I am crying right now - Sun Conure is taking me to the end of my rope

FieryPhoenix

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Jan 18, 2022
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Quaker Parrot Sun Conure
First off, that happy time of the month is approaching so that could be why I feel so emotional.

I have an 18 year female Sun Conure.

I am so jealous of those who have sweet sun conures that never bite them.

I will say that my Sun is sweet most of the time but when she she bites, she bites and she can bite so hard and not let go. This morning I asked her to step up out of the cage and maybe to my stupidity I should have not done that because her buddy, the Quaker was not stepping up out of the cage.

Sunny was sitting on the door perch, so I thought she wanted to step up. Well, no, and I when I offered her my hand (and mind you I had treats), she bit me so har on my thumb and would not let go. I used my other hand to free myself from her beak (I typically hold the upper beak to get her to release. Well that didn't seem to work and she bit my index finger and then another finger. It resulted in me pushing her off and her flying off to the cage or whatever.

I know that we are just supposed to sit there and take a bite and normally I would if she just did that, bite, but when she does not let go I have to intervene. I am sorry. I am sorry if this makes me a crappy trainer or bird companion, but I can't just sit and wait for her to finish.

Clearly, she was trying to tell me something, but during out training session which happened like 15 minutes later, she was totally nice. She even did well on step ups. Of course, her Quaker buddy was out and stuff.

I am crying right now because I have had this bird for 17 years and I have for the last few months, I have been trying to really work with her to help improve our communications while things are progressing and getting better. I am still getting bit and sometimes really hard.

In the beginning, when I first adopted her, I seriously did want to rehome her because of the biting, but I managed to work through it by using my handheld T. I will say that does know how to step up, I just wish that if she didn't want to step up she would just retreat and walk away or fly away. She is flighted.

The only thing I can say about her bites now is that they are not as deep as their were months ago. I still have bites that are still healing.

Here is the thing, I can handle getting bitten if it is a quick bite - bite release - but why does she insist on clamping and holding on? Gosh it hurts, more emotional than physically I might add.

My quaker is totally not like that. If she does bite, it is quick and to the point. With Sunny, it is like long-out drama.

I am feeling overwhelmed and upset right now. She is 18 years old and probably will live past 30. I just hope I can handle 12 more years of her beak LOL!

I really could use a hug right now as well as a tissue.
 

wrench13

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I know its very hard not to internalize bites. Salty nails me every now and then, and his beak is razor sharp! I always have to step back after one and try to examine why it happened and certainly calm myself and neutralize any animosity I might feel towards him. These are WILD animals, after all, no matter how much training and socializing is done, they are at heart still wild. I always run thru the scene in my mind to see if I missed a signal from him that the bite was impending or signs he did not want to be picked up. I have learned a lot from him, by necessity.

Sunny still has his relationship with you, it's not damaged - from his perspective. Try not to let it damage it from yours.
 
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Whst kind of bird is Salry?


It would be heaven if I only got bit by her once a month. So far this is twice this week.
Salty is a Yellow Shoulder Amazon.
 

Laurasea

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I'm sorry for the bites and obviously they hurt more at certain times!

The most important thing about bites is not to get bitten...but it could be yours is giving less nonverbal and just going straight to the bites . You can try setting up a pet comparison to film your interactions and review later.

Also talk a d have a routine, like hey you ready to come out ? Wanna step up? So you are using permission based. And your bird can let you know they refuse before it comes to a bite.

Things are different with a pair bond, and each parrot is individual. It can be tge sun sees themselves more as a protective/defender

I know you've put in a lot of work. And shared your journey and it is frustrating. But you have made progress, and I know you will still move forward.
 
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FieryPhoenix

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Jan 18, 2022
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Quaker Parrot Sun Conure
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I'm sorry for the bites and obviously they hurt more at certain times!

The most important thing about bites is not to get bitten...but it could be yours is giving less nonverbal and just going straight to the bites . You can try setting up a pet comparison to film your interactions and review later.

Also talk a d have a routine, like hey you ready to come out ? Wanna step up? So you are using permission based. And your bird can let you know they refuse before it comes to a bite.

Things are different with a pair bond, and each parrot is individual. It can be tge sun sees themselves more as a protective/defender

I know you've put in a lot of work. And shared your journey and it is frustrating. But you have made progress, and I know you will still move forward.

Yeah, I usually have a routine, and lately, I have been able to read the signs. In retrospect, I did see something that should have been a red flag, but I guess I didn't think of it.

