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Old 08-12-2018, 09:54 AM
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Red face Galah Cockatoo Behavioral Help!

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Hello! This'll be my first thread posted on this website so I hope I'm doing it correctly! I have a Rose-Breasted Cockatoo named Mambo, he's presumed male, and we've had him for around eight months now! We got him from a local bird convention, and we were told he was a rescue and therefore not much about his history is known, he's estimated to be around a year and a half old (probably almost two years by now).

Anyhoo! Onto the fun stuff. My little boy is very very very beaky, I don't know if it's possible he's still in his 'teething' stage but he insists on having his beak busy 24/7. He'll chew anything he can, including me lol.

He'll chew on my lips (sometimes it hurts really bad) and oddly enough when he's doing so he'll poof up his head, to get him to stop I'll silently bring up my hand and remove his beak from me... sometimes I have to physically open his beak to get him to stop.

Then he likes to try to bite my fingernails off, it hurts so I'll curl my fingers under so he can't get to them and he'll pull my fingers out so he can resume his nibbling. He'll chew on my fingers, my ear if he's on my shoulder, my toes, anything that he can. He'll chew on furniture too if we're not careful. When he's nibbling on me, usually I'll quietly bring up my hand and separate him from whatever is his chewing victim for the moment and give a calm 'Gentle Beak'... but after so many months of trying, Gentle Beak seems to have gone right over his head lol.

He has PLENTY of toys to be fulfilling his chewing fantasies, and we frequently change them up when he's absolutely decimated one (or when a week or so passes and we decide to change up his cage for him) We have a monthly bird package too, so chewable toys is never an issue, but he seems to like human more LOL. Any tips or help on how to lessen this nonstop nibbling? I'll be happy to answer any further questions!

Last edited by Chewyena; 08-12-2018 at 12:16 PM.
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Old 08-12-2018, 11:45 AM
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Re: Galah Cockatoo Behavioral Help!

Welcome to you and Mambo! At 8 months in your home, he is well past the "honeymoon phase" but may be in the hormonal zone of puberty, given his estimated age.

First, a word of caution: Access to your face, shoulder, or other vulnerable areas should be granted only as result of earned trust. An angry RB2 is capable of inflicting extreme damage. Human saliva contains harmful bacteria, including Gram Negative that birds have very limited ability to fight, so engagement with lips ought be avoided.

Mambo is clearly bonded to you, but needs to replace biting you with increased enjoyment of decimating toys! A few methods include bite pressure training, and a reward system to eliminate existing behavior - clicker/target training may be helpful.

Links to helpful threads!
Bite pressure training?
Clicker & Target Training

This thread was written about macaws, but there is applicability to most any parrot! Big Beak O Phobes Guide to Understanding Macaw Beaks...

Good luck, let us know if you see any improvement!
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Old 08-12-2018, 02:22 PM
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Re: Galah Cockatoo Behavioral Help!

Congrats, I absolutely love RB2's, and if and when I get another parrot it is definitely going to be an RB2. So I'm jealous!

They are extremely intelligent, the equivalent to a 4-5 year-old human child, and they become very bored very quickly. They do always need to be doing something, and not just doing "something", but doing something that makes them think. And their beaks need to be kept busy at all times, and if they aren't, well, you can see what happens. And as Scott said, you absolutely cannot allow him to "chew/nibble on your lips", your ears, or anywhere near your face, not right now, as right now you cannot trust him in that way, and he needs to learn that he cannot be allowed to be on your shoulder or anywhere near your face or head until he "earns" the right to do so. And so far he hasn't done that, as he's chewing on your lips, ears, etc. Until he stops the chewing/nipping/biting of any part of your body, then he can't be allowed on your shoulder or near your face.

Something you need to remember though is that the more you allow him to do these things, the more he's going to do them, and the more you are actually reinforcing that it's okay that he do them. For example, if he starts biting your lips, you need to immediately put him down on the floor or back on his cage/stand. When he bites your ear, he needs to immediately be removed from your shoulder and put on the floor. Same thing for your fingers. You can't just "curl your fingers up" when he bites your finger tips, you must put him down the minute he bites anything...And then I'd try the "Shunning" method, as he is already bonded to you and desperately wants your attention. So the best way to train him/teach him to stop doing something is to take away your attention from him.

