My bird is afraid of me... Parting ways with my best friend?

WingDing

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Nov 13, 2017
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Texas
Parrots
Toby - RS Eclectus
Midori - Nanday Conure
Toby the Eclectus and I have been through a lot. It's been a bumpy road, but we've managed to be buddies/office mates for several years. I've found the greatest joy taking care of him and communicating with him. Everyday, I have an awesome "Toby story" to tell my family about what amazing thing he said or awesome things he's done.

But lately, it has been extremely rough. He's been chasing me away from his play stand and cage, beating his beak on things when I simply look at him, refusing to do simple touch training for his favorite treats. He stopped riding on my shoulder from his cage to his play stand. Instead he attacks my face and neck. He's now stuck in his cage all day. The last couple of days, he hasn't allowed me to touch his cage to change his water or his food. He and I are stuck. He calls for me from across the house to come get him, but he is upset once I am near.

I now believe that we're just not compatible anymore. Fighting back emotion, I just filled out the Parrot Rescue's relinquishment form the 2nd time. Geez. I feel like I'm going through a divorce. I want to fix our relationship but I'm tapped out and I think he needs a fresh start with a new person.

Can I get a group hug please?
 
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I'm so sorry that's happening for you! I forget, can you remind me how old Toby is? This really sounds like a fairly heavy battle of hormones. If that's what's going on, two things. Number one, it's no one's fault, he has ZERO control or understanding of what's happening to him. Number two, this shall pass. Might be a while, but the chemical rush will subside. It's heartbreaking and frustrating in the meantime for sure. First hormone season is sadly a super common time for birds to be rehomed. It feels like that sweet baby we knew has become evil incarnate. They're difficult to deal with, I know. It makes things a little more bearable if you can keep in mind that it is indeed temporary. No guarantees they will return to the perfect baby afterward, but the aggressive evil generally abates, and you'll know the signs for the future.

I'm just guessing here of course, but if Toby is like 2, 3, even 5-6 and this is his first real go around with hormones, that behavior is not uncommon. Some worse than others, but it happens. Welcome to puberty. Sending prayers that things work out for you, one way or another. 🙏🙏🙏

Actually, even if he's older, I've noticed hormone season being really bad this year for my crew. Especially my YNA. Maybe just that?
 
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I'm so sorry that's happening for you! I forget, can you remind me how old Toby is?
First, thanks for responding. Toby just turned 6 years old.

This really sounds like a fairly heavy battle of hormones. If that's what's going on, two things. Number one, it's no one's fault, he has ZERO control or understanding of what's happening to him. Number two, this shall pass. Might be a while, but the chemical rush will subside. It's heartbreaking and frustrating in the meantime for sure.
Yeah, I don't blame anything happening on the bird. It certainly could be hormones. What is strange is that he calls for me constantly because he wants out of his cage, but then either acts aggressively towards or he acts afraid of me. He isn't acting that way when other family members walk past his cage or when they walk into my office where he hangs out during the day.

While I've sent in the relinquishment form, I haven't received a response yet. I'd like to give things with Toby one last shot, unless his best life is somewhere else.

Does anyone have suggestions of how to care for him when he is like this?
Any thoughts on how to deal with the fear he seems to have of me? Maybe he finds my work environment stressful: the constant typing, conference calls, me getting in and out of my chair 50 times a day. I don't know.
 
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I'm so sorry that's happening for you! I forget, can you remind me how old Toby is? This really sounds like a fairly heavy battle of hormones. If that's what's going on, two things. Number one, it's no one's fault, he has ZERO control or understanding of what's happening to him. Number two, this shall pass. Might be a while, but the chemical rush will subside. It's heartbreaking and frustrating in the meantime for sure. First hormone season is sadly a super common time for birds to be rehomed. It feels like that sweet baby we knew has become evil incarnate. They're difficult to deal with, I know. It makes things a little more bearable if you can keep in mind that it is indeed temporary. No guarantees they will return to the perfect baby afterward, but the aggressive evil generally abates, and you'll know the signs for the future.

I'm just guessing here of course, but if Toby is like 2, 3, even 5-6 and this is his first real go around with hormones, that behavior is not uncommon. Some worse than others, but it happens. Welcome to puberty. Sending prayers that things work out for you, one way or another. 🙏🙏🙏

Actually, even if he's older, I've noticed hormone season being really bad this year for my crew. Especially my YNA. Maybe just that?
First, thanks for responding. Toby just turned 6 years old.


Yeah, I don't blame anything happening on the bird. It certainly could be hormones. What is strange is that he calls for me constantly because he wants out of his cage, but then either acts aggressively towards or he acts afraid of me. He isn't acting that way when other family members walk past his cage or when they walk into my office where he hangs out during the day.

