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Old 08-12-2019, 09:14 PM
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Cage/perch/shoulder aggression

Hello all,
I have a ~1 year old sun conure. I just got him two weeks ago so we are still figuring each other out. He is having lots of issues with aggression while in his cage, perches (on top of his cage, 1 in the living room, 1 in the kitchen). Every morning I open his cage, he comes right out and climbs up to the perch on top of the cage. I talk to him for a bit, try to get him to step up but he bites and then I give up and walk away. Usually when I walk away he will try and fly to me. He is clipped, but he can still make it pretty far. Once he is on the ground (or wherever he lands), he happily climbs up on my finger. We hang out for a bit and then I decide to put him either back on his cage or perch. And we do this a million times a day. The last few days he has been adamant to climb right to my shoulder when I pick him up, and then once he is there he is impossible to get off. The pet store I bought him from warned me that he is shoulder aggressive and they had been working on that issue, so I try my best to prevent him from climbing up... which leads to more bites.

We have been working on target training. He is doing great so far. He climbs all around his cage to get the target, has learned to spin and wave. But won’t go anywhere near my finger or hand to step up.

So I feel like we are stuck in a circle. He won’t step up off a perch, flies to me, climbs to my shoulder, bites, I put him back on the perch, he flies to me.... I am also worried he might hurt himself when he tries to fly.

Any suggestions for this?
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Old 08-12-2019, 10:10 PM
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Re: Cage/perch/shoulder aggression

Hello and welcome to the Forum. Glad you joined us and are reaching out.

It's only been two weeks and you have made a lot of progress. It took me over a month to gain Levi's trust.
I've had Levi for 3 years & I still don't allow him to go on my shoulder. The trick is to stop him from running up your arm. You do that by holding a thumb over his foot, (1 or both feet) so he has to stay put.

Here are a couple of helpful links to get you started.

Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

Bite pressure training?

Best of luck to you both.
~Tami & Levi

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Old 08-13-2019, 01:40 AM
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Re: Cage/perch/shoulder aggression

First off, welcome! Congrats on your new fid and I am sure you will find this forum both useful and friendly!

I will write more tomorrow (its late here, lol). But I wanted to mention a few things. First off, its best to let your new sunnie fully adjust to his/her new surroundings. Sometimes that happens right off and sometimes it takes a few days to a few weeks. But while you should continue to interact with your sunnie once he/she is home, you want to keep it very slow in the beginning. You do NOT want to force it, its likely to backfire.

One of the best things to do in the beginning (provided safety measures are in place) is leave their cage door open (their day cage should be in the room where most of the activity takes place in the daytime.) Let him/her come out on their own and more than likely they will fly over to you. Let them get used to you before you attempt to touch them.

MOST importantly, you do NOT want to give up and just walk away when they go to bite you. This will teach them that all they have to do is bite you (or try too) and you will leave them or their cage alone. They WANT you to react. When you don't react, they'll learn it doesn't work and stop doing it.

I'd also recommend a separate sleep cage. Sunnies require 10-14hrs of undisturbed sleep each night. Trust me, if they do NOT get adequate sleep you WILL have issues. lol. Its a great investment.

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Last edited by Skittys_Daddy; 08-13-2019 at 01:42 AM.
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:03 PM
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Re: Cage/perch/shoulder aggression

Pico considers his cage his territory and he defends it.
I never touch him when he's in, on, or even near his cage.

To get him off his cage I use one of those 18" long wood perches covered in gravel.
Or save $$$ and just get a wooden dowel from a hardware store.
Once away from his cage he's a cuddly sweetheart.
It's a Jekyll and Hyde thing.

Here's how I do it.
Because I've written it out in such detail it sounds complicated, but it takes just a second or two.

Basically I don't ask, I tell.
Pico IS getting onto the stick, as surely as I'm respecting his sovereignty when he's in his cage.

With the stick held out horizontaly I approach Pico.
I hold one end of the stick, and the OTHER end approaches his lower chest.
(BTW, birds prefer to step up rather than step down.)

I don't stand there and reason with him.
When I'm a couple feet away I say, "Step Up" with a firm voice.
The stick moves smoothly towards his chest.

He steps onto the stick every time before it touches his chest.
At first it had to touch his chest, or I'd even have to push the stick gently onto his chest so he would loose his balance if he didn't step up onto it.
After a few times he understood that I meant business and now he always steps up onto it himself.

Only after he is well away from his cage will I put my hands into it to change water etc.

When Pico's on a playground or stand perch he's less territorial, but still I must judge his mood.
When he's mellow he'll step up onto my hand with no aggressive defense reaction, but it's a risk.
If I can tell he's feeling froggy, then I'll use the stick to get him off his playground.

I'm aware that others always use a hand and don't get bit, even in the cage when the bird is there, but conures vary ... and so do their humans.
It's a relationship in which you work things out with your bird.

Pico has put his foot down that his cage is his territory.
I respect that.
I've put my foot down that when the stick approaches him and he hears, "Step Up!" he steps onto it.
He respects that.
Kirk, out.

Last edited by YSGC; 08-14-2019 at 10:42 PM.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:46 PM
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Re: Cage/perch/shoulder aggression

Welcome to you and your sun conure. Everybody gave you great advice above. Two weeks isn't long, and it's great that he comes out, is interested in you, is target training for you! That's a lot of success. Take time talking getting to know him working on trust. Look at threads on fear of hands, this is something he probably already learned before coming to you. So now you need to use treats and patience and not forcing him to step up, teach him hands are good , and that he can trust hands, sometimes at this point it's better to teach step up to a hand held perch. Till he trusts the hands
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