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Old 05-16-2019, 02:46 PM
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All about Mango

Hi All,

This first post is mostly information. My only question is about stopping biting.

I got two birds about a month ago. Mango (IR) appears bonded with the cockatiel that he came with.

Mango is tame, but he seems aggressive to me. He will lunge at the cage when I come near it. He readily comes out of the cage on his own, and he has flown to my head a couple of times and to explore different parts of the room. Once he landed on the chair back and when I turned toward him, he clicked his beak once, which I also think is aggression. He is very protective of the cockatiel. He won't let me get near her and seems to have a distinctive, loud warning sound in that case. If I try to pet him, he will try to snap at me. He has the meanest scariest stare too.

The first time I handled him, out of his cage, he stepped up readily, but within moments he casually reached down and gave me a couple of bites that bled. I think he was not satisfied with the first and wanted a better grip. I just said owe and then for some reason I gave him a nut, and then put him down before he finished it. I guess I was thinking it was more important that he starts to trust me.

But now I'm having a hard time trusting him and I'll wear leather gloves to pick him up. When I put them on, his attitude changes and he will run away, but he will step up if I chase him down. He then wants to climb my arm, so I get nervous that he will bite my ear. I am working on building more trust and figuring out how to discourage biting. He has gotten me three times - just last night again since I want to get rid of the gloves. When he bows to bite, I turn my wrist or wiggle my hand and calmly say no biting. He'll stand up and look at me, then I'll wait a moment and give him a nut and praise.

I like that he will eagerly sample just about anything I give to him. He is very interested in what I'm eating too. He gets chop and ate quite a bit of it the first time - mostly baby bell peppers, baby cucumbers, some broccoli, and brown rice. He's gotten a bit more picky lately though. He really seemed to like scrambled egg.

He makes some interesting sounds. One sounds like a mocking "ah ha" and another "what!" Another is a kind of knocking sound, more like a woodpecker. Maybe that is what he is mocking or it is a typical IR sound? He will scream loud enough to hurt my ear too. He does this some times and I think he is calling, maybe for his former owner. He also does it a lot if I separate him from the cockatiel.

I don't know how old he is, but is at least five years old. I don't have any concerns for him, but do about the cockatiel, because Mango dominates her so much - not really in a mean way though. He will groom her and they seem to snuggle next to each other often, but I've seen Mango yank the cockatiel out of the food dish by the scruff of her neck. Sometimes I think of separating them, but that is more because I see the cockatiel being very aggressive toward Mango at times, like she wants him to leave her alone, and also because of his protective attitude with her around.

That's probably too much for now...
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:03 PM
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Re: All about Mango

If Mango has been with your cockatiel for a long time I wouldn't separate them as it may cause distress to both birds. You will have a long haul ahead of you building a relationship with Mango. From my limited knowledge of IRN I believe that a month with a 5 year old is but a drop in the ocean when building a relationship. I have heard of people taking as much as 2 years with rehomed IRN to gain any trust. So it seems you are doing very well so far. Just be prepared to go slow and invest a lot of time.

So far it sounds like you are doing OK. Wearing the gloves is fine but chasing him down to make him step up is probably not a good idea. Sounds like he is unsure about the gloves so is a little scared. I would suggest that you put him on a perch, back of a chair or back in his cage if he bites and ignore him for a while. Then try again.

You may never build a great relationship as he has a companion in your cockatiel and may only learn to tolerate you. Something to take on board as you progress.

I am new to keeping IRN but I have kept other birds before. Hopefully someone with better knowledge with IRN will come along and clear things up better than I can.
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:43 PM
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Re: All about Mango

I have never owned an IRN, BUT.....

1.) Never ever give anything positive following a bite! Giving him a nut was like saying, "hey, you failed your math test, let's celebrate! Here's $100!"
2. )If you got bitten when you went to pick your fairly new bird up, you probably rushed into things and weren't reading his signals....He is VERY new to you and your home, which means he is likely quite nervous still.

I would advise not to use gloves and to go back to building trust--my bird is scared of gloves and gloves prevent you from learning from your mistakes too. If when you try to pick up your bird they bite you (and it has been a short time since you got them--as in your case) then you should take that as a sign not to push further and evaluate your actions (in the case of a new bird in its cage). The more they bite, the more practice they get...The more you scare them, the more they bite. You don't want to test the waters constantly because if you are bitten and back off it teaches them what works, but if they bite and you keep pushing, then you create fear.

That is why you shouldn't make a move until you are fairly certain that your relationship is at a point where you will not be bitten.

Forcing unwanted physical contact with a bird gets you nowhere- You are seriously doing no good chasing him around etc.
Until he is step-up trained, he also should no be climbing up your arm, which means that even if he does step up, you (in theory) have to trust him enough to used your non-gloved hand to prevent him from running up to your face--and if you can't even do that yet, then you definitely shouldn't be picking him up (because he wouldn't be biting constantly if things were okay between the 2 of you). I am not saying don't let him out of his cage, but I would stop forcing the issue of physical contact all of the time.

