Male Congo obsessed with husband… HELP!!!

Sad7

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Mar 18, 2023
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I have a male Congo African Grey. He was six years old when I got him. I have had him for six months, and it has been a roller coaster, to say the least. He was extremely sweet and affectionate when I first got him. He allowed me to do everything. Pick him up, give him treats, put him in his cage, kiss, and pat and scratch him. My husband is not a big bird person, but doesn’t mind them. A month and a half after I got him, he started biting me whenever I put him in the cage at night. This progressed into extremely hard bites to the point I was bleeding and had bruised bones, etc. I never flinched and I never yelled and I never hit him or got angry. WHICH WAS REALLY HARD TO DO! I just continued to do what I was doing because I didn’t want him to know that it hurt. I didn’t want him to think that because he bit me, it would dissuade me from my goal. He then started vocalizing to my husband and talking to him like crazy to get his attention. The only interaction that he had with my husband at this point was to give him an occasional treat, and then he would leave him. He never did anything else with him and never really engaged in conversation with him. He continued to allow me to handle him and pet him after we moved the cage upstairs, but whenever my husband is around, he gets downright hostile to me. I no longer put him in the cage at night, and I put a large perch on top of the cage. He sleeps on that. I was trying to stop every negative thing he associated me with. it helped, but the obsession with my husband has only grown worse. My husband is now telling me that we need to get rid of him because he’s going to throw him out the door if he bites me one more time. My husband cannot stand him now because he’s getting cat called every time he walks into a room or every time Archibald hears him. I do not want to have to rehome him because his two elderly owners died, and the son had him for a handful of months and decided he couldn’t deal with him. I just don’t understand how to get him not so fixated on my husband. He has not bit me in a couple of months and he’s doing very well, but he still favors my husband and can’t be around the two of us. He’s extremely cuddly, and wants me to hold him and kiss him every morning and evening, but wants nothing to do with me when my husband is around. I am at my wits end and so is my husband. I want him to have a great life and I want him to bond with me like that so the whole household is happy. He also will not let my two children pick him up and he downright hates my son. My son is 15 years old. I would’ve thought he liked him because he’s a man, but I think it’s only adult males. My father came to visit, and I have had a couple of random handymen in the household and Archibald, the African Grey, calls to them and talks to them and tries to get their attention like crazy! I can’t put my finger on it. Will this eventually end? I have been extremely patient and loving and understanding of what he needs, but I almost think that he’s never going to get over this obsession with men in general and maybe he would prefer to have a male owner? Has anybody come across this?
 
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Terry57

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I'm so sorry you're all going through this. My eclectus was attached to me for the first few months, then suddenly preferred my husband. I started having him step up on a dowel perch to get him back into his cage after he started nipping at my hand.
We've had Ekko for 9 years, and he goes through periods when he likes me the best, or doesn't want me around him. Fortunately my husband also loves birds, so it isn't an issue for us.

If he was raised by 2 elderly people, chances are that it was a quiet household. Greys usually don't take well to changes, and it may take them a long time to adjust to their new circumstances.

I think it may be helpful to have a lot of one on one time with you, without your husband in the room. Is it possible to keep your husband away from him for a bit? If not, it would help if your husband doesn't give him any treats for now if he isn't interested in a relationship with Archibald.
I also suggest trying to teach him to step up on a perch rather than your hand so that you won't get bitten.

If you know what his favourite treat is, make sure that you're the only one who gives those to him. He'll start to get excited when he sees you, knowing what's coming.

It may help for you to start back at the beginning with him now that he's settled in a bit.

This is a great thread with lots of useful tips:

Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

I wish you the best of luck with him, I believe that with the patience and love you've already shown him that you can turn this around.
 
OP
Sad7

Sad7

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I'm so sorry you're all going through this. My eclectus was attached to me for the first few months, then suddenly preferred my husband. I started having him step up on a dowel perch to get him back into his cage after he started nipping at my hand.
We've had Ekko for 9 years, and he goes through periods when he likes me the best, or doesn't want me around him. Fortunately my husband also loves birds, so it isn't an issue for us.

If he was raised by 2 elderly people, chances are that it was a quiet household. Greys usually don't take well to changes, and it may take them a long time to adjust to their new circumstances.

I think it may be helpful to have a lot of one on one time with you, without your husband in the room. Is it possible to keep your husband away from him for a bit? If not, it would help if your husband doesn't give him any treats for now if he isn't interested in a relationship with Archibald.
I also suggest trying to teach him to step up on a perch rather than your hand so that you won't get bitten.

