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Old 05-18-2019, 10:20 AM
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Green cheek biting constantly

Hi folks, hoping you can help.

We've got a green cheek conure, around 5-6 months old. For the last two months he's become really bitey. He'll bite hard, often, and frequently breaks the skin. It's becoming impossible to let him out of his cage because he can't be trusted not to bite. We'd love some advice.

We're new and inexperienced bird owners but we've tried to do as much research as we can before and since receiving our bird. Since I'm not 100% sure what might be an important factor I'm going to give as much detail as possible. Sorry in advance for the essay.

We received him at 10 weeks old. He was hand reared by the breeder so was super friendly, cuddly and practically fearless. He was out of his cage and cuddling in within days. No biting at first and would regularly fall asleep on us.

After the first month he began to get bitey, but wouldn't break the skin. It was like he was preening us but being a bit rough. Now it's different, he'll actively bite us to hurt/out of anger and breaks the skin often.
my wife and myself both work full time so he's alone roughly 8 hours of the day which we realize isn't ideal. We leave the radio on a talk station for him while we're out. When we're home we try to get him out for a couple of hours at least and interact with him often. His cage is in our living room where we spend most of the time. He’s not cooped up in a room by himself.
The intention was to leave his cage open constantly when we're around to supervise but with the biting this hasn't been possible.

I’ve had some success when I’ve had him out with just myself in the room, he’ll still bite and fly around and I still try not to let him on my shoulders or head. But it hasn’t been the constant lunging. I’ve managed to have him out for around 2 hours at a time. With both myself and my wife in the room he’s usually over excited and biting within 5 minutes of opening his cage. He bites both of us though, he doesn’t seem to be favouring me over my wife.

He is fully flighted, which makes him hard to control. He'll land on our heads and shoulders where he can easily bite at our necks, faces and ears. This makes having him out really stressful because he can go from playing nicely on his perch to in our face and biting with little warning. That’s got us nervous and on edge while he’s out which can’t be helping. It also makes it really hard to get him back in his cage because he’ll keep flying away when we try to lower him in. We spend more time chasing him around than anything else.

We have him on a mixed diet of pellets, seed, egg food and fresh fruit/veg. of this it’s about 50% veg, 30% Pellets, 15% seed, 5% egg food. We’ve recently read that too much protein can make conures aggressive so we’ve cut out the egg food for the last couple of days. No luck with that so far.
We’ve tried putting him back in his cage when he’s getting bity which is leading to problems. He doesn’t want to go back in, so he’ll bite down harder to avoid it. Or he’ll just keep flying away from the cage. We’ve also tried the “earthquake” method, but shaking to put him off balance when he bites also makes him bite down harder to hold on.

We are aware of bluffing and moulting which we think could be factors in this. He has not lost any substantial feather however he has a couple of pin feathers and his down feathers are very fluffy underneath as if he is moulting and it explains the grumpiness. In terms of bluffing, we thought that was a strong possibility but didn’t think it would take this long for him to come out of that phase.

I think a big part of the problem is that we don’t know what we’re doing, we don’t have a routine or any consistency and it’s making training random and chaotic so it’s not working.

When he’s in a good mood he can be really nice. He’ll sit nice, likes head scratches and lets you pet him. But as soon as he becomes excited the biting starts. We’re concerned about losing his tameness when he was initially so cuddly and calm and if we don’t deal with this stage correctly now it could affect things going forward in the long term which is unfair on him mostly.
Needless to say we’re getting really stressed. We’re beginning to feel like we’ve taken on something we aren’t ready for. The last thing we want is to have to give him away but we’re at the stage where we’re becoming afraid of him, we’re fighting with each other about what to do and that’s not sustainable.

Any advice about any of the above would be appreciated.
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Old 05-18-2019, 11:04 AM
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Re: Green cheek biting constantly

Okay, so you've got a lot going on here, and you need to take a breath and realize that this isn't his fault at all, and it's not your fault either, but there seems to be a lot going on that needs to be corrected, because it's going to keep getting worse and worse, as the more he bites the less attention he's getting, so the more he bites and doesn't want to go inside of his cage, and it's a vicious cycle...They have the intelligence of a 3-4 year-old human child, so keeping him in his cage all but 2-hours a day is not going to work, either for him or for you guys...I know you're frustrated and feel kind of helpless right now, but this can be fixed and can get better. What happens a lot of the time with this situation unfortunately is that people get so frustrated they literally give-up and either re-home the bird, which IS NOT THE ANSWER, or they just keep them inside their cage 24/7, which is also NOT THE ANSWER...

