Parrots and their Grudges

pterry97

Member
Aug 26, 2020
73
47
UK
Hi all,
Happy festivities and all that.

I am a very reclusive person - I don’t have people visit my house ever aside from when absolutely necessary (eg: electrician, landlord). As it being Christmas Eve, my aunts and little brother were due to come visit so we could exchange our presents.

My aunts were the ones who originally had Bobby, my African grey that I was reunited with earlier this year.

Unfortunately my brother is sick (as am I - negative on COVID but seasonal flu is like wildfire around here) so he and one of my aunts were ultimately unable to come, leaving delivery swap service duties to my remaining aunt.

The aunt with my brother was the one who primarily cared for and had the only partial relationship with Bobby. The aunt that visited today absolutely hated Bobby’s guts.

With how different Bobby has been living with me vs how he was with them, I thought him being in his comfort zone would make the visit go pretty smoothly.

I was not correct in this assumption.

My aunt came up the stairs, passing the baby gate only to realise as she was passing it that Bobby was perched upon it, right by her hip. It seemed he also hadn’t registered who had come into the house because he was also frozen in place. She quickly scooted past him and begged me not to let him come in after us. I promised he wouldn’t because he knows the dogs free roam on this side of the house so he never trespasses.

This remained true, but he started rocketing off old and loud vocalisations he had from their home. He’s gotten much quieter over the course of living with me - using much less words and more comfortable exchanging whistles and clicks. Now he was back to loud yelling.

It was clear he wanted off the baby gate and he’s definitely trained me a bit into a taxi because he likes to wait for me to ferry him away to his cage. I offer my arm and he climbs aboard - but he climbs on slow and exaggerated- not like himself at all. Fully fluffed out and his head swinging out around the bend to eye at my aunt across the room.

Basically put - he was NOT happy to see her.

I took him back to his open cage and set him atop, but he didn’t settle even with her far out of sight. Ultimately I went back in the other room to catch up with my aunt and hoped he’d calm in his comfort spot atop his cage.

He didn’t move from the spot, didn’t settle his feathers, and didn’t cool down his vocab.

After an hour I thought perhaps doing some of his cues and some treats might help him focus elsewhere, so I brought his favourite monkey nuts. I walked up to him and presented it even as a lure (cheating at this point - I’m asking for just his attention at this point) but he won’t even approach the treat.

No, he’s eyeing my aunt poking her head in from the doorway. She’s the entire way across the room from him and he is on high alert. I was actually worried that if I pushed too much that I could end up getting inadvertently bitten so I gave up and backed off. He was so peeved off the entire time.

Ultimately, my aunt left and once out the house I thought - finally he can calm down - but he wouldn’t. His feathers had lessened in the puffing but I couldn’t get him to go back into his cage for the evening. He refused to eat any of his dinner or any treats, and after an hour of failure I had to turn off the light and pressure him in so I could close the door.

I’m in bed now but I feel like the night was a bit of a failure - like I’d sent Bobby to a really bad place that he couldn’t fight out of. I just hope he isn’t mad still in the morning. I know birds can memorise a great deal of faces, but I didn’t think they could hold such a strong grudge.

Pics of him days prior being not stressed and pretty chill.
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I’m sorry you’re having this difficulty. You can’t help being sick!

I had flu or covid a month ago and was completely out for most of a week. My birds were upset but they did get over it.

P.s. pterry, are you rereading “The Hogfather”? I am! I love the crow and the vulgar pigs pulling the sleigh.
 
Parrots have good memories and they don't forget the people they like or the ones they don't like. Hope that Bobby has recovered from his encounter with the unwelcome visitor.
 
Parrots have good memories and they don't forget the people they like or the ones they don't like. Hope that Bobby has recovered from his encounter with the unwelcome visitor.
With that in mind, you’d better warn him about Santa Bird!
 
Oh yeah, they can and do hold grudges. If you have wronged one of your zygodactyl overlords, profusely apologizing (with details ,and feeling) combined with a proliferation of the preferred gastronomic tribute will eventually gain you forgiveness. Eventually.

On the other hand, if they have decreed that you are allowed in their presence, they will (usually) forebear outright hostilities and may even deign to be fed or even scratched!

Firsthand witness to their memory. My Quaker was not a good fit when my kids were very little. The lady who adopted him (down the block) always said he hated all but herself but a few years later, at a block party, she had him out. I was able to flip him over on his back and blow raspberries on his tummy, Blew my neighbors mind!
 
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I’m sorry you’re having this difficulty. You can’t help being sick!

I had flu or covid a month ago and was completely out for most of a week. My birds were upset but they did get over it.

P.s. pterry, are you rereading “The Hogfather”? I am! I love the crow and the vulgar pigs pulling the sleigh.
Rereading Hogfather? I'm afraid I've never heard of it to begin with 🤔
 
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Oh yeah, they can and do hold grudges. If you have wronged one of your zygodactyl overlords, profusely apologizing (with details ,and feeling) combined with a proliferation of the preferred gastronomic tribute will eventually gain you forgiveness. Eventually.

