New green cheek conure owner here with some questions and concerns.


New member
Aug 26, 2015
Hello all! This is my first post on this forum, but surely not my last!

A little under two weeks ago, I got an 8 to 12 week old green cheek conure from a local, very reputable bird store. Hand fed and all that good stuff. He came right up to me in the cage along with his brothers and sisters, and fought them all off so he could have my undivided attention. We took him out and he was very gentle and sweet. I took out one of the others, just to be fair and see how they were, and it was bite city! Ouch! I spent about an hour walking around the store with him, giving him some formula in a syringe, and generally getting a feel for him.

So we left with "Charlie" in a little cardboard box where he gently nibbled my fingers and allowed me to pet him on the ride home. The first few days were great. Charlie steps up like a pro! He enjoyed being scratched behind his head and on his chin and closed his eyes in little bird ecstasy. He loves to come out and hang out on mine or my girlfriend's hand. For being brand new to us, he's great.

Let's fast forward a little bit so I can get to the problems he has been developing: he has become increasingly prone to biting. Petting his little head is no longer an option as he will "falcon scream," as I call it, and try his best to avoid my hand or bite it. It's not a scream of fear or alarm, but rather a quiet, eagle-like scream of "get the hell away from me!" His bites have become increasingly hard, breaking the skin for the first time today. Any time you do something he doesn't like, which is impossible to predict, out comes the scream and the bite.

I see countless videos of people with their little conures, kissing them, loving on them, petting them, handling them, and generally just being adorable. There is no way I can do any of that with little Charlie! I know that it takes time to build a bond with a bird, and I definitely didn't expect to bring home a perfect angel. It's his backwards progression that is bothersome to me. He seems to get worse daily and I have no idea why.

To summarize: he loves company. He loves to be out of his cage. He has no fear of us and steps up great, even when he flies onto my girlfriends head to play with her hair or on my shoulder, where he is not yet allowed. In fact, he is sitting in the crook of my elbow right now as I type this. He just HATES being pet and his "don't love me" attitude seems like it's now branching into other things. For example, I gave him a sunflower seed as a treat today and he took the seed, unleashed his inner falcon, and bit me hard on the finger. Why did I deserve that? I was only rewarding a good "step up" session.

There is SO much conflicting information out there about how to properly curb his behavior. The "earthquake" method is rarely applicable, because he very rarely bites the hand he is perched on. Only those that come towards him. Some people recommend a time out in his cage. One breeder recommended that I grab him and hold his little head in my hands and say "NO" and hold him firmly until he relaxes, but I worry that this will teach him to dislike hands coming at him even more than he already seems to. Other people say ignore the biting completely and only react/reward desired behavior. What the heck and I supposed to do? (Since typing this paragraph, I began to pet Charlie on the back of his head as he sat in my wrist. His feathers puffed up like they do when he is enjoying it, he turned his head to allow his chin to get rubbed, and then... FALCON BITE! Back to the perch.)

Charlie is, generally, good. He is quiet and enjoys being social. I just want that little loving conure that I see in all the videos. I know he's only been here about 12 days and that he is young, but I want to start a good foundation with him and be consistent. I have no problem being patient with him, I just want to be on the right foot and as his confidence in our apartment has increased, so has his apparent desire to say "I don't want you loving on me! Get away!" It's really impossible to determine what he wants or what he gets out of the biting.

On a side note, if he is wrapped in a towel (which he enjoys after his daily bath) or cloth of some kind, I can pick him up and rub him and pet him all over. I can roll him onto his back. He gets angry at HANDS and seemingly little else.

Can anyone help me out and help me make sure I am not raising a demon? I miss the potential of the little bird we had last week! I am home all day and I just moved to a new state, so my girlfriend and I did a lot of research and determined that Charlie would be a good little companion for me while I work from home. He was for 48 hours. He bit my girlfriend so hard last night that she cried, not from pain, but because "he hurt her feelings." :(

Any advice is welcome, obviously.

Charlie and I thank you for your time.


New member
Nov 1, 2014
Middle Earth
Ethyl the cockatiel, Henry & Clarke the IRN's, and Skittles the lovebird (my daughters)
I've not got a conure at home and so someone will be along with some more information, but my general understanding is...
Welcome to young birds :)
They're not unlike kids, and will test the boundaries. Young birds can be nippy, and conures can be nippy. Your girlfriend needs to start feeling a bit parental on it - you can't get hurt feelings over a toddler tantrum. Don't frame it in your mind as naughty bird/bad companion, more 'how do we guide and teach this thing?'