First off, good that his cage is in your living-room. That's step #1...However, it does in-fact sound like he's chosen you and not your wife as "his person", even though he's biting you. They often bite "their person" whenever someone else comes around because they are trying to warn them, as in "Get out of here, move!"...So if he's okay being out of his cage with you for the most-part until your wife comes into the room, then that is a pretty good signal that you are his chosen person...At least for right now...

Did you have him DNA-tested or get a DNA-certificate from his breeder stating that he's a male? I only ask because puberty/sexual-maturity effects both genders of birds, which is a good part of what is going on here I think, but with females you have to worry about them starting to lay infertile-eggs, which you obviously want to avoid at all costs...So if you don't actually know his gender for certain, I highly suggest a DNA-test, either done at your CAV's office, or you can order a feather DNA-test online cheaply from places like Avian Biotech..Which brings me to my next question: Have you had his first complete Wellness-Exam done yet with either a Certified Avian Vet or Avian Specialist Vet? This is something that should be done at least once every year, and needs to include full Fecal-testing (both in-office Microscopy/Gram-Staining and then a Culture/Sensitivity that is sent out to a lab to be grown-out), and then also routine, "baseline" Blood-Work (NEVER allow them to put him under either Sedation or Anesthesia for just a simple blood-draw from their neck, if a Vet wants to do that you need a new Vet immediately)...So if that hasn't been done yet, it needs to be done ASAP, as you always want to rule-out a medical/physical issue as the underlying cause of a Behavioral problem, because birds hide all outward signs/symptoms of illness and pain for as long as they can, sometimes months and months, so the only way you can stay ahead of your bird's health and make sure if he is sick that you get him treated before it's too advanced to do anything about, is to have regular Wellness-Exams with Blood-Work and Fecal-Testing (and some people also do a regular X-Ray once yearly to check for masses/growths, enlarged livers, etc., which actually DOES involve short-term, very fast-acting sedation, either with Isoflurene Gas or a liquid Intra-Nasal Sedative, so they usually just sedate them with Isoflurene gas, do the X-Ray, then the Blood-Work, and then in 10 minutes they are awake and the Isoflurene is already gone from their systems; it's the safest form of Sedation for birds)...

I know you said he's around 5-6 months old, but how certain of that are you? I ask because you also said you picked him up from the breeder, fully-weaned, at 10 weeks-old, which is a little young for a Green Cheek Conure to be fully Abundanced-Weaned; usually they fully Abundance-Wean around 13 weeks-old, so unless you got a Hatch-Certificate from his breeder with his actual Hatch-Date on it, it's possible that he's a bit older than you think...That being said, it is very possible for a Green Cheek Conure to go through puberty months earlier than usual, which usually happens when they are around 1-year of age...And if that's the case, which is what it sounds like to me, then his aggression/constant biting that suddenly started happening and then kept happening is probably very related to his sex-hormones going crazy all the time...And it is the tail-end of their natural Breeding-Season, which starts in March. So it's very important that there is nothing inside of his cage, nor anything outside his cage that he has access to, or that you guys are doing that is causing him to be hormonal.

Does he have anything inside of his cage that creates a small, dark place that he can get inside of or underneath, such as ANY type of Box, Tent, Bed/Triangular Bed, one of those horrible "Happy/Snuggle Huts", Hammocks, etc.? How about anything in the bottom of his cage that resembles "Nesting-Material", such as ANY type of wood-chips, animal/rodent-Bedding, shredded-paper or paper Bedding, or any other type of Bedding or LOOSE SUBSTRATE such as Crushed Walnut Shells, Corn Cob Bedding, etc.? And finally, does he have access to anything outside of his cage that he can get underneath, inside of, or behind? Examples are getting underneath or behind of pieces of furniture, behind pillows on the couch or bed, under blankets or towels, etc. If the answer to any of these questions is "Yes", then they ALL need to be eliminated IMMEDIATELY and never returned to his cage, and never allow him to access them when he's outside of his cage...And you should only have flat sheets of Newspaper, Butcher-Paper, actual Bird-Cage Liners, etc. UNDERNEATH THE GRATE in the bottom of his cage, so that he cannot get them into his cage and shred them into "nesting-material"...All of these things are extremely common "Triggers" of hormonal-behavior, and hormonal-behavior brings with it severe frustration (sexual), and then severe aggression and biting...