If you know what his favourite treat is, make sure that you're the only one who gives those to him. He'll start to get excited when he sees you, knowing what's coming.

It may help for you to start back at the beginning with him now that he's settled in a bit.

This is a great thread with lots of useful tips:

Tips for Bonding and Building Trust

I wish you the best of luck with him, I believe that with the patience and love you've already shown him that you can turn this around.
Thank you so much for responding. That is pretty much what I’ve done. It’s a really weird predicament we’ve gotten ourselves into. I have had different birds throughout my life and this has been, by far, the most challenging.

That is how I have gotten him accustomed to me again. I started using the perch instead of stepping up onto my hand every time because I didn’t want him to associate it with something that was not pleasurable for him. Any time he didn’t feel like stepping up, he would bite. It became very clear that it was a learned behavior, and anytime he doesn’t like anything, he will bite pretty readily. I think that’s why it started off as soft bites(when I put him in the cage) because he was used to his owners stopping what they were doing instead of following through. My husband only gave him treats the first month and a half before he started lashing out at me because I was putting him in his cage(at least that’s my thinking). That was the only interaction they had at that point. He didn’t hold him or cuddle him. Nothing like that. As soon as we realized that he was going towards the fun parent, I told him no more interaction with him. That is why I moved him upstairs. It’s easier for me to get one on one time, but my husband works from home so it’s very difficult for me to move him around the house with me while my husband is home. My birds are free flighted and I hate the thought of them sitting in one room or a cage and they are with me all day every day. I work from home so I’m here a lot. It took almost a month for him to enjoy being around me again. The household is very quiet. I have a 15-year-old and a 7 year old. He enjoys playing with toys and getting treats and pets, but it’s a real problem if he hears or sees my husband. My real issue is if this is going to last a lifetime or after a year or two, he will get the fact that my husband wants nothing to do with him, and he will bond to me like my other birds are bonded to me. My real concern is he’s never going to be happy. I hate the thought of that because that is why I got a rehomed parrot. I actually wanted a baby, but I heard his story, and I was so sad for him, and I know that they have a difficult time adjusting. I knew I had the patience to handle that, but we never anticipated him being obsessed with my husband like that. I know that people are not patient with them and don’t give them the space that they need, but it has been six months, and he does really well with me and gets tons of attention and interaction and healthy food, but he’s just so fixated on my husband that it’s hurting his quality of life. It breaks my heart! It’s like he’s pining for this love that he never had so it’s like a mystery to him and he thinks he’s missing out.
 

Terry57

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Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada
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You're doing all the right things with him, what a hard predicament you've all been in.

I have two African Greys, and they both prefer me. Merlin came from a home where he was raised from a baby by the man of the house. Merlin was eight when his dad died, and the wife kept him another seven years IIRC, because he'd been her husband's beloved boy. She was afraid of him, though, and never let him out or touched him. I was friends with her DIL, and there came a time when the mother-in-law couldn't stand the pain of hearing Merlin speak in her husbands voice. That's when he came to us, and we've had him for almost five years.

At first, he liked Reg, my husband, best, and ignored me completely. Within a few weeks though he began to like me better. Nothing had changed, he just didn't like Reg anymore and wouldn't even take treats from him.
I get him back into his cage using a perch because he will still bite.

Justice is my other Grey, and he was a breeder all his life, he was 17 when he came to us. He was abused in his last home by the woman I got him from and he only likes me. For the first two or three years he was terrified of Reg, and for two or three years after that he'd try to attack Reg when he fed him. It's now been eight years and they have an unspoken agreement; If Reg doesn't try to mess with Justice, Justice will not try to bite Reg when he gives him a treat.


This is a small grouping with only my two greys to compare, but I hope that Archibald follows their lead and bonds with you, and not even notice that your husband is around:)
 
OP
Sad7

Sad7

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Mar 18, 2023
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Thank you so much. I know I wrote a book! Yeah. I’m really hoping that he will understand where his bread is buttered. Lol I guess I just have to be patient. In the meantime. He is really sweet and loving. I just would really want this obsession to stop so he can move freely about the house and not terrorize my husband. Haha Hopefully, my husband can stand this a little longer and give him a shot. I always heard that African Grey’s were not cuddly, and he really is. He will literally lay on my arm while I’m scratching and kissing him. I never expected that.
 

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