At least she doesn't seem to hold a grudge. She seems to get over herself pretty quickly.

They are both buddies, but I would say that Sunny usually follows the Quaker's initiative. She is not quite as bold as the Quaker.

I have been keeping a journey documenting all the bites and possible causes as well as things that have been done to correct them.
 

Laurasea

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I'm sure I have mentioned before. But hand feeding treats many times a day, and praising good behavior with a treat many times a day. Is a huge plus in helping many behavior/ trust issues.

You should be proud of your progress and advancement!

And ;) you can keep a its been this many days since a bite signs lol see if you can go longer and longer!

There is probably a time every day when one of mine warns me I will bite ! But with respecting that and practice at reading them 99% are avoided. We have a long established culture of reading and respecting so tgey don't have the habit of hitting me over the head with a bite right off. They know I will listen before it gets that far. And when I see them getting upset or bossy I talk to them , I tell them be good be nice be careful
 
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zERo

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Sorry you are having this problem!

My Quaker used to nip and bite tons, especially when I first adopted him, I started searching around randomly and I found Pamela Clarks blog, though I don't agree with everything she says some of her info has been very useful. She said that you should think of anything you ask your bird to do as a question and now with that mentality he hasn't bitten me seriously in months!
Before I pet him I ask him if he wants a pet, his yes is fluffing up his head or preening his chest feathers and his no (I kid you not!) is shaking is head no! Then when I ask him to step up I offer my hand out of his reach, if he wants to, he lifts his foot up if he doesn't he either ignores me or shakes his head.
My Gcc however bites me still. When I first got him he did it almost constantly, the worker at the store who was supposed to train him just kept telling him 'no' every time he did it and taped him on the beak. I've worked with him on it and know his body language but sometimes it's really like he bit me for no reason! Whatever the reason was was perfectly valid to him though!
All I can say is don't give up, she loves you and can't realize she's hurting you. It can be tough to not let them hurt your feelings but I wish you the best of luck! :giggle:
 

ravvlet

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Don’t feel wimpy!

I have amazons too but some of my nastiest bites have come from conures! They really don’t want to let go sometimes! I wonder if it’s because they’re so small and fragile.

I am with you right now on the β€œthat time of the month” anxiety and have cried more than a handful of times in the last two days since moving our new parrot into my office. She’s bitten me once on the leg (but tried for multiple bites; luckily I was wearing baggy pants) and now I’m afraid of letting her out because she also doesn’t step up on dowels or hands, and I am worried about her going over to my other parrots cage. She’s been yelling almost non stop for the last couple days and my nerves are frayed. I’m fairly certain my other parrot is pretty tired of the racket too, and he and I haven’t been able to interact as well as we usually do because we are both on edge.

I hope for both of us this will pass! Know that you are a good bird owner and you are really trying, but they are wild animals and we are big scary mammals to them, and sometimes that fuels a nastier than hoped for reaction…
 

HeatherG

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I am sorry to hear that Sunny is biting you so hard.

I wanted to say that when someone (bird of course) bites me hard, I can’t NOT shake my hand to get the bird off. Jasper is known for striking like a snake for whatever emotionally complicated reason. I also try to figure out why and I can usually guess a likely cause. But I can’t manage to hold still if I’ve been bitten hard. I think it’s natural and you shouldn’t feel guilty.
 

Squeeing_Onion

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Oct 10, 2018
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"Bongo" - Green Cheek Conure
β€œEcho” - Indian Ringneck
"Chicken" - Sun Conure, rest in peace, my precious friend.
My first bird was a Sun Conure -- and man, I know all about their bites! Now, i got really fortunate, because he bit the ever-loving crap out of me for three days and then... that was it, we were besties for the rest of his life.

My mom, on the other hand... He'd perch on her hand no problem then the next time, bite her. And he knew how to bite -- they are excellent at that grab, chomp, and then twisting their head to cause the most pain and damage, especially if they came to you already an 'experienced biter.'

My second bird, Bongo, is a green cheek and she was a year and a half of bloody bites which I have numerous scars from, before I earned her trust enough to get bit -maybe- once a day. Now we're at the point, three years later, where she only really draws blood once or twice a month, and I can expect her to be EXTRA nippy and more biting prone during early spring when hormonal season kicks in.

Now... on to advice!

There's many ways to handle a bird's bite. Some say to imitate a rock and be silent, indifferent, and seemingly unfazed even if inside you are screaming and crying and maybe wanting to just die a little. Some say you should use a firm, verbal command. Some say that you should imitate the noise the parrot themselves make when they are unhappy/were-bit/want something to stop.

