New Ekkie Growling & Lunging

nostromosigningoff

New member
Mar 4, 2024
14
23
Parrots
14 year old female Blue Head Pionus
3 year old male Eclectus
Hi - looking for some advice!

We just adopted a 3 year old male ekkie 3 days ago. He was rehomed to us because he was very hormonal in his last home, although the previous owner says he was never aggressive in their home. She had him only three months before deciding to move him to another home. Before that, I don't know anything about his living situation except that he was fed seeds and not bathed. We are working towards helping him to accept misting/bathing, eat fresh foods and rely less on pellets. He barbers and overpreens his feathers. The cage he came with is unsuitably small and a bit rusty, but I'm waiting to buy him a newer one until I can get it discounted in the next couple months. In the meantime I've put more appropriate perches and toys in his cage.

He is handleable and pretty friendly. We have a Pionus but this is our first time with an eclectus, and I'm struggling to read his body language. There's been a few instances of growling and lunging that I'd like to understand better. Firstly, he growls and lunges to defend his food bowls - he is clearly food guarding/resource defensive. He hasn't bitten yet but I imagine that's because we get out of the way. He also tries hard to get up onto shoulders, and then growls and bites if we try to take him off. I am trying not to allow him onto my shoulder - I feel like he isn't predictable enough yet.

Today he was trying hard to get to my shoulder and resisted getting off of me; I had to sort of force him off onto his cage. I then left him alone for a bit (in the dining room with my other parrot, who seems to tolerate him just fine). I'm not sure if walking away is the right thing to do, but I wasn't sure how to respond to him trying so hard to get onto my shoulder. Today he also growled and lunged a couple times when I walked away from his cage while he was hanging out on top of it. It was right after I had misted him. He is not used to misting, so I only mist him when he's standing towards the front part of the roof of his cage, and I stop if he moves away, so I thought he was tolerating it okay. He was standing still while I misted and then he moved away and I stopped. I then walked away, and he growled and lunged and pinned his eyes once I was a couple feet away. Any ideas what that is?

Sometimes it seems like he wants to step up but I'm not sure where he wants to go or what he wants to do. He can't fly so he isn't able to go where he likes, he has to depend on me. I also wonder if he's wanting to step up in order to get to my shoulder to engage in mating behavior, which I won't allow.

I feel a little intimidated by him, which is probably silly because he hasn't bitten me and he's overall a gentle bird. But I'm having a hard time reading his cues and that makes me feel unsure of myself. Any guidance around how to interpret some of this behavior would be helpful!
 

chris-md

Well-known member
Feb 6, 2010
4,357
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Maryland - USA
Parrots
Parker - male Eclectus

Aphrodite - red throated conure (RIP)
A bossy hormonal eclectus. Sounds slightly like my boy!

It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going o without seeing series of videos over time and in different contexts. But I want to start with this: he’s 3, so he’s probably full throttle in the throes of puberty. A trying time, but temporary.

That means his behavior can be a bit unpredictable. And that’s why puberty is a common time for birds to be rehomed (second generally to hormonal behavior): people often underestimate it can’t handle it.

And hormones can mainefect differently in different birds. My Parker, he gets more energetic and shows stronger-than-normal one personnness, like a heat seeking middle for his favorite human. He won’t stay put in another room, he tries hard to reach his favorite person.

He growls a lot, especially when simply voicing displeasure for being put down. And especially towards anyone who isn’t his favorite person. This is much worse when hormonal.

Rarely do we deal with the more often cited aggression or regurgitation..,thank god.

My advice to you is three fold, and mostly agnostic of if this is hormones or not:

1. patience…Patience…PATIENCE. You’re actually on the right path. THIS TOO SHALL PASS, remember that. Though remember ekkies can be induced to hormones. Read the stickies on the eclectus-specific forum. Research and learn to avoid hormone triggers.

2. Diet!! Eclectus have specialized dietary requirements. You can’t feed them like other birds. READ THE STICKIES ON THE ECLECTUS DPECIFIC FORUM. A poor diet can one million percent contribute, if not outright cause, problems you’re seeing.

