How much of this is hormonal and should I discourage it?

Gardeninggirl

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I have an adopted (5 years ago) umbrella cockatoo. He is called Nigel and is 32 years old. Sometimes when I go near his cage, he goes down to the floor of his cage, puts his beak to the floor and then walks to the far corner of the cage, keeping his beak on the floor. Once he gets to the corner, he stays there, beak low, tail in the air, doing a tongue movement where he repeatedly pushes his tongue out of his beak and then pulls it back in, over and over. (He does this movement when anticipating tasting some food too. I don't think it is regurgitation as it doesn't involve any neck movements, just the tongue). Is this hormonal and should I discourage it? If so, how? At the moment I walk away when he does it but it doesn't seem to make much difference.
Also, I read on another post someone describing hormonal, displaying behaviour and they included 'beak knocking'. Nigel taps his beak on hard surfaces to make a knocking noise, a lot. I thought he was just playing and we (the whole family) knock back to him, but have we been inadvertently encouraging hormonal behaviour?
Thank-you for your help.
 

Scott

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Excellent description of behavior common to some cockatoos. Only one of mine does similar (minus the tongue behavior) and I never associated it with hormones. Perhaps, we need more input to spot a trend!!
 

SailBoat

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Just to add confusion to it all, there are hardwired displays and individual Parrot developed displays.

So, as an Amazon Snob, I'm not sure. With hope this will bump your Thread backup on the board and one of our Too Pros will see it and provide greater depth.
 
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Gardeninggirl

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Another thing he does is when he's sitting on my knee he rubs his beak on my leg. Is this just affectionate behaviour or is he stimulating himself? I read that rubbing the head and neck is OK but the beak is part of the no go area. Nigel loves being rubbed under the beak in that delicate area at the front of the neck. Is this OK?
The reason I'm asking all these questions about possible hormonal behaviour is that he can be quite bitey and I'm trying on learn how to minimise biting.
Thank-you.
:white1::green::grey::green1:
 

ToMang07

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So far, sounds like normal Too behaviors to me.

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noodles123

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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
I would try not to indulge that bottom of the cage behavior (seems very nesty- mine does it when hormonal). NO boxes or shadowy spaces and pet only on the head/neck. 12 hours sleep is very important
 

noodles123

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Do get lots of toys and teach him to play etc if he doesn't already know. Don't just shove them in there--he may need time to adjust with them outside his cage...and do be cautious of shredding toys when you are seeing hormonal behavior. Warm.mushy food can also contribute to hormones, but lighting, sleep, touching and environment are HUGE with U2s.


I actually used to place empty metal food dishes (or food dishes filled with toys she didn't care fore) at the bottom of my bird's empty cage corners when she first started doing the nesting behavior you are describing (she did hers mostly at night, but sometimes when I was up and hadn't uncovered her in the mornings). It stopped her from taking bedtime/covered to a sexual level, because she wanted to do that thing to the corners, but couldn't. I put her to bed at the correct time (actually..she does it herself) BUT when she's in a mood, she goes down and nests around even though she would normally sleep (because she likes the shadow provided by the cage cover). I still cover and I think that's important, but uncovering on-schedule is essential if you do cover,


I think I may start putting those metal food bowls down there again though because, now that I think of it, since I stopped blocking those areas, she laid the 1st 2 eggs she's ever had in her 14 year life...And she was definitely acting sexual around 8-9-10 etc...


Main points: Keep lighting and sleep on a schedule (12 hours dark, calm sleep with reduced noise etc), DO NOT allow access to shadows or nesting materials, and do not touch your bird below the head/neck. If you see twitching or nesty behavior, decrease contact further, while still allowing your bird out and trying to find new and less sexual ways to interact. A U2 will do a quite "chomp chomp chomp" when you come over as a sign of acceptance etc-- it's a quiet open shut open shut open shut. Beak rubbing and banging can be playful but can also be sexual (almost like claiming territory). If the beak banging is not on you, I'd say it's okay (ish). If it is, I'd change the subject to something distracting that you and your bird can do together without actually touching. The banging itself can actually be pretty benign. but it's the bottom-cage nesting coupled with that that makes me say, change the subject and touch less etc.


I'd definitely suggest more parrot-safe wooden toys in that cage (assuming you introduce them properly and don't just shove them in there lol!)
 
