Amazon body language

MykaMom

Active member
Aug 24, 2019
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Illinois
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Yellow Nape Amazon
Chickens
When my parrot is doing the Line Dance of Death, he is generally chasing my adult daughter around the house. It's a SMALL house. Redirecting doesn't work: I've started grounding him(closing him in his rarely ever closed cage) after the third chase. Any suggestions? I know he's frustrated with her refusal to hold him, truthfully she is afraid of his bite.

This behavior started in the spring when he started his 'I'm 10, you're my mate and she is boy's behavior. Will he outgrow this in a year or so?
 

SailBoat

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Jul 10, 2015
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Commonly, Amazons experience their first chemical rush at a much earlier age (between 3 and 6 years).

Please take the time to read this Thread to expand your understanding of Amazon Body Language - I reread it regularly!
The length of time this behavior is extending implies that it could have several drivers beyond natural 'season.' A couple of examples: Diet (sugar, both added and natural), sleep (lack of), handling (in areas that excite), etc...
Redirecting, can differ between Parrots. What works with one only excites another. My best luck has come with the dancing bath towel place between the Amazon and the target. Keeping its actions busiest near the floor. The towel should never leave the floor -- when that happens, they see the target.
Will he out-grow this? Once the drivers are determined and either reduced or eliminated it will reduce. We have a DYH Amazon, which we keep his sleep schedule very near the Sun Schedule, which helps greatly during the bulk of the year. The Winter to Spring can be a nightmare.
Look for the drivers (triggers) and work to limit them.
 

TrebleMama

New member
Nov 22, 2019
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Michigan
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Treble-Red-Headed Amazon
Well we saw Defcon 3 last yesterday, exactly how the OP explained it! The whole day had been very chaotic with people in and out, my nerves were getting frayed after dealing with having to do a bunch of store errands the week of Thanksgiving (they were madhouses!), and even when Treble was in his cage he was able to see all the commotion, (in hindsight I should have closed the doors to the room but I'm still very much a parrot newbie and didn't even think of it).

By late afternoon I was agitated, one of my kids was having a complete meltdown and crying/whining etc. And then I very stupidly decided to take Treble out of the cage-DUMB DUMB DUMB!! After stepping on my finger he bit me for the first time, hard, which of course caused me to freak out, since I'm still intimidated by his size, so I quickly put him on the top of his cage and that's when Defcon 3 happened, it was quite spectacular to watch :p I sent all the kids to their rooms, because they needed to decompress as much as he did, and I took a shower and had a large cup of coffee to settle myself down. The mood in the house finally calmed down and by last night he was back to normal and contentedly playing with my husband and his toys. Lesson learned-do NOT overstimulate the baby LOL :green1: I tried to have him step on my finger again last night but I was still shaken up and he wasn't cooperating so I backed off and gave myself some time to regain my confidence. This morning I knew I had to 'get back on the horse' so to speak so I made sure I was the first person to interact with him and take him out of his cage. He stepped up no problem, whew!
 
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SailBoat

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The truly wonderful thing with the vast majority of Amazons is they provide clear indications that they are spinning-up!

The Greatest Mistake Humans Make is not checking the emotional state of their Amazon prior to entering the Amazon's space. Or, to even let them know that you are entering!

You so well covered the importance of keep an eye on what is happening around an Amazon. They, like Humans are easily effected by the emotions of the Holidays and Holiday company.

Dealing with Defcon 3 is much easier to deal with when you see it building.
 
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OP
Birdman666

Birdman666

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Sep 18, 2013
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San Antonio, TX
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Presently have six Greenwing Macaw (17 yo), Red Fronted Macaw (12 yo), Red Lored Amazon (17 y.o.), Lilac Crowned Amazon (about 43 y.o.) and a Congo African Grey (11 y.o.)
Panama Amazon (1 Y.O.)
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Bite pressure training also helps considerably... though if they get too amped up that does tend to go out the window.

I need to post some Kiwi and Sally play videos... those myths about YOU SHOULDN'T EVER... will be BUSTED!
 

scozmos

New member
Jul 27, 2020
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Alfie - a 14 yr old male Red Lored Amazon via rescue
I've been asked to contribute my take on amazon body language. So here it is. This is by no means an exhaustive list. If anyone thinks of things I've left out, and I'm sure there is, feel free to add to this.

