Aggressive bird. Please help.

Retsibrof

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Jan 17, 2023
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A Pineapple greencheek conure and a turquoise greencheek conure.
Hello,



Sorry if this seems long, but I tried to add as much detail as possible.



I need some advice on how to deal with our newly aggressive bird. My fiancé had a pineapple green cheek named Kirby when I met her. She got him when he was around 1 year old and today he is about 7. He used to be really good, other than a bit territorial around the inside of his cage or when you move anything he is standing on, like your shirt or a blanket. In the past couple months though; he has had a significant change in behaviour.



Where Kirby had bitten us on rare occasions before, since the start of December, it seems as if he is actively seeking out my fiancé to cause her harm. One particularly bad event in early December occurred while my fiancé was working from home with Kirby in her office. Kirby became very dominant over her mouse and keyboard and was trying to chase her away and bite her fingers. Eventually, it got to the point where she was trying to get away from him and he was chasing her around the room, flying at her and attacking her if he landed on her shoulder. She called out to me for help, and when I entered the room, he was chasing her feet to try and bite her after he had landed on the floor. There have been many instances where he wants to be on her shoulder, appears to be affectionate towards her but then suddenly lunges to bite her lip, face, or ear for no apparent reason. He is not afraid of either of us. He just seems to be territorial or something.



One major change in Kirby’s life was the addition of another bird. We got another green cheek back in August named Ozzy. We kept them separate for a little while and eventually introduced them to each other and they hit it off. Shortly after, they were sharing a massive brand new cage together and they are almost always together now. They sleep together at night in a little hut in their cage.



One thing I’ve considered is that Kirby is being bullied by Ozzy and its taking a toll on Kirby’s mental health. Kirby was described as “petite” by a vet before because he is small in comparison to other conures. Ozzy, being only about 1 year old, is a much bigger bird, and is pretty crazy and likes to play all the time. He will often sit up next to Kirby and go beyond just preening behind Kirby’s head, and they start getting into a little tussle (going after each others feet). Most of the time it just seems like mutual fun, but I feel like eventually Kirby is always the one to move away and catch a break from the roughhousing. Ozzy will also chase Kirby away from food from time to time. This is normal “pecking order” behaviour in birds, but it’s something new in Kirby’s life that he hasn’t had in the previous years.



His relationship with me has hardly really changed much. He’s not weird around me at all. And also, they are on a very healthy diet. We have them on a high quality pellet formula and occasionally give them fruits and vegetables.


The relationship between Kirby and my fiancé has improved a lot in the past few weeks because we’ve been working on dedicated bonding time. We know that birds can be hormonal, so we are doing what we can to prevent Kirby from getting too much stimulation.

Still though, we see a change in Kirby’s behaviour. He use to be so cuddly and loving toward both of us. Now we need to initiate any sort of contact, like stepping up on our finger (which he’s way more reluctant to do now. Often he will bonk us with his beak or just put his head down, and sometimes lunge to bite). We will cup our hand over his back, which he still loves, and he will often press his head into our palm.



Another big thing that we have noticed is that his mood changes when we bring him into our computer room. We spend a lot of time in there as gamers and my fiancé working from home. When we bring him in there, he will eventually start obsessing with my fiancés desk, specifically in around her computer tower. He will look in all the little spaces underneath and behind the tower, and make fast clicking sounds. Not with his beak but vocally. It is the same sound they sometimes make when they are being affectionate. We have considered that this may be nesting behaviour and he’s becoming territorial of a potential nesting area. When my fiancé is using her mouse and keyboard, he is often right there at her hand bonking it or watching it closely. Sometimes when he’s on his perch next to the computer desk, he will start to make a short, high pitch shriek every 10 seconds or so. My fiancé thinks these are territorial shrieks. I’ll add, that Ozzy is always there with Kirby in the office but he’s usually doing his own thing, playing with toys or goofing around with me or my fiancé.


Changes we've made to try and correct the behavior:

-Set up an old cage in a separate room in our house so that the birds can get a full 12 hours of undisturbed sleep.



-Stick/clicker training in an attempt to assert good behaviour such as recall, stepping up, or going into their sleep cage.



-If Kirby bites, we say “no bite” and take him directly to his cage to be put away.



-We are bringing them into the vet for a check up and to have them sexed in February. I know I’ve been calling them both “he” but only because that’s what we assumed they were based off Kirby’s previous owner and the pet store we got Ozzy from.



The things that I'm suspecting are triggers for Kirby:



-Ozzy. New bird in the house. They love each other but maybe Kirby is jealous? Maybe he’s pissed off from getting pushed around sometimes? Maybe he thought that my fiancé was his “mate” but now he sees her playing with Ozzy all the time and he’s jealous? Alternatively, maybe he thinks Ozzy is his mate and he’s jealous of my fiancé?


-New cage. I’ve read that birds don’t like change. He’s always been territorial of his cage so now maybe he’s trying to claim everything in the house such as our computer room.

-Nesting behaviour in the computer room. He’s normally pretty chill until he comes up into that room. It’s a total shift in behaviour when he’s up there.


Conclusion:


Despite our efforts to improve the situation and seeing minor improvements, we are concerned about Kirby's behavior and are looking for any advice on how to deal with it. We want to continue to provide him with the best life possible, but also ensure the safety and well-being of everyone in the household.

Thank you for reading.
 

