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Old 04-16-2019, 01:13 AM
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Questions/Thoughts on Territory and Defensive Behavior

I have an approx. 1.7 year old Blue Crown and there are defensive behaviors in certain situations that I have questions about the normality of and how or if I should deal with.

Generally, he is not an aggressive or hard-to-handle bird (to his "flock" members); He does occasionally play "rough", we are still working on appropriate beak usage and such, but in almost all scenarios, he's completely comfortable being handled (perching, petting, preening, holding, etc.).

However, myself and my mom are the only people he interacts with on a regular basis, so his "flock" is quite small. And I believe his exposure early on at the breeder was only between two different people, so he has not had a diverse social experience so far.

When new faces occasionally come to interact with him, he initially is very defensive (crown/head feathers raised, upright posture, beak open, lunge-y), especially when with me. He warms up quickly if offered treats, but it usually takes a little while of the "strangers" presence until he calms down. At that point, he usually feels comfortable enough to sit on the new person or "inspect", but will absolutely not allow any direct contact.

Another concerning similar behavior is when he is in specific "hiding" spots, like his window swing, or this makeshift perch he found behind the curtain of a closet on top of a stack of hats; If I intrude with my hand to approach him, he snaps and becomes very defensive. Instead, I must offer my hand just outside and call him to me at which he accepts "peacefully" (&#128540

Are these behaviors natural and/or acceptable? He is still a pretty young bird, and I am still very new to parrots, I don't have much experience with the later stages of development; could this evolve into something worse?
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:44 AM
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Re: Questions/Thoughts on Territory and Defensive Behavior

Normal and are his rights! He is letting you know quite nicely!
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Old 04-16-2019, 06:02 AM
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Re: Questions/Thoughts on Territory and Defensive Behavior

Weary of strangers - I think it's completely normal. Remi only lets me and my son cuddle him and pet him. Husband - only good for giving treats, lol.
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:55 AM
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Re: Questions/Thoughts on Territory and Defensive Behavior

What you're describing are basically normal behaviors...You need to respect his territories, which include his cage and then any stands/perches/play-gyms, etc. Some birds are more territorial than others, and some will never allow any hands at all, regardless of who they are, into their territory when they are also inside of it or on it (I have a female Quaker who just turned 4 and who I have had since she was 10 weeks old who is like this with me to this day)...So the best thing to do is to respect his territory and let him come out of his cage and off of his perches/stands, and then you get him to step-up...That's a hard thing to break them of, and they probably really shouldn't be broken of it anyway, it's a natural instinct...

As far as not liking people who come to the house, this is totally normal and nothing that you want to try to "fix", as he should never be pushed or forced to be handled/held by anyone he doesn't know, or that he doesn't want to be held or handled by...Parrots are not at all like dogs or other pets who can be petted by anyone and who we punish when they don't like someone...Parrots bond to their Flockmates and that is it (Flock Animals trust their Flockmates, that's it)...They should never be passed around to people who don't live in their home, and it's actually best to put them in their cages when people come over (there are exceptions to this, but they are few and far between; most birds who are willing to step-up for someone they don't really know or who isn't in their flock usually look horrified the entire time and try to slowly inch-away from them and back to their person/people)...So that's not something you want to try to change, because all that will happen is you'll lose his trust...

And this has nothing to do with his breeder and "only being exposed to 2 people at the breeder's house"...They could be exposed to 200 people at the breeder's house or in your house, etc., doesn't matter. They just are not like other pets/animals, they bond closely with only one person, maybe a few if they live in the same house as them and are a part of the flock, but that's rare, usually it's just one person or one bird and that's it...It has nothing at all to do with their amount of socialization at all, they give their trust to their mate/who they bond with and that's it...

*****On another note....I see you live in PA...I do too (in State College)...I have been searching for a Blue Crowned Conure for months and months, and have not been able to find a breeder or shop who breeds/hand-raises them anywhere, and I've looked way out of state...Can I ask where you got your little guy? I was looking out 6-7 hours away and couldn't find one, so I'm willing to drive quite a ways. Any help would be very much appreciated!
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:42 AM
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Re: Questions/Thoughts on Territory and Defensive Behavior

-> just me!

