Genieb03

New member
Jul 29, 2023
6
9
SK, Canada
Parrots
Black capped conure (George 5M)
Green cheeked conure (Nova 2F)
Yellow peach faced love bird (Sam 2M)
Green peach faced love bird (Flint 3monthsF)
I have two conures,
a black capped named George (5M)
George1.jpg

and a green cheeked named Nova (2F).
Nova1.jpg

Genders are presumed.

The Problem:
-Nova is very aggressive.
They live in a 7’ tall x 4’ wide x 2’ deep homemade cage. All materials are bird safe and have had zero issues with safety (aside from a light fixture with a conure safe bulb, which Nova likes to chew on the wiring. We occasionally readjust it to make it less accessible. Currently, no issues). We have their cage in a nook near the stairwell (we have a basement suite). There is a curtain blocking their vision of the stairwell as to not be overwhelmed by visitors or high traffic. They typically hear us come down and like to peep over the curtain to watch us walk.
Cage.jpg


-When we go upstairs, attempt to change food/water dishes or past the cage in general, Nova gets incredibly aggressive, ruffled, and lunges to bite at you. And she does NOT like children, familiar or not. Or my mother in law. There is a twine hammock in the corner closest to the stairs and curtain wall, that we walk past to reach the stairs that she tends to nestle in while in a hostile state.

- George has shown similar aggression, typically after I leave for a few nights (I went camping recently, and worked in different provinces a few months ago) but he doesn’t lunge for you. He paces, and only gets ruffled when you attempt to handle him. When he bites, he draws blood.

- Nova has had some health issues in the past. We received her in April and took her for a yearly the following January. They diagnosed a lung or blood infection after the stress of being at the vet gave her a nose bleed (and other things). She was on antibiotics for a few months. She wouldn’t accept medicine in her food and would eat around and wouldn’t point train to accept it as she was still too timid. The vet advised holding her and gently injecting into her beak (she now LOTS of aggression towards the syringe still. We attempted to point train her with it and some fruit juice so she would have an easier time accepting medication if needed in the future. This was long before her current aggression, but the displays were nearly identical). Her health and breathing are no longer a high concern, thankfully.

- We also managed to have Nova step up for a few months, prior to her aggressive phase, although it was mostly through luring, and only after she’d seen George take a seed as well. Any food offered to her must be eaten by George first before she’ll trust it. In these scenarios, she lunges at it as if she’s going to bite, and pulls back quickly. This has always been the case, and still is.

Suspected reasons:
-We have friends over maybe every other weekend? As a generous estimate?
One of them taunted Nova frequently, holding a hand to one side, and as she got closer, switched to the other side and repeated. We have since banned these actions, as well as any other form of taunting.

-The hammock in the corner seems to act as a nest. I worry this is encouraging breeding, and this is a cause to the aggression. (The pair have demonstrated mating rituals, but haven’t produced any eggs. I think we may be wrong about their presumed genders). I haven’t removed it, though I’m considering it.
BirdsNest.jpg
NovaNest.jpg


- Nova is especially protective of George, and will lunge at you if attempting to handle him.

-When we first got them (George in July ‘20 at 2yo, Nova in April ‘21 at 4mo) I admit, I had poor patience and temper. I have vocally disciplined them in the past, and was pressuring in my attempts to tame them. I’ve since attempted to adjust my approach, with minor hiccups. The most recent ‘hiccup’ I was replacing their food dishes. Nova lunged at me the first one, and I called her bluff. I assumed she would lunge to scare me off (I tried not to pull back quickly, but that was not necessarily the case that time), so I attempted to place the second dish, as calmly and gently as possible without dodging her lunges. She latched on, and she latched on HARD. I gently tugged away to encourage her to release, she did not. I tried moving my arm away, but she let go of the perch and stayed attached, biting harder. I ended up panicking and tapping her wings (with a hefty pressure, unfortunately) and she released. I didn’t yell at her, IIRC. I inspected her, and she appeared without injury, still aggressive.

Current solutions in place:
-We have set up a sleep cage in our bedroom using their old cage. They have a sleep hut they both use (I’ve found they will not sleep outside of it), two toys, and their pellets, water and chop. George will step up, so we attempt that first. If he doesn’t want to, we use a rope perch to move him to the bedroom. We give Nova the option of stepping up, but she tends to fly away. We will try once or twice more, but 99% of the time, we have to use the perch to move her.
George almost always steps up in the mornings. Nova, maybe 50% of the time? We cover all of our birds at night, at veterinarians advice.
They do not display ANY aggression in their sleep cage.

-Instead of giving them vegetables as we have them (while making dinner or harvesting the garden), I made about 3 months worth of chop and froze it in 3 day portions. 1 cup of 10 different vegetables/fruits (10 cups total, watermelon, green beans, peas, butternut squash, celery, parsley, bell pepper, carrot, broccoli, and cucumber), 6 cups cooked quinoa, 2 cups cooked brown lentils, 1 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup sunflower seed/millet mix, and 1/2 cup of some larger parrot seed they don’t like, but my 2 lovebirds do. The conures get 3 tablespoons combined, the lovebirds 1 tablespoons. Both pairs leave nothing but crumbs by morning.
MessyGeorge.jpg


-The large conure cage was made because their current sleep cage was too small to house both of them without free flight time, and they’re very destructive, so we wanted something large enough to house them for extended periods of time if necessary. Recently we’ve started opening their flight cage more frequently, but they spend more time in it that out (which I am okay with).