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Gardeninggirl

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Thank-you everybody, this is reassuring.I think the beak knocking/tapping is just fun as he does it on whatever surface he is on. He does need training to learn how to enjoy toys and I am doing that. I think I will ignore the action on the bottom of the cage as this might be hormonal (the other day he rucked up the newspaper and stuck his head under it ?nesting). His tail also goes up when he is in the corner of his cage (although he's not rubbing it against anything). Is head down, tail up always a hormonal/sexual posture in umbrella cockatoos?
:yellow1::green::grey::green1:
 

noodles123

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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
Thank-you everybody, this is reassuring.I think the beak knocking/tapping is just fun as he does it on whatever surface he is on. He does need training to learn how to enjoy toys and I am doing that. I think I will ignore the action on the bottom of the cage as this might be hormonal (the other day he rucked up the newspaper and stuck his head under it ?nesting). His tail also goes up when he is in the corner of his cage (although he's not rubbing it against anything). Is head down, tail up always a hormonal/sexual posture in umbrella cockatoos?
:yellow1::green::grey::green1:




That's why I stopped lining my cage-tray-- she was fishing the paper up through the grate and shredding/being nesty with it
 

WhiteFlight

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Meisha: Umbrella Cockatoo | Female | 03/09/1989 Hatch Date
Meisha is a thirty-one year old Umbrella that I acquired at eight months. She keeps a busy itinerary, goes to work with me at least five-days a week. She gets as much as eight hours of sleep in a twenty-four hour period.

She has laid infertile eggs in which she has never shown interest. Has shown unimpressive nesting behaviors in one egg preparation. The interest in preparation and an egg might be different with the dedication of a mate.

Meisha’s environment is best described as monitored open latitude. She is seldom confined to a cage. It’s an earned freedom in the wake of various respects, recognitions and self disciplines.

  • “He goes down to the floor of his cage, puts his beak to the floor and then walks to the far corner of the cage,” GardeningGirl.
Meisha does something similar on a larger scale a few times a year. She will put her beak to the living room floor and run altering her direction to continue the sprint. It’s not a hop or gallop. It is an impressive run.

I discourage all activities on the bottom of the cage.

  • “He repeatedly pushes his tongue out of his beak and then pulls it back in, over and over,” GardeningGirl.
Meisha does that along with the opening and closing of her beak. Only happens when I pass by or speak to her when she is with another family member. I’ve seen dogs perform a similar behavior.

  • “Nigel taps his beak on hard surfaces to make a knocking noise, a lot. I thought he was just playing and we (the whole family) knock back to him,” GardeningGirl.
That’s quite interesting. Meisha does not have any measurable tapping behaviors. Does Nigel respond to your reply? Might simply be an interaction action. I would not discourage.

  • “Another thing he does is when he's sitting on my knee he rubs his beak on my leg,” GardeningGirl.
The primary function for Meisha rubbing her beak on a surface is to clean it. Secondary could be for sensation. I doubt it is out of affection. As a beak related action, Meisha seems to appreciate scratching of the beak for the sensation. No hormonal reflection.

Unless he seems to some how enjoy it more than he should, I would not discourage.

  • “Nigel loves being rubbed under the beak in that delicate area at the front of the neck,” GardeningGirl.
Meisha will message her neck, area under her beak and areas around her head including the scalp with her claw. I message if I had fingernails to speak of it would be a gentle scratch the area under her beak, the beak it’s self for sensation and the fleshy area between the beak and the feather-line, without hormonal issues.

I would not discourage.

  • “I'm trying on learn how to minimize biting,” GardeningGirl.

I had a similar challenge years ago as when I brought my hand up to Meisha, she would open her beak. Appeared to be a defensive measure. She would open her beak in preparation to bite or grab if she deemed necessary. With me, worst case is she would stop me with a grab. A result of not knowing what I was going to do. I sought successfully to eliminate the open beak behavior. I made it a point to make a passive action when passing her. Giving her very brief attention recognition without disrupting her stance or activity. The actions include a simple gentle tap on the beak. So gentile as not to cause movement of her head. Actions include gentle fluffing of the small feathers around her face as to not cause movement of her head.

You might be able to implement a similar practice to improve trust.


  • We discourage all activities at the bottom of the cage. It's unsanitary as is pulling paper from the bottom of the cage. The activity has dropped of sharply. Meisha responds promptly to commands to get off the bottom of the cage.
  • Regarding nesting. Male cockatoos are programmed with a modified version of instincts in comparison to female. In my opinion issues of nesting regarding a male is involuntary passive. It is unlikely a male will engage in nesting rituals without the bonding and activity engaged in reproduction. The female is programmed instinctively for the preparation. The male can be influenced by the hormonal female into the task.
 
