My meyers parrot (30+) bites now, ne never did 10 years ago.

Kramuu

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Dec 21, 2020
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Minnesota
Parrots
African Grey (Roz ~20yrs)
Meyers Parrot (Peeper ~30yrs)
So my mom has a Meyers parrot between then age of 30 and 35 and an African Grey around the age of 20-25. Both are rescued and both picked up from the same bird owner at the same time because we were told "they are best friends" and we didn't want to break that up. If we take Roz (the Grey) outside the room for a minute, Peeper starts screaming and wont stop till Roz is back.


We had them for about 10 years now and they were both were happy lil birbs. The Grey is still as sweet as can be but the Meyers as become more and more aggressive and everyone has been bitten by him more times than all the mosquitos combined. So now we have to use a stick to transfer him out of his cage for his daily out-of-cage time. He's used the the stick now and get gets climbs on with little to no hesitation, but when setting him off onto a different perch he will make a final lunge at the stick. When it's time to go back in the cage he will drop his head and wait for head scratchies. I will only help him with his molting feathers with a stick because at any moment he will turn as chomp. My favorite thing was to have him perched on my shoulder as I walk around the house but now my ears and neck are not safe.


I don't know if its a sign of old age or possibly a "mini-stroke" the doctor said he had, but I'd like to be able to physically connect with Peeper again before he passes away (He was named Peeper when he was young and cute now hes more like a green hornet). Hand offering his favorite foods only leads to bitten fingers and moving him anywhere outside our designated bird room will cause him to flutter and pick feathers. This happens 24/7 365 days and not just during breeding season. I know Meyers get pretty attached to one individual but that one individual also became another biting target about 5 years ago. So he isn't attached enough to anyone to let them touch him.

I'm thinking it could anxiety or some other mental stress. Any thoughts, opinions will be greatly appreciated. I don't want his last days/years here to be stressed and alone. :rainbow1:
 
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noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
What kind of vet did you visit? A sudden change in behavior in a bird who has been sexually mature for a long time (as is the case with yours) can sometimes indicate a health problem, but not always (depends, but should be investigated to rule it out).


An exotics vet is not comparable to an avian certified vet (although CAVs can be harder to find, their knowledge is far superior in comparison).



If you are comfortable posting your general location (if you didn't see a CAV) there are lost of people who could possibly point you in the right direction. If there are no CAVs within 1-3 hours of where you live, then I am not saying to ignore what an exotics vet tells you, but know that they are not trained in the same way-- they are better than nothing in a pinch, but they are not on the same level as far as knowledge/resources etc. If you are seeing an exotics vet with a lot of bird experience, that is better than nothing at all, but you are likely not getting the whole story from a medical perspective. You always want to make sure that you do your own research before going to an exotics vet, as they are often unaware of testing, diseases etc. Many bird owners just assume that an exotics vet IS a bird vet, but a vet that sees birds is not the same as a legitimate avian vet. Again-- having a CAV is not always a luxury that all people have, so please don't think I am putting down your current vet- it is just something to be aware of.


Has anything else changed (a move, new furniture, new pet, needy family member, cage-change etc, new work routine, loss of family member?) It sounds like this may have started 5 years ago...so think about what has happened between now and then, but also, what happened as soon as you first noticed the biting.


If he is cage-bound, that could also lead to increased aggression/fear etc. I think I asked this, but what is his routine/how often is he out and how long has this biting behavior been going on?


Is your mom interacting with them on the same level? Even if the bird liked you when he had the attention from your mom, it is possible that a change to their interaction could cast you in a poor light (or that your bird is upset over those changes). My bird will step up and let other people do things if I am actively involved, but sometimes, if I am not around (like, if I have to leave her with my family for a day or 2) she sometimes gets insecure and a bit more unpredictable (depending on the person/situation/season etc)-- certain people are like safety nets to them so disruptions to that core relation can have a ripple effect..


Heck, sometimes, something that you don't even think about (like, getting married) can upset them because it changes your relationship with your bird..Just depends, but if it isn't health-related, I'd delve into household changes and relationship dynamics, as well as any past interactions that may have lead your bird to retreat into a cage-bound situation (including changes with interaction time, out of cage time, new additions to the family etc)



How much sleep does he get nightly and how often is he out of his cage? Any changes to the amount of attention he is getting? Any new shadowy spaces (huts/tents/boxes etc) that he didn't have before?


