Grey Behavior Questions

devildog999

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Apr 6, 2021
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Hedwig - Congo African Grey
Good afternoon and I thank all in advance for any help you can give me.


I bought my new baby Grey from an awesome private breeder in the beginning of February and he is currently 7 months old. I am having some difficulties with handling him though so I thought I would describe some of his behaviors and maybe y'all experts can help me :)


First off, Hedwig is awesome. But getting him to trust me is leaving me perplexed. He spends a large part of his time outside of his cage in my man cave. He has a large cage with a dome top and play top and I have a large perch stand next to the cage for when he comes out (the kind with a rolling base and big branches in a circle for him to climb around on and chill on). He certainly enjoys his time outside of his cage. When I approach his cage, he will usually retreat from me and go to the top of the cage on the dome top side..



He avoids stepping up while on his cage or perch at all. He will actually fly to the bathroom instead but this also seems to be a game to him. He will often times wait at the top of his cage and I know he wants me to approach so he can have a reason to fly to the bathroom. Once landing in the bathroom, he will gladly let me have him step up. But this is the only reliable way to get him to step up. Any other attempts cause him to retreat or just stand there and kinda sink back down to avoid me. That being said, he does not bite me when I push him.



It has been 2 months and this has not changed at all. I have put him on my shoulder to get used to be being close to me, on small perches next to me so he is stuck being close to me, etc. Heck, he will act like he doesn't want anything to do with me but if I put him on my shoulder, he DOES NOT want to come down. I will lean next to the cage and squat so he can climb up and he will straight up go to my other shoulder so he doesn't have to get off. It will usually take me putting seed out for him to climb back up. He does not try to get on top of my head, he just wants to sit on my shoulder... I cannot pet any more than just his beak. He will follow the hand with his head so there is no way to actually show him physical affection. The only way I have been able to actually give him any neck rubs is if he is on my arm facing away from me (very rare to get him to do this, usually only happens if he is stepping up from a precarious place he flew to, such as a towel hanging from a towel rod). Even then, he quickly turns his head and follows the hand.


He is an awesome bird though with lots of personality already. He whistles to me when I am in the shower or leave my man cave. I just wish I knew what to do to get him to trust me more. I try not to push too much because I don't want to cause him to have a negative view of me. I have even tried some training but right now, it is a no go. No matter what treat I give him as a reward, he throws it away. Maybe I need a better reward than pine nuts or sunflower seeds so if you have a recommendation, please give it. So there is no positive reward I can give him at this point. I'm sure I could give him unhealthy human foods that he would love as a treat but I am making sure to give him a healthy diet.


With all that being said, I do believe part of it is me being a male. My breeder was the only one to interact with the birds, meaning her birds do not interact much with men (her fiance' has no contact but her birds do interact occasionally with her young sons). My wife can come in and Hedwig will actually come out to say hi to her. But he pretty much ends it there with her as well. He will not step up for her but he does not retreat and she can pet the top of his head. He will let her do that but not me. So I think SOME of this has to do with me being a male and his first interaction with a male was the guy who transported him to the airport to fly him out to me as carry on.


So what can I do here ladies and gents? I want my bird to be happy and healthy and I want to be able to physically interact with him. Just in case diet matters or is questioned: He has a fresh veggie, legume, grains, etc mix every morning. He has pellets available throughout the day. He gets 1 Tbsp of seed a day and his dinner varies from an egg recipe, potato recipe, banana, etc. I bought the recipe books from BirdTricks.com to make sure he gets a well balanced diet and stays happy and healthy.


Again, thank you in advance for any help and I apologize for the book I have just wrote. I just wanted to make sure I gave the full picture.
 
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devildog999

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Hedwig - Congo African Grey
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Just in case it matters, here is Hedwig's setup.



asdf.jpg
 

Laurasea

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Aug 2, 2018
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Hello.
All I know is building trust by hand feeding little food treats lots and lots of times a day. Target training. And trying to build the parrots confidence, and ability to make choices

Your set up looks wonderful. For me I put lots of perches on the outside top and sides too. You are are feeding what, you have great toys and such .