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Gardeninggirl

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Thank-you Whiteflight and Noodles123. Lots of useful info.
I did put a wooden chew toy in the corner that he goes into in the hope that it would a) block his way into the corner and b) maybe distract him into playing with/chewing on the toy instead of going into the beak down, tail up position whilst looking at me and doing the kneading movement with his tongue (this might be the same as noodles123's "chomp, chomp, chomp" action?) It would be nice to think that the silent, opening and shutting of the beak (along with the tongue movements) are just a greeting. What I'm not sure about is the head down tail up stance that he does when on the bottom of the cage.
Is beak down, tail up always hormonal/sexual?
 

WhiteFlight

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  • "It would be nice to think that the silent, opening and shutting of the beak (along with the tongue movements) are just a greeting," Gardeninggirl.
  • "What I'm not sure about is the head down tail up stance that he does when on the bottom of the cage.
    Is beak down, tail up always hormonal/sexual?" Gardeninggirl.
My speculative opinion on both inquiries is that the actions are a submissive greeting to someone the bird has measurable respect for, void of hormonal or sexual overtones.
 

WhiteFlight

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Meisha: Umbrella Cockatoo | Female | 03/09/1989 Hatch Date
  • “Another thing he does is when he's sitting on my knee he rubs his beak on my leg,” GardeningGirl.
The primary function for Meisha rubbing her beak on a surface is to clean it. Secondary could be for sensation. I doubt it is out of affection. As a beak related action, Meisha seems to appreciate scratching of the beak for the sensation. No hormonal reflection.

Unless he seems to some how enjoy it more than he should, I would not discourage.
Though the thread is stale, I would like to reflect further on this aspect.

I reinforce my doubt the action is directly affection. However it would be indirect as the activity would be out of the comfort zone with a human your hook-bill does not have a level of respect for.
 
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Carmech001

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I know this thread has died but I just found it. My Umbrella is around 3 years old and does this exact same behavior. As far as I can tell it's only around me but he has a love/hate relationship with me. When I go to the side of his cage to get his food bowl to fill it, he'll climb up to my level on the inside and do an (aggresive?) display with his open beak. It only lasts a few seconds then he'll grab a cage bar and hang there lightly flapping his wings. But if I just walk into the room and he's in his cage, it's crest up, straight to the bottom of the cage around the back left corner. Head down, beak open and tongue flicking his top beak. I attribute all of this to his being a very young bird and and he's trying to "show out" as my dad would say. He has bit me once and it was sudden and unexpected. One minute he was rubbing his head on my hand and the next I was bleeding from my wrist. I'm hoping it will all play out over time as he gets older.
 

Scott

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RIP Gandalf and Big Bird, you are missed.
We often create new threads from posts appended to dormant topics, but yours belongs here for context!

How long has this bird lived with you, has he done this consistently? Perhaps a touch of cage aggression towards you and not others. Are you primary caretaker?
 

Carmech001

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We often create new threads from posts appended to dormant topics, but yours belongs here for context!

How long has this bird lived with you, has he done this consistently? Perhaps a touch of cage aggression towards you and not others. Are you primary caretaker?
He is a rescue that I've had for about 3 months now. He showed an immediate like of my wife and was fine with me and our son right away. The time he bit me was about a month or so ago and I was trying to get him to step up after he had managed to get away while my wife was putting him back into his cage after some out time and he fooled her and climbed to the top. The bite was sudden and unexpected and when I jumped, he jumped back and puffed up aggresively at me. He would only let my wife get him and put him away. It was a short time after this incident that he started doing the above behavior. I am the one who feeds, waters and gives treats to him but due to his displays I haven't tried to handle him since the bite. Like I said above, I think he's quite young and he has an unknown history. I feel like he's challenging me. I sit by him and talk to him all the time but I don't currently trust him. As I'm sure he doesn't trust me. I have plenty of time though so we'll see how it all works out in the long run.
 

Scott

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RIP Gandalf and Big Bird, you are missed.
Three months sufficiently long to adapt to your home, approximate age of three years suggests he's on the cusp of sexual maturity. Umbrellas among the more challenging of cockatoos, toss in potential hormonal activity and tread lightly!! Many parrots choose "their" people irrespective of who is servant and attends to daily needs. But all is not lost!! Trust is two-way street with these amazingly intelligent and intuitive companions. I'd continue with efforts to bond and build trust, reward good behavior with high value treats such as bits of almonds and walnuts.

Helpful links: https://www.parrotforums.com/threads/tips-for-bonding-and-building-trust.49144/
Bite pressure training: https://www.parrotforums.com/threads/bite-pressure-training.63988/
Clicker training: https://www.parrotforums.com/threads/clicker-target-training.60435/
 

bill_e

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Nike displays a similar behavior of walking with her beak dragging on the bottom grate whenever she walks on cage bars or any narrow surface like the top of my TV. I always associated it with stabilizing herself.

She never does that when walking on flat surfaces where she is naturally stabile.
 

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