New member
Aug 25, 2015
Charlotte, NC
Kiwi - Sun Conure (Rescue)
Skittles - Jenday Conure (Rescue)
Oscar - Nanday Conure (Rescue)
Ours are about 2 years old; but when we got them they were untrusting, and had been either breeder/rescues or mistreated/rescues. experience is only in our 3 that were rescues and their biting. We have 1--Skittles who just dislikes me. He loves my husband and daughter, but me...he specifically tries to follow me or come at me to bite me. Not so with my H and D...he cuddles with them and loves them. And the other -- Oscar -- he was a breeder bird...who distrusted everyone. It took me 2 weeks to be able to touch his beak. It has taken us close to 4 months of "NO BITE", pressure training, lack of attention when he bit/cage time out...

Seems to me though, yours is more or less testing you because it's a baby, testing limits, what is and is not acceptable, and what is and is not playing. Like a child, how hard can you pet the cat before it hurts the cat... your bird is "playing" with you to see how much is tolerable for you.

I was recently told, all birds will bite; it's what they do...I was also told that if the birds have inadequate nutrition, that can cause them to bite also. I have no idea if that is true or not, but maybe more people on here will know.

I hope you are able to help him stop biting soon! I know how much it hurts...both feelings and physically! lol


New member
Aug 9, 2015
this sounds just like what happened with my conure lol, when i got him - and the 'falcon scream' too lol! is he molting by chance? if so that can be a reason for his behavior.

also btw, birds in general dont usually like petting, because to them being rubbed on the back instinctively feels like getting attacked by an aerial predator! instead its better to start with head scratches with your pointer finger then slowly work into petting as they bond with you.


New member
May 30, 2011
4 Cockatiels 2 males Chicken Little & Charlie, 2 Females Chiquita and Sweet pea. Yellow Sided Green Cheek Conure -Franklin and our now tame, rescued feral Pigeon - Belle.
Hi there!

Welcome to the challenging yet rewarding life of Conure Ownership! And Welcome to the forum!

I could write a book about my experiences with Franklin our adorable little yellow sided green cheek. We too, got him from a pet store, I think he was 10 weeks old, well adjusted little chap that did EVERYTHING to get our attention...and it WORKED! (if you click on my name in the left corner, you can view my albums filled with pictures of Franklin and our other birds)

We busted the bank and brought him home and we had NO intention of buying another bird, we just stopped in to grab supplies for our tiels.

Got him home...Sweetest little guy ever, hated to leave him even for a minute.

Then...yep...he quickly became more independent, he became more bitey and head strong.

I thought...oh my gosh! Where did this all come from???

So I'm letting you are not alone!

Conures are notorious for being a bit more bitey than some of the other breeds and if you scroll through the mounds of pages here in the conure forum, you will find 2 title subjects stand out the most...biting and screaming.

Both of which you will most likely be faced with over the years.

I believe someone mentioned about molting...when reading your post it was one of the first things I thought of as pin feathers are very sensitive and my guess is if he isn't wanting to be touched, scritched, rubbed...or you are scritching him and suddenly he squawks and bites at you, it's probably because you hit a tender pin feather. He's a baby, so he's still growing feathers in.

Random "where did that come from" bites are frustrating and unfortunately....they do happen! Franklin started that right after he'd happily jump up on my finger and BAM! Land baste my finger with stout bite. At first I was like "OUCH! Bad bird" And usually he'd only do it once and we'd move on...well as the weeks went by, he started attempting to bite me before coming out of his cage.

So he'd be at the door, all excited to come out and I'd open the door, offer my finger and BAM! No warning, because he looked like he was just going to step up...OUCH!

I had to be VERY consistent and what I decided to try was...Walk up to his cage, talk to him in all my goo goo chatter, ask him if he wanted to come out, open the door and if he bit or attempted to bite me, I'd quick shut the door, tell him bad Frankie, no bite! and walk away. I had decided that I wasn't going to reward the bite by letting him continue to come out, even if he didn't bite me once he was out.

If I had time a few minutes later, I'd go back and try again and if he bit or attempted to bite, shut the door..bad frankie, no bite!

It took 3 days...THREE DAYS...of me having to shut the door and walk away and trying many times a day to let him out. I wouldn't let him out of his cage to play at all. It was killing me!