The one thing most people seem to agree on is that the WORST thing you can do is give a big, emotional reaction, and that is perhaps the most difficult thing of being bit.

Now, I say that, and I believe it, but I also know it doesn't mean we are stones inside as well as out -- I've cried myself into a sobbing bawling mess after I leave the room and am out of sight of Bongo after some of her nastier bites, or when she bit me and it was just bad timing because I was already in a bad emotional state or had a bad day, or things were going so well and then just wham, she got pissy and she chomped me.

There were times I wanted to rehome her, and seriously considered it. I never got that far, I kept working through it, and it's been more than worth the effort for her and I.

I've used all three of those above methods with varying degrees of success. If I'm honest, I find a verbal command the most difficult, because it's the easiest thing for me to forget in the heat of the moment and I tend to resort to just showing my bird an incredibly hurt/angry expression without verbalizing anything, and getting them redirected off my hand to chomp something else.

With Bongo, because biting was such a frequent problem and she came to me with an incredible distrust of fingers, I actually trained her to step up onto the back of a closed fist.

I still resort to this on days I am not sure where her mood is at, if I myself am not in a good mental state and a bite would send me into internal emotional hysterics and misery, or if it's hormonal season and I am expecting her to be more nippy.

The reason I use a closed fist is because it stretches the skin tight across the back of your hand, which makes it incredibly difficult for that hooked beak to 'catch' on something and latch hold. I usually get away with a small bruise and maybe some indents, whereas she is fully capable of ripping some flesh off otherwise. Chicken, my sunnie, would go after the cuticles of fingers because he knew it was the most sensitive area, bite down, then twist his head.

Tips for training a biting bird not to bite:
  • Expect to get bitten, not 'every time' but 'in general.' it sucks, but "hope for the best, plan for the worst" is a motto I use extensively, and I find when I expect to get bitten at some point, it helps me emotionally recover faster when it does actually happen. I don't expect Bongo to bite me every time I handle her, but I do expect that she WILL bite me at some point. How often I expect bites from her has, slowly yet steadily, decreased over the years.

  • Do not be preemptively afraid of the bite. This seems maybe a bit counter-intuitive; expect a bite yet don't fear it? Yeah. Even if you feel like a coward inside, you want to project calm confidence, because your parrots are incredibly sensitive to YOUR mood as well. I have found sometimes that I got bit because Bongo didn't like my emotional state, and I inadvertently riled her up; on the flip-side, some birds are very clever, and will try to push boundaries when they feel you aren't up to properly enforcing them. (ie; "I don't want to leave my cage... Huh, my human seems kind of afraid of me -- I'll bite them and maybe they'll go away!")

  • Offer the back of your hand or forearm for your bird to touch before asking them to step up; it's not always a fool proof method, but I have found that if my birds were already in the mindset of wanting to give me a good ol' chomp, they would likely act on it when presented the first opportunity. Better to have flat skin bit than your fingers grabbed, because it's much more difficult to unlatch a bird from an appendage they can really grip that beak onto and hang on.

  • Don't take the bite personally; your bird is trying to tell you something and communicate with you, in one of the only ways they understand how to. This is the hardest thing about bites for me: to not have badly hurt feelings after a bite, or hold a grudge about it. I've found it helps to really get inside a bird's head and see things from their perspective; there is always a reason for any given behavior. It doesn't have to be a good one, or one that you agree with, but it's a reason never-the-less, and understanding what that reason is, is the first step to being able to redirect and shape the behavior into something more positive, and to prevent future bites from happening in the first place.

    For example, Bongo was surrendered by her previous owner because his own relationship with her had recently dissolved, and his wife didn't like her to begin with. He told me how Bongo had run up his shoulder, bit the heck out of his ear and wouldn't let up until he grabbed and yanked her off his shoulder, and she had done this completely unprovoked with no reason and he didn't understand why his bird hated him. Because of the way he responded to her bite (grabbing her off his shoulder, and possibly throwing her away after, I wasn't told how he released her), she lost all her trust in him.

    I was then promptly bit by Bongo in the same manner within the first month of taking her into my home, and it proved to be a very enlightening experience. I figured out why she likely bit him, through figuring out why she bit me, and understanding a little about how Conures interact in the wild. I wish I could cite where I learned this tidbit, but I'm not sure where i read about it; essentially, when a bird bites another bird, usually, all they get is feathers. Birds bite to tell each other things and communicate, whether it's "hey back off, this is my perch/mate/nest," or to warn them to run away from danger.

