Gcc climbs onto my shoulder and bites me

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Jan 21, 2024
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Green cheek conure
My gcc loves to sit in my shoulder—and bite me REALLY HARD. He bites my neck and shoulders and I don’t know how to keep him off. Every time I want to sit with him, I have to wrap myself in a blanket for protection but he still finds a way to reach any spot of me that is uncovered and bite me. I have to use treats to lure him off but I think that is what made his biting rewarding. The problem is, I don’t know any other way to get him off of me. I’m looking for solutions to protect my neck and shoulders, keep him off, and get him off of me while he attacks
 
My gcc loves to sit in my shoulder—and bite me REALLY HARD. He bites my neck and shoulders and I don’t know how to keep him off. Every time I want to sit with him, I have to wrap myself in a blanket for protection but he still finds a way to reach any spot of me that is uncovered and bite me. I have to use treats to lure him off but I think that is what made his biting rewarding. The problem is, I don’t know any other way to get him off of me. I’m looking for solutions to protect my neck and shoulders, keep him off, and get him off of me while he attacks
You don't mention how old he is - has he got through his first hormone onslaught? Syd was about 1-2yrs if I remember right. There are differing ideas but I will give you mine. The first time they really don't know what has hit them and are struggling but that knowledge didn't make it any easier to bear for me. I ended up wearing a hat or hoodie, gloves and sometimes a scarf in order to avoid the bites. They say that little one has to learn that shoulder perching is a privilege not a right so I used to duck, wave my hands in the air or whatever to avoid him landing. If he did land I then put him off onto a spare perch tree that sits away from his cage. Ignore him, not even looking at him, for 10 mins then wait for him to approach hopefully feeling contrite. Repeat as often as necessary. I differed for some other in that I didn't go with the ignore the bite rule. I used to squeal like a scalded cat and still do if he hurts me. I find it works for him and he is contrite straight away.

I hope this helps but I am sure there will be other aids on the way. Good luck it will pass.
 
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You don't mention how old he is - has he got through his first hormone onslaught? Syd was about 1-2yrs if I remember right. There are differing ideas but I will give you mine. The first time they really don't know what has hit them and are struggling but that knowledge didn't make it any easier to bear for me. I ended up wearing a hat or hoodie, gloves and sometimes a scarf in order to avoid the bites. They say that little one has to learn that shoulder perching is a privilege not a right so I used to duck, wave my hands in the air or whatever to avoid him landing. If he did land I then put him off onto a spare perch tree that sits away from his cage. Ignore him, not even looking at him, for 10 mins then wait for him to approach hopefully feeling contrite. Repeat as often as necessary. I differed for some other in that I didn't go with the ignore the bite rule. I used to squeal like a scalded cat and still do if he hurts me. I find it works for him and he is contrite straight away.

I hope this helps but I am sure there will be other aids on the way. Good luck it will pass.
I got him from a breeder but I don’t know how old he is. I think he is around one and has been aggressive lately so I believe it may be puberty. I like the idea of wearing a scarf and hoodie so thank you so much for your help. I’m curious as to how you would get him off you shoulder and into the perch though since my bird refuses to get off.
 
In parrot forums search look up "time out method" it really is a good way to go....Especially with a bird that is bonded.
 
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In parrot forums search look up "time out method" it really is a good way to go....Especially with a bird that is bonded.
I looked up and it sounds pretty good it’s just that I can’t get him off of me!!
 
Yeah thats why it works....keep pushing him off when he's bad.
 
Wear your gloves and chances are they will scare him enough for him to fly away of his own volition, but otherwise simply be brave and manhandle him off. It is respect you are teaching him and that his behaviour is unacceptable. You have to remember that they are flock birds and if he was to misbehave they would chase him out of the group until he learned his lesson. The punishment for him will be the banishment. I got some nasty bites until I fully implemented these rules, it was awful. Hang in there and your cuddly feather ball will return but bear in mind that he is a bit crazy right now trying to cope with hormones that he has never experienced before.
 
Not knowing how old your little one is..will be tough to figure out..but let's take a guess and say this could possibly be puberty. During spring Conures Mate, and if this is the little guys first "go round" it can be really rough. But if your tough enough to stick it out, then you will get your beautiful friend back. I promise. Usually during this season most birds are rehomed, it's sad because they can't help it. But patience, and keeping up the communication will be a plus. Now the 2nd option! could be what I call the "chair" method! which I learned here from some amazing people. 👏 for atleast an hour a day. Find a quiet room bring a chair, and sit your bird on the back of it. Tell him to "step up" on to your finger. If he bites set him down give a stern "no bite" but don't yell. Then turn your back on him for a minute, absolutely no talking to him. If he flies on you, put him back. And repeat. Now I set a timer for 30 seconds. And if he makes that 30 seconds without a bite give him a treat and talk to him. Put him back down and repeat. He will begin to "pick up" why he isn't getting a treat. And when he does. The main goal here is getting it through to him biting isn't a reward. Also I would keep him off your shoulder you don't want a bird near your face or ears until you feel really comfortable with him. You know..for your safety and his! Best of luck with your adventure together.
 