Amazons more than any other parrot use body language to communicate. You can usually tell just by looking at them what they are going to do before they do it. People call them “moody” but it’s more like they are 100% honest about their feelings, and they can be rather “opinionated” at times. Sometimes that means, “Sorry, I’m just not interested right now.” When they tell you something like that, especially if they continue to tell you that, and you ignore it, then don't be surprised if they bite.

Leaning forward, wings quivering I am in launch mode. Pick me up NOW, or I’ll come to you.

Alfie has now owned me for almost a year and boy, do I know it! The quote above is constant, pick me up now! He'll launch himself towards my shoulder at every opportunity, often just as I'm leaving the room so, I have to be quick and careful.

If, for some bizarre reason, I somehow slip out without him noticing, the entire neighbourhood finds out! :green1: Mr Grumpy starts with an incessant call, which then progresses to I'm bloody angry now so get here quick!

All that said, if he gets half an hour on my shoulder, or in my vicinity every morning, he's reasonably happy from then on but....... trying watching TV when he's out! Pay attention to ME!!!!!

We're learning together. The only real shame is, his previous owner had such a deep voice, we're convinced he is speaking but haven't a clue what he's trying to say.
 
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wrench13

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Try reading about contact calls in the Amazon sub forum. Especially if he calls to you when you leave the room. My 'zon Salty has a specific call he utters when I leave the room, and if I answer it with my usual response back to him "I'm here, where are you?" he is fine until I come back in. Use that call when you'll be out for a bit but will soon return. Also, try to let Alfie know if you will go out and will not return for a longer period, like work or the store. Again, use a specific phrase "I will see you soon, Alfie" . If you do that religiously, he will learn that even tho you are going out, you will be back, and he will stress less. They really are like little children, that need to be reassured that your presence will be forthcoming.
 

Ldy_BlueBird

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Jun 10, 2022
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Bleu (m/rip) CAG
I've been asked to contribute my take on amazon body language. So here it is. This is by no means an exhaustive list. If anyone thinks of things I've left out, and I'm sure there is, feel free to add to this.

Amazons more than any other parrot use body language to communicate. You can usually tell just by looking at them what they are going to do before they do it. People call them “moody” but it’s more like they are 100% honest about their feelings, and they can be rather “opinionated” at times. Sometimes that means, “Sorry, I’m just not interested right now.” When they tell you something like that, especially if they continue to tell you that, and you ignore it, then don't be surprised if they bite.

Wing flapping: (Usually accompanied by squawking.) If your bird is standing upright, and flapping at you, it generally means: “HEY DUMMY, I’M TRYING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION HERE, AND I’M GETTING FRUSTRATED BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T NOTICE.”

Recoil in Horror: (Usually accompanied by growling) This one is unmistakable. Fear, bordering on panic. It means (a) get that thing away from me; or if there is no object involved, (b) get that person away from me. (Often just before, “I’m either going to fly away OR I’m going to bite the crap outta someone. I just haven’t decided which yet.”) Show them something new, and this is usually their first reaction. Give it five minutes, it'll probably change to "That's mine" once they get used to the offending person or object.

Displacement/lunge biting: Here’s a clue! See this thing?! That’s gonna be your [INSERT BODY PART HERE] if you continue to do what, it looks like you’re planning to do. Just back away from the cage, and no one gets hurt. AMAZONS DON’T BLUFF. (That would be macaws.) This is not a test. It is a simple statement of fact. I am telling you right now, I WILL BITE YOU. DON’T YOU DARE LOOK SURPRISED WHEN IT HAPPENS… You were warned!

Big Bird: This is the closest amazons come to "bluffing." Wings spread. Making themselves look bigger. Standing straight up. "I'm the big bad birdie... DO NOT mess with me." They're not actually fixing to attack you. They just want to look menacing. And they are only bluffing to a point. If he's doing that, I wouldn't be in a hurry to stick your fingers within striking range. Normally they just turn in slow circles with their wings open. As long as you're not aggressive, they won't be either.

Head down and/or head feathers raised Scratch my head.

Wing flipping. I’m kinda tired and I find that annoying. I’m ignoring you now.

Wing flipping accompanied by eye pinning Apparently you don’t take a hint. We passed annoying a few minutes ago. I’m starting to get angry now. WHAT PART OF LEAVE ME ALONE DID YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?!

Poofed up, one leg up I am calm, content and relaxed. (And I’d like to stay that way, thank you.)

