Goffin Biting

Chrishel

New member
Jun 17, 2016
8
0
Illinois
Parrots
Christina, a foster Goffin Cockatoo; Green Bean and Blueberry, hand-fed English Budgies; Ziggy, rescued American Budgie; Milk Dud, hand-fed Peach Faced Lovebird; Boo, rescued Finch/Sparrow hybrid
I suspect my foster Goffin is getting hormonal and she goes through periods where she is starting to nip me for what seems to be no reason. I don't know how old she is. Her owner says 2 years but his sister says 10 years. Either way, I was petting her mindlessly (we were watching TV) and she started shaking, which I found is mating behavior. Recently, I was petting her head only, and she started turning around and presented the underside of her tail to me. I'm thinking this is another mating behavior as well.

The problem lately is that she will sit on my shoulder and get worked up. Then climb down and nip me on the forearm. I noticed that I have two small bruises on my forearm where she bit me through my sweater. She will tap her beak on my shoulder hard several times and bob up and down with her crest up. When it's bed time and she doesn't want to go back to her cage, she will do the same thing and lunge for my fingers. She doesn't bite hard, but it still hurts, and it's still enough to get her message through.

I suspect there are two different things going on here: hormones and temper tantrums.

Am I reading into her behavior correctly? Any suggestions for how to handle them? I have done the "drop your arm" thing and I've put her back in her cage when she gets worked up for a "time out".

As with most things (human kids included), it's less a bird problem and more that I need training!
 

SailBoat

Supporting Member
Jul 10, 2015
16,197
6,220
Western, Michigan
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DYH Amazon
As a general statement, you are doing a good job of reading your Goffin!

Consider Adjusting her Sleep schedule to mirror the natural day's Sunlight in your area. To bed, at dusk and up with the full Sunlight. The bad part is that it will assure you of a specific time of year that hormones will be fully in place. And, long periods when they are not! If needed, you can add sleep time by adjusting bedtime a bit earlier in the evening. If you are having serious problems target 10 -12 hours of sleep. Hard to pull off with how much brighter the Sunlight is this time of year in North America.

Watch food type and styles this time of year, limiting or halting mush, and working to eliminate /minimizing sugar and salts.

I am sure that others will comment, but this will at least get you started.
 
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Scott

Supporting Member
Aug 21, 2010
32,673
9,599
San Diego, California USA, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy
Parrots
Goffins: Gabby, Abby, Squeaky, Peanut, Popcorn / Citron: Alice / Eclectus: Angel /Timneh Grey: ET / Blue Fronted Amazon: Gonzo /

RIP Gandalf and Big Bird, you are missed.
Whether 2 or 10, your Goffin is likely mature and engaged in mating behaviors as described. The problem is Goffins are so cuddly and affectionate it is easy to unintentionally cross the line.

Restricting touching to the head will help de-escalate. Thankfully hormonal periods are finite and should not represent permanent behavior.

Her nippiness may be a different issue. Goffins can be manipulative and use moderate "pinching" or biting to achieve their goals. Immediate and short time-outs are helpful techniques; letting her out after 5 minutes or so may be sufficient.

Diet may be a consideraton; high-fat diets with minimal vegetables and fruits can exacerbate bad behaviors.
 
OP
C

Chrishel

New member
Jun 17, 2016
8
0
Illinois
Parrots
Christina, a foster Goffin Cockatoo; Green Bean and Blueberry, hand-fed English Budgies; Ziggy, rescued American Budgie; Milk Dud, hand-fed Peach Faced Lovebird; Boo, rescued Finch/Sparrow hybrid
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I suspect the nipping is behavioral and probably jealousy or demanding attention. Today she was getting nippy when I was talking on the phone to my brother. Using the computer mouse is another activity that gets all my birds worked up. The only difference is that lovebirds and finches don't bite as hard!

For the budgies, I use their pupil size to help me understand their mood. I recognize the threatening look and either leave them alone or de-escalate the situation. I never realized it until I couldn't do it with Christina. I'm getting better at reading her body language though.