3) exercise and enrichment. So find hormonal birds respond well with activities that help them expend energy. Start clicker training. Teach your bird targeting, or flighted recall. Training builds communication (enhancing your bond), and is both mentally and phsycally exhausted.

Most of all, keep working on your bond. Every interaction with your new bird is. A chance to strength if your relationship. Keep it light, don’t coerce (phnishsment doesn’t work with parrots short of shunning them).

You haven’t been bittten, a good sign that you haven’t pushed his boundary too far yet. Keep it that way. And keep it up, you have this, and this forum is here to help support you.

Lastly, remember as you learn about hormone control, understand “control method” only gets you so far. Things people say t avoid (I.e. sugar and sleep deprivation) only make hormones worse to a point, and fixing them will only help to a point. Your bird has a natural hormone level these tmethods can’t touch. Reducing sugar in the diet only helps if Sugar is contributing to begin with. If your bird has naturally high hormone levels to begin with, and sugar only making it worse, reducing sugar only addresses what sugar is coteibuting, and doesn’t fix natural levels.
 
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nostromosigningoff

New member
Mar 4, 2024
14
23
Parrots
14 year old female Blue Head Pionus
3 year old male Eclectus
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  • #3
A bossy hormonal eclectus. Sounds slightly like my boy!

It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going o without seeing series of videos over time and in different contexts. But I want to start with this: he’s 3, so he’s probably full throttle in the throes of puberty. A trying time, but temporary.

That means his behavior can be a bit unpredictable. And that’s why puberty is a common time for birds to be rehomed (second generally to hormonal behavior): people often underestimate it can’t handle it.

And hormones can mainefect differently in different birds. My Parker, he gets more energetic and shows stronger-than-normal one personnness, like a heat seeking middle for his favorite human. He won’t stay put in another room, he tries hard to reach his favorite person.

He growls a lot, especially when simply voicing displeasure for being put down. And especially towards anyone who isn’t his favorite person. This is much worse when hormonal.

Rarely do we deal with the more often cited aggression or regurgitation..,thank god.

My advice to you is three fold, and mostly agnostic of if this is hormones or not:

1. patience…Patience…PATIENCE. You’re actually on the right path. THIS TOO SHALL PASS, remember that. Though remember ekkies can be induced to hormones. Read the stickies on the eclectus-specific forum. Research and learn to avoid hormone triggers.

2. Diet!! Eclectus have specialized dietary requirements. You can’t feed them like other birds. READ THE STICKIES ON THE ECLECTUS DPECIFIC FORUM. A poor diet can one million percent contribute, if not outright cause, problems you’re seeing.

3) exercise and enrichment. So find hormonal birds respond well with activities that help them expend energy. Start clicker training. Teach your bird targeting, or flighted recall. Training builds communication (enhancing your bond), and is both mentally and phsycally exhausted.

Most of all, keep working on your bond. Every interaction with your new bird is. A chance to strength if your relationship. Keep it light, don’t coerce (phnishsment doesn’t work with parrots short of shunning them).

You haven’t been bittten, a good sign that you haven’t pushed his boundary too far yet. Keep it that way. And keep it up, you have this, and this forum is here to help support you.

Lastly, remember as you learn about hormone control, understand “control method” only gets you so far. Things people say t avoid (I.e. sugar and sleep deprivation) only make hormones worse to a point, and fixing them will only help to a point. Your bird has a natural hormone level these tmethods can’t touch. Reducing sugar in the diet only helps if Sugar is contributing to begin with. If your bird has naturally high hormone levels to begin with, and sugar only making it worse, reducing sugar only addresses what sugar is coteibuting, and doesn’t fix natural levels.
Thank you! This is reassuring. I know he's in the throes of puberty and has been through a lot of stress and transitions in his short life. I want to do everything I can to build a good relationship with him and help him be a happy, sociable bird in our family.

