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Old 05-29-2020, 05:38 PM
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Super Attached, Attention-Demanding Sun Conure

My 5 yr old sun conure, Mojo, always wants my undivided attention. With other people that she likes, she is mostly content to just cuddle or sit with them and groom herself. But whenever I have her out of her cage, she always wants me to be actively scratching/petting her, taking her outside, and just being constantly engaged with her; otherwise she starts screaming and doing things like chewing furniture that she knows she isn't supposed to do.

This behavior persists even if I have spent hours just paying attention to her; she doesn't even like it when I am watching TV and petting her simultaneously. I have a busy schedule and often need to do work on my laptop; I would like to have her out of her cage more frequently and just be able to hang out but the way things currently are, I cannot have her out while I am attending the many daily chores that are a part of life. I have thought about getting her a conure friend, but she's resisted this idea previously (just got very jealous and protective of her humans) and I don't have the space currently to try again, so this would be something in the future and not a viable solution presently.

Some of the things I've tried:
Spending hours playing with her
Going on walks
Making sure she's full and not thirsty
Bringing her cage and toys into the living room
Ignoring her when she screams for attention
Putting her in her cage for time-out

I would love any advice, thank you!

Last edited by cottonut30; 05-29-2020 at 05:54 PM. Reason: more to add
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Old 05-29-2020, 10:30 PM
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Re: Super Attached, Attention-Demanding Sun Conure

Not a conure peson myself, but universally using the cage as a time out or a punishment for screaming and squacking will not work, and maybe only makes things worse. Punishment does not work with parrots. You ave to study the problem and figure out why she has this overpowering need to be with you, undivided, and then work, at her pace , to change her behaviour.

One of this boards basic mottos is:
It is never the fault of the parrot
It is ALWAYS the fault of the human

Once you have that mind set it becomes easier to understand the behaviour and how to shape and change it.
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Old 05-30-2020, 04:13 AM
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Re: Super Attached, Attention-Demanding Sun Conure

Perhaps you need to think back and see if you started your relationship very attached, encouraging attention/bonding/petting too much for too long. It's always tempting with any baby but there comes a time when independence needs to be encouraged. So it will be tiny steps, it will take patience but once you start you cannot turn back for a quiet life. The message will have to be that certain behaviours are unacceptable, but you need to achieve this without making it feel like rejection.
I work hard at Syd not having a timetable of out of cage/on my shoulder time. I am home all day being retired so the bond is like glue if I allow it. Sometimes any attention is all it takes. He might be getting loud to come out. If I'm not ready I talk to him. It might take as long as a minute before he realises that I am talking to him very quietly while he is shouting. Then he realises he has to listen. He has quite a vocabulary now so there is a conversion very often. Sometimes he leads and sometimes I do but after a couple of minutes he is satisfied and he gets distracted with toys etc. The important thing for me is to engage the brain. He's an intelligent bird, using his brain is more exhausting than being petted. I have trained dogs in the past and always said that 20 minutes training was like a 5 mile walk for a dog. I feel the same with Syd but it will be 5 minutes at most. Use his brain and he will be less demanding because he will be happier. Hide treats/foods around his cage for him to find. Syd checks his cage each morning to see if I have hidden anything overnight. I also change the layout frequently moving perches, ladders, toys and am always amused at how he works out a new way of climbing around it.
I guess what I am saying is that you as parent must decide the boundaries and then start applying them very gently but firmly. It will be slow but worth the effort. Life cannot be only on your bird's terms you both have to thrive. Start slowly, distract with other places he can stay with toys. If he comes to you take him back, tell him what a beautiful boy/girl for doing something that is right. They love to please. Interact while in the right place, be silent if he becomes velcro bird.
If you watch carefully you will find cues as to what will work not all birds will be the same. Don't use too many different things/rules at once start with one and don't move on until it is mastered, and each day is a new start. What happened yesterday may be forgotten overnight. Just start again and keep going.
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Old 05-30-2020, 08:05 AM
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Re: Super Attached, Attention-Demanding Sun Conure

As a follow-on from Tootsyd’s & Wrench’s notes above, and looking at your list of things you Have done, I suggest you also try Target Training. Your birdie sounds like a really good candidate for Target Training. (You doNt HAve to use a clicker, a chopstick and one specific chosen sound or word can suffice.)
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Last edited by fiddlejen; 05-30-2020 at 08:08 AM. Reason: clarity
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Old 05-30-2020, 08:26 AM
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Re: Super Attached, Attention-Demanding Sun Conure

A few further thoughts.

(1)You know you should be scritching only on the head & neck, right? If by “petting” you are touching her body-feathers often, this causes her to think of you as her mate & should not be continued.

(2) My own Sunny also wants to spend all possible time with me. For doing birdie-UNsafe* chores, I put her sleep cage onto a small tray-table in a spot where she can see me. I put her in with door closed for her safety, and then proceed. I IGNORE her yelling etc, just think of it as background noise - except glancing over to make sure she’s ok! But of course I frequently interact with her via talking etc. (However NO chores with any fumes nor Teflon nor etc that would be Too UnSafe, just keep her away entirely!!)