FINALLY on the third day...I walked up to the cage, asked Franklin if he wanted to come out to play, opened the door and he stayed on the perch by the door...I paused, (by now my super sore finger was a bit beak shy...hahaha) offered him my finger, he stood and stared...I waited patiently and talked to him like i always do...Come on Frankie, let's come out and play!

He put one foot on my finger, paused and took it away, I waited...he lowered his head very slowly, touched my finger with his tongue, sat back up straight, I waited and told him "goood boy! That's right, come on, lets come out and play!" And then he stepped with one foot, paused and then just like that, he stepped up with his other foot and for the first time he DID NOT bite!

I was soo excited! I REALLY praised him for being such a good boy! And he squawked his happy squawks and we had a great time.

Oh, I should clarify, I didn't let him out of the cage if he attempted to bite but that does not mean I didn't engage with him by talking to him hanging out next to his cage, cleaning his cage, feeding and caring for him...all that stuff. He wasn't completely ignored, I just wouldn't let him out if he tried to bite me.

I've never had to repeat that lesson, that was 4 years ago.

Have I been bit since then...of course I have and it's so random, like one time he was reaching out to me like he ALWAYS did to give me a kiss...and suddenly he grabbed the side of my nostril...he pierced my nose and I had a conure nose ring! That was the worst ever! Where it came from, I have no idea..and true conure fashion...he was mad at ME for HIM biting MY NOSE! hahahahaha!

Some of the other tips I can give you are toys...little foot toys, Popsicle sticks, straws, larger beads he can hold and chew on little plastic cat balls with the holes he can grab onto and hold, apple slices, carrot chunks, broccoli, grapes, nuts...keep that sort of stuff around you and redirect his biting and beaking toward the consistent.

If your conure get's too excited about something and you are holding him he is likely to bite our Franklin couldn't be out with us and have this one particular ball, he'd get all worked up and BAM run at me and bite! So I took that toy away from him during handling time.

Do not let him up on your shoulders until you have his manners well established for the most part...if you allow it now, you will have a problem later when he never wants to leave your shoulder and he will bite you and anyone trying to help you at every attempt to remove him.

Conures are very athletic, acrobatic, very busy, very smart little birds and boredom can lead to biting. (and screaming) They can be sweet and cuddly but that's not all of them by any means.

I've always described our conure as ADHD with a splash of Bi our little "pit bull" bird! Hahahaha! (I say that because of pit's media reputation...however, ours is super sweet and NOTHING like Franklin!)

I suppose I'm rambling crazy bad, but hopefully I've been able to give you some idea's on curbing the biting. I never did the throw to the ground for fear he'd get hurt, I tried shaking or blowing in the face, but neither worked for me, shaking made him hang on tighter, and blowing, he just ignored. Besides the 3 days in the cage, I've always just kept things around to redirect his biting.

It was tough that first year with Franklin. I too, underestimated the power and determination of such a little conure. We had a definite learning curve. But now he will be 5 in March and over the last 3 years I think he's bit me...I don't know 2 or 3 was the random completely unexpected nose piercing.

I don't allow any pinching from him what so ever...what most people call beaking. When he get's carried away if I feel even a slight pinch, I gasp (for some reason that always get's his attention) and say "Bad birds bite, good birds give kisses!" And he fluffs up and chews me out in conure chatter along with the phrase "give kiss" and the kissing sound telling me it was a KISS! hahahaha!

Your conure sounds completely normal to me.

Consistency is your best friend, what ever method you use to teach him biting is not okay.

Also, because he is so young, he does not necessarily know that his biting his bad or how hard he is biting. He is a baby and he is learning. He needs to be taught these things.

Good Luck to you and keep us posted!



New member
May 17, 2015
Southern California
SassyByrd (DYH Amazon) JoJo (GCC) Betty (GCC) DEARLY LOVED fids lost to “Teflon Disaster� 12/17 RIP Pickles (GC),RIP Winston (Sun), RIP Lady PLEASE TAKE 5 MINUTES &TOSS OUT ALL YOUR TEFLON NOW!

I know with my 3 conures they go through MAJOR stages. I know this is against EVERYONE'S advice, but when mine bite I gently grab their beak and tell them no. 3X is the charm - back to the cage/stand. It works for us. My Sun's have DEFINITELY tested me, but have never hurt me to the point that my eyes water.

My GCC on the other hand can be a she devil. She can be all love and hugs one minute and then OUCH! I find that the ouches are invariably related to something (I petted a pin feather too hard, she has to potty, she spotted the sunflower reward cup). As time goes on we are getting closer and closer. She hasn't made my eyes water in months. LOL.