HeatherG

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Apr 25, 2020
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The first thing I notice is that you got another bird that he really likes, and he has a hut they sleep in.

My thought is that this bird thinks it’s time to have babies. He has a partner, he has a nesting hole (hut or desk cubby) and plenty of food.

I would start by taking away the hut and figuring out how much light he’s getting. He needs 12 hr or less. I would make his night longer than it is now. Birds’ reproductive cycle and hormones are largely controlled by photo period. Availability of a nest site is another factor that influences hormones and makes them need to breed.

Kirby is protecting his bird mate and possibly you from your fiancé, I think, cut aggression back by lowering sex hormones.
 
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Retsibrof

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Jan 17, 2023
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A Pineapple greencheek conure and a turquoise greencheek conure.
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The first thing I notice is that you got another bird that he really likes, and he has a hut they sleep in.

My thought is that this bird thinks it’s time to have babies. He has a partner, he has a nesting hole (hut or desk cubby) and plenty of food.

I would start by taking away the hut and figuring out how much light he’s getting. He needs 12 hr or less. I would make his night longer than it is now. Birds’ reproductive cycle and hormones are largely controlled by photo period. Availability of a nest site is another factor that influences hormones and makes them need to breed.

Kirby is protecting his bird mate and possibly you from your fiancé, I think, cut aggression back by lowering sex hormones.
That was our first thought too. We have already increased his sleep time by giving them a new sleep cage in a dark room as I mentioned. They have been sleeping from about 9 to 9 every day for the past week or two. We will consider removing the hut but I feel like Kirby is so used to it by now that he would be stressed. Maybe we won’t let them sleep together though.
 

wrench13

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I just want to add that the introduction of a new parrot (or human) to an existing flock (whether that is multiple birds or just you and your family/roommates) changes the dynamics of all the relationships already in place. Most importantly, the results are impossible to predict with any certainty. Its usually one of 3 basic outcomes, and I say basic because each parrot is its own individual, with individual personalities, etc and there is room for fine line distinctions in each case.

1. New bird and old love each other, to the exclusion of the humans
2. New bird and old bird hate each other, but retain or establish relationships with the humans
3. Everyone gets along great, birds and humans

IN each of these there is room for varying degrees of hate, love and relationships. Widely large ranges of changes in those relationships, unpredictable in outcome. Me, personally, would not suffer a parrot that actually flies to attack anyone, bird or human. Limiting the ability to fly for an attack seems like a basic decision that you must make. A decision I do not envy you for having to make it.

Final thought, returning a parrot to its cage after a bite is not a wise thing to do, it teaches the parrot that if they want to go back to their cage, just bite the human! A better reaction is to use the 'Shunning' technique to try and mold the behavior. Breifly, when bitten (and you are 100% sure it was not your fault by ignoring signs of an impending one) immediately say in a firm but not shouting voice "No Bite" and place the parrot on a handy neutral place, like a chair back. Turn your back to the parrot and totally ignore them for one (1) minute. No cheating, no peeking, no discussion about the bird or bite. No longer or the lesson will be lost on the bird, no shorter or it will not have the impact needed. Shunning is how young boisterous parrots are disciplined in the wild. But the parrot has to have a relationship with the bitten person, and they should not have the ability to just fly off to resume the attack or negate the lesson. Shunning should be done EVERY time the parrot bites unprovoked (consistency) and it takes time (patience) to establish in the parrot's mind that this is unacceptable behavior. Some catch on right away, some take a considerable amount of time for it to sink in.

Parrots do not respond to classic 'punishment' like a dog or horse might (and no one is teaching cats to do anything); yelling at it or using any sort of physical action (God forbid) might well produce the opposite effect and can ruin the positive relationship with their humans.
 

HeatherG

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Apr 25, 2020
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I think the hut is such a trigger for hormonal increase. I would remove it. I’d also think about clipping Kirby so he can’t attack your fiancé as easily.
 

onamom

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I agree about removing the hut. It does sound like he’s showing some hormonal behavior. You may even consider caging the two separately, for a trial, to see if things improve. It’s possible Kirby is being stimulated by Ozzy.

Since it sounds like a lot of this behavior occurs in the computer room, it may be best to avoid taking Kirby in this room for now. If you’re not ready to resort to completely leaving him out of the room you could try rearranging the furniture a bit to reduce the nesting impulse. Move the computer to a different part of the room entirely and make things look unfamiliar.
 

HeatherG

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Apr 25, 2020
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I agree about removing the hut. It does sound like he’s showing some hormonal behavior. You may even consider caging the two separately, for a trial, to see if things improve. It’s possible Kirby is being stimulated by Ozzy.

Since it sounds like a lot of this behavior occurs in the computer room, it may be best to avoid taking Kirby in this room for now. If you’re not ready to resort to completely leaving him out of the room you could try rearranging the furniture a bit to reduce the nesting impulse. Move the computer to a different part of the room entirely and make things look unfamiliar.
Yes. Rearranging things is said to decrease territoriality.
 
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Retsibrof

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Jan 17, 2023
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A Pineapple greencheek conure and a turquoise greencheek conure.
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Thank you all for the kind replies. We are currently working on some of the suggestions and have yet to try some of the other ones. Ill try to follow up with this post in the future. Maybe once we find out their sex, as this might change the dynamic of things.

As of now, my fiancé has gone over a week without getting bit, but his behavior can still flip on a dime.
 

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