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Old 04-17-2012, 10:48 PM
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Question Separation Anxiety?

I've had my 6 month old male SI Eclectus for about a month now, and all was going great until about a week ago. He started screaming everytime I left the room, and now he's even plucking out down feathers when I have to leave the house. He checked out great with the vet, has plenty of toys & a good diet, so I'm sure there isn't some underlying health or boredom issue. Is this just separation anxiety? Any advice on how to curb this behavior?
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Old 04-18-2012, 01:40 AM
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Re: Separation Anxiety?

1) Do not inadvertently reward the screaming with attention. Make sure you stay away from him while he is screaming. Wear ear muffs if you have to. Be warned that the screaming will initially INCREASE when you start ignoring him. This is known as escalation of the unwanted behavior. Do not make the mistake of going back to him just so everyone can have a bit of peace and quiet. If you make this mistake, you are just teaching him that he wasn't screaming loudly enough and long enough before, but if he screams loudly enough and for long enough, then the screaming will work. You are trying to teach him that no matter how loudly he screams and no matter how long he screams for, screaming does not work. After the screaming initially escalates, it will eventually reduce as he gives up on the screaming. This is known as extinguishing the unwanted behavior.

2) If you HAVE to get back in there while he is screaming, at least wait for a pause of around 5 seconds of silence before going back in, and then go back in before he has restarted the screaming. If he screams as you are going back in, you will have to turn around and leave, and wait for another pause of around 5 seconds or so before going back in.

3) Teach him to say "Hello". Go up to him and give him attention everytime he says "Hello". You are trying to teach him to use another way to get your attention, rather than scream. When he is saying "Hello", he isn't screaming. This is called differential reinforcement of alternative/incompatible behavior.

4) Hang up a few of his favorite toys that he actually LIKES to play with, before you have to leave him. People often say their parrot has plenty of toys, but if these are toys that the parrot doesn't actually use, then they are just cage decor. Often, we have to get a large selection of toys to find out which ones our parrot likes. Just because the parrot likes this toy today doesn't mean that he will like this same toy next month. If the parrot is uninterested in a toy today, he might really like it next month. What you are hoping to do by hanging up his favorite toys before you leave, is that the parrot will be preoccupied by playing with its toy and not notice that you have left.

5) Fill up the parrot's foraging toys with his favorite foods before you leave. If he is using his mouth for foraging and eating, then he can't be screaming.

6) Give him a shower before you have to go out. If he is busy drying himself off and keeping his feathers in good working order, then he is less likely to notice that you are going out.

7) Do not make a habit of leaving your parrot and then immediately going out the door for hours at a time. Make a habit of leaving the parrot but staying somewhere in the house and continue talking to him (not shouting), so that he knows you are nearby and is reassured. If you talk at a low to normal volume, he will have to pay attention and use his ears to listen in order to hear you. If he is listening, then he can't be screaming. If you have to leave the house, do it while he is busily playing with his toys, foraging, and/or drying himself off after a shower, etc. In this way, you are removing (or at least loosening) the association between you moving out of his line of sight, and you going missing for hours at a time.
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Old 04-18-2012, 06:21 AM
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Re: Separation Anxiety?

Quote: Originally Posted by AngelSeri View Post
I've had my 6 month old male SI Eclectus for about a month now, and all was going great until about a week ago. He started screaming everytime I left the room, and now he's even plucking out down feathers when I have to leave the house. He checked out great with the vet, has plenty of toys & a good diet, so I'm sure there isn't some underlying health or boredom issue. Is this just separation anxiety? Any advice on how to curb this behavior?
Keep a screaming diary. When does the bird scream? What else is happening at the time? Have you
changed the amount of time you spend with your bird? How do you feel? Parrots are extremely
receptive to the moods of those around them. Their sensitivity to tension, aggression or unhappiness
cannot be underestimated. Don't try to deal with your parrot when you are upset or frustrated.
Try to understand why your bird screams; he is trying to tell you something. Make sure that his
psychological and environmental needs are satisfied. Your bird may be insecure, he may be unsure of
your whereabouts, or he may want to know what you are doing and whether or not you will come
back to him. He may be hungry; he may be bored or lonely. He may lack routine or affection in his
life. Without rules and being sure of his place in the flock, he may be in charge of his life and not
doing a very good job of it. Establish patterns and rules, tell him when you are leaving, and greet him
00 your return. Never punish him other than by expressing your disapproval with a quiet, firm “no”,
and a stern look. Praise and reward his good behavior.

I very much doubt he would plucking but rather going through his 6 month molt. You will notice little pin on his head & around the face.

Last edited by Pedro; 04-18-2012 at 06:25 AM.
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Old 04-18-2012, 07:04 AM
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Re: Separation Anxiety?

Thank you both very much for the help! I will definitely be sure to work on his behavior. Pedro, nothing has changed with my schedule & I'm only gone for 1-3 hours a day, if at all, so he gets plenty of attention & I'm rarely unhappy. He has a fairly large cage too. He only screams when I leave the room, so it's probably like you said, he might be insecure/ unsure of my whereabouts. It's a relief to know that he's probably not plucking too! Enjru, I have been giving him foraging toys & the things I know he like before I leave & it seems to help a little, but I haven't tried the shower yet. I'll make sure to do that. I've also been giving him praise when he doesn't scream too, but that hasn't worked yet either. I know I just have to be patient & persistant. Thanks again to both of you for the help!
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Old 04-18-2012, 03:45 PM
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Re: Separation Anxiety?

Maybe you have been giving your bird to much attention in the beginning. Usually with new owners this happens. I would try & work out why he is calling because at this point he is still only a baby & he has to know that he feels safe. You can try covering his cage & only leaving the front open, this will give him a feeling of security. I am sure It will pass once he is more settled & he learns to trust you completely. You really don't have to be patient or persistant because a happy eccie doesn't make a lot of noise.

I don't ever ignore my birds when they call. There is usually a good reason for the noise. I always reassure them where i am. I don't go running I just call out. I ask them what's up or what's all the noise about even if they can't see me they go quiet. When my eccies make a racket they have run out of food. They get their fruit, veg & sprout mix, I just talk to them put the bowl in the cage & walk away.

I would like to know what his normal routine is, what he diet is, what time is bed time, where his cage is located, if in a room by himself or on a deck outdoors or in the family room. If you can give me some more information i can better help you.

Last but not least I never stick to a strict routine either, I found that when i used to do this they got to expect me at that precise time. So i would stagger feed time, out of cage time. My eccies live outside on the deck & i bring them inside to hang out with me. My young ones are very independent & don't expect my undivided attention. They spend many hours just hanging out on their play stand. I can go pick them up give them a big cuddle & kiss & back they go on the stand.

I actually sold a young male at Xmas & i looked after him just this past week. He was such a pleasure to have. When his Mum picked him up she told me he has never squawked out at all. She has done exactly as i told her & her hubby to do & everything is just fine.
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