My newest quaker has a hand phobia that took about 2 month to get him over it. I let him out of the cage and just didn't try and train , I just fed treats all day long. Then he let me kiss hi, and he would preen my hair and unjust kept evolving until he became my snuggle guy.

Hopefully you will get some good advice from folks here. These situations are tricky fir me to advise. If its my parrots I can read abd shape them, but trying to tell people in words us hard for me. Pamela Clark is a behavior consultant and she has a blog with good advice in stuff. I have a link to one article were she works with a grey I will share
https://blogpamelaclarkonline.com/2018/06/19/teaching-a-fearful-parrot-to-step-up/
 
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wrench13

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Welcome and be welcomed.

Put a long dowel or piece of wood to hold that cage top from accidentally closing on you parrot. tightly wedge it in there. THose cages are nice, except for that one flaw, and trust me that type of accident does happen. I also surprised that Hedwig has not gone and chewed those wires in back of his cage, they are usually parrot magnets. I suggest you re-route them so he can't get to them.

Take your time with him. Parrots rate of acceptance of change is GLACIAL in speed, especially compared to our quick monkey brains, and Greys are notoriously stubborn and skeptical of new things. Change your expectations. Have the mind set of "Only Good THings Come From Humans". Talk to him, a lot. If he has a favorite little treat, like a pine nut or sunflower seed, remove it from his daily food, and that now becomes your 'ambassador' treat. Drop one into his food bowl every time you pass his cage, and then, later on, it will be your training treat.

Start looking up training methods and ways to enrich his life, because, as you likely already know, Greys are SMART! Really smart. like a 3 or 4 yr old smart. They need to learn new things, figure out puzzles. Once you get him used to regularly doing training sessions, where you teach him new things, his progress will one day just accelerate like blazes. All sorts of regimens are out there, like Parrot Kindergarden and others.
 
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devildog999

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Hedwig - Congo African Grey
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I have a perch with allthread and wingnuts I use to keep the top open. I had only opened it for the picture hence why it was not in place but thank you for the suggestion.



The cage is not actually close enough to anything for Hedwig to reach, though it may look like it is. He can't even reach the blinds anymore because he was trying to chew on them. That being said, I certainly am not against covering the wires with something to make sure an accident doesn't happen.


I figure this will take time and I am not in a rush, I just want to make sure I am doing things right and see if there is anything else I can do to help bond with him. I figure if everything goes right, I have a few decades with him so I really am not worried about the time.



When you mention training, what would you recommend for a reward? As noted earlier, any reward I give him, he throws away so it makes that positive reinforcement kinda difficult. Even as simple as target training. He touches the stick, I click and reward, and he throws the treat away. No matter what the treat/reward is, he tosses it. Things I know he likes but for training... he doesn't wanna play ball. I will try some puzzles as well. I appreciate the help.
 

wrench13

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A good way to determine his very most favorite treat is to lay out on a table 1 of each, so
pine nut, walnut, sunflower seed, a bit of millet, etc, etc, and see which one he goes for first. Some parrots, a few, do not respond to treats in training instead do OK with either verbal praise or a quick scratch. Try the first thing above, and repeat it a few times. Usually the quickest way to a parrots brain is thru his belly.

For wires, they make hard plastic channels that have a snap closing top and an adhesive back so you can bundle wires together and route them. Most DIY box stores have these. YOu'll be able to see if Hedwig is chewing on those before he gets to the actual wires. Chewed wires = fried parrot.
 

Squeekmouse

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My husband had the same trouble getting Trigger to trust him. It took many many many months of dedication, patience and tenacity but now Trigger is his little buddy and trusts him completely. It's a beautiful thing. Here's what we did:
1. We determined what Trigger's favorite treat is, and only Wolfy (my husband) was allowed to give that treat to Trigger. I only give the lesser favorite treats and only rarely.
2. Wolfy is the one to always bring the food dish and meal time, I'm the one who takes it away after.
3. Wolfy works with Trigger doing target/clicker training for 30-60 minutes every day. In 15-30 blocks.