(3)When I am working she must remain in her big cage, other end of house. I need her quiet as I am mostly on phone. At a few random times during the day I come give her a “Quietness” reward. Of course, she hears me coming and wants to yell. So I play a game. It’s like the childhood playground game of “Stop and Go.” My goal is to approach her with the treat. However I can only move toward her when she is quiet. (SOft sounds are allowed!) IF she is quiet for a moment I face her and advance. When she yells When she yells I Stop — and Turn my Back. IF she doesn’t get quiet quickly enough, then with my my back to her I make soft sounds to give her a clue - the moment her sounds get quiet, I count that as “GO,” and again proceed toward her.

This game has worked really well for me from the beginning.

Also If I hear a sound that makes me think I need to check on her I stick Only my head into room- do Not get very near her. If she notices me (and all is well) I say softly “it’s okay, you’re okay.” If she stays basically quiet (soft sounds are OKAY!), then I back out of the room, still facing her, as one typically does for royalty. If All IS Well BUT when she notices me she YELLS, then I make no sound, and I turn away from her to exit the room normally.
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Last edited by fiddlejen; 05-30-2020 at 09:58 AM. Reason: clarity
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Old 05-30-2020, 09:55 AM
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Re: Super Attached, Attention-Demanding Sun Conure

Yeah- I am also wondering if you have dark/shadowy spaces in the cage and pet places other than the head and neck..snuggle huts, tents, under blankets, under furnitutre, under clothing, in drawers/ in boxes,cuddles etc can all lead to sexual misconceptions between yourself and your bird--so if you have or are doing any of these, stop. They lead to behaviors that people often wouln't associate with hormones (even though they are often directly related---this does not mean that you can ignore training and expect it to all go away, but it does sound like the first step needs to be re-framing your relationship and setting boundaries for petting etc for ANYONE who touches or interacts with the bird--hormones can be triggered by many people).

Even sitting on a lap for a long time with long petting sessions is highly sexual for my bird (and that is when I don't pet anywhere other than the head or neck, so if you are touching elsewhere, I imagine you are running into major issues). Birds like to cuddle, but it's sex for them...and you don't want to be mis-perceived as the sex partner, because 1. it creates a problematic level of attachment, 2. it can create health problems in your bird, and 3. it can create anxiety and anger from the bird (which leads to behavior issues, due to you basically making promises you can't keep).

Make sure you never ever cover the cage during the day (only when the bird is sleeping should the cage be covered). At least 10 solid hours of sleep on a schedule is essential for hormonal regulation and immune function as well, so if your bird doesn't have a set bedtime and wake-up, establish those times and stick to them. Also, ensure that the environment is conducive to sleep.

Also, reward independence and teach your bird to play. Ife he/she is quiet when you leave the room (and not screaming) then come back in a praise for being quiet. If screaming starts despite attempts to talk to your bird room-to-room (BEFORE the screaming starts) then wait for a 1 Mississippi count to at least 5 before returning (contingent upon silence for a FULL 5 seconds-- any screams re-start the count). If 5 is too easy, go with 10.

NEVER get a bird for your bird-- especially when you are already struggling. You have no way to know if they will get along or fight. If they do get along, you could end up with even more hormonal issues on your hands...and you could also end up the "third wheel" (so to speak). Unless you can imagine a life in which you have enough time to tend to each bird on a totally separate schedule in a totally separate room for many hours a piece, do not take that route. They may never be safe to be together, and if you are having issues with screaming, you could end up creating more screaming when you have stated that time is already scarce.

Do you have play-perches for her in other parts of the house so that she can be around without being in your face? Don't get me wrong--she still needs to get used to spending time with you home, but out of sight, but if her only perch is her cage, that could also be part of the issue (on top of the cuddles etc).

Last edited by noodles123; 05-30-2020 at 10:02 AM.
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Old 05-30-2020, 10:04 AM
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Re: Super Attached, Attention-Demanding Sun Conure

I will tell you this, once you solve the "problem" you are likely to miss all the closeness and feeling of love that a Velco bird provides. You will quickly forget what a PITA she was
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Old 05-31-2020, 04:34 AM
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Re: Super Attached, Attention-Demanding Sun Conure

I'm not sure what your lifestyle/living situation is - but having a "velcro" sunnie myself, I had a lot of the same issues.


I changed things so I could have Skittles free-flighted. I got him several playstands so that he could be in the room with me wherever I am and have things to occupy his time. This also involved me re-arranging my life chores to only doing certain ones when he is awake and out (washing dishes, doing laundry, sweeping, vacuuming etc) and saving other tasks (cleaning bathroom, oven, countertops, dusting) for when he's asleep and not in danger.
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Old 06-01-2020, 09:07 PM
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Re: Super Attached, Attention-Demanding Sun Conure

Hi wrench13,

I do try to avoid using caging as a punishment. It is only the last resort when I have to get to work. That being said, I do appreciate the reminder that it is the fault of the human. When Mojo is being demanding and there is nothing apparently wrong, it is easy to think of her as being unreasonable. I will keep your words in mind and try to be a better, more understanding parent, and try other tactics prior to time-out. Thank you for the wise words.

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Old 06-01-2020, 10:02 PM
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Re: Super Attached, Attention-Demanding Sun Conure

@Skittys_Daddy: My Mojo is free-flighted as well. She mostly ignores her toys out in the living but I will try purchasing a play stand and see what she thinks of that.

To fiddlejen and a few others; I am aware of behavior that can be stimulating to birds and absolutely avoid it; only upper body; no petting halfway or lower. I will try some of the suggestions like the stop and go game as well as target training.

I really appreciate all the feedback, and I am sure my baby will as well when I am a better bird mama for her. Thank you all!
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