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Old 12-01-2019, 10:13 PM
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Thumbs up New GCC Owner Looking for Advice

Hello, as the title suggest I am now a proud new owner of a green cheek conure. Unfortunately, am quite inexperienced when it comes to the world of parrots (with the exception of 2 parakeets). I got a my new buddy, Malachite, from PetCo. I know that since he is from a chain store he most likely has very little hand training experience but I decided to get him because I don't think its fair that he has to miss out on a home because of were he was sent when he hatched. He was born on 2/18/19 and his favorite foods so far are red bell peppers and green grapes. Because I am new to this I am looking on advice on hand taming and becoming friends with Malachite. I'm thinking about using this post as a pseudo-journal on this adventure and I will be updating the post when I can for as long as I can. Here is what has happened so far:

Day 1
  • I brought him home in a carrier from the pet store
  • I assembled the cage for him and put in the perches, toys, and food bowls
  • I let him get used to the cage for a few hours, then I tried to put my hand in the cage with him. This was met with him walking up and putting his head in my hand and letting me scratch his neck. Any time I would move away he would move with me to keep me scratching until I finally had to go to bed

Day 2
  • Complete 180 from the prevous night. I had to work in the morning so I left at 5 am and got home at 2 pm. I walked up to his cage and he was hanging on the side ready to greet me. When I put my hand in the cage he immediatly started biting me. Hard enough to break skin. So I retreated from the cage and left him alone for a bit.
  • I tried again a few hours later with similar results, even after offering him grapes as a peace treaty.
  • Finally, right before I went to bed, I tried one last time and he sat still and let me scratch on his neck until I had to go to bed.

Day 3
  • I once again had work in the morning so I left at 5am again and got back at 2pm. Now he has turned back into his mean bird form. Keeps up with the biting.
  • After getting bit a few more times, he lets me start petting on him again. After a bit of this he starts to grab my finger with one foot and the perch with his other foot and he lifts his wings back and starts motioning up and down a bit. I was worried he liked me too much.
  • I notice that he has quite a few pin feathers on his neck and a few on his belly. I attempt to help him out with them. I had to endure a few bites (that broke skin) but he did end up letting me start scrathing his neck again.
  • With great results, I was able to remove the tips of several pin feathers and he seemed to be greatly enjoying himself.
  • Now for the bad part. I guess I moved poorly and I think I accidentally poked him with one of the feathers while tring to fix it. He jumped back and made a small squawk but did't bite me or anything. I attempted to slowly make my way back to him when he started biting me again, somehow even harder.
  • Ever since the "pin feather incident" he has not let me touch him and anytime I even try to put my hand in the cage he makes his way to me to bite the mess out of me. I'm worried that I messed this up a bit.
  • (update) Shortly after going to bed and a good while after posting this thread, he let me rub on his neck again for a bit. He seems to be way more relaxed later in the day, maybe because he is tired. He is more accepting of my love right before bed!

And that is where I am right now. Just to add to it I know if he bites I should not make a noise or jerk away and I have been doing pretty good with that (my hand kinda hurts but I will be fine). As for where he is, he sits right next to my computer, which is where I am most of the day (I am a computer science student so I have to code a lot). He almost constantly hangs from the side of the cage closest to me occasionally talking saying "hello" and "pretty bird" or just squawking a bit. He still tries to bite me any time I put my hand near him. I have also noticed that when I leave the room or go upstairs he starts making a noise that he doesn't make unless I go somewhere and he doesn't stop until I get back. Its a bit confusing. Finally, when I'm at work he is not 100% alone because I have two room mates that were home, however, they were not giving Malachite any attention.

Sorry I know its a long read but I think details are rather important. Thanks if you made it this far! Like I said I will try to be updating this post if anything big happens. In the meantime, I would LOVE some advice and tips if anyone has any to share! I'll try to reply asap. Thanks in advance!