Also, whenever you do touch him/pet him/hold him, do you regularly touch him ANYWHERE ON HIS BODY other than his head, face, neck, and under his chin? Again, if the answer to this question is "Yes", meaning that you regularly touch him/pet him on his belly/chest, his back, his wings and/or underneath his wings, on his legs, his tail-feathers, or anywhere around his Vent/lower Abdomen, that that needs to stop immediately as well, as this arouses them, which causes the sexual-frustration and then the aggression...

One more thing that is another "Trigger" for Hormonal-Behavior is if he's not getting at least 12-hours of sleep every single night...Birds in the wild are on a daily-schedule that follows the Sun, called a "Natural-Light Schedule", which basically just means that they go to sleep when the Sun goes down, and they wake-up when the Sun comes-up, regardless of the time of day that the Sunset or the Sunrise happen. Now in-captivity it's extremely difficult to put our birds on a strict "Natural-Light Schedule", especially if you live anywhere where there is a Winter-season, because you'd be putting them to bed around 5:00-6:00 p.m in the Winter...So the only way to really ensure that he's getting enough sleep every night, which keeps him healthy both physically and psychologically/behaviroally, is by making sure he is getting at least 12-hours of sleep every night...[B]And since his cage is in your living-room, where it should be and where you guys typically are, the best thing to do is to cover his cage with a dark sheet or cage-cover at his bedtime so that he'll sleep soundly and you guys can still be in the room, watch tv, etc. They sleep very soundly if they are covered, regardless of the sound/light/talking etc...

All of that stuff out of the way, I'll post below about how to combat his biting...
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Old 05-18-2019, 11:42 AM
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Re: Green cheek biting constantly

So, first of all, his cage should NEVER be seen as punishment to him! So putting him inside of his cage whenever he bites you is a huge No-No, and the reason he isn't wanting to go back in the cage, because he's now associated it with "Negative-Reinforcement", or Punishment...And that's the other thing, birds/parrots DO NOT AT ALL respond to "Negative-Reinforcement" or Punishment!!! They are like people in this respect rather than being like other pets like dogs or cats...If you try to punish them, like telling them "No", yelling at them, taking something away from them, or the very, very, very bad "Flicking or Tapping them on the Beak when they bite", this will only make them do it more and more, as they consider it getting attention, which they crave as they are very social "Flock-Animals", and even negative attention is attention...Either that or you only end-up scaring them and losing every bit of trust that you've earned from them and that they've given you, and once that happens it's extremely difficult and takes time to earn iit back again....So instead of punishing his Bad-Behavior (biting), you want to ALWAYS instead REWARD THE GOOD BEHAVIOR, OR THE "WANTED BEHAVIOR", and the best way to do that is with a "Training-Treat". A "Training-Treat" is your bird's very favorite treat in the world, or very favorite food, and it needs to be something small that he can eat quickly on the spot, and that you guys can keep in your pocket all the time at home, so you can reward any and all good/wanted behaviors he displays right at the time he displays them. I use raw, unsalted Sunflower Seed Kernels (already out of the shell, so they can just eat them quickly and move on)...So that's an example of what his Training-Treat needs to be like...

Now, as to how to stop him from biting...Again, you don't want to put him in his cage when he bites or does anything else that is bad or an unwanted behavior...[B]Instead, what you need to do is remove the thing that he desires the most...YOUR ATTENTION! Also, instead of associating something good (his cage) with a bad, unwanted behavior (biting), you instead want to put him in a place that he already naturally hates and that takes away any feeling of dominance that he might have...THE FLOOR! There is a method of stopping parrots from biting called "The Shunning-Method", and I've personally seen it stop a Green Cheek Conure from biting in 48-hours (one whole weekend).[B]

Green Cheek Conures can naturally be "Nippy" to begin with, and then puberty happens and they get even more nippy. You mentioned that he used to just simply "Nip" at you guys, like he was trying to preen you, which is exactly what he was probably doing...Unfortunately what happened is that his nipping/lightly preening you or "beaking" you was reinforced as a behavior that was okay with you guys and probably kept getting him attention, and thus it kept on happening, you kept on paying attention to him when he did it, and now combined with hormonal-activity, has turned into biting. So now you both must full-on start to "Shun" him every single time he bites you. Either of you. Every time he does it without exception...This will be a pain in the ass when you first start it, I'm not going to lie...But, it works and it works quickly as long as everyone in the house does it and participates in it if they are present when the bite happens...

