food aggression

ifnlovebirds

Member
May 23, 2022
40
81
Parrots
Eclectus, conure, and cockatiel
Hello, this is about my 9-month-old male Eclectus. In the past three months, he has developed food aggression.

This kind of hurts because I have tried so hard to make sure to never take food from him and I don't think I EVER have taken anything from him (because my room is bird proofed I never HAD to). I'm always very cautious when taking baby animals in and always make sure aggression/health is first and have always raised them the way I have with great results. All of my other birds/animals have never gotten food aggressive, are very well desensitized, and just see me as someone who will GIVE food. I don't think it is hormones or learned behavior either. (I don't think hormones because he is still very young, not even a year) Obviously, I must've made a mistake somewhere but despite my efforts to ensure that he does not associate me with taking away food, I have been unable to pinpoint the cause of this behavior.

I have implemented various strategies to prevent food aggression, such as adding treats or more food to my bird's bowl/plate as I walk by, (so he thinks that when he's eating and my hand is close to his food, it only means I will add more) but these methods have not been effective. He exhibits aggressive behavior by puffing up, opening his beak, lowering his body, an angry expression. and will try to lunge past cage bars at my fingers (normal angry bird behaviors). I try to keep in mind that given that he had a history of aggressive behavior when I first got him, I suspect that it may have been the result of past abuse or improper handling. (I am assuming this because he came to me with VERY VERY aggressive behavior, couldn't even feed or hold him, or try to get near him without him flying away or attacking me if my hands were out, but was ONLY scared of HANDS which is why I assumed he was abused or accidentally hurt by hands) It took us 5 months to get here, and we still have years of work but he is no longer scared of hands and responds well to training and his recall is great already.

He WANTS to be near me and seems like he has bonded with me somewhat, I also share my food with him. Sometimes when he IS food aggressive, I move him to a stand or a place that is NOT his cage, and that alleviates the aggression. So this is possibly territorial aggression too? Most of the aggression I'm receiving occurs after I give him his food bowl and I close the door to his bowl (while I'm closing it he will try to attack) or when I change his water bowl that happens to be on the same side as his food bowl. He is not aggressive when I change his water when I hadn't given him food so emotional attachment to the bowl is ruled out.
// His food aggression is more pronounced in the morning or when he is particularly hungry

But this problem with his food aggression is REALLY scaring me that it could make his behavior even WORSE when he will actually be hormonal soon. I also don't like the idea of such a young bird being okay with aggressive behavior that wasn't intentionally instigated. I'm really lost and I don't know the next step, I've looked at other forum posts but none was specific to my case. I've dealt w aggressive birds before but I'm 18 and lack a significant amount of experience compared to some people here... and I'm really hoping someone with that knowledge could help me. I do understand birds are not domesticated animals but birds aren't necessarily food aggressive in the wild like ex. dogs and I never provoked him (as far as I know) so I'm so confused.
// also he's fine with me swapping bowls or TAKING the bowl itself when I'm giving him new food.

Thank you for reading and for any advice given.
- a worried ekkie mom
 

SailBoat

Supporting Member
Jul 10, 2015
16,689
7,473
Western, Michigan
Parrots
DYH Amazon
I am not an Ekkie expert by any means, as I am more an Amazon Snob!
Sound more like an effort at driving away something from that general location. More, its mine, get away from it, NOW!
Could be based around the fear of Starvation Behavior!
Why now, haven't a clue, little things can set Parrots off, especially those that had any abuse. Relax your time lines and settle for tiny relationship improvements. As you implied time line is not an issue.
 
Last edited:
OP
ifnlovebirds

ifnlovebirds

Member
May 23, 2022
40
81
Parrots
Eclectus, conure, and cockatiel
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #3
I am not an Ekkie expert by any means, as I am more an Amazon Snob!
Sound more like an effort at driving away something from that general location. More, its mine, get away from it, NOW!
Could be based around the fear of Starvation Behavior!
Why now, haven't a clue, little things can set Parrots off, especially those that had any abuse. Relax your time lines and settle for tiny relationship improvements. As you implied time line is not an issue.
Wait the fear of starvation might be it, since it's usually only when he's really hungry in the morning. OMG.. THANK YOU sm that means that's not really something I should be too worried about (since he won't starve) but sometimes when I wake up late poor baby might've been really hungry... omggg this makes sm sense thank you again.
 