Post-Thread Updates:

Day 4
  • Work yet again this morning, but not as long, just 7-11. I got home and gave him some attention, which he was a bit impartial about, and then I go to class for an hour.
  • After class I go get small treats and a clicker so I can get the clicker associated with treats early. He isn't a huge fan of the treats I got him, so I'm going to stick to grapes and red bell peppers for training.
  • The cage I got him opens up in the top and has a perch the can sit on just outside of the cage, so I gave that a shot to see how aggressive he is outside of his cage... It certainly helps. He isn't nearly as aggressive and when he does bite its not quite as hard.
  • I try to use a spare perch to start teaching him to step up. Every time he does so correctly, I click and give him a piece of grape. He isn't to big on it but he does it a few times and I give him a break so he can explore the top of his cage.
  • After a little while he climbs back down into his cage and I take that as a stopping point for a while.
  • About 30 min later, he starts "bathing". I say it in quotes because he is only dunking his head. You know, where all those pin feathers are? After dunking his head for a good while he starts rubbing his head on the water bowl. I think they are really bothering him.
  • SO, naturally I stick my hand in the cage and he scoots next to me and just sits there, almost expectantly. I start to scratch his head and he gives ZERO resistance and starts pushing into my fingers so I can get more pin feathers cleared up. After a minute of this he grows impatient and starts biting me so I stop. He just climbs up to the top of his cage and starts grooming himself and that is whats happening as I type this post. I think he is really starting to trust me more! (when he isn't being moody)
  • (update) I let him rest for a few hours and relax while I worked on homework.
  • After I got done with that, I let him jump back up to the top of his cage. I'm not trying to force anything on him so I just place my hands to the side of the perch. To my delight, he walked up to me and requested scritches. Who am I to say no?
  • Finally, I ended the day with him hopping on my finger with the reward of a bit of grape. Lots of progress today, and I am very proud of him! The people at PetCo were skeptical of his friendliness and willingness to be trained but I guess he just needs a little bit of love. (I know I am moving very quick for him, but I do understand some parrot body language and he is showing no signs of fear so I'm going to keep going with him. He is doing great and if he starts to get overwhelmed I will absolutely slow it down some.)

Last edited by blajpar; 12-02-2019 at 09:04 PM.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 12-02-2019, 10:41 AM
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Re: New GCC Owner Looking for Advice

Welcome to the world of GCC. We have had ours since August and its a bit of a roller coaster until they get used to you.

We have found that if we invite Rin out of the cage by opening the door and let him come to the opening. At that point he will step up onto our finger without biting. If we reach into the cage, its a 50/50 chance that he will step up without biting.

They protect their cages, as its their home and if you invade their home, most do not like it.

Once he is out of the cage, he can get a bit nippy at times, but its usually because he knows he is going to go back into his cage and he doesn't want to do that or is not ready to do that yet.

It just takes time and everyday, its easier and easier. Good Luck!
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Old 12-02-2019, 10:59 AM
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Re: New GCC Owner Looking for Advice

Welcome to the forums, deep respect for adopting Malachite without prejudice to his origins. While I am not familiar with GCCs, some basic advice is applicable to most species.

Malachite has entered the "honeymoon" phase of adoption, meaning a plethora of confused feelings and reactions. He may not yet recognize you as his "forever parront" and begin acclimation. There are many techniques to help bond and build trust, please read this: Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

Not sure when conures enter puberty, but take care how and where you scratch. Below wings, belly, and vent area can be perceived as suggestive. Safest place is the head down to but not including the shoulders.

Diet is crucial, a diverse intake of fresh veggies, some fruits, and good quality pellets and/or seed in sparing quantities is ideal. The latter two items are subject of debate and other members can share preferences.
Converting Parrots to a Healthier Diet - Tips
Bird Safe Fresh Foods & Toxic Food Lists + Sprouts

I don't think there will be lasting effects from the pin-feather incident. Parrots fairly quickly distinguish between overt abuse/teasing and an accident absent malign intent!

Journaling is superb! Not only will it help consolidate your thoughts and actions, but serves as example for all who follow. You'd be amazed at how many folks are assisted via Googling topics that lead to this forum. One need not be a registered member to benefit. That indeed is our charter, to aid parrots wherever possible!
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  #4 (permalink)  
Old 12-02-2019, 11:40 AM
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Re: New GCC Owner Looking for Advice

Congratulations,! You can earn it bribe trust back !
Some great articles
https://lafeber.com/pet-birds/bird-behavior/
https://lafeber.com/pet-birds/stress...ot-companions/
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Old 12-02-2019, 12:28 PM
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Re: New GCC Owner Looking for Advice

Quote: Originally Posted by SandieV View Post
We have found that if we invite Rin out of the cage by opening the door and let him come to the opening. At that point he will step up onto our finger without biting. If we reach into the cage, its a 50/50 chance that he will step up without biting.