So this is how the "Shunning" method goes: The second he starts biting you anywhere, you need to pick a phrase to say to him in a strong, firm voice. Something like "NO BITES!" works well, and you must say this to him every single time he starts biting you or anyone else anywhere, so that he knows what he did that was wrong. So the second he first bites you at all, anywhere, you firmly say "No Bites!", and you put him right down on the floor, and then immediately turn your back to him and totally ignore him for 5 minutes. You don't respond to him at all, if he screams then let him scream. Don't make eye contact with him, don't even look at him, just pretend that he's not even there for 5 minutes. Walk into the next room for 5 minutes and ignore him...And after 5 minutes passes then you can go back into the room where he is, and just sit down and move on. Don't start verbally praising him or giving him lots of attention right away, just go back into the room and if he comes over to you, which he most likely will, that's fine, get him to step-up if he wants to, but if he again bites you, which he will, then you immediately do the exact same thing the second he bites you, you put him down on the floor, turn your back to him, and walk away for 5 minutes. With a Cockatoo they figure out very quickly what the problem is, and they so want your attention that it doesn't take long for them to usually get the picture.

Other than that, having something that is an alternative for him to do AT HAND AND READY TO GIVE HIM at all times is very important. So something you could add to the "Shunning" technique is to keep one of his toys, preferably a wooden "chewing" type of toy right with you whenever you're with him. So the second he bites you anywhere, you immediately say "No Bites!" firmly, immediately set him on the floor and then give him the toy, if he won't take it you just set it down in front of him on the floor, then you turn your back to him and ignore him totally for 5 minutes. This way you are not only letting him know that biting is totally unacceptable and whenever he does it you are going to ignore him and retract your attention, but you're also showing him what he is allowed to bite/chew on. You always have to give him a positive alternative that is perfectly fine for him to chew on/bite.

For this to work you absolutely MUST do the "Shunning" the exact same way every single time he bites you or anyone else at all, doesn't matter where on your body he does it. And until he gets it and he stops biting and "earns your trust", he cannot be allowed to be on your shoulder or anywhere near your face. And until that point where he's no longer biting you anywhere, whenever he climbs to your shoulder you need to immediately tell him "No, no shoulder!", or something similar, so that he knows that it is off-limits. Once he's no longer biting you, which with a Cockatoo of his intelligence it usually doesn't take too long for them to understand, only then can you allow him back onto your shoulder...However, if you allow him back onto your shoulder, the minute he bites your ear again or goes for your lips, nose, face again, right back down on the floor he goes, and he loses shoulder-access again. It usually takes a couple of cycles of them earning "shoulder access" and then losing it again for them to go "Oh, I get it now..."

And you need to realize that this is necessary not only to train him that he can only bite/chew on his toys that are meant for that and never on people, but also for your own safety and the safety of other people around you...An RB2 can literally bite-off a finger with one chomp, bone and all. So imagine what he can do to your ear, or your lips/mouth, your nose, your eyes, etc. Even a smaller parrot like a Quaker, a Conure, a Senegal, etc. can do horrible, permanent damage that causes disfiguring to your face, and if you search around here you'll find many threads and photos of people with horrible injuries to their faces and ears, most of which required plastic surgery, and usually happen because they were allowing their bird to sit on their shoulder even though the bird was actively biting/nipping/chewing on them, and they thought that it was fine, their bird was just "playing", or just "beaking them" and it wasn't a big deal...and then one day CHOMP! and that was it.

***Something else that you definitely want to try-out with your RB2 if you haven't already, in-addition to having tons and tons of different types of toys (wooden toys for chewing, paper toys for shredding, etc.) is simply giving him some empty cardboard boxes that are folded-shut for him to forage in/on/into. RB2's tend to just love to "work-on" cardboard boxes. And what even better is if you take a big cardboard box and fill it with crumpled-up paper/newspaper, pieces of shredded cardboard, etc., packing it very tightly full with the paper, and then hiding different treats throughout the paper for him to forage for and find. This usually keeps them occupied for hours, as you're giving them a "job" to do, that's exactly how they look at it, it's a "job". I do this for my Senegal, who's beak tends to get him into trouble, lol. I usually lay an almond in the shell on top of the crumpled-up paper in the box so that he can see right away that there are "goodies" inside the box, and then he immediately goes for that nut, eats it, and then goes to work...for hours...I can actually leave him alone with his box, as I can hear him working on it for hours, lol.
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