The diet is a priority but I've been advised not to push it too hard yet because he's brand new to us. So I'm offering him his Roudybush pellets in the evening. During the day I offer chop. He picks through the chop but isn't eating a whole lot. He loves his pellets. So we'll see. I ordered some sprouting seeds that should arrive soon and maybe he'll be more intersted in those than the chop on its own.

I don't really mind hormonal behavior per se - it's behaviors like biting, feather barbering and screaming I'd like to minimize/prevent. His previous owner was very disturbed by his masturbation, which I actually haven't seen yet, but masturbation and regurgitation are no issue for us as long they aren't negatively impacting him.
 

saxguy64

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As per usual, excellent advice from Chris, above. I might also add, it's only been a couple days. His world as he knows it has been turned upside down. Right now, you may have some indication of his personality, but remember, even if he's not showing it in ways you can see, he's terrified. Think in terms of a human toddler, ripped away from everything he knows and plunked into a place completely unfamiliar. So, item number one above is super important. Patience. It'll be a little while before he's completely comfortable in his new surroundings, with new people, new food, new everything. In the land of parrots, a few days is nothing. While some adapt quicker than others, it's still a monumental change for him, and it takes time to fully decompress and understand who he can trust, and that he's not going to be shipped off to yet another unfamiliar situation. Growling and lunging, it's going to happen, so give him his space, and really, pick your battles. Patience, patience, and more patience. Ekkies have so much personality. Totally worth it in my opinion. :)
 

theparrotcafe

New member
Apr 16, 2022
15
23
Parrots
Eclectus
I feel you are right to be intimidated and cautious. Those beaks can bite hard. My female ekkie gave me nerve damage that lasted 6 months. What you describe regarding him lunging as you are walking away from his cage is typical territorial aggression. He is guarding his cage. My female does the same thing.
 
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nostromosigningoff

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Mar 4, 2024
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14 year old female Blue Head Pionus
3 year old male Eclectus
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As per usual, excellent advice from Chris, above. I might also add, it's only been a couple days. His world as he knows it has been turned upside down. Right now, you may have some indication of his personality, but remember, even if he's not showing it in ways you can see, he's terrified. Think in terms of a human toddler, ripped away from everything he knows and plunked into a place completely unfamiliar. So, item number one above is super important. Patience. It'll be a little while before he's completely comfortable in his new surroundings, with new people, new food, new everything. In the land of parrots, a few days is nothing. While some adapt quicker than others, it's still a monumental change for him, and it takes time to fully decompress and understand who he can trust, and that he's not going to be shipped off to yet another unfamiliar situation. Growling and lunging, it's going to happen, so give him his space, and really, pick your battles. Patience, patience, and more patience. Ekkies have so much personality. Totally worth it in my opinion. :)

Thank you! It's a good reminder to hear it'll take time and not to rush. I think I feel this pressure to get everything just right from the get-go so we don't get into bad habits, but it's true, I think slowing down a little is smart. Giving him more space is probably wise too. How should I respond when he tries so hard to get on my shoulder?
 
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nostromosigningoff

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14 year old female Blue Head Pionus
3 year old male Eclectus
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I feel you are right to be intimidated and cautious. Those beaks can bite hard. My female ekkie gave me nerve damage that lasted 6 months. What you describe regarding him lunging as you are walking away from his cage is typical territorial aggression. He is guarding his cage. My female does the same thing.
Yikes!!! That is scary. I certainly hope to avoid a bite like that. How should I respond to the territorial aggression? Just ignore it?
 

theparrotcafe

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Apr 16, 2022
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Eclectus
Yikes!!! That is scary. I certainly hope to avoid a bite like that. How should I respond to the territorial aggression? Just ignore it?
I ignore it but I don’t know if that is the best approach or not. I also try to minimize the opportunities for her to practice territorial aggression. I separate her from her cage for a big part of the day. I also rotate her toys in her cage quite often and I’ll also put her cage in different areas in a different rooms just to change it up on her so she doesn’t get too comfortable. At one point we did give her a partial wing trim to slow her down a bit. Her wings have grown out now and we’re considering doing it again although I’m not sure if we will or not. She is completely free flighted in the house at the moment. I do have an upcoming vet appointment next week for her and I plan to talk about getting her the hormonal implant. I’ve also increased her sleep from 12 hours to 14 hours in a very dark room and I’ve eliminated a lot of the carbs and sugar from her diet.
 