While I've sent in the relinquishment form, I haven't received a response yet. I'd like to give things with Toby one last shot, unless his best life is somewhere else.

Does anyone have suggestions of how to care for him when he is like this?
Any thoughts on how to deal with the fear he seems to have of me? Maybe he finds my work environment stressful: the constant typing, conference calls, me getting in and out of my chair 50 times a day. I don't know.
Hi there! Sorry you're having problems with Toby. I would not be so quick to get rid of Toby, especially since you've had him for a really long time, and that you're close friends. Have you contacted your veterinarian about Toby's unusual behavior? Maybe s/he could give Toby a thorough check-up, and possibly some advice about getting a behavior consultant to help you deal with this and calm Toby down so that you can be friends again.

Here's hoping I've been of some help. All the best of luck, and here's hoping that you and Toby once again become close friends.
'
 
I am so sorry to hear about Toby. Nico (also an Ekkie) is like this to my husband. He will not tolerate my husband at all. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is. Nico truly is a lovely Ekkie to those he is bonded with. I honestly don’t know how to make parrots bond with humans. They must know I’m just a sucker or something!

I do know with Nico I have to keep his environment quiet. In my opinion he tends to overstimulate in loud environments, and he’ll feather pluck.

I highly suspect that Nico has a preference of women. I think he sees us as “mates”. He try’s to mate with me all of the time, and he did this to the lady who ran the shelter he came from as well. He lets women hold him. He’s not so kind to men. It’s just a suspicion.

Nico knows you are afraid of him he turns into a dinosaur. He bit my husband pretty good once. My husband has been scared of Nico since. I am not scared of parrots whatsoever. I’ve been around them my entire life. I don’t prefer to be bit, but I don’t care at the same time. If Nico were to bite me I’d probably grab his beak, laugh, and tell him to quit being sour, or a bad spirit!

I work with Nico a lot. I am constantly training with him. All 3 of my parrots are out daily, and handled. If I go on vacation, and I don’t handle my conures for a few days they can be a bit spicy when I go to handle them. It’s like they go back to a wild state. I have to take Nico everywhere due to him being a large parrot & I can’t find anyone comfortable enough to watch him.

I hope something in here helps!
 
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Hi there! Sorry you're having problems with Toby. I would not be so quick to get rid of Toby, especially since you've had him for a really long time, and that you're close friends. Have you contacted your veterinarian about Toby's unusual behavior?'

Thanks for the encouragement, my friend. It's been a couple of weeks since Toby was treated for mites. The vet says he was in otherwise good condition. It could be that the mites were making him crazy and that the recent Texas storm also caused him stress. We were running on generator power for several days and I know the sound of the generator outside was a problem for him. So, it could be a combination of things that are stressing him out.

I do know with Nico I have to keep his environment quiet. In my opinion he tends to overstimulate in loud environments, and he’ll feather pluck.

I highly suspect that Nico has a preference of women. I think he sees us as “mates”. He try’s to mate with me all of the time, and he did this to the lady who ran the shelter he came from as well. He lets women hold him. He’s not so kind to men. It’s just a suspicion.

Nico knows you are afraid of him he turns into a dinosaur. He bit my husband pretty good once. My husband has been scared of Nico since. I am not scared of parrots whatsoever. I’ve been around them my entire life. I don’t prefer to be bit, but I don’t care at the same time. If Nico were to bite me I’d probably grab his beak, laugh, and tell him to quit being sour, or a bad spirit!
Thanks for that @kme3388. Like your Niko, Toby likes women, and is not so keen on men. Neither my wife or I have ever felt comfortable with Toby because he hates hands so badly. Even though we've worked with behaviorists for many weeks, there has never been progress in that area.

I wish I was as brave as you. I have several scars on my hands and arms from his nasty bites. He uses the tip of his beak like a dagger, burying it into flesh. I can still feel the bump inside my lip from when he lunged for my face a couple of months back. I never wanted "handle" Toby, I've only wanted to be able to transport him and get him on and off his cage and play stands.
 
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I've exchanged emails with a parrot rescue here in Texas, and they are putting me in touch with a behaviorist that can help us and foster if we need to. So, I see this as movement forward.

In the meantime, Toby is relegated to his cage and complaining about it nonstop. My wife is playing interference so I can change his water, food and change the paper at the bottom of his cage.
 