On the other hand, if they have decreed that you are allowed in their presence, they will (usually) forebear outright hostilities and may even deign to be fed or even scratched!

Firsthand witness to their memory. My Quaker was not a good fit when my kids were very little. The lady who adopted him (down the block) always said he hated all but herself but a few years later, at a block party, she had him out. I was able to flip him over on his back and blow raspberries on his tummy, Blew my neighbors mind!
Don't get me wrong, he's an absolute star with me. I still have yet to be actively bitten by him - I got a warning beak in the first 2 weeks but have yet to have anything happen since. But he was really shaken up by her visit that night. Fortunately he was back to himself by morning, but it makes me worried that he truly wouldn't be able to cope with other people around in my life
 
Rereading Hogfather? I'm afraid I've never heard of it to begin with 🤔
I saw your name is “pterry” and thought maybe you were a Terry Pratchett fan. There’s an early book in the Discworld series where they are in Egypt building pyramids and everyone’s name starts with a “p”. Hence, pterry.

My apologies. I guess it means something else.
 
Parrots sometimes may change their minds about people. My adopted Grey Scooter used to get visits once or twice a year from her previous owner and her family. The first few times, Scooter was always happy to see them and chatted with them in their voices, saying things she learned when she lived with them. But their last two visits were different. I think that Scooter came to the conclusion that those people didn't want her any more or she would still have been living with them. She wasn't so friendly anymore and when they left, she seemed relieved that their visit was over.
 
Parrots sometimes may change their minds about people. My adopted Grey Scooter used to get visits once or twice a year from her previous owner and her family. The first few times, Scooter was always happy to see them and chatted with them in their voices, saying things she learned when she lived with them. But their last two visits were different. I think that Scooter came to the conclusion that those people didn't want her any more or she would still have been living with them. She wasn't so friendly anymore and when they left, she seemed relieved that their visit was over.
Perhaps she was initially happy because she thought they were coming to take her back home.
 
Parrots do hold grudges, and in my experience remember everyone they met very well, even a decade or more later. My Greys have remembered and immediately accepted people that had known and liked but not seen for more than a decade. Distaste is likewise also remembered.

One thing that comes to mind is the question, are you absolutely sure the emotion is resentment? Fluffed feathers are usually a sign of recognition and greeting, not hostility. When a parrot is plotting your murder it is usually with very flattened head feathers. Are you sure the emotion is hatred and not just curiosity and/or excitement about a person they recognize but have not seen for a while. I have to say, for your story it does sound like the previous owner still has a bit of a guilty conscience toward the bird. LOL

Sounds like yours is a solo bird. Maybe he was that way before you as well - never in contact with other birds, just people? Birds that are not exposed to other birds can be a bit weird in their bonding. I think it is always a conflict between their innate tendency to bond with a (surrogate) mate, and their other innate tendency to bond with a group more loosely. Without knowing more I would suspect jealousy might be a complicating factor too. Suddenly you were “flocking” with a new person and your bird might have felt excluded and therefore threatened.

If you live alone with a single parrot expect ANY intrusion by anything new, especially a person, to have the potential to upset them. My mother collected a lot of pets, especially stray and adopted dogs. At one point she had a half dozen or more dogs in at least three distinct groups (packs) that she kept separated - she had many cordons in both her house and back yard and rotated them as separate groups because she was adverse to any conflict. I told her once - to no avail - that dogs have a wonderfully fast ritual of getting along and forming a copacetic pack even though this includes at the very beginning some aggressive displays. But she had created her own Sharks and Jets gangs HERSELF by putting up the barriers. I tried to tell her that all she had to do was introduce one dog at a time to the larger pack in a supervised way - as the nominal pack leader - and let them go through the initial conflict display rituals until they (usually) establish an equilibrium. For dogs this usually takes only minutes to a day or so. Would that parrots were so easy.

Still, it is the separation that creates and maintains the tension, and with parrots as with dogs, but not nearly so easily, the tension is ameliorated by bringing your bird into gradual contact with the person that is causing the tension. Or thing. Or food. The older they get the harder it becomes with parrots. If it is a real issue for you, you can try to work on it. If it is just an occasional issue you can just deal with it ad hoc as the situation arises. The main trouble with the latter is that your parrot may make YOU pay a bit as well for not addressing the issue.

But it is quite common, even expected, that many parrots that have very little socialization outside of the one-parrot-one-human context will be weirdos about such things. But in my view it is the type of conflict that is both created and solved by human actions.

While parrots DO stand on their dignity, as mentioned above they ARE sometimes susceptible to bribes in the form of treats - which they view as humble offerings in tribute from their potential supplicants. But even those are likely to be refused initially. You may have to really grovel for a while.
 
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How is Bobby doing now?

I know if I’m upset by dealing with someone I really dislike, my crabby may leak out onto other people because emotions and alert are up and therefore all interactions are charged.

I hope your guy has gotten over the visit and is happy again.
 

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