonded to you closely, he still wants to be with you/around you because your the only other living thing around him now...They love attention from their "flockmates", which now is you...So when he bites you, the best thing to do is to remove the one thing he wants most, and that's your attention...So when he bites you just don't say a word, don't make eye-contact with him, and just set him down and walk away, and totally ignore him like he's not there for a good 5 minutes. Ignore his calls/whistles/talking to you, if he climbs back on you or up your pant-leg just quietly put him back down again and walk away...This works a lot better than using negative-reinforcement behaviors with a bird that doesn't yet trust you...You won't upset him or scare him, but just take away the thing he wants most, and that gets the point across...

Do a search here in the forum for "The Shunning-Method"...You'll find a lot of detailed-descriptions and instructions on what it is, how to use it, and when to use it to stop biting...

And also, you need to choose a "Training Treat" for him...This is a very special treat (food) that he loves more than anything else, and that you will only give him as positive-reinforcement when he does something you ask him to do, like step-up, comes when you call him, goes in his cage when you ask him to, etc. And you can't give it to him any other time, because then it loses it's value to him...It needs to be something small that he can eat quickly, and that you can keep in your pockets at all times when you're at home so that you can reward him on the spot...Good examples are raw, unsalted Sunflower-Seed Kernels (he shouldn't be eating any Sunflower-Seeds in his regular diet, even if he eats a seed-mix instead of pellets, you need to get a low-fat one with no Sunflower Seeds, no Nuts of any kind, and no pieces/kernels of Dried Corn, they are all nothing but fat and the #1 cause of Fatty-Liver Disease and early death in pet birds)...So the unsalted Sunflower Kernels that are already shelled are great Training-Treats, raw, unsalted slivers of Almonds or another healthy Nut (Peanuts are a huge no-no at any time, not as a treat or any other time, too much fat and they carry a mold on them that is toxic and lethal to all birds)...Many of the dehydrated Fruit Chips make a great Training-Treat or just good Treats in-general, like Apple Chips, Banana Chips, pieces of dehydrated Apricot, Pineapple, Papaya, Mango, etc. (just not too many, ALL Fruit is loaded with natural sugar, including fresh Fruit, so fresh and dehydrated Veggies and dark, leafy Greens are better)...All 4 of my larger birds plus my Budgies all LOVE, like just LOVE more than any other Veggie fresh and dehydrated Green Beans...They would sit and eat them all day long if I let them...So it's just about finding what special treat he loves and then making him earn it...
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Old 04-16-2019, 11:49 AM
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Re: Suddenly aggressive GCC

Quote: Originally Posted by EllenD View Post
It can be really overwhelming, especially if this is your first parrot, so that's totally understandable...They are unlike any other species of pet (except for pet primates like monkeys, lemurs, etc.), parrots have the intelligence of a 2-3 year-old human child, and they can use logic and reasoning skills. So it's not uncommon for people to approach their first pet parrot like they would a dog or a cat, where they think that they need to "socialize" the bird by bringing other people into their house all the time and pass the bird around like a new puppy, or they think that punishing their parrot when they do something wrong is going to stop their bad behaviors just like with a dog, cat, etc...Instead, when you punish a parrot, a monkey, a lemur, or other primate, they are like humans...They get mad!!! And they take away their trust from you a little more each time...So you really do have to approach your new GCC in a totally new and differnet way than you've ever done before with an animal/pet...

Always use "positive-reinforcement" to reward his good behaviors, but NEVER punish him or use negative-reinforcement when he displays bad behaviors, like biting you...Parrots are Flock-Animals, and as such, even though he's not yet bonded to you closely, he still wants to be with you/around you because your the only other living thing around him now...They love attention from their "flockmates", which now is you...So when he bites you, the best thing to do is to remove the one thing he wants most, and that's your attention...So when he bites you just don't say a word, don't make eye-contact with him, and just set him down and walk away, and totally ignore him like he's not there for a good 5 minutes. Ignore his calls/whistles/talking to you, if he climbs back on you or up your pant-leg just quietly put him back down again and walk away...This works a lot better than using negative-reinforcement behaviors with a bird that doesn't yet trust you...You won't upset him or scare him, but just take away the thing he wants most, and that gets the point across...

Do a search here in the forum for "The Shunning-Method"...You'll find a lot of detailed-descriptions and instructions on what it is, how to use it, and when to use it to stop biting...

And also, you need to choose a "Training Treat" for him...This is a very special treat (food) that he loves more than anything else, and that you will only give him as positive-reinforcement when he does something you ask him to do, like step-up, comes when you call him, goes in his cage when you ask him to, etc. And you can't give it to him any other time, because then it loses it's value to him...It needs to be something small that he can eat quickly, and that you can keep in your pockets at all times when you're at home so that you can reward him on the spot...Good examples are raw, unsalted Sunflower-Seed Kernels (he shouldn't be eating any Sunflower-Seeds in his regular diet, even if he eats a seed-mix instead of pellets, you need to get a low-fat one with no Sunflower Seeds, no Nuts of any kind, and no pieces/kernels of Dried Corn, they are all nothing but fat and the #1 cause of Fatty-Liver Disease and early death in pet birds)...So the unsalted Sunflower Kernels that are already shelled are great Training-Treats, raw, unsalted slivers of Almonds or another healthy Nut (Peanuts are a huge no-no at any time, not as a treat or any other time, too much fat and they carry a mold on them that is toxic and lethal to all birds)...Many of the dehydrated Fruit Chips make a great Training-Treat or just good Treats in-general, like Apple Chips, Banana Chips, pieces of dehydrated Apricot, Pineapple, Papaya, Mango, etc. (just not too many, ALL Fruit is loaded with natural sugar, including fresh Fruit, so fresh and dehydrated Veggies and dark, leafy Greens are better)...All 4 of my larger birds plus my Budgies all LOVE, like just LOVE more than any other Veggie fresh and dehydrated Green Beans...They would sit and eat them all day long if I let them...So it's just about finding what special treat he loves and then making him earn it...
It is overwhelming at times, but you will get there!
Thanks for posting and welcome (again).
In terms of shunning, I would still wait to solidify trust because being "shunned" may not bother him without that pre-established bond.
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