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Parrots are tough! They truly are picky, and can sometimes be relentless. I hope Toby comes around. There’s a shelter in my state right now with 2-3 Ekkie’s for adoption. Not to make you feel bad. It comes to show how difficult parrots can truly be for people. Maybe @saxguy64 or @chris-md who are both men with male Ekkie’s can chime in how their males are towards them. Nico thinks I’m his mate, and I have it rather easy. My husband doesn’t interact with Nico any further because he got tired of being bit too.
 
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Thanks your encouragement @kme3388 , @saxguy64, @miki and @chris-md ! I need some human friends to stand in the gap with me at this juncture, for sure.

5 years ago, I committed to caring for Toby, and I was planning on doing that for life. I truly thought I could figure out the complex relationship between bird and man, no matter how complex that relationship would be. I can see that Toby and I have survived on minimal training and minimal understanding of bird behavior. I've been "serving" this bird in a way that is not good for either of us. If Toby is to be a part of the family, my wife and I need to partner together to make this work. I can see that now.

And as Jon pointed out, the issues we are having might be attributed, to a great extent, to hormones. It might also be stress from the mites or to the recent storm. My wife and I are committing to see this conflict through. We have channels for adopting him out, but first, we're going to see if we can get through this extremely rough patch with help from a behaviorist.

On a positive note, I was able to get Toby to do touch training with a T-stand today. He will at least touch it with his beak and accept a treat, instead of attacking the T-stand and/or my hand. That is a very small step towards him being transported from place to place without me being injured.
 
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https://www.goodbirdinc.com/parrot-behavior-problems.html I use this resource a lot with Nico. There are seminars, and such. I used the free stuff myself. It helped me a lot with looking at things differently. There's a lot of free good information on here. Even when you click on the Ekkie specific stuff it really does describe Nico fairly well. I felt like a failure when I wasn't able to help him with his feather destructive behavior. This helped me through that, and made me realize this isn't an issue with me.
 
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Toby the Eclectus and I have been through a lot. It's been a bumpy road, but we've managed to be buddies/office mates for several years. I've found the greatest joy taking care of him and communicating with him. Everyday, I have an awesome "Toby story" to tell my family about what amazing thing he said or awesome things he's done.

But lately, it has been extremely rough. He's been chasing me away from his play stand and cage, beating his beak on things when I simply look at him, refusing to do simple touch training for his favorite treats. He stopped riding on my shoulder from his cage to his play stand. Instead he attacks my face and neck. He's now stuck in his cage all day. The last couple of days, he hasn't allowed me to touch his cage to change his water or his food. He and I are stuck. He calls for me from across the house to come get him, but he is upset once I am near.

I now believe that we're just not compatible anymore. Fighting back emotion, I just filled out the Parrot Rescue's relinquishment form the 2nd time. Geez. I feel like I'm going through a divorce. I want to fix our relationship but I'm tapped out and I think he needs a fresh start with a new person.

Can I get a group hug please?
I Agree with All Others Here. Please Give Toby Another Chance Because It Definitely Sounds Hormonal But Also Could Be Jealousy. You Said He Prefers Females? Could be He's Jealous With The Time You Spend With Your Wife? I know Because This Happened to Us Too. I've Hated, Absolutely Hated Myself For Allowing Someone Talk me into Re-Homing My Stella, Who Was...a Fella. We have a PACO & Paco is a She. Go Figure. It's Why Paco Loves My Husband But Stella the Fella Only Wanted Me. I Was Ill at the Time & Had a Very Sick Rescue Pooch Going Down & I Couldn't Devote the Time Stella Deserved. I Did Everything To Ensure I Could Get Him, Back. The "Sanctuary" SOLD HER & That was it. SAD. Just Don't Want Anyone to Feel that Again. So, Please think about Toby or Any Others Who Feel their Bird is being A Little Monster. They Do Get Over It. They Do Feel Fear, Sadness, Joy, All of It. Just Like All Animals & Well, Most "People" Do. You've Done the Right thing Asking For Opinions. Hope You Hang in There! I know those Bites DO Hurt. But, They don't really know they're hurting anyone. It's kind of, to get Our Attention. I know, Still Hurts. Sorry.
 
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I Agree with All Others Here. Please Give Toby Another Chance Because It Definitely Sounds Hormonal But Also Could Be Jealousy. You Said He Prefers Females? Could be He's Jealous With The Time You Spend With Your Wife?
Thanks for that , but, he doesn't see us spend time together. He is aggressive toward me whether my wife is around or not. He does not see her for days because she is afraid of him.

So, It continues to be a tough decision. Yesterday, I made some progress with training him to touch the T-stand, but today he has bit me 4 times and I have two bandages on my fingers.