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Wear your gloves and chances are they will scare him enough for him to fly away of his own volition, but otherwise simply be brave and manhandle him off. It is respect you are teaching him and that his behaviour is unacceptable. You have to remember that they are flock birds and if he was to misbehave they would chase him out of the group until he learned his lesson. The punishment for him will be the banishment. I got some nasty bites until I fully implemented these rules, it was awful. Hang in there and your cuddly feather ball will return but bear in mind that he is a bit crazy right now trying to cope with hormones that he has never experienced before.
Thank you so much. I’ll be sure to try this out
 
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Not knowing how old your little one is..will be tough to figure out..but let's take a guess and say this could possibly be puberty. During spring Conures Mate, and if this is the little guys first "go round" it can be really rough. But if you’re tough enough to stick it out, then you will get your beautiful friend back. I promise. Usually during this season most birds are rehomed, it's sad because they can't help it. But patience, and keeping up the communication will be a plus. Now the 2nd option! could be what I call the "chair" method! which I learned here from some amazing people. 👏 for atleast an hour a day. Find a quiet room bring a chair, and sit your bird on the back of it. Tell him to "step up" on to your finger. If he bites set him down give a stern "no bite" but don't yell. Then turn your back on him for a minute, absolutely no talking to him. If he flies on you, put him back. And repeat. Now I set a timer for 30 seconds. And if he makes that 30 seconds without a bite give him a treat and talk to him. Put him back down and repeat. He will begin to "pick up" why he isn't getting a treat. And when he does. The main goal here is getting it through to him biting isn't a reward. Also I would keep him off your shoulder you don't want a bird near your face or ears until you feel really comfortable with him. You know..for your safety and his! Best of luck with your adventure together.
Thank you!!!! I find it so sad that people would rehome their feather friends for something they have no control over! I’m curious to know how long this bird puberty would last though. I’ve also never heard of this chair method, but I was trying so hard to find a way to use training to prevent biting and I’m so happy to finally find something!!!! Also……do you know how I can comfort my bird? Honestly I feel worse for him than for myself! These hormones must be so difficult!!
 
Thank you!!!! I find it so sad that people would rehome their feather friends for something they have no control over! I’m curious to know how long this bird puberty would last though. I’ve also never heard of this chair method, but I was trying so hard to find a way to use training to prevent biting and I’m so happy to finally find something!!!! Also……do you know how I can comfort my bird? Honestly I feel worse for him than for myself! These hormones must be so difficult!!
It can last as long as 2 to 3 months..yes it is sad. But true parrot owners are the most patient people in the world, because you have to have alot of it..ALOT. parrots aren't for the faint of heart. Conures have got a fiery spirit but a loving soul. that is built with bond. And as for comforting birds they just love communication, especially Conures if they aren't in a pair. They NEED that loving communication. And at times in his cage, just let him hang around you. Don't go trying to pick him up. Just let him hangout and talk to him when when your watching tv, studying, etc.. except when your cleaning with chemicals or something of that nature.. treat him like you would a true friend. You got this.
 
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Syd loves to hear me sing! He is possibly the only one on the planet. He will sit for ages while I sing anything but he loves nursery rhymes. I don't know if the rhythms appeal or just the repetition but it calms him down every time. Worth a try?
 
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It can last as long as 2 to 3 months..yes it is sad. But true parrot owners are the most patient people in the world, because you have to have alot of it..ALOT. parrots aren't for the faint of heart. Conures have got a fiery spirit but a loving soul. that is built with bond. And as for comforting birds they just love communication, especially Conures if they aren't in a pair. They NEED that loving communication. And at times in his cage, just let him hang around you. Don't go trying to pick him up. Just let him hangout and talk to him when when your watching tv, studying, etc.. except when your cleaning with chemicals or something of that nature.. treat him like you would a true friend. You got this.
Oh, that’s such a relief! When I was doing research, it said it can last a year 😭. I’m gonna try to place him on his playstand when I hang with him instead of on me. Thanks for all your advice.
 
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Syd loves to hear me sing! He is possibly the only one on the planet. He will sit for ages while I sing anything but he loves nursery rhymes. I don't know if the rhythms appeal or just the repetition but it calms him down every time. Worth a try?
ooooh I love that!! Thank you for that wonderful idea!!
 
I see so many threads like this, I'm glad I didn't get a conure, they can be a menace
 
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I see so many threads like this, I'm glad I didn't get a conure, they can be a menace
Yes they can!! I used to have a cockatiel which is similar sized and their bites were painless so I wasn’t prepared for these little demons with weapons for mouths 😭
 
Yes they can!! I used to have a cockatiel which is similar sized and their bites were painless so I wasn’t prepared for these little demons with weapons for mouths 😭
Ah tiels are so nice. Mine only bites when it's having fun and I want it to step up. Even then it's just a nibble.

Have you tried to shun it?
If a bird did that to another of the flock in the wild the other would just fly away and reject it for a while. So when it does it to you say NO in a firm voice and isolate it for a few minutes.
 