Icca

Well-known member
Feb 1, 2022
120
386
I had a similar situation with my bird, I got her when she was approximately 14 yrs old and I don't know much about her life before I got her.
She would scream and (for lack of a better description) panic, when I would take her food bowl away. Now almost 1 year later she is doing better but it still stresses her out when the dishes are removed.

What I did was simple I got 2 of the same style dish. I would then feed chop in the morning and pellets in the evening. With the 2 dishes I could switch them out to wash them. So she always had a dish in the same spot..
Now that we have made some progress I feed only as much pellets as she will eat that evening. So she is building a tolerance to the idea of being without food. (Only without food during the night)
Also foraging toys with small bits of millet helped.
 

SailBoat

Supporting Member
Jul 10, 2015
16,689
7,473
Western, Michigan
Parrots
DYH Amazon
If you have an Ekkie, feeding pellets by the bowl is not a great idea as that can lead to an overload of minerals and other additives commonly found in pellets, but not in the natural range of Ekkie's. Remember that their natural range is much more barren than were near all other Parrots natural range. An overly rich diet can cause foot stomping /tapping and other medical issues. Work your way thru the Ekkie Forum looking for a recommended Ekkie diet.

Consider a third set of bowls to provide other wet foods thus allowing each group to dry between feedings and changing water. You should notice your Parrot become interested when you change-out bowls

FYI: We have an Amazon specific dry food diet available for our Amazon from early morning to late evening with pellets as only a supplement. Veggies and other wet foods as first morning meal and as part of mid afternoon meal.
 
OP
ifnlovebirds

ifnlovebirds

Member
May 23, 2022
40
81
Parrots
Eclectus, conure, and cockatiel
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #6
I had a similar situation with my bird, I got her when she was approximately 14 yrs old and I don't know much about her life before I got her.
She would scream and (for lack of a better description) panic, when I would take her food bowl away. Now almost 1 year later she is doing better but it still stresses her out when the dishes are removed.

What I did was simple I got 2 of the same style dish. I would then feed chop in the morning and pellets in the evening. With the 2 dishes I could switch them out to wash them. So she always had a dish in the same spot..
Now that we have made some progress I feed only as much pellets as she will eat that evening. So she is building a tolerance to the idea of being without food. (Only without food during the night)
Also foraging toys with small bits of millet helped.
Thank you for this explanation. Aw I’m glad your bird is better now though, also the bowl thing is smart, except he ISNT attached to the bowl for some reason? He is just angry if i’m near the food but oddly not the bowl itself.

Thank you for your response :)
 
OP
ifnlovebirds

ifnlovebirds

Member
May 23, 2022
40
81
Parrots
Eclectus, conure, and cockatiel
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #7
If you have an Ekkie, feeding pellets by the bowl is not a great idea as that can lead to an overload of minerals and other additives commonly found in pellets, but not in the natural range of Ekkie's. Remember that their natural range is much more barren than were near all other Parrots natural range. An overly rich diet can cause foot stomping /tapping and other medical issues. Work your way thru the Ekkie Forum looking for a recommended Ekkie diet.

Consider a third set of bowls to provide other wet foods thus allowing each group to dry between feedings and changing water. You should notice your Parrot become interested when you change-out bowls

FYI: We have an Amazon specific dry food diet available for our Amazon from early morning to late evening with pellets as only a supplement. Veggies and other wet foods as first morning meal and as part of mid afternoon meal.
Ofc, he is on all chop only diet. No pellets or extra mineral/vitamins whatsoever.

Three bowls? I might just be dumb, but I’m hanging trouble understanding. As in have two bowls containing food in his cage and one water and swap them out while he’s not on the bowl I’m trying to change? This actually might work well. I have six bowls for him in total for food that i swap out everyday (water dish i use same one but clean it every morning).

I will do some research on dry food, it sounds convenient. Haven’t given him any so far other than dried sweet potatoes (which he did not like..)

Thank you for the reply.
 

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