This morning, I had time to reflect on how need to to focus on the values I has established in my life, and I don't see how trying to fix the relationship with a bird who hates me fits into the picture anymore. I'm just plum worn out. He calls me all day to come get him so he can come upstairs, but then he scowls, growls and bites me when I'm near. I'm running out of patience... and bandages.
 
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Right now, he is calling for me to give him a bath: "Let's take a Bath! Water! Brrrrrrrr!", over and over. But he will attack if he sees me. I don't get it.
 
Right now, he is calling for me to give him a bath: "Let's take a Bath! Water! Brrrrrrrr!", over and over. But he will attack if he sees me. I don't get it.
It's Scary because You're Definitely Feeling Angry At Him & I DO Get that. With Stella the "Fella" She Hated My Husband But Also A Daughter, Only Found That Out When We Left Her to Take Care of Stella, At her Home. She was "Good" Until I Got there to Pick Her Up. She Literally Walked Over to My Daughter, Who Had NO Reason to be Afraid of her, Everything Had gone Great, BUT...She Sat on the Bed, Next to me With Stella & Stella then Calmly Walked Over to Her & Bit her. She was So Pissed. My Daughter. Same thing she did with my Husband. Walked Over to Him when He Sat Down Next to me on the Couch, Calmly Walked Over to Him & Bit Him. So the Common Denominator Was Me. He Wanted me Only. Most Birds if Not All, Will Choose One. What Would Be Interesting is to know, Was Your Wife Always From the "beginning" when You 1st Brought Toby Home, In the Pic? Did You All Move? It Still Sounds As if Whether Your Wife is Afraid of Him or Is Not Around him, It Sounds Like He's Either Jealous of You, Her or Is Stressed Out Again, Due to Hormones. Being 6 is that Age. Just Remember you Did have a Great Relationship for Majority of 6 years? Is that correct? I Understand your Frustration & Your sore fingers & Where Ever else Tobys Bit But, I Just Don't Want You to be As Sad as I Still Am, 12 years After Losing Stella. I'd Take her back in a minute, Even 12 years Later. Hope for the Best for All of You.
 
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If you are still giving Toby treats… never ever give them to him this way with an open palm. It gives parrots a lot of opportunity to bite. Yes, Nico looks silly on my conure stand. I just popped him up there quickly to show this. This is something I learned at the shelter I volunteered at. You definitely don’t want to present a hand open this way to a macaw that is a “stranger” and not bonded to you if you still want to have fingers. I learned fast!

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Always make Toby reach above his head for treats in this position. It gives him a lot less things to bite. It confines things to a very small area of the hand. It gives you a lot more control of the situation.

It sounds stupid but you may have to go back to the basics with Toby, and start from scratch. Just giving treats as you are walking by can make a world of difference. If you have to start by dropping them in a food bowl it’s a place to start. Then make your way up as things progress.
 
If you do choose to 100% without a doubt (which I don’t recommend because I think you’ll regret it) get rid of Toby please contact me. I may be able to take him on. What’s better than 1 Ekkie? 2 of them ❤️❤️❤️

I promise once his hormones balance out it will get better.
 
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If you are still giving Toby treats… never ever give them to him this way with an open palm. It gives parrots a lot of opportunity to bite. Yes, Nico looks silly on my conure stand. I just popped him up there quickly to show this. This is something I learned at the shelter I volunteered at. You definitely don’t want to present a hand open this way to a macaw that is a “stranger” and not bonded to you if you still want to have fingers. I learned fast!

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Always make Toby reach above his head for treats in this position. It gives him a lot less things to bite. It confines things to a very small area of the hand. It gives you a lot more control of the situation.

It sounds stupid but you may have to go back to the basics with Toby, and start from scratch. Just giving treats as you are walking by can make a world of difference. If you have to start by dropping them in a food bowl it’s a place to start. Then make your way up as things progress.
Poor Nico? What Happened? How Long have you had Nico? Poor Baby. I Know They Pluck When They're Stressed. We've had Paco who's Btw Not a Boy, We Found out same time We Were Told Stella was a Fella, But, We Learned Too Since Having Paco Since Either 95 or 96 that Every time She Starts to Pull Feathers it's Either Been a Stress thing or just that Time of the Year. She's been a Funny Bird. A Few Times She's Even tried to make a Nest. Think She's Doing it now, Tearing Up the Paper on bottom of her Cage. But, Although We Don't know what Her age was when we rescued her, We've had her since 1995 or 1996 & She's an Orange Winged Amazon. Never Spoke. Used to Do Sounds like a Bugle but hasn't in Years. Think she was Trying to be Entertaining back then but Just Doesn't Find the Need Now. Hope Nico Gets His Feathers Back. I know they can get cold too. We always have the A/C on here in Florida, So We have to be Careful with Her Room & That's Why We Keep her in the Front Room too, More Sun. Ty For Having Volunteered at A Shelter/Rescue. We did that years Ago. It's Really Tough Though, Seems like it's Just Never Ending. Now We Donate to 5 Monthly Because They're Doing All the Work/Love/Dedication & Still Trying to Make A Difference. Some Day I Hope Animals Get Treated & PROTECTED Like They So Deserve, With Love & Respect.
 