First of all, and I'm going to throw this out there, "chasing" a flighted-bird around the room or the entire house whenever he won't come back to you or go inside of his cage is not good, first because you're giving him attention when he refuses to come back to you or his cage (which you've associated accidentally with a punishment, so that's not helping either), and they crave attention, any attention, as often as possible, and secondly because chasing a bird around (especially with a towel or something to catch them in, like they do at the VET's OFFICE, bad heebegeebees), will lose the bird's trust that he's given you quicker than anything else. So even though it's not ideal, the best thing you can do when it's time to go back in the cage, say at bedtime, or in the morning before work, etc., is to actually tell him "It's Bedtime, time to go to Bed!", and then slowly walk over to him and ask him to step-up for you, and if he steps-up for you then you must reward him with a Training-Treat. Then you walk him over to his cage and put him inside of it, and if he goes in then he gets another Training-Treat. EVERY SINGLE GOOD/WANTED BEHAVIOR MUST BE REWARDED WITH A TRAINING-TREAT, even after he's been doing it regularly for years you still have to do it, because oncer again they are not dogs, they are like little human toddlers for their entire lives that need to be rewarded for what they do right. And if he flies away from you and won't step-up for you, you NEVER chase him, NEVER yell at him or start begging him to come down, you simply walk away and totally ignore him. This is why I said this is going to be a pain in the ass at first while you correct what he's already learned he can make happen, so if it's bedtime and he flies off, you guys both just stay quiet and sit back down, ignore him completely, dont call to him, don't even acknowledge his existance until he comes back...And when he comes back he gets a Training-Treat, and another when he goes inside of his cage for bedtime.I know it's counter-intuitive to reward a bird that just flew away from you 10 minutes earlier when you told him it was time for bed, but again, you cannot punish him, you can ONLY ignore him completely when he displays a bad/unwanted behavior, and reward him when he displays a good/wanted behavior. If you start thinking of it in this way only right now, it will become second-nature for you to immediately ignore him like he isn't there when he does something "bad" or doesn't do what you ask him to do, and to reward him immediately when he does what he's supposed to do or what you ask him to do...

So as for when he bites you...You have to try your best to not react to his bites in ANY WAY, not verbally with even an "Ouch!" or a "That hurt!", but rather you stay completely, 100% quiet. Now for him to bite one of you that means that he's on you, either your hands or your shoulder/head...Right now, from this point forward, HE IS NOT TO BE ALLOWED ON EITHER OF YOUR SHOULDERS OR YOUR HEADS AT ALL ANY LONGER UNTIL HE EARNS IT!!! Being allowed on your shoulders/heads is a priviledge and not just a given, and from now on until he stops biting your ears/faces etc., when he lands on your shoulders or your heads you STAY SILENT, and then just remove him and put him down or keep him on your hand. That's the first thing...Now, whenever he bites one of you, you stay completely silent, you put him right down on the floor where you're at, and then you BOTH (or whomever is there when the bite happens) immediately TURN YOUR BACKS TO HIM, AND THEN PRETEND LIKE HE DOESN'T EXIST AT ALL FOR 5-MINUTES...Any shorter of a time and it means nothing, any longer and it loses it's point. He'll leave the floor, but you ignore him, and wherever he's at, both of your backs need to stay to him for 5 minutes...And then after the 5 minutes is up, you don't immediately start talking to him or paying attention to him, you instead let him come to you again, and it's like it never happened, UNTIL he does it again, which often happens right away when you first start this, so you again put him right down on the floor where you are and turn your backs to him, staying silent and acting like he doesn't exist at all for another 5 minutes...This might happen 10 times in a row when you first start this, however long it takes him to realize what is going on, but he will get it pretty quickly...Remember, ALL ATTENTION IS GOOD ATTENTION TO YOUR BIRD, whether it's verbal attention, like you yelling at him and calling him a "Bad bird", or it's you saying "Ouch!" when he bites you, it's all good in his eyes, and he'll just bite you again just to here you say "Ouch!" again...If you do a search for The Shunning-Method in the forum search-bar you'll find many long, detailed explanations of how it works and step-by-step directions...But this combined with eliminating all hormonal "Triggers", along with using Training-Treats to reward good/wanted behaviors and totally ignoring bad/unwanted behaviors will quickly get you guys back on tracki...
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Old 05-18-2019, 11:56 AM
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Re: Green cheek biting constantly