-When Nova “purrs” or chirps happily and with content, I have started praising her about as loudly as I might have disciplined her in the past, as I’ve read that disciplining loudly has the opposite effect. I’m hoping this trains her into more positive behaviours.
- we spend more time observing them, in hopes that they recognize we don’t want to hurt them. I don’t know if this is counterproductive.

- I did try a week without ANY eye contact or interaction (my husband still gave them attention and affection), although looking back, I should have only ignored nova’s aggressive tendencies. If there was a difference, it wasn’t noticeable, however, I don’t think they minded.

Current state:
-as mentioned before, there is absolutely zero aggressiveness in their sleep cage.

-nova actually tends to be more timid (this is how she was since we got her before she became aggressive)
- Nova seems less aggressive when walking past, but is still ruffled, and still lunges. If you stand at her cage with it open, she will still fly to the perch closest to you, but doesn’t make a proactive effort to bite you, unless you get close.

- Nova is still aggressive when placing food dishes, but I’ve found distracting her with the chop dish tends to give me enough time to place the food dishes without her chasing me.

- Nova is still aggressive in the twine nest, and I’ve seen her nestle into it, I wanna say more, but I could be focussing my attention more. We have some dried grass in there for her to chew on, and she’s placed (or lost) two feathers inside.

-Nova will sit on my desk chair when I am not in it, quite frequently. Only once or twice has she sat in it with me in it. It’s an open concept suite, with my chair about 5 feet in front of the cage, and my partners about 20 feet away. George prefers my partners seat, and my partner in general.

- Nova will display her aggression while we’re about 5-10 feet away, but happy chirp at the same time? I worry I’ve trained her into being happy AND aggressive, or maybe, she’s boasting her superiority?

- they play a lot. They have lots of toys, lots of safe chewable stuff and lots of freedom. They also sit, and preen each other a lot, and observe us. I would have considered boredom a possibility when we left the cage closed often, but currently, they seem very comfortable activity wise. They also have frequent access to sunlight and fresh air.

NovaWindow1.jpg
NovaWindow2.jpg

What i would like:
Any advice to help lessen her aggression, or constructive criticism on what my partner and I have already done/are actively doing to steer their behaviour in the right direction?
Any advice in taming her would be greatly appreciated as well. I haven’t tried point training her through her aggression, but when attempted while timid, she would never approach.
I have done quite a bit of research, but I’m sure there are some undocumented experiences that would be more beneficial.
Thank you!
 
Last edited:

onamom

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Welcome to the forums though I'm sorry to hear about these issues with Nova.

I'm wondering how much of this problem is rooted in what you said - "Nova is especially protective of George". Have the two ever been caged separately at all? Since you mentioned they behave better in the sleep cage - are they both in the sleep cage together?

I think spending some time working with Nova alone could be very beneficial. I think you will need to do some back-tracking here to really work on rebuilding your relationship with her from the ground up. Working your way up to target training when she is ready for it is a great idea - though I think it will take some time before you are ready for that step. Maybe you could start by putting George in the sleep cage for just 15 mins or so and spend a few sessions just sitting near Nova, talking to her, etc - just like you would treat a new bird you brought home for the first time. If Nova is acting out from overprotectiveness, establishing a bond of trust between her and you may help her feel less threatened.
 
OP
Genieb03

Genieb03

New member
Jul 29, 2023
6
9
SK, Canada
Parrots
Black capped conure (George 5M)
Green cheeked conure (Nova 2F)
Yellow peach faced love bird (Sam 2M)
Green peach faced love bird (Flint 3monthsF)
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #3
Welcome to the forums though I'm sorry to hear about these issues with Nova.

I'm wondering how much of this problem is rooted in what you said - "Nova is especially protective of George". Have the two ever been caged separately at all? Since you mentioned they behave better in the sleep cage - are they both in the sleep cage together?

I think spending some time working with Nova alone could be very beneficial. I think you will need to do some back-tracking here to really work on rebuilding your relationship with her from the ground up. Working your way up to target training when she is ready for it is a great idea - though I think it will take some time before you are ready for that step. Maybe you could start by putting George in the sleep cage for just 15 mins or so and spend a few sessions just sitting near Nova, talking to her, etc - just like you would treat a new bird you brought home for the first time. If Nova is acting out from overprotectiveness, establishing a bond of trust between her and you may help her feel less threatened.
Hi, thank you!
Yes, when we first got them, they were caged separately, because we weren’t sure how they would handle staying together especially unsupervised. As we allowed them free time, it became more difficult and stressful on her to coax her out of his cage at night (considering she wasn’t hand tamed) so my partner and I agreed to let them share a cage.

They are both in the sleep cage together, but since George handles better, he’s usually first in, first out.

I will absolutely start spending some more one on one time with Nova, and encourage my partner to do so as well (and do some more trust exercise research too while I’m at it!)

I also ended up removing the twine nest and she seems to be less protective of the flight cage. She keeps searching for it, so I will monitor for signs of stress.

Thank you again!! I appreciate it <3
 

wrench13

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Huts, hammocks and nest like hiding and sleeping places can trigger a lot of negative things. No parrot NEEDS a hut etc. They might complain a bit at first, but rest assure they will learn to find a good spot in their sleeping cage and sleep there. Good suggestion on working with each bird separately!
 

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