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THis is such a common occurrence, I wrote 2 papers on them, see below.
On Hormones (or Horror-mones)

Parrots go thru puberty, just like humans do, because their internal metabolism tells the body –“Hey time to start thinking of babies”. When that happens, their little bodies get flooded for the first time with hormones. The when is only estimated, puberty can occur from 6 months or so for small parrots like budgies, cockatiels and parrotlets, with the larger parrots taking longer, progressively. Macaws and cockatoos, it could be a year or more before it starts. Puberty (and successive mating seasons) is not a precisely timed event. Depending on the individual parrot, it might occur earlier or later then the norm for that species, and other factors come into play on when it starts.

Like human children (and our parrots are so close in temperament to children), puberty can bring on all sorts of behavioral changes, which the parrot has absolutely no control over. One minute they are their normal selves and all of a sudden, BAM, they bite you, and the next second they are back to their normal selves. Mood swings like this are so common that for inexperienced parrot owners, this is the time when parrots are most often given up or surrendered. They can do a 180 degree turn and formerly the person who was THE person is now like yesterday’s news and the parrot might fixate on another member of the family (and it might not be one who actually likes parrots!). This does not happen every time, but it does happen, and the former favorite person needs to wheedle and scheme to get back into the parrots inner circle.

Some other behavior you might encounter:

  • Trying to mate with objects like toys or food bowls, even your hand. Butt rubbing is what this looks like.
  • Regurgitation and trying to feed inanimate objects (or you ! )
  • Shredding paper, bedding, or any material that can be made into nest like stuff
  • Seeking dark hidey places
  • Being abnormally loud and making new clucking noises or others
Puberty can last anywhere from a few months to a year or so in larger parrots, again depending on species and the individual parrot. The 2 things to take away on this is that it will come to an end eventually and the other is to try and not let unwanted behavior become normal or habitual.

And now we come to mating season. Most parrots go through an annual mating season. Species like Eclectus parrots and a few other rare ones can have mating season at any time the environment produces mating triggers. For the rest, its once a year. Mating season is triggered by some things we can control and others that we cannot. The behavioral result of mating season is very similar to the ones displayed in puberty, with the exception of switching allegiances to a new person, which is rare. Uncontrollable rapid mood swings are pretty common and can vary with the intensity of the hormone release. Some years mating season can be pretty mild, and some are just killer for the poor parrot, as the drive to mate is frustrated (unless you are a breeder). The diurnal cycle of daylight to night time is one of the stronger triggers. Some folks keep their parrots on a day/night cycle that mirrors this, while others keep a 12hr day/night cycle. Either one has its pros and cons and we won’t get into that here.

Some things you can do to reduce (but never 100% eliminate) the effects of mating season are:

  • Remove any shreddy type materials and limit access to them when the parrot is out of the cage
  • Prevent access to dark hidey holes
  • No touching the parrot anywhere except for the head and neck. This is a biggie as this can be interpreted as mating behavior by the parrot.
  • Limit or remove sugar bearing foods, like fruits and high fructose foods like corn, any pasta, etc
  • Lots of exercise – a tired parrot is less likely to indulge in mating behavior
Always keep in mind that the parrot has no control of itself during these periods! A bite received during them is 100% different than a bite you might get because the bird is angry with you. You should not use “shunning” or other methods to modify the behavior, because they have no more idea of why they bit you then you do. But, same as a normal bite, you should try to avoid being in a situation where the bite COULD occur. Cuddling with your parrot, giving/getting kisses or letting them near the face during mating season is likely not a good idea! Along these lines, during mating season, try to not let behavior like biting, humping or other outward signs become habitual.

Finally – always, always remember – “THIS TOO SHALL PASS”. Your loving friend is still in there and will be back!
 
On SHunning

Biting, whether intentional or not, just over preening your skin or actually taking chunks of meat out - all are PAINFULL! In the wild that sort of behavior is not tolerated by the flock. They ostracize flock members who continue to act like that. We call it 'Shunning'. This WILL work, but needs to be done correctly to get the message across and it needs to be done IMMEDIATELY so the parrot can associate the bite with the shunning action. And it needs to happen every time and with anyone involved with the parrot.

When the bite or over preening occurs:

  • Say in a forceful but not shouting voice "No Bite" or other endearments.
  • Immediately place the parrot on a nearby, handy chairback. NOT the cage (that would only teach the parrot to bite when he wants to go back to his cage).
  • Turn your back to him and ignore him for 1 minute. No peeking, no talking about or too him, NADA. NO eye contact. No less or the message is lost, no more or the bird will not associate the action with the bite.
  • After a minute you can try to re-establish contact.
Rinse, repeat as needed. Most parrots get the message after a few times, some may need more. Also very important - make sure the bite is not your fault. Annoying your parrot, asking him to step up when he is otherwise preoccupied with eating or playing, bothering him during known moody times like mating season, or ignoring the warnings and body language of your parrot - these are bites that you deserve! Learn, and be a better parront !!
 

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