    Bites are not always done with the intent to fight.

    In Bongo's case, she ran up my shoulder to bite my ear because she was afraid of the hat I had put on my head, and she already considered me 'flock.' She tried screaming first; it didn't make the scary hat run away. It didn't make ME run away from the scary thing on my head, either. So she ran up my arm and tried to bite the hat -- which still didn't make it run away, and nearly instantaneously she then promptly started biting me to tell me to run.
    Now, that wasn't an appropriate response to me wearing a hat, but having an idea of why she bit me meant i could then desensitize her to hats and work with her on it. It happened once more when I cut my hair dramatically short -- and I was better prepared to put a stop to it because I recognized what she was about to do. (I still got bit... she's fast!)

    Now, not every bite has as noble an intention as that -- sometimes they're a bird's lazy way of informing us "nah, I don't wanna" or "hey, back off, personal space bubble pls" -- but understanding the nature of the bite will tell you a lot about why it's happening to begin with.

  • Record every bite incident. Look for any patterns; does your Sunnie tend to bite you more often when he's in/on/around his cage? Does he bite you when you're both out and about -- perhaps when he's been out for a while, or at the end of a training session or a game of play? Does he bite you mostly or only when the Quaker is nearby, or when he's by himself and you?
    The reasons a bird may bite are many; territory, telling you "no" for any number of things (asking them to step up, to get off a favorite perch, to let go of something they shouldn't be chewing on, etc), tbecause they are frustrated by something -- they even bite sometimes to tell you to not go away.

    Sometimes, Bongo bites me and I am really certain I didn't do a darn thing wrong. She has bitten me when we were cuddling, because she turned her head and got a pin-feather caught funny and it was uncomfortable... and immediately jumps to blaming ME for the discomfort and give me a good ol' chomp, not realizing it was her fault to begin with!

Good luck hon, and don't lose hope <3 If he bites you frequently when being asked to come out of his cage, try waiting for him to come out on his own before asking him to step up, or asking him to step onto a perch before then going on your hand.

Edit to add: If the biting happens often, consider carrying a wooden stick with you. When your bird bites, you can then redirect them to attack the stick instead of your flesh, or another object that works best for you. Mind, the stick is NOT to hit your bird with, just to put in their face so they consider going after it instead of you.
 

kme3388

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Never feel like a wimp, or failure. We all have been bit! Conures can be very conure at times. I have a female that is hormonal right now. She is a sassy frass, she has pin feathers growing in, and everything is on her terms. Shes the queen, and all of the rest of us are her little minions. If someone were to bump her little fragile pin feathers that are growing in they are going to be bleeding. It's just the way that it is. I have lived with her long enough that I just know my place in her world, and have worked around it.

Spray baths, or baths that can be put in the cage are critical at this time. Lots of chew toys to keep that beak occupied. Parrots are very beaky, and conures are like woodpeckers. They are about as bad as macaws. Luckily they aren't as large as a macaw or it would cost a fortune getting toys for them. Trick training/flight training to try to burn off some energy of a conure is very productive as well. They are full of energy. They are little energizer bunnies.
 
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FieryPhoenix

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Quaker Parrot Sun Conure
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Never feel like a wimp, or failure. We all have been bit! Conures can be very conure at times. I have a female that is hormonal right now. She is a sassy frass, she has pin feathers growing in, and everything is on her terms. Shes the queen, and all of the rest of us are her little minions. If someone were to bump her little fragile pin feathers that are growing in they are going to be bleeding. It's just the way that it is. I have lived with her long enough that I just know my place in her world, and have worked around it.

Spray baths, or baths that can be put in the cage are critical at this time. Lots of chew toys to keep that beak occupied. Parrots are very beaky, and conures are like woodpeckers. They are about as bad as macaws. Luckily they aren't as large as a macaw or it would cost a fortune getting toys for them. Trick training/flight training to try to burn off some energy of a conure is very productive as well. They are full of energy. They are little energizer bunnies.
I believe the problems is related to hormones. She would blow hot and cold. One minute she is like I love you and the next I am getting chomped. She is a female as well as my Quaker. Both have laid eggs in the past. They are 18 now. I seriously thought my Sun was going to lay one though.

I have tried two things to help remedy the situation.

I have moved the cage to a different location and designated it the day cage.

I took a spare cage I had and designated that as a sleep cage.

