Amazon is too attached to me, hates my family

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A friend of mine was going away to college and was looking to give away their blue-fronted amazon (20 years old). It was their family's pet, and I assume they spent a lot of time with him when everyone was younger but the reality was that everyone got significantly busier and he was left alone almost all the time. I had parakeets in the past, and had been researching a lot because I was considering getting a parrot at that time. So this event coincided and I thought this was good timing and accepted to take care of him.

At first everything was good, my family was spending a lot of time near the cage and getting him used to us. This was in January. Somewhere down the line, he was comfortable enough to leave the cage, and then comfortable enough to step up onto my hand. Around this time, he began to dislike the other members of my family and fixate on me (I think because he spent a little more time closer to me since he would step onto me I'd play with him). He didn't bite, because my family respected his space as he'd hiss or show that he was alert and wanted them to stay away (pining his eyes, fanning his tail). This has escalated (escalated from the last 3 months) to the point now where he screams when he sees any of my family members until I come and pick him up. He also generally gets upset if I am away from him. Today was very bad. All of my family have been working/ studying in the room his cage is in, but every time I get up to use the bathroom or get water, he screams constantly for my return. I am worried because I am a junior in high school, I am getting busier as its exam season, and as the summer comes I will probably spend a little more time away from home. I will have to go to college too, eventually.

I realize that I have been irresponsible, and haven't adequately understood the socializing process. I also messed up somewhere (I assume by not following a routine with him, just letting him hang out with me whenever he demanded). I don't want to give him away, as my family keeps hinting that I should because his separation anxiety (I think this is what is occurring) is getting worse. I know how bad parrot foster care can be. I am reaching out because I don't know how, and where to begin to help him be comfortable with my family, and be comfortable with my absence. He gets so upset around my male family members, even if they have been trying to slowly earn his trust. Some of the things they have been doing is speaking to him gently, offering him treats when he asks (he says cookie if he wants a treat), and being in the same room as him to make him more comfortable with his presence. It just seems to not work, he will scream until I am in the room too.
 

noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
Here is what I posted to another user in a similar situation:
It does sound like these behaviors could be minimized (in comparison to where they are right now) with the proper patience, enrichment and behavioral training, but they definitely are a ton of work and they are messy and destructive...Reducing attention-screaming means waiting out multi-hour scream fests that could last for a long time and get worse before they get better. The screaming thing is a common problem and can get super bad unless you respond to it properly--- either way, it's a process and will never go away completely, but can be decreased substantially with ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis).