Standing straight up, foot up Pick me up!

Leaning forward, wings quivering I am in launch mode. Pick me up NOW, or I’ll come to you.

Strutting around in a STRAIGHT UP stance, eyes pinning, tail flaired, while whistling/chattering, and making silly noises at you: THIS is the amazon happy to see you dance. Interaction is required. I need it now. DO NOT IGNORE ME OR I’LL BECOME VERY, VERY UNHAPPY…

[WARNING: YOUR BIRD IS NOW APPROACHING AMAZON OVERLOAD. EVEN THOUGH THE BIRD IS HAPPY TO SEE YOU AND IS CRAVING INTERACTION, HE IS ALSO “IN THE ZONE.” HE WANTS TO PLAY. AND HOW DO AMAZONS PLAY WITH THEIR TOYS?! THAT’S RIGHT, THEY ATTACK THEM. BITING IS NOT A "MOOD SWING" AT THAT POINT. IT'S AN OVERSTIMULATED PLAY THING. Your bird does not suddenly hate you. Give him a second to calm down before picking him up. He'll be fine. Pick him up in the middle of the display? He might bite, even though he's happy to see you. Not because he's moody, but because he is THAT wound up...]

Strutting around in a HUNCHED OVER stance, shoulders hunched, head down, beak open, eyes pinning, tail flaired, WINGS HELD SLIGHTLY UP AND POSSIBLY QUIVERING, while chattering TERRITORIAL INTRUSION noises at you: THIS is the AMAZON LINE OF DEATH DANCE. Often mistaken for the amazon “happy to see you” dance, it means the exact opposite. And the main difference between the two is posture: Hunched over, head down, wings up.

You are intruding on my territory, and I will defend it to the death. Take one step closer and I will rip your lips off….

Defcon 1:
Strutting and displaying.

Defcon 2: Lunge mode while strutting and displaying.

Defcon 3: Wings quivering. IF THIS ONE HAS PROGRESSED TO THE WING QUIVERING STAGE THAT BIRD IS IN LAUNCH MODE, AND HE’S AIMING AT YOUR FACE… [Take IMMEDIATE steps to protect it.]

There is no Defcon 4, and there will be no further warning before launch sequence is initiated. The order to remove your lips has already been given! Seriously, defuse this one before you get to the wing quivering stage...

There are also individual facial expressions:

The quizzical look — What’s that? I’m interested. (That doesn’t necessarily mean I want it anywhere near me, until I figure out what the heck that is…)

The “is that for me” look. (Which means, Both GIMME IT! And WATCH YOUR FINGERS WHEN YOU DO!)

My bird has a “come hither” look. That means pick me up, and scratch my head.

My bird also has a “go away” look which needs no explanation.

My bird has a “I’m getting jealous” look. Which essentially means, you’re with me at the moment, don’t make me pinch you.

My bird has a “I’m coming with you look. No really, I am, you’re not leaving here without me. Dammit You get back here and pick me up!” (That last part is no longer a look. It’s a look combined with a rather distinctive flock call.)

The birdie smile, also needs no explanation.
I think the only thing you left out is the Hormonal Velociraptor. SOooo many people overlook and are straight up naive about what causes hormonal behavior, how to recognize it and what to do about it.
 

SailBoat

Supporting Member
Jul 10, 2015
16,075
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DYH Amazon
Truly a great point!
The reason it is not included in reading base Body Language is that Hormonal Driven Body Language commonly incorporates three of the base Body Language rolled into that event!

Plus, an Amazon being controlled by a Hormonal Charge of Chemicals have near zero ability to control their actions. Communication is all about controlling their actions.
 

PacoBelle

New member
May 15, 2020
5
10
I've been asked to contribute my take on amazon body language. So here it is. This is by no means an exhaustive list. If anyone thinks of things I've left out, and I'm sure there is, feel free to add to this.

Amazons more than any other parrot use body language to communicate. You can usually tell just by looking at them what they are going to do before they do it. People call them “moody” but it’s more like they are 100% honest about their feelings, and they can be rather “opinionated” at times. Sometimes that means, “Sorry, I’m just not interested right now.” When they tell you something like that, especially if they continue to tell you that, and you ignore it, then don't be surprised if they bite.