And by the way, DO NOT eliminate Protein from his daily diet!!! His daily diet should not be 50% fresh Veggies/Greens (and certainly not fresh Fruit), he needs to have whatever his "staple" diet is, either pellets or seed-mix, regularly. Reducing his Protein in this situation AND AT HIS AGE IS EXTREMELY NOT GOOD!!! He's a growing, developing Green Cheek Conure that is still under a year-old, and doing what you're doing could really cause some physical/medical issues, mainly Nutritional-Deficiencies, overall Malnutrition, and Developmental Issues physically, such as stunted-growth, among a lot of others.

You unfortunately got really horrible advice somewhere, and they should have told you that limiting his daily Protein (and for that matter Vitamin, Mineral, Amino-Acid/Enzymes, Fat, Carbs, etc., everything that he should be getting ample amounts of daily and that comes mainly from his pellets) when he's not even a year-old could seriously make him sick and cause him life-long issues...So his pellets are his daily staple-diet and he needs to always have access to them...And it's good that you still give him a small, daily portion of seed-mix, as long as it's a low-fat, high-protein seed-mix that has NO Sunflower Seeds, NO Peanuts, and NO Dried Corn (pieces or kernels), as these are the reason why birds who eat only cheap, junky seed-mixes develop Fatty-Liver Disease. These 3 ingredients give them no nutritional-benefit at all and are basically nothing but fat...[B]So he should be having access to his Pellets all day long, every day, and then a very small portion of a healthy, low-fat seed-mix that is free of the Sunflower Seeds, Peanuts, and Dried Corn, and then he should get a large serving of fresh Veggies and fresh Dark, Leafy Greens each day (I do this at dinnertime with my guys, they get their Veggie and Dark, Leafy Greens "Chop" while I eat my dinner, but they still ALWAYS HAVE ACCESS TO THEIR PELLETS!)...And fresh Fruit is NOT interchangeable with fresh Veggies and Greens, all Fruit is loaded with sugar, which is turned into fat that is stored in their livers, just like the fat in the Sunflower Seeds, Dried Corn, and Peanuts...So fresh Fruit 2-3 times a week...And no Avocados, no Onions, Leeks, or Chives (these are all Toxic to Birds), and limit the Citrus Fruits like Oranges, Grqpefruit, etc., as Vitamin C enhances their body's absorption of the Iron they eat in their food, and birds cannot handle much Iron at all, they can develop a condition called "Iron Storeage Syndrome/Disease", which can be fatal without treatment...So a little Orange Juice or a small piece of Orange or other Citrus Fruit once in a while is fine, it's not "Toxic" like the Avocado or Onion-family veggies, but just not a lot of it...And remember, by limiting his Pellets you weren't just limiting his Protein (which shouldn't be limited in the first place anyway), but the bulk of his overall-nutrition comes from his pellets (vitamins, minerals, enzymes/amino-acids, healthy fats, carbs, etc.)...
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Old 05-18-2019, 12:26 PM
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Re: Green cheek biting constantly

First of all, thank you so much for responding so quickly and for leaving such a detailed answer. There's a lot of fantastic information here.

I'll read through it all in detail tonight. To answer a few questions. He's been DNA tested so we have the certificate verifying that he is indeed male. We're also fairly certain of his age. We ordered him from the breeder before he was hatched and were sent new photos weekly up until the point where he was ready to come to us. So it could be that for whatever reason the breeder has been a little quick in allowing us to have him. When we received him he was on to solid food, had all his feathers and was able to fly.

