Green Cheek Conure Is Suddenly Aggressive

CaseyConure

New member
Jun 24, 2022
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Green Cheek Conure
Hello, first time posting here.
My mother and I have a 8-year old green cheek conure (9 in November) that we've had since he was a baby. While he can sometimes be a bit bitey, the last week or so he's been increasingly aggressive. He'll bite both of us out of nowhere, and a few times he's drawn blood. I've noticed he mostly bites me if I try to take him off my head or shoulder, something he's usually not shown resistance towards. He'll also hold on when he bites, which is something he's never done.
He's never been around any other birds and he's lived with our other pets his entire life. We got him when he was very young and he is very attached to us. His cage is fairly large with plenty of toys, but until now we usually let him out and involve him in everything. We take thorough care of him, constantly cleaning his cage and providing fresh food and water. He is very loved and spoiled, though he does have a bit of attitude and will go after cell phones and one of our cats (he gets along with the others, though). I am providing this information to clarify I do not believe this is a case of neglect.
My mother and I are very concerned. She reached out to the guy we got him from who also grooms him, and he said that this behavior could be because of mating season. This doesn't make sense to us because not only has our bird never behaved like this in all the years we've had him, but Google sys GCC mating season is in February. Unfortunately, we don't know of any bird behavioral specialists that are local. I've tried researching this issue but I've come up short.
Please give any advice you can. We don't want to get rid of him, but the behavior is getting worse. I'm reaching out because we've tried everything- we've given him timeouts and tried avoiding him for the day and nothing's stuck. Tomorrow I'm taking him to the aforementioned bird groomer guy to get his input.
Anything helps, thank you.
 

LaManuka

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Aug 29, 2018
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Fang (11yo (ab)normal grey cockatiel), Valentino (budgie, gotcha date 14 Feb 2019), Jem (cinnamon cockatiel, gotcha date 4 Mar 2022), Lovejoy (varied lorikeet, gotcha date 14 Sep 2022)
Welcome to the forums, CaseyConure, though I am sorry for the painful circumstances that brought you here. I had a GCC myself whom I very sadly lost back in 2018 who became EXTREMELY bitey once he hit sexual maturity so I do have an understanding of how hard they can bite, and how emotionally upsetting it can be when they do. Obviously your boy is a little older, but captive birds can exhibit aggressive hormonal behaviour outside the regular mating seasons too, largely because of the abundance of good food, more regular temperatures and lighting that they experience in our homes as opposed to seasonal fluctuations in their natural habitats. So this may be one factor that is at play here too.

As you already know, GCCs can unfortunately be a little bitey. When my GCC started biting me VERY hard, I employed the "shunning" method with him. This involves EVERY time your bird bites you, pop him gently down somewhere neutral like the back of a chair (not the floor, particularly as you have a cat) turn your back and walk away with zero eye contact, and leave him for about a minute or so. Do not take him back to his cage or playstand as this may be exactly what he wants, but if he makes his own way back there that's fine. The most important thing here is that you and any other member of your household must be 100% consistent with this in order for it to work. Smart parrots like these will work out very quickly if there are any weak links in your united front. After a minute or so you can try to interact with him again, but try to end your interaction on a positive note and before any biting starts, as you do not want to reinforce or reward bad behaviour. If you are bitten again at this stage, rinse and repeat with the shunning method. This works because a biting bird in a wild setting would risk being ostracised by his flock, and that would have very serious ramifications for their safety. Conures are very smart and yours should soon get the message that fun with the flock stops when the biting starts. It worked very well for me and my GCC - it by no means meant that he never bit me again, but the biting was hugely reduced. It's also worth considering that sometimes your bird just might not be in the mood to interact with you, goodness knows mine was capable of being a bit moody sometimes even when he wasn't being particularly bitey.

Depending on how long it's been since your boy had a wellness check, it may even be an idea to have him checked out by a certified avian vet. Just occasionally, behavioural changes like sudden aggression may be the outward manifestation of something wrong on the inside. Not to alarm you, but unfortunately we have seen it here before. If he hasn't been checked within the last 12 months or so, it might be something worth your while to do, in order to rule out anything nasty. As well as matters of health, a good avian vet is an absolute gold mine of information around behavioural issues too. I'm not sure where you are in the world or whether you already have an avian vet that you consult with, but if you don't, the following resource may help you to find one close to you ...


I hope some other GCC owners will spot your thread and weigh in with some of their advice for you too. Wishing you and your little one all the very best, and I hope you will post some pics for us as well! :)
 

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