1. Is your parrot getting 10 hours sleep on a schedule nightly? Under 10 messes with their hormones, mood and immunity.
2. How is diet? High sugar or carb diets can amplify behaviors.
3. Do people enter the room, look at the bird, talk to the bird or react in any way (whatsoever) to the screaming? Reactions= talking about it, saying the birds name, changing human behavior to compensate for screaming (e.g., yelling to be heard while the bird is screaming, moving your bird, looking at your bird, entering the room while the screaming is still happening, moving closer to the bird etc?) If anyone enters the room who wasn't already there (during a scream fest) the bird is going to take that as a win ASSUMING the screaming is attention-seeking...but before assuming that, you have to make sure sleep, diet, hormones etc are all in check.
4. When you pet, do you stick to head and neck only? If not, you should, as petting elsewhere is a sexual/hormonal trigger.
5. Does your bird frequently access shadowy spaces like huts, tents, boxes, drawers, bedding, under furniture etc? If so, stop allowing that access, as shadowy spaces are a major hormonal trigger (as is petting anywhere other than the head and neck) and with hormones, you end up getting behavioral issues..which is why you have to make sure basic needs are being met before jumping into behavior analysis.
6. How much time does he spend out of his cage daily?
7. Does he have toys that he uses? If so, what kind? They do need to be taught to play with toys and are often scared of new ones, so a gradual introduction (before just plopping them in the cage) is important for some birds.
8. How big is his cage? A cage that is too small or lacking in stimulation can also lead to screaming.
9. When you leave the room and as you do things around the house, are you using key words and phrases so that your bird learns to associate words with routine and can better anticipate your return?
10. Before the screaming starts, do you try to prevent it by talking to your bird room-to-room. If not, you should. Never respond once the screaming starts and when it stops, make sure you do a slow count to 10 or so before re-entering...In general, all bad behavior (unless you know the exact cause) should be ignored. If screaming is happening, you shouldn't come back into the room or provide attention until it stops for a set period of time. Let's say you are in the room and bird starts screaming at you. Don't look at your bird or speak to it, don't approach etc. I would walk out of the room, or stay in there with my back turned (with earplugs) until the screaming stops for a solid 10 seconds. If that is too hard, try 8 to start. The second the screaming begins, wait for it to stop. You will then count in your head (1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi... until 10). Any screaming that happens before 10 seconds will restart your silent count--- so, you have to start back at 1 the next time there is a break in the screaming and don't attend to your bird until it stops for the set period of time. At 10 s of silence, come in and praise your bird for being quiet using a quiet voice. No new people should enter the room during screaming and those who cannot ignore it should leave the room rather than reacting. This only applies to attention screaming, not fear or screaming from pain/illness (which is totally different). If you decide this is attention seeking (after correcting any issues with diet, sleep, cage size, hormones etc) then make sure that everyone is 100% on-board---if you leave your cell-phone or keys in the bird room and he starts screaming, you must wait it out until he is silent for 10 s, because entering during the scream-fest will reward an attention-seeker (even if your reason for entering was totally unrelated to the screaming itself).
11. If your bird makes a sound other than a scream to get your attention, do you make it a point of providing immediate attention for more preferred sounds? If not, you should.
12. Have you tried station training to cut back on destruction? You can train them to stay in an assigned area (although it's not fool-proof, obviously). That is another reason to have portable play-stands.
12b-If you don't want him chewing furniture, have you made it a point to introduce him to a variety of acceptable chewing options (in conjunction with station training)?
13. Do you have multiple (or portable) play-stands in the home so that he has a designated spaces with thing to chew of his own in multiple rooms?
14. Do you ever leave for super short periods and then re-enter right BEFORE the screaming starts and reward the quiet (using the same phrase, like, "good waiting" or "thanks for staying quiet". I tell my bird "wait" etc when I hear her talking from the other room. She almost always talks before getting to the point of screaming because I praise and attend to any talking but ignore screaming. Ive worked with her a lot on it for years, but these days, when I step away and she is feeling social, this is the progression of what I hear: "hi", "hello baby", "big bird", "I love you", "wanna look outside", "hop up", "come here", "COME HERE", "BACK BACK BACK", "AHHAHHAHHHHAHHHAHHH!!!!!" If I can respond or re-enter BEFORE it gets to the screaming, then it rewards the preferred vocalizations and prevents having to wait out a scream-session with the counting trick etc.
15. Birds are flock animals and need a ton of interaction. If you are keeping him in your room or excluding him from family (flock) activities, he is going to scream to try and get your attention. They need at least 3 hours out of the cage and at least an hour or so of really focused/direct interaction (involving shared games, puzzles etc-- some of this time can be petting, but you don't want to make petting your primary form of interaction, as it can become sexual in a captive parrot if your only direct interaction is petting. You should try and get the whole family involved and keep him in the hub of the home. If the hub is too noisy for him to sleep, a smaller sleep cage (or another cage in general that can fit in a sleep space) is advised-- one that can be placed in a quieter/darker area. If your bird is covered in the main area of the house and people are still talking/laughing/ shuffling things around or walking by the cage, your bird may be quiet, but it is very unlikely that he is actually sleeping.


If you re-home, I would just be very careful about who you give him to. If you do it without an adoption/foster/rescue, I would make sure that the person you re-home him to has a lot of experience with parrots, and if they send you videos or pictures of their home, I would ask them to hold a sign with a code-phrase or something on it so that you know it is actually them and not someone using someone else's images/videos. If they currently have other birds, hopefully they are already aware of the importance of a 45 day quarantine. Reverse image searches are also hepful in determining whether a photo belongs to someone, as opposed to having been recycled from someone else's posts/images on the internet.


If you re-home him to the right person, I am sure he will be okay. I won't say that re-homing isn't hard on them, but as you said, if you can't provide him the life he needs, then re-homing may be for the best. My U2 had 3 homes before me and she's only 14--it took her a bit to come around, but she is pretty happy with me even though she was with one of her homes for over 4 years.
 
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Thank you so much for this!!!! Looking at it, I think one of the main problems is that when he starts screaming because of either me leaving, or one of the men in my house entering the room, I would respond to those screams and come back to him. I wonder why he screams when men enter? I see what you mean, I guess it's all about paying attention to what kind of behaviors I end up teaching him to use. Today I worked on not responding to his screaming and rewarding him with lots of attention whenever he was quiet. Or if he called for me by saying "Hello", I showed up.

Also, he averaged about 6 hours of outside time... 3 hours on top of his cage on his little play gym and 3 hours with me or the family. Is that too much? He has a pretty large cage for just him, with lots of toys he uses.

I think the short periods of time tip seems really helpful. There were times I just needed to grab something from another room and he would go crazy. I'll be sure to use a key phrase like that.

And yes, I know there are many wonderful people who could take care of him well. But at the end of the day, I love him a lot and I would rather work on him than give him up.
 

noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
You have been reinforcing the screaming by entering when he screams. The same is probably true of the rest of the house, which makes me think this is attention based (as it has increased)



similar screams can have different meanings (depending on the context). In such a case, it could be that he feels unsafe and knows that by screaming, you or other women will enter, it could be that he wants the men to pay attention, or that whoever he wants isn't in the room..it could be that he wants the men to leave and by screaming, he makes them go away(escape)... it could be that he likes how they react when he does it (attention, again) or is super excited that they are with him



If you read the ABA stuff and do ABC charting, you can probably find out.
 