Poor Nico? What Happened? How Long have you had Nico? Poor Baby. I Know They Pluck When They're Stressed. We've had Paco who's Btw Not a Boy, We Found out same time We Were Told Stella was a Fella, But, We Learned Too Since Having Paco Since Either 95 or 96 that Every time She Starts to Pull Feathers it's Either Been a Stress thing or just that Time of the Year. She's been a Funny Bird. A Few Times She's Even tried to make a Nest. Think She's Doing it now, Tearing Up the Paper on bottom of her Cage. But, Although We Don't know what Her age was when we rescued her, We've had her since 1995 or 1996 & She's an Orange Winged Amazon. Never Spoke. Used to Do Sounds like a Bugle but hasn't in Years. Think she was Trying to be Entertaining back then but Just Doesn't Find the Need Now. Hope Nico Gets His Feathers Back. I know they can get cold too. We always have the A/C on here in Florida, So We have to be Careful with Her Room & That's Why We Keep her in the Front Room too, More Sun. Ty For Having Volunteered at A Shelter/Rescue. We did that years Ago. It's Really Tough Though, Seems like it's Just Never Ending. Now We Donate to 5 Monthly Because They're Doing All the Work/Love/Dedication & Still Trying to Make A Difference. Some Day I Hope Animals Get Treated & PROTECTED Like They So Deserve, With Love & Respect.
Nico is 19 years old. I adopted him when he was 16 from the shelter I volunteered at. He has plucked for years prior to me adopting him. His vet informed me his feathers may never grow back which I’m fine with. As long as he’s a happy boy that’s all that matters. It’s springish so all of my parrots of course are hormonal, and they are molting. It’s like a double whammy for them. Nico is also constantly contact calling. He’s eating like a hog too. My female conure is also at the bottom of her cage right now trying to pull up papers. She’s a little sassy frass when she’s hormonal. Parrot owners have to stick together! We know spring and certain times of the year are rough. It eventually gets better but there are times you just need a deep breath.
 
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If you are still giving Toby treats… never ever give them to him this way with an open palm. It gives parrots a lot of opportunity to bite. Yes, Nico looks silly on my conure stand. I just popped him up there quickly to show this. This is something I learned at the shelter I volunteered at. You definitely don’t want to present a hand open this way to a macaw that is a “stranger” and not bonded to you if you still want to have fingers. I learned fast!

Always make Toby reach above his head for treats in this position. It gives him a lot less things to bite. It confines things to a very small area of the hand. It gives you a lot more control of the situation.

It sounds stupid but you may have to go back to the basics with Toby, and start from scratch. Just giving treats as you are walking by can make a world of difference. If you have to start by dropping them in a food bowl it’s a place to start. Then make your way up as things progress.
Agreed. Got to watch how you give treats. That's how he and I have been training for years now. Right now, he is being a tricky little buzzard in that he grabs the treat and my fingers. He gives it just a little lunge to get my fingers along with the treat. No blood today, but the top layer of skin sliced through. We've been buddies for years and there have been thousands of treats without trouble. But not now. Weird. And he doesn't seem to be crazy hormonal -- this seems more like fear of me. It's hard to describe.

He has been relentlessly calling for me all day from downstairs, asking for everything: "let's have the snacks", "let's take a bath", "watch the doggies", and "watch squirrels". When I enter the room, he "begs" for me to come over, crawls down the outside of the cage to face/shoulder level and immediately scowls, growls, lunges and bites. All within a few milliseconds. WTH? I now have a couple of bites to my face, a few to my shoulder and a few bites to my hands. Nothing requiring stitches, but it's not not pretty.
 
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I feel ya. I do.
I have a 40 year old Patagonian Conure who, by all sane standards , has been an awful "pet", in good part due to my bad behavior management but in good part to his nature. Every chance he gets, he ruins phone calls, social gatherings, meals... he is ill-mannered, demanding, destructive...
But he's also hilarious (to me), in love with me (my bad luck) and my TOUCHSTONE, through college, work, and now retirement. He's my bird, and everybody else has to adjust! I hope and pray you get enough help here to keep your darling.
Thank you for sharing. I'm glad you're here.
 

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