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nostromosigningoff

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Mar 4, 2024
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14 year old female Blue Head Pionus
3 year old male Eclectus
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I ignore it but I don’t know if that is the best approach or not. I also try to minimize the opportunities for her to practice territorial aggression. I separate her from her cage for a big part of the day. I also rotate her toys in her cage quite often and I’ll also put her cage in different areas in a different rooms just to change it up on her so she doesn’t get too comfortable. At one point we did give her a partial wing trim to slow her down a bit. Her wings have grown out now and we’re considering doing it again although I’m not sure if we will or not. She is completely free flighted in the house at the moment. I do have an upcoming vet appointment next week for her and I plan to talk about getting her the hormonal implant. I’ve also increased her sleep from 12 hours to 14 hours in a very dark room and I’ve eliminated a lot of the carbs and sugar from her diet.
Wow, you've been working hard to help the relationship with your girl.

Today Iago didn't show any aggression at all except some growling when he was eating treats on the couch and my husband moved his hands too close - but he didn't even lunge, just growl. Otherwise he's been sweet as a peach all day. Really goes to show we're just starting to get to know each other and it's very hard to predict what might be revealed as a feature of his personality and what might just be his anxiety and tension of adjusting to a new home.

One thing I do notice is how completely gentle he is with our Pionus. Today our Pi flew onto Iago's playstand, so I put Iago on our Pi's playstand - a mistake! She flew over to him and was putting out her wings and lunging threateningly. Iago just leaned back and looked at me like, "what do I do?!" but didn't react to her otherwise. I was honestly amazed. Otherwise the two birds have gotten along wonderfully and there's been no aggression between them. We are so lucky!
 

Keatz

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Jan 5, 2016
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Oscar (eclectus)
Basil (Amazon)
Hi. Just thought I'd add that my eclectus growls and lunges when I put my hand near his bowl. Also, he's not a tactile bird like my Amazon. He loves being around people, but he doesn't really like sitting on shoulders. He'll hop on if he chooses to. But that's just my experience.
 

saxguy64

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Cuckoo the BFA RIP
You'll have to share photos of your Ekkie's @nostromosigningoff & @theparrotcafe. @chris-md & @saxguy64 have adorable Ekkies too!

Hopefully things calm down with time!
I agree, pictures please! :)
And thank you @kme3388
I've been blessed with an awfully sweet one :) And yes, he does the growl and lunge as well, generally only when he's in his cage, near the food bowl. I usually just laugh it off, comment that he thinks he's a tough guy, and walk away. I trust him 100%. He has no intention of actually biting me, so he has shoulder privileges. Sometimes he'll grab my earlobe to make sure I'm paying total attention to him, but that's as aggressive as it gets. Aside from that, he just wants his beak in my face. Like most ekkies, scratches aren't often his thing, but they seem to love being right in front of you, facing you so they can look into your eyes. It's a way for them to read you, and they're insanely good at it. In my somewhat limited experience, if there's a bird that can see your soul, it's an ekkie. ❤️
 
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nostromosigningoff

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Mar 4, 2024
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23
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14 year old female Blue Head Pionus
3 year old male Eclectus
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I agree, pictures please! :)
And thank you @kme3388
I've been blessed with an awfully sweet one :) And yes, he does the growl and lunge as well, generally only when he's in his cage, near the food bowl. I usually just laugh it off, comment that he thinks he's a tough guy, and walk away. I trust him 100%. He has no intention of actually biting me, so he has shoulder privileges. Sometimes he'll grab my earlobe to make sure I'm paying total attention to him, but that's as aggressive as it gets. Aside from that, he just wants his beak in my face. Like most ekkies, scratches aren't often his thing, but they seem to love being right in front of you, facing you so they can look into your eyes. It's a way for them to read you, and they're insanely good at it. In my somewhat limited experience, if there's a bird that can see your soul, it's an ekkie. ❤️
IMG_1345.HEIC.jpeg


Here's my boy Iago!