About how long after adding the Grey to your/your mom's home did these behaviors begin to show up? A new flock member can also change things a lot (especially if there is jealousy, fear or a mate-bond towards the bird or an owner).


If your bird is moulting often or if you see large bald spots, that can be indicative of malnutrition, a viral infection, or plucking etc (which is sometimes linked to pain in a specific area, but can also be anxiety related). Remember, seemingly healthy birds can carry and spread viruses (much like humans and covid) to other birds. Also, birds can carry a virus for many years without showing signs, only to suddenly have that dormant virus become active.


This is why I say make sure you think really hard about everything that has happened and also rule out any illness with a very solid avian vet.
 
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Kramuu

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Dec 21, 2020
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Minnesota
Parrots
African Grey (Roz ~20yrs)
Meyers Parrot (Peeper ~30yrs)
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I should change that, It wasn't an actual vet where she got them but a friend of my mom who had 5+ parrots for years and needed to reduce to load as it was getting much for her to take of. We had them for several years until he got aggressive and that started so long ago that its hard for me to remember what changed at that time exactly. They are both in cages with a cloth cover from ~8pm-~7am (shes changes it to match the timing of sunrise/sunset) and auto-timed lights that she was told are good for bird health because of the type of light spectrum. There is also a window bringing in natural light into the room as well. There no shaded places or huts because he will destroy anything in the cage that isn't a perch. They both get about 4-7 hours outside the cage a day. And getting more or less the same about of attention because my mom works from home. Although his biting has made it difficult to give him physical attention. Whistling and signing back and forth across the house happens throughout the day. A handful of years ago is when we noticed him acting differently, moving slower, being more aggressive and stopped his signature little "peeper" sounds. Sometimes he will still respond by saying "peeper" but now its usually just a screech. Just sitting in the bird room quietly and still will cause him to start fluffing up and picking his feathers. The Grey used to do that to the point of being almost naked but now she's full feathered and acts happier than ever.
 

noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Parrots
Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
Sounds like a solid sleep routine and I am glad he is getting a lot of time out of his cage.


How about cage size and toy access? You mentioned he destroys what is in his home--- that is natural and healthy. If he is chewing things to bits, keep giving him more to chew (but make sure he isn't fearful of the toys you put in the cage-- sometimes an unfamiliar toy can seem like a monster/invader to a bird). Do not do the huts or anything, as they are hormonal triggers and can lead to strangulation and blockages. If your guy is into chewing, avoid cotton fibers etc (unless supervised 100%) and make sure he isn't ingesting what he chews on, but DO increase his access to wood and chewing opportunities (I'd avoid flimsy shredding toys if he is happy with alternatives, as they can also be triggers in some birds-- depending on the type of toy and bird).

Fluffing and picking at the feathers could be health-related or behavioral. An anxious bird will often pluck or over-preen, but so will a bird with a health issue in some cases...On top of that, anxiety can be rooted in some many things (environment, pain, fear, boredom, interaction, diet, hormones, etc etc--so it's really good that you are looking at this situation from an analytical stance).
If he hasn't had blood work, I would try to get him in (along with his favorite person)to have that done....keeping in mind that a vet visit can freak them out...It's not without risk, but if it were me, I would do it (unless you think he will have a heart-attack or something just from being in the car).


What is his relationship like with the grey and what was it like 5 years ago? Sounds like the grey is having a much better time with people than this guys, which also makes me wonder if maybe he is feeling a bit unstable over the loss of a perceived companion-- or like he is the 3rd wheel (again, rule out medical first). Many species do tend to bond closely to one bird or person, so it's possible that if he was removed from him original flock and then bonded to the grey or a member of your family, the new dynamics with the grey could also be contributing.



Birds should go to the vet at least once a year, but if your guy isn't used to a travel cage or riding in the car, I'd probably start slowly (knowing that he could have a serious health issue, and deciding whether or not the fear or going outweighs the risk of not). I had to sign a disclaimer at a vet once and it really scared me, but I knew that Noodles needed to go and I was worried she would die if she didn't-- they can have strokes and heart-attacks due to extreme fear, although a bird can also be very scared and just end up flustered/irritated for a few days-weeks lol. There's a lot to consider, but if you do take him, try to find a solid avian vet, as they tend to be better equipped. Do you know who diagnosed the mini-stroke and what testing/credentials were relevant to that situation/vet?