Wing flapping: (Usually accompanied by squawking.) If your bird is standing upright, and flapping at you, it generally means: “HEY DUMMY, I’M TRYING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION HERE, AND I’M GETTING FRUSTRATED BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T NOTICE.”

Recoil in Horror: (Usually accompanied by growling) This one is unmistakable. Fear, bordering on panic. It means (a) get that thing away from me; or if there is no object involved, (b) get that person away from me. (Often just before, “I’m either going to fly away OR I’m going to bite the crap outta someone. I just haven’t decided which yet.”) Show them something new, and this is usually their first reaction. Give it five minutes, it'll probably change to "That's mine" once they get used to the offending person or object.

Displacement/lunge biting: Here’s a clue! See this thing?! That’s gonna be your [INSERT BODY PART HERE] if you continue to do what, it looks like you’re planning to do. Just back away from the cage, and no one gets hurt. AMAZONS DON’T BLUFF. (That would be macaws.) This is not a test. It is a simple statement of fact. I am telling you right now, I WILL BITE YOU. DON’T YOU DARE LOOK SURPRISED WHEN IT HAPPENS… You were warned!

Big Bird: This is the closest amazons come to "bluffing." Wings spread. Making themselves look bigger. Standing straight up. "I'm the big bad birdie... DO NOT mess with me." They're not actually fixing to attack you. They just want to look menacing. And they are only bluffing to a point. If he's doing that, I wouldn't be in a hurry to stick your fingers within striking range. Normally they just turn in slow circles with their wings open. As long as you're not aggressive, they won't be either.

Head down and/or head feathers raised Scratch my head.

Wing flipping. I’m kinda tired and I find that annoying. I’m ignoring you now.

Wing flipping accompanied by eye pinning Apparently you don’t take a hint. We passed annoying a few minutes ago. I’m starting to get angry now. WHAT PART OF LEAVE ME ALONE DID YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?!

Poofed up, one leg up I am calm, content and relaxed. (And I’d like to stay that way, thank you.)

Standing straight up, foot up Pick me up!

Leaning forward, wings quivering I am in launch mode. Pick me up NOW, or I’ll come to you.

Strutting around in a STRAIGHT UP stance, eyes pinning, tail flaired, while whistling/chattering, and making silly noises at you: THIS is the amazon happy to see you dance. Interaction is required. I need it now. DO NOT IGNORE ME OR I’LL BECOME VERY, VERY UNHAPPY…

[WARNING: YOUR BIRD IS NOW APPROACHING AMAZON OVERLOAD. EVEN THOUGH THE BIRD IS HAPPY TO SEE YOU AND IS CRAVING INTERACTION, HE IS ALSO “IN THE ZONE.” HE WANTS TO PLAY. AND HOW DO AMAZONS PLAY WITH THEIR TOYS?! THAT’S RIGHT, THEY ATTACK THEM. BITING IS NOT A "MOOD SWING" AT THAT POINT. IT'S AN OVERSTIMULATED PLAY THING. Your bird does not suddenly hate you. Give him a second to calm down before picking him up. He'll be fine. Pick him up in the middle of the display? He might bite, even though he's happy to see you. Not because he's moody, but because he is THAT wound up...]

Strutting around in a HUNCHED OVER stance, shoulders hunched, head down, beak open, eyes pinning, tail flaired, WINGS HELD SLIGHTLY UP AND POSSIBLY QUIVERING, while chattering TERRITORIAL INTRUSION noises at you: THIS is the AMAZON LINE OF DEATH DANCE. Often mistaken for the amazon “happy to see you” dance, it means the exact opposite. And the main difference between the two is posture: Hunched over, head down, wings up.

You are intruding on my territory, and I will defend it to the death. Take one step closer and I will rip your lips off….

Defcon 1:
Strutting and displaying.

Defcon 2: Lunge mode while strutting and displaying.

Defcon 3: Wings quivering. IF THIS ONE HAS PROGRESSED TO THE WING QUIVERING STAGE THAT BIRD IS IN LAUNCH MODE, AND HE’S AIMING AT YOUR FACE… [Take IMMEDIATE steps to protect it.]

There is no Defcon 4, and there will be no further warning before launch sequence is initiated. The order to remove your lips has already been given! Seriously, defuse this one before you get to the wing quivering stage...

There are also individual facial expressions:

The quizzical look — What’s that? I’m interested. (That doesn’t necessarily mean I want it anywhere near me, until I figure out what the heck that is…)

The “is that for me” look. (Which means, Both GIMME IT! And WATCH YOUR FINGERS WHEN YOU DO!)