I also have horses. The only reason I say this is in the horse training business, you just know that you are going to get bucked off, stepped on, rolled on, being taken off with, etc, etc. It is just the job.

I kind of see my birds the same way. I am ALWAYS trying to improve the relationship. I try to read body language and clues into the (usually demented) thought process of the bird. It has taken a really long time (my actions, not the birds) but we have made incredible progress.

So, I see bird parenting in a similar fashion to kid parenting / horse training. It is really a mix of the 2. You have to deal with the terrible two's but also see that your bird is thinking on a whole different set of values. It is up to you to figure out what his values are and mold them. A lot of this is dependent on reading the bird and acting appropriately. I have read, read and then read. I don't think reading twisted conure thinking comes natural to anyone. But, like horse training, it is a language you can learn.

The best advice I have is never show fear, pay attention to what is going on when he bites, and find a system that if effective in teaching him what is appropriate. I really feel it is different for each bird and is dependent on the environment and the people he deals with.

Done with the rambling. Just enlisting help from all the great people here shows that you care and are willing to work this out. Just keep up all of the hard work, keep your ears and eyes open to what the "experts" have to say, and don't give up!



New member
Aug 26, 2015
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #7
Thanks for the advice so far, everyone. It's so frustrating to bring home such a gentle little cuddler and then a week later have a pair of pliers with wings in the house! It's really hard to understand. I know that he's young, I was just hoping to see progress instead of regress, especially so soon. He's kind of at the point the past couple of days where he is getting to be no fun! So many bites from things that were totally fine before! I wanted a little buddy I could scratch behind the head and play with like the videos I've seen! All the messes (and laundry!) would be 100% worth it if he wasn't being so mean.

I see that he is pretty much "normal" as far as most of what you all are telling me, but how do I curb his biting in a way that's consistent when he is always biting for seemingly different reasons? A lot of videos I see are like "give your parrot some positive reinforcement!" and then they say "good bird!" and scratch their inevitably perfectly-behaved pet on the head, but what can you do when your pet doesn't even want that positive reinforcement to begin with?

Are there conures out there that are well behaved birds but just plain don't care for affection and interaction? What a tremendous bummer that would be.


New member
Aug 26, 2015
Pottstown, PA
Cheerio the Green Cheek Conure
Tootie "Toots" the Sun Conure
I'm in relatively the same boat as you. I'm not new to bird ownership(grew up with budgies and a nasty amazon), but this is my first conure experience since my own infancy. A little about my birdie...his name is Cheerio, and we picked him because he was the most adventurous of his siblings. The first to venture out of the travel box and check us out. We fell in love with his funny little personality. He is about 6 months old, molting like CRAAAAZY, and we are nearly 3 months into having him. My finger is a little sore as I type this.

Cheerio has his mood swings for sure, some of which i'm sure that I cause. I've read that bathing helps with molting, but Cheerio seems terrified of showering. He comes with me every night when I come home from work. We hang out for a while, then he wont let me leave the room without him, so he comes to the shower with me. That's been quite the struggle, bathing. It seems to be the only option, since Cheerio hasn't really warmed up to the idea of scratches. I was hoping, actually, to gain some insight about that here, since Cheerio seems to really prefer me to my live-in boyfriend Adam, I figure I have the best chance of getting him to listen to training. (Adam isn't altogether comfortable around birds)

But so here's the deal. Training works, consistency works. Cheerio will respond to earthquake method. Here's what we do when we're training & playing. Cheerio has a pretty nice sized cage with a slide open door (that he learned how to open himself, so we twist tie it in the corners), so we'll open it, and he lets himself out almost immediately by walking out onto the 'runway.' Usually, he'll step up well. If he is being difficult about it, the rustling of the treat mix bag(full of cheerios) gets his attention.
On to the useful info!
He is continuously testing how much biting he can get away with. I know that conures are very beaky nippy birds, and i'm fairly bite tolerating, but not if it breaks skin(one layer counts)
He will bite hard, seemingly out of nowhere, and i'll give him the quick earthquake jolt accompanied by a sharp EY! He stops, looks at me, and does it again, slightly more softly. He keeps applying more pressure until he gets the jolt and the EY! again. This has been going on the last 4 weeks or so, and I have to say, the pressure of biting is almost a non-issue. He's extremely close to me, loves to me out sitting with me, cannot stand even two feet of distance between us a lot of the time, but still doesn't like head scratches. Hasn't since even before the molt got into full swing. So personality differences definitely exist bird to bird, and consistency in training, whatever method works for your little buddy. I'm sure it'll get easier the more you work with him.