That's great to hear that the guarding/growling over food can be a common feature in even very sweet ekkies. So far it hasn't been more than a growl and slight lunge of his head, he hasn't made any real efforts to bite since we brought him home, other than beaking my husband's fingers when my husband was trying to pull him off his shoulder/neck.
 

theparrotcafe

New member
Apr 16, 2022
15
23
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Eclectus
I agree, pictures please! :)
And thank you @kme3388
I've been blessed with an awfully sweet one :) And yes, he does the growl and lunge as well, generally only when he's in his cage, near the food bowl. I usually just laugh it off, comment that he thinks he's a tough guy, and walk away. I trust him 100%. He has no intention of actually biting me, so he has shoulder privileges. Sometimes he'll grab my earlobe to make sure I'm paying total attention to him, but that's as aggressive as it gets. Aside from that, he just wants his beak in my face. Like most ekkies, scratches aren't often his thing, but they seem to love being right in front of you, facing you so they can look into your eyes. It's a way for them to read you, and they're insanely good at it. In my somewhat limited experience, if there's a bird that can see your soul, it's an ekkie. ❤️
I agree about how they see your soul! That is how i feel but could never quite verbalize it like you did Thank you!
 

kme3388

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Sep 17, 2021
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Minnesota, USA
Parrots
Eclectus Parrot: Nico (male)
Jenday Conure: Kiwi (female)
IMG_0344.jpeg

This is Nico. I do hold his one foot to prevent him from going to my shoulder at times. I started by gently just touching his claws with my hands. Just enough so he knows I’m touching him. Not enough to prevent him from going to my shoulder to start (losing my thumb didn’t sound appealing when I first got Nico).
IMG_0345.jpeg

He likes to argue with me… he wouldn’t be Nico if he didn’t argue with me. I always make it awkward for him if he try’s to shoulder rush me now that I have an established relationship with him. I put my hand up to make it impossible for him. I’ll even stick up my thumb. This is 3 years after I first got him. I know he isn’t going to bite me. If he acts tough I just laugh, and think he’s silly!
 
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nostromosigningoff

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Mar 4, 2024
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23
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14 year old female Blue Head Pionus
3 year old male Eclectus
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View attachment 58461
This is Nico. I do hold his one foot to prevent him from going to my shoulder at times. I started by gently just touching his claws with my hands. Just enough so he knows I’m touching him. Not enough to prevent him from going to my shoulder to start (losing my thumb didn’t sound appealing when I first got Nico). View attachment 58462
He likes to argue with me… he wouldn’t be Nico if he didn’t argue with me. I always make it awkward for him if he try’s to shoulder rush me now that I have an established relationship with him. I put my hand up to make it impossible for him. I’ll even stick up my thumb. This is 3 years after I first got him. I know he isn’t going to bite me. If he acts tough I just laugh, and think he’s silly!
What a sweetie! He looks and seems a LOT like my boy. Iago is truly amazingly gentle for not even having been here a week. Other than his tough guy act around his food bowls, he's been a very calm and gentle bird. I think as I get to know him more each day and understand his signals and triggers more, I feel more and more confident with him.
 

theparrotcafe

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Apr 16, 2022
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Eclectus

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nostromosigningoff

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Mar 4, 2024
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23
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14 year old female Blue Head Pionus
3 year old male Eclectus
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Here is my girl Sophie. The third picture is from the first day we got her. They had her on a all seed diet. The first two photos are her now, after I corrected her diet.
What a transformation! Fingers & toes crossed that's how it goes for my ekkie too! I've been adding some of Volkman's Eclectus Seed Mix and mixing it into his chop, and I notice he's eating more chop and eating very few pellets. Yay!
 

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