They protect their cages, as its their home and if you invade their home, most do not like it.

Once he is out of the cage, he can get a bit nippy at times, but its usually because he knows he is going to go back into his cage and he doesn't want to do that or is not ready to do that yet.
Thank you for the advice! Yea he seems to want to get out of the cage and move around a bit more but I'm a bit weary at this point. How soon do you think I can try and let him out of his cage? I really do want to but he is not at all finger trained and I am not sure how I can get him back in his cage without scaring him because he is not at all finger trained and doesn't know step up yet. When did you begin to let Rin out of his cage?
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Old 12-02-2019, 12:37 PM
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Re: New GCC Owner Looking for Advice

Quote: Originally Posted by Scott View Post
Welcome to the forums, deep respect for adopting Malachite without prejudice to his origins. While I am not familiar with GCCs, some basic advice is applicable to most species.

Malachite has entered the "honeymoon" phase of adoption, meaning a plethora of confused feelings and reactions. He may not yet recognize you as his "forever parront" and begin acclimation. There are many techniques to help bond and build trust, please read this: Tips for Bonding and Building Trust
Thanks! I will for sure check that link out when I have a chance to. For now though I'm about to head to my next class. I am definitely looking to form a solid bond with this little guy!


Quote: Originally Posted by Scott View Post
Not sure when conures enter puberty, but take care how and where you scratch. Below wings, belly, and vent area can be perceived as suggestive. Safest place is the head down to but not including the shoulders.
Yea I have almost exclusively been rubbing his neck because that is where he seems to be most comfortable with touches. I haven't touched anywhere on his belly

Quote: Originally Posted by Scott View Post
Diet is crucial, a diverse intake of fresh veggies, some fruits, and good quality pellets and/or seed in sparing quantities is ideal. The latter two items are subject of debate and other members can share preferences.
Converting Parrots to a Healthier Diet - Tips
Bird Safe Fresh Foods & Toxic Food Lists + Sprouts
I have done plenty of reading up on diets for him and I work at a supermarket that has local fresh produce so its easy flowing, fresh food for him! Thankfully PetCo had him on a fruit/veggie diet already so I didn't have to move him away from seeds and such. He loves spinach leaves and broccoli.


Quote: Originally Posted by Scott View Post
I don't think there will be lasting effects from the pin-feather incident. Parrots fairly quickly distinguish between overt abuse/teasing and an accident absent malign intent!
That's really good to hear. I know parrots are very smart so I guess I shouldn't underestimate their ability to understand whats happening.
Thanks for all the good advice!
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Old 12-02-2019, 05:41 PM
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Re: New GCC Owner Looking for Advice

You also want to avoid being bitten (not like in a stealthy way, but by not doing things to provoke it early on). Get more familiar with body language and build trust before pushing those boundaries (bites communicate and they also happen for a reason--often fear early on). You want to avoid putting yourself in a situation where you will be bitten, because when it does happen it gives the bird practice biting, potentially gets a reaction, and creates a feeling of negativity that spans both ways. I guess I'm trying to say that powering through a bite is secondary to reading a situation so the bird doesn't feel the need to bite (early on). I am also not saying all bites are fear-oriented either, but you are moving very fast. Normally it a chunk of time before you have enough trust to handle a bird and know that it won't be different a few seconds later.

Last edited by noodles123; 12-02-2019 at 06:21 PM.
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Old 12-02-2019, 06:18 PM
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Re: New GCC Owner Looking for Advice

also---because you are new to parrots:
Here is my "new to birds" post that I like to share with first-time bird owners. It is long and you probably know some of it already, but since there is a large learning-curve, I hope it is helpful!

I copied and pasted from another "new bird owner" post. Sorry it's so long!!!

