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Old 05-23-2019, 04:07 PM
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Hormone aggression or aggression aggression?

Jack's always been feisty, but this week takes the cake! Long screaming periods no matter how much time I spend with him, refusing to calm down or listen when I tell him 'no', and lots of strange head-bobbing accompanied by 'heart-wings' and a little croaking noise. Toady he did that and regurgitated a little, which is weird because I though he was just being hyperactive.
Jack's five so if it is hormones I'm not sure why now he's being so unmanageable. Nothing in our routine has changed yet, but since I'm starting full time work next week I want to make sure I'm doing everything I can for him.
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Old 05-24-2019, 03:22 PM
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Re: Hormone aggression or aggression aggression?

Hello Birdsquawk and Jack.

I’m by no means a parrotlet expert but the behaviour you describe with the croaky noises, head-bobbing and regurgitation does sound kinda hormonal to me.

Hopefully someone with some more knowledge will give you some better info soon!
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Old 05-24-2019, 05:52 PM
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Re: Hormone aggression or aggression aggression?

Yes it sounds hormonal, but that is still behavioral. You need to be selective about how you handle the behavior or it will get worse. You also need to minimize triggers and train.
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Old 05-25-2019, 07:28 AM
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Re: Hormone aggression or aggression aggression?

Thanks for the response, I'll be sure to keep his hormonal triggers to a minimum. He's getting plenty of sleep and I'm working on some discipline training so he doesn't get so worked up.
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Old 05-25-2019, 08:38 AM
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Re: Hormone aggression or aggression aggression?

Any time there is a change in behavior, it is best to get a vet's opinion to make sure that there isn't an underlying health issue.

If he regurgitates, try to ignore it or change the subject, but do not attend to him more or scold (if he is on you when it happens, I personally would put him down gently and direct him to a toy or place him on a play-perch)--as long as you are sure it it regurgitation and not vomiting..

If he screams- make sure you aren't attending to it.
Keep in mind that there are certain times of day when it is normal for birds to have short bursts of screaming. These bursts are going to look different from neurotic or attention-seeking screaming...and they will usually be first thing in the morning and right before bed.
It sounds like he is screaming for attention, which means that you need to do the opposite (remove or withhold attention) when you hear him screaming.
When you are sure that a bird is screaming for attention (and not due to pain etc), it is best to leave the room if screaming starts and wait to return until it has stopped for at least 10-15 solid seconds. If you are out of the room already when it starts, do not return until has been quiet for a solid 10-15 seconds. If you need to, start low (10 seconds) and then gradually increase the required "quiet time" as your bird learns the drill. When attention-seeking screaming starts, leave the room, wait for a pause in screaming and start a slow count (one Mississippi, 2 Mississippi...and so on for the duration of the silence). If there is any squawking before the you get to 10 seconds, you have to re-start the count and you cannot speak to your bird or return to the room.
Do not attend to the bird in any way (no talking, no eye contact, no proximity) while the screaming is happening. If you cannot leave the room, walk as far away as you can and turn your back in silence.

As soon as he has been quiet for 10, return to the room and in a soft voice, say something like, "thanks for getting quiet." It could take upwards of an hour the first few times, but you absolutely must wait it out (you and everyone else in the home). One person can de-rail this by inadvertently reinforcing the screaming behavior with their physical proximity, eye contact, verbal responses etc. You have to stick with it--- no one should ever attend to attention-seeking screaming (ever). If your bird makes a noise that you like, or says something, e.g., "Hello baby", run over and praise the bird. By selectively praising and attending to the sounds you would RATHER hear, you teach your bird an alternative to screaming.

NOTE:
When training not to scream by leaving the room, make sure you have everything you need with you so that you don't have to go back in to get things. Make sure other people know that they need to stay out of the room as well (and again, if they cannot leave, they must move away from the bird and turn away from the bird in silence). Your bird will eventually catch on to the fact that it needs to be quiet in order to get your attention back, but early-on, it can take a long time for the screaming to stop...YOU MUST BE MORE STUBBORN THAN THE BIRD.

Once you start this intervention process, you cannot return until the bird is quiet-period.
So, let's say you left your cell phone in the room or there is a boiling pot on the stove and you have to go back but the bird won't get quiet long enough for you to do so....In a pinch/emergency, if you cannot wait it out, you can hide behind a wall (so that your bird can't see or hear you) and toss a ball of paper, small sock or other soft object into the room within the bird's line of sight. This will usually startle and distract the bird long enough for the squawking to stop for the 10 second requirement. As soon as they are quiet for 10s, you can run back into the room, praise the bird and turn off the stove or get your phone etc etc. This "trick" is not based on anything but my own experience (it's a bit unorthodox, but it works better than entering while the bird is carrying on and derailing all of your progress). Keep in mind, if you have a very fearful bird, do not do anything that might cause your bird to injure itself out of panic. Also, this "trick" must be used infrequently because if it happens too often, your bird may begin to think of it as a game of sorts.

You can try to prevent screaming by telling your bird what you are doing as you do it. I tell my bird "I'm taking out the trash, be right back", "I'm taking a shower" etc etc. She knows what to expect because these routines all have their own time-frames and it helps her anticipate better. Also, if you are in the other room, as long as your bird is QUIET, you can talk to your bird to give them an idea of where you are...but never in response to screaming (as this reinforces the flock-calling behavior).

Telling a bird "no" rarely works. If behavior is attention-seeking, "no" is just another form of attention unless you pair the word "no" with the removal of your attention. Remember, any interaction from you (regardless of your intention or words) is going to be positive to an attention-seeking bird.

In terms of hormonal triggers:
No boxes/hammocks/tents/under furniture/in blankets etc---no shadowy spaces.
No petting on the body (including the beak). Stick to head and neck only.
No warm/mushy food in an already hormonal bird.
No nesting materials in the cage (e.g., bedding, paper balls, shredded paper etc)
Ensure 12 hours of dark, uninterrupted sleep each night.
Establish a solid wake-up and bed-time routine.
Make sure he has plenty of toys to keep him busy---note: in some cases, shreddable toys like pinatas or sea-grass toys can trigger nesting behaviors in an already-hormonal bird. Wooden chew toys etc seem to be less problematic, but this will depend on your bird.
Make sure he is getting plenty of time out of his cage each day....at least a few hours. Some people cage their birds for long periods of time when behavior become too "unruly", but that will only make things worse.
Other birds can also trigger hormones, but it doesn't sound like that is an issue here.

Disciplining a bird isn't the right way to think about it. Try to think about things from a positive perspective. All behavior serves a function. Birds and people do what they do because they are getting something desirable out of the behavior. Most behavior= for attention, tangible items, escape or sensory issues. If you know why a bird is doing something (e.g., attention), then you must teach it a way to get that same attention in a more appropriate way. By ignoring the bad and praising the good, you will be on the right track (as long as this is truly attention-seeking in nature).

Last edited by noodles123; 05-25-2019 at 09:20 AM.
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