As I say, I want to make sure to take the time to read your reply in detail. Once I do, I hope you don't mind if I ask a few follow up questions?
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Old 05-18-2019, 01:01 PM
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Re: Green cheek biting constantly

So this is just my .2cents worth but if your bird is getting any attention for this behavior ( biting ) such as either of you showing any emotion , yelling , screaming or cursing this is certainly a part of the issue. Conures are nippy and most grow out of it , since your bird is flighted more time needs to be spent training , a good place to start is target training , using their favorite treat for reward and only for reward . keep in mind training needs to be kept short 5-8 min and 3-5 reps so they dont quit before you call it. Also baby steps are huge with any training or you'll scare them and it will take more time to get the results you want. Baby's are sweet when they first come home but once their comfortable in the home and realize its free reign with no boundaries it turns to chaos. In summary , a target stick and clicker , favorite treat only brought out for training 5 min training sessions 2-3 times a day and on an empty stomach , otherwise you will be ignored. Most importantly BABY STEPS , find ways to break things up to lead to the conclusion your looking for. There are many good YouTube videos on how to start with target training but keep it simple and slow . Positive reinforcement training is a wonderful tool but gaining and holding trust is also very powerful . Never force anything as that falls into the flight side of the brain and we always want to work from the thinking side of their brain .

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Old 05-19-2019, 09:06 AM
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Re: Green cheek biting constantly

CrossCrash, yes, you can ask me ANYTHING at any time. Take your time, read through not only my info but do some searches on the forum, there is a lot of great, detailed information on our forum, as we have a lot of life-long, or at least long-time parrot owners, breeders, trainers, and people with a medical-background, so there is always someone here who has experience with pretty much anything and everything...I have worked at a very large, private Avian and Reptile Rescue as the Medical Liaison for about 8.5 years now, and I just don't want to see yet another bird re-homed, simply because their owners were new to parrots, were having issues such as yours, and they finally got frustrated and gave-up. It happens every day with pet birds, specifically all species of parrots, because #1) They are just so intelligent, and not intelligent like a dog is intelligent, but intelligent like your 3 year-old is intelligent, using logic, reasoning, and in some parrots even using specialized-skills such as math! They also have extremely good memories, better than our memories (unfortunately, lol), both long-term and short-term, don't let him fool you, he remembers everything you guys say and do...And this is why people often come to the realization that they are "in over their heads" and they give-up, which just is not true...As long as you are people who are responsible for his well-being as far as food, attention/affection, medical-care, etc., and as long as you love him, are able to show him love, and as long as you want him in your lives and your family, then you've got the hard part down already! The rest is just learning what makes him tick and then adapting to the ways you have to handle his behavior, as opposed to how you handle the bad/unwanted behavior of any other type of pet (except for a pet Primate, like a Monkey or Lemur, god love those people because no thank you, lol).

Seriously, I am 39 years-old now, and I grew-up in a family of parrot/bird owners and breeders/hand-raisers, and just as every other long-time member and parrot-owner on this forum will tell you, loving your pet parrots is not ever the problem. That's the easy part. We all get frustrated with them at times, we all get worried about them or our situations with them, we all second-guess ourselves about whether or not we are good enough "Parronts", as we call ourselves. But what you tend to learn about parrots over-time, especially if you have either worked in a Parrot-Rescue, or you've adopted a bird from a Rescue, is that if you love them and show them that you love them every single day, they will return that love right back to you 10-fold once you earn their trust. Earning the trust of a parrot is an experience that most people don't get to experience during their lives, they instead choose a dog, cat, or other type of pet...And don't get me wrong, I have also ALWAYS had at least one dog and then a Reptile of some sort...I have my second Australian Cattle Dog right now, the first from a young puppy to 14 years-old, and my girl now is 5 and a half...And they are extremely intelligent dogs, one of the most intelligent dog breeds there is...But they aren't a parrot...

So it's just a different way of thinking about how your pet thinks. Once you realize that and get into the habit of knowing that "Any attention is good attention" in the eyes of your Green Cheek, then things will fall into place for you guys. As FlyHigh stated above (probably because he didn't want to read my ramblings and didn't realize that he was reinforcing what I had already said, lol), "if your bird is getting any attention for biting, such as you yelling, showing emotion, etc., this is a part of the issue"...And the other part is the hormones...