When you have a bird, any sort of heated mechanism (anything that heats or is intended to be heated) and contains PTFE/PFOA/PFCs/Teflon will be out of the question (and most things that heat up or are intended to be heated DO contain these chemicals)--This includes things like pots, pans, cupcake trays, cookie sheets, cake pans etc, but it will also things like include hair-dryers, straighteners, curling irons, curlers, rice-cookers, SLOW COOKERS, popcorn poppers, air fryers, microwave meals (including certain types of microwave popcorn), steamers, irons, ironing board covers, electric skillets, griddles, George Foreman Grills, drip trays, toasters, toaster ovens, poaching pans, electric blankets, humidifiers, heat lamps, SPACE HEATERS, Scotch Guard etc etc...Here 2 links about it: https://www.ewg.org/research/canarie...on-kills-birds
To find out what contains PTFE/PFOA/PFCs/Teflon, you have to call and be a bit insistent about it over the phone (and in some cases, you won't get far--but sometimes it is a matter of how you ask). Almost always, it will take a few days (and numerous holds) for them to get back to you and you must provide the full chemical names, abbreviations and brand-names. Shopping when you have a bird is super annoying because cannot visually ID these chemical coatings, as they can be colored, transparent, or mixed into metal/fabric during the manufacturing process. Teflon and chemically similar products have killed birds on separate floors with the doors shut. Similarly, while DuPont claims that off-gassing only occurs at higher heats, there have been myriad bird deaths (even within academic circles) at temperatures well within the 300 degree F range! There is a reason they used canaries in coal-mines and it is because they die very easily due to even low levels of fumes of any sort. Some specific accounts: https://www.ewg.org/research/canarie...-death-diaries
Here are the abbreviations and full spellings of the chemicals you need to ask about when inquiring about a product (give the name, spelling and abbreviation of each):

Teflon= common brand-name using the chemical types in question
PTFE= Polytetrafluoroethyline
PFOA= Perfluorooctanoic acid (sometimes known as C8)
PFCs= Perfluorinated chemicals

Sleep=essential to hormonal and immune function. Different species have different requirements, but 12 is pretty much the average. This means that someone must be there to cover and uncover the bird at the same time each night and that your home must be conducive to sleep.

Make sure you aren't using any unsafe products around the bird. This is pretty much everything with a scent (and some things without).
No perfume, carpet cleaner, flea shampoo, aerosols, solvents, air fresheners, paints, smoke of any kind, vaping, sunscreen, bugspray, candles of any kind (organic or non), insecticides, certain soaps/shampoos, fire-places, burning or heated oil/fat, self-cleaning ovens, gas and any household cleaners (e.g., bleach, windex, lysol, fabreeze, scrubbing bubbles, kaboom, pine-sol etc)...You will seriously have to re-think your entire home and your cleaning routine will change a ton.
NEVER use the self-cleaning oven function or try to season cast iron around birds.
The list goes on. Birds have VERY sensitive respiratory systems. Essential oils are also fairly unsafe due to their ability to be absorbed into the blood-stream and due to a bird's sensitive air sacs.
In terms of safe cleaning alternatives: White vinegar + water (as long as you don't heat it), grapefruit seed extract + water, baking soda (for scrubbing), some (but not all) natural cleaning products sold in pre-mixed formulas, and then avian-safe veterinary disinfectants, such as F10 SC (the yellow/clear concentrate has to be mixed with water but it is super safe and more effective than vinegar at killing bacteria etc).

Fumes make traveling with a bird complicated, as it is very unsafe to bring your bird with you into a location where teflon or chemical cleaners are being used. My bird does travel with me, but it is important to consider the safety of your final destination, as well as car temperature and any stops along the way (if you plan on bringing your bird inside).
I would recommend getting an air purifier (non-ozone producing/non-ionizing) to help with dust/mold etc (which can harm birds). Please note- a purifier will not protect birds from cigarette smoke, vaping fumes, teflon/ptfe/pfoa etc. It will only help increase the quality of the air to some extent. You cannot use unsafe chemicals around the bird just because you have a purifier.