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SailBoat

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Jul 10, 2015
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DYH Amazon
At the top of the Amazon sub-forum are two highlighted in light blue> Please read the first: that is tilted something like: Understanding Amazon Body Language. This a required reading of anyone that comes in contact with your Amazon and you should understand it as if it is your first language, so read it and re-read it with understanding. The second one provides a wealth of information on loving and living with an Amazon!

The truly wonderful thing about Amazons is that will allow a full start over, as long as everyone understands it will take a bit longer.

Remember that Parrots have NO natural reason to trust Humans. So, everyday confirming that they have reason to trust Humans.
 
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halocline

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Thank you both for the info!!! I will read both threads thoroughly, and I started the ABA method. It seems that he only really screams when my dad appears, and just wants me to pick him up. He doesn't mind being near my dad only if I am accompanying him. I'm thinking this falls into escape?
 

noodles123

Well-known member
Jul 11, 2018
8,141
173
Parrots
Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
Thank you so much for this!!!! Looking at it, I think one of the main problems is that when he starts screaming because of either me leaving, or one of the men in my house entering the room, I would respond to those screams and come back to him. I wonder why he screams when men enter? I see what you mean, I guess it's all about paying attention to what kind of behaviors I end up teaching him to use. Today I worked on not responding to his screaming and rewarding him with lots of attention whenever he was quiet. Or if he called for me by saying "Hello", I showed up.

Also, he averaged about 6 hours of outside time... 3 hours on top of his cage on his little play gym and 3 hours with me or the family. Is that too much? He has a pretty large cage for just him, with lots of toys he uses.

I think the short periods of time tip seems really helpful. There were times I just needed to grab something from another room and he would go crazy. I'll be sure to use a key phrase like that.

And yes, I know there are many wonderful people who could take care of him well. But at the end of the day, I love him a lot and I would rather work on him than give him up.


He may just like men and scream because he is excited/trying for attention. ORRRR it could be that men scare him and that is a different scream, or that he is screaming the same way because he wants you to come in
 

noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
How do you know what he is doing when you aren't there? Your dad is saying he screams, but does that mean you also come running in? If so, he may be after attention from you.



Here's what you have to think of--- DOES THE CONSEQUENCE/RESPONSE seem to fall into attention, escape, tangible or sensory?


If your dad comes in, he screams and then the screaming stops when he leaves...I GUESS you could say that might be escape (but that could also just be a greeting mistaken for a screaming thing)


When your dad enters and he screams, tell me exactly what happens (for you, for parrot, for dad etc--- keep it factual) I will try to make an estimation.
 
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Here is usually what happens: my dad comes into the room he is located in, and Link (my amazon) starts to scream. He definitely pins when my dad approaches. If my dad stays away but in the same room still, he will just scream until my family has had enough and asks me to go to him. If I go to him, Link will quiet down. Link also quiets down when my dad leaves (even if I don't enter the room).
 

noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
So, it is likely to get to you...which would be attention (you enter, he stops---once you are there, he no longer needs to scream, as he has his reward). It mostly sounds like he is doing it to get you in there *although it could be based upon fear of your dad, which would be partly escape....*..I doubt many stick around once you show up (after all of that screaming). It could be a combo of escape and attention (with an apparently VERY heavy emphasis on attention), but you just said he does it until you show up (meaning that you either remove his need for escape, or get him what he wants). Either way, by showing up, you reward the behavior. That having been said, YOU MUST use key phrases etc because these guys are far too social and intelligent (like....smarter than some apes) to be locked up all day with no sense of time. You need to talk to them before the screaming starts, teach key phrases and help them anticipate.


This is one of my VERY favorite movies and I love this scene, but Lottie (the girl screaming) is an attention seeker-- for anyone, but especially Emilia and Sarah (the main actress). When the right people give attention, It stops the screaming, but even in the movie, it is only temporary/situational lol. When it comes to your bird, try NOT to be Sarah/Emilia (unless your bird is being good)--as attending to screaming is only a temporary fix. You can show empathy and BE SARAH...but not mid-tantrum....(be Sarah when the bird is good). Whenever I see this scene, I think...dang....ABA...Lottie is classic..She puts on a show in this scene because she LEARNED (in earlier scenes) that this get her everything she wants. This time, she does it with a motive, which is what birds will eventually learn to do as well.

Spoiler alert: Lottie in action again - BUT this ENTIRE scene (including Becky) shows really great examples of "attention" behaviors:
[ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1ordVEmJQQ"]A Little Princess (6/10) Movie CLIP - Getting Sara's Locket (1995) HD - YouTube[/ame]
 
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