In addition, we both went through all the usual gentle, patient trust building that any new Parront has to go through, of course. It really just takes a lot of time, patience, and effort.
 
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devildog999

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Hedwig - Congo African Grey
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I'll try that, thank you.



A good way to determine his very most favorite treat is to lay out on a table 1 of each, so
pine nut, walnut, sunflower seed, a bit of millet, etc, etc, and see which one he goes for first. Some parrots, a few, do not respond to treats in training instead do OK with either verbal praise or a quick scratch. Try the first thing above, and repeat it a few times. Usually the quickest way to a parrots brain is thru his belly.

For wires, they make hard plastic channels that have a snap closing top and an adhesive back so you can bundle wires together and route them. Most DIY box stores have these. YOu'll be able to see if Hedwig is chewing on those before he gets to the actual wires. Chewed wires = fried parrot.
 
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devildog999

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Hedwig - Congo African Grey
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Thank you for the tips, I greatly appreciate it.



My husband had the same trouble getting Trigger to trust him. It took many many many months of dedication, patience and tenacity but now Trigger is his little buddy and trusts him completely. It's a beautiful thing. Here's what we did:
1. We determined what Trigger's favorite treat is, and only Wolfy (my husband) was allowed to give that treat to Trigger. I only give the lesser favorite treats and only rarely.
2. Wolfy is the one to always bring the food dish and meal time, I'm the one who takes it away after.
3. Wolfy works with Trigger doing target/clicker training for 30-60 minutes every day. In 15-30 blocks.

In addition, we both went through all the usual gentle, patient trust building that any new Parront has to go through, of course. It really just takes a lot of time, patience, and effort.
 

AmyMyBlueFront

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Jonesy a Goffins 'Too who had to be rehomed :-(

And a Normal Grey Cockatiel named BB who came home with me on 5/20/2016.
I like Hegwigs setup!

Greys are in a league of their own. My Smokey (TAG) refused to step up even after 28 years..unless of course she was somewhere she didnt want to be and as soon as she saw a safe place off she'd fly from my hand. she did love my shoulder though,staying for hours and gurgling at me and beak banging my forehead and pulling hair. She was a wild caught/pet shop rescue when I got her at 6 months. Couldn't give her slritches except on the beak once in a while but she was sooo loved.


Jim
 

texsize

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My CAG is a rescue from a pet shop.
Brought her home in November 2016. She was young and came from a household that did not appreciate her.

Initially she liked all members of the house (son, wife, and myself) but as time went by my wife became her chosen person.

Bella will step up (not often when in her cage) for me and loves to be a shoulder supervisor.
But my wife is the only person that can give her scratches.
When she sits with my wife she will poop over the side of the chair.
When she sits with my son or myself she poops on US and then fly’s away.
 

Laurasea

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Aug 2, 2018
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My CAG is a rescue from a pet shop.
Brought her home in November 2016. She was young and came from a household that did not appreciate her.

Initially she liked all members of the house (son, wife, and myself) but as time went by my wife became her chosen person.

Bella will step up (not often when in her cage) for me and loves to be a shoulder supervisor.
But my wife is the only person that can give her scratches.
When she sits with my wife she will poop over the side of the chair.
When she sits with my son or myself she poops on US and then fly’s away.

Laughed so hard at this!! Penny always poops on me and seems to take great delight in it!! Will fly to me to poop on me! My others try nit to poop on me.

Greys are in a league of tgeir own.
Hegwig is a super name
 
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devildog999

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Apr 6, 2021
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New Braunfels, TX
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Hedwig - Congo African Grey
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Thank you. Trying to give him the best setup possible with lots of toys and things to keep him entertained.



I like Hegwigs setup!

Greys are in a league of their own. My Smokey (TAG) refused to step up even after 28 years..unless of course she was somewhere she didnt want to be and as soon as she saw a safe place off she'd fly from my hand. she did love my shoulder though,staying for hours and gurgling at me and beak banging my forehead and pulling hair. She was a wild caught/pet shop rescue when I got her at 6 months. Couldn't give her slritches except on the beak once in a while but she was sooo loved.


Jim
 

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