We have a bird room with a light on a timer. All the birds are in one room now and we have a specific sleep routine. All the other birds appreciate it. Christina doesn't want to go to sleep the same way a toddler doesn't. She knows that there's a human somewhere in the house up and even though she doesn't want to be with them normally, she wants to be with them NOW! She knows that I can't reach her at the other side of her cage (it's too big) so I will chase her around and around. It's part fun, part manipulation. Now that she can fly, she will fly out of the bird room into the living room. A lot of the time I will physically have to grab her and put her in her cage. Sometimes I will turn off the light in the room and she will step up because it's suddenly dark. Neither is an option I'm happy doing. She will then do circles in her cage. I will often hear the other birds grumbling at her to go to sleep. Her cage doesn't get covered because she is way too terrified of it.

When I first got Christina she was on an all sunflower seed diet. I immediately (cold turkey for her) put her on a non-sunflower seed/pellet diet. I don't know how many pellets actually get in her. She tends to throw them out of her bowl. She does like the parrot Nutriberries, so she gets 2 a day and one cockatoo Nutriberry (which she DOESN'T like, I just can't bear to toss the whole container so I basically throw them away one a day...). She gets about a dozen sunflower seeds a day when she goes back into her cage (about 3 seeds each time). I give her about 2 almonds and half a walnut or pecan a day. I had some left from Christmas in the shell and broke them into pieces and she gets to pick the meat from the shells.

I keep trying different pellets hoping to find one that she likes. Again, mostly, I think I am just throw them away bit by bit daily. I thought she was eating the Harrison's ones, but it could be hopeful thinking on my part.

My Sparrow-Finch, Boo, who doesn't eat seed unless she's absolutely starving, taught Christina to eat bird bread, peas, corn, and apple mix. The bird bread is Bobbie's Bird Bread recipe except I use egg food rather than the cereal and I add some ground flax seeds. I shell the peas since I prefer to control where the shells go rather than having to clean them up off the walls and floors. I've tried carrots with Boo, but that's a no-go, so I put it in the bird bread along with squash or pumpkin and green bean baby food. No one is spoiled around here! One thing I worry about is that putting too much "good" stuff in the bird bread could make it unbalanced in proteins or fats. I will have to look into it.

It took me a year to get Christina to try apples. Now she likes them. I try to give her whatever bird-healthy food I'm snacking on. A lot of it just scares her to death. Birds are not allowed to be out at meal time (husband's rule).

I'm open to any suggestion for foods to try or things I can improve. I am grateful for this site where I can read about everyone's experiences and ask questions. 30 years ago, before I bought my first parakeet, all the resources available included a couple of books at the library.

We have noticed that her coloring and feathers are in much better condition than when I first received her. She's not picking on her tail feathers anymore (or maybe they were breaking off?) and her wings have grown out from the mutilation of a wing clip she had (down to the skin!). She had a rough time growing her wings out. They kept breaking as blood feathers because there was nothing to protect them on either side and perhaps again, her health wasn't as good as it is now. Not saying that she's perfect now, but I think physically and mentally, she's much healthier than a year ago.

Now if only we can train her person (me!) to give her everything she absolutely wants, life would be perfect. Bad human!
 
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Scott

Supporting Member
Aug 21, 2010
32,673
9,599
San Diego, California USA, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy
Parrots
Goffins: Gabby, Abby, Squeaky, Peanut, Popcorn / Citron: Alice / Eclectus: Angel /Timneh Grey: ET / Blue Fronted Amazon: Gonzo /

RIP Gandalf and Big Bird, you are missed.
Christina seems the typical Goffin! They can be stubborn and individual but are extremely loving and observant.

The all sunflower diet seriously messed with her metabolism and likely taxed her organs to some degree. A consistently healthier diet should largely mitigate or reverse whatever damage may have occurred. All of my Goffins like ZuPreem fruit pellets and are given a small amount of a non-sunflower seed mix. The bulk of their diet consists of vegetables and fruits with an occasional almond and sprig of millet as treat.

A few suggestions to try include most any type of bean, (lima, kidney, garbanzo) peas, edamame in the shell, black eyed peas, small amounts of corn, (they love corn, but not the most nutritious veg) cooked yams and sweet potato, apple, orange, pomegranate seed, melon including the seeds, whole cranberries, banana, pear, etc. They love spiral noodles (must be spiral, not hollow tubes!) such as whole wheat, blends including super-foods.

I find it helpful to compartmentalize their foods; when veg/fruits are offered, the pellets/seed mix disappears! Otherwise they gravitate to that which tastes better, ie less nutritious! Be patient and understand Christina may toss out/ignore a food for many years before taking a bite and becoming hooked. My wild-caught female Goffin ignored pear for 20+ years before trying and liking.
 

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