Some birds don't like being touched much, and that is okay, but it sounds like it changed and that is what makes me think it is emotional or health-related (not just a personality thing).. Another thought- given his biting habit, when you have to touch him, what is your reason for doing so? It is possible that he was in a funk/depressed 5 years ago and then people stopped touching him (because he was biting them) except when they wanted to cage him etc. If that is the case, touching my have become linked to negative experiences (like going back to the cage, leaving a favorite spot, being forced to have a nail trim etc).


What family member (over the years) has he liked most, and how did that relationship change over time? What were the behaviors that were first noticed, and what was happening around that time? It can be very small things that seem huge to them because having a parrot in a house (while amazing and fulfilling at times) is like shoving a square peg into a round hole---in captivity, their worlds are so small and that alone is somewhat unnatural, you know? I am not saying they can't be happy in a home, but it is important to remember that what seems "crazy" is actually likely linked to something related to a human's behavior, housing, etc. I know you know this, or you wouldn't post, but no matter how crazy he seems, try not to give up on him as a family member.
 
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bug_n_flock

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Jan 2, 2018
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Isolated Holler in the Appalachian Wilderness
Parrots
B&G Macaw, Galah, 5 cockatiels, 50 billion and a half budgies. We breed and do rescue. Too many to list each individual's name and age etc, but they are each individuals and loved dearly.
Do they have toys?



A mini stroke can and does cause personality changes sometimes, even in humans. How do you know that the bird did indeed have a mini stroke?


I'm in town atm but will circle back to this thread when I have more time
 

noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
Do they have toys?



A mini stroke can and does cause personality changes sometimes, even in humans. How do you know that the bird did indeed have a mini stroke?


I'm in town atm but will circle back to this thread when I have more time


I also agree with this, but I am confused about the time-line and the vet that made this call (about the mini-stroke)...Did your mom's friend just guess this or was there an actual vet and if so, what kind of vet? Did the changes occur immediately after the presumed stroke and were there other observable signs or medical tests performed in order to determine that there was actually a stroke?
 
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Kramuu

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Dec 21, 2020
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Minnesota
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African Grey (Roz ~20yrs)
Meyers Parrot (Peeper ~30yrs)
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Well he was nice(r) when my former stepdad was around 10 years ago even though he didn't hang around the birds much and there have been a couple adult males introduced into the house since then but peeper never got attached to anyone really, he was either just semi-calm or loud. And Roz loves everyone. For the health of BOTH birds, is it best to keep Peeper with Roz until one of them passes or would it risk the health of either of them to find Peeper a new home where we can get more attention and have a new atmosphere? I know at this point my moms love for Roz is immense but we feel bad that Peeper is such a mess and we don't know what would be best for him.
 
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Kramuu

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Dec 21, 2020
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Minnesota
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African Grey (Roz ~20yrs)
Meyers Parrot (Peeper ~30yrs)
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Do they have toys?



A mini stroke can and does cause personality changes sometimes, even in humans. How do you know that the bird did indeed have a mini stroke?


I'm in town atm but will circle back to this thread when I have more time


I also agree with this, but I am confused about the time-line and the vet that made this call (about the mini-stroke)...Did your mom's friend just guess this or was there an actual vet and if so, what kind of vet? Did the changes occur immediately after the presumed stroke and were there other observable signs or medical tests performed in order to determine that there was actually a stroke?




Well my mom found peeper on the bottom of his cage and i dont know the specifics but he wasnt acting right so my mom took him in to an actual vet. I was told that she was told that he had a mini stroke. No idea how they know that or even can figure that out but since then he hasn't been the same. (apologizes about the timeline confusion my date memory isn't the best. We've had the birds for so long and I don't live with my mom so my times could be a little off)
 
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noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
My gut says keep them together....If this is a trauma reaction (to the loss of a bond) and/or a stroke/injury, any consistency/familiarity is likely better than a totally new situation where his stress could go through the roof. You guys sound like you are doing better than many bird owners (in terms of sleep and out of cage time) and you are family (even if he isn't super enthusiastic lol!)--If he did have a stroke that altered his brain/memories etc, familiarity is important (and that is true of all birds/ people/animals with brain damage etc)-- That routine/familiarity is sometimes everything to them (even if they do not particularly seem to care).

A bird at the bottom of the cage (unless playing) is often a sign of a serious medical issue-- I just wonder whether it could have been some other form of trauma, like a head injury or an injury to some other body part that could still be causing pain etc. A stroke is very possible, but hard to say that from a bird on the cage floor alone--unless testing etc was performed. It does sound like something major may have happened, but hard to say without more details. If the vet was an avian vet and she is sure of that, I would probably trust that opinion, but I would be curious as to how they determined this.