NOTE: I am also not saying that in every biting situation bird owners should back off. For instance, if a bird with whom you have a solid bond bites you every time you try to put it back in the cage, then that bite is INTENDED to get you to stop what you are doing and fail at the task ---in that case, follow through is key... This is not the same though.

In bird time, a month is nothing....It took 3 months for my adopted (but tame and step-up trained adult cockatoo) to step up on me (excluding day 1 when she stepped up readily because I was less terrifying than her new surroundings)...It took about 1- 2 months before I could touch her without getting bitten every time. After about a month of her living with me (and me not knowing how/when she would go back in her cage each night), I got impatient, pushed my luck (despite her head-jerks) and got bitten/bled a ton... I had erroneously assumed she was ready because she would call to me and eat from my hand (and she knew how to step up).
The thing is, she wasn't and I had to start back at square one when I realized that this was all going to have to happen on her terms. Forcing things just drove progress backwards... A new environment and the loss of a previous flock member/person (even a crappy one) is a serious, earth-shaking experience for even the sweetest of birds.
WE ARE GREAT NOW, SO THERE IS HOPE HAHA!

You need to read signals so that you can avoid being bitten altogether. You don't want to trap yourself in a catch-22 where you reach in, bird bites, you back off and then bird thinks "oh, biting is the way to communicate that I don't want to be touched"...Conversely, if you do persist in trying to touch them after a bite, then they learn that you are a scary person and they fear you (because neither their signals nor their bites stop you)...

Also, reaching inside of a cage can be perceived as very invasive (it is their territory--and it sounds like they are even territorial among themselves), so if you can allow your bird to safely exit the cage, you may have better luck elsewhere (although not right now, as you probably have -100 trust....it can be built up, but it will take time).

The other issue is that you have 2 bonded birds (potentially) which makes you the 3rd wheel...Are they in the same cage? Is the cockatiel around when all of this is happening, because if she is in the cage and you reach in, he could easily be defending her against you.

Do you ever just let them hang out outside of the cage without taking them out of physically putting them back in? I couldn't touch my bird for months, but she was out of her day everyday from day 1 just because she doesn't like flying much and she needed to be out and about...It comes down to safety, but I can't imagine what Noodles would have done if I had waited for her to be tame enough to touch before allowing her out of her cage.

Consider researching ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) for parrots- It is very effective in humans and parrots when it comes to teaching and getting rid of behaviors. That having been said, trust is going to have to come before any major training.

Last edited by noodles123; 05-16-2019 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 05-17-2019, 02:36 AM
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Re: All about Mango

Thanks all for the feedback and encouragement. To some of the questions...

I had the birds for a couple of weeks before physically interacting with them. I spent a small amount of time with them daily just talking and observing.

Someone (else) asked why he bit me and I initially thought it was because he wanted to test my reaction. It was hard to tell because I felt Mango was rushing me by flying onto me and expressing so much interest. I would not put my hand in the cage as that was an obvious invasion, so only offered my hand when out of the cage and he seemed to want to engage.

I open the cage every day and they come out on a long perch extending away from the cage - it's an 8 foot bamboo stick that I've wedged between the bars.

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Old 05-17-2019, 06:02 AM
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Re: All about Mango

Is the tiel visible when the biting is happening?

It sounds like there is a lot going on--
1.definite newness, 2.possible mate defending, 3. possibly some limit or reaction testing, 4.possible territorial issues and 5. possible hormones.. Even with #3 though, you don't want to chase your bird or strong-arm your way through a situation. In 90% of cases when you don't know why you are getting bitten, it is best to A- avoid being bitten by reading your bird/avoiding triggers and B- not reacting at all to the bite if you are bitten...if you know why it is happening, then the approach is a bit different, but in this case, you do not.

I you are just standing there and the bird flies over and bites you, that is very different than if you go to pick up your bird and are bitten.
Which one of this happens more?

Also- if you have any dark spaces/shadowy areas/huts etc in the cage, remove them. That cage looks a bit shadowy right now and shadows are hormonal triggers. Can you get it away from that dark wall and make it less cave-like in there?
It looks like they are in your bedroom, but birds are highly social, so I would strongly suggest that you move them to the room in the house where people spend most of their time...Living rooms are a good start usually...Plus, tiels are powder down birds and breathing that all night is not good in a small space.

Is there any way that you can give them more toys and perhaps their own food/water dishes? It is going to be very hard to tell whether both are eating and drinking if they are sharing the same dishes---I don't know if getting them their own would help with some of the scruff pulling etc that you mentioned...it could become a new point of contention ..just throwing things out there.

Another thought/question--- have you tried removing the rod to see what happens if they just have to hang out on the semi-boring cage-top? Part of the incentive to go exploring and see new things can be you if they know that they can't really get there any other way (I guess it depends on if they are clipped). My bird was never clipped, but she still realized that she would have to step up if she wanted to go around the house (because she chooses not to fly unless scared lol). I am not sure, but by extending it from their cage, you may be making that room seem like one big extension of their cage (could be wrong)...just thinking...