Generally, you should only pet birds on the head/neck and you should not allow any shadowy spaces in the cage (boxes, bedding, crumbled paper, tents, blankets, low furniture, in clothing etc)...and so are tents/huts/hammocks etc. These things are hormonal triggers and they can cause health and behavior problems and snuggle huts can also entangle birds and cause blockages.

Birds hide illness like crazy, so there is nothing intuitive about their diseases. You have to be ready to study your birds poop and behavior daily, because even the slightest change can be a huge indicator. Blood work must be done yearly (at minimum) and should be done soon after you get a new bird. Birds can carry and spread deadly illnesses without showing any symptoms, so play-dates and exposure to boarding facilities etc come with risks of their own. PBFD, ABV and PDD are all very serious and very contagious diseases that can be spread by things like feather dust in the ventilation system. These diseases are also notorious for producing false negatives in infected but asymptomatic carriers (when tested).
Bottom line: make sure that you have a certified avian vet (CAV) near you. Exotics vets who see birds are not the same thing. If you don't have a CAV near you, your life will be much more anxiety-ridden than if you do (and the difference between a CAV and an exotics vet can mean the difference between life and death for your bird in certain instances).

Birds are very sensitive to temperature changes and drafts. Any temperature change of 10 degrees or more puts significant stress on their systems. If you have to take your bird out in the cold, make sure you carefully cover the cage and pre-warm the car. Also, make sure you don't have any air-fresheners in the car or vents blowing directly on the bird. Extreme heat can also be harmful. Over time, birds can adjust to a wide ranger of temperatures, but this adjustment has to take place over a long period of time. Anything too quick is going to shock their systems.

Dowel perches that are smooth/even in texture lead to a disease called bumble-foot. Textured perches prevent this---look into dragonwood, manzanita and pummice perches. There are numerous guides to appropriate sizing online.

Birds move in slow motion and especially and establishing real trust can take many months.

A baby bird will generally be friendly to all (much like a baby human), but teen and adult birds experience significant hormonal changes which impact their personality and preferences. Puberty is particularly bad in many cases. Although it passes, an adult bird will never be as nice as a baby and it will come with a whole new set of preferences, desires and rules.
It is very important not to engage in behaviors that will eventually be inappropriate for the bird as an adult, as this sets an unsustainable precedent. You must teach independence, refrain from allowing the bird to graft itself to you all day, do not spend excessive time with your bird due to the fact that they are a new and exciting new pet (because you will be expected to keep it up long-term), pet on head/neck only and do not provide your bird with access to fleece huts, huts in general, tents, boxes, blankets, pillows, bedding etc, ignore screams for attention and attend to the sounds you will be able to tolerate long-term, ignore biting when it happens and do not scold/react.
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Old 12-02-2019, 07:59 PM
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Re: New GCC Owner Looking for Advice

Quote: Originally Posted by noodles123 View Post
also---because you are new to parrots:
Here is my "new to birds" post that I like to share with first-time bird owners. It is long and you probably know some of it already, but since there is a large learning-curve, I hope it is helpful!

I copied and pasted from another "new bird owner" post. Sorry it's so long!!!
Oh wow, that was quite a read. I did read up on a lot of what was mentioned but I didn't quite grasp the severity until now. I need to take a look at anything that I have with heating elements and try to make sure they do not contain any of those chemicals/materials. Thank you for sharing, this really put the issue into my brain.
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Old 12-03-2019, 06:40 PM
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Re: New GCC Owner Looking for Advice

OK so for some reason now I can't edit my post? Oh well, guess for now I'll just continue in the replies! Anyway:

Day 5
  • FANTASTIC PROGRESS! He is taking to the clicker training like a natural!
  • He is 100% comfortable with stepping up on the spare perch, and even actively looks for the perch when he is tired of sitting up on his cage.
  • Very little to no biting anymore and he loves him some scritches!
  • Unfortunately (not sure if this is a common thing or not) he only likes me right now. He does not put up with my roommates at all if they try to put their hand near him. I guess its a bit confusing for him so for now I'm making my roommates stay away from him.
  • The next step is the only one I'm having issues with: stepping up on my finger. He doesn't really like getting on my finger right now and he much prefers the perch. I guess its just a work in progress.

That's really the main points today. He is doing great and loving his new home(I think).
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