***It is possible for a 6 month-old Green Cheek to go through puberty, in-fact we just had another Green Cheek I believe the beginning of this month or the end of last month who was only 4 months-old, and who had already started to display undeniable sexual/hormona-behavior...So if your GCC is already 6 months-old, then my guess is that he's either just an early-bloomer, which seems to be more and more prevalent with them, especially Conure species, OR his sex-hormones have simply been being "Triggered" by something inside of his cage, outside of his cage, the way you guys have been touching him/holding him, etc. Either way, his sex-hormones are a good 30%-40% of the biting issue, with the rest being you guys inadvertently reinforcing the biting, so he then keeps biting to get a reaction out of you guys, you guys do what you do when he bites you, he then bites you again to get you to react again, etc. It's a vicious-circle that you just have to break. That's all, no big deal, and it's also important that you both know that THIS IS EXTREMELY COMMON, ESPECIALLY WITH ALL CONURE SPECIES! I want to make sure that you both know that your post is easily the #1 post that is made by new-members on this forum, and it's not at all a situation where your bird is odd or has something wrong with him, nor is it a situation where you guys have done anything unusual or reacted to him biting in an odd way, nor is this a permanent thing that can't be corrected.

*****Please pay special attention to trying to eliminate ANY OF THE HORMONAL "TRIGGERS" THAT I LISTED IN MY FIRST RESPONSE TO YOU!!! Removing any and all hormonal "Triggers" SHOULD BE THE VERY FIRST THING THAT YOU GUYS DO, ASAP! ESPECIALLY ANYTHING INSIDE OF HIS CAGE, ESPECIALLY IF HE HAS ONE OF THOSE "HUTS"! As well as any "Loose-Substrates" you might have in the bottom of his cage to absorb his Droppings, they cannot be used as they are also common "Triggers" because they are thought of as being Nesting-Materials....Removing all items that create any type of "Small, Dark place" that he can get inside of or behind is crucial to stopping his hormonal-behaviors, as well as anything that could be used/seen as being "nesting materials", and then of course making sure you're not touching him/petting him in places that commonly arouse them...

Also, those "Happy/Snuggle Huts" or "Triangle Beds", or whatever you want to call them, well not only do they commonly cause severe hormonal-behavior in all species of parrots, but they have also KILLED, LITERALLY KILLED thousands and thousands of pet birds/parrots over the past few years, in 1 or 2 different ways that have nothing at all to do with them also being a hormonal "Trigger". So there is an even better reason to remove them from the cage and throw them out, never to be seen again...If you do a search on the forum for "Happy Hut", or just a regular Google-search for "Happy Huts kill birds", you'll see dozens of websites pop-up where people who have tragically lost their birds due to one of these things being hung inside of their cages can post and talk about their losses, as well as find all the information that they need to participate in one of the many "Class-Action Lawsuits" going against both of the 2 major-manufacturers of these things, or against one of the major pet shops that sell them...Either way, they gotta go!
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Old 05-19-2019, 10:34 AM
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Re: Green cheek biting constantly

Good morning All,

Just a couple things quickly , Crosscrash there's plenty of great info here to get you on the right path with your baby , Ellen is a great example. Please put in the time with your little guy as the love they give back is beyond what anyone could think a bird would be able to give back ,way beyond! . What your seeing now is only temporary IF you and your S/O do your part , as Ellen stated their intelligence is amazing and yes is that of a 3-5 yr old human. Just considering the brain size of each ( bird/human)and the fact that they are the only creature I'm aware of that can and do communicate with speech . Many other animals do communicate but with sign language or other techniques. Its important to read as much good info as you can absorb from good sources and use it everyday to develop the relationship you desire with your baby.

Ellen , I used my phone to respond to this thread so this app wasn't showing any response yet . Had I logged in from my laptop I could have saved some keystrokes. Oh and yes I'm guilty of scrolling past some of your writings as they are very detailed and and at the same time because many of the mistakes people make are very similar and the information doesn't change much. Please know I do read and respect what you have to say. Although I do wonder sometimes if you were a novel writer in a another life (Lol!), sometimes things need to be spelled out exactly the way you do . Good on ya ! for taking the time and patients to be as detailed as you are and willing to share what you have learned living with these nerve wracking little monsters we choose to bring in to our families and enjoy life with.

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Old 05-19-2019, 06:16 PM
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Re: Green cheek biting constantly

Just a few random suggestions for you:
* always carry a chopstick - if birdie's beak is wrapped round that, it won't be sunk into *you*
* when you offer your hand, offer the back of your tightly-closed fist - birdie can't get hold of that and won't be able to bite it
* try to stay calm and quiet and do your level best not to react to the bite - I've had success by calmly putting my bird back into her cage *the very moment* she bit me and leaving her there for a minute or two with my back turned (it's best not to use the cage for punishment, but I had no other option and my bird is big and can do a lot of damage)
* DO NOT punish your bird by hitting, spraying, blowing, shouting or shaking! Doesn't work.
* have a routine whereby birdie comes out-of-cage, does some training work, spends some time relatin' to you and then goes home - he'll know what to expect and will probably feel more secure knowing what's going down.
* target training saved my relationship with Rosetta.