How much sleep do they get nightly and do you cover and uncover around the same time each morning and night?

Last thing--This isn't a criticism either--just a strong suggestion. Try to buy them some perches that are more natural in texture and varied in thickness. Dowel perches like the ones you have in there can cause bumble-foot and arthritis over time.
"Sweet-feet" pumice perches provide a safe surface for nails and beaks and they come in a variety of widths. The sand paper perch covers are not considered very safe, but you need something for them to grind down their beaks/nails.
Parrot Wizard sells a bunch of wooden perches and you can even customized them to fit any length..granted those are more pricey.
Avoid any perch that is perfectly smooth and round...
Here are some examples and non-examples on Amazon (manzanita and dragon wood are two common types of perch materials for parrots).
**I would advise against the rope perches because they can be very dangerous and birds can get intestinal blockages from chewing them, or get their toes tangled in them**

Last edited by noodles123; 05-17-2019 at 06:37 AM.
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Old 05-17-2019, 11:44 AM
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Re: All about Mango

The tiel was visible the first bite, but I do not recall if she was still in the cage or out on the perch. Mango was on top of the cage and seemed just fine with me standing there. He stepped right up on my hand that time and then casually bent down for a couple of bites. I know they were not near his full strength, but that is a sharp beak. The second time I had him in a different room and that is when I would rock my hand a bit if he went down to bite - it was just a glance. He stopped doing it after a few attempts and I then walked him around the house and sat with him in the living room for a while. He eventually got bored and flew to a chair. I let him sit there for about 10 minutes and then picked him up again without an issue. I put him back on his cage with the tiel then. I've noticed he has not lunged at me from the cage for a few days, so perhaps he is getting more comfortable with me around.

The cage is in my den where I spend most of my time at home. I've been considering moving it to the adjacent wall to the left. That is a bay/dual pane window and would be the only other place it could really go in that room. Other rooms are too dark, even with blinds open. The cage is also easy to wheel into the living room, but that cannot be a permanent location for it. The only concern there is that Kiwi (my daughter's budgie) has an open perch/play area there and I'm concerned there will be trouble for him. His cage is in her room, but she is in the living room most of the time and takes him out there. Kiwi once flew on top of their cage and Mango started heading toward him. I feared he'd loose a foot so rushed over and picked him up. I plan to make a larger perch/play area for these birds too, so will be able to see how they get along in the same room. I'll make it so it can also sit on top of their cage and both play areas will be easy to move around.

I added a second food dish. Mango likes to be near Peach and they end up sitting on the same dish. He will nudge her around the cage to where he wants her, but she will occasionally get temperamental with him and start hitting him with an open beak and hissing. I don't see any real biting between them and Mango mostly preens Peach and makes a sort of grunting noise as he does. Without the rod they will either climb to the cage top or sit at the door. Their wings are not clipped, but Kiwi's are.

I was reading they should get at least 10-12 hours of sleep. I usually go to bed early and leave the house at 5 am, so they wake themselves up. I stopped covering the cage because to uncover it meant I disturbed them too early.

I made the dowels from a pine board, so they are not all that straight. Mango has been ripping the wood apart so they won't last too long. The others are PVC that I roughed up. I can warm them up and squeeze them into various lumpiness. I saw that in petco's cages the other day.
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Old 07-17-2019, 07:37 PM
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Re: All about Mango

Mango lost his longest tail feather the other day. His tail is as long as the cockatiel's now, but not as wide. Both birds have shed about 5 larger feathers each over the past couple of months.

Mango is dominant and likes certain things while not others. If I eat in the room, he will often fly to me and press his beak on my cheek, demanding a piece. I try to share the good stuff with him.

In the photo above, what are the whitish lines on his beak?
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Old 07-18-2019, 10:02 AM
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Re: All about Mango

The white "scratches" just look like scratches..like he was biting at the wires of the cage walls..I wouldn't be alarmed with them. And I see a COUPLE fresh BITES on your hand! OUCH!!!


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Old 07-18-2019, 06:48 PM
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Re: All about Mango

Thanks! Scratches they may be - he does rub quite a bit on the wires.

Those bites are from the first time I picked him up a couple months ago. Per the advice here, I've tried to avoid the possibility of that happening again. Mango has been great and lets me do about anything I want, when he says it's OK. He's grumpy in the morning when still in his cage and will lunge, but when he comes out will play just fine.

And don't mess with his girlfriend, Peach! I do anyway even though Mango puts up a ruckus, and will come for blood. It's just that initial interaction. Once I have Peach, Mango will come right along without fuss, just don't get too frisky.
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Old 08-09-2019, 02:53 AM
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Re: All about Mango

Just molting? First pic is May, middle ones are end of July, last one is from caregiver in early August when I was away. I think the last one Mango just bathed himself but I was out of town for a couple weeks. He looks like the middle ones now, but not as smooth as earlier months. He also seems to be cycling his tail and wing feathers. His tail is short now, but does not seem to be missing feathers. It is summer here.
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