My bird has a “come hither” look. That means pick me up, and scratch my head.

My bird also has a “go away” look which needs no explanation.

My bird has a “I’m getting jealous” look. Which essentially means, you’re with me at the moment, don’t make me pinch you.

My bird has a “I’m coming with you look. No really, I am, you’re not leaving here without me. Dammit You get back here and pick me up!” (That last part is no longer a look. It’s a look combined with a rather distinctive flock call.)

The birdie smile, also needs no explanation.
Also adding (if you don't mind): which eye are they looking at you with. Read several studies and it plays out pretty true: bird's left eye is Danger eye. Predominantly used to identify enemies or peril. The right eye is Friend or Food eye: bird is not worried.
If you look at food ads/pix of birds you see most are shot with right eye facing.
 

SailBoat

Supporting Member
Jul 10, 2015
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Western, Michigan
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DYH Amazon
Interesting, but questionable as any of the Hot Three Amazons in Full-On-Hormonal Rush never wastes the time to assure they are using the correct 'eye' before they inflict deep cutting bites that spurts blood!! Been there, have seen that, know better than to believe that Study!! I would not rely on this 'study' or any such 'study' when you really need to know!!

If you think about it; when have you seen an Amazon take the time to assure that the correct 'eye' is in the correct direction. Not being mean, but this study has all the trappings of a Graduate's Study to obtain their Doctorate.
 

MykaMom

Active member
Aug 24, 2019
54
172
Illinois
Parrots
Yellow Nape Amazon
Chickens
Also adding (if you don't mind): which eye are they looking at you with. Read several studies and it plays out pretty true: bird's left eye is Danger eye. Predominantly used to identify enemies or peril. The right eye is Friend or Food eye: bird is not worried.
If you look at food ads/pix of birds you see most are shot with right eye facing.
What is the upside down head look? I've always interpreted it as "I'm stinkin' cute and want attention 'cause what you're doing is interesting and I want in on the action" sort of. And interested in a new person via voice, just don't let them touch me! way, lol.
 

PacoBelle

New member
May 15, 2020
5
10
Interesting, but questionable as any of the Hot Three Amazons in Full-On-Hormonal Rush never wastes the time to assure they are using the correct 'eye' before they inflict deep cutting bites that spurts blood!! Been there, have seen that, know better than to believe that Study!! I would not rely on this 'study' or any such 'study' when you really need to know!!

If you think about it; when have you seen an Amazon take the time to assure that the correct 'eye' is in the correct direction. Not being mean, but this study has all the trappings of a Graduate's Study to obtain their Doctorate.
Possibly, but it plays out pretty well in our household, with one exception. Paco insists on being on my right shoulder when she's on me ( 44 yrs old and nervous about falling off fingers) so it's her left eye I mainly interact with. But the work was done showing where the brain activity was which led to that hypothesis. It was in different, identified parts of their brains for each eyes' focus.
 

HeatherG

Well-known member
Apr 25, 2020
2,168
4,163
Huh. I don’t have an Amazon. But my Lucy Quaker only had the right eye and I was always surprised that she would gaze at me with her right eye and turn her blind eye to other people. Right now Willow has his right eye looking at me as he fluffs and crunches his beak.

I seem to recall that Jasper gives me the hairy eyeball with his left eye, but that might be coincidence.
3D6F4D68-1F4F-40CB-9D62-7D2C903B8AB4.jpeg
 

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SailBoat

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DYH Amazon
Possibly, but it plays out pretty well in our household, with one exception. Paco insists on being on my right shoulder when she's on me ( 44 yrs old and nervous about falling off fingers) so it's her left eye I mainly interact with. But the work was done showing where the brain activity was which led to that hypothesis. It was in different, identified parts of their brains for each eyes' focus.

That state's that they wired-up an Amazon to detect brain activity!! What humanity would support doing that to determine 'eye' preference!! Just because they could does mean that they should!! More likely they wired-up an Amazon and they found this connection. I truly hope they had a better reason for this level of intrusive testing.

Happy that your girl enjoys being with you /on you. We commonly have worked with older Amazons and have seen that same nervous reaction. We provide two conjoined fingers, this provides them with an easier surface to hold-on too. Thank-you so much for working with your older Amazon!!
 

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