I think my 'Setta believed I was an animated tree when we first met. All my exposed flesh was scratched, scarred and bloody! She was a ferocious biter and scratcher and deliberately flew into peoples' faces leading with her claws. She was dangerous and I very nearly succumbed to the awful thought of rehoming her.

Once I'd decided I was made of sterner stuff, I took a breath and sat down to determine how to redirect her violent and obviously hormonal behaviours. Target training was the answer for us. I put on some thick clothing, offered Rosetta The Chopstick and rewarded her. She's a greedy little piggy and responded perfectly for a sunflower seed reward. Within five minutes, she'd forgotten to bite me and was concentrating on doing what she had to in order to get that treat. The rest is history! As soon as she sees The Chopstick, 'Setta snaps into 'work' mode and does everything I ask of her.

Mind you, her native personality is one of endless energy and continual motion. She will probably never sit quietly for any length of time on my hand or snuggle up sleepily the way some birds do. She's on the go-go-go at all times and that's just her. But nowadays, she's not a risk to life, limb or eyesight and we're able to play and communicate together in a way I never thought would be possible.

Be patient and watch your bird like a hawk. Work out what triggers him and rack your brains for different approaches. Try target training. If nothing else, it's a dead-set way of getting birdie back in the cage without bloodshed. (NB. It's *crucial* that you target your bird into the cage *and back out again* several times each session. If he finds that targetting into the cage always results in imprisonment, he'll stop doing it for you. )

Good luck to you! Keep asking questions and report back often if you need to. There *is* a solution to your birdie's needs and with any luck, we'll find it.
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Old 05-20-2019, 02:45 PM
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Re: Green cheek biting constantly

Thanks again everyone for all the great advice. I've been reading everyone's posts and forming a game plan. So a few updates

He's back on the protean again. plenty of pellets with a little seed and some egg food and a little veg.

I've had a look around his cage for whatever might be triggering his sex hormones. We used to have a cozy hut in there for the first couple of weeks but we removed it after reading some of the bad stuff online. I was worried he'd have nowhere comfortable to sleep but he just seems to perch on one of his wooden toys.

We have one of those cages with bars at the bottom debris can fall through to a tray underneath. We'd lately been putting a sheet of newspaper in the inside of the cage because he kept dropping food from his bowl through the bars and we thought it would give him a second go at it if it landed on the paper instead. Anyway he'd been tearing up the paper and trying to pile it in the corner of the cage. That looks like nesting to me so I've removed it.

Something else was, now you mention it EllenD, I had been stroking him on the back, belly and under the wings. Not just the head. I've stopped doing so now.

I've also started the shunning. He's been out of his cage for about an hour an a half and basically my whole night has been spend chatting away with him on my hand for 30 seconds, inevitably getting bit, putting him on the floor for five minutes, and repeat. It's been tough and feels like i'm not getting through but I'm probably trying to un-train a couple weeks worth of bad behavior out of him so I'm prepared for a long slog.

I do have a few questions though. As I mentioned he is flighted, so when I put him on the floor he'll fly right back onto my arm, head or shoulder again. I've simply been saying nothing, returning him to the floor and walking away from him. Is that the correct approach?

Also most of the time I'll reach down to put him on the floor and he'll jump off my hand and fly somewhere. I've been thinking "fine" and just ignoring him where ever he decides to land. Is that correct, or is the floor part particularly important?

I've also had a hard time keeping him off my head/shoulder but he's been stepping up not bad today.

Next thing would be training treats. I've been feeding him bits of dried mango because it's what we've got today, but I expect that's really sugary so not good. What would be a healthy training treat? are seeds too fatty for me to give him one every time he steps up?

We've booked a checkup appointment this Saturday with our nearest avian vet ( an hour away :/ ) I'm just hoping he'll do OK in the travel cage.

And now he's just pooped on my laptop so I guess I'd better go deal with that. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Thanks again for the help!
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