I do things a bit different: my parrots cage is theirs - up to a certain point: I insist they are gracious hosts and not attack me when I "invade" their space.
So no biting or threatening / posturing when I am doing something in their cage - the same goes for their "chosen spots" (like the one you described)

Sometimes I will "visit" (inside the cage) just to play games or hand out a snack- it is not always nasty! (Actually very rarely!)

If I really need them to come out (or back in) they better be generous and do so, at any other time they get to choose.
(just like it is their descision to take a bath or not, but if I insist they join the flock in the bathroom (and stay dry if they prefer) they *will* be joining us).
My parrots are free (within limits of modern life) to do as they please most of the time, but in emergencies they know they will be overruled.

LOL I sound like a bossy dictator - I am really a pushover most of the time, but if I need to grab a bird to save its life (or my sanity) I can do so without any issues.


So it is up to you how much privileges you want to set in stone ...
I prefer a wellbehaved bird over a territorial one.

Meeting strangers....is always up to the bird: as long as he/she is happy just go for it.


My bottemless pit one is friends with almost anyone bearing snacks, the macaw freaks out (for now) by anyone within (human) armslenght--so I am not pushing her to meet stangers close up, but I will "push": invite her to relax a bit more by playing games with her (focus on something else) or just chill (still outside of reach of the other person).
I cannot make her like strangers, but I can make her less tense around them at a safe distance. (And maybe later go from there... small steps!)


I think you and bird are doing great with strangers if he is ready to make contact (but not to let them make contact with him).
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:48 AM
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Re: Questions/Thoughts on Territory and Defensive Behavior

I appreciate the replies and advice. It's helpful to hear opinions from other owners, as I don't know many people personally who own parrots.

Currently these behaviors are not extremely problematic by any means, however I was cautious and thinking ahead, I suppose. According to his vet, these conures will fully mature around 4-5 years of age, so if there are signs of behaviors that could evolve to something worse I'd like to address that.

I never force him on anyone or anywhere he does not wish to go (unless we REALLY need to get to the vet ), but when new people do visit they sometimes approach and offer a hand or sit in the room.

My concern also probably draws from how important it is recommended to socialize them and condition out bad behavior but as I'm still new to this I wonder at what point I am "fighting with nature"; which behaviors are just "parrots being parrots". I know they are essentially still wild animals.
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:58 AM
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Re: Questions/Thoughts on Territory and Defensive Behavior

Just a suggestion on getting him more used to new people and situations, have you considered harness training or a pak-o-bird (mesh sided backpack with a perch)? Our bird has become much more tolerant of strangers since we started taking him out regularly during the warm months in his POB. I prefer the backpack to the harness because it gives him a barrier of safety from strangers while still letting his see and safely interface with the world around him. It has improved his behavior around strangers in the house as well. So long as they don’t invade his turf (corner of the living room where his cage/play tree are), he is unbothered by their presence. Our kitchen flooded a good chunk of our home last summer and we had all kinds of people in and out for months doing demolition work and repairs and he was utterly unphased by all the commotion/strangers. I credit years of going into public and the workmen being respectful of his space for his excellent behavior during the process. It really does help to get them out in the world, though physical contact and being handled by strangers I’m leery of mostly because parrots can bite and strangers or even friends can sue.

This is the backpack I’m talking about. Pricey but extremely well made. I believe this will be the 6th summer we’ve had ours and it is still in great shape! https://www.celltei.com/Fly-Free-Birds-Parrots/
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:58 AM
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Re: Questions/Thoughts on Territory and Defensive Behavior

Quote: Originally Posted by EllenD View Post
*****On another note....I see you live in PA...I do too (in State College)...I have been searching for a Blue Crowned Conure for months and months, and have not been able to find a breeder or shop who breeds/hand-raises them anywhere, and I've looked way out of state...Can I ask where you got your little guy? I was looking out 6-7 hours away and couldn't find one, so I'm willing to drive quite a ways. Any help would be very much appreciated!
Sure, I will send you a PM!
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Old 04-16-2019, 11:04 AM
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Re: Questions/Thoughts on Territory and Defensive Behavior

I had not seen the backpack before, it does look like an interesting alternative to his current travel cage so I will definitely checkout, thanks!

I do have a harness, but we have not begun training with it yet. Right now "traveling" is probably the biggest training hurdle we have to overcome. He "tolerates" his travel cages but does not like being enclosed in them. So moving him outside the house is still a work in progress at the moment
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