If he was super bonded to your step-dad (even a step-dad that didn't care much for birds) that could have played into some of this, but a stroke in isolation or on top of that is obviously going to be a major factor (if he had a stroke for sure). I just am always asking questions because I have gotten some really great and really awful advice from vets over the years and CAVS are few and far between, but well worth a visit if you are able (and I know you said it was a real vet, but I am wondering what type--- an exotics vet is a real vet, just like a dog/cat vet is a real vet, but in the order of trustworthiness for parrots (1 being best and 3 being worst) it generally goes 1. Certified Avian Vet, 2. Exotics vet, 3. dog/cat vet (non-official title lol!)


Based on the bird being on the bottom of the cage, assuming they ran tests etc, a stroke is a legitimate possibility (probability, if they were legit)...and as you know from humans, people who have strokes often have to re-learn to talk and sometimes lose mobility/language etc. The "recovery" components depend on what was damaged within the brain. Sometimes, a person with a brain injury/stroke etc will have moments of clarity and then go back into their altered state a few minutes later. I am fairly confident that birds are similar in that respect (depending on what area of the brain was damaged etc). Think about Phineas Gage etc (the railway worker whose personality completely changed after a serious head injury). That having been said, despite his serious personality changes after the accident, "A report of Gage's physical and mental condition shortly before his death implies that his most serious mental changes were temporary, so that in later life he was far more functional, and socially far better adapted, than in the years immediately following his accident. A social recovery hypothesis suggests that his work as a stagecoach driver in Chile fostered this recovery by providing daily structure that allowed him to regain lost social and personal skills. "


With that in mind, I would focus on making sure he has some routine (as it sounds like you have) and taking time to try and re-build trust slowly. His short term memory/long-term memory could be all out of whack, but he's better off with the people he has known (in my opinion) especially is there is brain injury.


Try and think about what he likes most and what he avoids most. If he seems to be motivated by anything (a special person, toy, treat, setting etc) try and associate yourself with those things so that being with you is positive, but do take it very slowly. It could be that if he did have a stroke, he just lost part of his memory and you guys were trying to act like he knew him when he didn't feel like he knew you...Perhaps with enough time and patience, he could rebuild positive associations. It is also possible that some part of his brain is permanently damaged, but a massive change (like a new family etc) would likely just make things harder on him.
 
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Kramuu

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Dec 21, 2020
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Minnesota
Parrots
African Grey (Roz ~20yrs)
Meyers Parrot (Peeper ~30yrs)
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Thanks, I relay the information to my mom. I never met a family member pre and post stroke but I could imagine how hard it is for people. There is a good chance these birds will outlive my mom (especially the Grey) and it's going to be rough finding them a good home if one of them is a grumpy old man with a temper :-/
 

noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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400
Parrots
Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
I have a vote for their future home....lol!



I think, if you care about them, you should consider it. You are more familiar than any stranger, and you already care or you wouldn't be posting. Plus, your mom sounds like she will be with your for the forseeable future, which means that, in theory, she could also work with you and the birds when it comes to bonding and new routines.


You might also look into target training if you haven't already, although in his case, I think rebuilding trust and routine should take a front-seat to any training that could possibly frighten him and set your relationship back. I am not saying not to train (because every interaction should be a teachable moment) but making it obvious that you are training/teaching isn't always a good thing.


If your bird had a stroke, the fact that he can still move/fly etc is huge. The rest is likely a learning/rewiring curve that could occur with time, patience, routine and support. It may or may not work, but it is a possibility and it takes time, so please don't give up!



In many cases, even a severely damaged brain can be re-wired with the right supports/patience/routine etc. It may not ever be quite the same, but it can be pretty impressive when you look at behavior immediately after a brain injury vs years later with the proper supports/therapy etc.



[ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNYq1dFihwk"]Recovery without limits: brain science & hope for stroke survivors | Kari Dunning | TEDxCincinnati - YouTube[/ame] watch this- it's about people, but it's likely similar. I have had a lot of experience with people who have had strokes and traumatic brain injuries. Nueroplasticity is real and there is evidence of this in animals as well.
In humans, rewiring can start YEARS after the injury, so it's not like your bird is out of luck just because it has been longer--- again, watch the video (a 70 year-old man, 20 years post-stroke began 4 months of therapy (20 years later) and could use his right hand again by the end of those 4 months). It's all very nebulous, but very legitimate
 
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