P.S. if anyone who gets on this thread could tell me, what's a quick run-down of pin feathers? How long should they be there? Cheerio seems itchy, constantly preening, doesn't want bath, and doesn't want scratches. Side note on the scratches, though, i haven't really tried to work them in, and would love it if someone could send me off in the right direction trying to incorporate head scritches into Cheerios life. It would make us both very happy.


New member
Aug 15, 2013
Saskatoon, SK, Canada
Avery, a GCC born on March 5th, 2013 & Shiko, a blue IRN born on February 25th, 2014
Everyone has pretty nice responses already. But to answer your second post, you honestly need more time to simply learn your new addition. You have yet to discover his favourite treat, for example, and food is often a better motivator for conures than head scritches.

And yes, there are several birds of every species that enjoy company but dislike physical interaction unfortunately. Birds don't instantaneously love physical touch from everyone. When your conure was in a comfortable environment where he knew where he was, with others he recognized, and in a place he felt perfectly safe, he was showing you his potential. Right now he's in a brand new home and experiencing brand new things with brand new people. Two weeks is very little time in comparison to the near 3 months he spent growing up in the pet store. You wouldn't be completely yourself if you were staying in a stranger's house for a week or two either.

So don't take it too personally :) Your baby is simply learning right now. Positive reinforcement simply means learning what your bird responds best to and using it as a reward when your bird does something you like. Eventually, as you learn your bird's behaviour more, you'll be able to read when the bite is coming. At that point, you'll essentially be able to prevent the bite from happening at all (which is ideal). Until then, perhaps incorporating time out or time away from you when a bite occurs is an option considering that he enjoys your company so much.

It can be disheartening not being able to have physical interaction, but just give it time. And to be honest, I quite literally taught both of my birds to accept touching and rewarded them when they accepted it. Also, trick training is an excellent way to build a relationship while still being hands off! Plus it's fun to watch them learn, because they learn very quickly :)


New member
Mar 18, 2015
Halifax, NS, Canada
Kyoto (AKA Kyo)-Green Cheek Conure
Charlie - Canary
Tommy - Budgie
Sunny - budgie
Thanks for the advice so far, everyone. It's so frustrating to bring home such a gentle little cuddler and then a week later have a pair of pliers with wings in the house! It's really hard to understand. I know that he's young, I was just hoping to see progress instead of regress, especially so soon. He's kind of at the point the past couple of days where he is getting to be no fun! So many bites from things that were totally fine before! I wanted a little buddy I could scratch behind the head and play with like the videos I've seen! All the messes (and laundry!) would be 100% worth it if he wasn't being so mean.

I see that he is pretty much "normal" as far as most of what you all are telling me, but how do I curb his biting in a way that's consistent when he is always biting for seemingly different reasons? A lot of videos I see are like "give your parrot some positive reinforcement!" and then they say "good bird!" and scratch their inevitably perfectly-behaved pet on the head, but what can you do when your pet doesn't even want that positive reinforcement to begin with?

Are there conures out there that are well behaved birds but just plain don't care for affection and interaction? What a tremendous bummer that would be.

This is so similar to what happened with Kyoto when we first brought her home. She was AMAZING for 2 weeks, and then started testing both of us. She picked me as her favourite person, I believe because I didn't let her bites scare me (poor hubby lol) and we had about 2 months of really rough behaviour much like you describe.

But, bite pressure training, stick training, and just lots and lots of handling was my best friend with Kyo. With hubby, we are working on getting her to just tolerate him. We play the birdie burrito game where i wrap her up in a towel (she loves it and it puts her in snuggle mode) and she forgets that she dislikes him for a few moments while he scratches her head. Then she will remember who is loving on her after a minute and then I take over scratches and she goes back to cuddle mode. So far it is at least helping to prevent her from flying onto him and biting him for short periods of time, and I think it is helping them bond a little bit.

Now that said, she has her days with me too. I took her to the vet for a nail trim the other day, and she isn't over it yet… but she always gets over it in a few days. Today she bit my hands many times, but by this evening she was being more gentle. She is flighted and it can be difficult, but I usually place her on her play stand or at the window if she is too nippy to distract her. I treat sitting with me as a privilege and not a right for her.

Hope this helps! Don't get too discouraged, it will get better!

Most Reactions

Latest posts