After moving the cage I see an immediate difference. Sunny was no longer on the bottom of tbd cage chewing tbd food cups or flinging food. She was spending a lot of time on the bottom chewing at the grate and stuff. Even my Quaker was being a bit moody.

Today she was up high and chewing toys and sitting on the swing.with her Quaker buddy.

I will aldo be training them separately. I think they can stand to be five minutes apart. Today I trained one while having the other in the carrier.

I am really busting my chops for both these birds. They better shape up or I will go coo coo LOL!
 

kme3388

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Eclectus Parrot: Nico (male)
Jenday Conure: Kiwi (female)
I believe the problems is related to hormones. She would blow hot and cold. One minute she is like I love you and the next I am getting chomped. She is a female as well as my Quaker. Both have laid eggs in the past. They are 18 now. I seriously thought my Sun was going to lay one though.

I have tried two things to help remedy the situation.

I have moved the cage to a different location and designated it the day cage.

I took a spare cage I had and designated that as a sleep cage.

After moving the cage I see an immediate difference. Sunny was no longer on the bottom of tbd cage chewing tbd food cups or flinging food. She was spending a lot of time on the bottom chewing at the grate and stuff. Even my Quaker was being a bit moody.

Today she was up high and chewing toys and sitting on the swing.with her Quaker buddy.

I will aldo be training them separately. I think they can stand to be five minutes apart. Today I trained one while having the other in the carrier.

I am really busting my chops for both these birds. They better shape up or I will go coo coo LOL!
Birds are critics, and aren't afraid to show their dislikes. I won't hold either of my parrots if I myself am in an emotional state. Both of my parrots will get even more emotional, and let me know who is the bigger drama queen. Gotta love the little buggers!!! They keep the day interesting.

Another thing that's funny is that my husband talks loud naturally. Especially if he is story telling, and he is getting excited. Ever seen a conure get excited about a screaming contest? Guess who wins this? :ROFLMAO:
 
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FieryPhoenix

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Quaker Parrot Sun Conure
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Birds are critics, and aren't afraid to show their dislikes. I won't hold either of my parrots if I myself am in an emotional state. Both of my parrots will get even more emotional, and let me know who is the bigger drama queen. Gotta love the little buggers!!! They keep the day interesting.

Another thing that's funny is that my husband talks loud naturally. Especially if he is story telling, and he is getting excited. Ever seen a conure get excited about a screaming contest? Guess who wins this? :ROFLMAO:
Yes parrots can bounce off of emotion and mood. I can’t get too excited either lol!
 

Cagzo

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My Husband wont touch Connie,but he interacts with her daily,several times. He was bitten a couple of times then gave up. But they have a relationship that seems to suit both. He calls her a little sh*t,in a booming voice, she does turns for him to get a SF Seed,he puts her to bed,and they "kiss" through the bars,shes allowed to sit on his shoulder,but he wouldnt dream of asking her to step up holding out a finger! Such a shame as shes very sweet and has gotten over that hard bite stage. I can read her body and feathers to know what mood shes in. Its taken a lot of time and talking with her to get past the hard,bloody bite stage,presumably puberty?
 
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FieryPhoenix

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Update - she laid an egg. It’s clearly hormones.

What type of bird is Connie ?

I am definitely more comfortable asking Nikki to step up in a lot of situations than Sunny. If Sunny doesn't bite me, she will often bluff. I am probably a wimp for doing this but I will often step up Nikki and then Sunny. She is more willing that way. Hey it works.

Right now, she is playing with the fake eggs on the bottom of the cage. I don't know if that means because she is not sitting on them LOL! I always keep the fakes around for at least a week.
 
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Squeeing_Onion

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"Bongo" - Green Cheek Conure
β€œEcho” - Indian Ringneck
"Chicken" - Sun Conure, rest in peace, my precious friend.
Update - she laid an egg. It’s clearly hormones.

What type of bird is Connie ?

I am definitely more comfortable asking Nikki to step up in a lot of situations than Sunny. If Sunny doesn't bite me, she will often bluff. I am probably a wimp for doing this but I will often step up Nikki and then Sunny. She is more willing that way. Hey it works.

Right now, she is playing with the fake eggs on the bottom of the cage. I don't know if that means because she is not sitting on them LOL! I always keep the fakes around for at least a week.
Nope, totally not a wimp! That’s actually very clever of you.

I do most things with my trained cuddly little Bongo first before i ask Echo to do things. Birds do learn from each other!
 

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